Friday, December 27, 2013

7 QT, volume 20: Christmas!

It's Christmas! Christmas is my favorite holiday. I realize, of course, the theological reasons in favor of Easter, but let's be realistic here. Spring dresses, or velvet? Eggs or presents?

Presents does tend to be a sore spot with me, though. I am good at giving them, but not at wrapping them. Presents I wrap tend to turn out crumpled, bumpy, and occasionally torn. While the rest of my family makes nice neat corners and artistic little tags, I do things like this:

I actually can write, I just blurred our the recipient's name!

That present actually has a leg up on a few of the others, though. At some point I ran out of clear packing tape and switched to green reindeer packing tape.

As soon as I have my own family, I am making reusable drawstring bags out of cloth. These will be used instead of wrapping. They will be labeled by having tags attached to them, probably with safety pins. These tags will also be reusable.

Here is our Christmas tree in all its sentimental glory. Over the years, we have accumulated some ornaments which are not really ornaments. They're things we could not bear to throw away, but didn't really want to look at all year, such as a coloring page of the empty tomb. Also, we have real candles.

In the interests of an accurate depiction of our family life, I did not straighten the tree skirt. Actually, that's completely made up. I took this photo to test light conditions in the living room.

As you can see, they weren't very good. Nevertheless, we did eventually get a reasonably good family photo. I don't want it going out into the free unrestricted internet, so here's a Christmas tree ornament which is actually an ornament.
Merry Christmas, from my whole family to yours!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Most Posts of 2013

Amongst Lovely Things is having a link up! There are five categories:
  • Post with the most clicks
  • Post with the most comments
  • Post with the best picture
  • Post that was hardest to write
  • Post that was your personal favorite (not your readers' favorite- your favorite)
Here are my answers:
  • Post with the most clicks
My post of seagull pictures got over 500 views. I am not really sure why or how that happened, but there you go. It all happened in the last week, so either someone is sharing that post like crazy, or it's one of those spammer hacks that jack up your page views in the hopes that you will click on your link.

  • Post with the most comments
That would definitely be μετὰ λόγου. Nine whole comments, you guys!

  • Post with the best picture
Um, by whose standard? This is probably the best picture on the blog. It's also the tree I got engaged under, although I did not know at the time that it was going to be that special. But the eighth photo in this post, of the seagull eating the dead bird, is my favorite picture.

Hey, I should take a poll. Which photo should be my header? The tree or the bird?

  • Post that was hardest to write
  • Post that was your personal favorite (not your readers' favorite- your favorite)
These are the same post: my farewell post to Maggie. I struggle to put my thoughts into words if what I am trying to write about can't be put into a syllogism. That post took me a long time to write, but I think it turned out well.

Head over to Amongst Lovely Things to join the link-up!

Friday, December 20, 2013

7 QT, Volume 19

Productivity is still pretty high. The packing has slowed down a little, but the elfing has ramped up. Once I am done my elfing, I will pack away all my sewing supplies.

Elfing may be a word that only exists within the confines of my family. It means to make, buy, or wrap Christmas presents. Did we make it up, or is it a real word?

I just googled. Apparently, it is a word, but not always a nice word. Urban dictionary seems to think it means doing various unpleasant things to people while they are passed out drunk. Google at your own risk; some of them are definitely not G-rated.

I think I like our meaning better.

Anyway, I had two Christmas presents left, but I have also been co-opted to help with a third one that has to be hidden from a certain young person, so I will be working on that while she is out learning about whatever she learns about from our homeschool co-op.

I just reserved two tickets for a ballroom dance to go to with Kevin. Now I have to find my formal dress. I know I have it somewhere, but it got lost while I was in Germany.

Lastly, and slightly randomly, who has good ideas of what to do with old earrings? I could donate them to a thrift store or give them away, but I'm wondering if anyone has any more creative or interesting ideas. They're all for pierced ears, and my holes grew back together last semester.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A productive day!

I had such a productive day Tuesday! Here's what I did:
-Packed three boxes of books
-Packed a box of fish tank supplies
-Freecycled a box of fish tank supplies
-Wrote a description of the fish tank we're selling
-Finished J's Christmas present and wrapped it
-Wrote my friend in the convent a Christmas card and packaged up her present
-Wrapped Teresa's fiance's Christmas present and wrote him a card
-Started and finished M's Christmas present, and wrapped it
-Finished Kevin's grad school check list (since he had more final papers due than I did, I pulled together a list of everything he needed to apply for grad school)

Yesterday was less productive, as we had two Christmas parties to go to. But I did manage to do 2.5 hours of work for my grandfather, get the oil changed, and cut out one Christmas present.

Let's see if I can keep up the high productivity!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

7 QT, Volume 18

Starting today, I am using Jen's template. I am not sure why I never started using it before, but when I realized it included the link back to her blog, which I always forget, I was sold.

Classes and finals are all over! I have not received any final grades yet, but I am anxiously awaiting them. At least one is going to be lower than I had hoped, but I don't know what I could have done differently. My classmates and I felt like the grading standards changed from assignment to assignment. Oh well.

Coming up is a nice long break. I intend to spend it productively. I have a long list of things I would like to get done, and I am going to pick a few and make serious progress on them. I hope so, anyway. On today's to-do list is clean my room and go to Confession.

Speaking of Confession, for my birthday (which is actually tomorrow), Kevin gave me a book about making a good Confession, which I sorely need, and a book called How To Pray the Dominican Way. Those of you who know me in real life may know that I am slightly obsessed with the Dominicans, so I am really looking forward to reading it!
I am making decent progress on Christmas presents. I have several ready to go, and several more than need work. If I follow through on my goal of sewing a lot of them, I have some busy days ahead of me. But I think it will work out. After Christmas, I will post pictures of the things I sewed.

Can I just say, making a wedding registry is weird? I have an aversion to gift lists, although I usually wind up being asked for them because I am a hard person to shop for. I get that. But the wedding registry seems strange. Not, "we will need some glasses," but "these glasses, right here!" I guess that makes other people's lives easier, and some of the glasses that exist are very ugly, but it still feels weird and greedy.

If you are reading this and coming to my wedding, feel free to ignore or be inspired by the registry. Or just not give a present. Also, the invitations haven't gone out, so if you haven't got one, don't stress. Also, the registry is hidden because it's not really done at all. So I don't know why I'm talking about people who haven't been invited yet buying things off a registry which no one can see. I should probably just stop talking.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm engaged!

I got engaged last Wednesday!

Everyone always wants to hear the story, so here it is.

We went to Mass. We left, and on the way to the car, under a beautiful oak tree (which we couldn't see because the sun had set already), Kevin asked, "Will you marry me?" Of course I said yes!

My ring is silver with an amethyst. I'm not really a diamond person, but my favorite color is purple, so Kevin decided to get a purple ring instead. (I don't wear gold.) And no, I'm not sure why my skin looks like an elephant's ankles.

Inside, it says "friendship which has been set on fire" in ancient Greek.

We're hoping to be able to pull off a double wedding with my twin sister next summer.

Friday, November 22, 2013

7 QT, Volume 17

I'm just popping in to say 7 quick things...about moving!

1. We made an offer on a new house, and it got accepted. The closing is scheduled for right before Christmas, so we'll probably move after Christmas.

2. The pros of this house are as follows: it's in a better parish, it's closer to Papa's work, there's an intellectual Catholic community there, and it's prettier than our current house.

3. The cons are as follows: it's smaller, the yard is smaller, and it requires leaving the house we've owned for fourteen years.

4. The older people think that, on balance, this will be good for our family. The younger people, who can only see what they would lose and not what they would gain, are rather distraught.

5. Prayers for them would be appreciated!

6. Since the house is smaller, we'll have to do some purging. That's definitely not a bad thing. We could use it.

7. Lastly, lest I leave you on a depressing note, here's a little beauty for you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


So, it turns out Thanksgiving is next week. I thought it was two weeks away. This has thrown a monkey wrench into my planned paper-writing schedule. I have created a whole new schedule, which is rather hardcore, but it doesn't leave me a lot of free time. So expect things to be light on the blogging front! I may pop in from time to time to post a picture or something trivial, but don't expect anything that takes a lot of work until all my papers are turned in (last one is due the evening of Dec 2).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I am so organized!

It's not even Advent yet, and I already have all but one Christmas present planned. I don't know who of my family reads my blog, so I won't say what they are, but I am quite pleased with myself anyway. A lot of them are hand made, so they will probably be slow in the making, but my goal is to get all the bought ones bought by the time Advent begins.

However, all is not sunshine and roses over here. I am halfway done a paper due tomorrow, which I had really hoped would be done by now. Also, yesterday I got a paper back. I misspelled my professor's name all the way through. How humiliating. I guess this is God's way of keeping me humble!

Just about four or five more weeks of balancing schoolwork with regular life, and hopefully next semester will be a little bit less crazy. Hopefully.

Friday, November 8, 2013

7QT, Volume 16

Wow, it has been a few months since I participated in this link up! For my seven quick takes, I'll do seven photos.
 Halloween! I am a deviled egg. Kevin is a soul in purgatory.

 Fall is my favorite season. Yesterday I went walking around campus taking pictures.

 Tricolor trees! After taking biology freshman year, I now know how this works.

 I think they have to plant these beautiful bushes across from the school of architecture because it is so ugly.

 These are near the Nursing-Biology building.

 (At CUA, we have a biology building and a nursing building. The building in between them is called Nursing-Bio. Someone was super creative there.)

Here's the one that got away. I only had my phone, and it couldn't focus without any natural light. This could have been such a cool shot, with the Shrine in the background and the green and orange leaves with the CUA banner. I may go back tonight and try to retake this shot.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nominate your favorite charities

Hi all!

As part of my budgeting kick, I am trying to organize my charitable giving. I would like to organize it by the works of mercy, so I am trying to find a charity for each one. I would like your input! I'm especially looking for your suggestions for charities for places where I have holes, but if you have a really good suggestion for a space I already filled, toss it out anyway! Here's what I've got so far:

Feed the hungry: The local food pantry
Give drink to the thirsty: I have heard of charity:water. Are there other similar organizations?
Clothe the naked: Little Dresses for Africa
Harbor the harborless: Habitat for Humanity
Visit the sick: ?
Ransom the captive: I want this to be some sort of charity that opposes human trafficking. There are a huge amount of them, though, and I am having a hard time evaluating them. Anyone know of a good one?
Bury the dead: The monks who make child coffins for grieving families.

Instruct the ignorant: The Catholic University of America
Counsel the doubtful: The Gabriel Network
Admonish sinners: ?
Bear wrongs patiently: ?
Forgive offences willingly: Retrouvaille
Comfort the afflicted: Project Rachel
Pray for the living and the dead: Nashville Dominicans

Anyone have anything to add or change? It would be greatly appreciated!

(Note: I'm not going to donate money to charities that advocate positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching, even if they do good work in other areas.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I have been having a good few weeks. Life has slowed down enough that I am no longer going insane. Although I am not budgeting scrupulously, I am managing to save while having enough spending money to enable me to buy coffee and the occasional milkshake.

However, there's not much that's very interesting to blog about! So instead, you will get some pictures I took at the beach a few months ago. There were other pictures, mostly of people, but I hesitate to post pictures of people on the open internet.

 I love photographing birds. The beach is a really good place to do it, because there are a lot of birds, and not too many places for them to hide. The lighting can be a little tricky since the sun is so bright, though. Given that I tend towards the underexposed rather than the overexposed, I did not run into a lot of trouble!

 You can see straight through this guy's beak.

 Yes, sadly, that is our food. Or was.

 Did you know seagulls scratched themselves like dogs?

 A seagull feeding another seagull. I didn't realize they did this, and I wouldn't have expected to see it in September either.

Perhaps I'll do something more interesting one of these days.Perhaps I won't. We shall have to wait and see. Right now I'm pretty happy with the status quo of school, more school, work, and sleeping.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Papers galore

I'm currently in a sea of work. Last week I turned in two papers. This upcoming week, I have one paper, one paper abstract and bibliography, and one midterm. After that, it should settle down until the end of the semester, when it gets even worse.

Tomorrow I get the exciting job of going to see the philosophy librarian. I've never been to see the man in over three years as a philosophy major. Shocking, I know. But now I am making up for this lack by asking him to help me find good secondary sources for my paper in my graduate class.

Somehow I find myself doing schoolwork during nearly all daylight hours. This week, I am going to track what I do when so that I can have an accurate picture of what I spend my time on. I suspect the answer is a little too much SVU. I shall report back (since I'm sure my non-existent readers are all dying to know).

In terms of current events, no comment! It all seems so stupid in every direction and quite frankly I have a hard time caring.

Hopefully I will have a more organized and/or beautiful post up soon. I do have some pictures I could post, once I can get them edited and cropped and such.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I am trying to set a budget and stick to it. It's rather difficult, because since I work on an hourly basis, my pay isn't constant from week to week. I also get paid on the 10th and 25th of every month, which offends my sense of order because I can't just have the two categories of the first and second halves of each month.

This first paycheck, which I just got, is also unusual because it includes my pay for tutor training--eight hours I won't usually have.

Also, my two different jobs pay different amounts! It all gets rather confusing.

To add to all that, I have four bank accounts. I have a checking and a savings account from my mother's bank, which I have had since the beginning of college. Last year, when I was going abroad, I got a checking account and a savings account from Bank of America, since they have better terms for people going abroad. I also have a credit card from them.

Here is what I'm thinking as a budget. Obviously, once I graduate and have to pay rent and utilities, this will all have to be reworked.

10%: charity
15%: general spending
15%: short term savings
60%: long term savings

I have got a budgeting app called EEBA. The app doesn't seem to like a flexible income very well, but that's ok. We'll see how it goes. Since this paycheck is unusual, I'll just track my spending for the next two weeks and see what I spend. Then I'll input my actual numbers from the next paycheck and see how it goes. If anyone thinks another app is better than EEBA, let me know!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The plans, they are a-changin' (7QT, vol 15)

1. Instead of writing blog posts, I have been busy turning my life upside down.

2. How, you ask? I'm not applying to any PhD programs. I was sort of working on my applications, which basically meant watching many episodes of SVU to avoid thinking about them, and then I realized I don't want to spend the next six years of my life writing papers. I hate writing papers. I love reading philosophy, I love reading Greek, and I love talking about philosophy. But I hate writing papers. And grad school involves a lot of writing papers.

3. However, that means that I don't really know what to do with my life. I might apply to some MA programs, but I'm not really sure yet. It's hard to get funded for an MA in philosophy (since you usually go straight to a PhD) and I would still have to write papers.

4. I'm still behaving academically as though I were heading to grad school. I'm taking a graduate class this semester, and I have three hours of week of translating Greek with professors and grad students, which takes at least another three hours to prepare for.

5. Ideally, I think I would teach sewing classes to children. I'm not sure that I can pull that off, but I do think I will try to make money sewing in some way.

6. I've come up with the following ideas: alterations, an Etsy shop, sewing classes, mending/alteration classes for adults, custom made clothing. Depending on my area, some of these may be more or less realistic. I'm not going to do a link-up within a link-up, but if anyone has advice on making money sewing I'd be glad to hear it.

7. And, for no real reason, BIRDS!

Go over to Jen's to see the rest of the quick takes, or to add your own.

Friday, August 30, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 14

1. The semester is off to a good start! I missed my last first class of the school year by being in the emergency room, but other than that I have had a relatively bump-free transition back into the American university system. I have one paper assigned already, but I know what I want to say in it, so it shouldn't be too bad.

2. My little sister loves organizing things, so she organized all my books for me. Now I can find them easily. I also learned I have three copies of Dante's Inferno. Overkill much? Somehow, though, the fact that I have three Bibles (and a Greek NT) doesn't bother me.

3. The fact that school has begun means that summer is officially over. I find this frustrating, because I never got to paint my toenails this summer. One toenail fell off before summer started and it hasn't grown in completely, so I'm hesitant to paint it while it's still recovering. Sigh.

4. I went to a Baysox game with some of my beloved family on Wednesday. It rained for two hours in between the second and third innings, so we had to leave at the bottom of the fifth because it was almost eleven. Too bad! That was the only Baysox game I saw this summer.

5. Oh well. Summer is over, school is starting, and I suspect I will be too busy to worry about such problems.

6. From my facebook page: Yesterday, I found myself sitting in the living room watching football while Kevin cooked dinner. So much for traditional gender roles.

7. Speaking of football, I am going to have to miss the Redskins' season opener because I have class. Argh! If only the professor would cancel class. Or reschedule it. Or live-stream the game in and we can discuss the philosophy of football. Or something. I am going to borrow a jersey from Thomas and wear it to class in protest. (Football, obviously, is one of the things that will make me too busy to mind having unpainted toenails.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Sorry I fell off the face of the earth there. I went on vacation (which I didn't want to announce in advance for privacy/security reasons) and then I got sick again. My bizarre stomach pain from a few months ago came back, so I missed my last first day of classes sitting in the ER. Oh well. (Again, no conclusive diagnosis. I googled, and there are pages and pages of people who have similar symptoms and a huge array of tests turns up nothing. I'm going to an OBGYN to get an ovarian cyst ruled out, and if that's not it I'll probably drop it.)

This semester should be extremely busy. I'm doing individual tutoring, drop-in tutoring, skills tutoring, working in the costume shop, and babysitting. I'm also taking three undergraduate philosophy classes, one honors theology class, and a graduate philosophy class. And I have to write my grad school writing sample.

No senioritis allowed for me!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A bittersweet goodbye

Last Friday, I saw my friend Maggie for the last time in quite some time. This Thursday, meaning tomorrow, on the feast of the Assumption, she will join the Nashville Dominicans as a postulant.

Maggie was my freshman year roommate. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she was very skeptical about us getting along well. She was freaked out by the fact that I was one of seven, sewed my own clothes, and had been homeschooled. On the other hand, I was a little concerned by the fact that she suggested bringing a fridge and a TV, both of which I thought were thoroughly unnecessary.

 Luckily, we soon discovered that we had more in common than we had thought. I realize that becoming really good friends with your freshman year roommate in college is a total cliche, second only to the roommate from hell, but in my case it was actually true.
 I wasn't really sure what to write in this blogpost. There's so much I could say about Maggie, but I'm trying to avoid the overly sentimental.
 Maggie is always there for you, and you can tell her anything. Even if she highly disapproves of it, she will find a way to help you that doesn't just leave you feeling condemned. She can be amazingly tactful given how blunt she naturally is. (Bluntness, let me note, is a wonderful quality in a roommate, because you don't have to play mindgames to figure out if your piles of mess are annoying her--she will just tell you.)
 Maggie's family doesn't go to church as often as mine does, but her faith is stronger than mine is. Without the example of my family, I don't know where I would be today--certainly not where Maggie is. I consider her an inspiration.
 Maggie has an amazing sense of humor, and can also be amazingly naive. She can take anything in stride, and work with whatever life throws at her. She can share your sadness or your joy in equal measure. Anything I try to say about her seems to me to be falling short of who Maggie actually is.
 If the things that we love tell us who we are (footnote: T-Money Aquinas), then Maggie is a part of who I am, and it breaks my heart that she is leaving CUA.
I take some comfort, though, in knowing that she is not abandoning us, because she will be praying for us, and she is not going alone, because we will be praying for her. You can bet that the minute she is allowed to receive visitors who aren't related to her, I will be standing on her doorstep with a bag of M&Ms and the Sixtus CD. Maggie will be greatly missed, but I cannot doubt that she will be happy as she follows the will of God.
 Do not trust the stars that sparkle,
Stars will blink and fade away.
Do not trust the scent of roses,
Roses bloom and then decay.
Put your trust instead in someone
Who will always be sincere.
Sharing in your every smile,
Sharing, too, in every tear.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Making jam

We are watching my little cousins for a few days, so I am taking the opportunity to pass of the joy of jam making to the younger generation, or rather, the younger half of my generation. We are currently suffering the "problem" of too many tomatoes at my house, so we are making lots of relish and tomato jam. With the little girls, though, I made jalapeno jam. The recipe calls it jelly, but it isn't jelly, it's jam.

They were such a joy to work with. They chopped everything themselves, without any complaining about how long it took. The only negative part was when J squirted herself in the eye with jalapeno juice, but I would cry too, and I'm not nine years old. I rinsed her out with the sprayer in the kitchen sink and she kept on going.

Here are a few pictures. Since neither girl is mine, I won't post pictures where you can really see their faces. If you know me in person, you can see the rest on my facebook page.
 They wanted to see the sugar soak up the vinegar, so they waited to stir until it was all absorbed.

 I had the idea that soaking a paper towel in milk would help J's eye. I don't think it did, but it did bring some amusement to an otherwise bad scenario.

This is our yield, minus the half-pint jar that C took home. We didn't sterilize enough jars, so we had to use a pint jar that didn't get used for relish.

Friday, August 2, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 13

This week, if you forgot, will be 7 things I like better about the US or Bowie than about Freiburg.

1. The personality of Americans. If I have to wait in a long boring line, I would rather complain with the stranger next to me about how long the line is than stare at the ground. And although we already discussed how Freiburg public transportation works better, it is certainly more charming to hear the train driver announce "This is the last station-stop in the District Washington of Columbia, our nation's capital!"

2. Courses at CUA. I am open to the possibility that I just picked all my courses wrong, but not a single course I took last semester was challenging. At CUA, even if every course isn't a winner, I generally know how to pick courses that will be challenging but manageable. At the Uni Freiburg, I apparently don't.

3. My neighbors. They wear shoes. And shower. And they would never consider a parade at 1am to be appropriate behavior for suburbia.

4. The library. Ok, I know this isn't fair, because the Freiburg library was getting renovated. But it's so nice to be able to walk into the stacks and find the book you are looking for.

5. Having to buy textbooks. I would much rather pay $15 for a book and have it in bound format than have to print out several hundred pages and keep them all together and not lose them.

6. Not living with strangers. Need I say more?

7. And, of course, last but not least, my family!

For other people's takes, head over to Conversion Diary.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July Bible Verse Photography Challenge

Can I just say how much I love this link-up? It's once a month, so no pressure, and it challenges me to be creative and come up with my own interpretation of a Bible verse. I typically am not creative. I'm more of a follow-the-instructions type of girl.

This month's verse is: Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD. Psalm 36:5-6

When I read this verse, my first thought was of a church tower. So here's my picture.

"The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven." -Pope Benedict XVI.

To see the other photos, head over to Flowers Round the Cross!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 12

Yes, I'm a day late. I was too busy doing nothing yesterday to write a blog post. Today I have to work on my paper, go to a party/get together, and spend a long time on the metro. So of course I have time to write a blog post. IES sent my parents an email warning them that after returning to the USA, I would go through a honeymoon period and then a judgmental period as part of my re-entry adjustment and reverse culture shock. To me, this sounds plausible but also sort of bonkers, since Germany and the US are not really that different, so I am going to defy expectations. This week's 7 quick takes will be things I like better about Freiburg. Next week's will be things I like better about the US, or Bowie specifically.

1. Reliability and cost of public transportation. Public transportation in Freiburg is heavily subsidized, and even more so for students. (A six-month student pass is 79E.) During rush hour, street cars come every five to six minutes. They rarely break and they almost always run on time.

2. Low alcohol taxes. You can get a good bottle of wine for 4E in Freiburg. For a student budget, this is a blessing for Sunday dinners.

3. Availability of foods for special diets. The regular grocery store had a large shelf full of lactose-free dairy products, and there is a house brand of gluten-free food and ingredients. I don't know if it was just our neighborhood, but alternative diets seem to be more of a thing in Europe than here.

4. Architecture. I mean, really, a city that dates from the early twelfth century beats a suburb that was planned and then built in the 1960s. That's not even a contest.

5. Closeness to other countries. I could (and did) take a day trip to France or Switzerland.

6. Lack of work. I had more or less nothing to do, so I got to spend a lot of time sightseeing and relaxing. It was a nice break semester, and I'm sure I will miss it as I head into my difficult senior year!

7. Closeness to extended family. I have two sets of family members, one in Berlin and one in Dusseldorf, which I rarely get to see. It was nice to get to see both sets twice, once near the beginning and once near the end.

To see the other posts, head over to Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last Full Day in Freiburg

Wow! I leave Freiburg tomorrow. I will spend the weekend in Duesseldorf with my cousin, and then fly to the US on Monday. We arrive in NYC late at night, so I won't be going home until Monday. So, technically it will take me four days to get home. But then I will be home! And I can't wait for that.

Today is going to be spent running around doing all the little tasks that one has to do before moving. I would like to purge some stuff, in the hopes of not needing an extra suitcase to get home. I am pretty sure that's a pipe dream, but it would be sooo nice. I am going to leave a lot of the stuff I bought on arrival behind, such as my coffee maker, extra blanket, and probably a pair of shoes as well. On the other hand, I have acquired several books, and I was not very far under the weight limit when I arrived. Does anyone know if they actually check the weight limit on carry-on bags?

I will try to get up a 7 quick takes post before I leave, but if I don't, then I don't. All my thoughts are focused on getting home at the moment!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rome, Day 3

Day 3 was Sunday, and we didn't do very much touristing. We went back to the Vatican for Mass, of course. We got there over half an hour before Mass started and were late anyway because the security line was so long. The line for the Vatican Museums was over a mile long--apparently it was free museum Sunday.

 So many cardinals at Mass! Let the record show that Mass was over at this point. I do not take photos during Mass and heartily disapprove of this practice. After Mass, we zipped out to the square to see Pope Francis and hear him say the Angelus. Whoever is in charge of reading the Latin responses for the crowd to say needs to sloooowwwww down! I consider myself reasonably good at saying the Hail Mary in Latin and I couldn't keep up. Apparently BXVI's reader was even faster.

 Sadly, since I don't speak Italian, I had to wait to get home to find out what he said.
 Why are these pictures so blurry? Because this is what it looked like without zoom:
 That also gives you an idea of the size of the crowds. Shoulder to shoulder in hot sun with strangers who are all yelling. I got rather stressed out by this, and decided I would rather not climb the cupola than go stand in more lines with more crowds. So we went to a park, and relaxed, napped, did a little bit of birdwatching, and bathed our feet in the cool water of the fountain.

Then we wandered back into the city and had pizza and gelato for dinner.

I am ridiculously pleased with how well we did Rome on a budget! The folder on my computer is optimistically called Rome 2013, so we will see if I ever get back again. I would certainly like to.

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 11: scattered and short

1. This may be brief, because I have a paper to write! Normally, I don't really freak out about papers, especially not in philosophy, because that is my major, and I am good at it. (That is magnanimity, not pride. I hope.) This paper, though, is causing difficulties, because the library system here doesn't work super well, and it's in German.

2. The library system here. Sigh. I could write a whole ranting post, but I won't. Instead, I will say that while the Uni Freiburg renovates its library, the rest of us suffer. My typical way to get a group of secondary sources together is to find a call number that's relevant, and then flip through the books on the shelves around it. Here, because the books are not on their shelves for the duration of the renovation, you have to put the name of a book into their computer system and they will fish it out and you can go pick it up in two days. This makes it harder to find secondary sources, and harder to procrastinate.

3. Let me just say that while my super sturdy (and bright pink!) backpack may be designed for carrying around many large hardcover books, my back is not.

4. On a more cheerful note, I don't have any work to do other than that paper, so I hope to get in at least one more good birdwatching trip before I leave.

5. Does anyone have any experience traveling through Pearson airport? I have a really long layover there, and I'm wondering if it's worth the hassle to leave the traveler area and try to meet up with my aunt who lives in Toronto. On the one hand, I would have to go through immigration an extra time (or maybe two), but since Canada and the US are pretty friendly, it shouldn't be sooo bad. Should it?

6. Freiburg has a wine fest! I went with Kevin and a friend. We had a great time, although I didn't manage to get any very good photos.

7. Last but not least, please pray for a friend of mine, who fell down a hill and broke his nose and required 91 stitches to repair the damage done to his face. 

For some quick takes with maybe a coherent thought running through them, go see what other people are saying at Conversion Diary.