Blog News You’d Hate To Miss

As Lent winds up, I’d like to let you know about some changes coming to the blog.

Those of you who’ve been reading me since the very beginning know that I’ve gone through a series of transitions as a writer.  I started out as an anonymous homeschool-blogger, just trying to share my experiences and get some practice writing for an audience.  Over the years I’ve been a contributor to other Catholic blogs, magazines, and books, as well as spearheading some projects of my own.

Variety and change are the name of the game.

With that in mind, and having had a week to reflect after the refreshing and fruitful retreat I took last weekend, now seems like the perfect day to share the changes you may see here.  What to look for in the future:

More Hands-On Experience.  Maybe it’s the coloring book rubbing off on me, maybe it’s all the art I post, but something’s having an effect.  From here on out, this is going to be primarily a craft blog.  I envision the bulk of the projects involving hot glue and day-glo pom poms.

Pom-Pom photo by Mvolz (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.  This is roughly what we’re going for, only with colors that are a little more searing.  These, glued to things.  Everything.

More Pop Culture.  Reader, you know how important evangelization is to me.  And every writer (myself excepted) seems to feel that the secret to evangelization is immersing oneself in the interests of the persons being evangelized.  I’m ready to take that advice.  For religious purposes, therefore, from now on when I’m not crafting, I’ll be keeping you updated on celebrity news, the NFL, and How The Gamecocks are Doing This Season.

We’ll continue talking about the weather, too, but that’s not a big change.

Less Depressing Arguing Stuff.   It took a lot of memes to get this through my head, but listen guys: Opinions on weighty matters are out of here like last year.  Giving a reason for your hope?  Some reasons are more equal than others, you know.  We’re going to focus on inspiring quotes from Anonymous. Where possible, I’ll provide an attribution to St. Francis of Assisi.  He probably said something like that anyway.

Same Great Sacred Art, Updated.  You already know I’m not much of a traditionalist — if it’s true, beautiful, good, and approved by the Church, I can work with it, new or old.  With that in mind, I’ll be sharing a lot more music videos.  Trap Masses, primarily.

As for Caravaggio?  Of course I’d never let that go.  But from now on, it’ll be all the great works of antiquity forward, but re-interpreted in the style of “Family Circus.”

You’re gonna love it.

Look for these great new blog experiences as often as once a year!

Welcome, Conspirators!

As the Catholic Conspiracy launches, here’s the 101 on this blog and what I’m doing.  You can make a meme out of this if you like, look at the answers and figure out suitable questions for yourself.

A. My name is Jennifer and I like to write.  I have sometimes gone minutes and minutes without thinking of something to write, but it doesn’t happen very often.  Like maybe it happened ten times in my life?  Ever? Okay, minute.  Minute and minute.

B. Why no, there’s not a combox.  There’s a com-group, and it’s on Facebook.  Join in if you like, you need not be Catholic to apply.  I’m not always there, but you can be.  There are people in the group whom you should meet.

C. The reason I am so sporadic in my internet attendance is because I am decrepit.  Sometimes I write about that.

D. My public writing is 99% Catholic non-fiction.  This post has a link to my archives around the Catholic blogging world.  I am still actively writing at Patheos as well.  For links to the books I’ve written and/or and contributed to, look at my publications page.  If you’re looking for the free PDF retreat workbook, look at my downloads page.

E. What will the relaunched Riparians be like?  Ha.  I tell you a mystery.  Riparians at the Gate is the non-anonymous successor to my first foray into blogging.  When I started writing at Patheos, rather than move everything over, I kept this place around for personal updates.

In coming back here and freshening up, one of my goals is to get back to more personal blogging.  Another is to get into Catholic stuff from a different angle than I’ll be doing at Patheos.  My final goal is top secret until I pull it off.  That’s my thought.

F.  People sometimes want to know what the name Riparians at the Gate is about.  I will tell you, because that’s your prize for being here on moving day.

  • It’s a weak pun off of “Barbarians at the Gate.”
  • The word riparian is because of all the -arian things I might be considered, that one is real. Met my husband on a river. Like to relax on a river. Really like rivers.  Fast ones, slow ones, but generally prefer narrower ones to wider ones.  In a pinch, any good creek will do.
  • Unlike some of the other blog names out there, Riparians at the Gate hadn’t been taken yet.

Those are enough reasons for now.  Here’s a nice river video.  It’s not me.  The spouse and I went out and scouted the route on the previous trip, and then I gave my seat to one of my offspring for the recording.

Yes, actually it was scary.  A little terror is good for the soul.

G.  So let’s talk about visceral reactions.  

I got to know Larry D. during our stint doing 3.5 takes, and the photo below is the one I’d use for posts for that. It warms my heart to look at that picture and think about doing a new thing with a pile of Catholic blogging friends who in some cases go pretty far back.

But the photo that totally makes my stomach go happy-wild is this one of our head-conspirator Rebbeca Frech’s daughter Ella getting air at the 2016 WCMX championships.  I think if you haven’t really done any mountain biking or BMX or WCMX or something like that, your body won’t be trained right to really feel the thing when you look at the photo.  But if you have done the thing, then you’ll look at that picture and your stomach will leap with excitement and you’ll be like, “Oh yeah.  That’s what we’re talking about.  Bring it.”

And that’s I think what the Conspiracy is — that moment when you’re really in the air with the Catholic faith, and the question of where or how you’ll land isn’t even on your mind, because hey — air time.

Photo by J. Fitz, all rights reserved.

 

So How’s it Going, Jen?

1. CatholicMom.com is temporarily under the weather, but when it comes back up (pray for Lisa Hendey’s sanity), my monthly homeschooling column should be there.  I talk about homeschooling-while-sick, but no handy tips, mostly just, “Yeah, my kids are awesome.”  I’ll link to the article when it recovers.

2. Prayer request for me: I’ve got two kids coughing and sneezing. Ordinary colds.  I’m keeping my distance.  I really, really, would be better off not catching this thing.  Recall: I’m already coughing just laughing or moving around too much.  Not in one of those dramatic, “time for the tear-jerking moment in the musical” ways, but still  . . . I’d just rather not go there. Whereever Me + Cold turns out to be.  Thanks.

(If I seem like I’m on social media a ton, instead of hovering over my children while they do their homework, it’s because yes, I’m trying to be in a different room than them. We’re in communication, yes we are.  School is happening, just more hands off than usual.)

3. Speaking of suffering, here’s a preview of my new blorg outpost:

The blog is still under construction, FYI.  Waiting on the header art, need to learn how disqus works, lots of little jobs. But I’m going ahead and getting a few posts up so that the living room isn’t empty when everyone comes over for the big housewarming party.

And yes, I discussed my assimilation situation with Larry D. and he said he’d pray for me.  (Um, seriously, I loved Larry’s Star Trek piece, which I can’t seem to find right now.  Larry & I are good friends online, and respectfully agree to disagree on the prudence of blorging.  Y’all: Larry’s got a special intention he needs prayed for, so regardless of your level of vexation regarding the blorg, say a prayer for him today?  Yes?  Thank you.)

I’ll announce again once the paint is dry and the curtains are hung.

4. What I do with my free time instead of watching infuriating television shows: I break into the spouse’s video editing software, and mostly don’t botch it that badly.  A few technical errors, but for my first attempt at making a movie without swearing or punching walls, I’m okay with it: Lord Have Mercy, There’s a Baby in my Church.

The artwork is from Wikimedia, and the soundtrack can be downloaded here, for free.  Pick the “Whitbourne Conf. Mass.”  Funny story: St. P’s did this twice, once on the weekend, and once for the Confirmation Mass, recorded with two different setups.  Jon asked me to pick which of the two I liked better.  I liked the sound on this recording better than the other, but I also really, really liked the babies.

St. Peter’s doesn’t usually put babies in their choir, but the bishop came, so they pulled out all the stops.

5.  People want to know how I’m doing. So, sometimes, do I.  What I know:

  • I feel perfectly normal as long as I’m sitting around.  I’m getting a lot of writing done.
  • Animated conversation kills me, but calm conversation is okay.  I thought I needed more boring friends.  I think I just need to not talk so loud, and listen more.
  • I cough when I laugh out loud.  This happens all the time, because of the people I live with.  I think it’s probably pretty safe.
  • I cough if I move around too much. I’m getting better at avoiding this.  I’m not sure if it’s from just breathing too deeply, or if it’s something more nefarious.
  • But a little bit of up and down, in moderation, isn’t a problem.  I’m getting better at figuring out what “in moderation” looks like, so I feel better and am less tired than a week ago.
  • Otherwise I’m totally normal. No problem with speed, balance, snarky comments, etc etc.
  • Actually I’m better than normal, since my other minor signs of decrepitude are all aggravated by walking around too much, and I’m nowhere near that level of activity.  Long term, of course, that’s a good way to die early.  But short term it’s pretty funny that being seriously ill = being not in pain, at all, unlike normal life in which a handful of minor aches are just everyday reality.

To do items for this week: Keeping aiming for that exact right combination of rest and activity, and avoid catching the girls’ colds.  Heart cath next week.

6. I’m not freaked out because, you know, catechist.  Forget the nonsense about facing serious illness with a “we can beat this!” attitude.  I mean sure, I’m all about that, and am doing my share to see it done. I strongly, strongly prefer being alive, thank you.  But sooner or later you’re going to drop dead.  Either you’re okay with that or you’re not.  Probably catechesis is not for you if the prospect of eternal life doesn’t take the edge off.

 

 

Sheengazing Awards 2014 – thank you, and you could vote

A hearty thank you to whomever nominated me for a Sheengazing award. When I got the e-mail I was puzzled, because my first thought was “Martin Sheen? I can’t even remember what movie it was . . .”   Oops.  That would be: Bishop Fulton.  If you happen to think that of all the under-appreciated blogs on the roster, mine is the best, feel free to vote for me.

The nice thing about being nominated to the UAB category, is that no matter where you end up in the final tally, you’re affirmed in your status as an under-appreciated person.  Am I the most under-appreciated?  The least appreciated of the under-appreciated?  Something in between?  We’ll know 9pm Monday.

Google Share Drama, Episode 3: Twitter

Ha.  Using my special idiot powers, I, um, forgot about Twitter.  Made myself a new twitter account JenFitz_Reads devoted to just tweeting links to stuff I’ve read and liked.  Put a feed in my sidebar, and of course those desperate to know what I’m reading can subscribe directly. [Update, if you already subscribe to my regular twitter compendium, I just set up the reading list to flow into that one.  So don’t follow both.]

A little clunkier than the old share button, but it works, and it double-works for things I find not in Reader.  (Or Bloglines, which I experimented with).  For the moment I’m using the Diigolet share button for things that don’t have a tweet button of their own.  Maybe there is an easier way?

We’ll see how it goes.

And yes.  OCD.  Must. promote. good. writing.  Quarter break ends soon.  The internet will be happier I’m sure.

Google-Share Drama, Episode 2

Here’s a link to the very helpful info Entropy recommended at Melissa Wiley’s site.  Some good ideas (in addition to what Julie & Sarah mentioned bleg combox.)  Hey and wow, another great blog to read while I’m at it.  Yay.

***

What’s the big deal about the Google change?  Here’s what I wrote in Melissa’s combox when I thanked her for the info:

Thank you for posting this!  I’m feeling the pain of not being able to share posts anymore.  I don’t like to do my topic-sharing on the social networks, because most of what I read and write about on the internet is politics and religion, two topics that don’t mesh well with my very diverse real-life set of friends. So I keep FB and the like purely cocktail-party talk, and if people want to know more about what I think, they can click on my website link.

I don’t have a double life on the internet anymore than I do in real life.  But I do try (no seriously, I do try) not to be a jerk and a bore.  My real-life friends are very kind, considerate people who make a point of not ramming some topic down my throat that I don’t care to debate.  I try to return the favor.  My friends on Facebook are real people I know in real life, people I respect and whose company I enjoy.   The link to this blog is on my facebook profile — if anyone wants to know what I think about death or taxes, they can click.  But they don’t have to.  I like it that way.

I debated whether maybe Google+ should be more like this blog and less like Facebook, and therefore, hey, yeah, fill it with links about politics and religion, why not?  But I don’t like that solution, for the same reason I don’t like (and therefore don’t do) flooding FB with Fr. L and Darwin and all the team.

And don’t tell me that Google+ promises to keep all my circles separate blah blah blah. I’ll believe it when I see it.  The general rule on the internet is that even when I try not to bore people by linking stuff in places it doesn’t belong, some clever inventor decides to combine it all anyway.  Also, I’m not looking for a new hobby.  So building up a thousand separate “circles” isn’t on my list.  If I do Google+ (and I suppose I probably will), you’ll all be in one very large circle.  Feels like a giant Girl Scout Camp ice-breaker activity.

Technical bleg – where’d the ‘share’ feature go in Google Reader?

Anyone have any advice on how to work around the sudden disappearance of the “share” feature in Google Reader?  I was really enjoying having a efficient way to point readers towards worthy posts by other people.  Got another feed reader you recommend?

mysterious new format problems?

A reader tells me that my new blog format is annoying.  From the description, it sure sounds annoying.  But here’s my trouble:

a) I didn’t change my blog format.

and

b) When I look at the blog, it looks exactly like it always has.

But apparently all of wordpress has fallen into the evil spell.  And when I look at another of the reportedly-affected blogs, it looks the same as always to me.

Help?  Anyone?

Thanks.

Brought home a couple lousy books . . .

. . . wanted to let you know about it, because it does happen.  One was a medieval history by a reputable historian incapable of documenting his bizarre conjecture and innuendo.   Very weird.  The other was a local history booklet that was 98% Town Yearbook 1945, with all the editorial biases of the genre.  I was okay with it, actually, but I have a school-spirit deficiency, so it wasn’t a good match.

All that complaining to prove this: There are actually books I do not like.

I was beginning to feel a tad self-conscious, because I keep finding books that I do like.  As if I were a yearbook editor, just cheerin’ on everything that passes my desk.  Kind of refreshing to read 1.15 horrible books in the row.

So there you go.  I don’t need my books to be perfect.  I’ll give a ‘recommend’ rating to a book that has weaknesses, as long as it does what it sets out to do.  Assumes of course it sets out to do something worthwhile.  I guess maybe my standard is this: When I’m done with the book, am I glad I spent my time on it?

(And my secret review program technique for avoiding the obligation to write bad reviews — which I hate to do — is to try to pick books I already know are going to be good.  Sometimes they turn out better than expected, sometimes not quite as good as hoped.  But I do try to rig the system that way.  Not such an altruist that I’ll intentionally obligate myself to read a dubious book.  Which makes me super super glad that horrid to-remain-nameless medieval history was not on a review program choice list.  That would been very many pages of pain.  And I would have totally fallen for it.)