Sunday, June 23, 2019

100 Things

A couple weeks ago, Tim was talking to our neighbor across the street.  Mike told him that he had come to the conclusion that his “to do” list always had one hundred things on it.  He would finish one or two tasks and one or two more would pop up.  Since we live in an area where peoples’ properties are somewhat large, anywhere from two acres to ten, that can happen rather easily.

Mike has been retired almost the entire time we’ve known him, fifteen years, and he’s the kind of old guy that likes his lawn just so.  So much so that he’ll mow all five acres twice a week, whether it needs it or not. 

We long ago came to the conclusion that time spent on a loud mower is not something that we enjoy or want to spend our time on.  Our “mower guy”, Jim, does a bang-up job.  And those four or five hours are better spent elsewhere.   Even without the mowing, our list seems to stay steady at those one hundred things.

Finish the weeding in the front yard?  The back needs it now.  The roses that were blooming so beautifully last week now need dead-heading.  And the tomatoes that I tied up last week have grown a foot and need to be tied up again.  A tree that I so lovingly planted a few years ago died and need to be dug out.

A few years ago, I felt frustrated in the summer that my chores never seemed to be done.  Once I started to look at it as always being one hundred things, it has become a joy.  Playing in the dirt, watering the too many pots that I planted, or mulching the gardens has become a gift.  There is peace and satisfaction to be found in taking care of what has been entrusted to us.

Perhaps looking at other parts of life, not just yard work and property maintenance, in that way would provide that similar peace and satisfaction.  There is always an opportunity to do more.  And even if it is never done, there is joy in doing it.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

First Photo: June 2019

This time of year, we sit on the patio and say "Yeah, God!"  Lately, it couldn't be prettier around here, and for that I am oh so grateful.  This picture doesn't do it all justice.

Sun tea brewing on the post.  Flowers blooming in pots and in the ground.  Birds serenading us in the trees.  Water running in the falls.

What else is there to say, but "Yeah, God!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

An Open Book: April 2019

One of my "Donna-isms" is that life is too short to drink bad coffee and cheap beer.  I recently added to that litany, that it is too short to read bad books.  This month I kept to that adage and started and stopped several books.  I generally don't like dystopian stories or ones of vigilantism and revenge.  I recently discovered a couple of new-to-me authors, but some of the books in their series fall into those categories. So, there was a lot of starting and stopping of books this month.

Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'Conner is the latest edition in the Irish Village series.  Just after the start of a big poker tournament being held in the small village of Kilbane, the favored player is found hanging from the end of a rope in a locked room.  What are the odds that this was a murder and not just a simple suicide?  Gardas Siobhán and Macdara set out to find the truth.  This was a fun and easy read.

In League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout, Paul Chapin’s college classmates never quite forgave themselves for instigating the tragic prank that left their friend a twisted cripple.  They had every reason to believe that Paul himself had forgiven them—until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall, and the poems, swearing deadly retribution, begin to arrive. Nero Wolfe is enlisted to prove who is behind the threats and put a stop to them.

"As it turned out, the name of Paul Chapin, and his slick and thrifty notions about getting vengeance at wholesale without paying for it, would have come to our notice pretty soon in any event; but that Friday afternoon the combination of an early November rain and a lack of profitable business that had lasted so long it was beginning to be painful, brought us an opening scene—a prologue, not a part of the main action—of the show that was about ready to begin."

"I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always have a feeling there’s nothing alive about it, it’s all dead and gone, what’s the use, you might as well try to enjoy yourself on a picnic in a graveyard."

"But the fact remained that what chiefly attracted Wolfe about food in his pharynx was the affair it was having with his taste buds, whereas with me the important point was that it was bound for my belly."

In Where There's a Will by Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe is hired to investigate the  recently changed will that leaves the bulk of a multimillionaire's estate to his mistress and nearly nothing to his three sisters and estranged wife.  However, most of his time is spent solving several murders.

"It says that Mamma was an amazing woman because she was the mother of four extraordinary children. I have never understood why, in cases like this, it is assumed that Papa’s contribution was negligible, but there’s no time to go into that now."

In Stalking Willow by Fay Lamb, ad exec Willow Thomas is followed by someone at her home in New York City.  She is plagued by unwanted emails, phone calls, and photographs, but when her apartment is trashed, she heads back to her hometown in North Carolina to hide out for a while.  When the danger seems to follow her south, she has to learn to get along with those she had left behind ten years prior.  This is a great story of second chances and forgiveness, though at times is a wee bit preachy. 

I have been greatly anticipating the last book in the Hudson Sisters trilogy and The Goodbye Café by Mariah Stewart did not disappoint.  Each book in the series is told from the point of view of one of the sisters.  Allie, the oldest of the three sisters, is still trying to get her life back in order after a divorce and job loss has left her on the verge of bankruptcy.  Reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, and meeting Cara, the sister she didn't know she had, changes her in ways she hadn't thought possible. 

Veiled by Kendra Elliot has forensic investigator Lacey Campbell and her fiancé, Jack Harper searching for the killer of a woman left floating in a hot tub in a wedding gown.  At first it seems like her ex-husband may have done the deed, but when he turns up dead as well, Lacey and Jack determine something more is going on.  This was a quick read and had me guessing to the very end as to who had "done it."

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


First Photo: May 2019

I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that Spring has finally arrived.  We have noticed the return of a number of summer birds and have spotted fox and coyote and rabbits running through the yard once again.  And, better yet, that patio furniture is back in place!  There is nothing better than sitting back with a bottle of water or an adult beverage and watching the world go by.  Life is good!

“The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy like a bird in spring.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Cross Still Stands

I think for most of us, the news of yesterday’s tragic fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame came as a shock, as sort of some sort of demented bad joke.  How could such a thing happen?  How could such a beautiful place, that has stood through centuries, through many wars, be gone in just a few hours?

If you have ever been blessed to go there, you were probably like me and dug out your pictures and dusted off your memories of it.  It will be twenty-nine years ago this summer that I got to visit Notre Dame as part of a European tour I took.  The photos I have are dark and grainy, taken with a small pocket film camera.  However, they still convey the grandeur and beauty of Notre Dame.

I read of people dismissing the tears and sorrow many have shown over this loss.  After all, they say, it’s only a building.  But it is not just a building.  It was a visible and physical location of praise and glory and peace and love given by the artisans and worshipers to our Creator and from Him back to us.

As a Catholic, a church is home.  It is where we find peace and love and safety.  That is why we mourn it.  And, as much as Notre Dame was Catholic in every sense, it was also catholic.  It was universal.  It stood as an icon of beauty and testament to the ingenuity and talent of man.  You didn’t have to be Catholic to be moved by the cathedral and appreciate its greatness.

News reports and government officials are quick to label the fire as nothing but a terrible accident.  I have my doubts.  With the number of churches across France being vandalized and destroyed recently, this seems like more than a sad coincidence that that greatest church in that country should burn during Holy Week.

Evil doesn't like goodness, truth and beauty.  Whatever it was that caused this destruction, accident or intentional, there is one thing you can count on.  Ultimately, you can destroy a place, but the cross still stands.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Open Book: March 2019

The binge reading continues, mostly Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series and the rest of the Mercy series by Kendra Elliot.

In Too Many Cooks, Nero Wolfe actually leaves the confines of his New York brownstone and travels to West Virginia to speak at a gathering of the world's great chefs.  When one of the chefs is murdered, Nero is called upon to determine just who did it.  This is probably my favorite of the series so far.  And, as with all of the books, there were some really great lines.

"He hated things that moved, and was fond of arguing that nine times out of ten the places that people were on their way to were no improvement whatever on those they were coming from."

In Too Many Clients, a bidding war for his services interrupts Nero Wolfe's attempts to solve the case of the businessman who died in his love nest

“That’s not official yet, but there’s a hole in the side of his head that he didn’t make with his finger."

Besides, I’m offering a deal. If you’ll forget about my curiosity about Yeager until further notice, I’ll put you on my Christmas card list. This year it will be an abstract painting in twenty colors and the message will be ‘We want to share with you this picture of us bathing the dog, greetings of the season from Archie and Mehitabel and the children.’ ” “You haven’t got a Mehitabel or any children.” “Sure, that’s why it will be abstract.”

“Pfui. How often have I told you that impetuosity is a virtue only when delay is dangerous?” “Oh, six thousand.”

The door was standing open, and out she went. I could have kissed her on both chins.

Trouble in Triplicate is a collection of three short stories.

"He is a retired architect named H. H. Hackett, out of funds, and an unsurpassed nincompoop with the manners of a wart hog."

"It is a well-known fact that clowns have the biggest and warmest hearts on record except mothers and three characters in books by Dickens."

Murder at an Irish Wedding by Carlene O'Conner is the second book in the Irish series.  A famous fashion model decides to have her wedding in a castle in the small town of Kilbane.  When the former best man, who had been causing all sorts of trouble for the wedding party, is found dead, Siobhan sets out to find who did the deed.  As with the others in this series, this is a pleasant, fun read that is well written and engaging.

A Merciful Truth, A Merciful Secret, and A Merciful Silence are the last three books in the Mercy series by Kendra Elliot.  FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is busy in rural Oregon solving a number of brutal crimes.

Hidden, also by Kendra Elliot, is the first book in the Bone Secret series. Lacey Campbell, a forensic odontologist, is called to the scene where a pile of bones has been found. Items found with the bones lead her to immediately identify them as those of her best friend who disappeared more than ten years prior at the hands of a serial killer. This is a well written, engrossing story.

While I like Kendra Elliot's storytelling, I had a bit of a problem with Hidden.  All her stories have strong, though flawed, female leads who at some point meet and fall in love with another of the main characters.  In Hidden, however, there was a scene that read like soft core porn.  It was unnecessary and disappointing.  It took away from the storyline.

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


Monday, April 1, 2019

First Photo: April 2019

April fools!  At least that's what the patio feels and looks like to me today.  Last week I was out in the yard cleaning up the detrius left from this winter's storms and wind.  Saturday night we went to bed with a rain storm raging outside.  And, Sunday we woke up to three or four inches of wet, heavy snow. 

I have been ready for winter to be over.  So very ready.  I hoped when March ended so would winter.  Aparently not. 

But maybe the joke's on winter.  The home opener is this afternoon.  Play ball!

“There is a certain solid use in fools. It is not so much that they rush in where angels fear to tread, but rather that they let out what devils intend to do.”
G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions


Friday, March 29, 2019

Quick Takes (39): Holyart and a Giveaway

- one - 
With Easter just a few weeks away, I have started thinking about what I want to put into my niece's basket.  Usually it is a toy and some candy, but Sis has asked that we skip the usual big chocolate bunny.  I suggested a big chocolate cross instead, but I don't think that's what she had in mind.  Too much sugar sends Sara bouncing off the walls.

- two -
I think I found the solution to the Easter basket dilemma.  I recently learned about a new-to-me website, Holyart, that sells all things Catholic, including books and videos appropriate to younger children.

- three -
Based in Italy, this company started as Pulchra Point Snc religious shop.  Due to the great success of its website, they decided to move exclusively to online sales of religious art and products.

- four - 
The selection of items that they sell is extensive.  They have items needed for churches including vestments and altar linens, candles and chalices,  furniture and, my favorite, bells.  Things for your home or for gifts is almost unlimited: statues of saints, icons, rosaries, holy medals, books, videos, magnets and greeting cards.  I can't tell you how long I spent going through all the beautiful rosary bracelets looks for just the right one, there were that many from which to choose.

- five - 
I was amazed at just how fast their shipping is.  The package I received from Holyart arrived in just a few days.  From Italy!  I have ordered things from US based companies that have taken much longer than that.

- six - 
Holyart has graciously provided me with a bracelet that I will give to one winner.  To enter, visit their website and leave a comment here on what piqued your interest.  Also indicate if you would prefer an adult or child sized bracelet.  I will draw a name next Friday, April 5th.

- seven - 
"Charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all."
- G.K. Chesterton (“Paganism and Mr. Lowes-Dickinson,” Heretics)

Don't forget to check out more Quick Takes at This Ain't The Lyceum.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Open Book: February 2019

Some people binge watch television shows.  I binge read books.  When I find a new author that I enjoy it's like finding a pot of gold.  I want to read everything I can by that person.  Books by Rex Stout, Kendra Elliot and Carlene O'Conner are what I am gorging on lately.

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout is the first novel in the Nero Wolfe series and was originally published in 1934.  The story revolves around the murders of an Italian immigrant and wealthy college professor.  As with all the books in this series, much of the fun in reading them is the banter between Nero and his assistant, Archie.

 “Some day, Archie, when I decide you are no longer worth tolerating, you will have to marry a woman of very modest mental capacity to get an appropriate audience for your wretched sarcasms."

The Red Box has Nero Wolfe trying to determine who is poisoning people with cyanide laced candies. 

It was after two when I went to the garage for the roadster, and there I got another irritation when I found that the washing and polishing job had been done by a guy with one eye. 

I received Merciful Fate by Kendra Elliot through a GoodReads giveaway.  Mercy Kilpatrick is an FBI agent that has recently moved back to the small Oregon town in which she grew up.  The skeletal remains of someone that had been involved in a bank heist thirty years prior are found.  Of the other people involved in the crime, three have vanished and one, caught at the scene, now resides in jail.  Mercy sets out to solve a seemingly unsolvable case.

Although this is the fifth book in the series, it read well as a stand-alone story, but at the same time made me want to read the rest of the series to learn more of the history of all the characters within it.

Merciful Death, also by Kendra Elliot, is the first book in the Mercy series.  Mercy Kilpatrick comes back to the small town in which she grew up but hasn't been to since she left fifteen years ago.  Someone is targeting the survivalists, murdering them in their homes and stealing huge numbers of weapons.  This has created federal suspicion of a possible domestic terrorism event.  Mercy is sent by the FBI to assist local authorities in stopping these murders.

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Conner is the first in the Irish Village Mystery series.  One morning as Siobhán O’Sullivan is about to open the family bistro she runs with her siblings, she discovers a man dead in one of the booths, a pair of pink scissors sticking from his chest.  With the local Garda suspecting her older brother of the crime, she sets out to find the real culprit.  This was a fun, sweet read.

Head on over to Carolyn's for more An Open Book.


Friday, March 1, 2019

First Photo: March 2019

There's a saying we use around here - wait five minutes and the weather will change.  That seems to describe February.  Up until yesterday, the falls were solid ice this week.  And that's because we had some warm weather last weekend and turned the water on.  The temperature fell quickly and froze it over in just a couple of hours.

The scenery changed in just minutes today, too.  When I came home from my outing, there was a migration of Grackles going through the area.  Some were checking out the falls and others feasted on the suet on the shepherd's hook.