Monday, June 18, 2018

Reading Genius

A few weeks ago, my almost six year old niece was having a conversation with Himself.  She told him, "Mommy said that you and Aunt Donna are reading geniuses."  I stopped listening there.  I have never been called a genius at anything.  My sister thinks that?

I have always loved to read.  Growing up, I was the kid in class that got in trouble for reading too much.  Is there such a thing?  My family made bi-weekly trips to the library and when I finished reading the books I picked out I would start in on what my dad had chosen.  I think I read Surgeon Under the Knife and books by Dorothy Fuldheim when I was in Junior High.

I remember hiding my books between the mattresses.  After I got tucked-in for the night, I would slip them out and read by flashlight under the covers.

I track my books on GoodReads and set a goal for the year of forty books.  As we near the halfway point of the year, I am closing in on that goal.  I have read mostly fiction with just a couple of biographies thrown in for good measure.

At the beginning of the year I created a list on GoodReads, 2018-to-read, of a dozen books that I own that I have been wanting to read and haven't.  I think it is about time to get started on them.

There has been a lot of discussion of this book on Leila's FB book club.  I think it will be an enlightening read as one who grew up in an intact family.  I have a feeling, too, that will also be a bit depressing.

It's GKC.  What more needs to be said?

When I was young, the Little House books were my favorite.  So much so, I tried to convince my parents to plan one of our vacations around visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield, MO.  That didn't happen, but I still have those books and look forward to passing them on to my niece.  I won this book on GoodReads and really need to get to reading and reviewing it.

I have see some of St. Catherine's quote, but I know nothing of her life.  I want to learn more.

It is reported that on several occasions GKC sent a telegram to his wife Frances from some distant (and incorrect) location, writing such things as "Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?"  A woman married to such an eccentric and a genius has to be some sort of special herself.  I want to know more.

I read the first two books in this series and they were terrific.  I started on this one a while back and, while the writing is still excellent, I found it much darker than the first two.  I think it's one of those books that I will just have to be in the mood to read.

St. Therese is my confirmation saint and I have read her autobiography and her letter.  I would still like to know more about her.

Himself thoroughly enjoyed these stories and they come highly recommended. 

I have been lucky enough, albeit briefly, to meet and speak with Mr. Pearce.  I am awed by his life story and his brilliance.  One of the best books I ever read was his biography of GKC, Wisdom and Innocence.  If this biography of Hillaire Belloc is half has good, I am in for a real treat.

I have had my copy of this book since shortly after it came out and well before he became a Bishop. 

When we still had cable, this show was one of my favorites to watch on the Food Network.  I like learning the science behind cooking different foods.  I can see why technique makes such a big difference for some items.

We were going to read this for a book club that I was in.  But life got busy and I had to drop out of the group.  It's been sitting on the shelf for many years just waiting to be read, club or no club.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WIP(#14) - Done and Almost Done

They say time flies when you're having fun, so I guess I must be having a blast.  Actually, I think I am.  I love this time of year.  The weather is great.  The yard is bright and green and vibrant.  And there is always something to do.

I put the sewing machine away for a while, but not before finishing a few projects.  The gray fleece jacket turned out fairly well.  I had gotten partway through sewing it, then put it aside to work on the baby quilt.  And then it took me a while to get back to it.  Somehow I had convinced myself that the remaining sewing that I had to do on it was going to be difficult.  You know how long it took me to finish it?  Twenty minutes.  I don't know why I do that to myself.  Make something seem harder than it actually is.  Weird.

The fun project was the baby quilt below.  Once I figured out what I wanted to do and found just the right fabrics, it came together rather nicely.  The teddy bear print is a Boyd's Bear print and is just as sweet as can be.  I sent it off to the mom-to-be about a month ago, hopefully long before baby arrives.

The current in progress project is, of course, mulching the gardens.  This year I only had four yards delivered instead of the usual five.  I started it with great gusto and then got side-tracked.  As of yesterday, though, I probably have less than a yard of it to go.

Working in the gardens, weeding and mulching, has been therapeutic.  I don't deal with "stupid" very well, and lately I have been encountering a lot of it, both at work and on the roads.  I suppose the good  Lord is trying to teach me patience or some other profound lesson, but I'm having none of it.  Yanking weeks lets me work out my frustrations!

"Only" four yards

Mulched - Done on the left, Almost Done on the right!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Funny Foto #21: What's Yours?

On the way to work I pass a gas station that has a mobile sign out front that they update often.  The latest one amuses me.  Wonder why?

But I am reminded of a quote by GK Chesterton:
"We should thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them."


Friday, May 4, 2018

QuickTakes(36): Beautiful Artwork and a Giveaway

- 1 -
We have attended a number of Chesterton conferences where they have something I refer to as "Merchant Row."  Different vendors set up displays or booths in which they sell their products.  More often than not, most of the merchants are selling books.  Back in 2011, we went to the conference that was held in St. Louis where artist and iconographer, Daniel Mitsui, had a magnificent display of his works.

- 2 - 
While he has different types of work, his religious drawings are what really pull me in. The detail in each one is stunning. 

Feasts of Christmas

St. Elizabeth

Sacred Heart

St. Damien of Molokai

- 3 -
He was commissioned to draw a set of altar cards, in ink on calfskin vellum with gold and palladium leaf details.  They are beautiful and incredibly detailed.

- 4 -
Daniel had created a series of Coloring Books that were published by Ave Maria Press. 

- 5 -
Since the conference back in 2011, I have been receiving Daniel's monthly newsletter.  He updates his readers with what is happing with his artwork and what new items he has recently created.  You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to

- 6 -
Daniel has graciously provided me with a set of his bookplates that I will give to one winner.  To enter, visit his website and leave a comment here on what piqued your interest.  I will draw a name next Friday, May 11th.

Drawing CLOSED.  

The winner is Lynda.  

- 7 -
"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

 - GK Chesterton

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

Have a great weekend!


Monday, April 23, 2018

My Great "Dress-capade"

The company I work for held its board meeting at the local plant this past week.  Normally the it's held at the corporate headquarters across the country.  The night before the meeting, the plant held a cocktail reception at a nearby hotel's conference room.  I've moved just enough up the food chain to get invited to it.

When I told Himself about it, he suggested I find a new dress for the occasion.  I have a number of dresses in my closet, but most didn't seem the right thing to wear.  Too formal.  Too casual.  Too boring.  Hasn't fit for a while.

Unfortunately, I found out about this event just a week before it was to occur.  Not a lot of time to find something appropriate.  And, I have specific requirements for a dress.  I'm not exactly small, so it has to come in plus sizes.  I prefer sleeves.  No bold or garish patterns.  I don't want anything short.  It should come at least to my knees, preferably below.

Do you know just how hard it is to find a dress in a week that meets all that?  

Close to impossible.

I stopped at a couple of stores nearby.  Nothing.  So we went online and started looking.  I found several dresses that I liked, but they wouldn't arrive in time.  Himself found the navy dress, but when I finally went to buy it, it was backordered, to July.

So on Tuesday, the day before the reception, I went to a few stores at lunchtime.  The first one I went to had exactly two dresses in the plus size department.  They were polyester, shapeless, and looked more like beach cover-ups.  The next store I went to was worse.  The had exactly one dress, a knit dress with a palm tree print on it that looked like it should be worn to a luau.  The last stop had me shaking my head.  I suppose if I was nineteen and going to a bar, the dresses might have been okay.  But, then again, not.  They were so short I don't think I could have bent over without giving an unwanted view to anyone who happened to be looking my way!

I was getting desperate.  On the way home a made a few more stops.  One store I stopped at had quite a few dresses.  But remember my sleeves requirement?  Only one dress in my size had sleeves.  And it fit.  And it came to my knees.  So I bought it.

I made two other stops, just in case I could find something better.  The one department store seemed to have nothing but "formal" dresses - sequins and beads and taffeta.  The other department store had a few from which to choose, but again, where are the sleeves?  I did find one with sleeves and it appeared to meet the knee length requirement, but the fitted, cross over bodice  provided a view of my bust that no coworker should ever see.

When I got home and showed Himself the dress I bought, I think he had the same thought I did - why did I buy it?  It was pretty blah and shapeless.  So, after all that I decided to return the dress and wear the boring black one that I already owned.

One would think the story ends there, but no.

On Wednesday I packed a bag with my dress shoes, pantyhose (two pairs), slip and jewelry.  The dress was transported on a hanger.

After work, I locked myself in my office and started getting ready.  I start putting the hose on and noticed a run.  Well, I congratulated myself, that's why you brought two pairs.  Just in case.  As I put the second pair on, you guessed it - another, and much longer, run. No!

Thankfully, I had a little time before the event started.  I decided to run to the store for new nylons.  I finished getting dressed and slipped my shoes on bare legged.  It wasn't comfortable, but it was just for a short time.

I had to go to two stores before I found what I was looking for.  I grabbed the package and dashed into the dressing room to put them on.  And I found why my foot was hurting so badly.  I had a large, bloody blister on my heel.

I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh or cry.  I limped out of the store, drove to the hotel, and headed straight to the bar!

I haven't decided if I am giving up on wearing dresses or if I am just going to start sewing them myself.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Quick Takes (35): Work Facinates Me

- 1 -
"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."
- Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
I've heard variations of this quote, and have always liked it in a joking sort of way.  But never was it more true than on this past Tuesday when we had two very large, very dead trees removed.  Watching the team of guys work at the task at hand really was fascinating.

- 2 -
We had two trees, one Ash and one Cherry, that died a couple of years ago.  Hawks liked to perch in them while hunting their prey and we like to watch the hawks, so we put off having them cut down.  But recently too many large branches started falling off, so we knew they had to go.

The team of five guys spent the better part of an hour setting up and getting their equipment in place.  They needed to use a crane with a one hundred foot boom to get near the tops of the trees.  One of the guys was hoisted up and he attached straps around the branches.  He was then lowered some where he took a chainsaw to sever the trunk.

- 3 -
After the trunk was cut the boom operator swung the cut tree around and lowered it to the ground.  Several other guys then got to work cutting it into smaller chunks and feeding the bark and small branches into the chipper.

- 4 -
I don't think we will need firewood for a long, long time.  I am glad that I'm not the one who has to split all that!

If it wasn't for that pile of wood, you would never know that we had any work done in the yard.  The tree removal service was that good.  The pride they took in their work is obvious by the care they took in how they did it.

- 5 -
Himself counted the rings on one of the logs of the Ash tree.  It was nearly one hundred years old when it died.  I've got to wonder at all the changes that the tree "saw," how things changed in this area.

- 6 -
When the Hairy Beast wasn't supervising the work, he was assisting with debris removal.  Our "puppy" celebrates his 11th birthday today.  Happy Birthday, Jack!

- 7 -
It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating.”
–  All Things Considered by GK Chesterton

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

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Throwback Thursday

On Tuesday I worked from home.  We were having some work done in the yard and I wanted to be around to ask and answer questions.  I also wanted to keep an eye on what was going on.  In the afternoon, I had to attend a staff meeting that we held via video conference.

Partway through the meeting I heard some shouting outside, so I got up to see what the fuss was all about.  It turned out to be nothing.  Later in the meeting I had to give my report.  The guys started laughing. 

Nice picture, Donna!


The one on the door.

Ugh.  I forgot that it was there.  They saw it when I peaked out the window.

When I was in high school, I think my junior year, my sister and I decided to surprise our parents with a formal portrait of ourselves.  We had snagged a coupon from May Company department store for a free 8x10.

Nineteen eighties big hair and not much fashion sense, we snuck out of the house and got our pictures taken.  Even if Sis' plaid blouse didn't exactly go with my floral one, our parents loved the photos.  They liked them so much they got a really BIG print of their favorite.

A number of years back, my dad was cleaning out a cabinet and found the photo.  Sis didn't want it but Himself did.  The only place I would let him hang it was on the back of the upstairs office where no one could see it.

Or so I thought.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Knock, knock! Who's there?

Yesterday morning Himself heard what sounded like pounding outside.  He guessed that maybe one of our neighbors was getting a new roof or some other construction.  Later on, though, it sounded much closer.

He finally found the source.  This robin has spent hours sitting on a branch of the rhododendron knocking on the dining room window.

We have tried scaring her away and putting pictures on the window to hide the reflection of the bush, but she persists.  I think she wants in where it is warm.

My guess is that she isn't too happy that there is still snow in April.  Where are all the worms?


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WIP(#13) - Baby Steps

First day of spring?  Yeah right!  Not even close.  Six inches of snow, overnight.

If you couldn't tell from my last post, I am so done with winter.  But apparently it isn't done with us. 

If schools are closed, I figure the roads aren't good enough to drive on.  Usually, since I have the option, I just work from home.  But, for whatever, not very good reason, I left my laptop at work last night.  It almost always comes home with me every day.  

So what's a girl to do? Play hooky from work and have a jammy day.

And it was good!  

We did a bunch of odds and ends and a bunch of just plain relaxing.  

We hung pictures and took apart a television.  I read, made Irish Soda bread, sewed, read some more, and went out to lunch once the roads were cleared.  All-in-all, a perfect day.

We "reframed" some paintings that we bought in Italy.  And by we, I mean Himself.  We got the pictures from street artists as souvenirs during the trip in which we got engaged. (20 years ago, today!)   The frames were kind of a gold painted wood with light teal matts and they didn't quite go any more with our décor.  I was going to buy new matts, but a little bit of spray paint, both on the matts and frames brought the paintings back to life.  I'm so lucky to have such a handy husband!

Back in January, I mentioned that I wanted to make a fleece jacket to wear around the house in the colder months.  I started it and have been making progress ever so slowly.  After cutting it and doing one seam on my regular machine, I decided that the serger would work better for that.  So, the next challenge was getting the machine out of the basement and set up.  If you know anything about sergers, they are a royal pain to thread.  I'm happy to say that although it was challenging, and took multiple attempts, I didn't say any bad words in the process.  Yeah for me!

As close as the jacket is to being done, I started a project that is much more fun and has me really enjoying sewing once again.  But I can't show you it yet.  It's a baby quilt.  The mom knows about it, but she just might see it here, so no pictures.  Sorry.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Marching Through Lent on Idle

I woke up yesterday morning, again, to the sound of the snow plow going down our street.  This winter has been hard.  It just doesn’t end.  We should be seeing signs of Spring – crocus blooming, daffodils peeking out and Robins returning – but we don’t.  Just more snow.  And more cold.  And more steel gray skies.

This winter has been hard.  I can see it in what I have been doing, or more accurately, not been doing.  I had plans, once the holidays were over, that I would sew and clean the basement and write.  I had emails to return and phone calls to make.  I have never, in all these years of blogging, gone this long without writing anything.  But instead, I fussed with a failing computer, watched way too much television, fought the flu, and slept.

I was talking with a coworker last week about this.  Thankfully, she is a woman of great faith so she understood what I was saying.  I told her I felt empty this winter.  We talked about my view of hell.  Most people picture it as scorching hot, flames of fire, unquenchable thirst.  I see it as just the opposite.  Hell is winter and cold.  Because, after all, what is hell?  The absence of God.  And what is winter?  The absence of heat and color and life and growth.

I don't feel the absence of God.  Far from it.  But this winter made me feel like I was getting a little glimpse of hell.  And you know what?  I don't like it.  At all.

At Mass on Sunday, Father reminded us, that Lent, too, is long and difficult.  As we marked Laetare Sunday, Lent’s midpoint, we might just feel like giving up.  If we have stumbled on our Lenten observances, whether it’s giving up sweets or TV or doing something extra, it is at about this time (donna) that we’re ready to just quit. (get out of my head, Father!)  But don't!  He said now is the time to recommit.  To keep trying. 

So I guess winter is a bit like Lent.  Maybe I fail.  Maybe I feel like I'm running on empty.  But, try.  Even just a little.

Satchel says it best