Sunday, July 28, 2013

7 in 7: The simple things

Sis and BIL decided that they needed an "adult" night away, the first they've had since Sara was born, and asked if we would want to watch her overnight.  Huh?  Like they have to ask!
Just a little over a year old, she seems to find almost everything interesting.  She'll spend a half hour just playing with and studying a plastic water bottle.  Watching the water move inside the bottle and the crinkle sounds it makes seems to intrigue her.
Uncle brought her outside and there they played with rocks in the water for what seemed like a long time to me.  They were both quite content and happy picking one rock up after another, studying them and then tossing them back in.

Sara was a nice reminder to me that things don't have to be complicated or complex to be interesting.  Sometimes slowing down and paying attention to the simple things can be quite refreshing!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quick Takes (28) - Question Edition

- 1-
I haven't done Quick Takes since the middle of last October.  I'm always amazed when I see that people have done hundreds of them.  How do you do it?

- 2 -
Is anyone going to the Chesterton Conference in Worcester, MA?  We were back and forth for a while about going but finally committed to it about a month ago.  I am hardly prepared but I can't wait to get there.  There's nothing like being surrounded by thoughtful, intelligent people who are also a lot of fun.  The "Catholic drinking" in the evenings doesn't hurt either!

- 3 -
What was I thinking?  Okay, that a rhetorical question.  I was on vacation this week and had grand plans of getting the garage cleaned out.  Yeah right!  I may have gotten about a tenth of it done; but that part definitely looks much better.

- 4 -
I think that when we get back from the above conference, the vegetables are going to be coming in fast and furious and we're going to need to start preserving.  I'm fine when it comes to tomatoes and other acidic things, but I have never pressure canned.  I think the amount of beets and beans that we will be picking will require that.  Any recommendations on canners?  On recipes and techniques? 

- 5 -
Did you do the 7 in 7 challenge?  How'd you do?  I found it pretty hard; not for lack of things to write about, mostly just lack of time and energy. 

- 6 -
Does anyone have dairy goats?  It has been something I have been wanting to do for a while but still need to put up a fence and build a barn for them.  Any advice or recommendations?
- 7 -

"No sceptical philosopher can ask any questions that may not equally be asked by a tired child on a hot afternoon.” – GKC in George Bernard Shaw

Don't forget to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7 in 7: wimp out post

I'm tired.  And worn out.  I took the hairy beast on three walks today and dug out shrubs in the front garden.  The mind is following the body and is shutting down for the day.  So I leave you with a couple of pictures from our excursion yesterday.  It's just a small taste of the day. 

Sweet dreams!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7 in 7: Martha or Mary

Sunday’s Gospel from Luke has always been one of my favorites.  It just screams to our sense of “fairness.”  Martha is doing all the work as Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and enjoys his company.  Why shouldn’t Jesus tell Mary to get off her duff and help her sister?

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.  Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.”  The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Lk 10:38-42

I used to think I got this Gospel.  On Sunday our Deacon did the sermon and put it in a whole new perspective.  I wish I could remember the examples he gave, but is came down to this: it is not a matter of servant or student, worker or worshiper.  We are called to be both: servant and student, worker and worshiper.  Our faith should be reflected in our works and our works should reflect our faith.

The parish I grew up in had a program called Christ Renews His Parish.  When I first started dating Himself one was being held and he suggested I go.  It was a weekend spent both listening to others share their faith and learning and appreciating my own.  We spent a weekend being Mary.

Little did I know that once the weekend was over the program didn’t end there.  That year’s attendees became the next year’s team and presenters.  The years following included doing meals for the weekend, putting on the Saturday night entertainment and hosting a Holy Hour for the attendees’ families.  One weekend turned into five years of various activities. 

The year that we did meals I took over leadership of the group when the
Lay Director resigned.  As we were preparing and making all our menus I reminded the ladies that this was our “Martha” year.  We were there to serve the women making Renewal.
Fr. Mac was our Spiritual Director, and, as I was talking to the gals, he sat there with his head bowed and eyes closed.  Since he was in his mid-eighties at the time I kind of thought he was sleeping.  Far from it.  He was taking in everything we said and then had a few words of his own.  He said it wasn’t quite like that.  Although we were serving the women attending the weekend we were also bring Christ to them as well.  At that time I just didn’t get it.  I was too wrapped up in the work we had to accomplish and was actually pretty proud of myself relating us to Martha.

I think I get it now.  We couldn’t serve those women properly had we not met Christ in the intimate way we did on our Renewal weekend.  Had we not sat at Christ’s feet what we would have been doing the weekend we cooked would have just been work.  But instead, what we brought was both work and worship both.

It is a false choice to say we either have to be Martha or Mary.  

What we need to be is Martha and Mary.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

7 in 7: Anticipation

Jen at Conversion Diary is hosting 7 Posts in 7 Days in an effort to get her blogging groove back. She’s invited everyone to join her. I’m starting a day late, which I suppose means I’ll finish late as well!

Near the end of June every year, the small town near us has its annual community festival.  It includes a carnival with all the typical fair foods, rides and games.  There is usually a 5k run and a number of bands for entertainment.  But, by far, the most anticipated part of the celebration is the parade and lighting of the torch.

For almost a week prior, people mark the spots where they plan on viewing the parade.  They spread blankets and leave lawn chairs.  They rope off tree lawns and patches of grass and bits of sidewalk.  No one messes with any of this.  This tradition is expected and respected.  Something good is going to happen and we are all waiting for it together.

I'm on vacation from work this week.  Last week, in a number of meetings, someone would mention a task that needed to be done but would follow up that it would have to wait as "Donna will be on vacation next week."  I think my ear-to-ear grin gave away just how much I was anticipating the time away.

I'm probably showing my age with this one. Perhaps you remember the Heinz commercials where the Carly Simon sings Anticipation while someone patiently waits for the ketchup to slowly grace their hamburger or fries.  At the end they exclaim that "It was worth the wait!"

It seems lately we want everything now.  We have instant messaging, 24-hour bank machines and grocery stores, EPTs, microwavable dinners, news in the time it takes to connect to the net, and instant oatmeal.  Even ketchup bottles are squeezable so that it comes out faster. 

It seems to me that there just has to be some things in life that are "worth the wait."  There is value in the pause between the now and the then. 

It could be the time is needed for preparation.  I'm not just going to step out the door and run a marathon.  If I tried that, I can pretty much guarantee I will fail epically or you'll find me near dead at the end of the road.

It may be that time is needed for something to come to fruition.  That ripe strawberry is going to taste a lot better than the green one. (unless the chipmunk gets it first!)  I'd much rather eat the carrot than the seed.

It could be that it is something over which we have no control.  The last couple of weeks the media has been strangely obsessed with the birth of the new British royal heir.  They were waiting diligently to announce his birth. 

Our Catholic faith is filled with times of anticipation.  During Advent we wait for the birth of our Lord.  In Lent we anticipate His death and subsequent resurrection.  Even purgatory is a time of anticipation; we clean and renew our souls in the faith and hope of heaven.

Hang on, baby, the best is yet to come!


Friday, July 12, 2013

How does your garden grow?

On the 4th we had a last minute, come-if-you-have nothing-to-do, holiday picnic. It ended up being just family and a couple of friends, but we had an awesome, relaxing time (minus me dumping over and shattering the ice tea dispenser). One of my favorite parts of the day was doing the requested “garden tour.”

We have a fairly large yard and lots of gardens. Lots of gardens means lots of plants. Lots of plants can get expensive but when you “shop” in families’ gardens the cost goes down tremendously and the memories go up exponentially. It was fun walking around pointing out plants that originated from both people that were there and those that weren’t.

The garden on the side of the driveway had traditionally been a catch all garden – where we put plants that we didn’t know what to do with. Up until the last couple of years it has been a mishmash of all sorts of perennials. When I was still doing the flowers at church I brought home spent Hydrangeas and azaleas after Easter and put them there. I moved some flowers from other spots in the yard to this garden. None of them survived.  

Funny thing how that garden turned out. One year mom split some of her lilies. She carefully marked each pot with the name of the plant and took pictures of the blooms on hers. They didn’t do very well for a while, barely hanging on. Last year I added in a number of bearded iris that dad split off of the plants in his back yard. This year the lilies are absolutely loaded with buds and blossoms. When they finally open it’s going to spectacular.

Last year when we became Godparents of Sara, Sis and BIL presented us with a shrub rose bush after the party. Since Sara’s Irish middle name means ”little rose” or “rosie” it was a most appropriate gift. Right next to it I planted a small, grocery store rose my aunt gave me for my first (God)mother’s day. She was so pleased to see that since May the plant has at least tripled in size.  

I caught my cousin checking out the butterfly bush in the backyard. Himself and I brought back a “volunteer” from my aunt and uncle’s yard when we visited them in Tennessee. This aunt is sister to both my mother and my cousin’s mom so it was fun to share its origin.  

While we were walking around I pointed out several plants that I either wanted to remove completely or thin out. My dad, cousin, and friend each went home with Scabiosa (doesn’t that sound like a disease?) to add to their gardens. Dad also pointed out several cone flowers that he liked. Once they are big enough to split, he’ll have a little more orange in his garden.  

I love wandering the gardens. Not only is it a joy to see the beautiful blooms, remembering where they came from is special too.

Now, if only someone would take those darn Hostas I’m trying to get rid of!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A good read: I Thirst

Several weeks ago I received an email from a new author, Gina Marinello-Sweeney, who noticed on GoodReads that I enjoy Catholic fiction. She suggested giving her first published novel a try. I am certainly glad she contacted me!

In I Thirst we meet college student Rebecca Veritas at Ash Wednesday Mass. During offertory she receives a mysterious note that, though she doesn’t know it at this time, will have a profound effect on her life.  

Rebecca may by a typical, albeit quirky, college student but her friendship with Peter is anything but. As they navigate their friendship they decide to write a play together. As the story progresses they learn more about each other and more about themselves.

Gina’s style of writing makes this a work of literature in the truest sense of the word. She weaves a story in a rather lyrical fashion. At times you wonder where she is headed. But, similar to reading GK Chesterton, if you just keep on reading, her writing takes you somewhere beautiful.  

The ending of the book left you wanting more, more of what becomes of Rebecca and Peter and their relationship. I expect we will be reading much more of Gina’s work in the future.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day 2013

from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “
one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Monday, July 1, 2013

That’ll be 5 cents please

A couple of weeks ago I was on FB when a friend started instant messaging me. I had posted a congratulations comment on his wife’s post announcing that they were expecting. The new family member should arrive sometime in November, and, after dealing with secondary IF, it seemed like something to celebrate. Apparently, to him at least, it wasn’t.

He went on about how they were having problems in their marriage and there was a possibility that the baby wasn’t even his. It broke my heart and Himself and I were both so shocked at that revelation. It wasn’t something we would ever expect from them.

Flash forward to this week and apparently paternity isn’t something that is in question any longer. It was a lot of supposition on his part that most likely turned out to be wrong.  

But, the damage has been done. The people to whom he told this will never look at his wife in the same way again. Our view of her will be colored by those disclosures.

All of this reminded me of some advice I received when I was newly married. When you and your spouse have an argument or big disagreement don’t go sharing it with the world. This person that you married, that you love above all other persons, is human and makes mistakes.  More than likely you will forgive him unconditionally and move on. But, when you share that grievance with another, one that doesn’t place your spouse above all others, you change their opinion of him, sometimes irrevocably.  They may not forgive him as you do.

That’s not to say you aren’t going to vent on occasion. He leaves the toilet seat up or his underwear on the floor. She talks too much when she drinks an extra cup of coffee and plays the radio too loudly.  

Those things, for the most part, are inconsequential.  Bad habits, maybe.  More likely endearing, or enduring (as we like to say), qualities.

Certain things should remain between you and your spouse.  And if that trouble is too big, too complicated to be handled alone, find a third party to help you work this through.  It could be your priest or pastor, a therapist, or even a lawyer. 

Looking back, I am mad at myself that I engaged in that conversation.  I was part of something that turned out to be gossip and innuendo.   As a friend I want to be helpful and caring; I want to be there in times of need as well as good.  I want the best for you and that includes the best relationship possible with your spouse. 

That will be five cents please!