Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boots and brrr!

It wasn't five minutes, but the weather did change.  Significantly.  I've never been so glad to work for a company that gives us New Year's Eve off as well as New Year's Day.

Unlike my garden gnome, I'll be tucked away inside.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Boots and beer, baby!

The weather around here has been a bit crazy this month.  Several days of temps in the teens and small blizzards followed by warming and gully washer rain storms.   The joke in this area has always been "wait five minutes and the weather will change."

The days leading up to Christmas, and Christmas itself, were frigidly cold.  So, when today dawned warm and sunny, we knew we had to take advantage of it.  We chose a new-to-us county park and headed out for a hike.  What a great day!

The park was lovelier than we had imagined.  There were open areas, a large lake with dozens, if not hundreds, of ducks and geese, and beautiful old growth woods.  Much of the time we had the trails to ourselves.  But, when we did run across other hikers, everyone was in a terrific mood.  What could be better than 50s and sunny in December?!

How about a beer on the patio when we got home?

Ah, the simple pleasures in life!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

And the winners are. . .

The hairy beast has decided and the winners are .  .  .

Stephanie Z
Quiet Light Morning Star
Please send me your snail mail addresses (donna1164 at gmail dot com) and I'll get the OLG medals right out to you.
Thanks for all your wonderful comments on the last post.  You are some really wonderful ladies!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A blogiversary giveaway

Three years.  For better or worse, that's how long I've been writing this blog.  There are days it seems longer and on others it feels like I just started.  Some days I have so much I want to put down on paper, so to speak, and others, many of them lately, I feel empty-headed. 

The blog sphere is an odd place.  We get to choose how much of ourselves we want to reveal.  Some pass out little bits and pieces of their lives and others give us the full Monty.  Regardless of what or how much is shared, it's just that, shared.  I feel blessed at all the people I've "met" and things I have learned.

So, to celebrate on my favorite lady's feast day and  blogiversary, I have two Our Lady of Guadalupe medals to give away.  Just leave a comment and Saturday evening the hairy beast will determine the winners.

St. Juan Diego, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Saints alive!

Last week TCIE posted a reminder about the saint selector over at Conversion Diary. I kind of hesitated doing it. I didn’t want to be disappointed in whatever saint was selected for me. Weird, I know.

The first year I did it, Our Lady of Guadalupe was my patron saint for the year. As I’ve mentioned before, she’s the depiction of Mary that speaks the most to me. I find her presence and her intercession very powerful.

Last year, when I clicked on the saint selector I received the name of a saint I had never heard of before. Nothing about her seemed like she was applicable in my life. So I click again and again and again. Every saint that came up was someone obscure and remote.

So, as I am wont to do when I don’t like something, I ignored it, well, her. To this day, although I remember it was a female saint, I do not recall which one it was.

And, that was my loss, not hers.

Who knows what might have been had I taken even a little bit of time to learn about her. Maybe she would have “spoken” to me in a way I could see how she figured in my life. If nothing else, I would have learned something about one of God’s holy warriors.

So, this weekend I put on my big girl pants and clicked that button.

And you know what? I still don’t know why I got the saint (or almost saint) I did. But this time I think I'll take the time to read something about him and perhaps figure it out.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Sand Pail Report - Saving the best for last

Back in the spring Himself and I put together our Sand Pail List for the summer.  It was a list of fun things we’d like to do that maybe we had never done or hadn’t done in a long time.

One of the comments I received was "Love this! Can we add "meet up with Rebecca" to it - and I'll put "meet up with Donna" in mine :)!"  And so it was added. 

And so we did!  It wasn't summer, but who cares?

We met in the middle at a beautiful resort/park to see the Christmas light display and have dinner.  When Rebecca texted me that they had arrived, Himself asked if I would recognize her when we got to the lobby.  Not a problem!  It was like meeting an old friend for the first time. 

What an awesome evening!  We talked about everything - faith, IF, authors, running, blogging, Breaking Bad, and so much more.  I love talking with someone who "gets it", who understands what we believe and why we do.  Those conversations are so energizing. 

Even a call from our dog/house sitter to say she locked herself out hardly paused the conversations.  A call to Sis to rescue the two strays set everything right.

I can't wait to do it again.

The Man, Rebecca, Donna, Himself
(I had to "borrow" Rebecca's photo.  I had two cameras and didn't take a single picture!)

PS.  Inspired by the surroundings and by this post we came up with a possible idea for next summer.  You'll just have to hang on a bit for more details.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Ugly Apples . . .

. . . make pretty pies!

I'm sure there is a life lesson in there somewhere, but, at the moment, my mind is too tired to find it.

We have an apple tree in our yard from when the neighborhood was a cattle farm.  The tree really hasn't produced much until this year.  Actually, it was so loaded with apples that a large branch cracked off.  The apples in the basket are from that one branch alone!

I didn't use nearly enough of the apples, for which I am sure the deer are thankful, but when I did, boy was the eating good!

I'm sure there are a whole lot of lessons in the basket of apples.  I'll let you figure them out!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quiet Rest

Maybe I’m a bit odd, but there is something I find incredibly beautiful about an empty farm field or garden.  After the crops have been harvested and the plants plowed under or removed, there remains nothing but bare earth.  The land has done its job for the season past and now rests in emptiness.

The next months will be spent under layers of snow or soggy in the wet of rain.  The colors will be dull and mostly monochromatic.  But still it is full of texture.  It is far from boring.
I think about this now not only because of the time of year and the chores I have just completed, but perhaps because of the time of year.  Hopefully that makes some sense.  

The weather is turning colder and the cycle of life for farm fields and flower gardens has come to an end.  Soon we will be preparing for Christmas. I have already seen the beginnings of it in the sale aisles of the stores and on the city streets where decorations are starting to pop up. The radio announcers have begun to speak of Christmas carols that they plan to play in the weeks ahead.

But now.  Now is an in between time.  The vibrant colors of summer and fall have faded and the holiday reds, greens and golds have yet to appear, but the texture remains.  Quiet, unassuming.  Resting.


Thursday, November 7, 2013


Growing up we were far from rich, but we never were in need of anything. We might not have had everything we wanted, but never lacked a warm roof over our heads, clothes to cover us, food to eat, entertainment and activities to amuse us.  

My mom taught us a great lesson, one she often showed us by example, that we should have our Somedays.  

Someday I will do this. Someday I will have that. Someday I will be whatever.

If we got everything all at once, she said, life would be boring. What would there be to look forward to?

As I mentioned, she was a great example. Growing up she was often told by her teachers that she was stupid and wouldn’t amount to much. Education past high school would be wasted on her. Thankfully, somewhere along the line she figured out that just wasn’t true.  

When I was in grade school she started back to school at the local community college. She had to drop out when she needed to go to work full time after my dad had gotten laid off from his job. After getting both her daughters through private high school and then college, she went back to school and earned her Associates degree with a double major. She knew someday she was going to do it and someday she did!

She had many examples like that. Most often it was about learning and doing. Someday she wanted to learn to play the hammer dulcimer and she did. Someday she wanted to work with little children and she did, as a tutor and teacher’s assistant in the parish kindergarten. Someday she wanted to travel and she did. She and my dad took trips to Bermuda, Hawaii, California, and just a year before she died, to Ireland. 

I started thinking about my Somedays. When I was young I often thought I wanted to be a writer. I loved reading and among my favorites was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Someday I wanted to be like her. Apparently November is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Perhaps now is the time to start.

When I was young, someday I wanted to be a mother.  At my age, unless God sends a stork to drop a baby in our laps, that isn't going to happen.  And I'm okay with that.

I think I would have liked the farm life. I would like to have goats and chickens and alpacas. Hopefully that Someday will be next summer.

Someday I'd like an always sparklingly clean house.  Not going to happen.  There's too much else to do.

I’ve achieved many of my Somedays. I have a wonderful husband, a lovely home, a beautiful niece and Goddaughter. 

I need nothing. But I yearn for Somedays.

What are your Somedays?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A great day to be alive

And it's a great day to be alive
I know the sun's still shinin’ when I close my eyes
There's some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can't every day be just this good?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our guest

A few weeks ago our friends K & S came over for dinner. With them they brought an extra guest. S’s mom has a traveling picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that she graciously sent to stay with us for a while.

OLG has always been near and dear to my heart. It is the depiction of Mary that speaks most to me. I also have had a few coincidences with her as well. I started this blog on her feast day (completely unintentional but I love it) and one year she was my patron saint.

I haven’t been taking advantage of her presence nearly enough. She sits on the fire place mantel, looking pretty but largely ignored. And, that must change. It is hardly a good way to treat a guest.

So, I offer this to you. If you have an intention for which you would like me to pray, either leave it in the comments or drop me an email. (donna1164 at gmail dot com) I will place it in a bowl at her feet and promise to include it in daily prayer to her.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Perfect Weekend

I wrote this two weeks ago and finally got around to publishing it.  I guess I too am suffering from that don't post unless it's perfect syndrome.  If that's the case, it ain't never gonna happen!

I have often said that the perfect weekend would be three days. One would be to do chores and errands, one to visit with family and friends and one day to just plain relax. I got lucky this past weekend and had it one better, a four day weekend. Lovely!

On Thursday we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Fifteen years! It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long and sometimes it feels like it’s been longer. Not in a bad way. But in a good way. Like life always included Himself. Anything before doesn’t count. But it did because it made us who we are and made us ready for each other.

Wow, I digress. Not where I was going with this.  

Anyways, back to the perfect weekend. Thursday we went to an art show at a local historic mansion. The estate originally was built by the founder of one of the larger tire manufacturers in the country and was later deeded over as a park of sorts. Oh to have a bottomless bag of money! There were so many pretty, pretty things for sale.
Friday we went for a drive down to Amish country and had a leisurely and delicious lunch at an inn that is the most un-Amish of places in the area. It’s tucked back in some rolling hills among a thick stand of woods. We had planned on walking the trails afterwards but the rain put a damper on that. That’s okay, we were rewarded with delicate kitty kisses from the local calico instead.

Saturday was the chore and errand day. Half a bushel of beets waited to be processed and canned. We’ll be eating a lot of beets this winter.  

The icing on the weekend, though, came on Sunday morning. Late Saturday we made last minute plans with Sis to go to mass with them. Sis and BIL live about 45 minutes away and the last time we were at their church was for Sara’s baptism more than a year ago.  

Sis often tells me that Sara can be a bit of a handful in church. She’s fifteen months old, that’s what she does. She wants to move and see and do. But from the Gospel on she settled nicely in Uncle Himself’s arms and was a perfect little angel. At the sign of peace she held out her arms to me and I had her to the end.  

And then best part of the weekend happened. I got to receive the Eucharist with my Goddaughter in my arms. How perfect is that!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Bagels and bad poetry

That shave your legs entry has been sitting on top of the post pile entirely too long. It's about time it goes away, or at least gets pushed aside.

Yesterday on the way to work I stopped for a bag of bagels for my IT compatriots. Just because. And, feeling goofy, I sent out the following email to everyone.

I was amazed at the silliness it brought out in people.  Both the bagels and the poor poem had people chatting all day.  Hmm?  Do you think we need to get out more?

I received this thank you from my manager.  I think it's a poem?

     Thank you Donna for the bad poetry
     Morning bagels are awesome
     Especially when they’re free!

The VP even added his own poem, bad as it was.

     Roses are red
     Violets are blue
     I'm having a bagel
     How about you?

What do you do "Just because"?


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why you should always shave your legs

After a gloomy day yesterday, this morning dawned bright and beautiful.  The fog off the ponds and in the valley I drive through was just stunning.  A few times the glare of the sun made it hard to see, but, all-in-all, it was a nice drive into work.

That changed when I got there.  

I parked in the garage attached to our building as I always do.  The indoor parking was filled so I ended up on the roof.  I grabbed my laptop bag and lunch and headed toward the stairs inside.  As I walking an SUV came around the corner, out of the shadows, and right into me!

I ended up sprawled flat on my back in the middle of the garage roof.  I spewed out a number of very bad words at the driver until I realized who it was, a co-worker of the nicest kind.  He was shaking like a leaf at what he had done.  He never saw me as he came out of the dark inside to the bright glare outside.

I was able to get up, with his help, and we headed inside.  As the morning progressed so did my aches and pains.  Talking to my boss and the HR VP, they felt it best I go to the ER to get checked out.  By the time I drove myself there I could hardly walk. 

I've got to tell you, those hospital gowns leave a lot to be desired!  It's hard to be modest in one.  And, when the doc came in to examine me she tested my legs, feet and ankles for motion and sensitivity.  All I could think of while she was doing that was I really should have shaved me legs this morning!

I went home with a couple of scripts and the forewarning that I will be hurting for a couple of days, but ultimately will be just fine.

So, when you remember the advice of your mother to always wear clean underwear because you never know when you'll land in the hospital, remember to add shaving your legs to that as well!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

My turn

I’ve heard about.

I’ve seen it happen.
I’ve even done it.

Heck, there’s even a movie about it.

But it has never happened to me. Until yesterday. On the way into work. At 7:15 am by someone in a cream colored Ford SUV.

On Fridays I like to leave for work early. Get in early, get out early, and get started on the weekend, you guessed it, early. About halfway along the ride in is a Mickey D’s where I sometimes stop for a quick breakfast. I pulled into an empty queue and, after a bit of a delay, gave my order.

When I pulled around to the first drive-thru window to pay, the cashier looked at me and smiled. “This is your lucky day” she said. Huh? She smiled again and told me that the person ahead of me had paid for my order. No! Really? “Yep! Have a great day!”

It was four dollars and seventy-three cents. Not a whole lot in the scheme of things. But, that act of kindness made my day.

I wish I could tell the driver of the SUV what her $4.73 bought.

Lots of smiling.

A grateful heart.

Kinder thoughts about people around me. Especially that one.

You see, all week I seemed to meet up with every idiot on the road. It got to the point that I would just assume that everyone on the road was an idiot.

Now I know that’s not true.

It’s my turn to Pay it Forward.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Silly, silly girl

I was looking for post I did last year where I listed everything that I had canned when I got side-tracked and started reading a bunch of other posts as well. In typical Donna fashion I was lamenting the process of looking for a new position. I went through an odd assortment of interviews last summer while on the hunt that left me feeling put out and inconvenienced. There were phone interviews and in-person ones as well as the one on Skype. I had mentioned in a couple of posts that one interview lasted four hours and one that was later in the evening.

As I was reading these posts I realized that both of the “inconvenient” interviews led me to this job, the one I hold now, the one I like so much. It's the one where the people with whom I work are good and the company treats us well.

Why did I think it was going to be easy?  As if it should be?  The jobs I had where the interviewing was an easy or quick process ended up being jobs I was so very, very glad to leave. 

Silly girl! 


Monday, August 19, 2013

Caught in the act. . .

. . . of pretending to be organized!

Every Monday morning I meet with my manager to go over what I did the week prior and what’s on my agenda for this week. I keep a list of projects I am working on and usually just update it and use that for our discussion.  

At the same time I do that list I also do a personal one. What are some of the things I’d like to get done this week? Many of the things on the list just carry over from week to week. Either those items are things that need to be done regularly or, in most cases, I just haven’t gotten to them. But, ultimately, for me, if I don’t write it down I don’t remember it. I’ve often said, I have a mind like a steel sieve!

But anyways, back to getting caught. I just create my personal to do list in Word, nothing fancy, but I like to add color, either reflecting the weather or liturgical seasons. The color printer in the office is across the hall, so before picking up my printout I stopped and got a cup of coffee.

When I finally made it to the printer there was someone reading my list. Yikes! Not that there is anything personal or embarrassing on it. She looks at me and asks “Just who is this organized? You?”  

Not really, but it certainly looks good!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saint GKC?

As I mentioned earlier, last weekend we went to the GK Chesterton conference that was held at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. The long drive was richly rewarded. We caught up with old friends, made new ones, and saturated our brains with much more than they could possibly hope to comprehend.

There is so much to tell you about the weekend, but since the best bit of news came early on, Friday night at the end of Dale Ahlquist’s opening talk, I guess that’s the best place to start.

For quite a while now, probably ten plus years, the Chesterton Society has been advocating for the sainthood of Chesterton. Apparently the cause needs to be taken up by the home diocese of the person in question. Prior bishops in Northampton did not find reason enough to get involved in this process. That seems to have changed. Dale made this announcement:

"Martin Thompson says that Bishop Peter Doyle 'has given me permission to report that the Bishop of Northampton is sympathetic to our wishes and is seeking a suitable cleric to begin an investigation into the potential for opening a cause for Chesterton.'"
This little nudge may have been just what was needed:

Ahlquist cited Pope Francis’ interest in Chesterton as possibly influencing the bishop of Beaconsfield’s recent move for an investigation.

“One of the reasons that especially motivated him is the fact that His Holiness, Pope Francis, expressed support for Chesterton’s cause when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires,” stated Ahlquist.

A March 10 letter to Martin Thompson, a leader of an English G.K. Chesterton group, from Miguel Angel Espeche Gil, an Argentine ambassador who heads a Chesterton group in Argentina, noted that the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, “encourages us in our aspiration to see the initiation of the cause of Chesterton to the altars.” **

**Read more: here 

To say that those attending the conference were pleased with this news is an understatement. I think we all read GKC for a variety of reasons, but the common thread among those is that he speaks the Truth across the ages. What he wrote a century ago is just as true today.

Many Catholic converts cite GKC as the reason for their entering the church. One of the speakers at the conference, Joseph Pearce, is one such person. Pearce has an amazing story that is just one example of Chesterton’s influence. He was raised in a staunchly anti-Catholic family, was an agnostic neo-fascist as a teen and was imprisoned twice by the time he reached his early twenties. During this time he began reading Chesterton primarily for his views on politics and economics, but eventually found himself reading Chesterton’s arguments on behalf of the Catholic Church and his defense of orthodox Christianity.


God our Father,

You filled the life of your servant Gilbert Keith 
Chesterton with a sense of wonder and joy, and gave
him a faith which was the foundation of his ceaseless
work, a charity towards all men, particularly his
opponents, and a hop which sprang from his lifelong
gratitude for the gift of human life.

May his innocence and his laughter, his constancy in
fighting for the Christian faith in a world losing belief,
his lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and
his love for all men, especially the poor, bring
cheerfulness to those in despair, conviction and warmth
to lukewarm believers and the knowledge of God to
those without faith.

We beg you to grant the favors we ask through his
intercession, [and especially for …] so that his holiness
may be recognized by all and the Church may proclaim
him Blessed.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 hours in CT

This past weekend we headed up to Worchester, Massachusetts for the GK Chesterton conference. Not wanting the bother of airports we decided to drive. According to Google Maps it was a 621 mile, nine and a half hour trip. So, we figured, with food and rest breaks, we should make it in about ten hours. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, being in a car for that long, but the destination made it worthwhile.

I am always amazed when I travel to see just how vast our country is. There is so much beautiful, undeveloped land. Driving through Pennsylvania was spectacular. Rolling hills, lush forests and steep stone mountainsides surrounded the highways. Himself was probably getting tired of me pointing out one gorgeous vista after another, but he humored me anyways.  

The small bit of New York state that we drove through provided us with more beautiful sights. The most breathtaking was the Hudson River valley.  
And then we hit Connecticut. At rush hour. What should have been a ninety minute leg of the trip turned into a three hour one! But, driving slowly through Hartford gave us great views of beautiful gold-domed buildings we would have barely been able to glimpse had we been going at full speed. Is Harford the insurance capital of the world? Every direction we looked was another, very large building with some corporate designation as a seller of insurance.

What was funny, at least to me, was once we got out of the 5-mile-per-hour-traffic-jam and onto open roads the traffic moved at a dizzying pace. I was going 70 in a 65 zone and looked like I was standing still! It was like each of the drivers was going “Weeeee…. I’m making up for lost time!!!!”

We breathed a sigh of relief when we crossed over into Massachusetts. We were almost there. But, no, not really. Unfortunately, I programed the wrong address into the GPS. Yep, that's right. Instead of arriving at Assumption College we were at the now closed Worcester Insane Asylum.  

When we finally did arrive at the conference, tired, hungry, and more than a little agitated, we ran into Dale Ahlquist. He asked how our trip was. Himself replied “Well, we spent a day in Connecticut this afternoon!”

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered;
an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.”

– GKC, All Things Considered, 1908

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!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

I’m Watching you, too!

There is a local car dealership nearby that has had a tradition of putting large inflatables on its roof. There have been snowmen and Santa Clauses at Christmas, an Easter bunny, monsters at Halloween and patriotic clad characters around other holidays. My favorite was the giant hamster.   

The dealership is right next to the highway in a commercial area that is highly trafficked. Apparently there are some in this little township that have something against these inflatables. They find them cheesey or tacky or distracting. So a battle has begun between the dealership and the township trustees in an attempt to limit and/or remove them. The trustees created a law, when read, is obvious in its intent. No inflatables are permitted with so many feet of a highway – almost exactly the distance the dealership is from it.  

Of course the dealership is fighting this regulation. And they seem to have a great sense of humor about it. I just love their latest “resident”.



Saturday, June 29, 2013

I’m Watching you!

When we put the new, expanded garden in last year I really wanted to put in a scarecrow. Just doing the basics of getting the new garden up and running took too much time. This year I got my wish, and, if I do say so myself, he came out pretty good.

Except for his hat, he was put together with things we had around the house and yard. The pole he is attached to as well as his “skeleton” are branches from a River Birch that we cut down after bugs munched all the leaves off.

His elbows are hinged allowing them to swing in the breeze and the hat is attached to his hand so it can go on and off his head as he/we see fit. He even has googly eyes!

The only thing he is missing is a name. Any suggestions?

PS.  It wouldn't have been a project without an injury.  I managed to slice my finger when cutting the cross bar for his shoulders.  Nothing bad, though, just enough to make it an official project!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

It would have been golden

If mom was still with us we would have celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary this past Saturday. As it was, we all went to mass together and then out to dinner. It seemed like too important of a date not to be acknowledged. When I think about it, fifty years ago was the start of our family. It was the beginning of something bigger than just two people. It was the beginning of our family history.

My parents met at a dance at the university my father attended. He was riding the rapid to the school and saw my mom on it, dressed up, sitting with her friends. He was immediately smitten and figured she was headed to the same place. Once they got there, he looked for her at the dance. They dated for two years, some of that long distance while dad was away at ROTC summer camp. He proposed in September of ’62 and they married following his graduation in ’63. After a three week honeymoon out west they began married life in Virginia on a military base where my dad was stationed for the next two years. 

They took their vows seriously and saw each other through good times and bad, sickness and health. They had shared values that they tried to instill in us; faith and family were what was important. Adversity seemed to strengthen them rather than pull them apart. When the steel company that dad worked for went out of business and he was unemployed, mom provided both moral and financial support. Mom’s diagnosis of cancer brought out a tenderness and protectiveness in my father like we had never seen prior.

After communion on Saturday, I was so very grateful. As I glanced at my dad to my left and Himself, Sis, BIL and baby Sara on my right I realized that this is what they started fifty years ago, this family. That’s what love started.