Wednesday, December 31, 2014

First Photo: Things Changed But They Didn't

Dwija is hosting a linkup over at her blog, House Unseen.  The gist of it is that you should post twelve (or so) photos that highlight your year.   I am not sure that I could come up with that many photos or that few photos to describe my year.

It’s not that I didn't take pictures.  I did.  They are mostly of gardens, trees, and flowers and of the best niece and God-daughter ever, Sara.  I didn't take a lot of other people or events.

I think the First Photo pictures are representative of my 2014.  Things changed but they didn't.

It’s the same tree, taken from the same location, month after month.  But, the seasons changed.  The sky and the weather and the other trees changed.  The tree stands tall and sturdy.  It changes but it doesn't.

That was my year.  Things changed but they didn't.  

We entertained a lot and spent a lot of time with family and with friends.  Some of them we see often and other friendships were long missed and joyfully renewed.

We worked in the gardens and had a harvest to show for the effort we expended.  We also dug out plants that were beaten down by the harsh winter we experienced.

I saw things in myself that I wanted to change, to improve upon.  I started eating better and exercising (at least until I couldn't).  I tried to watch less TV and read more.  And yet there's a lot more to be done.

A lot.

And that's what 2015 is for.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Wonder Doubled: Restoration Work

We have a new post up at the USCCB website For Your Marriage.

There’s no such thing as a free pair of pants.  Donna came home from shopping with three new pairs of pants for me.  I liked them very much and thanked her for thinking of me.  She grinned and said, “I’m glad you like them.” as she sheepishly held up a broken piece of tail light from our car!  Apparently, an aggressive metal post attacked the rear bumper as Donna was cautiously backing out of a parking spot – the previous day.

 You can read the whole article here.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Joy on a Gray Day

Yesterday has to have been one of the grayest, dreariest days I have seen in a long time.  It was like someone took a can of flat, gray paint and coated the sky in a dismal stainless steel color.  There was no texture, no clouds, nothing to break it up.

So, what's a girl to do?  Go to the park for a walk.  And, apparently someone felt the need to spread a little cheer.  It was much appreciated!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Wonder Doubled: Holy Order

We have a new post up at the USCCB website For Your Marriage.

A finger painting is taped to a door of the hutch in my home office. Next to my laptop is a small wind-up toy monkey that swings on his knuckles across my desk. A little over two years ago my man-cave resembled a well-ordered English gentleman’s club. Our goddaughter had yet to be born, though! So, my bookshelves were exclusively filled with stodgy political and historical titles. The trinkets on the polished desktop were all in their proper places. And, most importantly, the green shade on my banker’s lamp was tilted just so.

You can read the whole article here.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Soup-er Sunday: Tomato Bisque

My aunt and uncle used to live in western North Carolina.  It is such a beautiful area.  You could see the Appalachian Trail from their front porch.  Except for the almost eleven hour drive, we loved to visit them there. 

On a couple of our trips we went white water rafting on the Nantahala River.  In a guided, eight person raft, it was great fun.  In a double ducky, however, it was downright scary!  Let's just say the ducky trip didn't end quite as well as the guided one.

After we finally dried off, we needed to warm up so we stopped at a local restaurant along the river for lunch.  We ordered the soup of the day to eat with our sandwiches.  I don't have a clue what the sandwiches were, but the soup, a creamy tomato bisque, was so good we each ordered seconds!

When we got home from that trip I quickly got online on began searching for the closest approximation of that soup.  After several iterations, and a few tweaks, this is what I came up with. 

Italian Tomato Bisque
2 pounds Roma Tomatoes                      
1 medium onion -- sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 whole cloves                                     
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh basil -- chopped fine
½ pint half-and-half
1 cup milk
Blanch the tomatoes until skin comes loose, then skin, seed, and chop coarsely.  (When I don't have good, homegrown tomatoes, I cheat here and use a quart of tomato sauce that I canned the previous summer)

Sauté onion in butter a few minutes, then add all ingredients except the milk and cream. Simmer for about 25 minutes, and remove the cloves. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and puree. Add half-and-half, and the milk.  Cook until warmed through.



Monday, December 1, 2014

First Photo - December

The Linden dropped its leaves just a few days after the November photo was taken.  Per usual, they went all at once: attached to the tree when we went to bed one evening, and on the ground the next morning.

November felt like that, everything happening all at once.  The temperature dropped precipitously.  Snow flew fast and furious.  Daylight disappeared giving us drastically shorter days.

It feels like December should be the month to hunker down and just be.  But it won't.  With Advent and Christmas there is going to be a lot of going and doing.  That's probably good, because the weather and light makes me want to hibernate.  I want to eat and sleep and read good books under a blanket next to the fire.  Maybe next month.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Soup-er Sunday: Chorizo Sweet Potato

I love to cook and I love to feed people.  I have been wanting to write more.  A friend once told me that if you want to be a writer, you need to write, regularly.  So, I am going to try to put the writing and the cooking together and, on Sundays, post my favorite thing to make: soup.

There is nothing like a good bowl of soup.  Now that the weather has turned colder it is a meal I frequently make.  I have found that the best soups are usually fairly simple to make.  When they start getting complicated, they lose my interest and oftentimes just aren't all that good.

There are so many good recipes out there that we never have to have the same thing twice.  When the soup turns out especially good, like this one did, it goes in my personal cookbook.

I usually can read a recipe and determine if it something we are going to like.  I cannibalized several recipes I found online to get this version.  Most of the ones I found were heavy-handed in adding seasonings.  If you can find a good Chorizo, you will have plenty of flavor already there.

Chorizo Sweet Potato Soup

1 pound Chorizo sausage
6-8 cups of chicken stock
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and dices
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Place sweet potatoes in large pot and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn temperature down to gentle simmer.  Cook until sweet potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork.

In a separate pan, brown sausage, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.

Add carrots, celery and onion to sausage and cook until slightly softened.
 Using an immersion blender, puree potatoes to desired consistency.  I left the mixture just a little bit chunky.  Add sausage mixture.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.  Simmer on low 20-30 minutes.


I used homemade chicken stock so I can safely say that this is gluten free.  If using store bought broth, check the package.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

REMINDER: Advent Prayer Buddies

Just a reminder that there is still time to sign up for Advent Prayer Buddies.  Most likely I will be doing the assignments on Friday and sending emails out shortly thereafter.

Those interested in participating, please email me at:
I will need from you is:
Your first name or first initial
Your blog address (or email address if you are not a blogger)
Your intentions
Your full name
Your address
(Address can be provided if your Prayer Buddy plans to send you a small gift at Christmas)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Wonder Doubled: An Inspiring Half Century

We have a new post up at the USCCB website For Your Marriage.

Donna just reached a birthday which often results in those of us who have experienced it declaring: “That can’t be right, I don’t feel that old!” So, we had a wonderful group of family and friends over last weekend to celebrate the occasion. A few weeks ago, I began to collect some old photos for the usual poster board of memories. When the collection of photographs and souvenirs outgrew my office work space, I knew I’d need many more poster boards.

You can read the whole article here.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Picture This

A couple of Saturdays ago Himself and Sis threw me a birthday party.  It was epic.  No, really, in my mind it was.  They invited family and friends that are important to me.  There were a few friends I hadn't seen in far too long (my fault, mea culpa)  and others we see frequently.  It was fun to catch up with all that was going on in everyone’s life.  Afterwards I promised myself that it is not going to be a year or two or four until the next time we see each other.

For some of the decorations Himself put together a number of picture boards.  He spent weeks secretly, and then not so secretly, going through photo albums, boxes of trinkets, and scrapbooks finding mementos of my life.  He created boards of my travels and hobbies, friends and family.  Oh what fun it was to look at them all!

“Around the World in Fifty Years” had pictures of a Jaycee trip to Hawaii, and my adventures in Europe and Russia.  Our engagement pilgrimage to Rome was also featured as well as our trips to Chicago and Virginia Beach.

One board was mostly things I did with the Jaycees.  There were the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame run and the radio celebrity golf outing projects that I chaired.   Parties, mud volleyball, bowling, and a night at the races were on that board as well.

Himself found photos and artifacts that I had forgot existed.  When I earned the Girl Scout Gold award way back when I received a letter from President Reagan congratulating me on the achievement.  I didn't remember that at all.

The best part of these boards, though, was the stories they invoked the night of the party and the days since then.  It was such a joy to share the memories with everyone.  I often heard Remember this? and I forgot about that and Did you really. . . ?

We remembered where our lives joined and intersected, times that were important or fun.  Weddings, graduations, family vacations - they were all there.  We thought about people who aren't with us any longer and ones that are a distance away.  Silliness and seriousness were pictured, too.

I have always been a prolific picture taker.  But all too often I take the photo, look at it and then file it away, never to be seen again.  If that occurs, what was the point of taking the picture in the first place?

Yes, the party was epic.  I viewed my past, thought about the future, and, most of all, enjoyed the present.


 PS. And, no, I didn't really run with bulls or jump out of an airplane.  Himself is just really good with Photoshop!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Wonderland

I played hooky yesterday, kinda.  And it was wonderful.

When I woke up I just didn't want to go into the office.  I couldn't do it.   I decided to take one of the floating holidays that I just discovered I had last week.  I emailed my boss and his response confirmed my decision.  The roads were bad and the commute long and slow.

We headed to the closest county park.  It just happens to have a seven acre, fenced in area for dogs.  Jack loves it and so do we since we can go for a walk with him off-leash.  I can’t begin to tell you how nice that is.  Jack has two speeds – either really fast or stopped.  Our walks are usually walk, walk, walk, stop, sniff, sniff, sniff, repeat.  At this park we can all move at our own speed.

It had started snowing the night before and the temperature was right at the point where it sticks to everything.  The trees were so beautiful and the wind was fairly calm, at least until Himself stood under a tree to take a picture of the covered canopy above us.  Nothing like a face full of snow!

We wandered the paths until the cold started chilling our bones.  Back home we went to hot cups of coffee and a lazy afternoon.  All-in-all, a perfect kind of day.

I wonder if the snow LOVES the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again." 
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll


Friday, November 14, 2014

Advent Prayer Buddies

If you watch much TV or read on the internet even a bit you are frequently reminded that Christmas is right around the corner.  You had better get shopping and decorating and planning those parties because the big day will be here before you know it!

There are not a lot of reminders on preparing spiritually.  About the only one I have seen is for Fr. Barron’s daily emails.

When I first started blogging a number of years ago there was the practice of Prayer Buddies during the Advent and Lenten seasons.  I miss that.  I found it to be a powerful time in focusing spiritually on the season at hand.  It was a blessing to spend time praying for someone else’s intentions and knowing someone was doing the same for me.

I would like to resurrect the practice this year.  During Advent, you can say prayers, novenas, and rosaries, light candles, and offer up suffering for your secret Prayer Buddy and whatever intentions he or she specifies.

Those interested in participating, please email me at:
I will need from you is:
Your first name or first initial
Your blog address (or email address if you are not a blogger)
Your intentions
Your full name
Your address
(Address can be provided if your Prayer Buddy plans to send you a small gift at Christmas)
DEADLINE FOR SIGN-UPS IS: Wednesday, November 26th


Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Next 50 Years

Last week I was talking with a coworker who was celebrating her 29th birthday.  She was already dreading her thirtieth next year.  Why? I asked.  She just shrugged.  I thought my thirties were pretty darn good.  I think that is when I finally got comfortable being me.  I didn't need to change to impress anyone.  I knew who my friends were.  I had fun.  I worked hard.  I met and married my husband.  Life was good and comfortable.
My forties seemed difficult.  Health issues, my own and those of family members, became more abundant.  Job situations fluctuated.  I learned who my friends weren't.  We lost family members.  We gained ones as well.  And, guess what?  Life was still good.
I'm now looking at this marker of time, a half century.  I know what is important: faith, family and friends.  Whether I have fifty more years, weeks, days or seconds, I want to appreciate it all.  Life is good.

I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next fifty years

Hey my next fifty years I’m gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done
Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears
And I’ll do it better in my next fifty years

My next fifty years I’m gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I’m doing here
In my next fifty years

Oh my next fifty years, I’m gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I’ll remember my next fifty years


Saturday, November 1, 2014

First Photo - November

October was a month full of changes.  The weather went from warm and dry to cold and rainy.  The flowers are all spent and the vegetable garden is mostly put to bed for the year; just a few carrots, beets, and leeks remain. 

Most of the leaves are gone from the trees, except from our Linden.  It's an odd tree, that one.  The leaves are slow to change, then they do all at once.  They are slow to fall off, then they do, all at once.  I expect that tomorrow that tree will be bare.

Oct 17th , Oct 24th and Oct 29th

We snapped a few photos mid-month to document just how fast the change was occurring.  This past Wednesday we were treated to a migration, probably of Starlings, who thought that tree was a good resting place. 

We think that, too.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Funny Foto #13 - Halloween Style

In keeping with the current holiday, the visitor to the tree trunk has changed.  I haven't driven by at night yet, but it looks as though they added a solar powered light to the display.

Isn't it great that I am so easily amused?!  If I knew who was doing this, I would write them a thank you note!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Channeling my inner St. Sebastian

I gots the Gout.  Or at least I did last week.

I hated admitting that.  To me it sounds like some terrible communicable disease that, had I made better choices, I could have avoided.  But it is not.

What it is is horribly-terribly-I-want-to-cry painful.  It is a complex form of arthritis in which there are sharp uric acid crystal deposits in joints, often in the big toe.  And that’s exactly where it hit me, the left big toe. 

When it first started early last week, Himself thought that’s what it might be but I didn’t want to believe him.  I could hardly walk let alone run.  After spending most of that night awake in severe pain, a little internet research told me that is exactly what it was.  Other than taking some pain relievers and using an ice pack, there is not a lot to be done about it.  Thankfully, it is usually short-lived and the worst of it lasts two or three days. 

One day in the midst of it all, I hobbled down to the ladies room at work.  As I was washing my hands, I saw in the mirror the St. Sebastian medal I was wearing.  And I laughed.

How was St. Sebastian martyred?    When it was discovered during Maximian's persecution of the Christians that Sebastian was indeed a Christian, he was ordered executed.  He was shot with arrows and left for dead, but when the widow of St. Castulus went to recover his body, she found he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Soon after, Sebastian intercepted the Emperor, denounced him for his cruelty to Christians, and was beaten to death on the Emperor's orders. (from Catholic Online)
One of the ways I described the pain was that it was like a thousand needles were dipped in acid and then stuck in my toe.  The arrows didn’t kill St. Sebastian and a little Gout isn’t going to kill me.  It’s not going to derail my C25K training, just slow it down a little.  

I am now in my third iteration of the sixth week of the plan.  Maybe this week I will finally make it all the way through!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Saturday was the “big race”, the 5k I decided to run when I started the Couch to 5k program six weeks ago.  I’m not done with the program and I have a (long) ways to go until I can run 3.1 miles, but I signed up anyways. 
* * *
The Thursday before the race I was at Starbucks with a coworker doing network and connectivity testing on our laptops.  Really, we were.  We got to talking about our plans for the weekend and I told her about the race.  While we were talking I realized that the last “race” I had done was more than six years ago. 

After mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer we started participating in the OROC event.  For four years I ran the 5k, but that last year mom wasn't doing very well, so we all did the one mile family fun walk together.  We lost her just three weeks later and none of us has ever done that or any other race since. 
* * *
I used to run a lot and have done dozens of road races, anywhere from a 5k to a half marathon. I’m not sure why I was so excited about doing this.  Perhaps it is because I finally feel like I have turned a corner in doing healthy things for myself and I like it.
* * *
Saturday was icky.  That’s the highly scientific and meteorological word for it.  Icky.  The temperature was in the mid-forties and it was raining. 

After picking up my race packet we had about forty-five minutes until the race started. We introduced ourselves to the parish’s pastor and fellow blogger, Fr. V.   After that we decided that it was too wet and cold to wait outside so we wandered over to the church and rested there for a bit.    Unknowingly, we sat down right next to the St. Sebastian statue.  Of course, once I saw that, what’s a good Catholic girl to do but light a candle! 

* * *
After a prayer and the national anthem the race started with the crack of a gun.  We were off.

And my legs felt like lead.

This seemed like a good idea when I signed up two weeks ago.

The air was heavy and I felt like I couldn't get a good breath in.

I ran then I walked.  Then I ran again. 

* * *
The crowd of almost 200 runners thinned out.  Some were behind and most were ahead.  I played lots of mind games. 

I’ll run to that tree and then walk some.

Usually I didn't make it to the tree.  I walked sooner.  For only a 5k I did a lot of walking!

Running the roads is much harder than running on the treadmill!
* * *
But with all that walking and slow running there was a lot of time to think and to observe.  The neighborhood we ran through was older, houses probably built in the 40's and 50's, but very well kept up.  Several of the roads were red brick.  People there like their gardens.  Large, old growth trees and flowers were in abundance.

People also seemed to be happy to have the runners come by.  No one seemed put out that they were inconvenienced by having their roads closed for several hours.  Families were in their yards cheering the runners on.  A young girl tooted a horn as people ran by.  A middle aged man had his truck’s stereo blasting some motivating music.  An old man with his bulldog encouraged us; he thanked us for running in his neighborhood!  
* * *
I had no idea how I was doing since there were no timers at the one and two mile splits.   I told Himself that I hoped to finish in under forty-five minutes.  I began to doubt that time when I got lapped by the young man who went on the win the race. 
* * *
Ugh. My legs feel like lead.

No matter, the lady directing traffic told me.  You’re almost done.
* * *
At one point I looked back and saw no one behind me. 

Great.  I’m the last one to finish.

But I wasn't.  I finished in 41:33, well ahead of my goal.  There were 192 runners.

And I was 183.

Yeah me!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Quick Takes (31) - No Excuses aka Halfway Done

I have surprised myself and have made it halfway through the Couch to 5k running plan.  At first I thought it was a six week long schedule, which rather surprised me.  It certainly didn't seem long enough to go from nothing to 3.1 miles.  Flip the paper over, Donna!  It’s nine weeks.  Whew!

It feels good to sweat; well, except when it gets in my eyes.  Soaked clothing is tangible evidence that I am working hard.

I've been dealing with a rather bad case of Plantar Faciitis.  I've had it before and it is painful and annoying.  It usually is indicative of beating your feet up in not-so-good shoes.  I checked Zappos to see when I bought the running shoes I have been using.  It’s been three years and a lot of walking miles ago.  I guess it’s time to splurge and buy a new pair.

Speaking of good support (I was wasn’t I??), I decided that the sports bras I had were completely inadequate.  Who designs those things anyways? I stopped in a couple of local department stores and they had pitiful selections.  Macy’s only had one real sports bra and it was sixty-five dollars!  I don’t think so.

Himself suggested checking Amazon and they had a great selection.  I had many, many from which to choose and the prices were much better.  The reviews people posted were so helpful.  Since we have a Prime membership, the one I picked out arrived in just two days.  Did I tell you how much I like Amazon Prime?  And my new bra?  Both are awesome!

The 5k race that I am going to sign up for is a fund raiser for the Knight of Columbus at St. Sebastian’s church.  And just who is St. Sebastian? you ask.  He is the patron saint of athletes, and particularly of runners.  Got to love that coincidence.  If you’re not doing anything on October 18th and feeling like heading my way, I’d love to have some company on my run/walk.

I had to travel for work last week.  In keeping with my ‘no excuses’ theme I brought my running gear.  The hotel had a small, but very nice fitness center.  Had any of my coworkers that I traveled with seen me after my workout they would have been afraid, very afraid.

I downloaded the C25k app on my phone.  Once I figured it out I found that I could choose the ‘voice’ that gives the orders as when to run and when to walk.  I like the Drill Sargent.  He is good motivation!
There have been a few workouts that were a little tough to get motivated for.  But afterwards I was so glad I had done them.  I felt good.  I like what I am seeing on the scale now that I am running again.  -5.  ‘Nuf said.

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


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The plus side of insomnia

I woke about 3:30am last night and just could not fall back to sleep.  I went into the other room and put the TV on.  Usually watching that will knock me out.  Not so this time.  I saw the end of an episode of Law & Order: SVU and then watched Antiques Roadshow on PBS.  Tell me, how do I find an ancient Chinese metal bell from 1500 B.C., pay only twelve dollars for it and then learn that it is worth of thousands and thousands of dollars?

When the news came on at 5am the meteorologists were all excited about the impending full lunar eclipse.  Huh?  I didn't know there was going to be one.

About twenty minutes later I glanced out the window and there it was in all its splendor.  I pulled on some clothes over my nightgown and woke up Himself.  We made some coffee and enjoyed the show.

And what a show it was!  The moon slowly disappeared and sky grew darker.  The stars were magnificent!  I don’t remember seeing Orion shine so brightly.  Some of the Seven Sisters were even visible to the naked eye.  I was also treated to a satellite heading south and a shooting star.

What a great way to wake up in the morning!  Yeah God!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I smelled a memory

I didn’t realize just how much a scent can invoke a memory until a couple of weeks ago.  One Sunday morning I was taking Jack on his morning walk.  As we were headed home we passed a neighbor’s house.  They must have been cooking breakfast because the smell of bacon and pancakes was unmistakable.

But, it wasn’t just the smell of food that got me.  That odor was mixed in with the smells of grass and leaves and flowers.  Combine all that with the morning dew dripping off the trees and the birds singing and I was right back at Camp Marydale walking to Saga Lodge for breakfast.

When we were growing up our family vacation every year was a week-long trip to a camp in Kentucky run by the local Catholic diocese.   The accommodations were pretty rustic, wooden cabins with concrete floors and metal framed cots.  The “deluxe” cabins, The Timbers, had their own indoor plumbing.  If you stayed in the other cabins you had to hike on over to the shared bathhouse.  

Regardless of which cabins you stayed in, all meals were served at Saga Lodge.  That was pretty rustic as well, another wood framed building with concrete floors.   The tables were the standard folding ones with the molded plastic chairs in colors typical of the seventies, burnt orange, gold and avocado green.

The food was served family style but nobody could eat until grace was sung.  Yes, sung.  We never said grace.  It had to be sung, loudly, boldly and joyfully; and, if the food smelled particularly good – quickly.

Oh, the Lord’s been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Lord’s been good to me!


A-a-men.  A-a-men.  A-a-men.  Amen.  Amen.
Bless, Oh Lord.  Bless these gifts.
Gifts that come from Your great love.
A-a-men.  A-a-men.  A-a-men.  Amen.  Amen.

Saga Lodge circa 1980

Now pass that bacon!


Monday, October 6, 2014

A Beautiful Tribute a beautiful man.

A good friend of ours wrote the memorial tribute below.  I couldn't put my finger on why his death bothered me so until I read this.  CatholicSkywalker sums it up well.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel has passed away.

There are few modern Catholic writers who have had as much of an impact on me as Fr. Groeschel.

The first time I remember encountering him was a from a cassette tape of one of his talks.  I was part of a prayer group that would meet in an old church garage.  We would pray, sing, and listen to audio cassettes from people like Fr. Larry Richards and Fr. John Corapi.  One day my friend, The Bishop, brought a cassette from some priest I never heard of.

And he sounded like Winnie the Pooh.

That was the single salient feature I took from his talk.  There was something soft and gentle in his way of speaking that made him endearing.  That wasn't to say that he was wishy-washy or lacking conviction.  He had wisdom and strength but was not forceful.  He was inviting.  Whereas Fr. Larry got your blood pumping like you were at a big tent revival Fr. Groeschel felt like your grandfather telling stories by the fireside.
Read the rest here.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Wonder Doubled: Marrying Up

We have a new post up at the USCCB website For Your Marriage.

There is often an unstated question at some weddings.  No, it’s not: I wonder if their firstborn will be a nine pound “premature” baby?  The question I’m referring to is – who “married up”?  I always insist that I was the one who married up.  Donna, confirming my opinion, graciously suggests it was she who was elevated by our union.  You know, now that I think about it, she’s right.  Though, I hastily should add – so was I!

You can read the whole article here.

PS. Happy sweet 16th anniversary to the man I married up!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First Photo - October

Fall is definitley upon us.  The nights have been cool and the clouds are big and puffy.  The vegetable and some of the flower gardens are fading away, though the mums are in their glorious splendor.  Color is slowly beginning to appear in the trees.

All is good.  God is good.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Funny Foto #12 - The 11th Commandment?

A couple of weeks ago we went to a nearby parish for Sunday Mass.  They have one at 5:30pm that is just sometimes so, so conveinent.  As we were walking up the to back entrance we saw some new signs that had been recently hung up. 

Think they have a parking problem??


Thursday, September 25, 2014

That’s who I am

Did you happen to see the new show, Red Band Society, which premiered last Wednesday?  For lack of anything better to watch I saw bits and pieces of it.  It is about a group of young people dealing with terrible illnesses (cancer, failing hearts, eating disorders) on the pediatric floor of a Los Angeles hospital. 

I can’t imagine that this show will last more than one season, if that.  How long can you keep the same characters as patients?  After all, hospitals kick you out just as fast as they can. 

Two of the characters, Leo and Jordi, are fighting cancer.  Leo has had a leg amputated and Jordi is facing the same operation.  As the day of the procedure nears, Jordi is understandably apprehensive.  He wonders what it will be like to live without part of his body.  He wonders what he will be like.

In probably the best line of the show, Leo tells him “Your body isn't you. Your soul is you and they can never cut into your soul.”

The line hit home in a personal way.  I am infertile.  That statement is often used as a definition rather than a descriptor.  But it is not who I am, it is just a little bit about my body.  Nothing more, nothing less.  What I do with it, how I react to it, that’s who I am.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wonder Doubled: Seen and Unseen

We have a new post up at the USCCB website For Your Marriage.

Jack Clive Staples, our wonder dog, let me know in no uncertain terms that his water bowl was empty. I took it to the sink and glanced out the kitchen window as it filled. I was surprised by a large red-tailed hawk sitting on the back of our garden bench. It looked like it was enjoying a day in the park. I called for Tim to come see. . . .


The segment of the Appalachian Trail which passes through New Hampshire is particularly rugged. My backpacking partner and I were at the end of our week-long hike with dozens of miles behind us and a steep climb waiting ahead. I was taking a turn leading with my friend following a few hundred feet behind. Backpacking inevitably becomes a solitary experience regardless of the presence of companions. . . .

You can read the whole article here.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The first step?

Whoever said taking the first step is the hardest part of the journey is a lying sack of . . . Umm, sorry.  They are just not right.

I've taken that first step so many times, both figuratively and literally.  I am great at starting things.   It is the finishing them that’s the problem.  I have a closet and a basement full of newly started projects.

There’s the counted cross stitch sampler I started for a wedding gift to Himself; we will soon be celebrating our sixteenth anniversary.  I bet I have at least five or six other partially started cross stitch projects as well.

And then there are the quilts.  I think there are two that are started, one that is promised, and another that needs to be repaired.  I just remembered the material we bought for our fall colored raggedy quilt.

I have a couple of books that I want to write.  I have notes jotted down, but that is about as far as those projects have gotten.

I could go on and on and on, but you get the drift.  The first step is easy, for me.  It’s what comes after that’s a challenge.

That being said, I started something new last night.  Yep.  Me.  Something new.

Feeling like a slug and needing to lose weight, I decided to take my inspiration from this lady.  I started the Couch-to-5K program.

Yikes!  It was hard.  I used to be a runner.  I ran twenty miles once, but twenty minutes of walking and running just about did me in last night.  I was a sweaty, dripping, achy mess afterwards.

But you know what?  It felt good!

If I keep up with this, I should be able to run 5k by my birthday.  What a great gift to myself that would be!

To add a little extra motivation, I found a 5k race on October 18th to do.  It’s a fund raiser for the Knights of Columbus at the parish where our friend, Fr. Ed, is a Parochial Vicar.  If you’re in the area, come on and join me!

I know this is going to be hard.  I know I am going to find excuses not to do it.  But I know I need to do it.  So, I ask that you bug me, cajole me, bother me and remind me.  Hold me accountable and make me do it.

Maybe this time I will actually finish what I start!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekends with Chesterton: Joy and Castle

Last week I finished watching all the episodes of Castle that I had missed.  Ugh!  No new Castle until the season starts at the end of the month.

In the third episode of season 5, Secret's Safe With Me, Richard finds a little doll in Kate's desk drawer.  He's intrigued by it and wonder why she has it.  Finally, near the end of the show she explains:
Kate:  Coney Island. We had a reception at our place after my mom’s funeral and it was miserable.  
I was miserable and my dad took my hand and he said, “Let’s get the hell out of here, Katie.”
And we took the Q-train and we went up to Coney Island. And we walked up and down that beach just enjoying ourselves. We were still in our funeral clothes. And the best part was that we made this little guy out of the twigs and twine that washed up on the shore.
Richard:  Does that make that day a bad memory, or a good one?
Kate:  Both. He’s reminder that even on the worst days, there’s a possibility for joy.
Richard:  Nice.
About a hundred years or so ago GKC had something to say on the subject as well in Orthodoxy.
The mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones. Nevertheless (I offer my last dogma defiantly) it is not native to man to be so. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tale of a pumkin or "fun with food"

We have tried to grow pumpkins in gardens past but were never very successful.  That is all changing this year.  Our little patch has at least twenty of these lovlies ripening at the moment.  When we were checking them the other day we found one with a bad spot. We picked it so it would not rot on the vine.

As we were walking back to the house Himself accidentally put his thumb through the bad spot.  Being goofy, he stuck his empty beer bottle in the hole.  I decided that it needed a face so Himself obliged me and drew this for me.

I later cut out the bad stuff and roasted what was left of the pumpkin.  I made a couple of pies that we took to Dad's on Monday.  Yum!

Sometimes you just got to play with your food!


Monday, September 1, 2014

First Photo - September

It's the first of September and Labor Day already.  How did that happen?  It feels right that Labor Day is early this year.  It just kind of fits with the feeling of a short summer.

It's warm, humid and hazy today.  It feels like summer doesn't want to let go yet.  Good.  Neither do I.


Friday, August 29, 2014

That "in between" time


It seems we are well ensconced in that in between time.  It's no longer quite summer but it's not yet fall.  Shadows are growing longer and the temperatures fluctuate greatly.  Days in the sixties are followed by those in the nineties.  Flowers of both the summer and fall kinds grow prolifically.  Pumpkins and tomatoes continue to deepen their colors while theirs leaves fade away.  Life slows down but yet it is busy.  It's time to savor the moment without thinking too much into the future or dwelling on the past.

Life is good.

Life is.