Sunday, July 31, 2011

4 months

My sweet Innocent,

It's been four months since they told us you had died. It's hard to believe you've been in Heaven now longer than you were in me. A third of a year. Has it been that long? It feels like yesterday.

I was looking at some photographs this afternoon, a general mish-mash, and there were some photos of your oldest sister on the day she was born. She was a good size, eight pounds, but looked so little. All new babies look so little to me. She had that brand-new look, slightly red. Then I came on a photo I didn't even remember being taken. It was of Papa and me and your sister, all three together that day. Your sister had her fingers around one of Papa's fingers. I looked at it and cried because we were so innocent then. We didn't know what could happen, what would happen. I wish I'd been able to hold you like that, just for a day.

I lit a candle for you today. Actually, a few people lit candles for you today. I'm sure you already know. I asked the Mother of God to hold you for me.

I suppose there will be a time when the 30th of the month doesn't remind me of your due date, the 31st doesn't remind me of the day we found out and the 10th doesn't remind me of the day you were born, but I have a feeling it's going to be a long time coming. I think about you all the time. You would be seven months along now. So big. How much and how fast babies grow. Except you didn't. Thank goodness I can remember your soul has no size.

I don't have any photographs of you out because I'm afraid they will make people uncomfortable. You were really such a beautiful baby but because you were so small it scares some people. I also don't have one really good picture of you, fully in focus, all of you, etc. I unearthed some good drawing pencils yesterday and resolved to draw a picture of you, using the photos together so I can get all the details. I still can't believe I saw fingernails and tooth buds! You were so remarkable! Your tiny little ears were delightful.

Mommy loves you very much. One day...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The most amazing thing...

As you may remember, I participated in the "Right Where I Am" project on Still Life With Circles. I've been going back daily and reading women's posts on right where they are in their journey of grief.

This morning I happened to go to a post written by Melissa on her blog The Bufe Family. In the body of the post she mentioned something remarkable:

"Another blogger, Jack [go to the link to read more about this work], who lost his second child in March, also linked up with the project. He did something amazing from this. He read every single entry in that link up (160) and created this beautiful piece of artwork from it..." 


I. Am. Floored.

Thank you, Jack, from the bottom of my heart.

(Innocent's name and my words are outlined in red. Click to enlarge.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Keepin' it Real" with the girls

This week's "Keepin' it Real" Award goes to...


Maria!

...of Flowers of the Field. Maria has spent the last four days (!) going through her girls' room, sorting, storing, saving, tossing and cleaning. One reason I like the photo is that we have that very dollhouse! I'm also comforted to know that my girls aren't the only ones who have an entire childhood stuffed in one room. Head over and read her thoughtful post.

[And just a reminder folks, if you've gotten one of these awards from anyone, think of someone to pass it along to one day!]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If your entire life passed smoothly and without worry, then weep for yourself. For the Gospel and the experience of the people, with one accord assert that no one has, without great suffering and pain, left behind any great and beneficial work on earth or was glorified in the heavens. If, however, your earthly sojourn is completely adorned with sweat and tears to attain righteousness and truth, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for truly great is your reward in the heavens.

Do not ever succumb to the insane thought that God has abandoned you. God knows exactly how much one can endure and, according to that, measures the sufferings and pains of everyone. St. Nilus Sorsky says: "When even men know how much weight a horse, or a donkey or a camel can carry and, according to that they are loading them according to their strength; when a potter knows how long to leave the clay in the kiln for it to be neither shattered nor over-baked, how could God not know how much temptation a soul can bear to make it ready and fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven?"

--St. Nikolai Velimirovich of Serbia


Fasting Snacks Involving Crackers

I thought about posting this, then I wasn't, because I figured everyone knew about it anyway, then I thought that if there was one poor unfortunate out there who hadn't heard of it, they might be happy to read it, so, well...

Super-Easy Fasting Snack

Place graham crackers on a cookie sheet. Spread each with peanut butter (or almond butter or whatever your family uses), but not too thickly. Top with a few mini-marshmallows or two large marshmallows. Toast under the broiler.

A variation is to use marshmallow fluff, but that might not make it from the jar to the cracker around here, so we'll stick to marshmallows.

Something else, not quite so easy but worth it, are Shingles. You can substitute margarine for butter. They're made from saltine crackers, butter (margarine) and sugar boiled together and chocolate chips. I haven't made these in a long time..hmmm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wisdom from C. S. Lewis

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
God in the Dock

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Mere Christianity

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Suffering Oslo

I don't look at the news much on-line (and we don't have cable) so it wasn't until yesterday evening that I became aware of the attacks in and near Oslo. How horrible! Lord have mercy on the souls of the dead (91 at the time of this writing). Praying for all the wounded in soul and body.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Leave a Comment in 15 Easy Steps

No, this isn't to berate lurkers for not commenting, this is merely a little tutorial on how to get around the nasty little commenting bug that Blogger STILL hasn't fixed. {But just so you know, I love comments! (c:}

Do you have this problem?

1. You read something so funny that you snort milk out of your nose.
2. You decide to let people know about the milk.
3. You type a comment.
4. You hit "publish".
5. You are taken to the sign-on screen.
6. You curse under your breath.
7. You type everything out and hit "sign in".
8. You notice that on the comment page you've suddenly lost your identity and henceforth all shall call you "anonymous."
9. You figure, what the heck - I'll just sign the comment (do so) and hit "publish".
10. You are taken to the sign-on screen.
11. You curse audibly.
12. See #7
13. See #8
14. Repeat until your brain leaks out of your left ear.
15. You say something nasty and viciously close the window.
16. The person who wrote the post wonders why no one found it funny.

Well, I can't fix the root problem (Blogger? Hello??), but I can tell you how to get off the merry-go-round from Hell. When you get to step #7, before you hit "sign in", UNCLICK the little box that says "keep me signed in". THEN hit "sign in". When you are taken back to the comment page you will see your identity is intact and you will be able to continue publishing the comment. If you are initially hitting publish and nothing is happening, hit preview and/or publish until you are taken to the sign-on screen. It may take 2 or 3 times.

Hope this helps!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's in a name?

Campus Crusade for Christ will now be known as "Cru". Per their website as quoted on FOX News:
“We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name. We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world. Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name. We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.” 
Um, whose gospel??

Names are important. Kentucky Fried Chicken is now only marketed as "KFC" because they felt that more health-conscious people would be turned off by the word "fried".

I heard a while back about an interesting* hybrid called "Chrislam". It's exactly what it sounds like - a hybrid of Christianity and Islam. Per Wikipedia:
"One religious movement is called Ifeoluwa and was founded by a man named Tela Tella in the 1980s. Tela Tella claims that an angel of God came to him and told him that he gave him the mission and the name Ifeoluwa: The Will of God Mission. The other religious movement of Chrislam was founded by Samson Saka in 1999. After making a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saka claims that he was inspired by God, to make peace between Christians and Muslims."

I wonder if an ape named Shift was involved:
"Tash is only another name for Aslan. All that old idea of us being right and the Calormenes wrong is silly. We know better now. The Calormenes use different words but we all mean the same thing. Tash and Aslan are only two different names for you know Who. That's why there can never be any quarrel between them. Get that into your heads, you stupid brutes. Tash is Aslan: Aslan is Tash."   
--C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle 



*"interesting" as in "horrifying"

Tomorrow's forecast: 100% chance of weather

Overly sensitive dopper radar: "I think we have a tornado...? No... wait...I think I'm getting a false positive from the ceiling fan over the baby's vaporizer..."

Alternative to storm-chasing tours: "Gentle Showers Tours: Our goal is to find a rain shower, carefully get in front of it, and set up an umbrella. For every shower you intercept successfully we offer a little black rain cloud sticker for your vehicle."

Sure-fire ways to make it rain:
  • Water the plants. Getting bitten by ants and mosquitoes in the process ensures heavier rain.
  • Wash the cars. An oldie, but goodie.
  • Plan to grill out. Make sure you have no back-up plans.
  • Invite multiple kids to a birthday party - more than you can comfortably house indoors.
  • Run out to the grocery store without an umbrella. Park at the far edge of the parking lot.
  • Have your kids leave the car windows down (or the van door open).
  • Announce you are going to cut the grass. This only works if you change into old clothes, get all your equipment out, run out to get more gas and then gas up the mower.
  • Order a fragile package, leave town and make sure the screen door to your porch is locked.
  • Plan a church picnic.
  • Paint the porch furniture, putting everything out on the lawn to dry. 

Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias

(video does not show on Google Reader)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My blog? Two monkeys, six minutes.


Or perhaps fewer and less, since all I did today was post a favorite Dilbert cartoon...

[Having an off day - better luck tomorrow blog-wise-speaking.]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Spumoni"

That was my opening bingo in Scrabble earlier today. Found it in less than 10 seconds.

Yes, totally bragging. (:

Monday, July 18, 2011

St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess, New-Martyr

Source

The Life of St Elizabeth the Grand Duchess and New Martyr
An Excerpt from THE NEW MARTYRS OF RUSSIA, by Archpriest Michael Polsky, Montreal, Canada., 1972., pp. 124-32

On 4 February, 1905, at the moment when the Grand Duchess was leaving for her workshops, she was alarmed by the sound of an exploding bomb nearby. Hurrying toward the place, she saw a soldier stretching his military overcoat over the maimed body of her husband. The soldier tried to hide the horrible sight from the eyes of the unfortunate wife.

The Grand Duchess dropped to her knees, on the street, put her arms out to embrace the torn remains of her husband. From that time on, the Grand Duchess refused the food to which she was accustomed, and milk, vegetable and bread became her daily nourishment, even before she took the vows.

The lofty spirit with which she took the tragedy astounded everyone: she had the moral strength even to visit in prison her husband’s assassin, Kaliaev, hoping to soften his heart, with her Christian forgiveness. “Who are you?” he asked upon meeting her. “I am his widow,” she replied, “why did you kill him?” “I did not want to kill you,” he said. “I saw him several times before when I had the bomb with me, but you were with him and I could not bring myself to touch him.” “You did not understand that by killing him you were killing me,” she said. Then she began to talk of the horror of his crime before God. The Gospel was in her hands and she begged the criminal to read it and left it in his cell. Leaving the prison, the Grand Duchess said: “My attempt was unsuccessful, but, who knows, perhaps at the last minute he will understand his sin and repent.”

The murder of Grand Duke Serge Alexksandrovich brought about a change in the soul of his wife and caused her to withdraw from her former social life. The shock and horror she had experienced left a wound in her heart which healed only when she lifted her eyes to see that which is above this world.
From then on, she devoted her life to the organization of a community in which spiritual service to God would be united with caring for the poor. She moved from the palace to a building she bought in Ordinka where she reserved herself three modest rooms. She called this community the convent Saints Martha and Mary, intending it to be as the home of Lazarus visited so often by Jesus Christ. The members of the convent were invited to unite the high aims of Mary (listening to the words of life), and the service of Martha (as if they were taking care of Christ), since He was present in His brethren, the poor.

The convent quickly developed, and attracted many nuns from the upper classes as well as from common people. Life within the convent was that of a monastery. Outside, the sisters’ consisted in helping the sick, hospitalized in the convent or in their homes, giving material and spiritual help to the poor, and taking care of the orphans and deserted children so many of whom used to perish in the big cities.

A house for young women, workers, and students was organized to give inexpensive or rent-free lodging to them. There were free hospitals, ambulatory, schools for the Red Cross nurses, free kitchens, and during the war, hospitals for the badly wounded. Sisters of Saints Martha and Mary visited the houses of the poor and sick, took care of the children, did the housework, and brought peace and happiness wherever they went.

Many tiresome duties were performed by the Mother Abbess of the holy Convent, the Grand Duchess. Innumerable business transactions, consideration of many requests and petitions from every corner of Russia, and other cares, filled her day, sometimes bringing her to a state of complete exhaustion. Nevertheless she often spent the night at the bedsides of critically sick people, or in some other church popular among the people for its feast day, or she would make a pilgrimage to a Moscow monastery. Her soul was stronger than her body. The only rest she got was during the pilgrimage to the holy places of Russia, but the crowds deprived her of peace and solitude. They revered her for her sovereign standing, her goodness and charity, and enthusiastically expressed their affection by turning her trips into triumphant processions. She tried to hide her weariness and appeared before people with a smiling face. Withdrawing from almost everything earthly, she shone with that inner light which comes from the soul, expressing love and tenderness. No one could have been more considerate in giving pleasure and comfort to others – according to each one’s spiritual needs.

Read the rest here.

Many Years to all of our Elizabeths including our own "Duchess"!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Little Surprise Package

I had a little surprise in the mail today. (Yes, one doesn't usually receive mail on Sunday, but one can if it came through the church PO box and was brought home by one's husband.) In addition, I love little packages. Wonderful things come in little packages. So combine surprise and little and ...

... you get two little cross-stitched flag pillows for the dollhouse!


Courtesy of Kh. Nicole...thank you!!!


They fit right in.


The girls were ecstatic.


Thank you again!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The end of the world?

No, just some construction work on I-405 in LA.

In what has been termed "Carmageddon", 10 miles of the interstate will be shut down for 53 hours for the removal of an old bridge as part of a plan to broaden it. Now, I understand that traffic in LA, or really in any part of that general area, is bad, and I've been stuck in terrible traffic on 405 myself, albeit in Seattle (45 minutes to go 5 miles? You betcha.). But when I read about what was being done to prepare everyone and the events capitalizing on it, I croaked. It's hard to believe this isn't from the Onion.
  • Free cotton candy at the Santa Monica pier.
  • A dermatologist offering 25% off botox injections so people won't "look so frazzled" about the closing.
  • Discounted helicopter rides to tour the empty stretch of interstate.
  • Jet Blue offered $4 and $5 tickets from Long Beach Airport to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. They sold out in 3 hours.
  • A group of cyclists challenged Jet Blue to a race, saying they could cycle the same distance in less time than it took to fly.
  • Extra fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles have been positioned in neighborhoods that might be blocked by gridlock.
  • The UCLA health system is creating dormitories for workers so they won't be late to work due to gridlock.
  • Three helicopter companies (presumably more than usual) are standing by for emergency transport.
  • Psychologists are giving advice on how to stay de-stressed during gridlock (Only in LA...).

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Price of Peace?

$3.97



Right Where I Am: 3 months, 2 weeks, 1 day

I've seen posts written by other people for this project. I decided to join in.

Today is not an 'anniversary' of anything. It's been three months, two weeks and one day since we found out Innocent died. He died sometime in the preceding week, but we don't know exactly when. Part of me can't believe it's been that long. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. It's like a very narrow but infinitely deep chasm separating March 30th and March 31st.

I'll go hours without thinking about it and then something will trigger a memory. A memory of looking down at my swelling stomach. A memory of how much I disliked chocolate while I was pregnant with him. I'll look at my hand and try to remember exactly how he felt in it. How much he weighed. I remember how warm he was right after he was born, and how cold he was later when I held him next. I wish so much that I had taken twice as many pictures. That I had kissed him. That I had, silly as it may have looked, wrapped him in sequentially larger blankets until I was able to rock him.

Life does go on, but I'm realizing that there is a part of me that will never change. Raw, gaping wounds heal, but they leave visible scars. If you lose one of your fingers, the tissue will eventually heal, but the finger will never grow back. The loss of Innocent is palpable. He is intertwined with everything. Looking at a calendar to plan a retreat and there I am left staring at September 30th, his official due date. Turn the page and (sickening jolt) there's October 6th, both my birthday, and what I had hoped would be his - and the feast of St. Innocent. I will never forget, nor will I be able to separate the two.

I still haven't put his scrapbook together. I have everything in a plain file folder in the filing cabinet. Such a cold place. Maybe I'll make it a goal to have his scrapbook done by his due date.

When I talk about him to anyone, I talk about him as I would any of my children. He is my child. Should we ever have another child, that child would be number 7, not number 6. It's such a relief when I am with someone with whom I can speak freely. That is rarely the case. People don't want to hear about your dead baby. I look back and wonder if I was sensitive to that when confronted with it in the past. I hope so. I weep for the people I must have inadvertently wounded along the way. Lord have mercy.

To anyone who is new to grief, I don't know what I would say. Probably, "I'm sorry. Tell me about your child. What is his name?" I wouldn't hasten to try to "fix it" by pasting a clumsy verbal bandaid over the gaping wound. I wouldn't ignore it. I wouldn't walk away. It's hard to be with someone in their grief. If you ever have that opportunity, don't walk away. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." [Rom. 12:5] Yes, it does get better, but that light at the end of the tunnel is mostly obscured by twists and turns. Travel with the person past those twists and turns until they can see the light for themselves.

I can see the light, but it's faint and I'm still stumbling. Now I know that light is the Kingdom of Heaven and I will continue to stumble until I've stumbled right out of this life. May God grant that when I fall the last time, I fall into his arms.

(taken 2 1/2 months ago, Pascha)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keepin' it real in Romania

So far all the "Keepin' it Real" awards have been handed out in North America, but this morning I saw a post from a friend in Romania that was just asking for it! So this week's "Keepin' it Real" Award goes to....



She has unfailingly provided scenes of beauty from her life on her lovely blog. I so love looking at it. But this morning, I couldn't believe I saw a picture of a puzzle boxes held together with packing tape and items scattered on the floor! She is working on organization and allowed us to see that she thinks she has work to do in that area too - like the rest of us. Thank you, Irina, for "keeping it real" but also for your ongoing glimpses of loveliness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"The Castle"

Show of hands, how many have watched "The Castle" (1997 Australian film)? If you haven't watched it, the link to the first part is here (the entire thing is on YouTube) and it is embedded below. I don't know how to describe this film. On the surface it's about a man's fight to keep his home against what in the US we call eminent domain and in Australia, compulsory acquisition. The fight itself is marvelous (and I'm not going to include any spoilers) but the most remarkable part of the film is the man himself, Darryl Kerrigan. This film is billed as a comedy, and it most certainly is, but you can pull a much more lasting message from it than a few good laughs. I encourage everyone to watch it. If any are willing, I'd be interested in discussing it in the combox. [Caution: do not watch with children because of some strong language.]


(Additional interesting note: This movie was filmed over 11 days with a budget of $19,000. It grossed over $10 million.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Liebster Award


Imagine my surprise when I checked my reader last night and found Nonna at Nonna's Neuropoetry had gifted me with a Liebster award! How sweet! The Liebster award (I had to look it up) is a way to highlight favorite blogs with less than 300 followers (no question but that I qualify there!).

In return, I am nominating some of my favorite blogs:

1. The Khouria Said What?! by Khouria Nicole. Even though she doesn't post very often, I always think "yay!" whenever I see that she has. Sometimes I think we must have been separated at birth. If I ever find a good paisley I'm sending it to her.

2. Life, Love and Laundry by Faerieeva, who is the lone Catholic on my sidebar, bless her heart! She manages to post with both sensitivity and a sense of humor about her husband and children. You'd think she was still on her honeymoon but I think she'll sound like that 20 years hence and that's fantastic.

3. Magdalini by Presv. Magda. She ALWAYS makes me laugh and that is a virtue in my eyes. She also doesn't post that often, (these ladies are busy!) but I am always glad when she does because I know I'm about to have a good time.

Thank you ladies!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Music Monday: Antiphony Orthodox Trio

Wow - I haven't done an actual "Music Monday" on Monday in a long time.

I wish I could embed the music here but I lack the tech-knowledge to do it. Anyway, please visit the link to listen to three samples from a new CD, "Their Souls Shall Dwell With The Blessed: A Service for Those Who Have Fallen Asleep" sung by the Orthodox trio, "Antiphony". This is just beautiful. Their voices blend so well. The link takes you to samples of "Give Rest O Lord", "With the Souls of the Righteous Departed" and the "Processional Trisagion". [Note: the procession is like a real procession and sounds like it's done outside so you only hear birds to start with. The music is there, promise.]

Friday, July 8, 2011

Godspeed Atlantis

In less than 20 minutes, at 11:26 ET, the space shuttle Atlantis will launch for the last time, the last time, in fact, for any shuttle. The program has lasted thirty years, most of my life. I remember the tiny Columbia shuttle model with cargo bay doors that really opened that we had, probably in 1981. I remember watching STS 8 (1983), the Challenger, rise through the sky in the first night launch for the shuttle program, only a pillar of flame visible from the school field near our house where the town gathered to watch. A few years later I watched from a desk when it exploded, shortly after take-off.

Our children have been gathered around the computer, watching the live video feed with commentary complements of CNN and NASA. They watched the close out crew in the white room, making their last checks. Just before they left, one by one the crew held up signs to the mounted video camera. I should have recorded what they wrote, but I'm sure it will be recorded somewhere. Essentially it said, "on behalf of all of the people who have worked, designed, flown, etc., for the shuttle program, Godspeed Atlantis and God bless America". I got teary-eyed.

Because they weren't showing the inside of mission control I pulled up the launch sequence from Apollo 13, the movie, to show them. Watching it, I almost cried again. A reminder that nothing is certain.

Lord have mercy on the astronauts, their family and friends, and the thousands and thousands of people who have worked for this moment.

Godspeed Atlantis.

Dollhouse Tour

I showed the exterior of the dollhouse for the 4th of July, but I haven't shown the inside yet.






I made the teensy quilt when I was in college.




Isn't it wonderful how we found these tiny icons? They're wooden too.


This exquisite book was made by Pres. Magda.

The pages are actually sewn in!


Chess game (the pieces move) courtesy of LV. Flopsy made the kitty on the couch.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Layered Flag Cookies

We didn't quite manage to get these done for the Fourth, but decided to make them anyway. The base is plain sugar cookie dough we made yesterday. I dyed 1/4 blue and dived the remainder into two parts, dying one part red. The dough is really soft so we wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it until today.


With the assistance of waxed paper I formed the blue dough into a tube and then squared it off.


The red and the white were rolled out (separately) between layers of waxed paper into a more or less rectangular shape. With some trimming and piecing we got this to work. I don't have any exact measurements for the strips, but eye-balled it into this:


Of course, if you really want to get it right, you can use this cutting board from Signals.

Starting with a wide red strip we stacked red, white, red, white. Then a narrow red and white placed at one edge of the first stack. Then the blue on the other side.


I did some minor trimming on the ends to square it up and wrapped it in waxed paper. Then we put it in the freezer again. After it had hardened we sliced it into cookies...




...baking them at 325 degrees for 17 minutes.


(Because the recipe for drop cookies rather than cut-out cookies had been followed by my daughters, there was a little too much butter in the dough and the cookies spread a bit. They were still good.)





Knitting

I think everyone knows I'm a confirmed crocheter. I tried to learn to knit in high school when my AP art teacher had some down time. She gave me some needles, taught me how to cast on and I think taught me the knit stitch.

Then I forgot it all.

I tried again a few years ago and realized I had forgotten to cast on. It went downhill from there.

Last year I found a book at the local thrift store. It looked promising. But I had a lot of crocheting to do.


Now, for the first time in I can't remember how long, I am not in the middle of a crocheting project and have none looming on the horizon. I decided to give it a go.


I started at the very beginning and relearned how to cast on. Then I remembered/relearned how to do the knit stitch. After a while it got a little faster. Then I tried purling. Not so good. I went back to knit. This morning I tried purling again and it was a little better. Then I tried adding a pattern.


Thinking of this wretched yarn as practice (I started with some nicer, but decided to humbly submit to a bright, scratchy acrylic for the purposes of figuring out what I was doing...), I went through the book, learning some techniques I figured I'd better get down. Like using more than one color.


Hey! I can do this!

I'm going to pick a simple pattern and actually make something next. I hate just practicing with no purpose for the article. I also don't like scratchy yarn.

While I had my needle case out I was inspired to get a #6 steel hook and work a little place mat in thread for the doll house. Thanks, Liiolii, for the inspiration - although your doilies are much more impressive and beautiful!)

On the Reader's Shelf

My reading is eclectic. I have a set of shelves for fiction, alphabetical by author. That's not odd. I also tend to collect antique children's books. That's not odd either.

The non-fiction is where it starts looking odd. The general categories:
  • Space exploration, history of NASA programs, biographies of astronauts, astronomy
  • History (mostly American, some British), natural disasters on land (all historical), myth-dispelling
  • Meteorology textbooks, hurricanes, tornadoes, history of forecasting, blizzards, climate
  • Sailing, single-handed sailing, historical and modern shipwrecks, experimental voyages, castaways
  • Medical and nursing texts, breastfeeding, pediatrics, old first-aid books, old home-nursing books (Red Cross), medical memoirs, histories of various diseases, medical history
  • Architecture styles, tours of various houses,
  • Travel guides (old and new)
  • Sewing, quilting, crocheting, knitting, crafting guides
  • Humor (Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Edward Gorey, Erma Bombeck, Chas Addams...)
Anyone else have an interest in any of those?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

14 Little Lessons for Marriage

Coming up on our fourteenth wedding anniversary, I started thinking about some things I've learned during those years. Thank you, honey, for being my teacher as well as my fellow student.

1. When about to respond in an angry or sarcastic manner, think, "Do I really want to fight right now? Is that comment/question worth destroying the evening/afternoon/morning/week?"

2. If you're still angry and feel like you're right, ask forgiveness. As soon as you do you'll realize you mean it. Try to be the person who says, "I'm sorry, forgive me," first.

3. Cultivate a spirit of doing. You're in the kitchen first so make the coffee (even if you don't drink it yourself). You noticed that the garbage hasn't gone out and pick-up is tomorrow. Do it yourself instead of contacting the normal taker-outer. Pick up the socks and put them in the hamper. The catch is, do not then go announce that you've done it so as to receive thanks or praise. If you do, then you'll be dependent on gratitude to nudge you into doing these things when the more appropriate motivator should be love.

4. Never demean your spouse in front of others. That includes funny stories that put them in a bad light.

5. Take frequent opportunities to hug, hold hands, etc. Do not hesitate to do this in front of your children. Don't you want to be an example of a healthy marriage? Ignore older children who complain about "mushy". Even as they complain, they derive comfort from the knowledge that their family is rooted in love.

6. If you're upset about something, don't deflect your feelings into something else. Simply state that you are upset about whatever you are upset about. Putting an almost empty milk carton back in the refrigerator is not a reason to storm out of the room in tears. On the other hand, it is reasonable to be upset that your spouse spent a good deal of money without consulting you. Discuss the money. Not the milk.

7. Try to do things just as a couple. This can vary from running to the store together to a weekend in Hawaii. If you're in that camp of people with many small children and no nearby family or babysitters, have dates at home. Snack while the kids eat dinner and have a nice dinner after they're in bed. Watch a movie on the laptop. Enjoy it and don't compare yourself to others.

8. Thank your spouse frequently. Thank them for getting up at night with a sick child. Thank them for rescuing the potatoes while you fielded a phone call. Thank them for taking out the garbage - even if it's "their job". Thank them for being appreciative. You will never run out of things.

9. Say "I love you." Sure, this is obvious, but so many people don't do it. What are you saving them all up for?

10. Present a united front to the children (and to parents and other family). "A house divided cannot stand." If necessary, leave the room and go into closed caucus to discuss the matter first. Be in agreement on ground rules. If one parent has said "no", the answer is "no". If you disagree, work it out between yourselves, not over the children's heads.

11. Seek help if you need it. Go to your spiritual father and/or parish priest. If necessary, get more professional help.

12. If you've argued, mention that in confession. Every time if necessary. Don't think, "oh, everyone argues - it's not sinful - it's human nature." Human nature is fallen.

13. A marriage is like salvation. There is no point at which you can rest on your laurels and say, "Ok! It's just right and can go on autopilot now." It is a constant work. This is not a bad thing.

14. Marriage is like martyrdom. Die to your own, single, selfish will, and give yourself to your spouse and through your spouse, to Christ. This is not a one-sided serfdom, but a mutual means of salvation.

(We're the ones holding the crowns, not the ones getting married.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Memories of staying during the summer in a century-old beach house in "old" north Florida...



...meant wearing a bathing suit and smelling like sunscreen 16 hours a day.

...meant doing without air conditioning, carpet, dryers and water drinkable from the tap.

...meant sleeping on the porch which fit three beds, one a wooden army cot from WWII.

...meant evacuating the porch and finding somewhere else to sleep if it stormed during the night.

...meant wearing shoes once a week to go to church.


...meant sweeping up a pound of sand every day from the front screened porch.

...meant knowing if you touched the wrong spot on the stove you'd be shocked.

...meant story-telling on the front porch after dark.

...meant turning the light on by pulling a string hanging from the ceiling.

...meant plays put on by the cousins for the adults.

...meant living not by the clock, but by the sun and tides.


...meant pancake eating contests in the morning (the most I ever ate was 15).

...meant going crabbing in the mornings using an old string with one end wound around a stick, some loose bolts and nails for weight and perhaps a chicken neck for bait.

...meant hearing the waves and the wind in the palm trees every moment of the day and night.

...meant everyone taking a nap in the afternoon, no matter the age.

...meant a large refrigerator on the back porch from well before you were born that worked beautifully and was the holding place for watermelon and beer.

...meant not worrying about what your hair looked like.


...meant learning how to throw a cast-net or shrimp-net.

...meant eating a lot of fresh mullet.

...meant surviving biting caterpillars, mosquitoes, yellow jackets, touch-me-nots (flowers), snakes, sharks, jellyfish, cabbage heads, prickly pears, sand spurs, skinks...

...meant stiff, dried-on-the-line, old towels and a sky light in the bathroom.

...meant hand-made birthday presents like a checkers board made from drift-wood with pieces made from black and white shells.

...meant a looooong walk down the slope of the oyster shell driveway, across the (only) road, through the wilderness of palms, briers, morning glories, sea oats, marsh grass, etc., over the dunes and across the wide stretch of beach...to go swimming.


...meant building a hut out of bamboo and palm fronds.

...meant learning how to play gin rummy, slapjack and war.

...meant iron beds, ladder-back chairs, a wood burning stove original to the house (full of tools), a porch swing, a dining table so big that it was built in place.

...meant every "window" sill lined with rows of shells, some collected fifty years ago.

...meant putting wet washcloths in the freezer for 20 minutes, taking them out frozen solid, and putting them on your head when the temperature was above 100 for days on end.

...meant having the beach to yourself.


...meant the Fourth of July celebrated by a cookout on the beach and sparklers for everyone.

...meant home-made firecrackers made from bamboo put in the fire.

...meant reading Readers Digest Condensed books from 1954.

...meant candles stuck in old wine bottles found on the beach.

...meant using utensils in the kitchen that you later realized were probably valuable antiques.

...meant hating to leave, missing the smell of the beach house, realizing you lived in the lap of luxury in your regular house, still getting sand out of your scalp when school started.