Journaling, and the wonderful properties of fresh air

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The weather has been really lovely the past few days! Being as such, I found myself trekking outside yesterday afternoon to journal . . .

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I took a few pictures, but nothing can accurately capture the breezy beauty of these kinds of afternoons, when the temperature is pristine and everything is full of softness and quiet.

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By the way . . . it’s so nice to have a gazebo in your front yard. It was one of the most enchanting things about this place when our family was searching for homes – not forgetting the lamppost, of course (Narnia!).

(In fact, someday down the road, Lena is sincerely hoping she’ll be proposed to in a gazebo. There’s one on our parish grounds that seems perfect for something so felicitous. We shall see if her dreams come true one day . . . maybe a sanguine older sister of hers will drop heavy hints to whomever her future boyfriend happens to be . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) As for me . . . as long as it’s a proposal, I’m good! โค

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I’m really, really glad I’ve gotten back into journaling. This time of life practically necessitates an ongoing documentary because I justย knowย I’ll be wanting to read back through my rambling, handwritten accounts of it one day when I’m a harried housewife. At the moment, I’m already itching to go outside and put some current thoughts down . . . I snapped the above picture while sitting on the gazebo swing.

I think journaling is especially good for girls, what with all our emotions and hopes and dreams, our “meld of mind and heart.” It’s good to get it down on paper.

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Plus, being able to soak in sunshine whileย journaling is always a good thing, too. Going outdoors puts things into perspective somehow; it’s calming and refreshing, makes your joys clearer and your worries not quite so staggering. So here’s to stepping outside today and seeking out a little refreshment!

Sig

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A mammoth October daybook in which I catch up on things at great length (Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 7)

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Read previous installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Monday, October 1st, 2018 A.D. Commemoration of St. Remigius, Bishop and Confessor. From Butler’s Lives of the Saints: “At the age of twenty-two, in spite of the canons and of his own reluctance, he was acclaimed Archbishop of Rheims. He was unusually tall, his face impressed with blended majesty and serenity, his bearing gentle, humble and retiring. He was learned and eloquent, and had the gift of miracles. His pity and charity were boundless, and in toil he knew no weariness . . . The South of France was in the hands of Arians, and the pagan Franks were wresting the North from the Romans. St. Remigius confronted Clovis, their king, and converted him and baptized him at Christmas, in 496. With him he gained the whole Frank nation. He threw down the idol altars, built churches and appointed bishops. He withstood and silenced the Arians, and converted so many that he left France a Catholic kingdom . . . He died in 533, after an episcopate of seventy-four years.”

St. Remigius, pray for us; pray that God would send us good and holy bishops!

It’s also the eighth day of the St. Therese novena (if one is leading up to her Old Calendar feast on the 3rd), and the twenty-eighth day of my renewal of Total Consecration . . . which I’ve been very imperfect in doing, honestly, but am trying to press forward with better commitment.

Outside my window . . .

Somewhat overcast. We had beautiful blue skies yesterday, perfect for Sunday, following a week of torrential rain. Today isn’t quite so blue . . . but no rain, at least!

The leaves are slooowly being convinced to abandon green. The temperature is not yet convinced to drop, alas . . .

Also . . . this is such a girlish thing, but The Dash and I have not gone out for any intentional couple photos since March of this year. March! It’s killing me!! Those were our six-month photos, but it’s just been too hot and unappealing to have another round since then. As soon as things turn blissfully autumnal, I am intent on spending a day getting pictures with him somewhere picturesque and romantic ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sounds throughout the house . . .

Right now, I’m listening to the soundtrack for North & South by Martin Phipps. I love its wistfulness and romance!

Through the walls, I hear my brother playing guitar; lunch break has just settled in here ๐Ÿ™‚

The air conditioner running. When will my disconsolate spirits be eased by the coming of cold temperatures? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Time has passed since I started this post, and now I hear my brother’s and mother’s quiet voices . . . more school. This school year has entailed a pretty hefty load for the last two students left in our family!

Cabinets being shut, dishes clattering . . . not sure why . . .

Upon a quick venture downstairs, I’ve discovered Lena and our youngest sister are making apple muffins. I approve of that ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am wearing . . .

A light-gray top (cap sleeves, with a cute kind of miniature turtleneck), the softest blue denim capris I’ve ever worn (they’re like butter!), a black ponytail on my wrist, light makeup.

Oh, and speaking of makeup . . . recently I did something that probably no one else notices, but I’ve really enjoyed; that is, I stopped wearing eyeliner 99% of the time. It wasn’t that I was wearing an inordinate amount (it was pencil and a charcoal/gray/blue color, so not even very dark, and I wore it to just enhance) but I came to a crossroads of being just tired of putting it on, and wanting to lean towards a more natural look for most occasions. I kind of wanted to follow the muse, What am I realistically going to wear as a wife and mom?

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Honestly, I’ve loved not putting it on and having a slightly fresher look for my face, while still feeling put-together and dressed in the way a small amount of makeup does for me.

I think I would still wear a little eyeliner for special pictures or really dressy occasions, but most of the time now, it’s off.

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Well, Saturday I made cornbread muffins from scratch! I don’t recall having done that before. We were having a potluck dinner dance that night at our parish, so I pulled an apron on over my dance attire (it was a Southern barn dance theme, so yellow plaid for me) and threw together a recipe Mom had found. I was hot, but it was fun, and I was proud in that classic girl-who’s-just-made-muffins way.

A note on projects . . .

So, the Rooted & Grounded in Charity post series has finally wrapped up! Honestly, I hadn’t intended for that to be my last post, but I ran out of September and so therefore, the last post it became ๐Ÿ˜‰ I thoroughly enjoyed it, but find myself excited to return to normal blogging, too. There are so many random little things I can post about now . . . although, of course, courtship inspiration material is never-ending, and may appear here at any time . . .

Teaching at co-op is going well so far this year! I adore the kids (they are so precious, and to have some of them recognize me and come up to me outside of co-op just melts my heart!), and as any sanguine would, I enjoy getting out and seeing so many families; even the 70-mile round trip of driving is fun (especially when every song that’s special to The Dash and I’s relationship is streaming through Bluetooth on an intentionally crafted Spotify playlist . . .). Granted, being the homebody that I am, I’m more than happy with the fact it’s just once a week . . . but it’s still delightful. I finished planning for tomorrow’s class a few hours ago. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will end the first quarter! Quarter 2 will involve a lot of preparations for Advent presentations, which I’m thrilled about โค

I’ve been journaling almost every day for the past few weeks. I haven’t done this consistently for what feels like so long, but I’ve made it part of my morning routine as a way of putting down everything on my mind . . . it’s so beneficial. Also, I journal in pencil . . . it takes some sort of mental pressure for perfection off of me, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

In any event, it’s easy to journal when you have something so lovely like this hardbound piece of feminine perfection (subjectively speaking) which was discovered at Wal-Mart for $5:

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I recently cleaned out my inbox (that short phrase contains a gargantuan amount of inferred work), reorganized my folders, and caught up on at least 90% of my sadly neglected correspondence. That was so gratifying to get done!

In an attempt to not waste nearly all of my teenaged years, I’m attempting to re-write an old story . . . or, really, to just delve into it again and let it surprise me. Again, it’s in pencil. I was able to work on it both Friday and Saturday and am determined to keep at it, if only to email scenes to an interested cousin to whom I’ve promised installments at some point. The things we do for cousins.

Also, I rearranged my desk last week, putting my monitor on the left side and freeing up the right-hand desk space for writing (like it’s supposed to be, but occasionally I’ve changed it up for variety’s sake). It feels like a new work space and I love it!

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I am reading . . .

Ah! Last month, I read Crime & Punishment.

On a whim, I checked it out (on The Dash’s card . . ) when he, Lena and I were at a library one afternoon in August. It amazed me. The psychological depth of Raskolnikov, in particular, was beyond compelling, and the ending genuinely surprised me. It was pitiful, engrossing, morally instructive in a masterfully artful way. I’ve never read anything like it but would absolutely read it again, simply because the characters “lived” inside my mind in a way I haven’t experienced in a while.

Also, at the end of August I read By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand – a birthday present. I devoured it in two or three days and I love it to pieces. I highlighted a passage from nearly every letter, and I think it would be a wonderful thing if every young woman hoping for marriage were able to read and absorb it. It edified me in so many small ways, and confirmed me in the joy and worth of the state of life I’m anticipating so eagerly.

“Union necessitates that the two persons remain fully themselves, clearly separate – yet bound to each other by “the golden chords of love.” A husband and wife who love each other become one, but in so doing, they don’t cease to remain fully themselves, two clearly distinct individuals. In fact, mysteriously, through loving union with each other they each find themselves and their own unique individuality in a new and deeper way.”

But currently, I’m still reading Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture by Michael D. O’Brien (deep and rich) and The Privilege of Being a Woman by von Hildebrand (also deep and rich). The Dash and I are reading the Book of Tobit (RSV) together. I’d love another novel, though . . . hmm, what about North and South?

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

From The Privilege of Being a Woman:

The female psyche is more responsive to the personal than the impersonal. Women respond thus intuitively, without much deliberation, because they “feel” that persons rank infinitely higher than nonpersonal things . . . Edith Stein further claims that women are more interested in wholes than parts. Their minds do not dissect an object; they grasp it in totality . . . Because their minds and their hearts are closely related (their minds work best when animated by their hearts), their grasp of persons and objects does not fall into the traps which threaten specialists, who no longer see the forest because of the trees . . . {John Bartlett} expressed: “Woman are wiser than men because they know less but understand more.”

Courtship is such a tremendous blessing, and The Dash and I are unified on the path and timeline we believe God is asking of us, but it doesn’t make it always easy, or doesn’t prevent some weeks from feeling long and mundane . . . the past few weeks have had some great moments, but on the whole have been rather hard. That’s just part of life and is sanctifying if I approach it with the right disposition!

But it’s also thought-provoking . . .

Waiting to meet someone is incredibly hard, and I empathize so much with girls who are waiting to meet their future husband; I’m also learning that waiting to be able to move forward to betrothal and marriage (and all those large and small joys that come alongside them) with the person God has sent you is its own kind of Cross. This is when heroic love in little things is called for; St. Therese’s Little Way!

Things are rather intense on both sides of our courtship. The Dash has just a little over 2 months left until he graduates college (hallelujah!) and a huge slew of obligations containing, but not limited to, work and school and everything. My side is certainly less busy than his, although I’ve got duties and tasks of my own with teaching and family, helping out, writing . . . however, as a woman, my heart is operating under theย  consciousness of everything that is challenging, hard, worrisome or time-consuming for myself and The Dash, at the same time.

Like the quote above expresses, I find myself instinctively grasping things in totality. The totality of The Dash and I’s current spot in our relationship; the totality of how this is an intensely demanding season of life for him and my wishing I could help somehow, even in ways that I can’t; the totality of feeling and caring and thinking about it and all of its tangents . . .

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One night, my youngest sister was trying to instruct me on how to take a “natural” selfie. We figured out that I just needed to open my mouth, since apparently I talk enough to render that my “natural” look . . .

Right now, some things are really hard; some things are simply part of the daily grind; some things bring joy; some things require perseverance. As a woman, I sense and feel and carry these things in a very distinct way; one that God intended from the beginning of time. Courtship awakened this deep aspect of femininity in my heart in a way I hadn’t experienced until now. And that’s what I would want to try and find the words for, for any lovely and faithful young woman who’s waiting to meet the man she will love and is struggling to remain brave. Her womanhood is going to make love a beautiful cross. Her love, her courtship, is going to start asking her to become an adult, a woman. Instinctively, her heart is going to carry the totality of things without much compartmentalization . . . which is a dazzling gift, and yet can be very heavy.

It’s a lot sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚ But . . . it’s the privilege of being a woman. And I am so very grateful.

On living the Faith . . .

Daily Mass stream; fighting the daily interior battle for faithful prayer; coming close to completing my yearly renewal of Total Consecration, but having been totally humbled by how patchy my efforts have been; picking up Lives of the Saints for today’s post and knowing I should read from it daily; trying to live virtuously and humbly rely on God for the strength to do anything virtuous at all. Sometimes it is so hard to do the smallest things well. Often, it is so easy for me to be lazy about praying. But we can only begin again today.

Our parish is going to start offering an evening Low Mass on First Fridays; I am so excited to have the opportunity to be able to attend First Friday and First Saturday Masses, back-to-back, at “home”!

Yesterday’s Mass was That Mass at which all the littles in the congregation had their turn for a meltdown, with that muffled chorus of outraged screams emanating from the narthex that doubles as a cry room. Although their dear parents might have found it a tad stressful, I couldn’t stop smiling at the sounds of our community: a community bursting at the seams with new life and lovingly accepting the noisy, messy beauty of its youngest generation. If I’m blessed with children one day, I have no doubt they’ll join the ranks of screamers (on occasion).

Prayerfully . . .

So many things on my heart to pray for, but especially for a friend who very recently suffered a tragic loss. Your prayers for the repose of a certain soul and the comfort of a family would be so appreciated.

And we are embarking on the month of the most holy Rosary! It seems the perfect time to post a prayer, long ago prescribed by Pope Leo XIII for the month of October, after the recitation of the Rosary:

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength.

Most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.

Sig

A birthday (accompanied by musings on my face and a new year of life . . .)

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Yesterday was my birthday . . . I turned 22 years old, and I seem to have also turned the corner of reaching any really “special” age milestones until 33, when, in accordance with a long-lived joke amongst some of my dearest friends, I leave my “irresponsible tweens” at last and become a proper adult! (If you know of hobbits, you know of what we speak.)

Maybe we’re sticklers, but in our family, we children know the precise hour and minute in which we were born. Until it reaches that miraculous moment on the clock, we’re not legitimately our new age. Being the first baby, I took the longest, unsurprisingly . . . and so my brother set alarms in several places, all of which went off at 5:02pm and I officially became 22. The Dash had walked in only minutes before and so (with amusement at our oddball Donellan traditions) was able to join in the ecstatic outcry that I was finally 22.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day, spent with the people I love most in the world. I was able to get up fairly early, have my usual prayer time, eat waffles with my youngest sister and have a good workout before leaving with Mom and the siblings to Adoration, Confession and Mass for the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, my dear patron. The Dash had a break between classes and was able to join us for Mass โค I couldn’t have been happier or more grateful to God for that time! Afterwards we ran into several friends, and I even got a beautiful priestly blessing from Fr. A., who was delighted to hear that the young man I was with was “connected” to me ๐Ÿ˜€

Later on, my family, The Dash and I all had dinner together (oven chicken strips, homemade biscuits, salad . . . an amazing combination you really should consider), and we had the usual candle-blowing, present-opening ceremony. Lemon cake with vanilla glaze . . . perfection. The presents and cards were all incredibly sweet and lovely and so thoughtful . . . books such as Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture (I’ve wanted this FOREVER!) . . . the most heartmelting hanging photo, handmade by Lena, with The Dash and I’s special song lyrics handwritten around it (pictured at the top of this post) . . . makeup and nightgowns (I really wanted nightgowns–my erratic brain finds them charming and feminine), Oolong tea, beautiful monogrammed stationery, and football tickets for The Dash and I’s one-year courting anniversary next week (a total surprise!!). We spent some time outside, then came in and danced for a bit, watched a movie . . . it was just such a wonderful day. I’m so grateful to simply be alive and surrounded so undeservedly by such love and goodness and grace.

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A super sweet handmade card from my youngest sister

It’s such a staggering mystery of love–life, that is. In Adoration, it was impossible for me not to contemplate how God could never have made me. And yet He drew me out of nothingness, impelled by Divine love, by the thought of me in His Mind that had been in existence for all eternity. Poof! When the time was right, He fashioned my immortal soul and my teeny body. With all of my idiosyncrasies, quirks, endless facial expressions, temperament, faults, strengths, and every single action and choice I will ever make . . . I was meant to live from all of eternity.

It’s just a mind-boggling thought.

Especially when you take into account my facial expressions.

This morning I was looking through all the pictures taken last night, and I was constantly caught in that middle ground between squirming embarrassment and humbly amused acceptance for how God made me . . . I have a remarkably expressive countenance. HIGH expression production. If you watch a video of me, it makes a little more sense. The fluidity of motion and transition between expressions has a tolerably softening, normalizing effect. If you look at frozen pictures, however, it looks like I own dozens of personalities that emerge at the most insane but highly amusing moments.

Some photos are a little too much, but I did pick out several of the moderate ones . . . and no, it’s not at all my intention to degrade all these expressions, but rather to happily poke fun at them ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Firstly, the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the countenance of an impish little kid.

The initial bites of ice cream were incredibly cold against the roof of my mouth, for some strange reason, however, which brought on this expression:

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Cold!!!

As you can probably gather from the following shots, I am caught mid-sentence quite often.

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Then there’s the wrinkled-nose laugh . . .

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The subtle smirk . . .

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Lastly, the pensive moments . . .

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Needless to say, I was having a great deal of fun yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚ “The best birthday ever,” as the saying goes, but it truly was, because 1) The love of a family just keeps growing, which sweetens every single birthday, and 2) It was technically my first birthday spent with The Dash, and with us being “us” (although we were on the brink of courtship on my last last birthday and he called me that night *sigh*, it still wasn’t nearly so lovely as this was ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) To have him at the table while I read his card and opened his gifts, and being able to hug him, was such a gift! Courtship birthdays are awesome! I am so richly blessed in the love of my family, The Dash, and my friends โค

Sig

 

 

 

 

This moment in time (#1)

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Thank you, Emma, for the inspiration! ๐Ÿ™‚

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What I’m doing: Soaking in some early Saturday afternoon calmness ๐Ÿ™‚ Just for fun, I snapped a quick picture of myself here in the girl’s bedroom (I’m the only one in here right now). Behind me is my bed . . . hanging over it, you’ll see several holy cards, the picture of “Song of the Angels” that The Dash gave me last year–he built the frame himself–, and right beneath it, a blessed image of the Blessed Virgin that friends brought me from Rome. The rest of our room is decked with similar sacramentals ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so much fun for sisters to share a room . . . even in spite of very different personalities and tastes ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, Lena and our youngest sister are already considering and comparing color swatches for what they’re going to paint this room “once I’m gone.” I guess it’s imminent enough to start looking at paint!

Apart from a little laundry and a quick errand, today hasn’t been busy at all, and so right now I’ve been catching up on reading a few of my favorite blogs. I might write a little bit more of fiction soon. After having wrapped up my projects on deadline last week (and although I have another one due next week that I’ll try to tackle Monday), I decided to dabble in something slightly more relaxed and right-brained. I picked up a story I had worked on for years (I initially came up with the idea when I was 15-16 years old) and I jumped in at an, until now, unexplored plot point that was really always the beginning of the story (only, I’d been habitually engrossed in backstory). I haven’t even finished the second scene yet, but it’s been pretty fun ๐Ÿ™‚

What I’m listening to: “Beyond the Stage” by Dario Marianelli. The soundtrack forย Anna Karenina,ย along with Romeo and Juliet by Abel Korzeniowski, are the two major bodies of music that are the guiding inspirations for this story. (Let it be known that I have no interest in watching the corresponding films . . . forbidden love, despair, and suicide aren’t really my thing ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I don’t think I would have ever written fiction at all in my teen years if there wasn’t guiding music behind it.

Both soundtracks are primarily waltz-form and brim with themes of tenderness, darkness, intrigue and suspense–really, almost like a Russian ballet, especially Anna Karenina, which only makes sense. They’re marvelous.

What I’m thinking about: Here we go . . .

  • I finished my re-read Sophia House this morning and, all throughout the final scene (of the story proper, anyway . . . there’s an epilogue afterwards, not exactly necessary but interesting), I cried my eyes out. I hiccuped and grew completely congested and made all sorts of whimpering noises. I wasn’t expecting to cry. But once I reached a certain sentence, my mouth twisted once and it all just came tumbling out. I can count on one hand the books I’ve cried over . . . My temperament isn’t exactly conducive towards such. And I’ve already read Sophia House before (though it must have been several years ago, by my memory), so there weren’t any plot-related surprises.

    But, curled up on the couch after having run over to the post office for Mom, I read that scene and cried and cried. My brother came downstairs and was slightly shocked to find his oldest sister a whimpering, puffy-faced victim of profound fiction. “Are you okay??”

    In this instance, I had sought to re-read Sophia House because I was in a place of personal difficulty and struggle, and so joining my thoughts to the tale of Pawel Tarnowski, a true sufferer, brought a deeper perspective and an acknowledgement of sufferings far greater than my own. And also a reminder of a hope of healing and peace that no suffering is beyond, but which only comes in proportion to one’s willingness to sacrifice all that he is and has to God.

“To be a father in the realm of the soul,” Pawel said. “I would like to be this for you. May I be this for you?”

“Yes, Pawel,” David said in a tone of calm deliberation. “This would be good.”

As if standing on a threshold of radical departure, they faced each other without speaking, gazing now into a dimension that seemed for both to be wholly undiscovered. This sense of embarkation into a fathomless mystery was in no way daunting; neither was it fraught with emotion. It was a moment of perfect stillness.

At last the boy said, “It is a blessed gift to be a son in the realm of the soul. May I be this for you?”

“Yes,” Pawel nodded.

S O P H I Aย ย  H O U S E

  • Well, I’m always thinking about The Dash ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m excited to see him in a little bit and kick off our miniature summer break, now that he’s finished his internship, and that stretches until he starts his final semester of college and I start tutoring next month. It’s always fun to have a little break, especially with your favorite people โค
  • And I’m also thinking about how very, very good Our Lady is. I have brought so many intentions to this novena to Our Lady of Pompeii (on Monday, I’ll be halfway through!) . . . and even more consoling than the increasingly answered prayers, or the graces for endurance, is the growing awareness of her motherly love for me and every soul. What a beautiful thing it is, to be able to trust in Our Lady.

I pray you have a wonderful weekend!

Sig

July is (random observations) . . .

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. . . hot!!!

As in “put my hair into a bun every day” hot.

I snapped the above picture after a (hot) day of cleaning, laundry, and canning pears on Monday (although I was one of the much lesser contributors to the whole canning enterprise. I was cleaning the bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes after the canning, etc…) Lena is in the background, her hair also in a bun. We Donellan women are putting our hair up, people. In the words of The Dash, “Look out.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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A delightfully clean bathroom. Unfortunately, I am too proud to show the “before” picture. I did send the “before” photo to The Dash, so you can rest assured that however proud I am, I’m not that proud.

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At one point during the canning process, they called me downstairs to factor an accurate(ish) ratio of pectin to pears, based off an online ratio table, which was oriented around 7 cups of pears per batch. We eventually discovered we were dealing with 12 cups per batch. So how much pectin would that be?? (13.5 tablespoons, more or less.)

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We have been canning fruit practically ever since we moved to our current home (seven years ago, this September). The builders/previous owners of this home planted blueberry bushes, horse apple trees, pear trees, and a fig tree. We were thrown into “Canning 101” when we wound up with more fruit than we could consume in cobblers. (Although we can consume a lot of cobblers, I assure you.)

Monday, Mom, Lena and youngest sister made jar after jar of Holiday Spice Pear Preserves (or pancake syrup, depending on how much pectin was used per batch; either way, a success!) . . . which are, frankly, sumptuous. Cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg heaven.

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Here is banana pudding, replete with milk and preservatives and rich deliciousness: once-a-year dessert finery. We always make it for one of the summer American holidays (4th of July, or Memorial Day, or Mother’s Day . . .). I’ve had the honor of making it the past couple of years. So far, it has survived me mixing the wrong ingredients together and mildly scorching the pudding. That’s what strainers are for.

However, right now *sigh* I’m done with sugar . . . I know it’s been affecting, at least somewhat, my hormonal health (or, really, lack thereof) and how I’ve been able to deal with stress. Taking it away won’t fix everything, but it will certainly improve the landscape a little!

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Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night โค For the curious-eyed, The Dash is wearing an apron I received for my eighteenth birthday, bearing a picture of Johnny Gage and the phrase, “Genius at Work” (a reference to theย Emergency!ย episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth ๐Ÿ™‚

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Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re only a few days away from our 10-month courting anniversary! Each new month is a blessing. Tuesday night, my family and I showed The Dash a treasured secret of our secluded mountain road: a fantastic yearly fireworks show on top of a nearby hill. We pull off onto the side of the road, arrange ourselves on the grass with the help of some lawn chairs, and soak in the display like villagers watching castle parties from afar. At first, we thought They (The Party People) would be setting off the fireworks last Saturday night, but after pulling off the side of the road and listening to the frogs croak for an hour with nary an explosion, The Dash was (understandably) rather skeptical of their existence (the fireworks, that is–not the frogs). Fortunately we were able to regain his faith ๐Ÿ˜‰

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There is a beautiful (if intense) 54-day novena in honor of Our Lady of Pompeii that fell into my lap only a few days ago, thanks to a friend emailing me this homily.ย It is challenging, consoling and uplifting–and, as with all things under God’s Providence, perfectly timely. The whole text is here.

Yesterday I took some time to read a little of the story of the origins of devotion to Our Lady of Pompeii, along with the story of Blessed Bartolo Longo,ย as well as prepare a long list of intentions for this novena. Something that’s dawned on me is that, the greater your intentions, the greater your suffering or anxiety or desires . . . the greater your prayers should often be. Prayer is our most powerful recourse, and it should grow in proportion to our needs.

July11

And finally, a walk this morning! Much-needed and very brisk. I somehow managed to walk to the cadence of two poems the entire time, mumbling them under my breath . . . hopefully I didn’t look too insane . . .

July8

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now, far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.

July10

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth . . .

A blessed feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to you all, and happy Thursday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig