November morning rain


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July is (random observations) . . .


. . . 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.” 😉


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.


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.)


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.


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!


Here I am, cooking (enchiladas) with my favorite guy, Tuesday night ❤ 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 the Emergency! episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth 🙂

Us in the backseat with my sister . . . slightly cramped . . . but we still leaned in for this picture 😉

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 😉



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. 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, 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.


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 . . .


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.


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! 🙂


My Vocabulary Lesson for the Day


How long ago was it? Two or three weeks? Well, whenever it was, my mind randomly remembered something called a Commonplace Book, and I thought it might be nice to try and keep one up: to record various bits of information and assorted quotations that I wanted to save and ponder in a handwritten, old-fashioned way.

It hasn’t been particularly regular so far, but I’ve written down some meaty quotes from Newland’s We and Our Children, from Fr. James Mawdsley, FSSP, and Fr. Augustine Wetta’s Humility Rules (as snagged from Lena’s post on fasting). My handwriting is a little rambling, which matches perfectly with the workings of my brain.

Today, however, I wrote down three words and their accompanying definitions . . . one word that I had positively never heard of before (a real shock for this presumed wordsmith), and all three words possessing meanings that I didn’t really know at all. I’d heard of the other two words, but only had the vaguest notion of what they might mean.

Two words were from this morning’s (stupendous) section from Chapter One of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child; and one word was from Fr. Ripperger’s homily (remember, Penanceware!) on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which I listened to this morning.

So, I thought that I would brighten your potentially humdrum Thursday afternoon by sharing with you my newfound knowledge, and my three new pet words. 😉


This one completely bent my mind. How do I even say this? How many C’s and N’s are in this darned word?!

Concatenation. A noun derived from the adjective Concatenate, which is pronounced “cun-CAT-eh-net.” So, “cun-CAT-eh-nation.” You’re welcome.

Concatenate :: linked together

Concatenation :: a series of interconnected events, concepts; the act of linking together; the state of being joined


All right, so I’d heard of this one somewhat before; refracted angles, refracted light, that sort of thing. And I knew how to pronounce it, which lifted my sodden spirits a little after being so overwhelmed by concatenation.

Refractory. An adjective as well.

Refractory :: showing or characterized by obstinate resistance to authority or control


Similarly, I’d heard this one used before, probably most frequently in prayers . . . and, fittingly, this was the word Fr. Ripperger used in describing the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. (Please do listen to that homily! And make the penance! 😉 )

I knew it meant something good or beautiful, roughly . . .

Refulgence. A noun.

Refulgence :: a radiant or resplendent quality or state: brilliance.

It may sound a trifle silly, but somehow, I feel so excited to have expanded my vocabulary, to have discovered mysterious words and copied down their definitions like I used to do in school with Wordly Wise.

Although the old adage holds true that “you never stop learning,” and I hope I’m learning and expanding my mind every day . . . there are times when I wistfully wish I could go back and redo some of my grade- and high school subjects with more appreciation and enthusiasm–but it has dawned on me that, God-willing, homeschooling my future children will be a major Round 2 of my education! And in the meantime, I’ll keep reading my concatenation of educational and inspirational books 😉

A blessed feast of St. John of Matha to you all!



Current Happiness

sitting n thinking

Happy feast of St. Polycarp, Martyr!

O God, Who dost gladden us by the annual feast of blessed Polycarp, Thy Martyr and Bishop: mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his heavenly birthday, may also rejoice in his protection. Through our Lord.

I’ve been gathering up a little collection of happy items over this past week that I’ve been wanting to post about . . . and now Friday is already arrived, so I’d better get to chronicling things!

Fr. Lasance’s Rule of Life

The newest thing comes first, as it’s naturally freshest on my mind 😉 Lena has a spiritual director and it has been a beautiful and deeply helpful experience for her over the past several years. I’ve prayed for Our Lord to direct my heart towards this possibility if it’s His Will for my spiritual life, and I’m not sure what the future years might hold in this regard.

I do know, however, that I need direction; of course the direction of the Magisterium and sacred Tradition, the wisdom of the saints, the care of my parents . . . but also a fatherly direction as I attempt to navigate the thorny path of becoming a saint with all of my weaknesses and faults in tow. This real hunger for direction has come over me in ebbing and flowing waves, especially across the past year, and I have brought it to prayer, asking God to enlighten me as I’ve been uncertain as what He wants me to do with this hunger.

Jokingly, I have sometimes termed the late Fr. Lasance as my adopted spiritual director, but it was only this morning that, rising early, I grabbed The Catholic Girl’s Guide on a whim and brought it downstairs for my morning devotions while everyone else was still asleep (except for Dad, off to work as he was) . . . and eventually opened up to his Rule of Life. Reading over it, I experienced great enlightenment and encouragement. For now, for this moment: this is wise, priestly and loving direction for my daily living!

A Rule of Life – PDF

I’ve resolved to read over this rule of life every morning, and to seek to apply it with increasing faithfulness to my day, according to my capacity and means. It’s inspired me to find a nightly Examen from Fish Eaters, as well as to purchase a copy of Butler’s Lives of the Saints.

Voces8 – Equinox

My favorite vocal ensemble of all time, Voces8, recently released a brand-new album . . . and I am in bliss!


For “Ave Maris Stella” alone, I am overwhelmingly indebted forever . . . Lena and I both agree that it is the closest thing we have heard that even begins to approach something worthy of Our Lady. Listen to it, and pray it! A tiny sliver of her unimaginable beauty is in it!

Hail, O Star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.    

Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.

Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.

Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.

Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.

But all the other tracks! “Pie Jesu”! “Joseph, lieber Joseph mein”! And the stunningly difficult “The Passing of the Year” movement . . . I have been in musical heaven for the past few days.

As well as being treated to a brand-new album, I have also been listening more deeply to their Winter, which up until now I’d only given a cursory listen to. “In the Deep Midwinter” ranks very, very high.


Weekly Work

And finally, my assortment of weekly work has been going well! Tutoring on Tuesday went smoothly and fun, and my remaining week has been mostly divided up between different writing projects, which has been a lot like digging for oil . . . you hit a hundred dry spots and, at last, you strike, and the thrill of success erases the memories of all previous toil and drudgery 😉

I would write for longer, but it’s nearly time for Fribourg Mass, so I’m off to celebrate the martyrdom of good St. Polycarp. I pray you have a blessed weekend! It’s difficult to believe January is almost over!

P. S. Yes, I at last changed my signature to the correct Latin. In Corde Mariae. Sigh.


December 15th, 2027

11752639_469072239935977_554516858742376419_nThe chief thing is to get women to take part in socially productive labor, to liberate them from ‘domestic slavery,’ to free them from their stupefying [idiotic] and humiliating subjugation to the eternal drudgery of the kitchen and the nursery. This struggle will be a long one, and it demands a radical reconstruction, both of social technique and of morale. But it will end in the complete triumph of Communism.

– V L A D I M I R   L E N I N ,   1 9 2 0

Do you know what? Exactly ten years from today, it will be mid-morning on Wednesday, December 15th, 2027, in the third week of Advent.

What makes this entirely random fact so interesting? A question I came across yesterday.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? And do you like what you see?

Upon first glance, I didn’t give the question much pause for thought. But I did release an involuntary smile over the possibility of where I could be in ten years: a wife, mother, and keeper of the hearth! What more could I want on earth?

Yes, I like what I see.

And I moved on from the question. But this morning, it’s circled back around to me as an interesting muse for a post. (And I’m rather shocked that it’s already Friday and I haven’t written a thing here since Monday, so I feel the need to make up a little.)

Exactly ten years from today, I’ll be 31 years old. And that in itself sounds delightful. In my mind, the words “31 years old” brim with possibilities and future graces. And probably a little weight gain. But that’s okay. I’m not afraid of growing older.

Ten years! God-willing, I could be married and have several children by the time I’m 31! (My youngest sister and I have sometimes played a mental game, in which we tried to calculate the most children we could feasibly have in a given time frame. It’s a step up from making a list of names. But I won’t frighten readers.) I can only imagine the stories I might be able to tell in ten years’ time. What will I be like? What will I look like, sound like? I think it’s tempting to imagine the manifold ways I’ll have grown, matured and advanced in virtue . . . while slightly less tempting, though probably far more accurate, to acknowledge the ways I will have probably remained the same me, in spite of ten years.

Mary’s guardian angel: “What? Ten years, and she’s only done this?!”

* * *

Ten years from today, it will be mid-morning, and just ten days before Christmas. My children will probably be romping around in cardboard and duck tape (excuse me, armor), and I probably will not have showered yet because, while I naturally appreciate and seek after a wholesome kind of order and schedule in the home, I am not militaristically organized and today will, most likely, be one of those Flexible Days of Survival.

My beloved small castle, (not yet decorated for Christmas, but with an Advent wreath on the table surrounded by workbooks and Saint Lucy coloring sheets) will probably be somewhat tidy, somewhat cluttered (though I’ll already be mentally planning the time to go and clean up those Vital Areas before my husband gets home, since I would really love for him to not experience the feeling of coming home to an absolute zoo . . . no, wait, to tell the children to do the cleaning up! I forgot about them).

The front room will need to be vacuumed (I will be in the process of getting to that), but the throw-pillows are straight and the blankets folded up from the evening before, because I’m still a determined surface preserver.

Although outside will most likely be gray, brown and wet, inside I will have the stimulating sensation of shoveling in a blizzard. Propping the Current Baby of the family (the Current Baby shall not be left out of this post) on my hip, I’ll be alternately wiping sticky crumbs off the counter from breakfast, unloading the next plate from the dishwasher, and recalling what meat is left in the freezer for later on that night. Then comes a hot flow of spit-up down my shirt. I handle it with professional calm and proceed to unload the spoons.

On the kitchen fridge, there’ll be a family photo (rumpled because the toddler found it one day), a grocery list, eighty-five filthy finger smudges I need to wipe off, an invitation to a Christmas party I’m fervently hoping to get to with my husband so I can savor a little time with him, regale my close friends with my daily domestic antics and drink a little wine . . . there will be some alphabet magnets (most, however, will be on the floor), a dry-erase calendar in a constant state of change . . . and, high-up so as to preserve it from disaster, a lovely hand-drawn picture of the Holy Family that Sr. Alphonsus of the Merciful Gaze of Mary (my imaginary invention for Lena’s future professed name . . . perhaps my kids will call her “Aunt Alphy” 😀 ) mailed to the children from the convent.

(You notice that I carefully avoid the topic inside the fridge. I don’t have enough courage to peer that far yet.)

I’ll be hearing shrieks, giggles, and arguments over swords and forts coming from the den (the throw pillows and blankets will be back on the floor again) . . . or is it the stairs? They had better not be hanging off the rails. “Mamaaaa! Mamaaaa!” I’ll know the indignant screams aren’t coming from one seriously injured or seriously wronged, and I’ll begin sticking glasses into the dishwasher, left-handed.

I’ll have a tomboy girl who will be constantly causing me exasperated curiosity as to how to (one day) impart all my high, lovely thoughts about authentic femininity to her. This lass will currently have the shield and sword and will be whacking her brother across the rear.

The Current Baby will then begin wailing from a sudden onset of ravenous hunger, though surely it’s only been five minutes since I nursed last . . . ?

Most likely, I will have a well-meaning and responsible oldest child who will be at the table, working at spelling words and trying to teach the toddler not to color St. Lucy’s skin purple, but who rises at the sound of the Current Baby wailing, comes over to where I am (convinced that all the baby needs is Oldest Sib) and starts plucking at the wet, stinking onesie. “Can I hold him?” the oldest child asks plaintively.

“Actually, I need you to finish loading the dishwasher for me, dear.” (See how calm I’ll be?)

My oldest’s eyes fill with distaste. An exaggerated sigh. Haven’t I raised my children virtuously? I panic interiorly. Why aren’t they cheerfully obeying right away? I lift my eyebrow and give a proper attitude correction. The child humbly complies with a, “Yes, ma’am,” and my spirits lift.

But then the phone will begin ringing, and the oldest will scamper away. (My children will invariably know where the phone is, even if I do not.)

My oldest grins delightedly at the caller ID and pounces on the phone. “Hi Daddy!”

“I want to talk to him!!!!!!!!!” I call (with interior desperation) at the retreating figure, over the poor screaming Current Baby. However, in that moment I will need to snatch survival, and so I’ll retreat to the quiet master bedroom, shut the door, and nurse the baby to sleep, meditating on what colorful extracts from the day I’ll weave into a cheerful narrative for my husband that night.

I will be so lulled by the quiet and serene beauty of my Current Baby that with great suddenness my maternal instincts will start blaring. I will have learned by then that quietness is the sound of doom.

I’ll leave the baby asleep and emerge to find a messy mini-disaster that will involve discipline and half an hour of supervised cleaning up . . .

And on the day will go: December 15th, 2027, with me being 31 years old.

* * *

Why did I quote Lenin at the beginning of this post? Because his words are the antithesis of my dreams for the future. What he perceived as slavery, I know to be freedom and fulfillment. The very things he speaks of with detestation, I look at with both realism and reverence. This post was, in part, inspired by a video I watched this morning from Mary’s Secretary.

I’m a cheerful and optimistic person by nature, so perhaps it seems that I’m sometimes over-idealizing a futuristic day in which I will be a stay-at-home mother. My vocation, whatever its twists and turns, will be my crucible for holiness; I know it will be difficult; I anticipate crosses, because it comes straight from the loving hands of the King of the Cross. I’m flawed and I will fail often. Some nights, I expect I’ll cry myself to sleep. Some days, I’m sure I’ll look at Our Lord and tell Him I can’t do it anymore . . . and then move on and do it.

But that doesn’t exclude the real beauty, wonder and loveliness of the life I anticipate. It doesn’t mean the little, chaotic details aren’t charming and funny in their innocence and normalcy. It doesn’t mean I won’t find utter delight and deep peace in fulfilling my role as a woman, in living out my vocation as a creature of God, in loving and serving my future family.

If “drudgery” only means “very hard work” I admit the woman drudges in the home . . . but if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up. I do not know what the words mean.

-G. K.  Chesterton

So here’s to the next ten years!