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.” πŸ˜‰


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 theΒ Emergency!Β episode “Dealer’s Wild.”) When I wear the apron, it’s a joke. When he wears the apron, it’s the truth πŸ™‚

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

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 πŸ˜‰



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.Β 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,Β 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! πŸ™‚



7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 12 :: Weddings, Rain, and Oven Cleaning


Explore previous rambling installments here πŸ™‚


“Was this lovely song I hear ever heard before?”

Well, it’s yet another Monday, and after a morning spent scooting around the house, catching up, scheduling, planning, and laundering, I am digesting lunch (which is a wonderful sensation) and contentedly listening to John Davidson and Leslie Ann Warren jubilantly sing “Are We Dancing?” while crafting a quick Rambling Takes post. (The Happiest Millionaire has at least a dozen of my heartstrings, by the way.)

This song, you see, is part of a 90-minute dance playlist concocted and self-arranged for a particular celebration still in the works (I have nineteen days [only nineteen?!?] left of planning . . . ) . . . oh, but now the song has just passed over to “My Girl” by The Temptations . . .

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day . . .”

Yes, indeed, cloudy . . . I texted The Dash this morning, telling him (optimistically) to enjoy the sunshine (yesterday had been cloudy/drizzly/downright pouring all day), and yet inevitably it has already been pouring here again. So much for the optimism! Hopefully this deluge will bring some May flowers πŸ™‚

“It’s very clear our love is here to stay . . .”

And now comes a crooner . . . *sigh*, it’s going to be a good afternoon πŸ˜‰


CoupleI feel as though I perpetually exist in a romantic frame of mind, but when I’ve made a list of 90 musical minutes of old-fashioned, classic romance, am planning a celebration for married love, and when I’ve just attended a wedding over the weekend . . . why not delve into those happy thoughts a little more deeply than usual? πŸ˜‰

“Unforgettable, that’s what you are . . .”

(This playlist isn’t helping much, I suppose.)

This wedding I attended with my family and The Dash was the first wedding I’d been to in years. It was the first fully Catholic wedding I’d been to since I was around sixteen, and that wedding, I sang for (I actually sang for a string of about six weddings in a row when I was fifteen years old; a unique phase of life!). So, really, it had been quite a while since we’d all gotten dressed up in expectation of a wedding. I pulled out a long floral dress I hardly ever wear–it comes to the floor, but miraculously I managed not to trip over it or downright rip it. And to be able to go to a wedding with The Dash! Bliss! πŸ™‚

“I can’t help myself; I love you and nobody else . . .”

But . . . an Extraordinary Form wedding is indescribably gorgeous, moving and so very different from anything I’d attended previously. Granted, I’ve read the old Rite of Marriage only a thousand times since owning my Missal. I’ve only gushed about it with Lena three thousand times.

But to be able to witness it with Lena, The Dash, and my family, filled me with so much joy. It was at our diocesan Cathedral; every one of the altar boys was a good friend; the priests were all dear to us; the bride and groom were just beaming, radiant, full of love and right intention. The liturgy had the solemnity borne of ancientness. It was amazing in so many respects.

“Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars . . .”

That, by the way, was their first dance song at the reception . . . ahh, fellow Sinatra lovers! I could have hugged them both! They were so precious together. Truly, I’ve never seen a more joyous and delighted bride (and she was beautifully modest, too).


In an Extraordinary Form wedding, the entire marriage rite takes place before the Mass even begins, which means that the very first act the married couple makes as husband and wife is one of worshiping together at Mass. That is so beautiful! πŸ™‚

While I’m on this thought, let’s have a read-through of the traditional vows as found in the ’62 Missal, shall we?

Priest: N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful wife (husband), according to the Rite of our holy Mother the Church?
R. I will.

(Groom, then bride): I, N., take thee, N., for my wedded wife (husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, till death do us part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

The last phrase is just deliciously old (in my opinion). In my limited experience, sometimes it’s omitted (maybe depending on the tastes of the bride and groom), and so I figured I would research the exact meaning of the phrase before I go trumpeting it to everyone as something I would appreciate saying in my own wedding.

Dictionary.com’s definition of “troth” is as follows:

1. faithfulness, fidelity, or loyalty:

by my troth.
2. truth or verity: in troth.

Aha, well, it all sounds worthy so far . . . delving a little deeper, I visit Yahoo!Answers. Not that it’s exactly a paragon of authority, but as this search is propelled by mere curiosity, I am going easy on myself with regards to sources.
“Troth” means a promise of truthfulness, and is derived from the same word as β€œtruth”. “Plight thee my troth” – The groom pledges his truthfulness, faithfulness and loyalty to his promise. “Give thee my troth” – The bride likewise gives her word.
And to round off this clarifying experience, an extract from Answers.com:

“Troth” means a promise of truthfulness, and is derived from the same word as “truth.” Plight means pledge.

So, judging by dictionary definitions, to plight one’s troth simply means to pledge one’s truth: one’s fidelity. While all of this is already more than implied, of course, in the vows themselves, I think it’s still something beautiful to say!



Today, I’ve just started reading Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s Three to Get Married. I feel badly because, up until this point, and merely by accident, I’ve never read any of his works or seen any of his old shows (to the shock of The Dash, who is now completely convinced of how sheltered I am)–I don’t think I’ve even heard his voice! And, judging by the first chapter, what a poverty that is.

Even his dedication for the book is so profound:

It takes three to make Love in Heaven – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It takes three for Heaven to make love to earth – God, Man, and Mary, through whom God became Man.

It takes three to make love in the Holy Family – Mary, and Joseph, and the consummation of their love, Jesus.

It takes three to make love in hearts – The Lover, the Beloved, and Love.

To that Woman who taught the sublime mystery of Love, Mary Immaculate, this book is dedicated.

That nations, hearts, and homes may learn that love does not so much mean to give oneself to another to that Passionless Passion, Which is God.


I took a break while writing this post to go take another walk with my mom at our nearby lake. Yes, it rained today. Yes, all things were squelchy, muddy, dirty–but they were also glistening, rich, perfumed and intense. As we walked and chatted, the cloudiness dissipated under warm sun and the air grew slightly humid. My hair didn’t appreciate it much, but nevertheless, it was a peaceful, invigorating half-hour spent with my mother πŸ™‚ I am so determined to make regular outdoor walks a part of the normalcy of my future family life!


Ah, yes, the aforementioned oven cleaning. I’m a complete novice when it comes to oven cleaning, and if I hope to be the queen of a particular castle sometime in the not-too-distant future, it stands to reason that I had better know how to clean one. And so, today, I’ve sprayed it, left it to sit for two or three hours, and am going to begin scrubbing away within the next half-hour. Hopefully there won’t be any disasters. We have egg rolls scheduled for tonight, and I refuse to be the one to ruin everyone’s dinner πŸ˜‰


A letter from a pen pal came in today! I am delighted πŸ™‚ And it’s made me reflect on how blessed I am with the all correspondences God has placed in my life. Here’s to rebuilding a culture of actually writing to one another, of taking time to craft paragraphs, to ramble, to express hopes and dreams, to make jokes, to be genuine. To use words, and to mean them. That’s how some of my dearest friendships today started out. It’s how The Dash and I started out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be pen and paper (although it’s wonderful and so authentic if it can be done!), but the time is what is essential. Before you know it, thousands and thousands of words have crossed the space between you and another soul, building understanding and friendship as you pursue truth together; the truth that comes only from Our Lord.

Have a blessed Monday, everyone, and . . . a very happy feast of dear St. George, Martyr! I know Lena is excited today πŸ™‚


Views from my afternoon walk


Sixty degrees, breezy, sunny. . . that, my friends, is the recipe for a perfect afternoon walk by the lake, and I was blessed to have one just now! Recently, I have rediscovered how refreshing going outdoors is and how much it uplifts the spirit. It has pulled me away from stress, worries, and the hum of technology, and has helped me unwind my mind . . . and believe me, these past few days have certainly had their share of thoughts and considerations in need of un-winding!

Especially after the aforementioned 5K, I’ve found taking a brisk (yet still relaxed) outdoor walk to be such a simple thing, and yet so restorative. So please forgive the poor quality of these washed-out, unedited phone pictures and absorb the lovely scenery and the adorable little goslings πŸ™‚ (And perhaps next time I’ll remember to take my actual camera, like one wise older gentleman had done! He was contentedly snapping pictures left and right while we were there.)



Catching up

Us Last Saturday, I experienced my first-ever 5K! As I’d mentioned in an earlier post, The Dash and I had been planning to accomplish this 5K together ever since early Lent (although it had started out as more of a joke than anything! . . .). Accordingly, I’d been working to build my running stamina (“pursuing athletic development” as a not-at-all-condescending friend coined it . . . I’m by no means a paragon of athleticism) several times a week, and was able to jog for 20 minute stretches. My goal was to run the 5K in half an hour or so, which I had been told was something like the average. But as God would have it, I kept running into (pun intended) some painful medical symptoms that eventually forced me to resign myself to walking the 5K. And so, of course, my awesome guy lovingly decided to walk with me, too πŸ™‚

I calculated that if I could steadily speed-walk at over 4 mph, I might complete the 5K in something like 45-50 minutes, and so that became my new goal . . . my sisters and mom and I would go to the nearby lake the week beforehand, and I would speed-walk for half an hour or so along the trails. The weather was lovely, and this kind of glorified walking posed no real symptoms to me, so I grew increasingly confident that I wouldn’t have too much trouble and would be able to thoroughly enjoy this 5K. (And, after all, it would mean nearly an hour of walking and talking exclusively with The Dash, so what more could I want?)

The morning of was chilly, breezy, and drizzling, and as the 5K started promptly at 8am, we arrived a good half-hour early, and we stretched and chatted with our friends who were participating. (Our team was considerably large, at least 30 or so people.) I had accidentally wound up with the bib of a 60-year-old man (our bibs were 1 digit apart, and we wear the same shirt size, apparently), so we traded that in and then proceeded to pin our chip-bibs on our official 5K shirts. It was the first “official” event shirt I’ve ever owned because I participated in said event, which was a ridiculously gratifying feeling. I also got a yellow ribbon for my hair, which all the team girls were wearing.

As the time edged closer to 8am, we either cautiously dabbled in, or completely forewent, the somewhat embarrassing warm-up routine, set to dance music, and then quickly went and lined up along with everyone else. Not extremely competitive by nature, I didn’t anticipate the helpful adrenaline that would surface from being surrounded by so many runners, and while humility dictated that I shouldn’t and wouldn’t mind if we did, simultaneously I was fixated on the resolution that even though we were walking, we weren’t going to come in last place πŸ˜‰ And so I kind of bounded off when the horn sounded. Of course, everyone flooded ahead in one great fell swoop for the initial portion, but five or ten minutes into the 5K, The Dash and I were making good time (for walking, anyway, although he preferred to jog beside my energizer-bunny walk) and working our way up and down the old neighborhood streets. (Here and there, we would pass people who had slowed down, which was technically encouraging although by this point I was personally focused on just achieving my planned time.)

We panted and laughed and talked about various books, about investing in old homes, about stocks, about food, and about the fact that I would probably never be a mother who ran with a stroller. He pointed out an apartment where he formerly lived and the park where he would go to read. Although my legs were incessantly burning (especially my calves! Agh!), it was such relaxed, quality bonding time that I couldn’t have been happier.

We continuously kept track of how far we’d gone and how we were doing for time. The statistics were encouraging. For the first mile or so, we seemed right on track with my estimate for progression. But then, wonder of wonders, as we completed mile 2 and embarked on the home stretch, we were making better time than I thought was feasible. (“How fast is it possible to actually walk?”) This realization was perfect timing, as my legs felt anything but lovely. We were at just 38 minutes when the finish came into view. Deeply inspired, I felt it was time to be a hero.

“Do you want to sprint for the rest of it?” I asked (gasped).

“Really?” he asks.


“OK, let’s go!”

We started sprinting, and instantly I felt like I was melting, that my legs were rubber, and that I no longer had a stomach, while beside me The Dash well, dashed. His blog name is in place for a well-earned reason. Let it be known to history that he didn’t mean to finish slightly ahead of me–some things are just physically impossible to prevent. Once you’ve started, you’ve started. With full knowledge I unleashed the dash in The Dash.

“I promise I’ll slow up! I’ll only be the best by a TINY bit!” – Dash Parr

And so, just behind him, I clocked in the 5K at 39 minutes, 44 seconds–nearly six minutes faster than the minimum time I’d planned for. Triumph!!!

I staggered to a stop beside The Dash, for approximately fifteen seconds feeling as though I might throw up and pass out. But then it got much better. I hugged him delightedly although I was sopping with sweat. Our other running friends had achieved fantastic times in the low 20-minute range, but the personal happiness that had come from accomplishing the 5K in a different and albeit slower way than I’d hoped, but together, and having had such a good time throughout it, made me ecstatic.

We cooled off and stretched for a while, drinking water and eating oranges provided to us (they were the best and stickiest oranges I’ve ever consumed in my life, I’ll have you know). Awards eventually came; many of our friends placed high in their different tiers and, collectively, our team won the Fastest Team award! (Obviously, because of us πŸ˜› ) It was a wonderful morning.

And did I mention that this fundraising 5K was part of a Lebanese food festival? Ah, yes. There is something wonderful about having expended loads of calories across 3 miles, and then slowly gaining them back again through various Lebanese delicacies.

But in essence, that was the 5K: although one hilarious moment remained. Once we were home, we checked into the official race results, and lo and behold, something had gone wrong with either The Dash’s chip or mine, because officially, I finished 15 seconds before him. Cue roaring laughter on both of our parts! πŸ˜€

In closing, I highly recommend that every courting couple completes at least one 5K together for the purposes of bonding and achieving something difficult but fun together . . . it whetted my appetite for regular walking (my “talking’ appetite needs no whetting), and I know The Dash and I both hope that this will be an element of our relationship that continues for a very long time!

Have a blessed Thursday!