Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garden Views: End of August

In spite of the sad news about the voles, the garden is doing other pretty things at the end of this month.

This is the butterfly garden and it should be filled with pink echinacea.  Thanks to the voles, it's not.

The hostas are timed so that one type is always blooming.  These flowers are so enormous that bumble bees get lost inside.  (I've said that before.)

The maple tree is slightly kissed by touches of red. I love watching the progression of color, as it sweeps across the tree.

Some of the summer potted flowers (snapdragon) were tiring out.  We replaced them with mums that have just started to open.

The poplars turn color differently from the maples.  Certain leaves scattered throughout the tree go yellow and the fall off.  The pattern is more random than that of the maple.

Another crop of raspberries is ripening.  This raspberry patch is still too small to suit our needs.  I've been saving the berries that don't get eaten, freezing them, and waiting until the end of the season.  I'd like to make one recipe that everyone can enjoy.  How to make a half pint of raspberries go for eight people . . .

It appears the voles do not like black-eyed Susans.  That is a relief, at least!

The view from my chair on a warm summer afternoon.  In the background are the mums that have not yet bloomed.  That's all right with me -- they'll give us plenty of color way into the chilly autumn.

Friday, August 29, 2014

7QT: Quick PHOTO Takes

Schooling began again this week.  This might be the first year that I didn't want summer to end and I am blaming that on the long winter that delayed spring and summer.  Here are quick photo takes of Summer, 2014.

~  ONE  ~
British TV

It wasn't a matter of binge watching.  It was a matter of catching snippets before falling asleep at night.

~ TWO  ~

Some of the books I read this summer, books in paper and books on Kindle.  Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables were free.

~  THREE  ~

Trips near, trips a bit farther, trips even farther.

~  FOUR  ~

~  FIVE  ~

Salsa might be the primary reason we grow tomatoes.  I joke only slightly.  This salsa is not intended for canning, but for eating straightaway.  Those with strong feelings about the matter do not like vinegar in our salsa, so the recipe cannot be preserved.

~  SIX  ~

I shall refer you to my garden label for a retrospective of the summer garden.  If time allows, I will get my end-of-August photos here before September arrives.  Overall, the garden has done well.  With one exception . . . .

~  SEVEN  ~

Some mysteries in the garden.  Echinacea disappearing, even when other plants in the same border thrive.  A healthy viburnum, suddenly shriveling and dying.  I asked the wise folks at my favorite nursery and they think it is voles.  I'm not sure what to do about them!  I read that they won't go near daffodils.  If I can confirm that, I will likely plant many, many daffodil bulbs this fall.  I'm so disappointed!  I knew, somewhere in my brain, that attracting the fun wildlife to the garden would also support the critters I don't want.  But I've never faced anything so destructive, yet.

Have a great weekend, all you 7QT visitors.  And my two or three regular readers.  Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting!

Thanks for hosting!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The world is in flames: panic or comfort?

"The world is in flames.  The struggle between Christ and the Antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life."
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

The world is in flames.  Sometimes I panic when I read those things, since they can apply to current events and I become alarmed at what might occur during my lifetime.  Other times, it is comforting in an odd way: the world is in flames, but such has always been the case.  What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!  (Ecclesiastes 1: 9)

I no longer worry about my personal safety as I once did.  Only fellow worrywarts could understand the idea of lying awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep over what might happen over the course of one's life.  It seems so silly by the light of day, but it's very real at night.  By the grace of God, that's been mostly healed. 

Alas, there is a worry that still exists.  A scary one for me. The idea of watching my children suffer is a horrible one.  Surely, I've experienced having to stand helpless when they are struggling with things life throws at them.  However, I've never had to live through atrocities such as the ones Christian mothers in the Middle East are experiencing right now.  I could beg God to spare me that, but what if something like that were my cross?  St. Teresa Benedicta wrote:
Through the power of the Cross you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the Divine Heart.  That charity enables you to spread everywhere the Most Precious Blood in order to ease pain, save and redeem.
Is that, then, what parents living through atrocities or humanitarian crises are meant to do?  That is a big thing.  I remember my grandmother saying, "There are worse things than death," and surely watching others die horribly would be one of those things.

Today I offer up prayers for mothers and fathers who are living the world in flames in a very real way.  That means parents in Ukraine or Iraq.  That also means parents whose children face the Antichrist closer to home.

St. Teresa Benedicta did sacrifice her life.  I take comfort knowing that times were treacherous when she was on the earth, but that didn't stop people from going about their daily duties amongst their given circumstances.  The world is in flames, but we can choose panic or comfort.  St. Teresa Benedicta gets the last word:
The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the Cross stands high, and it cannot be burnt.  The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven.  Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right nito the heart of the Trinity.

Friday, August 22, 2014

7QT: Very quick takes

I do not do brief well, but I'm busy right now, so I must.  Here goes. .  .

~  ONE  ~
We took a vacation.  It was lovely to get away from the busyness of life.  Because of our time away, this past week has been a bit more hectic than I would have liked.  I've spent the last week trying to get everything ready for the start of school.

~  TWO  ~
I still have projects around the house needing to be done.  Painting, organizing, decluttering.  Oddly enough, I think I'll do better when we are finished with summer break.  A set routine does wonders for me.  I need a schedule.

~  THREE  ~
The child who breaks into hives when she encounters potato, peppers, tomatoes, some berries, dairy, chocolate does NOT get a rash from this:

 How weird is that?  And, yes, she did appear to make contact.  Multiple times, multiple days.

~  FOUR  ~
There was very poor internet connect-ability on vacation.  I loved it.  Don't get me wrong: I enjoy communicating with family and friends; I read beautiful blogs.  But there was something so refreshing about an externally-imposed technology fast.

~  FIVE  ~
One special end-of-summer treat?  The endless supply of tomatoes!  My own are now ripening.  My CSA has been providing me with plenty.  I'm not sure, yet, what tonight's dinner is going to be, but I'm trying to think of something clever and new for both tomato and cabbage.  Not sure what I shall do. . . .

~  SIX  ~
Totally random item that has nothing to do with school starting or summer vacation.  Muller yogurt.

Contains TILAPIA.  Tilapia in yogurt.  For my body, it's better than the soy that gets hidden in other brands' yogurt.  But, weird, nevertheless.

~  SEVEN  ~
Stuff to do.  Deadlines to meet.  But my retreat into rural America gives me the will to go on:

Thanks to Jen for hosting.  I look forward to reading fellow link-ers!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Quite Wordless

This house key is just a few inches away from this bug on the side of a barn.

Eewwwww.  That is one large flying critter.

It wasn't going to go anywhere; it's stuck in a spiderweb. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

C&P: You are your child's spiritual director.

A number of weeks ago, I shared my thoughts about guiding children in a fruitful prayer life.  Am I my child's spiritual director?

Connie Rossini at Contemplative Homeschool has shared her ideas about this, too.  Becoming your children's spiritual director.  It's a helpful article, for it suggests concrete ways to get started on guiding your child based on his temperament, interests, and cognitive development.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Simple List of Devotions

I came across this link:

Five Ways to Sanctify Your Day

It reminded me of the links I shared in this post.

Some things are universal.  The same tricks of the trade show up in various forms.

Gosh, could God be telling us something?
"All these adorations must be made by faith, believing that God is truly in our hearts, that we must adore, love, and serve him in spirit and in truth . . ."
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

Friday, August 15, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yes. This.

I don't know where I found this.  I must have saved it after a friend posted it to Facebook.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Children & Prayer/Monday Musings

I have completed all of my preliminary thoughts on Children and Prayer.  All that is left to do is cultivate my collection of activities, lessons, thoughts, spiritual practices, and the like.  "All that is left" . . . but that is the biggest part of all!

I need to take a break from thinking about this, however.  I've been blogging on it since May; I've been planning to blog for the last number of years.  I'd like to take a rest from meeting my self-imposed deadlines.
Furthermore, I will reclaim the Monday spot on this blog for Monday Musings.

So, taking a break -- returning to Monday Musings -- end-of-summer/beginning-of-academic-year thoughts floating through my head can mean only one thing.  THIS is what I need to meditate on today:

Humility: the most important virtue for parents

Thank you, Connie Rossini at Contemplative Homeschool.

Time to clean the cobwebs of the brain.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Release!!!

How very exciting to know someone who has published a book!  "Know" in the online sense of the word.  Connie Rossini and I "met" online and then I was lucky enough to talk with her when she and I were both interviewed on Carmelite Conversations.  If you want to hear that interview, follow the link to Homeschooliug with the Carmelite Saints.

Trusting God with St. Therese is having its online release party.  Hurrah!  Here are the details.  I'm a few days late.

I bought my copy, but I am practicing delayed gratification.  I'm saving the book for an upcoming road trip.

Friday, August 8, 2014

7QT: Mishmash

Friday approaches, just as it did last week and the week before!

~  ONE  ~
Connie Rossini has published her book, Trusting God with St. Therese and she's doing her book tour online.  How clever!  A virtual tour!  I will give Connie her own post, tomorrow.

~  TWO  ~
Food allergies in your home?  How wonderful to have people with special dietary needs who have already figured it all out for us!  Chocolate-Walnut Freezer Fudge.  Thank you, Paleo Mom!

~  THREE  ~
I loved this:


I firmly believe it: some day, we are going to look back on all our social media staged photos and laugh.  Whenever I share photos online, I feel a twinge of shame that they are not the sort that are on the cool sites out there.  But, why?  I've never been one of those A-list, cool types.  Why feel badly for being myself?  No, I'm not advocating lowering the bar in the interest of rebellion against the Instagram world.  I'm advocating not being ashamed if you do your best with your phone's camera and you don't have an artist's eye.  In the interest of keeping it real, here is a sample of the kinds of photos that show up with an alarming frequency on my camera roll.

My lovely finger.  Not only do I have a way of taking photos I didn't know I was taking, I also forget to stop recording video.  Thus, I'll have footage of a child skipping down the sidewalk, then a minute of nausea-inducing whirls of sidewalk and grass as I walk along with the camera rolling, ending with an audible, "Oh, gosh . . . this is still recording!"

Face squished against the window.  Sometimes I take these myself; many times, they are on the camera roll courtesy of some other photographer in the house.

~  FOUR  ~
I am enamored with children's early interpretation of the human figure.  So much so, the gallery of art that runs along the wall, up the stairs in my house, is of such artwork.  Each child, but the last, has a framed sample of his or her early attempts at drawing people.  Now, the youngest will get her own framed art.  She has been doing this kind of thing all summer:

~  FIVE  ~
I am a big fan of Elizabeth Foss.  She wrote this the other day:
At varied moments throughout the day, when the noise and the drama and crush of the crowd overwhelmed me, I'd take my iPhone, my earbuds, and my perpetually sneakered self over to the adjoining hotel. I'd get to the halls of guest rooms and I'd walk, listening to In the quiet. Up one hall, up the stairs, down the next hall, up those stairs, up to the top and then down again. Then back to the convention center, a much calmer person. It ocurred to me that I was sneaking off to walk and I did briefly wonder about the addictive behavior aspect of that, but really, it seemed all good.
Elizabeth was at a dance competition.  This was one of her survival strategies.

I've long known that I'm an introvert, but I never understood until recently that there's an HSP component to my personality.  I thought I was cranky or anti-social at times; turns out I get tired from too much stimulation in my environment.  It's how my brain is wired.  I tend to use cranky young children as my 'shield,' an excuse, when I need to step away from stimulation.  But, Elizabeth Foss didn't do that. She removed her adult self from the busyness and did what she had to do to get through the day.  I need to be smart enough to do that, when necessary.

~  SIX  ~
This deserves a blog post all its own, but I don't have time just now.  Unplugging from the 'net.  I've been doing that.  We've been very busy around the house this last week, doing jobs that need to get done. At the same time, and unrelated to housework, I've been stepping back from being connected so much to the online world.  A cursory check of headlines; almost no social media (because, here I am at Blogger).  IT HAS BEEN WONDERFUL.  I like the internet; I visit many inspiring places online.  At the same time, the internet is an energy drain, with negativity on social media or in the news.  I'm finding a new tipping place in my life, as far as online time goes.  Even inspiring websites can take the place of simply sitting quietly.  It is good to get that back.

~  SEVEN  ~
Some of the leaves are changing on the trees.  I firmly believe in enjoying the gifts each season has to offer.  But, really.  Please . . . just a bit more summer???

I'm pleased to join in the link-up fun at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How's your flexibility?

I'll have to see what my ballet dancer can do with a minivan hatch.

Just in case the embed doesn't work, as it doesn't always work when I do it:

"Normal" Person vs. Dancer - How to Close a Trunk

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Note on the Importance of Silence

“Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God.  In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.”
Pope Benedict XVI
December 18, 2005

When is the last time you heard a priest tell his parishioners to get more noise into their lives, during Advent or Lent?  Have you ever heard it?

On the contrary, it is generally acknowledged that we’ve an abundance of noise and stimulation in our modern lives.  Children are not immune from the constant noise that streams out at us, all day long.  This issue was addressed at the beginning of July by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, who said at a retreat for young people:

“Today there is so much noise, with social media, we don’t understand the value of silence….  We go away from it, from ourselves.  In silence though, we encounter ourselves, and God.  There is a desire for silence, desire for spirituality, [amid] the problems of society.  If we take time in silence we find the answer to this desire.”

It is imperative that each of us carve out time for silence in general and quiet prayer time in particular.  I write “in general” because a week does not go by but that someone publishes an article about the need for simplicity, or how our brains need time away from electronic busyness, or the deleterious effects of multi-tasking on our productivity.  Secular and spiritual authors alike beseech, beg, cajole, and implore us to ‘power down’ with regularity.  Certainly, then, quiet time in prayer is essential.  I will be so bold as to suggest that the prayer we do at Mass, or driving in the car, or in a family rosary is not enough because of the lack of retreat from the world.  Not counting for a moment the ones who might be carried away spiritually in a rapturous prayer whilst waiting in line at the supermarket, our fruitful prayer is going to come during quiet times of reflection.  This is true for children and adults.  Specifics on fostering quiet time with children will appear in future posts.

In the meantime, we are reminded to seek out quiet time even in the liturgy, where you’d assume there would be plenty of quiet time, but not always.

Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about silence in the liturgy:

"We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy.  We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence.  It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action.  We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us.  Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. . . “
The Spirit of the Liturgy
SF, CA; Ignatius; 2000


The General Instruction of the Roman Missal mentions the importance of silence during Mass.  In a search of the PDF version of the GIRM, “sacred silence” shows up in three sections; “silence” in thirteen sections; the word “quiet” appears in twenty-one sections.  That should tell us something!

Allow me a moment of personal sharing.  I have a very strong preference for quiet Masses.  My soul luxuriates in silence.  I find it less peaceful when I attend Mass in which there is very little silence, when we go from song to reading to song to vocal prayer to song to “meditation music” after Communion song or songs.  One of the (many) things I appreciate about Holy Week is when we are asked to maintain Sacred Silence.

Obviously, not everyone will share this with me.  I imagine those who can sing do enjoy lifting voice in prayerful song.  However, what the Pope has shared applies to all Catholics.  We need to reclaim silence in the liturgy.

Yes, I write that even as a mother who has dealt with more incidents of noisy kids during Mass that I can count.  In fact, I’ve had anxious moments in which I have hoped the post-communion reflection time would go more quickly, when I sense a toddler gearing up for action.  Nevertheless, I feel strongly about instilling in my children an appreciation of quiet time.

I share the following quotes, for your reflection on the topic of silence.  Take time with these quotes.  Pray with them.  Sit in silence with them.

* * * * * * *

As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence.  The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the song of God, the incarnate Word . . .  God’s silence prolongs his earlier words.  In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence.

* * *

In addressing a Carthusian monastery, Pope Benedict the XVI called their charism of silence “a precious gift for the Church and the world.”  He said: 

“Some people are no longer able to stay in silence.  Most young people, who are already born in this state, seem to fill every empty moment with music and images, almost afraid to feel, in fact, this void. . . Retiring into silence and solitude, man, so to speak, is ‘exposed’ to reality in his nakedness.”  Thus, one can understand “the fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that there is, and that is beyond the dimension of the senses.”
Serra San Bruno, Italy, October 9, 2011
Pope Benedict: modern life needs silence

 * * *

In the silence of the heart God speaks.  If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.  Then you will know that you are nothing.  It is only when your realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.  Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

* * * 

If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God.
BXVI, January 24, 2012
Message for the 46th World Communications Day
Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization

* * * 

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Matthew 6:6

* * * 

Neither is there any need for wings to go to find [God].  All one need do is go into solitude and look at him within oneself.
St Teresa of Avila
Way of Perfection 28.2

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Girls and Boys - Part Two

When I wrote Girls and Boys, I didn't plan for there to be a second part, but here it is.

A lovely summer morning.  The perfect opportunity to do my running on trails.

My son and I were alone on the trails, which was a bit surprising, as we seem to encounter other runners and walkers whenever we go out.  We weren't alone in the park; it had a sizable number of people out fishing.  As I was finishing up my run, it struck me that the fishing population was predominantly male.  Every age group was represented, but there was only one female, a young girl who was accompanying her grandfather.  I have seen entire families on other days, so women and girls do fish.  Still, most of the time, the overwhelming majority is men and boys.

This brought to mind what I'd written about the idea that parents, teachers, and society are doing something to discourage girls from careers in the STEM fields.  Simply put, I don't believe it happens because personal experience has shown me that parents and educators do go out of their way to promote it and even discourage girls from entering the so-called "traditionally female" career paths.

Thus, I found amusement in the populace of the fishing lake.  Where are the girls?  No women?  Who is telling girls that they shouldn't be fishing?  Will Verizon devise a "thought provoking" video sensation that will encourage us to Think about how we are shutting out our girls, when they are showing us that they have natural fishing inclinations?

Friday, August 1, 2014

7QT: Garden Views, Bee Stings, Beet Chips, Trees are good for you

I did not get my Garden Views: End of July in before the end of July.  So, I combine that with today's 7 Quick Takes.

~  ONE  ~
Bee Sting

The front porch was in desperate need of a hosing down.  Too many summer nights of small, flying things that are attracted to lights.  In my zeal to clean everything, I inadvertently stirred up a nest of . . . bees? wasps? hornets?  I don't know what stings and what doesn't.  Pain.  Arnica tablet, arnica gel, benadryl.  Two days later, still a bit itchy.

~  TWO  ~
Attracting Nature

But, that's all right; stings happen.  The garden was planned with nature in mind.  Nature and I co-exist very well, usually.  Here are some of the ways in which the garden is feeding the local bird, butterfly, and bee population.  There are so many bees, in fact, I cannot help but think we are counter-acting any local colony collapse disorder single-handedly.

I have four butterfly bushes and I thought that perhaps they hadn't survived our unusually harsh winter. They were slow to flower and aren't very prolific, but they are blooming.  And they smell heavenly!

Bumble bees can hide inside hosta flowers.  I thought I was alone when I was pulling weeds and suddenly a large bee came out of one of these flowers.

~  THREE  ~
Critters Attracted

A number of bees, buzzing about the flowers in the clethera bush.

Something has spun a web in the lavender.  See that opening in the center of the photo?  Try to ignore all the clover growing amongst my lavender.  I'm allergic to clover, so I don't like to pull it unless I'm well protected.

~  FOUR  ~
Lovely Flowers

Random shots of flowers around the garden.  Or cut from the garden.


~  FIVE  ~
Fruit and Veg

A few years ago, I was chatting with a handful of employees at my favorite garden center about staking tomatoes.  I haven't found a system, yet, that is perfect.  One of the experts said he never stakes his; he lets them grow like ground vines.  I'm doing that this year.  It seems to be working well.  These are my plum tomatoes.

Cayenne!  I haven't bought dried red pepper flakes from the stores in years.

No photos, but the bell peppers are doing okay.  Tomatoes coming along, but not prolific.  It's been too cool this July for the nightshades.  My onions are coming along and not all of them are tiny.

An apple is peeking out!  I think the raspberries are planning another go around; no photos of that.

~  SIX  ~
Walls of Green

Last months End of Month Garden Views showed photos of my walls of green.  I mentioned that being surrounded by greenery has a calming effect on me.  Childhood backyards; a British garden that was mine for a short time: both provided me with green screens where I could retreat from busyness and noise that is not family noise.  (There is always 'family noise' in my gardens.)  Turns out that my brain might be wired to find these "walls of green" relaxing.  Courtesy of Modern Mrs. Darcy, there's this:

If You Live Near a Park, You're More Likely to Be Happy

I love it when science supports something I've known all along!

~  SEVEN  ~

No photos, but I'm thrilled to have found another CSA.  I belonged to one a few years ago, but they folded.  The new one is a personal connection; a co-worker of my husband's.  So far, two boxes of produce.  Good stuff in it!  Last week, I had beets I wasn't sure what to do with at the same time that we were doing Tex-Mex for dinner.  I turned to the Internet and found:

Beet Chips! 

That is not my photo.  Mine were a bit larger than that.  Quite tasty.  A good way to get young children to eat beets.  I will be doing that recipe again!

I hope there aren't too many typos or formatting errors.  I've run out of time!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Thanks to Jennifer for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday!  Happy weekend, everyone!