Saturday, December 31, 2016

Now What ~ Part II

On November 30 I wrote a post titled “Now What?” about picking goals and how to spend my (vastly reduced) free time.  I realized that I had finally arrived at normal, and life is likely to stay like this for years, so I’d better decide how I wanted to live between now and paying off the house/going full-time freelance.

I remember writing that post and feeling sort of bewildered and dazed.

But now I’m being patient with myself.  I’ve been through a lot of changes this year and for once there’s no hurry.  In fact, I’m giving myself until the end of February, six months into my new job, before I decide what my new goals are.  In the mean time, I'm just going to go with the flow.  I'm going to come home from work, take care of obligations, and then see what I want to do.

It's also a good time to pray about this question.  What does God want me to aim for?  How can I grow in virtue during this time?

So here’s a plea to all three of my readers:  What are YOUR 3-5 year goals?  Somewhere in between “get caught up on laundry” and “retire in _______” you have middling goals, right?  (And if you really want to be help, can you tell me how you arrived at them?)

Friday, December 30, 2016

And While I Was Asleep..

A few nights ago I dreamt that I was at a fair or bazaar.  After standing in line for a long time, I reached a jewelry counter where I began sifting through charms, trying to find one that represented me.  I couldn’t really find anything.  I didn’t want dice because I don’t really believe in fate or luck, at least not as a guiding principle.  I didn’t want logos or icons of pop culture.  That sort of stuff was all that was to be found.

I stood there, moving my hand through the piles of trinkets, searching, but I couldn’t find any charm or pendant that I wanted.

I woke up feeling amused.  It’s rare for me to find a dream so clear and obvious! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas and Family

Gifts, cribbage, and chocolate (not pictured, but eaten in copious amounts!)—we had a lovely Christmas Eve with my parents.

My husband and my dad had matching hands in the same round of cribbage.  I’d never see that before.

On Christmas morning, one of my favorite students said Mass.  Thank you for your vocation, Fr. M, and for a wonderful Christmas homily.

Welcome the King of Kings!

This was the Gospel today:

When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another, 
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place, 
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, 
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God 
for all they had heard and seen, 
just as it had been told to them.

It occurred to me that one important aspects of Christmas is what happens at the end of this passage.  The shepherds go back to their work, tending their sheep. Mary goes back to her work in Nazareth, caring for her child and her home. But they both take Christmas back with them, the shepherds by glorifying and praising God, and Mary by reflecting in her heart on what had happened.

We can all do those things regardless of where we are in our spiritual adventure or no matter how difficult or complicated our lives are.

Merry Christmas and many blessings!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Quilt

I snapped this photo at the county fair months ago.  While the fair is long over, this beautiful quilt will be giving people joy for years to come.

~ by Jeanie Buhrman ~

Friday, December 16, 2016

I think I might be.....


It's 7:33 pm.

On a Friday night.

And I'm too tired to keep my eyes open....

Yep: Old has arrived.  Or I've arrived at Old.  

I'm going to bed now.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Remind me

.... that when I someday publish a crafting book, I should make sure it has a fun, colorful cover:

Click to head to Amazon

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Bag: Clothes, Crafts, and CRAZY cool!

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe
by Anuschka Rees
265 pages

Normally, this kind of book isn't my thing.  I'm just not that into clothes.  But I liked this book because:
A) it was about breaking away from the endless consumerism of buying cheap, disposable clothes and following fads and
B) it took into account the fact that there are many, many different styles and personality types when it comes to clothing and
C) it had exercises to help put the theories in to practice.  (For example, take a photo of what you are wearing every day for two weeks and then analyze what you are wearing a lot and what you look good in.  How does how you want to look match up with how you actually look?)

I thought the book was very sensible, and I am going to recommend it to Arwen when she gets a little older.

Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed
by Victoria Hudgins (Creator of the blog A Subtle Revelry)
175 pages

I will let the author telling you what the book is about in her own words.

It always begins the same: We see a pretty photo, we click the link.  We read a post that starts with "melt the wax" and we freeze because we don't really know how to melt wax, what kind of wax to use, or where to buy the wax.

We then search "working with wax" online and, upon article after article of technical jargon that often contradicts itself, and is full of unrelated keywords and obnoxious ads.  We get discouraged, downhearted, and quickly put aside the original idea we has to be creative, to make something new and unique with their hands.  And we returned to scrolling through the pin boards, seeing great ideas and dreaming about accomplishing them someday.

Victoria covers the basics of these categories:

  • spray paint
  • plaster of Paris
  • concrete
  • paper
  • thread
  • wax
  • would
  • Clay
  • glue
  • fabric
  • metal

She also has very simple projects included for each category.  There's some stuff I want to try, like the baskets woven from T-shirts and the concrete planters and the plaster of Paris/lace doily bowls.

Each section is not exhaustive – if you know a lot about what wood or fabric already, for example, you will find them pretty simple, but that is okay.  It's just enough to get someone started using each material.  And the projects are simple enough that you aren't going to get in over your head too much.

That's not the case at all for the next book, though.

Extraordinary Projects for Ordinary People: Do-It-Yourself Ideas from the People Who Actually Do Them
Edited by Noah Weinstein
465 Pages

This book represents the best (or the wackiest) of

Most of these projects I couldn't do because they involved wires and programming something called an Arduino.

  But the cool factor is really high!

  • flame-growing jack-o'-lantern
  • Star Trek-style bedroom door
  • solar-powered ray gun
  • amphibious couch-bike
  • tree climbing robot
  • birdcage dress
  • pocket laser engraver
  • digital camera Halloween costume – that actually takes pictures
  • bike jacket with turn signal
  • bacon roses
  • vacuum-cleaner bazooka
  • solar-powered bicycle

Yes, the more I read the book the more nervous my husband got!  It has inspired me to want to turn our summer family reunion into a family events where we design and build a boat that can break down and fit in the back of a sedan.  I'd also like to make the next-and-bolts chocolate using a DIY silicone mold.

It really made me envy those people who have computers/electrical type of technical skills.  I need to get me some of those….

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekly Round-Up

This week I....

... checked out the designs of architecture students for a possible new Telephone Museum.  The designs were cool, fun, and inspired.... but many of them were not very practical.  And these were juniors.  Lots of imagination, though.

... finished watching the last episode of the last season of Downtown Abbey.

...watched the first snowfall... during the time I was supposed to be raking leaves, getting soil from the compost pile for next year's seedlings, and pulling carrots....

... finished writing a novel.  It's a romance for my sister Rachel.  Hopefully I can get it proofread before Christmas!  I'm already thinking about my next two books....

Thursday, December 1, 2016

As of Today.....

I have been at my new job three months and I still love it!

and the first seed catalog of the year (and the only one we usually use) has arrived:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Now What?

And so we are coming at last to something I have longed for, something I've wanted for many, many years: normal.   My husband is ill and my belly-button is still not healed but soon, please God, those things will be behind us and ordinary life will be in front of us.  Right now, I don't have to stress about money, or work, or really anything at all.  I have less time, but it doesn't really feel that way as often as I thought it would because work stays at work for the most part.

So what shall I do with the free time that I have?  What do I do with all this drive, passion, and energy?

Before I used a lot of my free time for money-saving activities and money-earning activities.  I did freelance writing, I did crafting, I did penny-pinching.  But I don't really need to do those things now.  Yes, that sort of thing will help me pay off the house a little bit sooner.  But is that little bit worth it?  If I did all of those things when would I ever relax?

I'm sure many of the habits of frugality I have contracted will remain.  And because I was too sick to go to the craft fair this year, the stuff I made for it also remains.  Do I go next year?  As I get farther and farther away from that other life that I wanted to escape from so intensely, crafting starts to seem kind of silly.  I knew that I could work all afternoon making gift bags and earn five dollars, but I was so eager to do any little thing I could to escape my situation that I didn't really mind much.  It will be interesting to see if all of that gradually fades away.

More importantly, I think when we have a big change in our lives is a good time to think about our values and our spiritual goals.  So the question I'm asking myself is also: What can I do for other people?  How can I get into habits of generosity?  What would happen if I used what little free time I have now to make other people's lives brighter?  I have that gift – the gift of lighting up a room when I walk into it, of making people feel more cheerful, of making them feel special, of helping them to see their gifts.  I suppose most noble thing to do would be to work for the poor and downtrodden, but I'm wondering what I can do for friends and family first.

I guess what I really thinking about is how I can make my new goals match my values.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Happy New (Liturgical) Year!

Advent is here!  The King of Love and Peace is coming!  May we prepare our hearts to welcome Him!

Saturday, November 26, 2016


My camera has had ISSUES.  Very sad.  I managed to fix it by pushing random buttons.  (Yes, truly.  Don't try this at home.)  So I haven't been taking a lot of photos lately.

Here is one of my niece over Thanksgiving, before I got the camera squared away:
"Tree croquet is not really working out....."

Here's one of my current projects:

Yesterday my Beloved and I harvested 17 pounds of potatoes from eight plants:
We still have some carrots in the ground, but once those come out, we can total up the garden produce and see if we met our goal of 150 lbs from the garden.

We also FINALLY put the rain barrels away.  The daytime temps were high enough that even though night was below freezing, the barrels didn't get enough ice in them to crack.  But we still cut it way closer than I would have liked.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday!  I'm going to go make gift bags for next year's craft fair while I wait for my friend Stacy to come over.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

They shall be inebriated with the plenty of your house, and you will give them to drink of the torrent of your delight because with you is the fountain of life.
--Psalm 36-8-9

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Election Headlines from the Chronicle

The Chronicle of Higher Education is exactly what it sounds like: a publication for folks connected with academia that deals with general issues in higher ed as opposed to matters within particular disciplines.  Your typical issue might include articles on adjuncts' miserable wages, grad school survival skills, the uses and abuses of language, job-hunting advice, and ethical dilemmas.  I get the on-line version in my mailbox every morning at work since I am still connected to higher ed, and I enjoy reading it.

I started collecting headlines after the election because I found them amusing.

Before I go any further, I should clarify that I am not a Trump fan.  No thinking person could be.  And I am not a Hilary fan, as someone who at least attempts to be a faithful Christian.  

I was more amused at the frantic hyperbole of a normally pretty staid publication.  The complete lack of any attempt at pretending to be balanced I found interesting.

So here's my collection, for those of you who don't read the Chronicle:

The Day After
A historic election, an anxious classroom

How Do We Respond to the Unthinkable?
If you are worried about the country's new political present, remember that you get to spend your days with its future.

With Trump’s Rise, Undocumented Students Fear for their Futures

A Humbling of Higher Ed: The president-elect's resonant skewering of elites, political correctness, and immigration policy resonate with the country’s long-standing skepticism of academe.

Raising a Voice for Academe Under President Trump: Let’s not spend the next four years whining. Let’s raise our voices for justice, equity, and the liberation of the American psyche from the demons that haunted us in this election.

Traumatized and Indignant, College Students React to a Trump Presidency

Trump’s Surprise Victory Sends Shock through Higher Ed: Donald Trump’s abrasive presidential campaign angered many people in academe. His upset win raises questions about higher education’s place amid a tide of anti-intellectualism.

On Election Night, Colleges Watch as Glass Ceiling Stays Put:  Hillary Clinton’s supporters, at her alma mater and elsewhere, began Tuesday evening ready to celebrate. As their watch parties closed down, the mood had turned to despair.  

What Trump’s Win Compels Scholars to Do: How to carry on in a post-truth era

I found the last one amusing.  Academics may not have invented the convenient idea that there really isn't truth, only multiple perspectives that are all equally valuable (never mind the ample logical problems with this idea).  But certainly many academics promoted this idea that I would call  "post-truth."  So it's sort of ironic that it has come back to haunt them.  If you teach that reality is a matter of preference, or at least, of argument, rather than something that exists to be discovered, and if virtues are merely the tools of the elite to hold the masses in subjection, then you can hardly complain that significant numbers of folks were swayed by Trump.  Too many people haven't been taught to reason, just to "figure out what they believe,"

Anyway, I was too ill to vote, which didn't break my heart.  I just think it is sad because if Trump could beat Hilary, then Mr. Potato Head could have beaten Hilary because I firmly believe that most people didn't like him. They just didn't want her.  As my Mom said, "Just once in a while, it would be nice to for FOR someone, instead of just AGAINST someone else."  So the Republicans could have at least set the bar as high as, say, "A Decent Human Being."

Happily, I think the statistical odds of Trump following the Constitution are nil.  He clearly considers himself exempt from rules.  So his impeachment should be quite possible within the first 6 months.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Weekly (?) Round-Up

..... and now my husband is sick.

He has a bad cold, complete with a sore throat, and plans to spend the weekend on the couch with my hearty approval.  Poor chap!  First my illness, complete with at least five doctor's visits, one surgical procedure, 20 days of antibiotics, and bandages covered with pus and blood.  In the middle of all of that, his new job which turned out to be far more technical than he had any idea.  So no wonder he got sick.

I have been back at work almost a full week.  My new employer was extremely generous in dealing with my being gone since I obviously had not accrued nearly enough sick time to handle being gone that long.  I am very grateful for that.

What else is new?  I just found out last night that the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 100+ years.  Oh, and someone I didn't like got elected but that was pretty much inevitable, considering the two choices.  Dad is at Deer Camp but has yet to get a deer.

And finally, I've got just enough energy to look around and conclude that the housework is lagging sadly behind, but not quite enough energy to do anything about it.  That last part isn't true.  I'm going to make myself tackle at least laundry and cleaning off my desk.  There's only so much moving of piles one can do before one just has to sort through said piles!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Did You Know? Great American Smokeout Trivia

Today is designated the "Great American Smokeout" by the American Cancer Society.

Here's some evidence that unscrupulous marketing techniques from cigarette companies go way back.  In the early 20th century, "tobacco company Brown and Williamson claimed that its Kool cigarettes kept people's waists slim, their heads clear, and their bodies protected against colds."
  (From Gene Stone's book The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, page 23).  The last one really gets me--smokers are sick WAY more than the rest of us!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Health Update

I'm back at work, finally!  The doctor gave me the "all clear" in the morning and I was at my desk by afternoon.

My belly button incision is not pretty.  The too-red center looks like a little pac man with a slightly open mouth that oozes blood and pus as it slowly scars over.  Oh yes.  Lots of fun at our house lately!

But I'm back at work now, and my supervisor has been so supportive and understanding (and her supervisor and HR as well) that I'm really glad I took this job.

I don't feel too bad.  I thought I'd be exhausted, but I'm doing OK.  It might be a long week, though...

Friday, November 11, 2016


Still sick.....

I've been doing lots of navel-staring lately.  The only photo that isn't too gross to post is from today's little surgical procedure:

I haven't posted a photo in awhile, you see....

Thanks for everyone who is praying for me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Thoughts: Gratitude

Thank God for antibiotics!

I am now going to proceed to the couch, wherein I intend to spend the rest of the day.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Useful Quote as the Election Nears.....

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” 
― Robert Frost

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Did you know?

This year, 2016, marks the 500th anniversary of St. Sir Thomas More's Utopia.  The title has come to mean an ideal society, but it is actually Latin for "no place."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Thought: Unbound Retreat

I went to an Unbound Retreat on Friday and Saturday.  I found it helpful and thought-provoking, although I didn't get prayed with.

Here are some questions it made me think about:

What are the lies I tell myself?  (After all, any lie divides us from God Who is Truth.)
If I see myself as I truly am, what are my characteristics?  (I'm going to make a very honest list that I'm not going to show anyone.)
What keeps me from God?  (Grudges, obsessions, sins, etc.)

Holding on to bad stuff like sins and unforgiveness is like wrapping our arms around a cactus and hugging it as tightly to our chest as we can--and then wondering why we hurt so much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cutting a Rug


This was a custom rug for Mom and Dad, for a particular spot in front of a fireplace between two rocking chairs.

I’m not planning on making another one of these because it was so tedious.  If you find it soothing or pleasant to put music on and do something mundane, the project is very simple.  It’s easy.  It’s cheap.  It’s incredibly forgiving.

You need a pile of T-shirts.  (10 or 15????  I didn't count.  Maybe less.)
You need an old towel.
That's it.

1. Cut T-shirts into long strips.
2. Cut the long strips into short ones.
3. Cut an old towel to size and serge/finish the cut edge.  (If the towel is the size you want the rug, you obviously can skip this step.)  Note that the fringe hangs over the edge so sizing is kind of approximate.)

4. Sew the short strips to the towel in long rows.  

If you sew the rows about a quarter inch apart, you get this:

If you sew them a half inch apart, you get this: