Sunday, July 26, 2015


* Mass first, of course.

* Then (after an hour's drive back from Omaha), everyone tumbled out of the nice  cool car- into the sauna that is eastern Nebraska -- and changed out of their hot stiff church clothes... 

Most of us stationed ourselves immediately in front of the a/c in the living room, as it's in the mid 90s and it's got to be about 80% humidity. We sat and talked about what we wanted to do about dinner and what movie we might want to watch later in the evening...

* But then, we got word that we had to run out and round up the chickens because  Penny's idea of playing with them was not going over very well. So much for free-ranging these hens at the new house, I guess! 

So, the kidlets ran out in their bare feet, of course.  I stopped to put my shoes on -- and grab my camera.  Naturally.  And (oh darn!) by the time I got outside, they'd already captured and penned all the hens. (These guys are good!) So, instead of some exciting hen-catching photos that would make our day look wildly athletic,  I could only manage a couple calm, quiet, peaceful Sunday afternoon vignettes. Like these:

"Nice Kitty."

Hot Doggy

Ripening Tomatey
 * And then back into the house to cool off and make some food:

We'd decided to get together some cold-prep finger foods for our afternoon meal.
No one wanted to heat up the house anymore than it already is by turning on the oven!
Seen here: my new/old circa 1950 Sunbeam mixer. Works like a charm! Isn't it
beautiful? Practically like new!  And it came with its original manual, a cookbook,
two glass bowls (this one and a larger one), and a juicer. We used it to make
 some pineapple dip to go with some Ritz crackers. Yummm... (Dangerously addictive!)
Also seen here: a couple tomatoes and cukes from the garden.
More of today's meal, some deviled eggs and some garden basil to go with the tomatoes.
* So, of course we ate some. -- cleaned up the kitchen a little -- and then:

Theresa doing one of the things she does best.

Cathy writing a letter.

William communing with his kindred spirit, Calvin
(with Hobbes).

 Anna on her name day-- taking her turn at the
Dan had a hankering for pesto and made up a batch.

 And then there's Gabe.
Catching up after a tiring week at Boys' Camp.
And I'm walking around taking pictures and posting them here on my blog, while drinking iced tea and nibbling on deviled eggs...  Next, a movie -- Night prayers-- Hugs all around -- and another quiet Sunday is in the books.  We can never have too many of these.  There truly is no place like home!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Moving: the little and big pictures.

So...  Lots on the agenda here these days!  I'm finishing up my last week of work this week.  With the move coming up and the school year hot on its heels, it's just the thing to do -- though, I have to say, I will miss communing with the antiques and with the friends I've made at the antique store.  But there's a lot to do -- a LOT -- before the moving truck rolls, and I'm hard pressed to make good use of my time and stay healthy through all the busy-ness.  Trying to eat well, first of all. Thank-you to the hens for their copious healthful egg supply, that regard!  (Just dying of anticipation for the tomatoes to ripen!) And I'm trying to be good and get some exercise with the occasional walk - though I'm not much for phys. ed., I admit.  And it. is. hot. out there! Even first thing in the morning But, you can sit in the cool of your air conditioned space and take a little walk with me, if you like.  Come on along!
Hey there, girls! Working on some more eggs for us this morning?

Here comes the sun. (Doo-d-doodoo)
Well, hm.  Lookie what I found out here in the grass... 
(Someone is going to hear about this...)
'Morning, Penny and anonymous kitty.  Tired from barking all night, girl?
Go back to sleep.  Don't mind me.
Just love how the canopy of trees lets the morning in little by little here.
Oh, alright.  Now that you're awake are you coming along?
Do you see that bird up there?
The soundtrack to our morning walk, that bird up there, singing its heart out.
Wild berries of some kind -- not sure what kind. 
 Mulberries?  Very small bush, though,for mulberries...
Up the hill toward the cemetery.
 "People are just dying to get in here," as my Dad used to always say.
The fall batch of hedgeapples.  Can you see them?
There's my girl.  Walked with me all the way up to the cemetery and back.  
And then there's this kitty.  She walked half-way up with us,

 then stood in the middle of the road and meowed 
until we met her on the way back, then joined us for the walk home.  
Lazy little kitty.  Smart little kitty.  
But look what she missed at the top of the hill.  Such a lovely vista! 
The house we're moving to (in less than a month!) is in a lovely place,
 but not as beautiful as this  -- and not on such a safe and remote dirt road... 
 There are definitely some things we will be giving up by moving.  

But it's all good.  As the temperatures continue to soar and the humidity climbs with it, I think I'd probably rather realistically have the central air conditioning in the new house than this marginally better view.  No kidding! 

"It begins."
We're all busy packing and organizing, dotting all our Is and crossing all our Ts to get this move rolling.  We're half way through clearing the outside storage trailer, compiling bins, making "give-away" piles and filling the dumpster.  We have a couple of insurance quotes to decide between for our home insurance, and have scheduled a walk-through for Friday evening, to measure doors and walls -- to see what will go where to map out a strategy for moving day.  And Dan's going to walk the property to measure for fencing and what we need to do to move the hens over gracefully.  So, yes indeed: things are coming along. (You'd think maybe we'd done this before, huh?)  Less than a month until the big day, though!  We can't wait!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

It was delicious!!
Thank-you, Cathy and berry-pickers!

Mulberry Pie

Pastry for 2 crust pie*
4 c. fresh mulberries
2 to 4 tbsp. water
1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Mix lightly through mulberries and water. Pour berries into pastry lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has had slits cut in to release steam.
Bake until crust is nicely browned and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust (about 35 to 45 minutes).
Serve slightly warm, not hot.
Serves 8.

*Incredible No-Fail Pie Crust recipe here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

On the Feast of St. Maria Goretti

 Thinking about little Maria Goretti today.  Her story is both horrifying and awe-inspiring. At only eleven years old she fought off a rapist and, choosing death over impurity, was stabbed 14 times -- and then died forgiving her attacker. As a mother of four daughters, this scenario fills me with both horror and awe.

She was only eleven. years. old, little Maria. Such a terrible terrible thing to happen to a child.  It's my worst nightmare as a mother, this kind of threat involving one of my girls.  But how proud I would be if they responded like this little one!  I mean, think about it.   How many of us have so well-formed a conscious and are so courageous as adults that we would not only fight to the death to protect our purity -- but then die with such charity and forgiveness for our murderer?  It's almost incomprehensible! Especially in a day when the word "purity" is only used to described drinking water or organic foods. The world-at-large no longer even comprehends the concept of virginal purity -- that it is one of the highest goals and greatest treasures we have as people.  But little Maria knew, and died protecting her treasure.  And then... such charity on her deathbed!  This was a child raised well in life, and cradled in the arms of Grace at her death.  So many examples for us to contemplate in the life and death of this little girl.

 Pray for us, dear little Maria!  Our world needs your piety and courage now more than ever!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


A couple weeks ago I found this link over at Esther's place, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii. The girls and I are studying Courage in The Book of Virtues right now and this is an excellent example of a gift, similar to courage, but better, I think. It's a special kind of fortitude.

I like this explanation of fortitude from Catholic Definitions:

The gift of fortitude brings to those who have it a dauntless spirit of resolution, firmness of mind, and indomitable will to persevere with a quiet faith in God’s providence that overcomes all obstacles. It also brings courage to persist in the practice of virtue despite trials, illness, persecution or external failure. A Catholic who becomes fervent in God’s service will soon be condemned by the world, but the gift of fortitude will sustain him as he walks toward the Cross.

In the link, Esther shares the case of an elderly woman thwarting a burglar, quiet faith and kind but true words won the day. Such an inspiring example! I like to imagine I might try to do the same thing in the same kind of situation. Would I, though? I don't know. I have a hard enough time when I'm faced with beliefs that are an assault to my own in the comparatively gentle forum of the blogosphere.

How hard it is to walk the Catholic walk in this world, and not duck my head and change direction when a touchy subject comes up! It's so hard just living day to day in this world, keeping body, mind and spirit above water. Do I want to add the burden of debates to my low-riding dingy? Do I have that kind of fortitude?

Do I need that kind of fortitude? How does it apply in my daily life as wife, mother ~ and blogger?

My friend, Laura, asked the question the other day, too: WWJD? What Would Jesus Do ~ in any of the circumstances that touch my life? It's a good question. It's THE question. But, it's occured to me, that, in my circumstance, it may be more appropriate sometimes to ask WWMD?

Jesus preached, taught, debated ~ and led a life of perfect example. He came into the world to do this, along with a couple of other very important tasks He took on for us. It was the most important mission of all, His duty of love, and His calling.

But, What Would Mary Do?

Our Lord's example was perfect. But, seriously, I'm not called to be a preacher, a debator, a world leader of any kind. I'm a mother.

What Would Mary Do?

She speaks little in the Bible, the Mother of God, only four times, and when she does, it is in humble acceptance (to the Angel Gabriel and to St. Elizabeth, in the Magnificat )or in motherly concern (when finding the Child Jesus in the temple, and at the wedding at Cana). She is never recorded as having taken part in debate.

In her apparitions over the centuries, she warns of dangers, exhorts to prayer, recommends sacrifice. She is gentle, yet firm, practical and loving. Her earthly role of support and motherly encouragement of the early Church has infinitely expanded to include her role as Mediatrix of All Graces and Queen of the Universe. But the Blessed Mother's humility and servitude under God is the same. Her chief tool, her chief weapon, is prayer. She crushes the head of the serpent with it.
I strongly believe many capable women are called to enter the debate forum, and are amazing in their intelligence, their zeal, and their fortitude in tackling the hard questions.

I think my particular challenge in fortitude, however, consists in taking up my daily yoke and trying to live as faithfully as I can. I have some work to do to "perservere with a quiet faith in God's providence." But, I do have the Blessed Mother's tool to use.

I can pray. And I can ask her to pray with me and for me.

I pray that if the situation arises where I'm called to speak up, or act in defense of my faith, that I'm able to speak with the gifts of the Holy Ghost on the tip of my tongue.

But I just gotta tell ya, I hope that never includes having to talk someone out of trying to rob me.

* A repost from 2008, but I think the idea is more pertinent than ever in our days of swiftly corrupting culture. We're so inundated these days by not only immorality, but the general acceptance of it; recent events in America have pushed it right into our faces.  If you're involved at all with the social media, you are faced with constant decisions about what to respond to, what to ignore, who to "friend," who to "unfriend," what to forward, and how to respond to people who take umbrage to your forwards... It's all very complicated.  Should we just stay off the internet?  Or is that "hiding our light under a bushel basket?" Maybe we should try to be one of the voices for good in it all? I don't know. There are no easy answers -- and I expect they're different for all of us.  But the one constant is prayer.  Prayer and trust in The Blessed Mother and her Divine Son to lead us through on each our individual paths.  In meekness, humility, and patience.  We can never do better than to imitate our loving Mother in heaven.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lessons in House Courtship

House hunting is a little like husband hunting.  In both pursuits, you hope to be making a long-term commitment.  It's an important decision; one that will impact every day of your life.  If you're smart, you stand back and look at the big picture. Can I bear to be seen with this house/guy the rest of my life?  Can I bear to look at it/him every morning when I wake up, every evening before I go to sleep?  And you look at the little details: Does it/he work well?  Is it/he practical?  Are its/his fingernails clean?  Does it/he smell good?  And then there's the more mercurial, but all important test questions:  Is it love?  Does it/he give me toe-curling, roller-coaster-tummy, goosebump thrills of happiness? Which, I think we all know, comes and goes in any long-term relationship, so the follow up question has to be:  Is it likely that the initial thrill taper off into a lifetime of contentment and security?

There have been verified cases of love-at-first-sight turning into life-long loves, but it's rare. There are way more cases of hate-at-first-sights, to be sure.  Very often you know right away when a guy/house are just not going to be a match.  Other times, it takes a few visits and a little more careful vetting to know for sure.  Sometimes you think you've found the right one, but you learn (hopefully in time!) that you're really not made for each other at all. Occasionally you miss out on the real deal because you can't see the moon for the sun in your eyes; sometimes you blow your best chance because you waited too long to decide.  Every once in a while you get a second chance....  But one way or another, you usually "kiss a few frogs" before you find your prince.

We've been going through this over the last few weeks.

 First of all, we had a crush on this house:

Such a lovely property, with several well-kept barns and outbuildings, right on the edge of our favorite little town.  A humble house -- which is no problem for us, but the kitchen was teensy weensy -- walls would have had to be knocked out for it to function for us, and the girls' room in the basement would have had to have been completely re-done. Never a good idea to marry a house that you know is going to require a complete rehab.  We outgrew that crush fairly quickly.

Then we flirted a little with a couple other houses that didn't hold our attention very long -- either they were too close to big roads (dangerous Jimmy Dean types), or had too many neighbors too close by (hyper-social, party animal types), or were too fancy (Liberace), or too decrepit (Oscar the Grouch)...

But, then we saw this one.  The Cary Grant of houses:

Truly a dream house, it was just big enough, not too big; a beautiful home, it has a lovely big kitchen, a gorgeous great room with a stunning rock fireplace, lots of storage, a two-car heated garage, and a big two-story barn nestled in eleven acres in the beautiful Loess Hills in Iowa, an easy drive to Dan's job and to church.  But all this came at too high a price -- and after trying to work out the details, we decided that it just wouldn't be worth the cost to us or to Dan's parents who are so generously helping us finance this new house.  Cary Grant just lives too high a lifestyle for us to be comfortable.


We looked around some more, saw a couple non-contenders, and then re-visited this house -- that we'd seen way back at the beginning of our hunt, one we overlooked because we thought there would be something better...

And it turns out, this house was almost "the one that got away." We got it by the skin of our teeth, finding out, after the fact, that someone else was right on our heels trying to snag it.  But here's proof that good character can make a thing/guy suddenly become more attractive than they were before you knew them better.  When we first looked at this house, we just weren't jazzed by its outward appearance and lack of acreage. (It only has two acres.)  But there's more to this house than originally met our eyes.

Just around the corner from our favorite little Norman-Rockwell-in-Nebraska town, it's log construction as you can see (with a lifetime warranty on the outside finish, so  the logs don't require the maintenance that most do).   It's got about 3300 square feet, plus a huge basement; five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a little office, a mudroom/pantry, a small front porch and good big back deck. It's beautifully landscaped (better than the early spring photos show off) and set up for animals already -- though we'll have to (at least temporarily) retrofit one of the horse sheds as a chicken coop.  All this, and only a half hour to Dan's work and to church -- and less than ten minutes to our favorite library!  Plus it has an option to buy more acreage if we wish.

It's not as perfect as the Cary Grant dream house.  There is no garage or barn, and, though there are some nice mature trees on the property, there are no woods and fishing hole within walking distance, and though the flow is nice and open in the living spaces, it's much smaller, definitely not a "great room" concept like the Iowa house.  But we're OK with that.

This house is the waking dream.  The practical one that won't have us rattling the last pennies out of the piggy bank every month. (Be sure to marry a guy that you know will be able to support you!) The one that's near all the services we've already discovered this past year (Your dream guy should share your values and interests, too!), and half way between two big cities -- so it has better options for if Dan ever has to go job hunting again (A potential husband has to think of the future!). The fancy dream house could only exist in a dream world where we were richer than  we are -- and, seriously, living way up on the hill in that Iowa house, a grand house in a prosperous neighborhood...  that's not really who we are. A simple farm girl wouldn't really be happy marrying a movie star.  This log house, though, is appropriately humble -- but with all the conveniences, and in our practical price range.

 It's all good. Dan's parents are our Guardian Angels on earth, helping us to buy this house -- and we're so grateful for their generosity, words just cannot express... How could we possibly look at this gift and see anything but all its benefits and blessings? It's a pretty darn good match. Thank-you, Dan and Sharon!

Our thanks also to St. Philomena.  Our very nice realtor doesn't know it, but St. Philomena is really managing this deal. Anyone reading this who's met our girl saint knows how she works.  She's all practical, with a touch of whimsy, our dear friend.  And she knows us pretty well.  She picked the perfect house for us -- hard as we tried at first to ignore it. But she brought us 'round -- and she seems to be swinging a simple and smooth process for buying it.  But, if anyone has a moment for an Ave or two that everything closes well and quickly, we'd sure appreciate it!

Here are a couple of shots of the house taken from the website:

This deck is north-facing, so will be nice and shaded most of the day.  There are hostas, peonies, and day lilies planted all over the place around the house.  You can see a hint of them here.
This is the west side of the house, just showing a bit of the full-size trees.  There's a small lawn-mower shed to the back of the photographer here, and a view of the valley as it slopes away to the west promises lovely sunsets to come.
The animal enclosures.  We'll make one of these sheds into a chicken coop.  The fences are already lined with chicken wire.  To the left (or west) you can see some of the fruit trees the former owner planted.  Still don't know what they all are, but there are at least ten little  fruit trees started.
The neat fireplace and built-in shelving in the living room.  The kids wanted them to leave the deer so we could put Santa
hats and red noses on them at Christmas...  (Don't expect them to leave them, though)
The brickwork in the kitchen and the tin ceiling tile back splash absolutely charms us.  We wish the kitchen were a little bigger, but it's workable.
The dining room is big enough for the dining room table -- the first test of any house we looked at.

What will be the  boys' room.  Nice and big - with an extra crawl-space closet that they already have big plans for.

The girls' room is, appropriately, a a little bigger than the boys' room, with two closets and lots of sunlight.  And get this: the wallpaper border matches their bedding!
A corner of the master bedroom -- a good size, with a small bathroom and a fair-sized closet.  

But, wow.  Seriously??  Breaking camp again?  Maybe for the last time?

Who knows?  I hope so, but I'm not laying any wagers on it -- I know better than that!! God's Will hath no why. We don't ask when, where, or how, either any more. :)

 * Note to y'all Big Kids who might have a notion to check your calendars to see if you can come help us move (Haha!  Right, Mom?), guess what the closing date is?  Yep.  August 11th.  So, yeah.  Anyone who doesn't like this house had better take it up with St. Philomena.  And we'll take all the help we can get, Muscle Men.  Y'all are the best moving team -- and you know you want to come see the house.  Sure you do!  (And we take any excuse we can get to see you!)