Thursday, April 30, 2015

Exploring Our Downtown

Have you explored all the sites where you live? We can live someplace for YEARS and never take the time to explore the area!

Isn't that sky amazing? It was a perfect day!

In the past couple of weeks we have taken the time to explore our quaint, little downtown.  There is a lot of building going on----they've torn down the old City Hall and built a new one---- which is gorgeous. They are taking the opportunity to build a whole new city center and just, generally, make the whole area more appealing and accessible.

So we walked all over the place to see what is out there. It's a happening little place with some great shops and restaurants. There are several areas like this with benches surrounding a little fountain. Many of the original buildings date from just after the Civil War, though I think there are a couple left from before the war. 

This is the (probably new) rustic entrance to a restaurant.

I hope we spend more time downtown from now on. Frankly, I really want to buy one of the older, little homes nearby and fix it up! 

Maybe not THIS one! :-) But it is cute.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Back to the Regularly Scheduled Knitting

I took a short break from my knitting---just one torturous day---because I discovered Sunday night that the number of stitches on the back and front of my tunic were not the same. They started out the same, but I somehow managed to lose (or decrease) too many on one side. Afraid that this would make it too wonky to wear, I put it down for the day until I had time to carefully recount.

I think the camera preferred the book colors to the yarn. It's prettier than that!

I finally had time to re-count last night and got completely different numbers from the night before! Since there is only a one-stitch difference (instead of 5 or 6!) I'm going to go with it. It will be fine. 

I hope.

So, today I am reading AND knitting. (That doesn't sound at all like a recipe for disaster, does it?) Meg watched Catching Fire last week, and then The Hunger Games. Captured by THG, I had to re-watch CF (because I hadn't seen the whole thing the day before) and then we watched Mockingjay, Pt. 1. Naturally, all that lead to my needing to reread the entire series! I am engrossed. I love this series and how Katniss is such a flawed human being, but she generally has honest instincts and is drawn to helping anyone weaker than herself. Have you read it?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beachy Yarn Along

Picked up this little baby at the library today, and I can't wait to dig into it! I'm joking when I say "little" because it is HUGE. This annotated version ought to be extra fun! In case you don't know, I'm a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and I'm thrilled to have a chance to read her original autobiography. I've read some of the "untold" stories in other books, but never her version.

My knitting project is Liesl. I've had the pattern for ages but never the money to buy all the yarn. I got this funky Berroco "Mixer" yarn----I think. All the labels have been torn up and I can't read them anymore! It's thick and thin: some parts shiny, some parts matte, and some parts stringy. But I love it because it's soft, silky, and reminds me of a cloudy day at the beach.

So now, after I help Meg roll out gingerbread cookies for school, I'm going to prop that book and see if I can knit and read at the same time! xo

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Same Old Yarn Along

Drop by Ginny's, by clicking the badge, to see everyone else's yarns!

I am still working in the same set of towels and the same book as last week. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that Lent is over and I'm allowed to peruse  Facebook all I want??

Partly. Partly because I've been busy getting ready for my MIL to visit this week, and here's the painful truth....I don't like knitting with cotton! I doesn't hurt, unlike my attempts with bamboo yarn, but it also doesn't give the same satisfaction that I look for when I knit.

That must be why I am a. Avoiding the towel, and b. Looking for a new project. I plan to hit up a local yarn store tomorrow. Got any suggestions for a fun summer knit?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Friday Quick Takes

1.  Pip turned his bow into a crossbow, so, instead of the traditional Easter egg hunts, we shot arrows (modified with knife points!). Lots of fun was had and I don't think we lost any arrows in the woods.  And no one got shot, which is key, right? This boy cracks me up---he's all about weapons ever since he was a toddler---and he likes to create things. Whatever will he do as an adult?

2. Meg decorated the Easter cake again with Katie in attendance as design consultant. Meg's stars have improved quite a bit, and she makes a mean buttercream! FYI, we colored the coconut with cocoa to make it brown.

3. Meg and I went on retreat with her AHG unit, and they each wrote down what makes their AHG sisters beautiful. I turned each girl's attributes into a word cloud via and printed them on cardstock, suitable for framing. I hope the girls love them as much I enjoyed making them! I'm sure there are lots of other uses for wordles----what do you think? You can see only a portion of each wordle in the picture because I didn't want one of the girls to see anyone's before they were given out.

4. Our stay-at-home spring break included a fun afternoon of rock climbing with friends. It's scary to watch sometimes, but it's a great workout for the kids.

5. Today is Easter Friday. We are still in the Octave of Easter so you don't have to fast or abstain today! I'm going to make a big batch of bacon to celebrate. :-)

6.  Saw this video on FB yesterday. It's a perfect illustration of why so many people in GA are miserable this week. So. Much. Pollen. from the Georgia pines! Thank God for today's rain to wash it all away!

Gotta love that pine pollen. Check out this video.
Posted by Glenn Burns on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

7. That's all I've got. No more takes for me. What do you have to say? I'm going to spend the rest of the day knitting and reading while my car is in the shop having recall work done!

(who am I kidding? I'll probably clean house.) Thanks for hosting, Kelly! Praying for your little guy to get out of the hospital today!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Yarn Along

My project this week is making hand towels for my powder room. I'm never able to find towels that satisfy both my taste and my budget, so I'm knitting some rather nice (I think) cotton towels in colors that make me happy. I love my cotton dishcloths, so we will see if I like the hand towels as well. My towels are actually half the width of the original pattern, and one skein of Peaches and Cream is just about the perfect size.

I'm reading Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather. I enjoyed a couple of her other books a long time ago, and dh put this one in my Easter basket. I think it is a total win, even though I'm not too far in yet, but I keep itching to get back to it when I'm not reading it. It's historical fiction based on the lives of the early settlers of Quebec.

It's not shown, but I'm also reading the Betsy-Tacy series of books with Meg. We take turns reading aloud to each other---because I love them and because reading aloud is good for her. I think she's learning to love them, too. ;-) We are currently on Betsy's senior year in high school: Betsy and Joe. I adore these semi-autobiographical books which cover Betsy's life from age 5 through her first year of marriage. They mostly cover the first 2 decades of the 20th century. This one also has me itching to get back to it several times a day, even though I have read the series several times. In fact, when we were a couple of books back, I had to read through the rest of the series because we weren't reading fast enough! And I still think we could read faster. :-)

Speaking of itching....allergy season is in full bloom here. If you look closely at the photo, it's not blurry---there is a green haze covering the area. With the pine and oak trees at peak pollen season, there are patches of green fog everywhere. Driving down the highway you can see a green haze on the horizon, like smog. Even without allergies, it's gross to be out in this. It gets in your eyes and chokes you, even if you're not allergic to it!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Gift

Happy Easter! We slept late after our Easter Vigil and 11:30 p.m. Krispy Kreme run. :-) Lunch was not a spectacular affair with 5 of the 6 kids here, and everyone helped, so it was lovely, low-key, and just enough. While waiting for the ham to cook, we played in the backyard with Pip's "crossbow" that he modified out of a regular bow. It works extremely well!

Before he returned to the Institute today, just after Katie and Brendan left, son Tom suggested I listen to this poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. It probably had exactly the effect he anticipated---it made me laugh and brought a few tears to my eyes

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room
bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard. 
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake 
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard. 
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard. 
Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them. 
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand 
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother. 
She gave me life and milk from her breasts, 
and I gave her a lanyard 
She nursed me in many a sick room, 
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips, 
set cold facecloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard. 
"Here are thousands of meals" she said, 
"and here is clothing and a good education." 
"And here is your lanyard," I replied,
"which I made with a little help from a counselor." 
"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, 
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered.
"And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp."
"And here," I wish to say to her now, 
"is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth, 
that you can never repay your mother, 
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be 
that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom 
would be enough to make us even."

-- Billy Collins
I recalled all of the little things that children do and make for their parents, especially moms---sometimes they craft them out of their own imaginations and hearts, but, more often, they are probably forced to make them during camps or classes, and then they give their gift lovingly to the one who does so much for them. It's a little thing, probably not worth much on its own, but given with the love of a child it is imbued with greater meaning and worth.

So it is with the insignificant gifts we give to the One who does so much for us. Our little sacrifices that we make as we follow St. Thérèse's Little Way, are received by by Our Lord with an even greater love than our mothers could give. According to another Teresa, St. Teresa of Avila, "It is Love alone which gives worth to all things."

The size of the gift doesn't matter, only the love with which it is given. Today, and the next 50 days, we celebrate the greatest gift ever given. Have you made a lanyard with which to repay it?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thoughts on Holy Saturday

Recently, I had the occasion to read a beautiful quotation from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Christ came to be Father’s compassion to the world. Be kind in your actions. Do not think that you are the only one who can do efficient work, work worth showing. This makes you harsh in your judgment of others who may not have the same talents. Do your best and trust that others do their best. And be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

This morning it hit me square in the face as I contemplate which Easter Mass to go to.  I generally try to be non-judgmental in most areas of my life, but I had not extended that courtesy to the people who put together the Mass at our local parishes. :-(

As I recall, we have gone to the Easter vigil almost every year since I entered the Catholic Church in 1996. Our 4th baby was baptized at that Mass, and we had 2 more after that, so we have always dragged 6 small, whiny, sleepy children to this longest Mass of the year! Why? Because it's the most beautiful, and we love seeing new Catholics born into the faith on this night.

But this morning, I found myself suggesting that we go to the earliest Mass of the day---because there is less opportunity for frustration at a shorter Mass. I get so tired of the deviations from the missal where there aren't supposed to be deviations. I get tired of the performance atmosphere that makes the congregation applaud anytime children (even teens) are singing. I get tired of priests not being reverent. Frankly, I get tired of of myself, of judging every Mass and decided what the priests, deacons, and musicians did well and what they didn't.

We have a priest friend, a convert like me, who is of the same mind and celebrates Mass exactly the way I would like it, but his assignment is much too far away for us to attend. He says I'll never be happy. And he's probably right, but I hold my breath and say a prayer every year when new priest assignments come out, hoping he'll be transferred to our parish or one nearby!

Reading this conversion story this morning made me realize that while it would be nice for the Mass to be as heavenly as I hope every time I attend, I don't go for that. I'm Catholic because I believe that Jesus Christ is present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist and that the priest brings Him to me despite his own personal sins or failings. We all have different spiritual gifts and I really do appreciate the special joyfulness that some priests have (even though they tend not to follow the rules as closely!), and I need to stop being so judgmental. After all, they have given their lives for the Church, and maybe those sanguine priests are better at nurturing their parishioners than some of their fellow-priests.

Maybe my time in Mass (and out of Mass) is better spent praying for our priests than griping about their failings. I'm doing my best in my vocation, and I have to trust that they are also doing their best.

I hope you have had a prayerful Lent and that you are looking forward to the joy of Easter as much as I am.


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