Monday, August 31, 2009

Strange Illness

My husband and I each have a fever. His is dramatic. 103 yesterday. Today he's down to 102, which even by a former Southwesterner's standards, is pretty hot.

Mine started at 102 yesterday and is holding steady at 101.

But that's it. No sore throat. No cough. No stuffy nose. No soreness. Nothing but fever.

If you've got to garner sympathy and be sick, this is the way to do it :).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Show Some Self Control, Woman!

A neighboring farm grows nectarines. And they let us glean. As much as we want.

It seems like their harvest crew didn't pick very many. There are thousands left. Ripe for the picking.

My arms, to about my elbows, are stickified by drippings from the plump sweet bursting-with-flavor treats. I wonder if you can get a sugar coma from fruit.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Get Thee To a Nunnery

"Um... My Love... do we need to talk? Did I do something? Is there something you need to tell me?" asked my dear husband. I was utterly puzzled.

Let's go back a bit.

There's a book, written by a Carmelite nun that, as a child, teen, and young adult, almost single-handedly convinced me I wanted to and should be a Carmelite. (When I told my husband about this book before we were married, he commented along the lines of "Hm, don't read it again 'til after the 'I Do's'.")

As a youth I read this book so many times the binding gave way and the book literally fell apart, and then I lost the pieces. I love this book. Dearly. I hadn't read it in years, though I'd been scanning Amazon (and Alibris, BN, and EBay) for it almost monthly during all that time. It's out of print, you see, and though the original cover price was $0.85, it now sells for $75-$450.

Sure, I wanted to read it again, but I could never justify $75 for a "poor condition" copy which might fall apart again or $450 for a "like new 1st edition" copy. That's just extortion!

Last month, there happened to be a "like new 1st edition" copy for $25 (obviously sold by someone who didn't know its value)! I bought it.

Then there's another book I highly recommend by Alice von Hildebrand entitled By Love Refined, Letters to a Young Bride. It's good for any wife, I love love love it. It does have an unfortunate heading on the back cover, though.

Being the non-committal reader that I am, I usually have 2-3 books going at once piled on the nightstand. So imagine my poor husband's surprise when he came home and saw the book of my childhood vocational decision, My Beloved, stacked on top of this:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Friday, Volume 1 Issue 3

Happy Feast of St. Augustine!

I can't promise free stuff every Friday, but it's become a bit of tradition and I'll keep it going as long as possible.

Get a free Hallmark Connections sample greeting card. (click "Get a Free Card").

And, this is the last month for free chocolate. Only on Fridays.

I tried to give you a free picture of my husband, but he said, "That's kind of like when good Catholic girls swoon over Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati -- it just isn't right." Mm hm.

In place of a pic of my husband you can... revere... Bl. Pier instead ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Small Successes 3


1. (There's still 1 day yet, but I'll prematurely mark this as a success). Successfully made it through the first week of homeschooling both nieces! It's actually easier to teach two this year than it was to teach just one last year. It's amazing how they motivate each other :).

2. Resisted (fought, battled, struggled, wrestled, grappled, thwarted and withstood) the urge to call in "sick" when I had a mild stomach ache and just didn't feel like honoring a commitment. I'm determined to make my word mean something!

3. Broadened my horizons by attempting to learn a thing or two about photography beyond "point and shoot." I took a few really beautiful pictures (3 amazing ones out of 179 shots... thank the Lord for digital cameras or I'd be broke developing film!). Can't wait to keep learning.

Check out other women's successes this week at Faith and Family Live. Encourage one another :).

Beware of the Millstone

My catechetics professor in college, Sr. M. Johanna, warned all of us future catechists to "beware of the millstone" ... leading little ones astray and such.

Yesterday I was trying to explain "creation from nothing" to my 2nd and 4th grade nieces. So, I had them make a paper airplane using brightly colored paper and then instructed them to make a paper airplane without using paper. Of course they couldn't. "This is how God creates. When we make things, we have to use things that already exist. But God creates out of nothing."

Their eyes were wide open in amazement. The lesson had struck home.

At the end of the day, I asked my 2nd grade niece what she had learned during the day.

"God likes to make paper airplanes from nothing!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5 More Minutes, Dear

Apparently you have to do something for three months before it can be a real habit.

Yesterday my husband, brother-in-law and I hit the track at 5:30am for some much-needed exercise.

This morning the alarm went off at 5:15 and, sure enough, we got up again.

2 days down, 88 to go.

Heaven help us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'M Not a Farmer; I'm a Farmer's Wife

"Changing water" is synonymous, to me, with "no more happiness." We cannot leave town, have an early evening together or a late morning together for 6 months out of the year.

What is "changing water?" It's moving irrigation water from one part of a field to another. You open a valve here, close one there, and if you're using "wheel lines," (think "sprinklers on wheels") then you move 'em. This happens every 12 hours. No matter what you're doing, when the clock strikes 7 (am or pm), you abandon all happiness to "change water."

I often go with my husband, sit in the car and read, listen to Catholic radio, or just watch him in girlish wonder as he hikes across the field in his knee-high irrigation boots.

But the other night it was near dark and he needed to do it in a hurry. "Can you please go down by the corral and flip a brake? It would save me a lot of time. I'm sorry, you're going to get horribly wet... do you mind?" Fresh off of my "you can canonize me now because I'm a married version of St. Therese" post I could hardly say "nah, change it yourself!" So, shod in flip flops and clad in an ankle-length skirt I cooed sweetly, "of course, dearest."

(This is a picture from Wikipedia of a wheel line.)

I left my car in the dirt road with the brights on so I would be able to see a bit. I tip-toed carefully over the sludge. "This isn't too bad," I thought. Then the hay got higher. And it was sopping wet. And it was freezing cold. And my toes were squishing in freshly-irrigated muddy slosh. And sharp alfalfa stubs bit my ankles. And I kept praying my Angel of God prayer out loud. At last I found the brake. "THANK YOU LORD" I yelled loudly.

But as I walked back through the muddy icy cold sludge field with my skirt hiked up around my knees THE WHEEL LINE STARTED MOVING!! (of course it did... it was supposed to) AND IT ALMOST TRAMPLED ME. I thought for sure I was going to slip. I ran. I had to.

My car! My little green car! IT WAS IN THE PATH OF THE WHEEL LINE... just feet away! I bolted for it. Since I'd left my brights on, I was sprinting blind. It was like a scene from an action/horror movie. I literally jumped into the driver's seat and FLOORED it away from its impending doom.

The second I backed it up, that nasty giant wheel line with its steely cold self was right where my car had been -- in its very tire tracks.

And that, dear friends, is why I'm not a farmer...

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day Jitters

Today is the 1st day of school (homeschool). I feel more nervous than a... well... a schoolgirl. What if my nieces hate me? What if I fail? What if they fail? What if I'm a "mean teacher"? What if they learn nothing? What if my house catches fire? What if there's a major earthquake? What if my sister-in-law thinks I'm doing a terrible job and fires me and I have to go sell shoes?

Seeing as how it's 2nd and 4th grade and I have delightful nieces and a wonderful sister-in-law... and a spinkler system and we're not over a major fault line... I kinda doubt any of that will happen.

Except maybe the "mean teacher" part.

Quit reading this and go do something useful with your time. Like, checking out the upcoming changes in the new translation of the Roman Missal. No more auto-pilot Mass responses, people! We're actually gonna have to think about this stuff!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Marriage Has Changed Me

It's Sunday. I'm going to write more than usual... if that's okay :).

When we were huckleberry picking I had the chance to talk to a cousin of ours. I enjoyed her company immensely and wished we lived closer to each other so I could get to know her better. Alas.

But during the course of our conversation she asked, "What's your favorite part about being married?" I listed off a few things, but I've not been able to stop thinking about that question. Several times I day I catch myself saying interiorly, "this is my favorite part" and later in the hour, "no, this would be it." Marriage, as God intended it, is just too wonderful!

I'll just take one "for instance."

I hate grating cheese. Passionately. I'll do just about anything to avoid having to do it (except buying it pre-grated which costs $ and delivers dried-out cheese, or buying a food processor which is just another clunky appliance to wash and store). I feel the same way about washing lettuce and making ice.

But I've noticed a curious thing since getting married. Grating cheese is one of the sweetest moments of my week. Don't get me wrong... I still hate grating cheese, but I love doing it for my husband. It's a joyful sacrifice that doesn't even feel like a sacrifice because it's done with love for him. Lettuce and ice are the same way. If I lived alone I would never grate cheese, I'd eat salads but rarely and I'd probably live without ice. But when there's another person involved, a person I love, doing these things takes on an entirely different quality. It's a vocation that takes the focus off of me, my wants, my comforts, my selfishness and allows me to do for another. It's little things like this, done with love, that are part of why marriage is so amazing... it effects even the most mundane tasks and makes them worthwhile, meaningful, and acts of real love instead of drudgery. Each time I nick my knuckle on the cheese grater, instead of muttering under my breath I can rejoice that I'm finally able to prove with actions instead of words, in some small way, how much I love my husband. (I know motherhood is the same way... making unpleasant tasks sweet because they're done with love. But I can't speak from experience yet.)

It's easier to do the big things, sometimes, that get noticed. Doing dishes, laundry, floors, making dinner... those things rarely go unnoticed by my wonderful husband and he doesn't fail to thank me for doing them. Great joy, though, is found in doing the things that go unnoticed... dusting places that you would never notice are clean but you'd sure know if they were dirty, sweeping behind the toilet, straightening the contents of drawers. Herein lies the housewife's ability for sanctity. Herein lies my joy.

This has, finally, shown me what my attitude towards God should be. Sure I've always done sacrifices... what cradle Catholic doesn't "offer it up?" But what was my attitude when doing them? Suddenly, not eating meat on Friday isn't an annoyance done because "good Catholics just do it"; it's a cause for joy, to show God I love Him. Praying on my knees without leaning my rump on the pew behind me and my elbows on the pew in front of me... holding my tongue when I want to give a sharp reply... these are the "little things" which, when done with love, take on an eternal significance. And, when united to the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, they have redemptive and salvific powers!!

Ah the holy martyrs. They would go singing?? Joyfully?? To be mauled to death by lions? To be shot by arrows? To be stoned? Drowned? Flayed? Burned? Shot? Poisoned? Hanged, drawn and quartered? How could they joyfully do something like that? ONLY with Love.

What is this other than St. Therese's "Little Way"? I guarantee she saw this spirituality (even at a very young age when her mother was alive) exemplified by her saintly parents, Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. God grant us the grace to be like them (and to have children like her, hehe)!

Tonight we should have cheesy enchiladas, salad and iced tea :). Oh happy day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lazy Saturday

Actually there's a lot to do today.

But he doesn't know that.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Free Friday

It's Friday. Which (until October) means free chocolate.

Yesterday my sister-in-law and I canned salsa! We still have tomatoes coming out of our ears. The jury is out on the recipe we used... it might be more like diced tomatoes, peppers and onions swimming in vinegar. Can't wait to break into a jar of it, though, just to see if a whole day's labor was in vain.

I'm just about ready to start schooling the girls. We start on Monday. I've been busily preparing their schooling space, getting supplies, making lessons... I hope they actually learn something this year!

The School"room"

The bookshelf (paints, glue sticks, extra erasers and readers can be found on bottom shelf... textbooks on the 3rd, fabric/ribbons, dry-erase tablets, mod-podge and some craft books are on the 2nd shelf... top shelf detail below).

The construction/colored paper and wavy-edged scissors I'm particularly excited to use.

Paintbrushes, crayons, mechanical pencils...

Markers and colored pencils (in old salad dressing jars)...

Pens, pencils, dry-erase markers.

All on the "supplies wall."

We'll see how long this system works. I'm cautiously optimistic :).

In the meantime, it's making a wall of my living room quite colorful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Small Successes II


At Faith and Family Live they do "Small Successes" on Thursdays to help us stay encouraged by the little accomplishments of the week. Yay for encouragement :).

1. I got over my paranoia of Customer Service reps and called my bank, successfully getting all $96 of the accidental overdraft fees refunded.

2. I cleaned all the "junk traps" in the living room and kitchen. Now, what you see is what you get -- no hidden junk drawers, piles or stashes (except in the bedroom and garage, of course). A place for everything and everything in its place :).

3. Trying not to let old talents die from lack of use, I bought some Beethoven sheet music this week and have been practicing the hauntingly beautiful Moonlight Sonata.

Check out other successes and share your own.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thanks Mom!

Remember last week when I had $96 in overdraft fees? My mom told me I just had to call the bank and they'd remove it.

So today I called the bank, and within 45 seconds, I had $96 added to my account! (and I signed up for free overdraft protection)

Oh happiness. Oh joy!

To celebrate the forgiveness of my debt, I'll share a few freebies with you.

Apologize to someone by giving them a free taco. It can only be redeemed on Forgiveness Day (8/27) from Taco Del Mar (or be greedy and send it to one of your own e-mail addresses to get the taco all for yourself) ... and be forewarned, this site is a little strange.


Get a free artisan mini bread at Target (coupon is $1 off, the breads are 99cents; hence, free)


Gooseberry Huckleberry

When I was first learning to play the piano, my teacher taught different musical rhythms using the syllables of fruits and berries. For example, "apple" was two 8th notes, "gooseberry" was a dotted 8th note followed by two 16th notes, and "huckleberry" was four 16th notes. These are all common musical occurences, but I grew up wondering if she was making these up. What is a gooseberry? And a huckleberry??

Yesterday I discovered what a huckleberry was, having picked almost a gallon of them in the mountains with my husband and his extended family.

This is a huckleberry. It's a lot like a blueberry, but smaller, darker, and a little more tart. They're excellent fresh, for pies, muffins, jams... anything you would normally do with a delicious berry!

It was a glorious time. We brought our little Smokey Joe and grilled some bratwursts there, and had smores around the campfire after dark. Yes... we did bring the hand-crank ice cream maker and yes, it was delicious. The stars in the sky were innumerable.

And these are cows that we saw on our way to Mt. Adams where said huckleberries were picked. There were about 50 more cows in a line facing the same direction (not coming in for food or anything... just standing there), but I don't have a wide angle lens to prove it.

Hmmm... I wonder what a gooseberry is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Respite

Yesterday was kinda rough. They say a sure sign you're pleasing God is when you suffer pointless attacks. That makes me quite excited that perhaps I am doing the right thing :).

Anyway, today my husband and I are going to take a brief respite to the mountains to go huckleberry picking. There was even talk of bringing the hand-crank ice cream maker along to make the freshest huckleberry ice cream possible. If only we had our own milk cow it could be even fresher!

Oh, and I bought the sheet music for Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at the music store the other day. I love new piano music... especially when it's beautiful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Smokey Joe

My husband and I have been waffling for months about buying a bbq grill. Gas or charcoal? Each has major benefits. Charcoal, obviously, tastes a lot better. But if you're never going to do it because of the hassle of cleaning it and starting the briquettes, what's the point of having it? Gas doesn't taste as good, but it's easy and quick.

Then there's the terror of, "if I buy it this week, it'll go on sale next week!" Grills aren't cheap.

Well, in an uncommon burst of decisiveness and conviction, my dearest husband said, "Let's go to the store right now, and let's buy a grill... just a tabletop something or other so we can grill some ribs."

What a brilliant stroke of genius.

We bought a Weber Smokey Joe tabletop charcoal grill for $27. And we made ribs, and steaks.

And we went through 1/2 a roll of paper towels getting the sticky goodness off our fingers.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


I love my husband.


And what's amazing is... he loves me too! A LOT.

*happy contented sigh*

And there was much rejoicing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Big Fail

Fees fines fos fum, I smell the greed of a librarian.

More library fees. I thought I could return a movie on time. Just once. But no.

What's worse? I overdrew not once, not twice, but three times on my checking account. It all happened in one day. They were three tiny purchases. I had forgotten that the automatic payment for something was that day and failed to transfer some $$ from my savings account to cover my tiny shopping trip (and here I was so proud that I'd saved $1.50 on something by doubling a coupon).

$96 in overdraft fees for those 3 purchases which, together, added up to less than $10.

Do you know how far that sets me back in saving for a set of these? Maybe I'll get them by Christmas of 2010...

...if I can start returning those library movies on time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Friday, Volume 1, Issue 2

Get your free chocolate! Again, no strings, no kidding (this only goes through October, so take advantage of it while it lasts).

And enjoy this strange but quirky video.

Two Sided Coin

I was walking in the dewy yard this morning and found this delicate delight:

But there was an equal amount of the dirty and disgusting:

Yes, those are cherry tomato seeds near his hind end. Vile little creature. This is why I don't like gardening.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ah, Sweet Summer

In general Summer is amazing.

If you have an air-conditioned house.

There's the time-off for those of us in a school-year template profession. There are thunderstorms. There are abundant garden delights. There's lemonade (okay, you can make it year-round but admit it, it just doesn't taste the same in January). There's the smell of fresh-cut grass (not as often as there should be... *hint hint*). There's the sound of kids screaming and laughing as they run through sprinklers.

And there are these:

Beautiful, plump, juicy blackberries.

On a thornless bush, no less.

Look at the SIZE of these things! And they're sweeter than candy.

And they're in my backyard.

I love my life.

Small Successes

Over at Faith and Family Live they do "Small Successes" on Thursdays to help moms stay encouraged by the little things.

Well, I'm not a mom yet, but that doesn't mean I don't need encouragement :).


1. I canned tomatoes using a pressure canner. Which is no small feat, considering I've had a fear of them instilled in me since I was a small child. (a la "Mamie's friend lost her whole face when her pressure cooker exploded." and similar true tales).

2. I baked my first loaf of yeast bread. Not banana bread. YEAST bread. It was tough and our jaws were sore after a few bites of endless chewing, but it's a start! I'm no longer afraid to bake bread.

3. I exercised yesterday. Inspired by this crazy post, I actually did it. OUCH. I haven't known pain like this since... well... the last time I exercised.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


My sisters-in-law and I have begun a new project.

First we picked them.

Then we washed them.

Look at how pretty they are in the bowl.

And more...

Then there were the beautiful canning jars.

We had to sterilize them. So we wouldn't die.

Then we had to get the skins off the tomatoes. We boiled them for 30 seconds or so. (Yes, it's hard to take a picture of boiling tomatoes... so I Photoshop-ed this one to make it "artsy" instead of just plain blurry.)

The skins split away very nicely.

It was really really fun to peel the suckers.

Into the jars you go, little tomatoes.

Into the water bath canner. (Be careful, kitty).

They boiled for an hour and fifteen minutes. And then they were done.

The extras were consumed for dinner on homemade bread with mayonnaise and black pepper.

It was an exhausting day's labor.

Goodnight :).

Fame is Fleeting

One of the farm cats died a few days ago. It was very sad, to me. No one else seemed to care much. They just said, "Aw, Poor Moe," and kept eating their popsicles. This was the cat who won 3rd Best In Show last Summer at the county fair!!! How quickly we do forget.

Moe had a short funeral. He was only buried because he decided to kick the bucket in the bushes by the front door and had, overnight, increased the local fly population exponentially. And there was the horrid stench, too. Really, REALLY vile... about as bad as that rotten egg.

I didn't know this before living out here, but the life of a farm cat is unnaturally short (or that of city cats unnaturally long). No nine lives for them. As he was laid to rest, I tried to ignore the comments of the seasoned farm-cat undertakers. "Too bad the coyotes didn't get him." "Yeah, or the swather." "Or a passing truck." "Yup, then we wouldn't have had to bury him." This is how most other cats around the farm met their demise.

But the circle of life continues. There is a cute new little kitten around these days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So Much Done, So Little Proof

Yay! I'm back in business. My new laptop cord arrived yesterday, I recharged up the battery and now, hopefully, I can resume regular posting.

In the meantime, I DID do what I said I might the other day, and I recorded each stage of it on film (or microchip)... but I left my camera out at the farm.

So I'll have to wait until a later date (but soon) to post pictures of my exciting newest initiation into country living.

Until then, please enjoy this creative and edible blast from the past:

Friday, August 7, 2009

RIP Cord

My laptop cord died, for the second time in the last three months (like, it burned out). I've ordered yet another one, but until then my computer access is severely limited (to how often I feel like going to the library one mile away and fighting with teenagers for 30 minutes of computer time).

I've been doing interesting things, though!

I couldn't help myself. I broke into the girls' school supplies (I bought them, after all!) and have been painting with RoseArt watercolors ever since.

Today I have a new adventure, which I'll post about if I do it :).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Too Cool for School

Today I'm going to go buy school supplies for my nieces I homeschool.

Not paper and pencils and boring stuff like that (I already did that trip last week)...

... I'm getting glitter, pipe cleaners, puff paints, craft foam, rubber stamps...

I'm really just bribing them for "favorite aunt" status. There's some tough competition in this family.

Free Grace

Today is the Feast of St. John Vianney (actually, the optional memorial, but I suppose this year it's a Feast), and this is the Year of the Priest.

As such, free grace (as opposed to the kind you pay for) is available today!

If you attend Mass today, say prayers for the pope, go to confession (within the past or next 7 days), say a prayer to the Sacred Heart for priests... you get a plenary indulgence!

A plenary indulgence is forgiveness for all temporal punishment due to sin. Basically, your soul is like it was when you were baptized (no purgatory time).

Get to Mass, people!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

I just got back from an amazing weekend at Gonzaga for the Steubenville NW Youth Conference. There was much grace to be had, and had it was.

But last night I had a dream which indicated I've spent too much time around teenagers...

I dreamt that I ran into into some of my old college buddies at a gas station. They had ice cream, Reddi-Whip and caramel topping. They were giddy. Then they saw me and got sullen.

It was clear what they were doing. Oh so clear!!

They were having an ice cream party...

... and they didn't invite me.

And in my dream, I sobbed.