This afternoon, when I was cruising home in my husband’s 1996 Oldsmobile Sierra, I was mighty thirsty for some coffee.
You see, I didn’t sleep well last night and had just finished a Holy Hour at the Shrine, where I mostly “slept in the Lord,” if you get my drift. Why, I could barely stay awake navigating that Rust Machine down the highway. My eyelids were drooping, and my spirits were waning.
Fortunately, Caribou Coffee was right down the street, and I zipped in the drive-thru. Unfortunately, I forgot that my husband’s window wasn’t working. Apparently it’s missing some piece that keeps the glass in place when one hand-cranks it down. (There are no new-fangled electronics in this Classic.)
I remembered about the broken window, just as soon as I rolled the window down, and it sort of “fell” forward. Not out, my you, but down into the door panel, in a crooked fashion.
There was no need to panic at this misfortune, however, because I was still able to receive my hot coffee. It’s just that I wasn’t able to properly hand-crank the window back up. I did my best, though, at getting the thing mostly up, in an angular position. Then, I flipped the sun visor down over the window, while the Coffee Lady modestly averted her eyes to avoid embarrassing herself, for I wasn’t embarrassed.
As I drove through the exit, I cooly reached for my phone, looked up Janet Jackson’s 1990 “Escapade” and blasted it. I thought this appropriate for the occasion. (Not that I particularly recommend that song….it was just a moment of weakness after all.)
I sang the whole way home.
My husband took my picture when I rolled into the driveway.
Now I’m properly disposed to commence Dinner Detail.
“Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
This is from the Gospel of Luke 10:41-42.
It was not the Gospel reading this weekend, but I kept thinking about it. For you see, usually on Saturday–after my cleaning is done–I glance at my missal and scribble down the Introit Psalm, the Epistle, and the Gospel for Sunday, and sneak out the door for a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
I like this hour of quiet, and when my mind begins to wander, I open up my Douay-Rheims Pocket Psalms and New Testament and pray the next day’s readings, in preparation for Sunday Mass.
Well, I lost the paper where I had written them down. So, yesterday I guessed and ended up in Luke 10. (I was only 3 chapters off.)
And I read, and reread the verse above, for I am such a Martha–careful and troubled about many things. Things that are secondary. Things that should be set aside. Things that should be cast into hell, as a waste of my time.
For example, I wonder about this blog. Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting your time? Surely there are better things to read on the internet, if one should even bother with the internet.
Furthermore, I never can quite say what I want to say. Even now. I’d like to tell you to step out of the Rat Race of the World, but here I am, in the middle of it, online.
I’d like to tell you to quit comparing yourself to other families and to just put First Things First. Go to Confession. Pack a picnic lunch with a bottle of Flat Top Rose, invite another family, and spend a few hours on the grass.
Throw away your Wendell Berry novel that promotes breaking the Ninth Commandment and read some Hilaire Belloc poetry or his The Path to Rome or his The Cruise of the Nona. (I finally secured a copy–it’s ridiculously hard to find–and chuckled endlessly at his dedication. I haven’t finished the book yet.)
My sons found some nasty, white maggots the other day. Do you know what they decided to do with them? Put them in a jar with a slice of cheese to observe them. Those slimy things wormed right into the cheese and then formed a cocoon-like shell, which darkened after a few days. Then, more days later, a fly emerged. So revolting and yet, fascinating.
Do I have a point for that story? Nope.
Is there a point for this blog post? I’m not sure, and I apologize for wasting your time.
I was rolling my 15-passenger Ford E-350 “Sweet Ride” into the parking lot of a grocery store the other day, with all my seven children, when I thought, I love my job.
Here I am, on a lovely summer day, just picking up a few necessities–wine, beer, cheese, and olives–on my way to a friend’s house for iced coffee and a chat on her shady deck. I was looking forward to our boys shooting each other with laser guns, our girls braiding each other’s hair, and the babies toddling in the grass.
Motherhood is glorious, and God is good.
Back to the grocery store and my van… I left the children in the van listening to The House on Pooh Corner and ran in and then out with my necessities. By the time I returned, the van had up and died. It wouldn’t even turn over.
Ah, well. I had a choice at this point. I could cry and lament my bad luck or I could laugh it off and call my husband at work. I chose the latter.
Since it was hot out, I had firstly to remove all the children from the sweltering van and direct them to some grass by the highway. They weren’t thrilled about this, but they did dutifully stand there and pray to St. Joseph for the van to somehow miraculously start, for they desperately wanted to play with their friends.
While on the phone with my husband, he wanted me to try to fix it myself. Right! I know nothing about vehicles, let alone crippled, 15-passengers vans. I did figure out how to open the hood, however, and I was proud of myself for this feat. Then he had me find the battery, which I also located, I think.
Things quickly turned downhill when he next directed me to find a special tool that he kept in the side door of the van and wanted me to adjust some bolt or other on the battery. Or at least I think it was on the battery. I’m not sure, for I never did find the tool or understand what in the world he meant.
Nothing would do, but that he would have to come. In the meantime, I called my friend, who thankfully lived nearby and asked if she might come get the children? Of course. This bit of information quickly lifted the morale of the children, and indeed, they were speedily rescued, packed in, and whisked away in her sleek minivan to summer bliss and frivolity with nary a care.
I alone remained, standing in the shade of our forsaken van, contemplating my plight.
I stared at the car next to me. In it sat a shaggy-looking man smoking his cigs. He watched the whole show and never once offered his assistance. A kind old woman did offer hers, however. May God bless her kindness. I waved her on.
The sweat trickled down my neck. I thought about cracking a beer, for this is the state of Wisconsin after all, but I didn’t want to open the cooler for fear of warming those precious cheeses.
I watched a giant motorhome amble into the parking lot. I scratched a mosquito bite.
Then I remembered my tiny Pocket Psalms. I reached into my purse and randomly opened to Psalm 28 and read it aloud to the passing clouds.
In due time, the Man of My Dreams appeared. He immediately located the mysterious tool–a wrench apparently–and proceeded to wiggle things around. He loosened and tightened this and that. Then, he got out the jumper cables and saved the day.
The van roared to a start, and Psalm 28 rang in my ears, the God of majesty hath thundered!
I sweetly thanked my Knight in Shining Armor and drove straight to my friend’s house for a peaceful afternoon.
This last weekend, my husband took our three sons camping with the Troops of St. George for their annual Midwest Assembly. They thoroughly enjoy this weekend every year–canoeing, hiking, Latin Mass, traditional priests, marshmallows, corn on the cob, tents, and campfires–the whole bit.
The real question is, what do the ladies of the house do while the men are all gone?
We drove straight to a friend’s house, whose husband and sons were also at Troops, and commenced a lovely afternoon of visiting. The little girls ran around chasing a puppy, the big girls spent hours styling each other’s hair, and the mothers enjoyed a glass of wine.
I will say that I very much dislike evenings and nighttime without my husband around, however. For I had to perform all his evening chores by myself. For example, I had to grind the coffee beans and set the coffee maker. (When he’s around, I claim that I don’t know how to do these odious tasks.) Also, I had to put the dog in her kennel and lock all the doors. Horrible!
Well, really, the horrible part is trying to actually sleep through the night, ignoring all those strange sounds that always appear when my husband is gone. For example, why did a bird decide to knock himself senseless against my upstairs window at 1am? (Or was it a bat?!) And why did the dog start barking in the garage at 3am? Were we being robbed?! Horror of horrors! For I had to get out of bed to investigate these things, instead of just kicking my husband to do it.
Between those strange incidents and attending to the Little Girl who decided to cry for no reason at 4am, I didn’t sleep much. So, what to do the next day? I promised the girls we would make it special…
So after praying Lauds–another task that I had to lead since my husband was gone–we drove straight to a coffee shop. I could think of no better way to start the day, as my mind was already fried by 8am.
My morale did pick up, however, as I enjoyed a traditional cappuccino. The Eldest chose an iced hazelnut latte, and the Little Girls shared an iced turtle mocha. We blasted a little of Rhett Walker Gospel Song on the drive home, and I decided that I wasn’t cooking the entire weekend.
Except that resolution quickly evaporated, for I forgot about my kitchen counter, which was loaded with tomatoes, peppers, green onions, carrots, and a cabbage the size of a beach ball. Now most of these vegetables came from my neighbor’s garden and the rest from ours, and I wasn’t about to let them go to waste.
Aprons on, girls!
We spent the afternoon chopping and putting together coleslaw and salsa, while listening to Stillwater Hobos and blasting their song, Saint Therese.
The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful, except when we decided to watch an episode of Pride and Prejudice. You know, the version with Colin Firth from the ’90s. I’m not so sure the boys would have tolerated that, but we loved it.
My last post highlighted our visit to the Benedictines of Mary near Gower, Missouri. We drove about seven hours to pray with these traditional nuns, and it was worth it.
Today, I’ll share a few photos and words about the remainder of our trip, which took us to the monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. While the first part of our trip was for the girls, this second part was clearly designed for the boys.
The drive from Missouri to Oklahoma was a bit shorter from the previous day’s, but after a night of hotel sleeping–the first night is always the worst!–everyone was a bit tired. The Little Girls were especially silly on the drive. Perhaps delirious? For I turned around at one point and saw them giggling with underwear on their heads and rain boots on their feet.
“And how did those rain boots up in the van?” I stupidly asked.
Little Girl Number One laughed, “We put them in, in case it might rain.”
I spent so much time carefully planning what ought and what ought not to be brought along on this trip, so as to avoid unnecessary items and van clutter and…sigh!
In any case, after an interesting drive through the rundown countryside of Oklahoma, we finally arrived–the last hour being the most stimulating, as the road significantly narrowed to about a lane and a half with no painted lines as it bent here and there, going up and down wooded hills and over single lane “bridges” with no rails. Interesting, no? Frightening, a little!
After awhile, we finally arrived arrived at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey.
These Benedictine monks are relatively new to Oklahoma, having come from Fontgambault, France, in 1999. Like the sisters in Missouri, they are still in the building process. In fact, the abbey church in the photo above has a temporary roof, as they wait for the second story to be added. The doors, too, aren’t in yet, and the interior is very dark. When we prayed our rosary inside, there were only candles, which while mysterious and beautiful, are not conducive to my camera phone, so I didn’t take any interior photos.*
Here is a postcard plan of what the monastery looks like, or will look like, in a few years. Most of the other buildings are completed, I believe.
Since the main body of the church is unfinished, Masses and certain hours of the Divine Office are prayed in the crypt, which was where we joined the monks that first day.
The following photo shows the other building that the public is allowed into, which houses the bookstore, where the Guest Master reigns quietly answering questions and for all the world, kindness and meekness itself.
Now this bookstore was a real treasure. We bought a number of things: Fontanini pieces for our nativity set, postcards, books, an icon of St. Joseph, biscotti, and gouda cheese, which was made by the monks from their herd of milk cows.
Did I mention that they have about 55 monks, 20 of them priests and the rest brothers? One can see monks everywhere, doing all kinds of things–driving beat-up trucks and tractors, stocking bookshelves, walking and praying, welding old machinery, feeding cows or sheep, and weeding in their massive gardens.
Speaking of gardens, if any layman wants to put in a few hours of backbreaking work with the monks, he can. (Women and girls may not, however, as they are only allowed in the public places.). For example, my husband and sons volunteered to help the monks weed their beans. They began by praying the hour of None in the crypt and then they hiked down the hill to the gardens with Brother Gardener and pulled endless weeds in the hot, hot sun. And I mean, hot, HOT sun.
Want to guess what the girls and I did? We perused the air conditioned book store.
So, just where did we stay, when visiting the monastery?
In one of their guest houses, which are meant for families. If a man were to go by himself, however, he may stay in other male-only quarters and have access to other areas of the monastery, but not women and children. One must remember that monks are set apart for God and have chosen to live not “in the world.”
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a bridge shot. Indeed, the Abbey gets its name from Clear Creek, which runs right through their extensive property. My boys in particular loved wading in the creek, especially after weeding on that hot and humid afternoon.
If you need a place of pilgrimage, I’d highly recommend both the Benedictines of Mary and Clear Creek Abbey.
*If you’re wondering why I didn’t snap any photos of the monks themselves, it’s because one has to obtain permission from the superior to do so. It’s too disruptive of their monastic life to be continually photographed. If you’re curious how they look, however, click HERE on their website for some beautiful shots.
I thought it couldn’t be done. I thought it was impossible, not to mention impractical, unimaginable, and absurd.
But we did it. We drove hours upon hours with nine children into four different states just to visit two traditional religious orders. And it was well worth it.
Let me break it down for you.
Last Monday morning around 7:30am, I slammed the cooler lid shut, grabbed my coffee mug, and strode out to the van with a troop of children carrying various bags and things behind me. My husband, wearing his special clip-on sunglasses, met us in front of the van and handed out printed maps of our itinerary to each child as they scrambled in. These maps were intended to let the children know exactly where we were at all times and so to avoid the irritating question of, “Are we there yet?”
And then we were off across the beautiful state of Minnesota, which ran into Iowa, and finally Missouri, where we made our first stop at the Benedictines of Mary, a traditional order of nuns living on a few acres near the town of Gower. (Click HERE for a video done 4 years ago. Wow, just wow.)
Now why did we trek across the country to visit these nuns? Because we wanted our girls to see and experience fully habited nuns following the Traditional Rite, which means they celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 missal.
When we arrived at the Abbey, we prayed the liturgical hour of None, which was sung by the sisters, and the rosary–these being open to the public.
Perhaps some of you may remember the Benedictines of Mary as the nuns with the chant CDs? They’re available on iTunes, if you’re interested, and they’re fabulous.
Anyway, after walking around the grounds a bit, we drove into the nearest town with a hotel and spent the night. (We didn’t know about the sisters’ Guest House, but it was booked anyway.) The next morning we drove out again for the office of Terce and High Mass and a visit with Sister Grace.
The Eldest and her Next Younger Sister and I were all privileged to visit with Sister Grace in the parlor. This was a unique experience for us, as it doesn’t happen too often that one has a chance to ask any question one wants to of a nun.
And Sister Grace was all graciousness and smiles. She came from a poor family in Kansas and has a brother at Clear Creek Monastery, which was fun information for us, as that was our next destination. Sister told us her vocation story and the history of their foundation. She mentioned with a sparkle in her eye the “wicked cold” prowling about the monastery and their poor, sick cow, Pia. We promised to pray for them and the sick cow, and then the monastery bells began to ring for the next hour. Time was up!
Truly, if you have teenage daughters and you can make it happen, consider visiting the Benedictines of Mary. They’re beautiful.
In the next blog post, I’ll continue this Travelogue with a few words and pictures of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma.
We did it. We drove 9 straight hours with 7 screaming* kids all the way to North Dakota for a few nights and then back again yesterday.
Now, how does one accomplish this Herculean Feat without losing one’s mind? I can think of 5 things that helped:
Snacks. Lots of snacks, including all the food groups: apples, Hot Tamales, brownies, chips, and suckers.
No Chugging of Water. Only tiny sips allowed until within 15 minutes of destination. This prevents multiple bathroom breaks. We don’t like to stop on the road; it’s too demoralizing. In fact, on the way there, we only stopped once.
Podcasts. We listened to Dr. Taylor Marshall, Timothy Flanders at The Meaning of Catholic, and Mass of the Ages by Cameron O’Hearn. These great talks effectually bored the little children to sleep, which was best, and instructed the older ones, which was even better. My husband and I? We were just plain entertained, especially by O’Hearn’s interview with Eric Sammons.
Audio Books. The little children begged for Winnie the Pooh. The older children wanted The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi. We took turns, going back and forth. Don Camillo, by the way, is hysterical, if you need a good laugh.
Texting Parties. I had great fun texting a picture of my friend in her Trump dress that she wore to a gala in North Dakota. Apparently she was very popular, as everyone wanted to take a photo with her.
You know, on our drive, all the way across Minnesota and North Dakota, we saw countless Trump signs. Apparently it doesn’t even matter that the election is over. I guess rural USA is still pro-Trump. Since a few signs had “Trump 2024,” though, perhaps that’s the reason?
What Did We Do in North Dakota?
Besides visiting family and friends, we did the following:
We held our baby Godson while he was baptized according to the Traditional Rite.
We enjoyed my mother-in-law’s fabulous meatballs. (I look forward to them every time.)
My husband and I went on a double-date with friends at our favorite restaurant in Bismarck–Anima Cucina.
We paused for a minute and took this family photo:
5. I greatly enjoyed looking at the vast, beautiful, blue skies. (There is nothing like it, and I’m serious.) 6. We went on lovely bike rides through tall, cottonwood trees. 7. We attended a TLM out in the middle of nowhere with many other young families. The place was crawling, literally, with babies and toddlers.
7. I drank coffee and chatted with some wonderful friends. 8. And lastly, I didn’t sleep! I never do anyway.
And that’s why this post is ending. I’m hoping to get a nap in.
Until next time, blessings!
*Actually, the children were pretty good on that loooong drive. Nobody screamed. At least, nobody over the age of 5.
It’s no secret that marriage and the family are under attack. And I mean all marriages and all families–yours and mine included. Satan hates families, especially families that pray together, and husbands and wives who are striving to do the right thing.
From time to time, then, it’s important to step back as married couples and think about these things. It would be best to attend some kind of retreat, wherein faithful priests could address married couples, but given our current deplorable situation in the Church, that might be difficult.
Fr. Ripperger* is an exorcist living in the Archdiocese of Denver, and it was only recently that we began listening to some of his talks. A friend of mine specifically recommended his 3-part series on marriage and spiritual warfare HERE, which is timely and compelling.
If you can convince your spouse to sacrifice an hour a night for three nights, I promise, you’ll have something interesting to talk about. In fact, some of the things he introduces might be quite new to you. Then, if you finish those three talks and want more, listen to his 5-part series on marriage too. Again, I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Do it together for your marriage.
But Kiiiim! I can just hear some of you say. I don’t have tiiiiime to listen to marriage talks with my spouse. We’re tooooo buuuusy with the kids. Besides, I’d rather watch Netflix.
If that’s what your thinking, you’re wrong. Shut Netflix off and put the children to bed.
Do something good for your marriage! If you don’t want to listen to challenging–and he will challenge you–talks, then at least consider a Date Night with your spouse.
When’s the last time you left your house just to spend some carefree time with your husband? If you can’t afford to dine out, go for a leisurely walk. Sit on park bench together. No cell phones allowed. Your relationship with your spouse is more important than the children. And certainly more important than Netflix.
But do consider Fr. Ripperger’s talks.
*If you like Fr. Ripperger, you may want to check out Dr. Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with him about the Latin Mass and Exorcisms HERE. Fascinating.
It’s warm enough here, so yesterday we began planting seeds in our outdoor gardens. We’ll hold off a week on planting any plants, however, just in case that thermometer dips.
This year we’ve added another garden box that my husband built. (You’re the best, Dearest.) It’s been a challenge living in the “Driftless Region” where there is no flat land anywhere to be had. The solution is to build these boxes into the hillside. Then, because of the droves of hungry deer, we’ve got to put fences around it all.
This is so different from gardening in North Dakota, by the way. (You may remember that we recently moved?) Deer fence. Right. Nah, just grab that tiller and till for miles and to hades with the fence in the Nodak.
Now, since the region is rather hilly, we’ve also been forced to be creative. For instance, the space in the front of the house was landscaped with rock and lovely perennials, but we’ve decided that this wasn’t practical for a large family. So, I bribed my sons with cash to pick the rock and pull the perennials and voila! We’ve got onions and beets.
My husband is also working on tiering the garden that the children began on the hillside last year. We’re going for potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes up there. I hope it’s more successful than last year.
Now, I will say that the children are a great blessing. In fact, I couldn’t do it without them. They are most willing to help. But this could be because they sell me all their produce. They begin the season by purchasing their seeds and plants, watering them all summer long, weeding them, and then selling me produce along the way.
I’m telling you, if you’ve got kids, this is a great way to go.
Anyone else have any ideas for maintaining a garden with lots of children?
A few days ago, I received some questions from you, dear readers, about skirts. This must be an interesting topic for some of you, as I’m forever getting clicks on my skirt post from about two years ago. (See HERE.)
Today, I’ll show you my wardrobe of skirts and dresses and answer those questions.
My Entire Wardrobe of Skirts and Dresses
Are you ready? I have two pictures for you:
Now this is not very exciting, I know. But you see, I like plain skirts because they are easier to match with any top.
The other thing to notice is that my skirts and dresses hit below the knee. While it’s true that I always wear leggings under them in the winter and shorts in the summer, I prefer this length for comfort, and I suppose also for a sense of modesty.
These two photos, however, are a bit misleading for two reasons:
I actually have more skirts and dresses. Gasp! Today, though, I’m only showing you my Cold-Month skirts and dresses because the Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are folded in a drawer, just waiting to come out. As soon as the weather does change, I will switch out those skirts. The Special Occasion dresses will also be switched out. Does this make sense? (By the way, all my Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are made of a lighter material–both in color and in fabric–but they also hit below the knee.)
And there are an additional few dresses of my mother’s, which I haven’t shown. These old dresses–I think there are about 5 of them–are hanging inside a plastic bag.
Kim, what about exercising or playing sports? Do you wear skirts for that too?
I had this question the other day, and the answer is yes and no. When we go hiking as a family or play badminton in the backyard or go for a walk, I don’t change. I wear my skirt. I don’t care if I look funny. I hate changing.
When I want to jog a mile or two, however, or ride my bike, I do change for obvious reasons. If it’s cold outside, I wear sweatpants, of which I’ve got two pairs. If it’s decently warm, I wear capri leggings with a skirt attached. (See photo below.)
How about pajamas? Do you wear “dress” pajamas?
Nope. I twist and turn about too much, so I wear shorts at night, of which I have two pairs. It’s the only time I wear shorts, however, as I do not like them.
Yes, I do have a swimsuit, and yes it’s a skirt. Or, rather, it’s a skort with a tank top that I purchased from Lands’ End a few years ago.
Do you own a pair of jeans?
No. I don’t feel comfortable in them.
Where do you like to buy your skirts and dresses?
Mostly, I purchase my clothing from secondhand stores. However, when I can’t find what I want, I will buy things online. I try to avoid Amazon, if possible. Recently, I purchased a few clothing items from Inherit Clothing Company, which is an online Christian boutique specializing in modest clothing.
And of course, when I do purchase something I still follow The Rule:
One Item In, One Item Out
In other words, if I buy a new skirt, then an old skirt goes away.
I hope that helps. Be sure to ask if you have any other questions!
I had hoped to write and post pictures of our beautiful Latin Mass Triduum this week, but I guess I failed! It wasn’t all my fault, however.
An hour before Holy Thursday Mass, one of the twins was impaled by his sister with a wooden spear. (A homemade affair from a large stick in the backyard.) It went through his lip, and she felt very badly as blood was spurting everywhere, and I had to drive him to the clinic for stitches. Then, when the doctor finally looked at it, he sent us to the ER for a specialist to do the job. Apparently he didn’t want to mess it up and leave a big scar. I said I didn’t care, but he sent us anyway.
Well, if any of you have spent any time in an ER, you know one thing: It’s going to take forever. And it did. Three hours for three tiny stitches. We missed all of Holy Thursday Mass, much to the chagrin of my son, who was to serve with all his buddies and brothers. (The rest of the family went ahead.)
We did all attend Good Friday services and the Easter Vigil, but I neglected to take any photos. You see, it was my first traditional Latin Mass Triduum, and I didn’t want to be bothered with that. Hopefully next year, however, I’ll be able to snap a few, as the whole experience was striking.
May the abundant outpouring of Thy blessing, we beseech Thee, almighty God, descend upon this lighted candle; and do Thou, Who dost renew unseen, rekindle this nocturnal brightness. May the Sacrifice made to Thee this night shine with strange reflection of the light that Thou art; and further, into whatsoever place some of this blessed mystery of fire shall be brought, may the power of Thy majesty there be present and every evil device of Satan depart. Through Christ our Lord.
Did you catch that? Every evil device of Satan will depart whenever the Paschal candle is lit. I’ve heard the same is true of church bells–bells that have been properly blessed and “baptized,” hanging in the bell tower. (No, I’m not talking about automated “fake” bells.) Certainly Satan hates all blessed things, which is why we need more of them–bells, candles, holy water, incense…
P.S. We pulled a most disgustingly big tick off of one of the Little Girls a few weeks ago. Want to see it? Her little sister said, “Mom, why does she have a bean stuck in her hair?”
In today’s post, I’ll continue our travels into interior Wisconsin. If you missed out on Part 1, click HERE.
As I was saying a few days ago, my husband and I had One Night of Freedom last weekend, so we drove to Wausau, Wisconsin, and checked into a hotel. We had hoped to stay downtown, but all those rooms were booked, so we were forced to settle with Holiday Inn Express, which wasn’t so bad.
Naturally, the first thing we did in Wausau was seek out a Happy Hour somewhere. We drove to a pub named Sconni’s Alehouse. I had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon; my husband had an IPA. We then pulled out our books and read for an hour. I think the neighboring table of bearded men in Carhartt jackets thought we were weird.
My Book: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
Now, if you’re a book lover and you have never read Helene Hanff’s first book, 84, Charing Cross Road, you are missing out! Go to your local library and get it. Better yet, just buy it. That book is sheer bliss.
Hanff’s sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, is also worthy of reading, but not quite as hysterical as the first. Those of you who have read the first, and couldn’t put it down, though, will definitely want to read the second, for Helene actually does fly to London even though the night before she, “got out of bed, had hysterics, a martini and two cigarettes, got back in bed, and whiled away the rest of the night composing cables saying I wasn’t coming.”
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is Helene’s day-by-day dairy in London. One of my favorite episodes is when her acquaintances drag her all over Oxford, neglecting to show her the one college she wants to see–Oriel College. (She’s a huge fan of John Henry Newman.) Helene won’t stand for it; she must see Newman’s Oxford, and so, “I stood in the middle of Wadham Yard and hollered: “WHEN ARE WE GONNA SEE SOMETHING I WANNA SEE?” They immediately took her to Oriel and she sat in Newman’s chapel.
Did you know, Helene also scandalizes the hotel bartender by demanding a real martini? She had to first show the guy how to make it and then convince him that she wouldn’t be, “face down on a bar table sodden drunk.”
Oh, it’s a delightful read.
Tine & Cellar
After Happy Hour, we made our way to Tine & Cellar. We had to make reservations the week before to get in. The place was hopping. We were seated up a few steps on a landing with three other tables, all obviously for two person “dates.” I had great fun watching couples come in and out. It was St. Valentine’s Day weekend, after all, so lots of sweethearts and formal dinners and flirting and wine flowing everywhere. Do you know, men don’t tuck in their collared, buttoned shirts anymore? Scandalous.
At our table, we began with a charcuterie board, a Manhattan, and a glass of Donati Cabernet. Then, I whipped out my deck of cards featuring Greek gods and goddesses and proceeded to lose playing Gin Rummy.
You see, my husband and I play Gin Rummy all year round and keep score for the whole year. I lost last year, and I’m still bitter about it. What’s worse? I’m losing already this year. In fact, I haven’t won since 2017. I’m not sure why I still play that game.
Ah, well, the food was good. I had pan-seared Atlantic salmon with wild mushroom couscous in roasted pepper cream with carrots. My husband had roasted duck breast with caramelized fingerlings (what’s that?), prunes, and braised purple cabbage. De-licious. Naturally we had our food paired with the appropriate wine–Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc and Monte Oton Garnacha, respectively.
Quinquagesima Sunday at St. Mary’s Oratory: Heaven On Earth
One reason why we chose Wausau was because of St. Mary’s Oratory. If you live within…say 3 hours of this place, THERE’S NO EXCUSE. Your life isn’t complete. They have a magnificent choir, gorgeous church, beautiful TLM liturgies, babies and children everywhere, and a real altar triptych. Now when’s the last time you had all those combinations together?
Here are some pictures to prove it.
After Mass we made our way home, back through the meandering highways of Wisconsin. We look forward to exploring more of this great state when the weather is nicer.