Life is Worth Living

Is That Your Garden?

The Flops and Foibles of Gardening in 2020

As I stand in my yard and look around at the deeply wooded ridges and valleys, I think, Humph, I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Actually, I never was in Kansas, but I was living on those same Great Plains for nearly four decades, and now I’m not.  This is my first year gardening in the “Driftless Area” near the Mississippi River.  Driftless Area is a technical term referring to 24,000 square miles of steep, forested ridges that the last Glacier Period neglected to iron out.

In other words, we have zero flat spots in our yard in which to place a neat and orderly garden.

No matter, though!  We’re figuring it out.  Gardening is worth it after all, even if one doesn’t have a green thumb.  Today I’ll show you what our family has done this year, and by doing so, I hope to accomplish one thing:

To give hope and inspiration to those of you who find gardening horribly tedious or overwhelming, like me.

Now, if you’ve got a beautifully well-managed garden, this post will still be for you too, because perhaps, by reading about those of us struggling to keep our thumbs green, you may be inspired to give us your extra lettuce and rhubarb.  For heaven knows ours didn’t grow.

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Check out my pathetic rhubarb plant.

Gardening Tip #1:  Get Somebody to Help

Now I’m the mother of 7 little children.  I need help.  Thankfully my husband is more than willing to bust out the power tools and build something.  Earlier this spring he built a little garden box into the hillside because as I said before, we have zero flat spots in our yard for a traditional garden.

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You may remember this photo from April?

And here it is today:

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This box features one tomato plant, two pepper plants, two broccoli plants, and some basil.  Originally I had planted mint, but it didn’t come up.  I have no idea why.  So after about a month, I drove over to the local nursery to see if they had any vegetables left to buy.  This was really smart on my part because they were practically giving away the remainder of their broccoli plants and jalapeños for free.

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Broccoli.  Looks like some bugs are eating it already.

I’ve never planted broccoli, but I thought, why not?  And my husband loves jalapeños.  So we’re giving it a shot.

But that little box is hardly big enough for everything I wanted to plant.  And so, that leads me to my next Gardening Tip:

Gardening Tip #2:  Get More Help: Enlist the Children

Last year we tried something new.  We told our children that if they wanted to earn some money, they could plant a garden, and I’d buy all the produce.  And they actually did it.  They bought seed with their own money, planted some potatoes, onions, and pumpkins, and took care of it, and I bought it all.  It wasn’t a lot, mind you, but it was worth it.

This year, we knew we’d have to get more creative.  Just where were we going to dig up some earth for the Children’s Garden?  Well, why not try on the hillside?

So, the boys carried up their folding saws and bow saws and hacked away at the sumac in order to clear a patch of earth.  Then my husband hauled up the tiller and did his best to rip up the ground.  Naturally the soil wasn’t fertile, so we added some peat moss and Holy Water.  Lastly, the whole thing had to be surrounded by a deer fence, if we hoped to enjoy any of the produce ourselves.

And this is what we ended up with:

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Notice all the horrid sumac surrounding the thing.

Admittedly, it’s rather small, but I guess something is better than nothing.  This little garden boasts of a pumpkin plant, a few onions, some green beans, a pepper plant, and two tomato plants.

Here is a close up of the pumpkin and pepper:

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I know it’s hard to see through the deer fence, but the pumpkin is in the right corner and the pepper is in the upper left.  The onions in the background aren’t worth even mentioning…

And here’s the tomato plants:

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They look rather unruly.

They had planted cucumbers in there too, but they chose not to grow, which is just as well as they’d likely have vined all over the place.

I tried to get the children to plant beets, as they’re one of my favorite vegetables to roast and eat, but alas, the children positively refused.  They insisted that there was no room for such nasty-tasting roots, which leads me to my third Gardening Tip:

Gardening Tip #3:  Plant Vegetables Instead of Marigolds

Now this hurts me a little, as I love flowers, but if those rebellious children won’t plant beets, somebody’s got to!  So, instead of a row of marigolds, I planted a row of beets (and some onions) right by our front door.

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See the beets and onions in the front row?

Anyone can see that neither vegetable is truly thriving.  I’d like to blame this on the hail that went through a month ago, but really it’s because I’ve got a two-year-old who walks all over it too.

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Oh, but she’s cute!

In the end, I hope this little garden tour inspired you to keep at it, especially if gardening overwhelms you.  It’s always worth it!

Just the other night the children sold me a handful of their green beans.  We haggled over the price.  I told them that the average market price was a $1.68 per pound.  They responded promptly by reminding me that their green beans were organic and likely worth triple that amount.  How outrageous!

Life is Worth Living

Severed Fingers, Audio Books, & Skirts

Severed Fingers: Warning!  It’s Gross.

I’ve had an interesting week.  My 4-year-old daughter was holding a folding chair by its hinges and running.  She tripped and fell on top of the chair, which immediately sliced her two fingers–one on each hand.  The lefthand fingertip was dangling; the right was only cut through the bone.

Yuck.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it, for I had to put the one fingertip back in place.  Ew.

I debated on whether or not I should post a few pictures of her cut-up fingers. I decided to go for it, but with a warning that the following pictures are just plain gross.  If you’re queasy about such things, you had better skim past ’em!  For the rest of you curious folk…

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This was in the ER, right after the doctor cleaned up all the blood, but before he sewed the one on and stitched up the other.
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Back on!
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Much needed drinks for Mom and Dad the following night.  On the right: 1/2 a lemon, vodka, & dry vermouth.  On the left: 1/2 a lime, vodka, & triple sec.
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Poor Thing.  All her brothers and sisters were outside playing with water the next day.  She sat inside, but with her swimsuit on and a forlorn face.
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A few days later…bandages finally off!  Her finger “took!”  (Notice how the tip is pink.)  Time will tell if her fingernails grow back…

Audio Books

After my last post on Summer School, I had a few of you ask some great questions:

  1. How does your “Art & Tea Time” work exactly?
    Around 3pm, I yell, “Art & Tea Time!”  Everyone makes a mad dash for their cursive books, extra paper, drawing books, and colored pencils.  The Eldest puts on the audio book, and I either fold laundry or do some dinner prep.  During this hour, 4 of the children are required to do 2 pages of cursive, which I never check.  I also give them a snack.  In the colder months, we had tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.  Now I tend to give them anything that will keep the 2-year-old and the 4-year-old quiet–so, like animal crackers or gold fish.  When Art & Tea Time is finished, the children put everything away and also set the table for supper.  Then they quickly disappear, usually outside, so that they can’t receive any more chores from Mom.
  2. What audio books are good for a variety of ages?
    My age range is 2-13.  Generally the youngest two never listen, but just eat a snack and roam around a bit.  I’ve found that if the volume is loud enough, they won’t cause any problems.  In any case, our favorite books that have satisfied everyone are the following:
    a.)  The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    b.)  The Little Britches series–books 1-4–by Ralph Moody
    c.)  The Mitchells series by Hilda van Stockum
    d.)  The Cottage at Bantry series by Hilda van Stockum
    There are others, but that should get you started.  If you have any questions about these books or need more recommendations, drop me a line!
  3. What if your children complain about the audio selection?
    Then they can go sit on their bed in Black Out until Art & Tea Time is over.

Summer Skirts

It’s no secret that I love wearing skirts.  (There’s a whole post on it HERE.)  This summer I added two more.  And yes, that means I got rid of two.  You do remember The Rule, right?  One in, one out.

So anyway, I was in dire need of two new skirts.  Where to find them?  I checked out a few secondhand stores, and while I did find something for my daughter, alas, there was nothing for me.

And oh!  What to do on a budget?

I had to shop online at the Power-Hungry-Giant, otherwise known as Amazon.  Sigh.  But truly, these were about the cheapest skirts I could find that met my length requirement. (I prefer to cover my knees.)

And so, if you’re curious, I’ll link below the two I bought.  They’re great, if you don’t mind a skirt sitting at your natural waistline.

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Skirt #1.  Light material.  Twirls too, which is a bonus.  There’s another more “summery” color available.  I might consider purchasing it.
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Skirt #2.  Also light and twirl-able and available in lots of colors.

 

Life is Worth Living

Awesome Stuff

I was whining the other day–bemoaning all our feckless Church leaders actually–and it occurred to me that I should just spend 5 minutes in gratitude, for there are a lot of things to be thankful for.

So today, I’m highlighting some awesome stuff.

Awesome Stuff You Might Consider

  1. My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marriage by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.  I know I mentioned it before, but this autobiography was downright hilarious.  I laughed out loud as De Trevino chronicled her real-life adventure of marrying a Mexican in the 1930s.  Of course her husband came from a large, traditional Catholic family complete with strong opinions and stronger emotions.  I must say, she never had a dull day in her life.

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    Bethlehem Books, whom I think is having a sale right now, is the publisher.
  2. I am thankful for Chickens.  The other day, during the Communist Lockdown, we went and visited some family in a different state.  They have baby chicks, and not only are baby chicks cute, but they are practical too.  We might have to look into owning some ourselves.

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    The children held them.  Awesome stuff.
  3. Apparently Tractors are pleasant and enjoyable too.  Who doesn’t love driving around a 1978 John Deere 4040 through a mud hole while eating a cookie?

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    This boy had to be jackhammered out of the tractor at the end of the day.  He thinks it’s the best place in the world.
  4. Or how about watching children play?  They can be very creative and entertaining.  Lately our children have been playing a game called, “Anti-Social Distancing.”  This a game wherein everyone marches six feet apart with one person acting as Governor Evers.  Governor Evers wears a face mask and carries a big stick.  He puts people in jail who try to break his unconstitutional mandates.

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    Here they are, marching around.
  5. This guy’s hat is awesome.  He’s my brother-in-law.

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    Apparently he doesn’t really pee in pools, though.  He told me.
  6. Dr. Marshall’s short video on Post-Covid19 Predictions is spot on and awesome.  My husband and I heartily agree with every point of his, especially Number 9.
  7. Need another can’t-put-it-down-book?  Read Pierced By a Sword by Bud Macfarlane Jr.  It caught my attention because Michael O’Brien wrote the forward.  I am almost finished and really enjoying it.
  8. And finally, I am thankful that The Eldest still wants to match somebody.  She picked out my outfit!
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Life is Worth Living

Life Goes On

As I sit here and type, life goes on all around me.  Sounds of Julian Lage’s latest album drift in from the dining room.  I can hear the three older children chatting and laughing while washing the dinner dishes.  A few of the other children are playing on the swing set out my window with my husband.  And I just finished folding a load of laundry.  It’s rather peaceful around here.

But in the meantime, the media spins and screams and dictates and shames all day long.

What to do?  Today I thought I’d offer a few suggestions that might help.  Read through them if you want.  Take what you need and discard anything that overwhelms you.

A Few Thoughts to Consider

  1. Sigh.  Maybe it’s time for a “media” break?  If the news is getting to you, shut it off.

I hate to be a downer, but I don’t think this is going away anytime soon.  Think of 9/11.  Think of all the security measures that resulted from that tragic event–the security measures that came and stayed.

As our culture becomes more and more obsessed about health (and less and less concerned about the soul), there will be fewer and fewer personal freedoms.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t happen every year–I mean a Mandated Stay at Home Law every winter and spring.  New viruses will come after all, and we’ve just set a precedent–lock down for everyone.

That’s kind of a depressing thought, however true I think it is.  So for me, I’ve got to step away from the media for awhile.

2.  This may sound a bit crazy, but assess your local situation as regards to the Sacraments.  Are your bishops and priests finding ways to nourish your souls?  If not, consider moving to where these things are happening.  For if our culture continues on this current trend of limiting personal freedoms and shutting down the Sacraments, it will be necessary to have courageous bishops and priests willing to sacrifice their lives, perhaps literally, to ensure the survival of the Faith.

If you’re curious, our priest here delivered a dynamite homily yesterday about seeing this current situation for what it is.  He starts at about 17:20, and I can tell you, he had our attention.  (Yes, that’s my kid screaming about halfway through.  Embarrassing.)  We are so thankful for his witness.  And for our bishop.

3.  Organize your family life.  You need a schedule for everyone’s sanity.  If you struggle with this concept, get a copy of Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life.  She gets her priorities right–prayer first, everything else next, etc.

4.  Speaking of prayer…have you considered praying the breviary?  These are the ancient prayers, psalms, and readings of the Church.  They are the Church’s Divine Office–a heartbeat of love to the Father.  Of course I would recommend praying the Roman Breviary, but if that’s too much for you, start with the Christian Prayer book.

If you’d like more information on the breviary and it’s history, read Pius Parsch’s The Breviary Explained.  My husband couldn’t put it down.  Consider giving that book to your husband for Father’s Day.

5.  Learn how to garden.  Now I am no expert at this, but over the years my husband and I have just plugged away at it, and it’s always been rewarding.  Even if we have crop failures, like the year we thought we planted cucumbers, but didn’t, or the time the carrots didn’t come up, or the time the boys pulled all the onions because they thought they were weeds…  But something always does manage to grow, and it’s fun eating it.

6.  Enjoy a glass of wine with your husband tonight.  Let the kids watch Lilies of the Field and play a hand of cards.

And Just For Fun

A reader was recently inspired by my post on Art Walls.  She made one of her own, which I’ll post below.

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It looks great!  I especially love The Little Flower.

Did anyone else make one?

Life is Worth Living

Quarantine Madness: 12 Signs It Might Be Getting to You

It’s Holy Week, and right now, life is looking a little grim with this Mandatory Shut Down.  It’s not easy.

This morning my daughter discovered a tick embedded in her swollen leg.  She hastily ripped it out and flushed it down the toilet, without letting us examine it, to determine whether or not it was a deer tick.  Then she began showing signs of Lyme Disease.

Unbelievable.

After a chaotic morning of visiting with a doctor–God bless her soul!–and exchanging information and photos of my daughter’s leg, she’s now being treated with an antibiotic.  The doctor is hopeful that she’ll be fine, as we hopefully caught it early enough.

Me?  I drove straight to a coffee shop and drank a cappuccino, for I’m a weak individual.

In any case, today I’m offering 12 signs to help identify that you might be nearing the end of your rope with this Quarantine Madness.  We pray that God will lift this scourge soon.  In the meantime, enjoy!

Quarantine Madness: 12 Signs It Might Be Getting to You

  1. You find yourself sitting in a lawn chair at the end of the driveway, just to shout a hello to other people out walking their dogs.
  2. You’ve decided to drag another lawn chair out there, with a case of beer, and offer passersby a drink if they’ll sit down and have one on the house.  You can sit 6 feet apart after all.
  3. You’ve* decided to build a raised garden bed.  You’ve always wanted one anyway.

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    Building a raised garden bed.
  4. You’ve resorted to drinking box wine because it can be purchased in bulk and lasts a lot longer than a bottle.  It’s also penitential because it tastes so badly.
  5. You’ve instituted an Hour of Drawing in the afternoon for the children wherein they must produce a work of art or face the consequences.
  6. You’ve decided to read one of those really long, boring Russian novels with characters that you can’t pronounce because you have the time.
  7. You’ve considered hemming your husband’s pants that are too long for him, even though you loathe sewing.
  8. You’ve taken up running.  Might as well trail for a marathon.
  9. You’ve loaded up the children and driven around just for the fun it.  (Don’t tell the authorities.)
  10. You’ve instituted Happy Hour wherein your husband makes cocktails at 3pm.
  11. You’ve subscribed to The Remnant Newspaper, just receive something worthy in the mail.
  12. You’ve saving all junk mail, especially any mailings pertaining to the USCCB, to potentially use as toilet paper, should you actually run out.

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    Cheers.

Now I’ve done 8 of these “signs.”  You guess which ones!

*Actually, you’ve begged your husband to do this, for who are we kidding?  Multistep projects are odious and require patience.  Of which, I have none.
Life is Worth Living

Paul is Doing Well

Dear Readers, thank you for your prayers.  Paul is doing very well.  He’s terribly sore from his incisions, but he is free from piercing migraines and ceaseless retching.  We are very thankful.

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He’s eating and drinking normally too!

This has been the most pleasant–can I say that?–hospital stay that we’ve had.  For you see, there’s no one here.  Literally, this hospital has never been this empty in the memories of anyone that I’ve asked.  It’s all in anticipation of some massive influx of Covid-19 patients, which hasn’t happened and hopefully won’t.

In the meantime, we zip in and out of x-rays and scans and anything that might be scheduled because there is no one vying for these services.  And the nurses and doctors have extra time to visit with us, which is nice, as no others visitors are allowed.

In any case, because we live so closely and Paul is doing so well, we will be able to go home today.  Praise be Jesus Christ!

 

Life is Worth Living

DIY: Art Walls

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that I am not crafty–I don’t like messes, multistep projects stress me out, I loathe construction paper, and I don’t own markers.

That said, I do have an Art Wall.

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Here is my Art Wall; it’s in the dining room.

Now I had to have an Art Wall because my children draw, and just where was I to put all their lovely art work?  On the table?  On the kitchen counter?  On the floor?  In the trash?  Nope.  On the Art Wall.

Do It Yourself Art Wall

Of course I couldn’t make the Art Wall.  (Remember, multistep projects stress me out.)  So, I enlisted the help of my husband.  “Dearest,” quoth I, “If I buy a chunk of wood and some clothespins, would you kindly glue the things on and screw the whole thing to the dining room wall?”

“As you wish, darling.”

Ah, what a great man I’ve married.  He even took the time to accurately measure equal distances between my ten clothespins.  (I’d have eye-balled it, if forced to do such tedious work.)

In any case, for those of you interested, here are the steps for making your own Art Wall.

11 Step Art Wall

  1. Decide how long you want your board to be.  I had about a 5 foot space of wall for this project, so I wanted a board about 4 feet long.
  2. Look around your garage for spare hunks of wood.  Grab a hand saw and cut it to your preferred length.
  3. No spare wood in your garage?  No problem.  Drive to Menards–if they’re open–and check their scrap pile.  That’s where I got mine.  I paid about $1.30 for it.
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  4. Check your junk drawer for old clothespins.
  5. None there?  Ask Grandma to check her clothesline for any spare ones.
  6. Grandma on lock down?
  7. Order some from Hobby Lobby online.  They’re super cheap; it’s where I got mine.  I went for the mini-ones.
  8. Decide how many you want on your board.

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    Art Wall from my old house.  Not nearly enough clothespins and not nearly long enough.
  9. Beg your husband to measure and glue those clothespins on so that they’ll be straight.
  10. Make your husband his favorite drink and beg of him to screw the whole thing to the wall.
  11. Make yourself a drink.  You are done.  Cheers.

Art Walls Are Necessary

During this time of Mandatory Lock Down, we’ve been forced to be a bit more structured in the afternoons, as the children were becoming bored and restless.  My solution?  I instituted an hour of drawing, cursive-writing, and audio books.

Therefore, this increased time of creativity naturally resulted in more art work.  Of course we do send pictures to Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie and whomever else we can think of, but in the meantime, it certainly gives me peace of mind just knowing where to put all those papers.

Lastly

Lastly, if you’re following Coronavirus and the plight of the Church, I strongly recommend Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s latest interview with The Remnant Newspaper HERE.  I wish more bishops and priests would follow suit.

And one more thing…lastly, lastly, the governor of Wisconsin waived all state park fees.  So, we’ve been trudging through the rain and the muck and greatly enjoying the wilderness.

Here are some of the children at Parrot State Park.  Have you been venturing more outdoors lately?

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Taking the Road Less Traveled.

 

Life is Worth Living

A “Sanitary Dictatorship”

Just what are we to think of these wild times?

The oft-quoted Charles Dickins’s A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

Personally, I think Bishop Athansius Schneider nails it HERE at LifeSiteNews.  (Be sure to read it.)  He notes that not even the Third Reich dared to do what’s happening to us right now, especially as pertains to the government and the Church.  In his latest book, Christus Vincit, he warns of a coming One World Government, which in the article above, he refers to as a “Sanitary Dictatorship.”  Frightening, no?

But you know who else was predicting this years ago?  Catholic author Michael O’Brien.  Have you read any of his literature yet?  If not, pick up Father Elijah.  You likely have time on your hands, after all.  And that book is a page-turner.

What else can we do besides read great literature?

Of course we need not despair, even though I am tempted to.  Early last week, right before the Terrible Ban on Everything, our family went to Confession, and alas, I did confess despair.  My priest–God save him!–quietly asked me if I was familiar with the Gospel passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm from Matthew 8?

“Yes,” I responded.

“And when the disciples woke Jesus, what did he say to them?”

“Why are you afraid, O ye of little faith?”  I sighed.

My priest continued, “But I don’t want you to dwell on that.  Rather, I want you to remember that he was in the boat.  He was there all along, in the storm, and he’s here now.  I want you to thank Jesus for being in the boat with us.  He hasn’t abandoned us.”

I found great comfort in that, and it’s been my prayer lately.  Thank you, Jesus, for being in the boat with us.

Besides personal prayer?  What else?

Here are a few other thoughts:

  1. While I hate to encourage more screen time, I will say that Dr. Taylor Marshall and John Henry Weston are spot on HERE.
  2. But more importantly, are you saying a daily family rosary?
  3. I know I talked about the difficulties of fasting recently, but are you fasting?  Even if it’s something small?  Perhaps you could give up creamer in your coffee?  Or refrain from adding salt or pepper to your dishes?  Or give up ice cubes?  Anything is better than nothing!  Start small, if you’re new to this.
  4. Get yourself to confession.  Today.  Who knows where this is going to end?  If the governors of California, New York, and Illinois can put everyone on “house arrest,” then your governor can too.  Call or email your pastor.  If he’s worth his salt, he’ll figure out a way to legally hear your confession.
  5. Encourage your pastor to do 24-hour Adoration, if your state’s not on “house arrest.”  Even if no more than 10 people could legally attend, and of course observing “social distancing” laws of 6 feet, this would be a beautiful way to keep Churches open.
  6. And finally, encourage your priest to do processions.  I will be eternally thankful to our priest for noticing which way the wind was blowing last week, for we had a lovely procession with prayers against pestilence last Sunday.

But we need more processions.

Daily processions.  Perhaps priests could walk the streets with a Cross Bearer and two Acolytes, while reciting the Litany of Saints and Prayers against Pestilence.  This could be done daily, at say 3pm.  The faithful could park their cars along the way and pray.  Or the more bolder of the faithful could follow behind, keeping “social distancing” laws of 6 feet.

No really, processions are so important that I’ll leave you with two examples of exemplary priests from the past.  I pulled this information from newadvent.org.  It’s an online Catholic Encyclopedia.  We really need to get this done.

  1. St. Gregory the Great and the plague in Rome.

    As the plague still continued unabated, Gregory called upon the people to join in a vast sevenfold procession which was to start from each of the seven regions of the city and meet at the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin, all praying the while for pardon and the withdrawal of the pestilence. This was accordingly done, and the memory of the event is still preserved by the name “Sant’ Angelo” given to the mausoleum of Hadrian from the legend that the Archangel St. Michael was seen upon its summit in the act of sheathing his sword as a sign that the plague was over.

  2. St. Charles Borromeo and the plague in Milan.

Personal visits were paid by him to the plague-stricken houses. In the hospital of St. Gregory were the worst cases; to this he went, and his presence comforted the sufferers. Though he worked so arduously himself, it was only after many trials that the secular clergy of the town were induced to assist him, but his persuasive words at last won them so that they afterwards aided him in every way. It was at this time that, wishing to do penance for his people, he walked in procession, barefooted, with a rope round his neck, at one time bearing in his hand the relic of the Holy Nail.

Now those were men.

 

Life is Worth Living

Coronavirus. Sigh.

Does Coronavirus have you down?  Are you wondering what you might do?  Never fear!  Here are 3 things I’m doing to distract myself from everything shutting down…

  1. I’m drinking more coffee.  If cappuccinos weren’t so confounding expensive, I’d drive myself to a drive-thru and drink them all day long.  On second thought, I am a Catholic, and we’re suppose to practice moderation and all that, so maybe I’d limit myself to two–one at 6am and one at noon, to ward off that darn Noon Day Devil–but as it is, I’m lucky if I get one a week.  In any case, coffee helps, I’m telling you.
  2. I’m listening to Mariah Carey when my children aren’t around, so like during “Quiet Time.”  Naturally I’m a secret Mariah Carey admirer.  I can’t help myself.  I grew up blasting her music and singing at the top of lungs with my sister.  I know, I know, you’re going to remind me that she dresses scandalously and has terrible lyrics/music and all that, but I am a weak individual.  Mea culpa.  I’ve written about it HERE.  Pray for me.
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Mariah Carey.  We should probably pray for her too.  (Picture from the public domain.)

3.  I’m painting, and I hate painting.  It’s the worst.  And every single house we move into always requires it.  How about you?  Are there any home projects that you need to get done?  Now’s the time!

BTW…the only way to survive such everlastingly tedious housework is to drink cappuccinos and blast THIS.  You know what this song is really about, right?  Not having enough coffee, of course.

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Me.  Doing penance.  Hang in there, y’all!
Life is Worth Living

Coffee Troubles and Triumphs

One of the first things that must be done upon moving to a new city is locating the local coffee shops.  This post is a Tale of Woe, but with a happy ending.

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Cheers. (Found Panera the other day.)

Now, this is not as easy as it appears.  Yes, Google Maps is very helpful, but I’m telling you.  There are things that Google just doesn’t know.  Like how to cruise around in a 15-passenger van full of uproarious children and not pull your hair out or chuck shoes at them while attempting to locate the nonexistent coffee drive-thru.

Like I said, I’ve had some major coffee hardships this last week.  All of them ended in complete failure while exploring downtown La Crosse, WI.  Let’s just say that one cannot get coffee in downtown La Crosse.  Leastways not in a gigantic van.  And not with ravenous, dog-tired children.IMG_2144.jpg

This is my Sweet Ride, by the way.  Shouldn’t this monstrosity really be considered a “handicapped” vehicle.  I mean, I’ve got 7 children…

In any case, so much for those cute, chic Caffeine Sanctuaries downtown.

Well, what to do next?  I guess explore the usual…Starbucks?  Even if the line hadn’t been longer than the Continental Divide, nope.  Caribou?  Another nope.  I couldn’t even find the drive-thru.  Not kidding.  (Apparently one does exist, however.  It’s just hiding.)

There were other places I tried to drive to.  For example this place:

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But I couldn’t make the lane change quick enough in this big barge of a boat.

Then I saw this place:

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Too much construction.

You might be wondering if I was discouraged at this point?  I mean, how many coffee shops must one drive by?  The answer to this question is no, definitely not.  I am made of sterner stuff than that.  It must be all that North Dakota blast-your-face-off cold that toughened me up.  I kept driving.

Eventually the children and I found Dunkin’ Donuts.  And they had a nice, big, empty parking lot, and I was glad for two reasons:

  1. While I can parallel park this giant beast of a van, I prefer not to.  Big parking lots are heavenly harbors and balm to my soul.
  2. I remembered a gift card a friend had given me awhile back that was itching to be used, and since 5 of my 7 children are coffee drinkers, this seemed perfect.  And I wanted to treat everyone because we had just finished with Mass and confessions at St. James.  It was time to celebrate.

Dunkin’ Donuts was a success!  Guess what else we had besides lattes and cappuccinos?

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Donuts, of course.

It was glorious, even if we couldn’t fit around one table.

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This is one of my non-coffee drinkers.  The other is the toddler.  I don’t understand how these two can pass it up.  They’re crazy.
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Look at those handsome fellas.
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One, happy family.  The boy on the left, however, should never be allowed to have caffeine.  He’s always running on Turbo the way it is.  I’m likely out of my mind for allowing it.

Lastly, one of you readers requested an outside photo near my house.  I’m most happy to oblige.  Here a shot towards the east, standing in my driveway.  The park is at the end of the road.

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There are hiking trails in those woods yonder.  These hills extend all around the valley, with a small opening, which you can see on the right side of the photo.  If there were to be any kind of breeze, it must come from that opening, which faces the southeast.

Any other questions?  Be sure to ask!

 

 

 

Life is Worth Living

Settling In With No Wind

While it is a difficult thing to move an entire household hundreds of miles, it is also an exciting adventure.  For it does no good to dwell on negative things, like the absence of grandma and grandpa and the lack of a single friend.  No, one had better do constructive things, like find the local coffee shop and clean out the van.

I did just that yesterday, and I found that when I drove out of our valley in search of coffee, the wind was blowing.  I had almost forgotten the sensation.  This lack of a daily wind is an extraordinary thing for us, as we were used to a blasting gale that blew incessantly out on the wild plains of North Dakota.

When I pulled back into the driveway, I left the van outside for the children to clean and vacuum.  The sun was shining with nary a breeze.  The children threw sweatshirts on, even though the thermometer read 39 degrees, and went at it.  I stood on the driveway, cappuccino in hand, and gazed around at the wooded hills.  Amazing.  No wind.

Later, when I went for a run around the neighborhood, I did encounter evidence of the wind on the other side of the “bowl,” however.  Our valley, you see, is shaped like an oblong bowl.  We’re situated on the northwest end, and when I ran around the park, which sits in the very center of the bowl, I noticed a few leaves tumbling across the sidewalk.  When I looked around, indeed, a few tree branches were swaying.  “Well,” thought I, “the wind can enter into this secluded haven after all.”

But surely there must be something terrible about living in a secluded, wooded valley with almost no wind?

And I’ve thought of it.  There are 3 things which must be lamented.

  1. No more sunrises.
  2. No more sunsets.
  3. And I’ll bet the mosquitos are terrible in the summer.

For now, however, I’ll enjoy the calm.  And did you know, we’ve got birds?  Lots of birds!  One can actually hear them in the house even, because there’s no wind.

 

P.S.  There’s no need for hairspray around here either.  I guess can save the environment by getting rid of that.
Life is Worth Living

Moving Update: Hello Minnesota and Wisconsin!

We made it.  We survived (barely) the 600 mile trek across the windswept prairie and have finally arrived in the woods of Wisconsin.

And I never want to move again.

Not that the move didn’t go well, for it did, but hauling around 7 sick children in two piece-of-junk vehicles, packed like sardines, without the comforts of stretching one’s legs or lying in one’s own bed for a week, is not my idea of fun.

This sickness was no ordinary cold either.  Nor was it your run-of-the-mill 24 hour puke fest.  Nope.  This was a 3-week-long raging cough that induced violent vomiting from the little girls. The children affectionately called this illness the “Barfy Cough.”

I never got it, praise be Jesus Christ, but I’m still recovering from not sleeping for a week.

In any case, it’s lovely here in Wisconsin.  I’m convinced that the wind never blows here.  We’re on day four, and I haven’t so much as seen a tree branch flutter.  This is not something you woodsy people can understand.  Coming from the prairie where a 20 mph wind is seen as a “calm” day, this is just unbelievable.

Perhaps I’ll comment more on that later.

A Few Pictures

For those of you who are curious, here a few photos from moving day.  I hope to write more soon, but I’m afraid I’ll need a few more days off, as there are a few items that need my attention…like my backload of laundry and those unopened boxes.

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The children watching the moving truck pull up.  It was exciting to watch all those men unload an entire household in 3 hours!
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This is my dad.  After the workers laid protective flooring and wrapped the front door, he manned it for them–opening and closing it when needed.
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This is my mom and Therese unpacking the kitchen.  Bless their souls!
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Here are the little girls enjoying all those empty boxes.
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The Eldest taking a break with a Little Sister hiding behind her.
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Fun, no?

Lastly, here are some Quick Facts.

Quick Facts About Moving:

  1. It’s terrible.
  2. I’ve learned that all one really needs to unpack are a corkscrew and a crockpot.
  3. In Wisconsin one can buy alcohol right in the grocery store!  Scandalous!  And so lovely!
  4. Our city offers Log Rolling lessons alongside Swimming lessons.  I don’t even know what the former is.
  5. I changed my mind about Number 2.  Really, you just need a coffee pot.  In fact, you should carry one in your purse at all times because you may not be able to A.) find yours, which is likely buried in a box labeled “books” or B.) feel like driving to the gas station at 4 am when your sick children have decided that they’re up for the day.
  6. I have a new respect for Abraham being called out of Ur.  When moving, one should just meditate on that for awhile.  At least I didn’t have to sleep in a tent.
  7. The children enjoyed moving because they got to eat candy on the way.  (I just asked Child Number 5 what her favorite thing about moving was and she said, “Candy.”)