In which there is Wedding Madness, and pretty, pretty things.

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Bl. William Exmew

The date of AnniPott’s wedding is fast approaching.  Now that AnniPotts is done with school for the summer, she has switched to wedding planning full time.  She and Indy have been spending lots of time sitting together at the dining room table pouring over check lists, and angsting over the guest list.  (AnniPotts when she gets a No RSVP: “But why?!  Don’t they want to come?”)  There are lists for everything, from what they’ll do on their bachelorette spa day, to exactly how many sheets of foam core they need to make signs, to how many bottles for the centerpieces have already had their labels washed off, and how many still need washing.

Parts of the house are beginning to resemble science fair projects in progress: a bottle arrangement hung on a Command strip hook on the kitchen wall testing whether the hook really will hold the necessary weight long enough, arrangements of moss and ferns in different combinations of tea lights, votive holders, and cylinder vases aimed at finding the optimal level of woodsy cute while preventing the heat of the tea lights from crisping the ferns.  There are piles of wrapping paper runners on the dining room table, and a large garment bag holding a wedding dress hanging in the hall.  AnniPotts is both stressed beyond belief and deliriously happy.  These two states alternate at varying frequencies.  Occasionally they get the schedule wrong, and she is both at once.  This is somewhat challenging for her, but we have confidence that once the wedding day is actually here, the deliriously happy will take over.  That’s the goal anyway.

An aside: While we’re on the topic, one of the things that is stressing AnniPotts out is that she doesn’t have enough strings of white Christmas lights to light the hall like she would wish.  She was hoping to have enough that she doesn’t have to turn on the ugly industrial fluorescent lights.  However, we don’t seem to have as many on hand as we thought, and she can’t afford to go buy more right now.  So if you live in or near the Dayton area, and would be willing to lend us some white Christmas lights, particularly if you would be able/willing to help get them to us sometime before June 25, please comment or send me a message to let me know!

My own part in all this Wedding Stuff has been small.  Besides thinking about the wedding present I’m making, my own health concerns have kept me quite occupied.  Even now, I am content to let AnniPotts and Indy fret over things while I sit over on the couch, happily embroidering pretty things for AnniPotts to enjoy.  Speaking of which, I need to show you this:

Monogram

Monogram

The present that I am making is a pretty, Victorian/steampunk inspired (AnniPotts is a huge fan of Girl Genius) sleep set.  The top is pintucked within an inch of its life, with embroidery and eyelet insertion.  The shorts are a little simpler.  The main ornament is the monogram at the hip, which combines the initials of AnniPotts’ maiden and married names.

wpid-img_20140615_171332.jpg

It’s another whitework sampler, like the garment tag I made a little while ago.  I’m particularly proud of the progression between the interlaced band stich on the downstroke of the A merging into Pekinese stitch on the cross stroke, that turns into a cabled chain stitch as it curves around, and then morphs into button hole stitch scallops on large chain stitches as it goes down again. Oh, and the bullion roses.  Those just make me so happy!

wpid-img_20140615_171849.jpgIt’s just so pretty!  It amazes me that you can take something so simple as a needle, thread, and a piece of cloth, and something like this is the result.  I also think that this is evidence of the impact of Pinterest on my life.  Pretty much everything I did here, from the individual stitches, to the inspiration that made me want to do it in the first place, I found on Pinterest.

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That includes this little edging that I put around the hem of the legs, and the illustration from a vintage sewing book that reminded me how to work button holes.  Those are where the ribbon ties are going to go, by the way.  Now the piece just needs a nice wash and press before I put the ribbons in, and it’s really done.

Now I have another pretty, pretty thing that I’m working on.  I’m hoping that it will be a quick project (famous last words), and I’ll have pictures to show you soon.  And sooner or later, I promise you’ll get to see the invitations, which are truly glorious.  Indy offered to photograph them for me (she’s a way better photographer than I am) and specially blur the personal information so that we could protect AnniPotts and Cuthbert’s privacy while also showing the world how beautiful they are.  However, between wedding prep, taking care of me, and trying to keep up with her daily necessities (like, oh, going to work and stuff), she hasn’t had a moment to do it.  So it might be a little while.  But, honey, these invitations are worth the wait!

Today I am praying for Hauwa Tella.

 

In which there are 7 Quick Takes: Books and Those Who Love Them

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St. Anthony

It has been so lovely having The Young Queen with me the last few days.  It seems that she has a knack for showing up just when I deeply need her, rather like the young Catholic version of Mary Poppins.  One of the founding principles of our friendship has always been our shared joy in reading, and respect for great literature.  So in honor of this love of books, and because I am tired of talking about my health, here’s a few bookish things:

reader

 

— 1 —

Back when The Young Queen and I met, we were both part of a traveling youth ministry team.  There were ten of us on the team, all packed into a large van pulling a trailer, which held all of our earthly possessions, plus retreat supplies.  Each of us was allowed to have one suitcase which had to weigh less than  50 lbs., one backpack, one pillow, and a sleeping bag.  This was before kindles, before smartphones, before laptops, before e-readers of any kind, so the only way to have a book on hand to read was to bring it with you.

In that situation, every ounce counts, and books are heavy.  You already had to bring with you two books provided by the ministry organization, plus whatever binders were necessary for your team jobs (I had one for my role as drama leader, and one for my job as team finance person), plus your Bible and whatever other devotional books you needed.  That didn’t leave a lot of room for anything else.  In the end, there were exactly two books I took with me all across the country, literally top to bottom and side to side.  They were:

    • Love and Responsibility by Karol Wotyla: this is the book on sexual ethics that JP II wrote back before he was JP II.  It tackles the thorny problem of how to love another person, especially romantically, without using them in any way.  I remember laying on the floor of a tiny house on the side of the bayou in Louisiana, reading the section analyzing the different components of love and attraction, having my mind completely blown by how he laid the elements of one of the most mysterious things on earth all out like diagramming a sentence.  It was the most amazing thing.  Even ten years later, it still takes my breath away.
    • Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold: this is actually two books in one.  It’s the first two books of her Vorkosigan saga, all of which are dear favorites.  These two concern the meeting, courtship, and early married life of Cordelia and Aral, the parents of Miles Vorkosigan, the hero of the rest of the series.  It’s the story of two people from radically different backgrounds, both lugging with them significant amounts of baggage, who love each other in part because of the way each of them has held on to their bedrock principles through everything.  It’s one of the books I can read over and over again.

— 2 —

Speaking of reading books over and over again, do you know that there are people who only ever read a book once?  I know!  It’s so weird.  I mean, I know there are some books so inane that reading them even once is a waste of time and brain cells, but I figure if a book is worth reading once, it’s probably worth reading again.  The books I really love I read many, many times, until they start falling apart.  And then sometimes I buy another copy.  For example, there’s Les Miserables, which I first read in an abridged form in fifth grade. (I was really bored, and my seat in the classroom was back by the bookcase.)  I bought the musical tie-in paperback edition in high school, read it until it started to fall apart, and then bought another copy.  Now I have it on my kindle too.

— 3 —

Speaking of kindles, this week I was talking to The Young Queen about reading books on e-readers vs. real printed-on-paper books.  It made me remember when I first got my kindle, and realized that I could carry hundreds of books around with me everywhere I went.  Never again would I be stranded in a waiting room or anywhere without something to read.  I could go on a road trip without having to make hard decisions about what books to take with me and what I would have to leave behind.  It was amazing.

However, I’ve come to realize that one of the problems of having a kindle is that now most of my books are digital, and it’s hard to share them with people.  One of the lovely things about being part of a literary family is that we would pass books around.  One of the features of our Family Vacation was always the books various people would bring and leave in the living room for anyone to read.  The way I first read Cordelia’s Honor was by borrowing it from Mariah.  While it is true that you can loan some kindle books, it’s not the same as being able to hand someone a book, and say, “Read this.”  I miss being able to do that.

— 4 —

Another benefit of having real, printed books: Science has analyzed what makes books smell good.

— 5 —

One of the best ways I know to unwind and relax before sleep is to read.  However, I am not one of those people who can fall asleep reading.  Reading, particularly if the book is good, keeps me awake until I am so exhausted the book drops out of my nerveless hands.  (The one exception to this was the textbook for my college History 101 course.  That semester, “I’m going to do my History reading” became a handy synonym for taking a nice nap.) So the key is to find a book that is just interesting enough to make me want to read it, but not so all-absorbing that I can’t put it aside and turn out the light when I am relaxed enough for sleep.  I find non-fiction, particularly history and biographies works pretty well for this.  I think my favorite adult bedtime book is The Icon and The Axe: An Interpretative History of Russian Culture.

— 6 —

Truly beautiful, via The Toast: Every English Novel Ever.

— 7 —

The Virgin Mary Reading from The Ghent Altarpiece

I know the artist probably thought the book Mary is reading was a prayer book, probably a lovely, illuminated Book of Hours (and given that this was painted between 1426 and 1432, it’s a little amazing that she’s portrayed as reading at all).  However, I like to imagine that it’s a gripping adventure novel, with midnight duels, mad dashes across the midnight countryside to rescue someone in danger, mistaken identities, and the bad guys getting what they deserve in the end.  Maybe something like The Prisoner of Zenda, or The Count of Monte Cristo.  I bet she’d like that.

Today I am praying for Laraba John.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

In which there is a bump in the road.

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St. Basilides & Companions

The Young Queen and I are sitting in the same room together (something that doesn’t happen very often), and resolutely not talking to each other.  Both of us have work we need to do – she has various job-related emails, I have a blog post to write – but if we start talking neither of us will get a thing done.  I was thinking about what it says about our friendship that we can be in the same room and silent with one another.  Though perhaps just saying that she is here, specifically to help me as I recover from my surgery, is enough.  Regardless, I am very glad that she has come!

My smooth recovery from surgery has become a bit bumpy.  I haven’t been recouping my strength or energy the way I would like.  Last weekend the reason for this slowness became plain when my incision reopened in two places, showing the infection that had been beneath.  The openings are not large, so the doctor prescribed a regimen of frequent dousing with hydrogen peroxide followed by clean dressings.  I dutifully doused, and by the time I saw him on Monday, the infection was mostly gone.  However, one of the openings is still there, and will require careful tending until it closes.  So I am continuing with the peroxide treatment, and we’ll see how things are in a week.

Meanwhile, The Young Queen has been awesome, helping relieve Mom and Indy a bit, and being rather strict about not allowing me to overtax myself.  This is a good thing – I tend to just keep going until I’m utterly exhausted and near collapse.  So a friend who doesn’t hesitate to turn off the movie and send me off to bed is a rare and wonderful friend indeed.  She’s also been doing lovely things like tending my rose garden, something I’ve only had time to occasionally think about with regret.  She tells me that both my white and pink roses are blooming, which makes me very happy.  I’m hoping that by the end of this week I might be well enough to walk over and see for myself.

Everyone is very busy around here these days.  The preparations for AnniePott’s wedding are starting to enter the final phase.  Indy has another craft night scheduled for Wednesday, where hopefully we’ll be able to produce the miles of garlands needed to decorate the reception site.  The Duchess and 007 are working hard on getting their new house habitable.  They’re getting closer – the electricity is on now, and hopefully any time they’ll have the plumbing to the point where they can get the water turned on.  Right now the plan is to start actually living there in early July.  They’ve had a long, hard struggle to get into a place of their own, and I know they’re looking forward to it very much!

My busyness is mostly working on the Super Secret Wedding Project, and doing my best to get better.  It is a little frustrating to have so much technically free time on my hands, and so little energy to do anything with it!  Hopefully that will fix itself soon .  I can’t wait until it does!

Today I am praying for Rebecca Kabu.

In which there are 7 Quick Takes, the Why, yes, I’m on painkillers! edition

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St. Phillip the Deacon

— 1 —

Every day at precisely noon, my phone begins to vibrate, play Comfort Ye My People from the Messiah, and display across the screen, in large, friendly letters, “Sext.”  If I could remember what model of phone I have long enough to google how to take a screen shot, I would totally show you.  Anyway, this is not my noon reminder to send smutty messages to… someone.  It is my regular reminder that it is time for the Midday Prayer part of the Liturgy of the Hours. If I am at work, it also means I can go shut the door and not have to talk to anyone for an hour.

The reason why Midday Prayer is called Sext is because back in the day when they were naming things, the noon prayers were at the Sixth Hour, and Sext is Latin for Sixth.  I’m the obstinate type who figures that just because some upstarts invented another word that happens to sound and be spelled just like the word we’ve been using for a couple of millenia, but happens to mean something very different, is no reason why I should change the words I use.  Plus, it amuses me greatly.  I have no idea what my coworkers who happen to be near me at noon think, but that makes me giggle too.  So I’m keeping it.

— 2 —

My alarm that lets me know that it’s time to take my painkillers is also from the Messiah: Behold, I Tell You A Mystery.  The text is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”  Because if that doesn’t describe what painkillers do, I don’t know what does.  I’m thinking about changing it to Balm In Gilead, except an alarm needs to be loud, startling, or annoying enough to make you take action, and I think that’s maybe too soothing.  We’ll see.

— 3 —

Part of the problem of being off work is that I have the illusion of endless time to spare, and since I’m on painkillers, no sense of my own limitations.  For example, Sae has been trying to find a dress for Sweet Pea to wear for her flower girl gig at AnniePott’s upcoming wedding.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy dress, but it does have to conform to Indy’s carefully curated palette of greens.  Last Saturday Sae brought her latest attempt to Indy for approval, but alas, it was more turquoise than emerald, and did not pass muster.

Sae was sounding a bit discouraged, and suddenly I found myself volunteering that if Sae would buy a couple of yards of eyelet cloth, I’d be happy to dye it the right shade with Rit Dye, and then sew the dress myself.  This seemed like an entirely reasonable proposition to me.  After all, kids that size are basically cylinders, so a pretty party dress would be basically four rectangles sewn together, and two of those would be straps.  Plus I could put a little pocket on the front, and it would be ridiculously cute.  I thought a lot about that pocket.

Then I thought that it would also be a really great idea to get a couple more yards of cloth and sew a matching dress out of it for The Little Philosopher too.  This also seemed entirely reasonable.  I even talked about it with The Duchess.  I decided that the pockets should be little gathered pockets like this, all edged with tiny white lace.  I never once thought about the five other projects I also need to get done before the wedding, which is in three weeks.

However, God loves me.  Sae found a dress that will probably work, and it looks like that particular domino chain of crazy is not going to tumble down after all.

— 4 —

Laugh until your belly hurts…

After abdominal surgery, this is not funny.

— 5 —

Poe Dancing

This, however, is hilarious.

— 6 —

Yesterday my niece the Little Philosopher came over to be babysat by people who are not me.  She is beginning to get in touch with her inner chatterbox, and we had a very good time with each other.  I was getting more and more tired, so after a while I was mostly lying on the couch while she climbed over me like a jungle gym (miraculously not kneeing me in my incision, though it came close a couple times!).  She eventually perched herself on the arm of the couch, right behind my shoulder, and I introduced her to Pinterest.  These were her two favorite Pins:

DIY Nessie

 

I think I know what she’s getting for Christmas…

— 7 —

This morning Mai posted a link to and article: 18 Photos To Prove That Growing Old Is Inevitable, But Growing Up Is Optional.  And, yes, I know, that title is cumbersome, but the article is awesome.  Also, I would humbly submit that’s it’s not so much an article as a To Do List.  For example, I really think this needs to happen:

 

 

 

 

Maybe if I talked it up to my brothers & brothers-in-law, they might do the heavy lifting for me.  But first I’ve got to find just the right tree…

Today I am praying for Safiya Abdu.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

In which I send reassurance out into the aether.

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St. Justin Martyr

I have been spending a fair chunk of my evening sending various bits of reassurance out into the internets – emailing coworkers, etc. to let them know that I am ok.  This is the first time I’ve had a little energy to spare for such endeavors, which is a good measure of what the last week or so has been like.  While I am about it, I thought I would let you dear readers also know that I am still alive and kicking, and as far as we can tell, quite robustly on the mend!

My surgery was Wednesday, and the days leading up to it were pretty dire.  I started bleeding again two weekends ago, and no matter how many iron supplements I took, by last weekend I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time without getting all wobbly and woozy.  I continued to work the whole last week, partly because I needed to train my replacement, partly because I didn’t think I could afford to miss the work hours, and partly from sheer stubbornness.  Yeah, it’s a curse.

This led to a situation where my family did not quite realize how bad off I was until I showed up to the Memorial Day cookout, and couldn’t walk into the kitchen to get my own food.  However, once my family understood how things were, they pitched in amazingly.  Mom and Indy undertook to make sure I had meals, Mariah and The Duchess came over to help me clean, and even Dad helped me do laundry.  By Tuesday night, the house was looking in pretty good order.  On Wednesday morning, Indy came over to help me pack up my essentials, and Mom and Dad escorted me to the hospital for my procedure.

The surgery itself went well.  My doctor was able to remove both the original fibroid we’ve been dealing with, and another smaller fibroid that had been hiding behind the first one.  He said that everything looked good, and he thinks it should heal quite nicely and be nearly good as new.  They kept me overnight after the surgery, as we had expected.  However, when they tested my hemoglobin levels the next morning, they were alarmingly low (6.5 – even lower than when all this started last October).  So I spent most of Thursday getting a blood transfusion in one arm with a morphine pump hooked up to the other.

On the bright side, the blood transfusion made me feel better than I had for days.  Thursday afternoon I was able to go to the bathroom under my own steam (it’s the little things), and Thursday night they let me have a real dinner.  After a quiet night, they agreed that I could be released into the care of my family, and Friday afternoon Dad came to take me home.

So here I am, safely in the bosom of my family.  They are taking excellent care of me.  Mom and Indy have been keeping my water cup full, and making delicacies to tempt my appetite.  On Friday night when my temperature spiked, Dad had a chance to literally “wipe my fevered brow.”  Dad is also the one who made sure to bring the Eucharist home to me from Mass this weekend.

Myself, I have mostly been doing my best impression of a limp noodle.  Yesterday my big accomplishment was getting myself cleaned up and into clean clothes.  Today I did that, plus visiting with Mai and her sweet baby, and now sending out emails.  Even though Indy set up a lovely nest for me upstairs (complete with flowers at the head of the bed, a fluffy rug on the floor beside it, and supports over the bed so I can pull myself up without using my injured abdominal muscles), I’m still on the couch downstairs, right about where I plopped down as soon as I walked in the door Friday.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll make the move.

So little by little I’m getting better.  I have grand plans of more blogging to come.  I have the most ridiculously glorious wedding invitations to show you (Indy has outdone herself), and a few little projects I’ve been working on, plus maybe now I can seize the opportunity to write about something besides my health (the idea!).  Things are looking up!

Today I am praying for Rebecca Mallum.

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