In which there are 7 Quick Takes, the What Happens When Bernadette Has Too Much Time On Her Hands edition


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The Assumption of Mary

Just to be crystal clear, the time period I’m talking about in this post is this past June and part of July, when I was off work to recover from surgery.  Not today.  And all.

— 1 —

There is nothing more frustrating than to have lots of time to do things, a million projects you want to do, and no energy to do them.  This is a short list of some of the projects I fully intended to do while I was recovering from my surgery:

  • paint my bathroom window
  • paint my kitchen cabinets
  • sew a dress to wear to my sister’s wedding
  • blog a lot
  • plant a wildflower garden on the side of my house
  • make two new skirts for work
  • get a good start on my major Christmas project: stockings for all the new family members we’ve acquired over the last few years
  • buy a car

Can we say overambitious?  None of this happened.  Well, technically, I did buy a car while I was out, but since it was the kind of car you buy off a friend for $50 just to help you get around until you get well enough to buy a real car, I think it doesn’t count.

— 2 —


However, one night when I was really bored I taught myself needle tatting.  Just because.

— 3 —

wpid-img_20140619_183916.jpgI also started experimenting with different hair styles.  This is something I almost never do.  I don’t have time in the mornings to play around with things, so I fall back on the same three or four styles I know I can reliably do in five minutes or less.  However, I think this one is going to get added to the rotation.  It’s like a crown braid, except it’s twisted up instead of braiding.  It turned out so ridiculously Gibson Girl that I had to take a picture.  I was trying to find the pin that I got the idea from, but maybe I didn’t pin it?

— 4 —

I spent an insane amount of time on Pinterest.  Turns out that when you’re too tired to actually do anything, but not tired enough to sleep, Pinterest fills the void.  A couple of people commented on my sudden flood of pins, so I do apologize if I suddenly took over your Pinterest feed.  But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

— 5 —


I got to spend a lot of time with my nieces, especially the Little Philosopher.  It seemed like 007 and The Duchess popped in most days, in between working on their new house or doing other errands around town.  It was so much fun getting to know my niece a little better.  I’ve gotten her even more hooked on Pinterest, which has proven unexpectedly handy in finding out what she really likes.  I would never have known that really big buttons were so mind-blowingly awesome to the the under three set.  But here is proof – Sweet Pea and Bug enthusiastically playing with the big buttons I got for them (you can just barely glimpse a few of them clutched in Sweet Pea’s fist) on the floor of the chapel during AnniPott’s wedding rehearsal.

— 6 —


Speaking of which, my sister got married, and I took about three pictures, all of various family members processing into church.  This is flower girl Sweet Pea, AnniPotts god-daughter, being escorted in by her mother Sae.  None of my pictures, alas, were of the bride.  I know.  My only excuse is that it was a really long day for me, with way more standing than I had done since before my surgery, extremely bumpy roads to get to the reception, which led to staying in one place as much as possible at the reception, and carefully counting the hours until I could safely take another pain pill.  Indy has a few up on her blog, though, so if you want to see more, check her out

— 7 —

So it turns out that pain killers lower my impulse control.  Also, online shopping on my phone is way too easy.  Especially when my favorite fabric website is having a super sale.  Which is how I ended up being the proud owner of three yards of incredibly luscious black 100% silk satin.  You know, the incredibly rich, drapey stuff that just kinda oozes and shines in old paintings.  It is one of the softest things I have ever touched.  I’m still a little in awe at the sale price I got.  I could make the most amazing dress out of it.  But where would I ever wear it?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

In which there is the Catch Up post.


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St. Claire

Right.  So last time I blogged about my health, I was about a week and a half post-surgery.  The surgery itself had gone quite well, but I was encountering a little bump in the road of my recovery.  My incision had reopened, and there was some infection, but we were treating it, and meanwhile my friend was visiting me, and wasn’t that nice?

Ha – good times!

Actually, it wasn’t really a little bump in the road.  It was a pretty big one that took a lot to get over.  By the time we were done, my incision had opened in three places, each of which required flushing with hydrogen peroxide three times a day for over a month plus a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection.  And I gotta tell ya, there’s nothing like injecting peroxide into an open wound in your abdomen three times a day to separate the girls from the women (which doesn’t have the same ring as separating the boys from the men – I blame the patriarchy).  It was, shall we say, exciting.  And knocked me on my butt, pretty literally, for quite a while.  Right about when I was starting to crawl back onto my feet, we had a Family Wedding (more about that later), followed by Family Vacation.  Then suddenly it was July, I was back in Dayton again, and my boss was pushing me for a Return To Work date.

And that’s how I spent my Summer Vacation.

My doctor kept me off work a little longer than I had planned (those openings took their sweet time closing), but halfway through July I finally made it back.  Returning to work kicked my butt.  I had just started to get a little energy back the week before, and getting through the work day those first few weeks took everything I had and then some.  The first few days I hit the wall about 2pm, and powered through on the strength of much caffeine.  The third day I didn’t hit the wall, and was feeling pretty stoked about myself.  Then when I was driving home, I sat at a stop sign for about 3-4 minutes, waiting for the light to turn green.  (Me: “Wow, this is a really long light… whoops.”)  Thankfully no one else was at the intersection with me, so I was able to just drive on through, and continue on home, driving extra carefully the rest of the way.

Little by little, I’m getting my strength back.  I get frustrated at my own feebleness, but I remind myself how much better I am than I was a month ago, two months ago, three months ago, and I’m grateful for my progress.  Every so often I forget that I have to take care, and I lift or carry something too heavy for me.  Then I have to take it easy and take the really big Ibuprofens again for a while.  Work is starting to be not quite so utterly exhausting.  Sometimes I even have a little energy left over at the end of the day (totally amazing).  Weekends have been mostly devoted to serious Chair Time, recovering from the week.  However, this weekend for the first time, I only had to spend Saturday recovering.  On Sunday I woke up and miraculously had energy.  So I spent the morning making refrigerator pickles out of the fresh produce I’ve been picking up at the farmers’ market until I ran out of vinegar!

So, you know, I’m getting better.  Life is starting to pick up again.  The next few weekends are filling up, and I think I might even have the energy to do all the things that are planned.  I have plans to join my parish choir when their rehearsals start up again after Labor Day.  There’s lots of crafting to do, and lots I’ve done that I haven’t shown you.  And maybe at some point I might even get my bathroom window painted.

Life is good.

Today I am praying for Na’omi Bitrus.

In which I have not forgotten you.

Pope St. Innocent I

This is just a quick note to let you guys know that I am ok, actually pretty good, and I have not forgotten you or the blog or anything. I have endless good intentions of posting. I have started so many posts, but I never seem to get beyond the first paragraph. While I’m at work I don’t have a brain cell to spare, and by the time I get home I’m too tired.

But it’s a good tired. I love being worn out and sore because I did things, not just because I’m sick. There’s something so intensely frustrating about being exhausted to the point of tears, and knowing that it’s not because you did anything at all that day, it’s just because your body is broken. My life isn’t like that anymore, and I am so grateful, more than I can possibly put into words.

However, climbing my way back into health is hard work. Right now getting back into the routine of waking up much too early every morning, getting to work on time, and successfully navigating eight hours of being Mom to a hospital is about all I can do.

I’m getting stronger all the time. Hopefully before too long I’ll be able to have a bit of a social life too. I have ambitions regarding my parish choir, not to mention maybe having enough energy left when I get home to take a walk or two, or even tackle a few home improvement projects. Sometime in there, I swear I will pick up blogging again. Hopefully that will come sooner rather than later. Until then, I will have to beg your indulgence and your patience. And if I know my readers, I know that you will give it.

Today I am praying for Talata Daniel.

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:



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.


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.


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:



— 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!


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