Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autumn 2013

Fall is my favorite time of the year and since I am finally finished with school and hope to be able to post here more regularly, I thought I would start with fall.

I spent quite a bit of time looking for ideas on Pinterest and then I selected two ideas that I wanted to make in my own way.  You can see the rest of the things I "liked" here.

Christina and Danny spent the day with us and here are some photos of our work.  I did not want simply Halloween but wanted a steampunk autumn!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trying to Garden

We would like to grow a garden.  Finding the supplies to do it has proven to take much, much more effort than we thought possible.

We employ a gardener.  Sadly, his father passed away a week ago.  Beginning about one month ago he has not been here off and on, and not at all the past two weeks.  Yet again today he has to attend to legal affairs concerning his father's property.

Back to the garden dilemma.  First we wanted to compost, and after finding a nice size plastic bucket with lid I began to gather kitchen scraps.  Imagine my horror, late last week to open the bucket to find it crawling with maggots.  There must have been eggs, and the heat inside the bucket, plus abundant food made the population explode.  Mary and I walked it back to the furthest part of the property, and I tossed it out, and washed the bucket out.

Begin again.  Saturday night we went to the vigil Mass and met two long time ex-pat families.  They were asking if we had any problems with snakes.  "Uh, no, is it a problem?"

Well, apparently, yes.  They seek out debris piles (so much for my idea to build a compost heap in the back 40!)  So, again, we are at a dilemma.

Our gardener told us we needed manure, which we knew.  The soil is not very rich in humus.  So we drove to where he said we could get it, but they didn't have any.  Turns out to be fresh chicken manure.  Not exactly what I had envisioned.

I would love to do some container gardening, but again, we have to find a way to build the soil.  Hopefully our two new acquaintances, who have lived here in Chingola for over 40 years will visit so I can quiz them.  I have a list of various questions, and know that they should have more answers than we've found so far.

Tom and I want to build a raised bed, so now we have to locate concrete block.  With termites, and ants, using wood borders is just inviting more problems.

In our innocence we had our gardener plant some seeds ... in three cardboard egg flats.  The idea was to get them started, then transplant.  With him being gone, success is not so high.  Hopefully in a year this will all be figured out and we will once again be able to enjoy lettuce.  You can't imagine how much we miss having fresh greens!

On Sunday we spied this growing where the termites had been exterminated.  The hypothesis is that it is a result of their infestation, and the more recent rains has caused them to bloom.

When our gardener stopped by yesterday afternoon to let me know he would not be here today, I showed it to him.  Typical, I asked him what it was, he looked intently at it, pulled some out and announced that they were mushrooms.  (I knew that!)  Then I asked what we needed to do.  He said he would just turn all the soil in.  NOT.  We will have him remove all the soils and plants to the back 40.  Then get new soil for the planters.  Perhaps I can get some real vegetables growing here, instead.  

Part of the problem is that in our not knowing, the gardener has pretty much decided what is planted where.  His idea of esthetics is vastly different than ours.  Now it is time for me to step up to the plate and actually begin to manage the grounds.

This tree towers on the edge of our yard.  The tree, as you can see in the photo looking over the roof is quite tall.  Apparently it isn't monkey food, as I watched them troop past and not take any nibbles.  

Spirit of Poverty

Though I am not as consistent as I would enjoy, I again began to read the first mediation and colloquy from "Divine Intimacy."

This week offers a lot of time for thought since it addresses Poverty.  The book is primarily intended for Carmelites, professed religious, and I have to remind myself of this.  However, the thrust of the virtue of spiritual poverty is still within my reach.

The difficulty comes from rationalizing why we own things, and save money.  We have so many opportunities, living in rural Africa, to be generous with donations.  Plenty of beggars ready to take care of loose change.  However, it again is a struggle with balancing a spirit of poverty with prudence.

Is it wise (prudent) to give to beggars?  Probably not.  There are much better avenues to help support the truly needy, avenues that need to address more than just a material poverty.

Anyway, I just want to point out that a spirit of poverty, lived as a wife, and mother is attainable.  Balancing it with what our family needs to live safely, and with health can offer a lot of thoughts to chew on.  Finding those opportunities to exercise it are numerous.

Friday, November 9, 2012

African Adventure

Dear Sisters,

We have moved into the house we will be living in while here in Africa.  It is massive, in more ways than one.  Once again, as when we lived in Peru, we need a housekeeper.  English is the official language, so for the most part communication is good.  Now, add in my lack of a distinctly British accent, and the fact that English is not the first language, things can become again pantomimes.  I am confident everything will work.  May God's will be done.

For anyone wanting to read a more intimate (not too intimate, though) journal of our family's adventures here, please visit my blog:

The rainy season has not appeared yet, but each morning the clouds grow billowy and a breeze shakes the trees.  It is springtime here and the lawn has yet to recover from the dry season.

Setting up house has been like playing house.  I hope you all understand that I am a very competent, and confident home maker.  But, we purchases a set of cookware and an ironing board that remind me of the items we had for our children to play with when they were young.

I wanted to let you all know we did make it safely here, even with a few surprises, and that setting up the house is my main effort.

We'll pray for all of you, please pray for us, too!

Your Sister in the Trinity,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sometimes It's the Little Things

For instance, for years I've been trying to fold and arrange my husband's collection of tee shirts to fit in the top drawer of our dresser.  Yesterday, I had the revelation that the drawer I use just below it was taller, hence roomier.  And further revelation that I don't keep very much in that drawer.  So I swapped them out.  Now to see when Tom realizes the switch (he's away on yet another summer business trip.)

I've been letting my summer vacation get the best of me, and since I felt a boost was in order I resubscribed to FlyLady.  For any who are familiar with our quest, it all began with both of us having our homes transformed through the directions FlyLady sent us.. oh! so long ago.

She reminded me why it was important to get up early.  Why it was important to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Why to put my lace-up shoes on each morning.  Why I need my routines!  By "taking a vacation" from those little routines our house was being neglected.  Not only that, but many of the things I enjoy doing (even those I don't enjoy but need to do) were being neglected as well.

So, once again, I'm following FlyLady's advice, taking little steps, and rediscovering the freedom that really does come from being diligent in the little things each and every day.

BTW, FlyLady had come a long way after all this time.  I'm glad to see that she is still around to help people like us who are more creative at making excuses than just doing the work.

Check her out if you need a boost.

One more little thing ... our book.  It needs to get back on track, and hopefully you all will help us get it marketed once it goes to "print."  Any suggestions about the best venue (self-publishing, Kindle, print/mail out) would be well received.

My your own "little ways" keep you and your family moving toward sanctity!

Your Sister in the Trinity,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spam ... and not the canned kind

Hi all!

Happy Lent!  We just returned from celebrating Confession (awesome priest for me) and a holy hour for vocations at our parish.

The headline is to share with any of you who might still be reading this list a way to get rid of spam from your email.  One of my adult daughters recommended it to me, and it has worked.

Simple enough.  Just change your password.  Apparently accounts can get hacked by spammers.  I switched mine for my gmail account and there are no more embarrassing ads in my spam box.

Hope you find this helpful.

Oh, and this Lent has been my own rediscovering TLW ... and the delight that comes from a home that hums along because of persisting to do the next little step along the way.

May the anticipation of Easter help you persist in your Lenten practices!

Your Sister in the Trinity,

Further notes (a week later) is that almost everything has halted.  I used that particular email address when we lived in Peru, and I still receive Spanish language spam.  They are definitely less jarring than what I was receiving!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Changing habits

I was reflecting a little today on habits; specifically, bad habits; particularly, my bad habits, and it occurred to me that habits are precisely what Yvonne and I set out to help people build when we began The Little Way. We looked at it as developing routines or offerings that would help us accomplish the tasks of a wife and mother on a journey to sanctity. I think we had a good concept, but looking back, I have to wonder if we didn’t miss a foundational piece. In order to build good habits, the chances are very good that we need to change bad habits. It’s all well and good to say I’m going to do these five tasks every morning, but if I get sidetracked with five other things that I usually do every morning then I have made no progress.

I struggled with this very issue in my over 10 year quest to get healthy and lose weight. I knew how to eat right and I could do that sometimes, but other times, I would just get distracted with unhealthy choices that were in front of me or the convenience of fast food. I knew I needed to develop good habits, but I kept trying to do so as if the bad habits were the foundation and the good habits were something to be added on top of the foundation. It wasn’t until late last spring that I realized, the first thing I needed to do was get rid of the bad habits. My foundation was shaky at best and I really needed to go back and lay a solid foundation so I could begin building upward with good habits.

For me, with my diet, it took some pretty extreme measures to get a better foundation and to make some progress and I won’t get into those here because I’ve written about them ad nausea on my other blog; however, there are some principles that are worth mentioning. First, it took identifying a problem. Second, it took taking responsibility for my problem. Third, it meant I needed to stop making excuses. Fourth, I needed to confess it as the sin that it was. Fifth, I needed to accept God’s love and forgiveness. Some place in all of those steps, I needed to formulate a plan to break the old habits and replace them with new habits. Finally, I need to realize that because this was a sin that I struggled with most of my life, I need to be vigilant against it for the rest of my life. Perhaps it’s like a Twelve Step program, but I basically saw six or seven steps.

Coming back to my reflection today, my bad habits… what are the other bad habits in my life? I’m not going to do this as a personal assessment of all the things I do wrong. I’m sure I have family and friends that would be happy to tell me all of those things. But, as lent draws near, perhaps it is a good time to look at the bad habits in our lives that keep us from making good habits.

A friend of mine challenged me to read a particular reflection book during lent and I’m going to take that challenge, but in order for me to make a serious commitment to do so, I need to give up doing some other things that suck up my time and keep me from doing those things that I know will draw me closer to God.

What are your bad habits? What do you need to do to change them? Pick one or two for lent and really focus on replacing them with good habits. Remember, nothing will change until you do.

Sisters in the Trinity,