Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Summer Memories

What a summer! What a life of leisure! I've been reading, singing and playing so much, I've not taken the time to do much else, even write. But here I am on my poor, neglected blog. 

Dagny has moved farther away from her work and church and us but she's enjoying living closer to the beach with her new friends. I just love that her new home has a little stairway just for fun--just like in the song, If I Were a Rich Man in Fiddler on the Roof! I believe it must be a school project; both new housemates study here: Trades — American College of the Building Arts (acba.edu). My heart is at peace knowing she's in a good place with young women who share not only many interests, but also faith in Christ. It's been lovely to watch her grow in love and friendships and virtues.

I'm learning all kinds of new things at the library. We meet for "crafternoons" once a month and it's so fun. I get to be a kid again. I'd collected lots of pretty shells on the beach and learned to decoupage them; next, some painting! We're also learning to play the recorder in a group and purchased a tenor recorder for Michael--its tone is lovely, same range as the human voice. Luckily the fingering is the same as with the soprano, only it's twice as big, so he's getting used to having the fingers separated more--it helps to have big hands :) We continue to sing at both Stella Maris and Sacred Heart--it is our joy! I also got an invitation (from one of the ladies in the recorder group) to come listen to her women's acapella group, Charleston Sound Chorus, and since our church choir was on a summer hiatus, I thought it'd be fun. Barbershop has a unique sound. Melody (how aptly named) gave me a folder of music to sing along and I struggled my way through. But such fun! Challenging! I prayed to God that if it were His will for me to sing with CSC, He'd have to make it happen. And He did! All the details. I promised to do my part, which was to practice faithfully. Singing in three choirs is making me grow in musicianship. What's funny is that sometimes I wish I had my recorder at barbershop so that I could play the parts that I'm having trouble singing. But isn't it incredible that we're born with a musical instrument! 

Now that I'm mostly caught up with all the talented ladies in barbershop, I want to see whether I can write more productively (as in publishable material). I'm still only scribbling ideas (they just keep on coming) but I put away my historical novel...so pray that I can do it all. I want everything, yes, it's true. Sometimes I talk to St. Therese, the Little Flower, about it because she, too, wanted everything! But she also gave everything, her very self, completely to God. Do I? I try. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Max and his friends from American Moment came for a visit in Sept. and it was such a joy to spend some time with them celebrating birthdays, solving puzzles, discussing politics and religion, making music, and of course, eating good food and drink! It reminds me of the poem by Hilaire Belloc: 

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

We all enjoyed some homebrew. Michael got some art from Tridentine Brewing Co. and it fits so perfectly with why we do what we do--for the greater glory of God. My motto is that of the Knights Templar: non nobis Domine (and we sing it often). Michael planted a fall garden and it's doing well (the bunnies haven't been able to get at it). 

Hard to believe that we're already in the last days (of the liturgical year, but also considering the chaos and evil in this world). All we can do is pray. So I leave you with a picture of the Source of my peace and joy along with some Lowcountry beauty captured by Dagny and Max. Pax Christi.   

Monday, August 21, 2023

Young Love

Our minds have been on our marriage, so I was delighted to discover this young man's intentions towards our daughter. Michael, being a typical dad, is still wondering how these kids got to this stage so quickly (they've been dating a year). It was a whirlwind weekend for Ian. He was finishing up an internship in Ohio. Dagny flew to see him and drive back with him. Here they are at Cumberland Falls in KY. We met with Ian privately on Sat. and he proposed to Dagny that evening. It will necessarily be a longish engagement because Ian is still in school (leaving today), but I've not met a more mature young man, who knows whom he wants to spend the rest of his life with and isn't afraid to make a commitment. Dagny, too. They don't have to "play the field" or get their hearts broken. It is so lovely to imagine our children entering into marriage with time to grow in virtue as they prepare themselves for this most beautiful of Sacraments.

I also love that they have a faithful community of Catholic friends who will support them as well as our wider Church family. Our families have known each other for over a decade. Ian is literally the boy next door. Of course, when they were children, they ran around in their own friend groups--Ian with all the boys in the church. At one point there were something like 15 boys at the Altar, serving. There were far fewer girls so they were a tight little group. But all our children are growing up and I'm especially grateful that for many, this is home, this is where they want to be, and where they want to raise a family.

Mass was especially beautiful with a medieval motet for Holy Communion: Maria Matrem. Deo gratias! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

An Anniversary, an Exhibition, and a Feast Day!

We just celebrated 29 years of marriage--that's half my life! I'm often amazed at how much more we are in love now and I must admit that it is supernatural. We've been together for a long time and the first decade before marriage was unholy. Yet, where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Rom 5:20). It is truly the grace of God that has brought us where we are, in love with Him and each other. Sunday Mass was offered for our intentions--the most precious gift we can give to each other. But we enjoy the many gifts the world offers as well and enjoyed our fish tacos at Taco Boy, beer for Michael and a hibiscus margarita for me.

We went to Sistine Chapel Exhibit downtown. It is really well done--if you get the VIP ticket, you will receive a book with all the paintings in the exhibit + commentary and it is high quality. Pope Sixtus originally wanted the life of the Apostles in the chapel but Michelangelo had a grander vision and aren't we lucky that the Pope gave him artistic freedom? He painted the ancestors of Christ (in triangles), not when they were grown ups with power, but as little children, all pointing to how Christ comes to us, as a Baby in a Holy Family. He also painted the prophets (Isaiah; loved all the details, down to his toes) and sibyls (women prophets from the East who foretold the coming of Christ--below, my favorite--the Delphic sibyl who is startled by the Word of God. She prophesized that the coming Messiah would be mocked with a crown of thorns). In all these paintings, there is movement. So beautiful. 

I loved these two panels below: The bronze serpent that the Israelites looked upon to be healed from snakebites foreshadows Christ on the Cross redeeming all mankind. And Judith slays the Babylonian king. In the readings for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven (celebrated Aug 15) we remember Judith--she is a type of Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent. It's a beautiful feast day, full of hope, because where she is, we hope to go as well.

Sandwiched between the Creation of Man (I do so love that we are all conceived in the mind of God before we're ever born! It even looks like the brain!) and the Last Judgment is the creation, fall, and the deluge account. Creation of Eve is the central panel (because it is the fall that brings to us so great a Redeemer). Michelangelo placed the first act of creation: Separation of Light from Dark next to the Last Judgment. Oh, yes, there is a heaven and a hell and it is for all eternity. Sobering.

We've been to the Sistine Chapel back in 90s when we were living in Belgium. I had gone for a conference in Southern Italy so Michael and I planned to meet in Rome after. Goodness, how did we manage without cell phones? The Italians were having a train strike so I was stuck and no way to let Michael know. Though I assumed he'd figure it out when he went to the train station to pick me up. I ended up taking a bus, which broke down, and had to wait for another, but I made it to Rome and what a relief to be reunited with Michael again. We had a wonderful time sightseeing for the next three days. How I wish we were Catholic back then because the more you know Scripture, the greater your appreciation for the tremendous art. What a treasure! Deo gratias!  

Wednesday, August 9, 2023


It's been a month since I've returned home from Chicago. I was supposed to spend a week with my parents to celebrate my father's 95th birthday, but my flight was canceled twice. TWICE! Unbelievable. However, everything worked out even better than I expected. I had a chance to finish making a little gift for my father. I felt as if the Lord arranged all the details according to His plan for this entire trip. Max was flying in to visit some friends so he spent some time with my parents too. We'd made our plans completely independently. The last time my parents saw my kids was when we were moving to SC, twelve years ago. Max was twelve :) Btw, I find it quite delightful how much I look like Lena--my stepmother. We share many interests as well. My father is writing his memoirs and what a treasure they will be. It's odd how often I've gotten to know a person better after their death. But it is not yet my father's time to return to his Creator.  

What joy to have grown kids. I felt like a maharani being taken downtown to St. John Cantius for Sunday Mass! It was pouring buckts--a deluge--but I had to take this picture of the chalked angels on the stairs. They have a room full of relics of many saints, some are dear friends of mine! I was quite overwhelmed with all the treasures and beauty of the church--the side Altars, Stations, stained glass windows, the reverent liturgy, beautiful singing. 

Afterwards, we went out to eat at Tabu and it was lovely to dry off a bit, enjoy good food and company. They had some great art on their walls.  

The art museum had a special van Gogh+friends exhibit and it was perfect given that we wouldn't be walking in the deluge (the Nascar race had to be cancelled). We wandered through the various rooms, leaving the miniature rooms for last. What fun! I would've added little people and animals, a cat on every bed :) I wanted to disappear into several of them. Happy sigh! 

The portrait of a man with a laurel wreath is from 2nd century Egypt. I was so surprised to see that the face has roundedness. Most art from that period has a certain flatness to it. There was also a mummy circa 700 BC, which sparked discussion about time travel and waking up in Chicago. Lots of story ideas as we wandered about. However, it was time to head home. The roads were flooded--Max navigated the streets beautifully. As I said, it's a great blessing having adult kids who take care of you. 

I had a chance to visit with the family Max was staying with--they have 7 or 8 kids and had cousins and friends visiting as well, so a full house. Beautiful family. We had a good time fixing a traditional Indian meal; there were many sous chefs. Max made a chicken tikka masala and I made ratatouille. We had a garden salad, mangoes, rice and naan. But before we sat down to eat, a priest friend offered Mass in their private chapel--it was so wonderful, especially since it was on the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, the Apostle who came to India.

It just so happened that Lena had checked out Abraham Verghese's newest novel:
The Covenant of Water, which is set in the St. Thomas Christian community in South India. I read as much as I could at night. Can't wait to have my own copy when it's in paperback. He's one of my favorite authors.
It was a lovely trip to Chicago, to spend time with my parents, and made better because I got to spend some time with Max and his friends too. I am so grateful Christ is the center of their lives. I leave you with the serene photos of the swans and their babies, this field of flowers.