Learning Lace

I grew up with the Saxon Math series, and I wouldn’t want to have learned algebra and trigonometry any other way. The premise of John Saxon’s teaching method is “incremental development.” Each concept builds on the previous one–and prior lessons are reinforced through daily practice–until little by little, what seemed “hard” becomes “easy” through repetition. One fine day, it all makes sense.

It’s impossible for me to remember things I only do once or twice. Daily repetition and practice is my painless way to learn. That’s how I progressed from yarn crochet to thread lace and finally made my first doilies.

This is my execution of a design by Ocie Jordan called “Graceful Doily” from Beginner’s Guide to Thread Crochet, by Leisure Arts.

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A Thorough “Shake-Up” Is the Beginning of Growth

“The worst thing that could happen would be for everything to go exactly as we wanted it, for that would be the end of any growth.”

Interior Freedom, by Rev. Jacques Philippe, is my third book for Rose City Reader’s 2018 European Reading Challenge. Fr. Philippe is a French priest, preacher, and spiritual writer.

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Thoughts While (Almost) Walking on a Street in Paris

“God has given many counsels so that each of us can observe some of them. No day passes without some opportunity to do so.”

Finding God’s Will for You by St. Francis de Sales is my second book for Rose City Reader’s 2018 European Reading Challenge.

I happened to be reading Sophia Institute Press’s publication of Finding God’s Will for You while in Chicago. The painting on the cover of my edition of this book features Renoir’s portrait “Alfred Sisley,” a pensive man perhaps pondering God’s will for his life. I ran into the original of Monsieur Sisley’s portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither words nor photographs can convey the awe of looking at the Impressionist masters’ oil paintings in person.

My snapshot of Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day,” 1877. Oil on canvas.

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Hope Is Patience with the Lamp Lit

My European Reading Challenge this year was going to include novels from my favorite continent to which I wanted to give some time. England was going to be Winston Graham’s Poldark series. Norway was to be a rereading of Sigrid Undset’s Ida Elisabeth or Kristin Lavransdatter.

Instead, 2018 has become the year of spiritual classics.

The tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the virtue of hope, Spe Salvi, or Saved in Hope, passed in November 2017. (Benedict is German, of Bavarian heritage.) I reread it for the first time in a while.

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Europe, Memory, and the Heart: What I Read in 2017

I’d never participated in a reading challenge before, but last year I joined my friend Gilion at Rose City Reader for her 2017 European Reading Challenge.

Gilion’s rules are simple, and the goal is five books from different countries:

The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it’s supposed to be a tour.

I didn’t complete five, whole European books–Gilion’s Five-Star “Deluxe Entourage” category. I didn’t even make it to four: “Honeymooner.” I finished three: “Business Traveler.”

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Seasons and Celebrations

“To understand the calendar is to grasp in a new way the huge significance of the Christian faith, and to understand the role it continues to play in our common life.”

Every December I reread A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations because the Liturgical (Church) Year begins with Advent, the four-week season before Christmas.

British journalist and author Joanna Bogle’s A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations is my last book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading Challenge. Her book is a descriptive compilation of traditions associated with Christian feast days, as they have been celebrated particularly in England. She presents recipes, songs, games, crafts, and customs for each feast day or season of the year. Many of them are centuries old, and their origins are fascinating. Continue reading

Would You Take Love Advice from an Italian Woman?

“How do you actually measure a year in your life?” writes Costanza Miriano in the provocatively entitled Marry Him and Be Submissive: Radical Advice from a Real Woman About Marriage, Love, Kids, Work, Play & Everything Else. “By dawns and dusks?…A year should be measured by the number of times you’ve put aside your own preferences so as to give yourself to another person. It’s measured in the life that you have transmitted to another person–not necessarily a son or daughter, but someone smaller than you, weaker, poorer.”

Costanza Miriano is an Italian journalist with RAI (Italian public television). Her refreshing addition to the genre of relationship advice provides what too many American books are missing: la gioia della vita.

Miriano’s Marry Him and Be Submissive: Radical Advice from a Real Woman About Marriage, Love, Kids, Work, Play & Everything Else is my second book for Rose City Reader’s 2017 European Reading ChallengeHer thoughts on love, marriage, and family life take the form of letters to her single and married friends, as follow-ups to phone conversations at wits’ end over boyfriends, husbands, or incorrigible bambini.

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