Life in the Attic

Let me explain what I mean about “living in an attic,” but don’t be alarmed if you wonder during this post about the pathways of my brain and how I get from one topic to the next… It’s okay, I’ve always been strange. In my world, we call what I’m about to do “rabbit trails.”

This past weekend, my husband and I attended several different lectures on homesteading, sustainability, and the like. We are not at the point in our lives where we have a spacious bit of land to work on or much space inside for hobbies even, but someday, we hope to be blessed with that. There were demonstrations on sheep sheering, weaving and spinning, plowing, training sheep dogs, goat care, and more. There were lectures on beekeeping, backyard chickens (someday!), spinning wool, gardening, and one that grabbed my husband’s attention was on sustainable energy alternatives. I figured it would be way over my head, but we skipped on over to the lecture anyway. I was very much intrigued when most of the talk was on insulating your home to cut down on energy costs! That got me thinking about our apartment and why we always have to have the window unit running. A/C in the summer, heat in the winter! And then it made more sense…

…rabbit trail…

 

We live in an apartment that used to be an attic or storage area, and when the complex turned it into an apartment, they slapped some wooden flooring, windows, and paint on the walls, and quaintly called it a “bungalow.” As you can imagine, it does little to keep out the elements. The floor feels like ice in the morning and before we requested a new door, the old one had cracks in it where rain and cold air would come in. Our apartment isn’t the least bit insulated against the elements. Now that you understand what I mean by the attic…

…rabbit trail…

I can finally get to the topic of this post! It’s not on attics or housing insulation… It’s actually about the random excerpts of our life this Fall and things we’ve been doing.

Sometime around the beginning of September, end of August, Daniel and I took in a new addition to our “land ark” and adopted a kitty. We didn’t mean to, really, it’s just that she crept into our hearts when she started coming to us when we called her outside. Let me start over… she was a stray, hanging around for months. We asked around and could not find her owner. Every morning when I left for work, I would see her on a neighbor’s car, sound asleep and absorbing the warmth of one of the tires. We eventually started giving her some food because she was so skinny and friendly. Well, being our little pet outside, we named her, and from that point, she was ours. Whenever we’d call her after coming home from work, she’d come careening around the corner and race up our stairs two at a time. She was still cautious around us, but friendly. After talking about if we could manage it, I took her to the vet, got her checked out and made sure she was healthy. The vet said that she most likely was adopted by a college student in town, and when the student’s parents found out, they just dumped her outside (she said it happens all the time in a college town). She was only nine months! But score for us, she was spayed already, and honestly the sweetest addition we’ve ever had. Sadly, our two beta fish did not think so… Soon after, they both died.

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During October, Daniel and I found some time during our crazy schedules to meet up with our couple friends and had an evening of pumpkin carving. Somehow, I had never actually carved a pumpkin and was dying to try it. I’ve seen such beautiful ones in previous autumns. Of course, I worked myself into a frenzy about it, drank a lot of coffee, picked out two fat and round pumpkins, and set to work! Daniel was on board to carve pumpkins but he left the design up to me. I knew I had a total of fifteen minutes to let my ambitious heart run rampant to be able to sell the design to him (if I could draw it, we could carve it) by the time he got out of the shower to go to our friends place. I browsed the web furiously until I found the images I wanted, and then grabbed a sheet of paper. I free handed a design based off of the picture on the internet and by the time Daniel was ready to go, I proudly held up my design and I’m not sure if it was the crazy lady rambling in his face about our awesome pumpkin while he was trying to get dressed or the stubborn look in my eyes that made him smile and say “sure, honey.” (I have a habit of being overly ambitious in my projects

 and sometimes they turn out well, other times—well, they flop like a dead frog.

We managed to do it though, and with some extra superglue to mend St. Michael’s arm and the Scales of Justice which fell off during the finishing touches, our pumpkin truly was awesome.

The exciting event of November happened a couple of weeks ago. Daniel and I had been planning on going to the Renaissance festival during the highland weekend, going all out and dressing up in our best Scottish garb, but alas, “life happened” as they say. We decided it was not in our budget this year and canceled the trip. Daniel, being the wonderful guy that he is, made some magic happen and surprised me with the trip after all!

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Even though we were not dressed in the costumes we had wanted to be in, we had a blast. It was my first time going to a renaissance festival and of course, the way I was raised—reveling in medieval times, pretending I was a character in Tolkien’s amazing novels, studying historic apparel, and crafting my heart out, I knew I would love it. It did not disappoint even in spite of walking around in thirty degree rainy weather! Some of the vendors there surprised me with their expert craftsmanship. The furniture, hairpieces, and some of their jewelry just astonished me and the vendors themselves turned me into a giddy little girl as I listened to them call out their wares in character. 

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What’s in the Reading Basket

Fall Reads 2013

“What’s in the Reading Basket” is the start of what I hope will become series for me to share thoughts on what I’m in the middle of reading or what I’ve just finished reading.

I know what you’re thinking… Reading basket?

Okay, I know normal people have a nightstand on or in which they keep their current reading material, but I have a reading basket. Why? Well, partly, because I unconsciously stray as far from the norm as a fat caterpillar from a chicken. (It’s true, ask my husband.) Okay, I guess the real reason is that I live in  a studio apartment where it’s hard to find any space for extra furniture. So, I have baskets—lots of them. Thus, the origin story of the Reading Basket!

During this past autumn, I made it my mission to do more things that are edifying, more things that provoke good thought and deep conversation with those around me. In general, I wanted to do the kinds of things that help me to grow as a person and in my spiritual life. The biggest thing on my list was that I wanted to read more.

I wanted to read for pleasure instead of relying on TV or movies to entertain me, especially since I have always felt insufficient in my vocabulary. When I have watched TV, I have been entertained, but I definitely do not learn the way I used to when I constantly had my nose in a book. What better way to gain a broader vocabulary than to read?

Fiction was not the only kind of reading I wanted to do though, I also wanted to read things that would cause me to grow in my Faith. As a new convert into the Catholic Faith, I have felt overwhelmed by the vast amounts of things I do not know still. I am always learning something that I did not know before, in spite of the illuminating year of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes that I attended before my confirmation. Now I think we should always be learning and trying to be the best person we can be, especially in matters of Faith, but I do feel incredibly new to this world of Catholicism. That is why I am always trying to learn and understand more. That leads into the topic of this post: books!

Helena by Evelyn Waugh

I was not sure what to expect when I bought this book. I have heard some wonderful things about Waugh and this one happened to be the first of his books that I picked up. I started it around the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Feast Day so it was wonderful reading for the time! (Helena is based on the life of St. Helena who discovered the true cross.) Waugh considered this novel to be his finest piece and he took much pride in it. Apparently it has been in and out of print, and after reading the work, I understand why a little better. It was a bit of a strange read.

Do not get me wrong though, I very much enjoyed the book! It was such a fascinating story and it held my attention. It was not until near the end of the book though that I decided it was a worthwhile read.

It was in a passage where Waugh gave great insight into those like his heroine.

“Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Treves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus. For his sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.” (Waugh 209)

What insight to the differences of people and the prayer they each need. Waugh compared the shepherds and magi, exploring their differences in the way that they came to see the Lord. Not that either was better than the other, but that they were different.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. It accomplished what I was hoping to accomplish in reading it, which was to grow more in my Faith and read things that would spawn deep thought, allowing me to meditate on the goodness of the Lord.

The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

I am afraid I do not have much to say about this read mainly because I am not finished with it yet. I have always loved Louisa May Alcott and so far, this book does not disappoint. The language is beautiful and I am delighted to read through it. Alcott has such a charming way in which she weaves a story. If you like Louisa May Alcott and/or Jane Austen novels, you will most likely enjoy this short little read.

Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly

Also, I will have to disappoint once more with this one because I have not yet read it. It is on my list of reads, I just have not dived into it yet. I am looking forward to it though because my husband and the priest that taught our RCIA class highly recommend and quote it often.

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

This is a book my mother bought for me a month or so ago and she told me it came highly recommended by her close friends. She told me that she really enjoyed the author in other works and thought it would be a great read for me. Thank you, Mom, for this eye opening read! It focuses on how we as wives can pray for our husbands, but more importantly, how we can help them by praying for ourselves too! She writes about how it is easy for a wife to become disgruntled and upset with her spouse and want to pray for “him to change” when really we need to be praying for our own change first. It also explores how we should especially pray for blessings for our husbands, even when the last thing we want to do is ask for good things for them. Practicing getting my own pride and ego out of the way when I am frustrated and normally want to sulk or sit around indignant that anything could actually be my fault and actually praying for us and blessings for him instead has been one of the best ways for me to learn humility (something I have been praying to learn better recently). I’m only a little ways through the book, but I am enjoying it and it is helping me to grow in my marriage, so it comes as a high recommendation for wives looking to help their husbands (and themselves) through prayer.

Those are my Fall reads this year. I know it’s a small start, but at least I am reading more now and watching TV less! If you feel like letting me know what you’re reading, feel free in the comments section.