Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


September 2008

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry…

Alas, the bonfire and feast await a better day.  My dear husband came down with a positively vile stomach bug and has been laid low all day.  It was perhaps a bit cruel to prepare the celebratory Michaelmas brunch while he languished, but the children were already fairly upset that we would have to forgo the evening’s festivities.

Tonight we dine on leftover turkey and rice.  Hubby is already feeling a bit better and is, God willing, on the mend.  Perhaps later this week we’ll serve the duck and light the fire.  Until then, happy Michaelmas and wash your hands thoroughly…

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – September 29, 2008

Outside my Window…pitch dark.  It’s 5:41 a.m.  No wind, no birds…just silence.

I am thinking…about the busyness of today’s schedule.  We had so much wanted to attend the McCain-Palin rally at Capital University this morning, but the conflict with Mass required that we prioritize our schedule.  So we’ll attend  Mass this morning to celebrate the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, have a celebration brunch following to kick-off our school year (I do believe this is the latest we’ve ever started!) and preparations for this evening’s celebration.  We may have to forgo the bonfire…we’re surrounded by 85 acres of extremely dry corn.  Perhaps the grill will be a safer bet…or we could prepare a firepit for a much smaller blaze…

I am thankful for…yesterday’s hike.  I was such a grump.  Shortly after Mass I became obsessed with getting everything in order for our first day of school.  There’s definitely a reason the Lord gave us the Sabbath as a day of rest!  A couple hours later I came to my senses, abandoned the tedium and took off for the woods with my dear husband and children.  What a glorious day and how much more joyful were we all when we sat down to dinner that evening tired from the long hike, yet refreshed.

From the kitchen…a Michaelmas brunch after Mass.  Waffles (St. Michael’s Guafres), eggs, sausage and monkey bread.  Dinner this evening:  roasted mallard breast in an orange sauce, rice, spiced pears, and Irish Bannock and salad.

In our school room…a new school year begins!  High school for Arthur, Jr. High for Gawain.  Six students this year and all of the challenges that entail educating so many at once!  Pray for me, dear friends…the first couple of weeks are always a bit stressful…

I am creating…nearly finished with our Alphabet of Saints, just three more to go.  I’ve been so delighted with this project that I’ve decided to make several additions to our alphabet.  All of our name saints and a few of our personal patrons!  Today I’m adding St. Michael the Archangel.  It’s his feast day, after all!

I am going…the fix a pot of espresso in just a couple minutes!

I am wearing…a long cotton nightgown, my coziest wool wrap and socks.  It’s c-c-c-c-cold!

I am reading…school books and lesson plans!

I am hoping…my parent’s will be able to visit in October.  They were coming last week, but had to change plans…

I am hearing…the hum of the computer and not much else.

Around the house…much to tidy, fold, put away, etc.

One of my favorite things…the month of October.  I love it!  The wonderful feast days, the exquisite weather, changing trees and the cool, crisp days.  I come to life in October…

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…re-establishing the rhythm of the school day.  This break has been way, way too long…

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Yesterday’s hike along the Sycamore Plains Trail…

Cradled in the arms of a majestic giant:

Gawain took this shot of his sister. Another photographer in the family? Could be!

Another lovely picture taken by Gawain:

The perfect resting spot!

Have a blessed week!

Celebrating Michaelmas

Ah, Michaelmas!  Such is the name of the traditional Feast of St. Michael the Archangel celebrated on September 29th.  Our family has a great devotion to St. Michael, most particularly due to the great devotion our young son, Galahad has shown since early childhood.

Galahad is convinced that St. Michael is his personal Guardian Angel. He speaks with such conviction, that we don’t question his belief.

Our celebration this year will incorporate the traditional Michaelmas bonfire.  The recent storm left us with a lot of downed branches that will feed our fire.  The cool temperatures and early dusk should make for a cozy evening around the fire.  Alas, I don’t have a goose for dinner, so it looks like we’ll be having those mallard breasts instead!  I’m trying my hand at an Irish Bannock this year…the rye and barley of the Michaelmas Bannock just doesn’t appeal to the little ones.

Don’t forget to check out Catholic Cuisine for additional recipes and traditions associated with the Holy Angels.

Here are a few of the more interesting quotes I’ve run across.  The traditions and folklore associated with this wonderful feast are simply fascinating…enjoy!

At Michaelmas time, or a little before,
Half an apple goes to the core;
At Christmas time, or a little after,
A crab in the hedge,
And thanks to the rafter.
Traditional English proverb

And when the tenauntes come
To paie their quarter’s rent,
They bring some fowle at Midsummer,
A dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmas a capon,
At Michaelmas, a goose,
And somewhat else at New-yere’s tide
For feare the lease flie loose.
George Gascoigne, English poet, 1575

So many days the moon is old on St Michael’s day, so many floods after.
Traditional English weather marker

Harvest comes as long before Michaelmas as dog roses bloom before Midsummer.
Traditional English weather marker

On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.
Traditional northern Irish proverb

St Michael’s rain does not stay long in the sky.
Traditional French proverb

If it does not rain on St Michael’s and Gallus [Oct 16], a dry spring is indicated for the next year.
Traditional English proverb

If you eat goose on Michaelmas Day, you will not be short of money all year round.
Traditional English proverb

A Michaelmas rot comes ne’er in the pot.
Traditional English proverb

If St Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.
Traditional English proverb

Michaelmas chickens and parsons’ daughters never come to good.
Traditional English proverb

Three things that never come to any good: Christmas pigs, Michaelmas fowls, and parsons’ daughters.
Traditional English proverb

Tavistock Goosey Fair Song

‘Tis just a month come Friday next,
Bill Champernowne and me,
Us went across old Dartymoor
The Goosey Fair to see.
Us made usselves right vitty,
Us shaved and grazed our hair,
And off us goes in our Zunday clothes
Behind Bill’s old grey mare.
Us smelt the zage and onion
‘Alf a mile from Whitchurch Down,
And didn’t us ‘ave a blow out
When us put up in the town,
And there us met Ned Hannaford,
Jan Steer and Nicky Square,
I think that all the world must be
At Tavistock Goosey Fair.
And its oh, and where be a-going,
And what be a-doing of there,
Heave down your prong and stamp along,
To Tavistock Goosey Fair.

2. Us went to see the ‘osses
And the ‘effers and the yaws,
Us went on all them roundabouts
And into all the shows,
And then it started raining
And blowing in our face,
So off us goes down to the Rose
To ‘ave a dish of tay.
And then us had a sing song
And the folks kept dropping in,
And what with one an’ t’other,
Well, us had a drop of gin,
And what with one an’ t’other,
Us didn’t seem to care,
Whether us was to Bellever Tor
Or Tavistock Goosey Fair.

3. ‘Twere raining streams and dark as pitch
When us trotted ‘ome that night,
An’ when us got past Merrivale Bridge,
Our mare, ‘er took a fright,
Says I to Bill, “Be careful,
You’ll ‘ave us in them drains,”
Says ‘e to me, “Cor bugger,” says ‘e,
“Why ‘aven’t you got the reins,”
Just then the mare ran slap against
A whacking gurt big stone,
‘Er kicked the trap to flibbits
And ‘er trotted off alone,
And when it come to reckoning,
‘Tweren’t no use standing there,
Us ‘ad to traipse ‘ome thirteen mile
From Tavistock Goosey Fair.

Country camo

Oh, my!  A moving bush…it seems to be…alive!

Nah…just a little “country camo” craftily assembled by Emily:

and Gareth:

Now I lay me down to sleep…

***The following post and slide show deal with sensitive subject matter.  Discretion for those with little ones who like to peek over mommy’s shoulder, but may be too sensitive for the video***

A little life lost, a family grieves.  What comfort are words, when the pain is still so new?  We hold onto each other, to our faith.  We remember the little life, the space occupied for so brief a time.  We fill the void with memories.

Many of you are aware that my dear friends, Jim and Lisa Ross recently experienced just such a loss.  In the midst of their grief, they were approached by a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization of volunteer photographers who provide photographic memories, doing their very best to capture the love that transcends tragedy.  The slide show below is such an amazing compilation and serves as a poignant memorial to little Gabriel Alexander; much loved and taken much too soon.

How kind…

…that two dear blogging friends would give me this:

Thank you, Jessica and Mary Rose! I’d like to give this award right back to you, but will obediently pass it on to other equally worthy recipients. There are so many wonderful blogs and bloggers out there, so many who brighten my day and provide encouragement,  it seems unfair to limit myself to seven, but limit I must. Here goes:


Amy Caroline






I’m breaking the rules a bit on this one ladies…this award is unconditional.  You don’t have to do anything, unless of course you wish to “spread the love.”  In that case…nominate away!

Dishing it out…

Curly Locks

Curly Locks, Curly Locks,
Will you be mine?
You shall not wash dishes,
Nor feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And sup upon strawberries,
Sugar, and cream.

Ah, how I loved that nursery rhyme when I was a little girl!  “You shall not wash dishes” seemed such a fair promise for a young maiden.

My little girls, on the other hand, nearly engaged in hand-to-hand combat for the privilege of washing the last few plates in the sink.

Two little girls…both wanting to wash dishes…

Yes…wanting to wash dishes.  Obviously, neither of these children are over the age of twelve or the argument would’ve been entirely different!  Each had a turn soaping and scrubbing the same five or six plates, over and over and over again.  Our dishes have never been so clean…

I think I’ll keep these photos on hand as a reminder of more cooperative times.  If only I had the same enthusiasm now that the dishwasher is no more…

In the company of the Saints…

Emily is very excited and most anxious to begin “walking” Along the Alphabet Path, a fanciful phonics unit study from Elizabeth at Serendipity.  What a delightful way to introduce letters and sounds!  Fairies and the Saints…all bound together in a program that is extremely child-friendly.  In addition to the whimsy provided by the Flower Fairy books,  An Alphabet of Catholic Saints offers a healthy dose of faith along with the fun.  First grader Charlotte has begged to be allowed to participate, having watched mommy working on our very own wooden Alphabet of Saints.

It was quite enjoyable painting our little “Saints,” and Jessica at Shower of Roses deserves all the credit for this lovely idea.  These sweet, painted figures are just the perfect size for pudgy little hands to hold onto.  I still need to spray a bit of clear coat to protect them, and plan to label each bottom with the name of our Saint,  but I can already envision the creative play and exploration the two little girls will engage in with their new “friends.”


Want to make your own?  A Child’s Dream Come True has the wooden doll forms in a few different sizes, as well as a lot of other Waldorf-inspired crafts.  Hobby Lobby, the retail craft chain also has the same hand dolls available, 8 for $2.99.  A big thank you to my dear friend Kitty for that tidbit!

The photo above shows the seven I enjoyed painting most:  St. Bernadette, St. Kateri, St. Therese, St. Ignatius, St. Lucy, St. Patrick and St. Cecilia.  Thus far, I’ve completed Saints Ann through Ursula.  Just four more to go…

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – September 22, 2008

Outside my Window…blue skies, gentle breezes and fall-like temperatures.  Grass that needs mowing, tree branches that need clearing away and a garden that needs to be “turned.”

I am thinking…that there’s so much to be done today.  A week away from home has it’s price…

I am thankful for…the refuge of my mother-in-law’s home after the storm.  For time to read, knit and play with the children.  For the stroll down memory lane.  For the workers who repaired the roof, gutter and flashing.  For the guys who cleared away the largest part of the fallen tree…

From the kitchen…a nearly completely empty refrigerator.  A freezer that needs to be emptied.  Nothing much that is salvageable…

From the learning room…I’m painting a few of these at a time.  Thank you, Jessica, for the inspiration!  I was going to attempt to create little felt clothing for our “Alphabet of Saints” figures, but really like the simplicity of the painted ones…

I am creating…a pair of alpaca leg-warmers and painting a gazillion little wooden dolls…

I am going…to be working hard all day…

I am wearing…a brown micro-suede skirt, brown clogs, rusty-red t-shirt, cream cardigan, hair down.

I am reading…Oh, my goodness!!  I’ve been reading so much this week, but have fallen in love with A Haystack Full of Needles by Alice Gunther.  Tears, smiles and good deal of hope thanks to this precious book…

I am hoping…to pray more, worry less and laugh out loud a whole lot more…

I am hearing…silence.  The occasional footstep upon the stairs.  The children are surprisingly subdued…

Around the house…bags to unpack, laundry to wash…work, work, work…

One of my favorite things…running water.  I don’t mind living without electricity.  Living without running water, no flushing toilets…ugghhhh!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…prepare for our first day of school.  Next Monday, on Michaelmas!  We will most surely celebrate!!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

knitting + reading = a very good morning

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