Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've had a lot on my mind lately, but I'm not sure how much of it is suitable for the entire internet to see. Not that anywhere near the entire internet reads my blog or even knows I exist.

That's one of the things on my mind: No one knows I'm here. Unlike some other bloggers I know, who have several hundred readers after a couple of years of posting, I have an average of 20 visits here each day. I know my low readership is not a huge deal-- after all, who really wants the entire world listening?-- except for the questions it raises about my abilities to write and communicate. It struck me one day that I must be pretty boring, and that is humbling, since all through my school days the one thing that I received accolades for was writing. I think, however, I must have been the best of a bad lot.

I said I have about twenty readers. Half of those are search results from Google. The other half are regular readers. And about half of those are silent. I know you're there. I know you're from my home town (I have a blog tracker that tells me). But I don't know who you are, or why you're here, or if you're friend or foe. I know that anything I say here can (and, very probably, will) be used against me. I know that somebody is probably finding something to be offended by or be critical of-- and sometimes that makes me feel a little paranoid.

In light of that, I'm a little worried that the next things I'm going to say will be misunderstood, or gossiped about. But here goes.

You see, another thing on my mind has been the stuff I've been reading about the Catholic Church. As I've said elsewhere, I've been pleasantly surprised by how many things I actually agree with in their catechism. I read an article last week called "150 Reasons Why I'm Catholic (You Should Be Too!)". I found myself agreeing with nearly everything the author said. For example, he's right about the problems that have sprung up from the Protestant Reformation: thousands of denominations, contradictory doctrinal positions, confusing bible interpretation, and many other things.

That was so interesting that I went on to read another article ("An Open Letter To Non-Catholics") by the same author in which he proceeded to tell me that everyone I have known my entire life is going to hell. Including me. Including my pastor grandpa. Including my missionary uncle. Including Billy Graham and Dr. Dobson and Benny Hinn and Martin Luther and John Knox and Hudson Taylor and Susanna Wesley and the dear sweet woman who prayed for me faithfully all my childhood, and every single preacher I've ever heard. Why? Because they're all protestants, of course! Because all of these people are either "heretics" (those who disagree with the Catholic Church on doctrine) or "schismatics" (those who disagree with the Catholic Church on authority issues).

It's a little difficult to explain why this has bothered me so much. Some of you are saying "So don't listen!" And others will just say, "So join the Catholic Church!"

The problem with that is this: I had just read a long article where I agreed with nearly everything the author had to say. And then he punched me in the stomach. And then I was left wondering, "What if he's right on this point, just like all those other points? But how can he be? That's not what I've been taught. But what if I'm just 'thinking like a protestant' and I'm in deception-- or worse, rebellion?"

On the other hand, I can't just go join the Catholic Church to guarantee heaven for myself. For one thing, my husband would not appreciate it (to put it mildly). For another, in spite of this one article, there are still a lot of things I'd need convincing on before I could vow my undying fidelity to the catholic doctrines (you MUST believe every single point of doctrine or be found a heretic). And for another, there is no guarantee for even good catholics that they are going to heaven. At least that's what the book "What Catholics Really Believe" told me.

With all of that turmoil going on inside my head, the other normal stresses of life have been overwhelming. Our taxes are due, and I'm been procrastinating because I hate doing them by myself, and Hubby has been either sick, or up to his ears in spring work (which-- YAY! Work! Money!) so he hasn't been able to help me. And I have a couple of other projects with deadlines that I don't have done, because I myself was sick for over a week. And DrummerDude is wearing down from his exhausting job, and GuitarGeek did not get the job he applied for, and JD and LovelyDaughter are depending on us for finances, since JD is working for Hubby, and so we NEED to be busy for their sakes, and MB3 is trying to find the meaning of life, and I don't have my garden stuff ordered yet, and I've been tired and ache-y and don't sleep well, and I can't write about it on my blog because I'm afraid of what critical people will think, and I can't ask God for help because He's behind the door of the Catholic Church and I just can't go there!

But I read a psalm yesterday that is helping me find my sanity again. It's Psalm 43, in particular verses 2 through 4:

"You are the God of my strength.
Why have you put me from you,
and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?

Send out your light and your truth,
that they may lead me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,

that I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness."

Maybe I can really believe that God will send his truth to keep me from falling into error, wherever it lies, and I can really approach Him on my own (as I've always done) and He'll be my joy and gladness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

7 Quick Takes #6


I know this day is almost over, but here are my (really quick) quick takes for the day.


After having several good weeks, I have had a not-so-good week. I've been so sleepy all day most days that my head hurts from trying to stay awake, and it's not from lack of sleep. I've been ache-y, tired, sore, and a little weepy; along with having a strange disinclination to move. Yesterday I felt pretty good, after the one good night's sleep I've had all week, and I got started on a stack of shopping bags I'm making. Other than that, the week's been a washup. I've just been too stinkin' tired and brain-fogged to get much done. And I have lots I want to do!


The one thing I have done this week is read/study. I've been researching the beliefs of the Catholic church, and it's been quite a roller coaster ride. One day I'd be reading along and find to my surprise that what I've always thought Catholics believed was untrue, and what they actually believe makes sense. The next day I'd read some papal announcement that made me want to shake somebody. How can he SAY that? I'd rant.


Oh, you want examples? Okay.

For example, purgatory. I thought Catholics believed Purgatory was a place like Dante's Hell, with levels of after-death punishment, and it was rather blasphemous, since didn't Jesus take care of all that with His death on the cross? In reality, the word "purgatory" means something like "purification," and the doctrine just expresses the idea that there will be some discrepancy between our justification by faith and how pure we actually are when we die. God accepts us as righteous, but how righteous are we in reality? So then, at some point before we step foot in Heaven that discrepancy will have to be fixed. We will come face to face with God's holiness and we will be made perfect. That may happen in an instant, or longer. No one knows about that part, because the Bible doesn't say, but we DO know we will have some sort of judgment passed on us and our works, and that is biblical. I think the disagreement must be mostly in the vocabulary.

(If you're Catholic and I didn't quite get this right, please correct me. After all, I have been brain-fogged this week.)


Another example, from the bottom of the roller coaster: The Pope, the Church, whoever, declares that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Which I think is preposterous, because Jesus never said "The Church is the Way, the Truth, the Life." He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No man comes unto the Father except by me." Of course, my objection is not valid, because I am using Scripture-- and my own interpretation of it-- as a greater authority than the Pope and Catholic doctrine says that the two are equal in authority. If anything, the Pope is greater, because he has the power to interpret scripture. Being a well-indoctrinated Protestant, I have a difficult time with that idea, and I tend to want to check the Pope's pronouncements against the Bible, instead of the other way around. (Which, from my side of the fence is a good thing, and from the other side of the fence, not so much. And on which side is the grass greener? I'm not sure.)

(Repeat: If you're Catholic, and I didn't get this quite right, please correct me.)


I have completely failed this week at keeping up with my two new habits of cleaning the sink before bed and taking a walk every day. I plead tiredness (see #2) and cold weather. Or maybe jet lag from the switch to Daylight Savings Time?? I'm begging God to help me have a better week next week.


And now for a gratuitous baby picture:

This is our friend Swede's newest grandbaby. Isn't she sweet? I just love that expression on her face, which her mama says is what she gets after nursing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More about the hair, and other stuff with lots of CAPS and italics

Just in case you're wondering, I do like my new haircut. It makes my eyes look bigger for some reason, and also my hair thinks it has a little natural curl now, which is a bonus. And while Hubby-- as I predicted-- is a little disappointed that my hair is no longer LONG, he likes my hair and my new look just fine.

However, that does not lessen my frustration with uncommunicative hair stylists. I asked that gal specifically if she thought that particular style would work with my hair, and she said "I think so." I even had other pictures of other styles with me, in case she felt that it was a wrong pick for me. I guess I should have pushed the issue harder. I have had so little experience with hair stylists-- I have cut my own hair for most of my adult life-- that I just didn't quite know what to do.

Saturday LovelyDaughter and I combed the thrift stores and had a great time. The first one we went to I hit the jackpot and found about five shirts that fit me and look great and follow my new fashion rules. I felt a little guilty buying FIVE shirts, and a belt, and a scarf, all at once. Under my normal shopping rules I can only buy one or two things at a time. But I had to remind myself that the rules change when you're thrifting. You can buy EVERYTHING you like, because, 1) next time there may be NOTHING, and 2) it costs so little. I mean, really-- it only cost me 16 bucks for all of it.

At the next store I thought my search would be unfruitful, till I found the steal of the day: a beautiful, new-looking, knee-length leather skirt, imported from Italy, for $2.98! I couldn't try it on, because that store didn't have dressing rooms (what are they thinking?), but for that price I thought I could take a chance. And when I got it home I found it fit perfectly. I did a little happy dance all around the living room, showing it off, before LovelyDaughter grabbed it to try on, and I almost didn't get it back....

At the third store, I found nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. See what I mean? You gotta take it when you find it.

Just a note about thrift stores. The first one we went to was wonderful. It felt more like a boutique, with all the clothes arranged by kind, size, AND color; and the clothing was all high-end, brand name stuff. Classy. The people working there were friendly and acted like real sales people. The store was clean and the dressing room was big enough for two people at once (just barely) and was ALL MIRRORS! Very nice.

The second store had all the clothing arranged by type with signs above, like "women's skirts," and it was arranged loosely by size, meaning, generally all of one size were in the same vicinity, but keep looking. Everything was sort of a hodgepodge of good expensive clothes (as in my leather skirt) and cheap clothes. It was very crowded and busy, and, as I said, had NO dressing rooms.

The third store was, um, not so nice. The floors were filthy. The clothes were jam-packed on the racks, making it difficult to look at individual garments. I found a rack of woman's skirts but they were not arranged in any coherent manner. After plowing through one side of a long rack, trying to find something in my size, I gave up. We did find a couple of things to try on, and found that the dressing room--besides having NO mirrors-- was just as dirty, and we didn't know where to put our clothes. It honestly felt like the place had cooties. I was actually grateful that it was raining when we left. Walking through the rain for two blocks to the car felt cleansing.

So, in summary, not all thrift stores are alike. From now on, I'm shopping at thrift store #1, with occasional forays into thrift store #2, and I think I'll stay away from the third one. I'm not that desperate.

On a more positive note, Hubby was so impressed with my new leather skirt that he asked me to dress up in it last night and we went out to eat for my birthday. That was fun-- all duded up in new clothes from head to foot, including necklace and earrings, and a new haircut. I feel well birthday-ed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good News

Yesterday's hair fiasco had me frustrated and almost in tears. However, I was determined to make the best of it, so the first thing I did (after recording the look for posterity) was re-wash my hair with my own shampoo and conditioner, and then style it my own way. And look what happened!

What I wanted it to look like:

What the hair stylist gave me:


This is my hair still partly damp after washing and conditioning with my Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Sheer Shampoo and Body and Volume conditioner (with a few spritzes of Garnier Fructic XXL Root Booster).

Still damp, with front bangs:

Almost dry:

A little later, tucked behind my ears to show off my new earrings:

I think it made a huge difference to get all the hair styling products out of my hair. The gal used a LOT of root booster mousse and hairspray and something else that she put in before she used the hair dryer. I think my hair is so fine that too much volume-boosting stuff actually weighs my hair down instead of giving it body. Also, she used a straightening iron on it, and I don't like the look it gives me.

Personally, I like it much better this way. Hubby may wish my hair was a little longer, but I think he'll still like me. Whew.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Okay. I'm disgusted. And Hubby is going to kill me. Take a good look at the following photo which I showed to the hair stylist I went to today:

Does that look like this?:

I've always wondered how a stylist can look for two seconds at a picture and say, "sure, I can do that." Ha.

As soon as she started washing my hair I knew she was going to get it wrong. She was definitely not into details and being careful. I felt like a dog getting shampooed, except maybe they're more gentle with dogs. When she started cutting she kept hooking my ears and my earrings with her comb--which was a little painful-- and I finally had to ask her to please not catch my earrings, to which she said nothing.

I am very upset. Instead of my hair looking layered and full, it looks chopped.

I know Hubby will be upset and disappointed, and I'm so scared he'll lose faith in me. He'll maybe think that every time he leaves I'll do something to myself he despises. Maybe he'll be afraid that next time I'll get a tattoo, or dye my hair purple.

The sound you hear is my stomach hurting.

7 Quick Takes Friday #5

Here we are again, another Friday. Is it just me, or do the days just FLY?


Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm, let me's 2009, subtract 1962...oh, gee. It's too early. YOU figure it out. Whatever that number is, that's how old I'll be. And to celebrate, LovelyDaughter and I are going shopping ALL DAY. In particular, we want to hit a slew of thrift stores in BigCity that I've never been in. I have a few things in mind to look for, but who knows what treasures we'll find among the junk?


I'm home alone for a couple of days. All my guys are off to a men's retreat. They are part of the worship team-- even MB3, who is running sound. They finally pulled out yesterday at almost 3pm, and I spent the next hour wandering around the house trying to decide what to do with myself. It's like finding a wad of money and wondering what's the best way to spend this windfall. Take a walk? Go get my hair cut? Invite a friend over? I ended up trying on several of my new outfits and then chose one (the one with the animal print skirt) and drove to a nearby town that has a long walk trail, and went for a very nice walk. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of other people out too. Of course, they were dressed in activewear, and I was dressed in a skirt with a tank and blazer and comfy cute sandals, but hey, I was comfortable, and felt stylish to boot.


So I want to get my hair cut. I know I had it cut a couple of three months ago (see what I mean about time FLYING?) but the layers have grown out really long and my hair is so fine and light that it's just enough to pull it all down and take the body out of it. Also, I am done with the long side bangs that are always IN MY FACE, even with hair spray. I'm thinking of getting something like this:

I'll keep you posted!


I mentioned going for a walk yesterday. Actually, I went for two walks, one in the morning, because it was so nice out, and one in the afternoon, because it was so nice out, and because I didn't have to be home in time to make supper. I think "taking a walk every day" is going to be my next habit, now that I've finally mastered "clean sink every night before bed." I've been thinking a while now what habit to tackle next and I thought maybe it would be to put myself on some sort of house cleaning schedule. But night before last something happened to change my idea: I leaned over while I was in my skivvies, changing clothes, to pick something up, and a roll of fat around my tummy hung down and gave a flabby pendulum swing. Youch. Forgive me if you think I'm over-reacting, but I still think a walk every day would be a good thing to aspire to.


The nicest thing happened last night. I was home alone, as I said, watching a movie on YouTube, when LovelyDaughter called and asked if she and JD could come over to borrow our internet. Of course I said yes, and when they got here, she had brought some dessert she had made, and JD brought in enough firewood to last me till morning. Which was just so, so nice. And then-- they stayed long enough that I could go to bed with them still here, and the house didn't feel so empty and dark. I'm very used to going to bed with people still up, and this way I didn't feel so lonely. It's one thing to have a whole day to myself; it's a completely different thing to be all alone in the house at bedtime. (In fact, I don't think I've EVER been in the house alone at bedtime, in 27 years! There's always been somebody here.)


I think I should have called today "Five Quick Takes" because that's all I can think of. I started this post at 6:30 this morning. (I was up early and had the house to myself. I could play music! Type! Turn on lights!) So I worked on it for a while and went do other things, hoping more inspiration would hit and now it's almost 10:00. I'm going to give up on this and go do something else, mostly involving my sewing machine (making shopping bags, hemming my skirt and a pair of pants, maybe even make an apron) and I won't have to clear away my project for dinner. I might even eat sitting in the rocker by the woodstove. Is that decadent or what?


Number seven is canceled this week. Sorry. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Clothes! Part 2

Some of you have lobbied for "real" photos of my new outfits, that is, you want to see me actually model my clothes. Well, I can't promise anything, but maybe some time I'll do that. It's just that it requires a fair amount of prep work: I have to get dressed, and then I have to find someone to take my picture. Repeat half a dozen times or so. Then upload and post photos.

So since I already have photos of non-modeled outfits, that's what you get today.

First, you may recall this outfit from Ann Taylor that I copied:

Well, when I was looking for that gray blazer, I instead found a red velvet blazer (new, $8) that looked pretty smashing, and instead of black slacks I found a black pencil skirt (thrifted, $6), and my new white shirt looked better than my new black shirt, so this is the outfit I ended up with:

The shoes (new, $17) that you see there are still on trial. They are very cute on, but I haven't decided if they will stand the test of actual wearing time. I have made that mistake before: buying cute shoes that absolutely kill my feet after an hour (or less!) of use.

And since I had the skirt out, I paired it with another new acquisition, a striped henley sweater ($6, new):

The sweater was not on my actual menu of clothes, but it fit in with my new color scheme of black, gray, and white, so I think it was a wise purchase. Besides, for six bucks--?

I actually wore this on Sunday, except I put my new white shirt under the sweater, and I wore black tights and black mary janes (which I had in my closet-- bought them probably ten years ago, paying a PRET-TY penny for them, and I learned something: it pays to spend good money on classic, well-fitting shoes. They always fit, they always look good, and they never go out of style. Note to self: REMEMBER THIS.)

I felt all cute and stylish, but after a short while I changed the skirt for my black slacks, because, y'all, it was COLD on Sunday. Oh well. With my new interchangeable wardrobe it was no problem-o.

Here's another outfit I tried to copy, this one from Eddie Bauer:

And here's my version:

The jeans and shirt are the same ones in one or two of my other new outfits, but the coat is brand spanking new from Schwesers, half price at $35. I am very happy with the coat, and Hubby is thrilled too, and thinks I looks fabulous in it (which definitely adds to my happiness!)

Here's an outfit from Old Navy that I thought was cute:

I actually planned to just go to Old Navy and buy the whole shebang and be done with it. But Old Navy is a good hour drive from here, in BigCity, and I haven't had a day to do that yet. However, looking through my closet, I realized that I already have the makings of a similar look. See?:

And then I realized that I can also do this:

which gets its inspiration from this look that I've been trying to go after:

And finally, there's this outfit that I had no picture inspiration for, but draws on several things I liked:

It makes me wish for warm weather, because I'm looking forward to wearing the classy white shirt:

with the pretty necklace that Hubby picked out for me himself:

and these great gray pants:

Can you see how cute those are? Do you see that wide elastic back-waistband that is not only cute and different, but also makes the pants FIT? And can you see that price tag that says they were marked down to EIGHT bucks?

Also, do you remember how I said I don't like khakis? That has been bothering me, because according to the fashion lists that I am trying to listen to, a good pair of khakis is pretty much essential for being sort of dressy casual, and I don't like khaki. At least, not on me, and not in my closet. What goes with khaki? To my mind, nothing matches. That's because, I realized, no color that looks good with khaki looks good on me.

And then! I had this great thought: Does "khaki" come in other colors? I went looking, and sure enough, it does; and I came to the conclusion that if I had pants in shades of GRAY, all my troubles would be over. So I went looking for a pair of gray pants, which, as you see, I found, and when I got home I laid them out with nearly every shirt in my wardrobe. Guess what? Everything matches! So there you are. I found my version of "khaki" and in the world of my closet, it's easy to match gray.

On that note of triumph I will stop for today.