Checking In With Friends


My dear friend, Daja wrote a little Mid-Lent Check In on her blog the other day. I read it today during my morning online and just had to respond. I love posts like this one – full of tiny peeks into the lives and minds of the people I love. They’re so cozy and intimate.

Inspired by Daja, I’m ‘checking in’ as well..

Lent is more than half over at this point – we just celebrated Laetare Sunday alongside the feast of St Joseph. The last ‘fast-breaker’ feast is coming up this Saturday, the 25th – for the feast of the Annunciation.

I love Lent. I love fasting – and now, I’ve started my Lenten Spring Cleaning, which I also love. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, with coffee, Murphy’s Oil Soap, solitude, and the moon, who could be unhappy?

What are you doing during this second half of Lent – when some snow is melting, the sap is almost done running, and the scent of spring is everywhere? Do you have a pile of springy projects to complete? Is your house full of tiny, needy baby animals (mine is..just bunnies right now, but soon chicks and ducks and goslings will join them!)


What are you reading, readers? I have a little, white basket hanging near my bed to keep my books in now. My mom gave it to me on her most recent visit and it’s a perfect place for books – as long as there aren’t too many of them.

Right now, I’ve got a pretty copy of Longfellow’s translation of the Divine Comedy – with illustrations by Gustave Dore. It’s been years since I read the Divine Comedy, and picking it up again has been a joy. I like to read it in the afternoon, with a cup of tea while the kids are walking the dogs and sap is boiling away on the stove.

I’ve also got a two volume collection of Rainer Maria Rilke’s letters – as well as The Dark Interval – Rilke’s letters specifically on grief and loss. These books have been such fantastic company in the early mornings. My husband has been leaving early for work, and since I’m up to make coffee and see him off, I have time before the kids are ready to get up to read and plan my day. I like to pull out Rilke during this morning time and just hunt around for a letter that speaks to me. He has so many – it’s easy to find a friend among them.

I’ve also just finished reading 101 Dalmatians. Seth is reading it aloud in the evenings, and I just couldn’t wait to hear more, so I picked it up and devoured it last night. It’s such a delightful book – full of humor and kindness.


When the kids don’t have control of the record player, I still love putting on my well-loved Kate Wolf record. It’s been my favorite morning homemaking record for so many years that just the sound of Kate Wolf’s voice makes the kids feel cozy.

I’ve also been listening to a few chant records and my old Desperado record in the mornings, after schooling is done – while I’m half under the bed pulling out items that don’t belong. When I’m deep cleaning, I also like to download podcasts onto my laptop and listen to them.

The problem is, I have trouble finding podcasts that I consistently like. The Holistic Herbalism Podcast is one I’ve managed to enjoy consistently for a while – they have some interesting opinions and their herbal information is always valuable.


I’ve been trying to make the rosary part of my daily prayer life, but most of the time I fail. Too often I delay praying it til bedtime and fall asleep before the end of the first decade. People always say, “your angel will finish praying it for you” but I’m pretty sure my angel knows I’m slacking and is tired of having 90% of a rosary dumped on him every night. He’s been whispering “you should have started this earlier, lazybones” to me as I fall asleep, and the other night I dreamt of a house (not my soul-house for those of you who hear a lot about my dreams) – built of all my uncompleted prayers.

I’ve also been talking a lot to the Souls in Purgatory. I love the Souls. They’re so homey. They feel like old friends. I’m also praying the Breastplate of St. Patrick with the kids in the mornings during our little “coffeetime” (when we pray, read poems, talk about nature and saints, and drink coffee together).


Every day we’re cooking down sap. The trees have [mostly] stopped running as spring steps in to the woods, but we still have 50ish gallons of partially frozen sap to work through. It’s been a great year for maple syrup. We’re pouring it on everything too, it’s one of the few sweeteners that’s part of our fast.

Today I’m baking bread at my parish – our volunteer bread guild has slowed down during the winter, but each week it’s such a quiet, energizing activity – getting me out of the house and encouraging me to focus a little more on giving.

At home, our meals are full of vegetables. We ate piles of spicy bean tacos last night with guacamole. I’ve found an old recipe for Lenten Gołąbki (filled with mushrooms and kasha) and I am planning to make them tomorrow.


Fr. Sertillanges’s advice in The Intellectual Life (which I’m also rereading) has been bring me so much joy and inspiration recently:

Let the guardian spirit of the hearth be not its evil genius, but its muse. Having married a vocation, let her have the vocation also. Whether she achieve something herself or through her husband, what does it matter? She must still achieve since she is but one flesh with him who achieves..

This small section in The Intellectual Life was so lovely and so inspiring as I try to find more ways to support and inspire the artistic life of my husband. It feels so very similar to Rilke’s beautiful thoughts on “guarding the solitude” of the other in marriage.

I’m finding that the more I reach out to embrace this way of viewing daily life – as a cozy hearth in which I tend and guard the creativity entrusted to me – the deeper my joy is.

The Baby Bunnies hippity hopping around their cage are delightful. We have another litter expected this Saturday or Sunday. Most of these 8 and the next litter are destined for the freezer but we’ll keep one or two for breeding. My daughter is loving raising rabbits and it’s a joy to watch her care so well for them.

Spring Cleaning is really one of my favorite things to do during Lent. I’ve been going slowly and purging a lot as I clean – taking time to really see what we want, need, and have space for. Right now the kitchen shelves are taking a lot of my focus – every time I go through them I find something new to improve.

What about you, friends? What things are filling this season in your life?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. DBreitenbeck says:

    Love hearing about your Lent!

    Let’s see; my main sacrifice has been giving up most video media: no perusing YouTube, no movies, and little else. I make a few exceptions, such as personal projects, and ambient music (and last few days I’ve been cheating more often, to be honest), but it’s quite a difference even so. And since I mostly find myself seeking alternate distractions, it’s been illuminating about my mindset.

    Reading Ciardi’s translation of ‘The Divine Comedy’: I’ve gotten up to Paradisio at last. It seems to get better every time I read it and I find more wonderful conceits and imagery. Just finished Cecil Chesterton’s biography of his brother (review on my blog), and have also been unsystematically paging through the letters of St. Francis de Sales.

    Quit the job and am now drifting through my 2-weeks notice period wishing it was over. Got personal business plans for afterwards and mostly just really, really want to stop thinking about day jobs for a bit.

    Writing wise, did a short story for another anthology and am now returning to a book that I’d started and set aside to work on more urgently needed things. Hoping to do a lot more of writing in general in the near future.

    This weekend going to a Men’s Conference in Cincinnati, where a dear friend lives who I haven’t actually seen since college. Hopefully I won’t have a problem driving down there Friday night.

    Hope to see y’all soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maria (from AK now MI) says:

    Hi! Just a very brief comment to tell you about the Homestead Meatsmith/”Meatsmith Harvest” podcast.. Especially the latter half – of the (88?) episodes that run about an hour or so each – is philosophical and wonderful. They are Catholic (converted as adults, which prompted a lifestyle change to growing their own food, etc) and just moved from Vashon (WA, island) to Oklahoma and discuss at length Catholic thinkers and principles combined with raising animals and butchering them on backyard conditions and on a very small (family) scale combined with eating well, etc. Just great. And prob you’ll have heard of it and maybe not up your alley, but there are some GREAT talks in there and the interviews often are 2-4 hours long, but Pints with Aquinas is a good one. Those and the Fr (Josh) Waltz podcast are what I listen regularly to, though I don’t do podcasts all too often, generally someone wants to say/show/ask something and it doesn’t work. (Fr Waltz strikes me as far too practical for your preferences, but you never know, so mentioning him anyway.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Masha says:

      Oooh! The Homestead Meatsmith sounds amazing! I have heard Pints with Aquinas and sometimes love it and sometimes don’t..but I will check those out!


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