Friday, July 21, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #105 - Spotlight on St. Kateri!

Hello everyone, and welcome to a St. Kateri themed edition of:


Today I include the first installment in our Church Triumphant series: St. Kateri Tekakwitha! I also update you all on my summer dancing nerves and foibles, planning for fall teaching, kid updates, and summer family fun. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

What's on my Bookshelf - A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms

The Church Triumphant - Focus on St. Kateri Tekakwitha! 
How is your week wrapping up? Do you have a devotion to St. Kateri? I'd love to hear all about it! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 5...

Welcome back, everyone! Our book is getting so good, isn't it?! This week we read chapters 17-20, and we are officially at some serious action. Go grab your coffee or tea!

All right, so we had left off at the trial. Chapter 17 lays out the trial details, and as is not unexpected, the entire thing is the doing of Zevulun, and he has recruited some additional bitter followers that he has worked up into a frenzy about the entire situation. Alexandros is there as a witness. 😡 Shem tries to help, but he is overpowered by the bloodthirsty crowd. Nava admits her guilt. She takes responsibility for her poor choices, and asks for her husband's forgiveness. I really admire the way that she is changing her life.

Her husband still loves her, but he is hurt, and allows himself to be dissuaded from his sympathetic feelings by the crowd. Nava is sentenced to death and immediately taken out to be stoned.

This scene was amazingly powerful. I have always tried not to think about how a person was actually stoned to death, and this reenactment made it abundantly clear how this will all go down. Shem and his grandfather are trying to help, but we as the readers feel as powerless as they do as they try to fight their way through the ravenous crowd. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I read along.

Nava is eventually knocked unconscious by a blow to the head as she tries to protect Asher, who has skirted in to her aid. I think the others believe Nava is dead, and Shem's grandparents take her back to their house in the hopes she could possibly recover. Meanwhile, Mara realizes what happened, and is initially upset that she wasn't made aware of her mother's trial. Everyone settles down a bit as they care for Nava. Mara comes to the realization that the only way her mother will wake up is to be healed. And the first person that comes to Mara's mind as a healer is Jesus. She sets off to find him.

Everyone tries to talk her out of it, as Jesus has moved on to Galilee by this point, and the journey would be dangerous for her. She refuses to give up, so Shem accompanies her. He knows that they will face many challenges as they make their way. Mara is in danger as a Samaritan female, and he himself could be recognized from his incident with the Roman soldier. They forge on.

I'm worried for them. I feel so upset about Nava. But I'm so happy for her that she has experienced this rebirth in her soul. Her husband came around at the end and tried to save her, and I'm hoping that this means there is hope for their relationship as well.

I was so moved by this section of chapters. I can't get over the unjust way women were treated in this society. And the general lack of charity or compassion, which unfortunately carries forward to this day in many ways. I love Mara and Asher so much, and I now feel so bonded to Nava and her struggle to do the right thing. We can all relate to this, yes? What did you think, dear ones?! Next week we read chapters 21-24!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When people already think you're strange...

...they might not wonder so much when you have bright green silk sticking out of your bag for veil practice at lunchtime, or take your daily walk with earbuds firmly ensconced, muttering to yourself, and accidentally smacking innocent passersby with an inspired arm idea. Because I do all of these things regularly. So at least it's not new news. :0

I have 2 dance gigs on Saturday. One is a cultural showcase for a children's reading program. The other is a paid dinner party/restaurant gig in which I'll dance a solo set. Let's just say I'm NERVOUS.

And when I get nervous, friends, I occupy my mind with preparation like nobody's business. So I listen to my set list multiple times. I practice improvised dancing to it, and film myself, on the lookout for weak hands or painful facial expressions that I can eradicate. I practice with Sword, or in his absence, a subbing umbrella, so that I can block that piece to within an inch of its life.

That's been occupying my mind quite a bit this week. It's just one of those things: this is my creative passion, and it means a lot to me to do it to the best of my ability. I will say, Sword has been a good boy. He's getting *4 gigs* this summer, and is downright gleeful about the whole thing. He's been on his best behavior.

But even when Sword is good, I am still highly suspicious of him, and his possible next move.
I was thinking today during my walk about how nervous I still get before I perform, even all these years later. And the restaurant gigs are the biggest anxiety-inducer among them. You're dancing for a lot longer than in any other situation, you have an uncontrolled environment containing food, moving people, and children, and your audience may be drinking/rude/completely indifferent or a combination of all three. See the potential for anxiety in there? ;-)

Indeed, when a person is nervous, it often shows in their face. And that's what I battle against the most when I practice. I film myself, and cringe when I see Thinking Face come out. Petrified Face is even worse, as you can imagine. So for the past year or so, more so then actual movements, I've been working on my face. :0

I mean, it's not like I can change my face. It's the face God gave me, and it does tend to look more serious than the average persons. 😬 I wish I could change this about myself, but there's only so much a girl can do. Claire always tells me:

"It's like acting! You put on your Happy Face even when you're nervous!"

And she's right. But I find that Putting On Happy Face on me actually looks like Don't Look At Me Sideways Or I May Cry Face. So last New Year's Eve, when I had the biggest gig of my career, I came up with a new idea. It's my Channeling Joy Via My Happy Place Face.

Seems like a subtle distinction, but it's an important one. :0 I'm not actually happy at that moment, you see. When I'm about to perform, and then begin to do so, I feel sick to my stomach. Pasting on a smile over top of THAT is decidedly not a good look. So I think about what does make me happy. My family and friends, for one thing. Indeed, Middle Eastern dance *does* make me happy at it's core; it's transformed this painfully shy child into a woman who isn't afraid to talk to people anymore, and to put herself out there doing the things that she loves. So I think about those things. And when I think about those things, I actually *feel* more joyful. I've noticed that my face, while sometimes still pleasantly contemplative, has become a lot more happily animated when I dance.

I think I can boil it down to this: before I dance, I am like Harry Potter summoning my Patronus. I  take my mind to the happiest memory I can think of. Then a big, ghostly animal comes and protects me from Voldemort...er, I smile and project joy when I perform. ;-) Let's now call this the Patronus Face. I should procure a copyright on this phrase. ;-)

So I'm working on my Patronus over here, big time. According to Pottermore, mine is a Wild Rabbit. How fun. :0

We have book club tomorrow, and Tea Time on Friday this week! What is going on with all of you as we begin the week?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #104 - Summer meetups, and summer creativity!

It's a super sticky and humid edition of:


Today I talk about tears following Sam's departure, a writing progress update, summer dancing gigs in full swing, a spurt of baby knitting, and tons of good novenas coming up. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

Sam's visit!

On my Bookshelf - Harry Potter for the foreseeable future, and of course, The Well. Also saw The Photograph by Beverly Lewis on sale this week, she's one of my original Amish authors! The Kindle edition is currently $1.99.

Prayer Closet - My Catholic Mom piece on St. Dymphna's patronage and chaplet. And happy feast of St. Kateri! Also, St. Anne novena starts soon.

Creative Commons - Knitted a striped baby hat for a friend. The pattern is free, and is Baby Bow Tie Hat. (I eliminated the bow tie for this particular hat, I've made it many times! Easy to customize). The yarn is self striping, and is Felici, available from Knit Picks.  Here is the link to the worsted weight version, now on very good sale!


Love Knitting Christmas in July email, with baby projects! 

What's going on with you, dear ones? Write in and let us know!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 4...

Welcome back everyone! It was an action packed segment of chapters for us this week, yes? We read chapters 13-16, and quite a bit happened. Let's dive right in!

We had left off with Nava encountering Jesus at the well and returning to Mara a changed woman. As we pick up the story from there, we can see there there has indeed been an encompassing change in Nava. Not only is she passionate about Jesus being the One they have been waiting for, her life is now seemingly devoid of mental illness - she's up and about, taking care of Asher and their home. The fact that Jesus interacted with her at the well is shocking to her and everyone else in their village.

There is a lot of time here spent on how Samaritans were seen by other people at that time that I did not fully realize. I did a little research on my own to understand how their faith was different from other Jews, as I was confused by this distinction. I love learning new things!

Nava actually gains some acceptance from a few kind-hearted villagers who are curious about Jesus and take him and his followers in for the night (Shem's grandmother and grandfather). There is, of course, still considerable backlash against Nava, and now new mistrust of Jesus and his sympathy with Nava. We spend some time getting to know Jesus and his apostles, and about the different reactions to them and their teachings. A lot of trepidation in the town, to be sure.

Creepy Alexandros returns and is abusive when Nava refuses him for the first time (big surprise there 😡). As well, Nava tries to spare Mara the knowledge that Zevulun has instigated a trial against her for adultery. When we leave off, the trial is just about to start, and Mara has been sent off on an errand so that she will not be aware of what is going on.

So! I really enjoyed the increasing action of the narrative. It's so refreshing to see Nava interacting with her children in this new way, and to see her clearly so rejuvenated physically, emotionally and spiritually. This all makes things infinitely easier for Mara, another perk, though I know that their danger has increased in other ways - Alexandros and Zevulun falling at the top of that list. Shem continues to grow into his role in his grandfather's olive grove, and it's lovely to see how he's noticing nuances amongst these new friends and family in his life.  This includes Mara, of course, and we're all still waiting to see how these two can end up together. As chapter 16 closed, my heart is hurting for Nava. Really looking forward to picking this up again over the weekend!

Next week we will discuss chapters 17-20. What did you all think of this week's chapters?!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our Lady of Fatima and lots of Harry Potter movie watching - it's a nerdy weekend meetup edition!

When you get to be a certain age, you recognize that you are a nerd. I recognized this very early on in my life, right around mid-grade school, I'd estimate. ;-) At that time, nerdom was not seen in very high regard, it is true. I tried to hide aforementioned nerdom, and saw it as yet another thing that was wrong with me. Then one traverses the difficult teenage years and move into young adulthood. Sometime around there, I recognized that I was still a nerd. However, by that point you realize that maybe it's not so bad after all. Suddenly, you meet lots of other nerds and they are COOL. You want to be just like them. Oh, and you also realize that in terms of what other non-nerdy people think about nerds?

You don't care. And THAT is such a glorious thing.

This weekend, I had all kinds of nerdy things planned for my exciting meetup with Samantha, and I couldn't have been more happy and content. We affectionately called it the Great Weekend of Catholic Geekdom.

*heart*

Sam and I met nearly 2 years ago via various channels of new and social media. We met in person for the first time back in May, but only for a brief lunch. This was our first opportunity to hang out in person for any length of time, 

Sam arrived on Friday afternoon, and everyone was all excited to greet her.

Immediate photo op :0

The kids were shy at first, but everyone came out of their shells pretty quickly:

Mike, to me privately: "Do you think I'm talking enough? Am I making good conversation? I want Sam to feel comfortable. I'm so bad at socializing!"

Me: "You're doing fine, sweetheart. I like the teaching conversation you initiated!"

I married another nerdy introvert. I love him. :-)

Our nerdy weekend started out with the entire family watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince over a large pizza, and the lot of us couldn't have been happier. Saturday, we journeyed about a half hour north to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima:

Our Lady, looking lovely at the top of the church

The kids absolutely love climbing up to the top of the church and hanging out with Our lady for a spell, so I attempted a photo:

Henry always looks like he's in a hostage photo

And the view of the grounds and the rosary pond is sublime:

Rosary pond

We spent some time exploring the grounds (after procuring various Catholic tchotkes in the gift shop, of course) and found a little spring that the kids waded in. I'm not certain they were SUPPOSED to do that, but there you have it:

They don't look guilty at all

And we enjoyed looking at all of the saint statuary that covers the grounds:

They bonded with Moses and the Ten Commandments
After heading home, Sam and I had a girls night dinner, which was an absolute *delight*, and we later watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, because you know, NERDS.

Sunday was a lovely quiet morning of puzzles and cards, followed by Mass and the Farmers Market. There were a lot of long faces when Sam had to pack up and leave us. Anne actually woke up crying that night, saying she missed Sam. :-\

I so treasure opportunities like this to meet up with friends I have met online! God is so good to us, no? What did YOU do this weekend, dear reader?!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #103 - Tornadoing cleanliness when houseguests approach...

Happy Friday everyone! It's an exciting meetup edition of:

Today I talk about the avalanche of dancing events I have coming up this summer, Samantha's exciting visit, lots of exciting craft inspiration, and how I read what feels like hundreds of pages each night, yet I advance so little in my Kindle progression percentage. :0





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

My first meet up with Sam!

On my Bookshelf - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Well, as part of our Summer Book Club.
Prayer Corner - St. Kateri novena. Also, novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel begins Saturday!
Creative Commons: 




  • Also, Anne has a new owl hat! Pattern is called Owl Hat, and is another freebie! I highly recommend this one if you are a crocheter.


How are your summer holidays going, dear reader?  What new books are on your bookshelf, and which July novena are you praying? Any fun summer crafting projects? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 3...

We've made quite a lot of progress with our little book club, haven't we? We're now on chapters 9-12, and nearly halfway through the book! Things are really heating up for Mara and Shem in Sychar, aren't they? Let's get into the action of the week!

So, this week's selection started off with a bang. Shem is hanging out with his grandmother when one of the village gossips comes around. Alexandros comes up in the context of him selling jewelry at the market, and gee, where has he been? Shem, not realizing the gravity of the information he possesses, innocently mentions that he's seen this man's donkey over at Mara and Nava's house. He figures this must be a relative of Mara's. That, of course, is not the case, and the gossipy woman jumps on this tidbit immediately. His grandmother tries to shut things down, but the damage has been done.

Shem feels sick to his stomach as he sees the information making it's way through town, and what this will mean for Mara and her family. Zevuluh, the man Nava broke betrothal with all those years ago, takes it up as a personal vendetta to get Nava kicked out of town. Zevuluh's wife is downright rude to Nava in front of the entire village while everyone is out observing Passover. Nava does not take this lying down, and I can't totally blame her, but she does not consider the position she is putting her children in. Their situation is now much more dire than ever, because the townspeople will begin withholding the food offerings they had previously donated to the family.

And speaking of poor Mara...major squink factor comes into play in that her uncle has received an offer of marriage for her hand. This man is old enough to be her grandfather, and has already had two young wives who have had "accidents" after failing to produce an heir for him. I have no problem with big age differences in relationships, but not when one of them is still a teenager. Good heavens! The uncle wants her to accept the offer, because this would mean the family would not be cast out and starved. The prospective husband, unsurprisingly, given what we know about him, does not want to take Nava and Asher in, but he will provide food for them. Nava would have to begin caring for Asher, and do we really think this plan has a chance of success?

Poor Mara would be selling her soul, and perhaps even her life, to provide for her family. Meanwhile, Shem has growing feelings for Mara that he doesn't quite know what to do with. He just feels awful for his inadvertent role in her current predicament. And he doesn't even know yet about the marriage proposal.

When we come to the end of chapter 12, Nava is at the well. She knows that she has been nothing but a hindrance to her children, and thinks it would be better if she took her own life. She is contemplating throwing herself down the well when Jesus approaches. Her conversation with him changes something in her, and she finds new life in his words. She leaves the well with a reinspired lease on life, and rushes off to tell Mara about what happened. This is where we leave off.

What did you all think?! Quite a lot happened this week. I am so drawn into Mara's story at this point, I am absorbing all of the details like a sponge. I outwardly cringed when Shem let the cat out of the bag, but obviously, it was an innocent accident. I feel so bad for both of them. I'm happy to see Shem growing into his role in his grandfather's business, and I like where that part of the story is going for him. I just worry for Mara. Who knows what Alexandros and this violent marriage proposal guy have in store for her. The end of chapter 12 with Nava is intriguing, and we still have so much of the book to go. That happened a lot earlier than I was anticipating. I wonder where the story will go from here?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Oh dear. It's just a wee bit windy today." Adventures in summer dancing - hair and veil wrangling edition...

Welcome back, all! Given that yesterday was a holiday here in the U.S., I figured everyone would be too busy to be reading this humble little blog. Thus, I'm going to bump everything back a day for this week. I have a dance post from the weekend, then we'll do book club tomorrow, and Tea Time on Friday. Sound good?

This weekend proved another interesting one, as we move into full-on festival season mode. I thought we were going to be rained out, but nope. Instead, it was just windy, super humid, and waited to rain until we were 75% of the way through our set. Then it rained too. :0

When I woke up Saturday morning, we had no running water. *groans* There was some kind of street-wide problem, and the town crew had arrived on the scene, shutting off the water for several hours. Naturally, that was right when I need to make myself presentable and wrestle my hair into submission. It was humid, as I mentioned, and humidity makes my hair revert to its wild and feral state. It's not that my hair is curly - because it technically isn't. Curly hair is really pretty! Mine is this half-hearted situation in which it's very wavy and poufy in all the wrong places, like right up on my scalp. The Dignified Poodle look is not exactly what I'm going for, especially for formal events. It's like God got distracted when he was beaming down his finger to form my hair. :0

So I get it straightened, slap on some makeup and my costume, and am not even out the door before my hair begins its insidious journey upward. There was nothing I could do about it at that point, so I persevered on to my destination. By the time we arrived at the waterfront boardwalk that would be our stage, it was even MORE humid than before. It wasn't scorching hot, for that we were grateful. But it was also windy. Very, very windy. Wind and veils do not mix very well, even when they are heavier chiffon rather than silk. We readied our veils apprehensively, and awaited our noon timeslot.

It arrived, and immediately, Claire's iPod died.

!

She had some of the music on her phone, but not all of it. Oh, and did I mention that it died right in the middle of our first piece? Because it did. :0

We were standing out there with fixed smiles mid-traveling pose while Claire sweated behind us, flicking the iPod until it worked long enough for us to finish that piece. Then we had to re-do the entire set list on the spot to accommodate what everyone could access via their phones. We did the veil pieces in close succession hoping the wind wouldn't get worse before we could finish, but it did. Suffocation by veil in the middle of a public boardwalk isn't anybody's idea of a good time, but we do what we have to.

Fighting the good fight.
A few other numbers got off, and in-between, I was becoming increasingly aware of what we'll call The Great Hair Situation of 2017. As I mentioned, I have very thick and textured hair, and in heat and humidity it simply refuses to do my bidding. First, the waves start to come out. Then it begins the insidious expansion process, inevitably resulting in frizz and halos of the kind you definitely do NOT want. And this is what happens just when Hair is out and about in humidity. When you factor in gale force winds, and the fact that your dance choreography also includes spins in which we flip our hair around, the situation takes a decided turn for the worse.

Hair nightmare developing over in my end of the group
By the time we were approaching the end of our set, I was resembling SNL's Roseanne Rosannadanna:


But, you know. We press on.:0 The last two pieces of music Claire could find on her phone included an old standby that we hadn't planned on performing. That sounds fine, but we hadn't rehearsed this piece in close to a YEAR. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about that one. Apparently though, these old brain cells are still kickin', because as the music progressed, I remembered each and every movement that went in the choreography.

#VictoryIsMine

#NotOld

#Yet

When we finished, I didn't even want to look at myself in a mirror. There was no way anything besides a titanium bristled comb was going to make it through the rat's nest I was then sporting as my hair, so I just carefully placed it over one shoulder and prayed for a swift journey home and into the shower. Hair and I had made it. Our next performance is also outdoors, and then I'll also have Sword to contend with.

*groans*

Pray for me. :0

How was your holiday weekend, dear reader?! Don't forget to pop back in tomorrow for book club!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #102 - Summer vacation books and projects!

Hi all! Welcome to a very summery edition of:

Today we talk summer vacation, amusement park fears, summer reading and dancing, and July novenas. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

Start of performance season post!

On My Bookshelf - We have a bit of a Readers Advisory today!

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  2. Sam has some recommendations for us this week. If you like the Harry Potter series, you'll also enjoy the middle reader/YA books on this list!
  3. The Well, as part of our Summer Book Club, Part 2!

Prayer Corner - The feast of St. Kateri is July 14th. Her novena will begin July 5th! If you'd like to pray along with her chaplet, visit my Chaplets page for both audio and video.

Creative Commons -I started knitting a cabled hat that looks like the one Emma Watson was wearing in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The pattern is called Hermione Hearts Ron, and is free! 


What are your plans for this American holiday weekend? Are you working on any summery crafts, or starting new book series? Do write in and tell us!