After struggling through it for nearly three years, I’ve finished ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’ Here’s how I survived a long, complicated book.

20170904_134618.jpgHere’s a personal achievement. Today I finished The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Gentle blog reader, you have no idea of the magnitude of that statement.

It took me nearly three years. Also, lots of griping and complaining; lots of encouragement from my husband; lots of patient and polite listening from my friends, relatives and social media connections who may or may not cared; and lots of re-reading passages since the thing was so darn long that I often forgot what was going on.

It was a self-imposed beast to conquer, but I conquered it.  Continue reading “After struggling through it for nearly three years, I’ve finished ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’ Here’s how I survived a long, complicated book.”

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‘You will come to know that everything is grace’

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A recent commentary in “Magnificat” magazine’s September 2017 issue: Can any good come of the failures in your life?

The September 2 meditation, from a Polish priest named Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, reflects on the day’s Gospel reading about the Five Talents. You probably know that one — where the master gives talents (i.e. money) to the various servants when he leaves for a trip. (If you’re unfamiliar with the turnout, you can read it here.)

In his meditation, Fr. Dajczer says there are two types of talents — the less precious ones, which come from us being successful at something, and the more precious ones, which come from when “nothing turns out right.”  Continue reading “‘You will come to know that everything is grace’”

Of awkwardly lopsided hydrangeas, and blooming against all odds

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One of our awkward little Hydrangea macrophylla bushes.

Our new house came with a row of hydrangea bushes. We moved here in cold weather, so the hydrangeas were little more than dry brown bushes.

When the warm weather arrived, the bushes started to put forth some green leaves. I was impressed, since it appeared that the previous homeowners hadn’t care much for their upkeep. I’d wondered if the plants were dead.  Continue reading “Of awkwardly lopsided hydrangeas, and blooming against all odds”

Sure, many fictional women can inspire readers, but Mattie Ross and Constance Kopp shine in a (naturally) unconventional way

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I was unaware until I finished True Grit by Charles Portis that I seem to be following a theme in my book pursuits lately: headstrong, smart, unconventional heroines in period fiction — who also maintain their existences as proper young ladies.

The other, similar-in-a-sense book that I recently read was Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart.

Maybe half of the books I’ve read about unconventional women/girls have struck me as genuinely inspiring. You have Elizabeth Bennet, who lives within the strict confines of Regency England but who maintains her intelligent, opinionated personality while falling in love with Mr. Darcy. There’s also feisty little Scout Finch, who tries to control her temper by holding her head high and “being a gentleman.”

But I’m incredibly impressed with teenage Mattie Ross (True Grit’s narrator and protagonist) and Constance Kopp (likewise for Girl Waits), and how they’ve made me, as a 21st-century millenial woman, want to be as tough — and as classy — as they are.  Continue reading “Sure, many fictional women can inspire readers, but Mattie Ross and Constance Kopp shine in a (naturally) unconventional way”