Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
September 6th, 2011


All I wanted to do was send a blessing to my Facebook friends in the form of a video clip of John McCormack singing the song that begins:

Dear Lord, Kind Lord, Gracious Lord I pray
Thou wilt look on all I love tenderly today….

But I couldn’t find it anyplace. So I substituted a few McCormack selections for those who haven’t met him. Please don’t think he sings nothing but cute Irish ditties. McCormack was an operatic tenor who did a magnificant job with Il mio tesoro, Una furtive lagrima, Ave Maria, Panic Angelicus, etc. My husband loved him and it rubbed off on me.
Little Boy Blue

The Garden Where the Praties Grow

The Barefoot Trail

The Angel’s Serenade


July 26th, 2011


This is Sage, my grandson, who likes to live simple, green, and magical in his tiny house in Boston. (Don’t you love that cedar siding?)

He also makes guitars.


And gets light from microbes

Just a simple — and sage — guy.


The house moves.  And Sage sings about it.



House on wheels

Much later (May, 2013) Sage was visited by a couple from Lisbon interested in tiny houses.  Here is what they wrote about his Gypsy Waggon, translated (loosely) from the Portuguese.

I read the translation and see a view of myself from far away … it is a very nice view .. thank you to Paulo and Catarina for visiting from Lisbon .. and seeing me with fresh eyes while my own have sometimes gotten jaded and faded .. feel hope and motivation .. i like how Roslindale is “a neighborhood almost chic” and golf balls are “small white balls come here to stop as meteorites from a hostile galaxy” ..

“” The ecological consciousness, the philosophy of do-it-yourselfers, the financial crisis and the real estate sector were the conditions for the movement to break out. In the U.S. and all over the world, more and more people choose to build their own home, tiny, and live in it. Just feel like owners of their lives

Since the address is odd. “Backyard No 50 Street W …” Yard of the number 50? Sage Rad lives in a backyard? No doubt, it is here. The number 50 corresponds to a huge house, wood, identical to all others in Roslindale, a neighborhood almost chic not far from downtown Boston. But access to the garage is covered by an old Dodge van with a stranger pegged wood. Next door there is a bike with a trailer too long where you can get a person. And then the cabin.

This is the abode of Sage, one wooden shack he built himself four years ago in a backyard borrowed. There are also materials all around, and trash, boards, logs, tables, mirrors, buckets, chairs and tables, services porcelain, plastics, clocks, vases, ladders, lamps, guitars, chickens …

Your world escapes any logical arrangement. Or so it seems. Includes the cabin and the land around it, and the garage converted into workshop. Adjacent to your yard, there is a huge golf course. Sometimes, small white balls come here to stop as meteorites from a hostile galaxy. Never returns.

Inside the small house chaos reigns. It is the first impression. But there is a stove for cooking and a stove to heat. Electricity is provided by solar panels installed outside. A bed, a bunk bed, shelves and walls with hundreds of bottles, cans, containers, knives, kitchen utensils, fruit, turnips, onions, eggs, cups and teapots, paintings, paper hanging. Underneath the bed is the place of clothing. It’s hard not to consider that is crumpled. On top of the mattress and sleeping bag behind the wrinkled, have the books, lined up like a showcase. Featured at the head, The Origin of Species, Darwin.

The chickens roam up on the shelves of food, pecking here and there, flitting through the house. Sage Rad (short for Radachowski, your apelino Slovak) sits on a bench and makes coffee. Beard, shaggy hair, 39 years old, a t-shirt with colored spots and the phrase “Legalize Life”. It would be easy to tell who has a crazy look. Too easy.

Your lifestyle is radical. Do not agree with the present organization of society, so decided not to spend money. Get everything in other ways. “I have what I need. Food, water, shelter, warmth. I try to simplify my life as much as possible. ” It has everything but does not buy anything. “This is my way. I’m going to look for food in garbage containers, food cultivation, gathering food in the forest. Chickens give me eggs, honey bees. There are ways to get food. Does not have to involve money. I live here, paid a small income, but hopefully not have to pay anything in future. To be free, I have to live on the margins of the system. ”

To show that this is true, will get some cabbage leaves stored in a pile of manure. Caught them in the trash and will cook them, explains. Almost everything that has been caught and that consumes the trash. The materials to build the house, clothes, shoes. “I still buy some things, but not much. I would spend a whole year without buying anything. ”

What is your profession? “Carpenter” answers. He adds with a sheepish grin: “I also work at Harvard in the field of electronics.”

In the world’s most prestigious university, Sage Rad is involved in important research project. Is it better to be explaining: “At this time with a Chinese teacher working on a project to produce water purification technology, which will be applied in China. Remove arsenic from water, eliminate pollution. Working with microbes and electricity. Microbes are electric. The process is called bio-electrosíntese and basically consists of living microbes have a piece of graphite in the slurry. Another electrode in the water produces some metabolic reactions that help purify water. ”

At university, he was asked to work full time, but he refuses. Will there only one hour per day. We also offered jobs in large companies, not accepted. Has worked in software and high technology. Let all the carpentry. Builds houses and paint walls. Another activity that is engaged in the construction of guitars. Already have many hanging in the workshop. The format is strange, invented by him, and serves two purposes: ease of transport on the bike, and the production of a unique sound.

For this purpose, Sage surrendered to the deep study of acoustic science. After many experiments, invented their own techniques. Inside the box resonance places a wooden structure shaped Nautilus, inspired by investigations of Leonardo da Vinci. And to tune the instrument arm adopts models approximate tonal scales, following the example of Bach’s tuning in Well-Tempered Clavier, because the song explains, completeness and accuracy are not the same.

“Many builders guitars use mathematical models to define the measures of the frets. But the music mathematical formulas do not work. You need to find some imperfection. Everything is compromise. ”

Grab one of the guitars and start playing. The sound is pure and perfect pitch. Performs Cantata 147, Jesus, Joy of Man, Bach, interpreted blameless, clean, moving.

As with so many other things he can do, Sage did not learn music. It comes from a poor family, and, after high school, he studied Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. But soon traveled to Nepal, where he lived in villages, teaching sociology, English and Computer Science. Where’d you learn that?

Prefer to explain how she learned to live simply, in the nine trips he made to the Himalayas. On his return he began working in carpentry, construction of houses. “I have built many, for others, but had no chance to build my own home. This shows how the system is not right. Have to pay simply to exist on this planet. We were born here. Because we have to pay for the privilege of living here? I believe we can build our own home. But the fact that some people possess the land and others have to pay just to exist is not right. Is not moral or ethical. ”

One day Sage found a book about the life of Gypsies. It was then decided to build his tent. Even created a site on the net called , but as has not paid the annual fee for accommodation, canceled it.

It took four months to build the house, working only on Saturdays and Sundays. Live here, alone but not lonely. “Nothing like that. What I need is more time alone. People are always visiting me. Spend some time alone, but I need more. I’m still in the system, and wasting a lot of time to make money. Each day brings more cards in the mail. Accounts of the Government. I try to have more time for me, cutting the things that mean nothing. I do not need more stuff. I just need more time. ”

In the backyard there is a roost with nine chickens and a bee hive. Sage that was built, after much study on their own, as is his habit. Shows the book that’s been read – The Democracy of Bees, Thomas Seeley. “They have a process of decision making. Bees have more democracy than the U.S.. ”

Want to show the hive, but when it gets there waiting for a terrible surprise: all the bees had died. Soon finds an explanation: “It was pollution, chemicals. Stress. ” Removes the boards of the tenement, with a razor, and finds thousands of dead insects inside. But also swollen combs of honey, which brings home. His eyes no longer seems crazy, just immensely sad and human. Makes plans to capture a new swarm by the flowers of spring, and build a new hive. “It is a sweet tragedy,” he says, sucking his fingers full of honey. “I will build a hive very good, so they want to go there to live. Bees choose their own home. ”

Sage Rad chose this cabin and does not intend to ever go back to living a “normal” house. Will build another hut for his girlfriend, and maybe one day buy land where they can live a few dozen people, each in their tiny house. Sage thinks it will be possible, because not alone. Despite all their uniqueness, belonging to a movement.

June 23rd, 2011



After his blockbuster success with Tuesdays with Morrie, a week-by-week account of the slow death of his old professor from ALS, Mitch Albom seems to have death on the mind. Morrie was followed by Albom’s first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and then For One More Day, (about one more day with his dead mother), and then Have a Little Faith

All of Albom’s books were Best Sellers and except for the last one have been turned into successful films. I’ve just finished the Five People You Meet in Heaven which was based on his Uncle Eddie who seemed to live a rather nondescript life as a Maintenance Man in an amusement park.

In Heaven Eddie meets people whose lives somehow transected his and sees how he influenced them without intent and totally unknown to him. There is a strange beauty in the interconnection of lives and you get a glimpse of the tapestry that is being woven.

When asked where he gets his inspiration, Mitch Albom wrote:

I look to the moments in my life when I was overwhelmed by emotion, when I felt tears behind my eyes or when I felt my breath leaving me. And then I think what was behind those moments: what happened to push me to that point? I try to see if it is something universal, something many people feel. If so, I know I am I standing in the soil of something inspiring, and I begin to create a story from that moment.

There’s an old saying that hindsight is 20/20.   Often is is only in looking backwards that we can see there was a plan, after all.


Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. – 1 Cor. 13:12

June 19th, 2011


Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay

I regret that I have not been privy to the beauty of mathematics in the way that Einstein may have been. I do, however, appreciate the simple beauty of arithmetic in that 3 + 5 is aways 8. If I think 8 is the right answer, I am not accused of being judgmental. Nor am I pressured into being tolerant of those who prefer a different answer.

There is a beauty in Sung-Bong’s voice that immediately resonates with the audience. One may think of John McCormack singing The Lost Chord, Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life, Susan Boyle’s debut on Britain’s Got Talent, the popularity of Il Divo, the way a beautiful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer or Shubert’s Ave Maria touches hearts.   As in The Lost Chord, it reaches some inner responsive place and is called “beautiful”.  Whatever it is that Lady Gaga does for her immense popularity, I have never heard it described as  “beautiful.”

Listen to Sung-Bong Choi and tell me what it is in his voice that immediately touches others, that strikes that inner chord. His musical debut on Korea’s Got Talent has gone viral, as they say, and has already been heard by 7.5 million people.  His life has been forever changed and he will need our prayers.   Lord,  please guide him through these perilous waters.

Bonus:  An oldie, Deanna Durbin at age 18, thrown in for good measure, not because of the quality of the rendition but because she delighted me as a child. I much preferred her to Judy Garland!  See my contemporaries, Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin,  debut in Every Sunday (1936) here.


Beauty is a harmonious relation between something in our nature and the quality of the object which delights us. — Blaise Pascal

April 23rd, 2011


I think God knew that we modern folk would have trouble believing those old stories about Jesus and would doubt that God really became man, lived on earth, died and rose again …. so He left the Shroud of Turin, an inexplicable linen cloth that was used as a shroud for a crucified man, perhaps 2000 years ago. Check it out – see what you think.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris exults!

January 28th, 2011


They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Well, I’m wondering what tree the creators of these vehicles fell from! My daughter, Wendy (a girl-child, mind you — and a retiree, to boot) is happily at home in Cerrillos NM, putting together a VolksDragon Tryke which is destined to look like this. She says she is converting a ’70 VW Bug and “72 Honda C750 into a VolksDragon.   She posted the steps involved in reaching this end result on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, back  in Fort Lauderdale FL, Wendy’s son has replaced his stolen Schwinn with this! He built the front springer forks, seat layback and custom motor mount himself. Let’s give credit where credit is due, I say!  Isn’t it a beauty?

January 1st, 2011


Celebrating family! These are the people who have been along for the long haul. In fact, I knew most of them as new-born babies!  Starting at the left and around the table we have sister-in-law Margie, me, cousin Johnny, sister Dolly, sister Annette, brother Ernie, brother Bob.  There were five of us siblings and there still are five of us, thank you, Lord!

Here I am, holding the list of cousins that gathered last month at brother Ernie’s home in Monroe. There are ten of us on the list and our ages add up to 853, which means there is probably an error in addition.

We then went to visit Aunt Fran in the convalescent home in Fairfield.   She has just turned 102.   She hadn’t seen us in years yet remembered who we were and where we fit into the family constellation.   That’s Annette on the left, me on the right, and Fran’s daughter Anne behind her. 

Like Old Barns, we old folks have a past, a certain beauty, and a future. ENJOY.

November 25th, 2010


Something is wrong with me. Tears are so close to the surface these days. Is it the  holiday, with the gatherings, and the remembrance of those who no longer gather? Is it the fact that beauty sometimes seems to break my heart?

This photo makes me cry.

These words make me cry.

So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth replies, I can.
— Emerson

Dutch Beauty

I tried to include here an extraordinarily beautiful Dutch PowerPoint but WordPress said it was too large to upload.   I’ll be happy to send it as an email attachment to anyone looking for a blessing.  Just request it in the comments and send it to people you love.  Or, thanks to my very clever son, just click on Dutch Beauty above and you can download the PowerPoint to your computer.

And speaking of extraordinary beauty, my face is wet with tears from having viewed today, for the first time, a little movie called St. Bernadette of Lourdes, produced by Navis Pictures and available from Ignatius Press.  It is written, produced and directed by one Jim Morlino, a member of my parish.  The actors are all local children, and it is, of course, about the apparitions of  Our Lady in Lourdes.  All I can say is that it is precious  and gorgeous and charming and moving and has the Holy Spirit all over it.  It would be the perfect Christmas gift for any  family with children – you will be astounded  at the quality of the production and the children will love, love, love it.  This movie is  an act of love and I cannot speak too highly of it.

Meet Jim Morlino

Where have all the children gone?

I guess what’s wrong with me is that I’m mourning – the loved ones gone, young lives cut short, buds not allowed to blossom, beauty unappreciated, and beauty appreciated.

This is a day for weeping and Thanksgiving.   God is, and all is well.


Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  — Mark 10:14

October 8th, 2010


There’s nothing like a song to take you back to a time and a place. The time for me is the sixties; the place, Chicago IL. My husband collected John McCormack records and would play them over and over again. I still have some of those old Victor red label 78s and even have a record player that will accommodate them, but I very seldom play them. Still the songs linger on.

For no apparent reason McCormack’s rendition of The Lost Chord recently came to mind and I wanted to hear it once more, to check out some of the words, to see if I still liked it as much. And, lo, YouTube was there for me. And for you.

For those who have had hints of the transcendent in the here and now, I offer this reflection with a prayer that they may experience joy, peace, love, and the glory of God without measure, unalloyed, in the great beyond.

And for readers  who, alas, have no clue that John McCormack was also a great opera singer,  on a par with Caruso, here is his Il mio tesoro from Don Giovanni — with a prayer of thanks to my husband.


For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. — 1 Corinthians 13:12

July 31st, 2010


Just because the weather outside is incredibly hot and steamy doesn’t mean that interesting things aren’t going on outside, worthy of note.

The little bird sits at his door in the sun
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer he receives.

Yes, the robins did their thing again this year, in a different rosebush. And just a couple of days ago the last of the fledglings took flight. It’s about three weeks from hatch to dispatch and the rapidity of this metamorphosis never ceases to amaze me.

Two years ago a rabbit ravaged my garden. Last year the cause of devastation was a mole (or a family of moles?) This year a woodchuck decided I would have no broccoli and no parsley so I borrowed Stan’s Have-A-Heart trap and set it with a chocolate chip cookie plastered with peanut butter. In one day we caught a monster of a woodchuck which has been carted away to distant parts. I don’t know whether to reset the trap to see if the woodchuck has a family hereabouts. I worry that that might catch the skunk that I saw the other night and smelled this morning. What do I do if I catch a skunk?

Tomatoes are starting to ripen, thanks be to God. The miserable tomato blight that killed the whole crop last year makes us grateful for every healthy plant with the promise of yummy tomatoes this time around. As usual, I just pop the extra tomatoes into a bag in the freezer and usually have enough available for the entire year. Just hold the frozen tomato under warm water from the faucet and slip off the skin — behold, ready to cook for sauce or whatever.

The potato tops are starting to die down and digging can then begin. Mary and I find this enjoyable and like to do it together. Wonderful things happen underground when we’re not looking! (On another note, I suspect we have enough horseradish underground to start a small factory. But it is so hard to dig up that I usually settle for one small root a year, grate it, mix it with vinegar, and that’s that. Want to start a horseradish business?)

For years I shied away from petunias because they were everywhere. Finally I succumbed and used them in my flower boxes where they were, of course, colorful and prolific bloomers. This year I didn’t buy any, hoping they would reseed, but nothing happened and I was happy to receive lovely purple petunias for Mother’s Day. If I could have been patient until mid-June I would have learned that they would indeed reseed, in their own time. Bless them, they are now all over the place!

About five years ago some sort of vine started climbing up the rope hanging from my clothesline by the back door. Each year it returned and two years ago it bloomed in September, little white flowers all over it. This year it is mammoth and wants to take over the world!

Now that’s a VINE! When we Vinings do VINES we do them  RIGHT!

When I showed this vine to daughter Terry I told her that if we waited till September it would bloom for us. That was when she informed me that it must be a fall-blooming clematis. Of course I argued that it couldn’t be a clematis because the flowers are quite small and white and my spring-blooming clematis has bright magenta flowers 5 inches across. “It has clematis written all over it,” she exclaimed, and sure enough when I googled late-blooming clematis the picture looked exactly the same. I also read that it could easily cover a small shed or a slow-moving animal!

(Added: September 3.  Sure enough – it DID!  This is just a smidgin of it.  )

Fall-blooming clematis

I reluctantly add that we Vinings not only have rose vines (red, white, and wild), clematis, English ivy, a trumpet vine, but also a collection of truly evil vines which take over the garden about August. Perhaps if I do a special post on the evil vines that thrive hereabouts someone will 1) identify them and 2) tell me how to get rid of them.

Being a Vining is not all fun and flowers!