Reading Challenge; Feb. 11, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017


What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel –

Report: I am no longer reading this book. As I have said previously, I find the authors to be alarmist and I believe that performing every test available is just an excuse to abort more babies. This week, during my reading, I was very shocked and saddened to see that they actually blatantly advocated extensive testing for the purpose of deciding to kill the child (I bolded the specific sentence from the offending section): “CVS is performed between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy. Its main advantage is the fact that it can be performed in the first trimester and it can give results . . . earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis, which is usually performed after the 16th week. The earlier diagnosis is particularly helpful for those who might consider a therapeutic pregnancy termination if something is seriously wrong, since an earlier abortion is less complicated and traumatic.

How wicked is that? For starters, why are we concerned about the comfort level of a person committing murder? Secondly, this proves my point about the actual reasons these extensive tests are being promoted. Many of my family and friends want to believe that these tests are there purely to help the mother and the baby, and that the abortions spurred by them were not part of the original plan, nor do they happen often. I contest that if authors of a “pregnancy help” book (i.e. this is a book that is marketed as pro-childbearing, yet they were not afraid of scandalizing or offending their readers with this bold statement) are willing to blatantly state this as a reason for testing, then it is not as rare an occurrence as people choose to believe.

Furthermore, at the time of this addition, the CVS test had a miscarriage rate of 1 in 370 babies….I’ll let that sink in, 1 in 370 babies. Not only were they encouraging people to get this test, but this is what they said about its safety, “CVS is safe and reliable, carrying a miscarriage rate of about 1 in 370.”

How is 1 in 370 considered SAFE??? They aren’t just saying this is a good test for if you don’t want your baby, because this is a test they are saying you should use to determine that; rather, they are saying that a woman should risk her baby’s life to determine if it is “abnormal” or not.

Lord have mercy.

I have ordered another child development book to replace this one, it should be here sometime this next week. It is focused firmly on the psychological development of children, specifically Piaget’s theories expounded upon, so I don’t anticipate it being a disappointment.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 26 pages

Reflection: The first, and largest part of my reading had to do with Asian antiquities. The first discussed was Japanese prints: “Japanese prints give you a lot of information you don’t find in most antiques, including the artist’s signature. Many also include the title of the print and if it’s from a series, the name of the series as well. Often you find publisher’s marks, and sometimes date and censor seals. All this information gives you a chance to research your artist and your print.”

Now, I have never been a real fan of Asian art, but I have to say, when you are just starting out in antiquing, you probably couldn’t ask for a better jumping off point. Since the Japanese were meticulous about keeping track of every conceivable detail about a piece, it strikes me that it may prove easier to say with confidence whether the piece you are looking at is indeed an antique or not.

Here are a couple more tips from the book, with regards to Japanese prints: “When the blocks are new, the details of the print are often fine and crisp. As the blocks get worn from use, the details can suffer. This impacts the value of the print. The finer and crisper the detail, the more desirable the print.

You can still find wonderful woodblock prints at affordable prices. You can also find old reproductions of some of the more famous prints. Sometimes, only a true specialist can figure out that these are reproductions. If you have your heart set on original wood block prints, find some knowledgeable dealers who can show you the real thing.

You can find quantities of lovely Japanese woodblock prints whose prices never reached the level that made them worth reproducing.”

I have a couple thoughts about this: One, it isn’t smart to make the goal of your first foray into collecting Japanese prints, to get a well-known print. Two, if you want a print that will increase in value rather quickly, it would seem that buying one of the “lovely…woodblock prints whose prices never…made them worth reproducing”, would be the way to go. As I’ve stated in earlier posts, one of the factors that determines an antiques value is its abundance, or rather, lack thereof. And, it would appear from the above excerpt from the book, that the prints that were less-valuable in their day are less abundant now, and therefore, could rise in value as people lose interest or are unable to obtain the more renowned prints.

Below is an example of Japanese Woodblock Print that I do find hauntingly beautiful:lovers-walking-in-the-snow

(I believe this print was on The Met’s website.)

The following are common subject matter, for this art-form, from the 1600’s:


Long before Modern Screen and People, Japanese artists captured the actors in woodblock prints. The earlier prints had just the actors; later prints developed a background and then scenes.


The courtesans of the day were exceptionally talented, literary, smart, and beautiful…woodblock prints captured these courtesans and also served as a historic record of the clothing styles of the day. Utamaro is one of the most famous and inventive artists of the ‘beautiful women’ prints.


There was an edict against travel, so most people didn’t even know what their country looked like. Hiroshige traveled throughout the land, sketching as he went. He traveled the Tokaido Trail from the old to the new capital and drew every one of the 53 way stations…Several generations later, these landscapes are some of the most appealing to the western eye.

Literature and mythology

In the 19th century, Japanese woodblock print artists loved creating prints to illustrate one of the world’s earliest novels, The Tale of Genji, which was written by a woman in the 12th century. The artists also created prints about all kinds of mythological subjects.

The ordinary

Scenes of birds and flowers became a popular subject for Japanese prints. The earlier prints are often simpler, and the later prints get busier. Folks hanging around and enjoying themselves is another genre of Japanese print-making. You can see picnickers by the banks of a river, revelers watching fireworks at a New Year’s celebration, and pleasure-seekers whiling away the hours in the Yoshiwara, the pleasure quarters of Edo.

All other things being equal, such as condition, certain subject matters are often considered especially desirable. Some of these include snow scenes, rain scenes, and night scenes.”


Sunday, February 5, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 23 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: This book never fails to uplift and enlighten. I enjoy every hour of reading it. Today I learned that there is a “Prayer Rule for Lost Things.” In the past when I have lost something I knew I could entreat St. Phanourios, and then bake a cake in his mother’s name, give it to someone, and ask them to pray for her soul. I have never seen this fail. I did not know, however, that there was a prayer rule that could be said for the same purpose.

You pray the 50th Psalm (the 51st if you have a King James Bible), then the Creed, and then you will find what you are looking for.

God is so good, and He never fails us.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 16 pages in the hour.

Reflection: Imari is a hard paste porcelain from the Imari port in Japan. “Early Imari is blue and white; later they spiced it up with shades of reddish-orange, almost a paprika color; a little green; and sometimes a touch of other colors…

…Imari varies in quality and in timeframe. People are still creating Imari…Here are some tips for recognizing the true…thing:

Flaws: Look for signs that the piece is hand painted..If the work looks too perfect, it’s probably been printed. Some modern Imari is also hand painted.

The pits: Older Imari was fired in small, wood-burning kilns…Little specks of ash can fall into the glaze during firing, creating little dark pits…These specks are assurances of age. Bumps also indicate age.

The Gilded Ones: Newer gilding is shinier and more reflective than the old gilt…

Dirty Feet: Old foot rims have some brownness; the newer foot rims are generally icy white.

Spur Marks: Spurs held up the large pieces in the kiln; the smaller pieces may have one or none. Large plates always have some spur marks. A bowl may not…

Undulating Glaze: Look at the bottom of the piece in raking light (hold the piece at an angle so that the light reveals he imperfections). You’ll see an undulation or unevenness in the glaze of older pieces.

Gray tint: In the old days, they didn’t try to cover up that gray. The older glazes have a blue gray tint; the newer tend to have pure white look.”

Kovels Imari Jars 1890.jpg

Imary Jars from the 1890s, courtesy of


Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 22 pages in the hour.

Reflection: There is a story from my reading today that I want to share. It is such a touching and deeply convicting story about just what God can accomplish with our obedience. But first, some back story: Father Vladimir Rodzyanko was a widowed priest who had endured much suffering in his life, escaped communism, and started his own radio program on the BBC; which brought Orthodoxy back to the millions of people deprived of its theology in communist countries. He was so prolific and holy that he was known the world over; and the Church in the United States requested that the Metropolitan make him a bishop and send him to serve their congregations.

When Father Vladimir met with the Metropolitan, to be made a monk and then a bishop, he asked him, “…instead of starting me out as a simple monk, you’re immediately making me a bishop. In other words, instead of being a novice and obeying the commands of others, my job will mean that I’m the one who will have to command and make decisions. How then do I fulfill the vow of obedience? To whom will I be a novice? Whom will I obey?”

The Metropolitan replied, “You will be in obedience to everyone and anyone whom you meet on your journey through life. As long as that person’s request will be within your power to grant it, and not in contradiction with the Scriptures.”

The book relates many wonderful and remarkable things about the life of Father Vladimir (who, when he took his monastic vows and was ordained bishop, became Bishop Basil), but I want to share just the one as related by Archimandrite Tikhon, who was with him at the time: Once when the Bishop was visiting Moscow he was approached by a young priest and asked to come serve in his parish. Even though the parish was a very long and difficult journey away, Bishop Basil took up his obedience joyfully and went with the priest in his car.

“The trip to his [the young priest] village, however, truly was long and arduous, and we, his travel companions, were soon thoroughly worn out.

But then our car suddenly came to halt. Literally a few minutes ago there had been an accident on the road: a truck had run head-on into a motorcycle. There was a dead man lying right in the dust of the road. Standing over him, numbed with grief, stood a young man. Nearby, the truck driver listlessly stood smoking a cigarette.

The bishop and his companions hurriedly got out of the car. There was already nothing that could be done to help…

The young motorcyclist, clutching his helmet in his hands, was weeping. The dead man had been his father. The bishop embraced the young man and said: ‘I am a priest. If your father was a believer, I can say the necessary prayers for him.’

‘Yes, yes!’ The young man began to recover from shock. ‘Please do whatever is needed! My father was an Orthodox believer. Although…he never used to go to church. They got rid of all the churches around here. But he used to say that he did have a spiritual father. So please, do whatever is required!’

They were already taking the necessary ecclesiastical vestments out of the car. The bishop could not restrain himself and gently asked the young man, ‘How did it happen that your father never went to church, and yet had a spiritual father?’

‘It just happened that way…For many years my father used to listen to religious broadcasts from London. They were made by some priest named Rodzyanko. And my father considered this priest his spiritual father, even though he never saw him once in his life.’

The bishop sobbed and wept and got down on his knees before his spiritual son who had just died.”

Isn’t that remarkable? If Bishop Basil hadn’t been obedient to the young priest asking him to abandon his busy and important schedule to travel a long and exhausting journey to a tiny parish in the middle of nowhere, he wouldn’t have been able to pray for the newly departed soul of his unknown spiritual son!

What obedience is God asking of me that I am ignoring, either deliberately or subconsciously?

I could be a changed person in the blink of an eye, if I only said yes.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Reflection: During my reading it struck me how I am called to love everyone. I know that’s not a new idea for anyone even remotely familiar with Christianity, and it’s a concept I always think I understand, but then, when I look deeper, it’s obvious that I don’t.

Love is wanting the best for a person’s immortal soul. And it is not inherently absent from anger or sorrow. Just like it isn’t inherently present in happiness.

Love can look like a lot of things, and only God knows which appearance is necessary for a soul.

I don’t know where I’m going with this…except…I believe I struggle with separating the sin from the sinner. And for that I am heartily sorry.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 24 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: If you want to sell your antique(s) or merely know their value, here are some helpful tips on finding an appraiser and evaluating their expertise:

“You want an appraiser who is qualified. You may want to select an appraiser who belongs to one or more of the appraisers’ organizations. Some of the national appraisal organizations that certify their members are:

ISA, International Society of Appraisers…

ASA, American Society of Appraisers…

AAA, Appraisers Association of America…

…When you talk to an appraiser, here are some questions to ask:

What qualifies you to appraise my property? It’s a plus to have someone who has taken the courses from the appraisal societies and who knows the proper form and substance of the appraisal report…

Have you been tested? The test for certification should include ethics and the details of creating appraisal reports as well as testing on the appraiser’s specialties…

Do you take continuing education? You want an appraiser who is up-to-date on appraisal standards and procedures, which are subject to change..

How do you handle items outside of your specialty? No matter how competent appraisers are, they won’t have seen it all. They need to know how to describe, measure, photograph, and research antiques. They need to know other specialists in their field so that they can reach out for help when they have questions.

What is your fee? On what basis do you charge? Major appraisal organizations feel that charging a percentage of the appraised price is unethical. Charging on a percentage basis disqualifies the appraisal for use by the IRS. Most appraisers charge either per item or by the hour or on a total fee for the entire job…”

The following are tips for selling your antiques online:

Email online auction houses and find out their rules…

Get clear pictures of the item you want to sell from every angle..

Write a complete accurate description of the piece, including the way it looks and a full disclosure of its condition.

Write out a return policy…

Check your e-mail daily in order to respond promptly to potential customers.

Be prepared to change the item’s category listing if you get few or no responses…

Make arrangements with a reliable packing and shipping company to wrap the item or learn how to pack fragile items…”

That wraps it up for Antiquing for Dummies! I’ll be starting another antiquing book this coming week.

Magic; A Poem Revisited

I’m very pleased with the progress that I have made in revising this poem. However, I don’t consider it fully revised yet….it feels incomplete somehow. I’m going to do further mulling this week, but for the moment, here is where she’s at:


6a Magic speaks in whispers,

7b Running gently through the wood;

7c It prances over rivers;

7c And refracts light in shivers.

6d It winks from each flower,

7e Glinting off of crystal dew.

7f ‘tis the sweetness in the air;

7f Painting colors barely there.


6g Magic enchants your eyes;

7h Playing just beyond the touch.

7i It beckons the golden bee;

7i And adorns the fruited tree.

6j It is the bird’s trilled song;

7k The pattern of growing moss.

7l In the shade it romances;

7l And in sunlight it dances.


As always, I encourage people to critique my work and share their thoughts. I don’t know exactly what needs to be changed or added to this poem, but, to me, it doesn’t feel quite done.

The Arts; A Journey: Magic

The following is another of my poems that needs work. It isn’t as much of a train wreck as Truth’s Joy was, but it definitely could use some fine-tuning.


6a Magic speaks in whispers,

7b Running gently through the wood;

6c Prancing over rivers;

7c Refracting light in shivers.


6d Magic winks from flower,

7e Glinting off of crystal dew.

6f The sweetness in the air;

7f Painting colors barely there.


6g Magic enchants your eyes;

7h Playing just beyond the touch.

6i It brings the butterflies;

7i Gives warmth to the frosted bise.


6j Magic gives birds their song.

7k It binds the leaf to its tree.

6l The waterfall chimes clear

7l And over rocks, fairies peer.


TECHNICALLY the meter and rhyme are on point; however, when you read it, it doesn’t flow very well. The inflection is off. I’ve never paid deliberate attention to inflection, but it is what I need to work on next if I want to improve.


Reading Challenge; Feb. 4, 2017

I didn’t read as much this week as I should have, so this post will be shorter than the previous. But, rest-assured, I have not given up on reading every day, I’m just finding my stride.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017


What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel –

Report: I read 13 pages this week. I know…that’s abysmal.

Reflection: There really wasn’t anything I found worth comment on or thinking about further….I know this is a best seller and that most women LOVE it, but frankly I find it extremely dull and alarmist. Some of the advice they give feels to me like they are advocating the philosophy, “look until you find the problem, regardless of whether you have cause.” However, I feel that that is a HORRIFIC philosophy for really anything health related because I think, like a lot of things in life, if you look hard enough YOU WILL FIND A PROBLEM. Whereas, if you don’t have symptoms, then I think, if there is a problem, it will usually straighten itself out. Not to mention the problems that the medical field “finds” that aren’t actually there….I mean, that’s no way to live your life, in constant fear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in, when you have strange symptoms, getting to the bottom of them. But going around digging for problems for no reason is just stupid.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 24 pages this week.

Reflection: The following are some tips for buying antique beds: “Use your sleuthing skills to check out age, construction, and condition. Beds are usually sold without the mattress, so you have everything framed out for you. Look for the usual signs of wear….

Measure the height of a canopy or tester bed to make sure that it is not too tall to fit into your home (be sure to measure your home’s ceiling before you shop for beds). You can almost always remove the canopy, if you want.

Measure the space for the mattress. If the bed won’t take a modern size mattress, you can usually change the side rails to make the bed longer. Altering the rails can compromise the value of your antique, so consult a qualified restoration specialist. Keep the original side rails, in case you want to sell the bed.”

I wouldn’t mind having an antique bed. I think it would add a lot to a room while not being nearly as much work to maintain as an antique rug.

I’ve always thought that “Armoire” sounded suspiciously like ‘Armory”, and it turns out that that is in fact not a coincidence. Originally an armoire was used to store weapons and related gear.

They found new life when the French government decided to implement a room tax; which meant that home-owners paid more the more rooms they had, and each closet was considered a room. That is when the armoire began being used for clothing storage.

An antique armoire is another piece, like the antique bed, that could greatly enhance a room while not requiring exhaustive maintenance.


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 27 pages this week.

Reflection: There were so many beautiful accounts in this section. I don’t know where to begin…it feels as though all I can do is post the words already written, but I don’t want to deprive anyone of the joy of discovering these stories from the book, themselves.

There was a thought that struck me, however, that I can share. In one of the stories, Archimandrite Tikhon related, a priest had a young girl come to him in distress. She was possessed by a demon and wanted him to help rid her of it. The whole tale is remarkable and worth reading, but I just want to talk about one portion.

After he exorcises the demon, he is “happy for the girl because the child had truly ceased to be tortured and suffer for the sins of her parents.” She was possessed, not because of sins she had committed, but because of sins her parents had committed.

We see so much suffering in this world, especially among young people. Often we condemn them for their actions, or criticize them as being young and stupid. But we don’t think about how they must be suffering inside, and, if we do, we don’t think about how that probably didn’t start with them; it started with their parents heaping it upon them.

Human beings come into this world innocent and helpless. God made parents to cultivate the child’s pure heart, and to defend them while they are helpless; but too often, almost everywhere you look, the parent is neither a cultivator, nor a guardian, but rather a pillager and assailant.

May we choose humility, being honest with ourselves about our actions and words while raising our children; so that they may not bear the burden of our corruption. For it is the not God who passes such a burden from one generation to the next, but rather selfish, and fearful parents.