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.

Reading Challenge; Jan. 28, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017; Roughly 359 Hours to go per Subject this Year


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

Report: 28 pages

Reflection: After finishing The Psychology of the Child, I thought I would read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. After all, my ulterior motive for choosing this as one of my reading subjects, is to be ready for this next step in my life. A step that I can’t wait to take; but while I’m waiting, there are some other steps that I can take that will make the pregnancy step even easier.

The first chapter of the book is all about what you can do to prepare for pregnancy. The authors suggest having a female check-up, if you don’t normally already, to make sure that everything is in fact healthy and functioning the way that it should. I think this is good advice too because I’ve seen a lot of women concerned with “how long it is taking them to get pregnant”. Instead of thinking that it is actually taking normal amount of time, they immediately worry that something is wrong physically. If you have already had a check-up and, thus, know that everything is functioning properly, then I think you are less likely to jump to that worry.

It seems to me that since the invention of birth-control our society seems to think that if you aren’t using contraception then you will automatically get pregnant. This is a fallacy, and one that I think is propagated by the contraceptive companies to encourage use. While I have no issue with them doing this as it makes perfect marketing sense, I find it funny that people can’t seem to let go of the notion. Even when properly educated about how the female reproductive system works.

I think this is a big part of why many women think they should be getting pregnant faster than they are. They know in their brain that they are in fact not fertile every single day (and the book says that it takes a NORMAL woman an average of six months to get pregnant. Now, I think that has to do with what kind of birth-control you were previously using, however my point still stands); but they don’t then disregard the idea that if you aren’t using contraceptive, you WILL get pregnant.

They also suggested looking for a prenatal practitioner before conception, if possible.

The next suggestion surprised me, a dental visit. “A visit to the dentist before you get pregnant is almost as important as a visit to the doctor. That’s because your future pregnancy can affect your mouth – and your mouth can possibly affect your future pregnancy.” They go on to say that pregnancy hormones can really mess with your gums and teeth; aggravating existing problems.

In a similar vein, they mention looking into your family tree, i.e. what health problems might your children inherit? I’m not sure how I feel about this one…I mean, no matter what is or could be wrong with my baby, it is still my baby. I feel like this suggestion is a slippery slope, and I think we as a society have already seen the ugly bottom of that slope, aborting babies because they are not “normal”, or will not be able to live a “normal life”.

Of course, there is the argument that there are a lot of preventative or healing medical measures that can be taken during pregnancy, so not knowing is “irresponsible”. But I don’t think I agree with this either. There is that verse in the bible that talks about babies being made in secret. I think that was referring to the womb, and certainly any of these medical measures are invasive or require monitoring and I’m not sure that’s right.

They also suggest looking at your pregnancy history, if you have one. I think that falls in line with the doctor’s visit very nicely. After all, if you know you have had trouble in the past then obviously you need to know what’s happening with you physically before you try again.

The next suggestions are all doctor visit related: “Seek genetic screening…” (The aim is similar to when you look back into your family medical history, just more in depth). “Get Tested…Hemoglobin or hematocrit,…Rh factor,…Rubella titer,…Varicella titer,…Tuberculosis…Hepatitis B…Cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibodies,…Toxoplasmosis titer,…Thyroid function…Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)…Get treated…Update your immunizations.”(Another controversial suggestion…I haven’t decided what I think.)

Get chronic illnesses under control…Get ready to toss your birth control…Improve your diet…Take a prenatal vitamin. Even if you’re eating plenty of foods high in folic acid, it’s still recommended that you take a pregnancy supplement containing 400 mcg of the vitamin, preferably beginning two months before you try to conceive…Research indicates that women who take a daily multivitamin containing at least 10 mg of vitamin B6 before becoming pregnant or during the first weeks of pregnancy experience fewer episodes of vomiting and nausea during pregnancy. The supplement should also contain 15 mg of zinc, which may improve fertility…Get your weight in check. Being over-weight or very underweight not only reduces the chances of conception, but, if you do conceive, weight problems can increase the risk of pregnancy complications…Shape up [work out]…Check your medicine cabinet. Some…medications are considered unsafe for use during pregnancy…Cut back on caffeine…Cut down on alcohol…Quit smoking…Just say no to illegal drugs…Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation…Avoid environmental hazards…Get fiscally fit…Work out those work issues. Find out everything you can about your work rights when pregnant…Start keeping track. Become familiar with your monthly cycle and learn the signs of ovulation…Give it time. Keep in mind that it takes an average of six months for a normal, healthy 25-year-old woman to conceive, and longer for women who are older…Relax…getting uptight about conception could prevent you from conceiving [also good advice because studies show that anxiety transmits to the baby through the umbilical cord, which is of course unhealthy; so you don’t want to be stressed while trying to conceive on the off chance that you do conceive and start spreading that anxiety hormone].

Chapter 2 was devoted to knowing if you were pregnant or not. I was most interested in the part about chemical pregnancies. I’d never heard of them before now. They are a type of miscarriage. What happens is the egg is fertilized but doesn’t fully implant in the uterus, causing the woman to miscarry. But the the thing is that these pregnancies were unheard of before the early accuracy home pregnancy tests. Because the pregnancy ends just as it starts there are not symptoms (outside of the added hormones in the bloodstream and urine), so women throughout history have had them and never known!

The book says that you can call your doctor as soon as you know you are pregnant, but it depends on the practice as to whether or not you get an appointment immediately. It said that it isn’t uncommon for a doctor not see an expectant mother until she is roughly 6 to 8 weeks along.

Then they gave a list of birthing options, i.e. all of the different professionals who can deliver your baby, and where and how they can deliver them. They talked about the different kinds of doctors, nurses, and midwifes, as well as birthing rooms, birthing centers, and home births. They also discussed Leboyer births which is a “theory of childbirth without violence”. Apparently parts his, Frederick Leboyer, theory are now fairly common practice; I’m very intrigued and want to learn more about it.


Saturday, January 21, 2017; 358 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: 14 pages read.

Reflection: Do you know how beer steins were invented? Evidently, way back when, bugs and gross things would fall into your beer as you were drinking it; so the German government made a health law stating that all mugs had to have lids. This was so that unhealthy things couldn’t get in. Too bad the Victorians didn’t grab hold of this idea, we could have had tea cups with lids…though maybe then it’s just a misappropriated sugar bowl…hmmm….

One of my favorite items from the reading today is the Tantalus. A tantalus is an elegant liquor bottle holder. But that’s not even the best part. THEY LOCK! And not only in a common way, “…many have their own unique ways of opening. Some have pullout or push-in pieces of wood or metal fittings that release…” Isn’t that great? I want one. Below are a few examples:

So we’ve all seen those little condiment caddies at restaurants, and some of people even have them at home. Those are actually called Caster Sets, and the antique ones are really lovely. I think we’ve found another item for the must-have list.


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

                Report: 17 pages. I’m just not really into this book!

Reflection: This week the book talked a lot about pregnancy health and comfort. How normal and/or pleasant your pregnancy is, is largely dictated by factors that are outside of your control (i.e. genetic predisposition, etc.). However, that doesn’t mean that all of them (the factors) are. The following is a list of the factors that are in your control: “General Health. Being in good all-around physical condition gives you a better shot at having a comfortable pregnancy. Weight Gain. Gaining weight at a steady rate and keeping the gain within the recommended guidelines…Diet…eating well improves every pregnant woman’s chances of having a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy. Fitness. Getting enough and the right kind of exercise can help improve your general well-being. Lifestyle pace. Leading a harried and frenetic life…can aggravate or even trigger…morning sickness…fatigue, headache, backache, and indigestion. Other children. Some pregnant women with other children at home find that keeping up with their offspring keeps them so busy that they barely have time to notice pregnancy discomforts, major or minor…”


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon

Report: 25 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: “A well-known father confessor [a priest who hears confession] in Russia was asked how he had performed the Divine Liturgy [an Orthodox service during which Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ, is received] during his long years of imprisonment. The elder answered:

‘Many priests knew the text of the Liturgy by heart. We could find bread even if it wasn’t wheat bread, usually without difficulty. We had no choice but to replace the wine with the cranberry juice. Instead of the altar with the relics of the martyr [a saint who died for the faith] on which Church rules require us to serve the Liturgy, we would get the fellow convict-priest among us who had the broadest shoulders to help us. He would strip to his waist, lie down, and then we would say the Divine Liturgy upon his chest. Everyone in the concentration camps of the Gulag was a martyr liable at any moment to die for Christ.’

‘Tell us, Father, how did you make the water holy during the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord? After all, the prayers during this service for the sanctification of the water are read only once a year, and they are very long indeed.’

‘But we had no need to remember all those prayers by heart. For if in just one place in the Universe, the rite of the sanctification of the waters is performed in an Orthodox Church, then through the aid of the Holy Church ‘the nature of all the waters’ – all the water in the world is thereby made baptismal and holy. In that day we would take water from any source, and it was incorruptible, blessed, Theophany [it is what we call the day of the Baptism of Christ] water. And like all Theophany water, it would keep and not go bad for many years.

Specialists in anti-religious propaganda recently asserted that the reason why Theophany holy water does not go bad is that the priests secretly place bits of silver, either in strips or coins, or crosses. Ecclesiastical wits have responded to this by a riddle:

How many ions of silver are there in one liter of Theophany water if its sanctification took place in a hole dug through the ice in the middle of the Volga River at a place where the width of the river is one kilometer, its depth is seven meters, and its flow rate is five kilometers per hour, and if the cross dipped by the village priest into the water, due to penury of the church in which he serves, is made of wood?’”

God is good.


Monday, January 23, 2017; 357 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

                Reflection: I have thought for a while now that I would like to own an antique rug. My husband and I had discussed it and we both thought that having an antique rug in the master bedroom would be really fun and wonderful….this chapter changed those ideas.

So, for starters, judging whether a rug is antique or not for someone just starting out, like me, is not a simple thing; and, at the moment, all I want is simple. I don’t want to buy a lovely antique, only to discover it isn’t one.

Then there is the maintenance. It’s insane! Here is what the book says about keeping up your antique rug: “The sooner you take care of any problems or repairs your rug needs, the better. Don’t underestimate the power of the fringe element: When you see uneven fringe on your rug, have it repaired; otherwise, it can continue to unravel.

Limit the rug’s exposure to bright sunlight or room spotlights. Even older rugs with natural dyes will fade with too much light.

Rotate the rug so that it wears evenly.

Keep the rug clean. Every six months, or depending on use, turn the rug backside up, slowly vacuum it, then turn the rug pile up and vacuum it again. Keep the vacuum cleaner away from the fringe. The rug doesn’t need too much suction, so use the vacuum sparingly. Use only the brush attachment and vacuum with the pile. Use a hand sweeper between times. If you do this, you may not need to wash the rug as often.

Take your rug to a qualified Oriental rug cleaner. It’s important to get the deepest part of the rug clean If they wash the rug without first vacuuming it and getting the dirt out of the base of the rug, the remaining sand and dirt act like a saw, and over time cause a weakening of the foundation

Before storing your rug, have it cleaned and mothproofed.

Do not store your rug in an uncarpeted basement or on concrete. Concrete can create moisture and rot the bottom part of the rug.

Never put the rug in plastic; the moisture will cause damage. If you store your rug, open it up once or twice a year.

Don’t fold your rug: the fibers can break. Roll up the rug.”

See? Isn’t that insane? It’s expensive and a ton of work! Instead of remaining a lovely piece of furniture, a rug, as it ages, becomes more like a pet or plant, needing lots of tlc and attention! And if you don’t do these things you’ve thrown away your money, because it’s depreciating with each tiny light particle shown on it by the sun!

I want an antique I can buy and not worry about. Like a silver vase. Other than polishing it every once in a while, it requires NOTHING; and it’s lovely, solid, and NOT DEPRECIATING IN VALUE JUST SITTING THERE.

Now that I’ve gotten that indignant rant out of my system, let’s move on.

Do you know the evolution of the couch? Well  here it is!

Originally the term “couch” referred to one of these: greek-couch

They were used for reclining during the day, and were very popular in ancient Greece.

However…I don’t gather that this attributed too much to the evolution of the modern couch.

For that we look back to the “settle”:  settle

As you can see the settle was very stiff, with no cushions.

Next came the “settee” in the 18th century: settee

“…the settee usually seats two to three. The chair backs are individualized, and any upholstery was usually just on the seat.”

Then the French came up with the “canape” which is a synonym to the word “sofa”, which is also French but with Arabic origins: canape

Now the book didn’t specify whether all of these had all-over upholstery or not, but all of the pictures I found, they did. So I’m guessing that the canape was known for having all over upholstery, a cushioned back as well as seat, and was characterized by its excess of legs, they often had more than 4 legs. As you can see, the above has 7 or 8 (I don’t know if there is another center one hiding back there).

There was also the “confidante”. “A large French sofa with a triangular seat extending from the arms (so that admirers could sit comfortably near you or friends could sit close to gossip)”. Leave it to the French to design a piece of furniture around gossip (no pun intended). confidante

Then there was the “divan”: divan

Which is really just a Greek “couch” with cushioned backs.

In the late 18th century the word “couch” took on a new definition, “…a daybed. With a back at one end and a ‘mattress’ and pillows,..” Don’t ask me how that’s different from the divans above. I couldn’t even find a picture that sounded like what they were describing and didn’t look like either a divan, Greek couch, or daybed with 2 backs.

Finally we have the emergence of the sofa, as we know it today, “Fully upholstered furniture seating three or more,..”, and the modern “love seat”, which, as we all know, seats 2.


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 28 pages. As you can probably tell, this is my favorite book to read.

Reading Challenge; Jan. 21, 2017

Reading Challenge:


Thursday, January 19, 2017; Roughly 360 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 42 pages read.

Reflection: I find many people, Orthodox or not, have a misconception about monastics and the lives they lead. Often they think that monastics lead unhappy, dreary lives. Since their existence looks so different from the rest of the world’s, and they do give up so much, I find it hard to explain to people that the aforementioned belief is inaccurate. That’s why I was so excited to come across this interchange in the book, “Once a group of tourists-faithful Soviet believers of Communism-stopped Father Alipius by the threshold of one of the churches. In indignant tones they demanded that he tell them the whole truth about the exploitation by high-level clerics of the simple monks and novices, about their physical humiliations, and in general tell them everything about all the horrors of monastic life about which they had already read plenty of newspaper articles. In response to their question, Father Alipius only answered mildly; ‘Can you hear?’

‘Can we hear what?’

‘Can you hear anything at all?’

‘Yeah. A bunch of monks singing…’

‘Exactly! Now do you really think that, if they were actually so miserable in their lives, they would sing with such obvious joy?’”

It’s funny, people, myself included, after a long day of hard physical labor, eating sparingly/healthily, engage in deep self-reflection, and/or intense acts of charity, etc., will often make remarks about how happy they feel. How much better their outlook on life is. How light their heart has become. How the depression, the anxiety, and the inundation of thoughts have ceased; yet, when they see people, i.e. monastics, living that way every day, they feel pity for them, or wonder about their mental state.

But if any person can feel better through these works, how much more so if you have intentionally done them in God’s name? Will it not change you all the more? Will it not lift and elevate all the more?

The truth is that the acts themselves can make us feel momentarily better, but it is when we connect these actions to God, that we see real change in ourselves. A true elevation.

If a person came to their friend and told them that they wanted to try one or more of these actions because they have heard that it promotes mental/physical health and boosts the spirit, the friend would encourage them to, by all means, do it! But when a person comes to their friend and says they want to be a monastic…the response is utterly different. Why?

I think it’s because God changes people. And if that person becomes changed, then we, as their friend, have that much more exposure to God, and we don’t want that. We don’t want to know what we don’t know. And we are afraid. We can’t imagine that our hearts could experience any more happiness than the most happiness we’ve seen on this Earth. And that is the lie that we tell ourselves.

But they can, and Godly people prove that. The Bible says that faith without works is dead; that’s because the works themselves open us up to God (because the works themselves are imbued with love, and God is Love. When we show others love, unearthly sacrificial love, and we have love shown to us, we experience God), and when we then choose to continue those works in His name, that is what changes us entirely; because we let God in. So we see that we can believe all of the right and true things, but if we don’t do the works, then, at the very least, we have cut a part of ourselves off from God, if not all of ourselves.

Earthly happiness is not inherently evil or wrong, but it is not the happiest we can be. The happiest we can be is when we are wholly filled with unearthly love. And monastics are simply people, like you and I, who have chosen to dedicate their entire lives, purely, to that unearthly love, that ethereal happiness.

Doesn’t sound so crazy or depressing now, does it?

I’m so happy that I’m reading this book. It is such an inspiration, full of wisdom. I often have a hard time accepting the advice of other people because I worry that it’s tainted by their pain. I see in my own life, as well as in others, decisions made that were “logical”, but only because the decider insisted upon “sanctioning” their pain and forcing their world view to accommodate it. I don’t feel that when reading this book. And I’m hoping that I will one day be able to view God and His will for us from such an emotionally healthy stand point.

The following is a quote from the book (Father Alipius is speaking about his path to monasticism), I feel the second part illustrates the truth of what a human being actually is beautifully: “…Imagine the German tanks charging our front lines, their machine guns firing, cannon shells blazing, just cutting us down, sweeping away almost everyone in their path, and suddenly in the midst of this utter hell I saw how our battlefield commissar tore off his helmet, even as the bullets were flying around him, and fell to his knees, and began to pray…yes, indeed, somehow this ‘Communist’ was able to mutter the half-forgotten words of the prayers he used to know as a child, begging the Almighty to spare us. And He did. That’s when I realized: God lives inside of all of us, and one day He will make His appearance to us, some way or other…”

Whether we choose to believe the Truth or not, it doesn’t change. The Truth doesn’t need us, we need the Truth. And no matter what wicked choices we make, no matter how often or violently we turn our backs on God, we can’t escape the fact that He is a part of us; that’s what was meant in Genesis when it said He breathed life into us. There is no person on this earth who is without God. They may distance themselves, and cast themselves into turmoil, but they can’t escape that they have an immortal soul.

And if we could just fill ourselves with enough unearthly love, we could see each other the way that God sees us, and we would see at least a tiny piece of Him in everyone.

“’Love,’ said the Great Abbot, ‘is the very highest form of prayer. If prayer is the queen of the virtues, then Christian love is God, for God is love. If you just look at the world only through the prism of love, all your problems will disappear, and within yourself you will see the kingdom of Heaven, within the human being you will find the Icon, and within the earthly beauty you will see the shade of Paradise. You may object to me that it is impossible to love your enemies. But remember what Jesus Christ told us: ‘Whatever you have done unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me…’ Inscribe these words in golden letter upon the tablets of your heart, and inscribe them and hang them together with an icon, and read them to yourself every day.’”

He isn’t preaching the prosperity Gospel. He’s not saying that if you are a Christian your life will be a success from the World’s viewpoint. What I believe he means, is that the more unearthly love that you are filled with, the more changed you are by God, the more you will see your problems as what they really are, meaningless. Our problems on this Earth are insignificant. We should strive to be so full of love that we could go even through torture, and still stay focused on God.

That’s what joy is. Joy is seeing every trial on this earth as passing. Every slight, every inconvenience, they are fleeting. And once we see this world through God’s eyes, suddenly earthly success or failure is irrelevant. What matters is that we are filled to the brim with God, and that we are reflecting that back on everyone we know.

God is love, which means God is relational. Which means that if you die having lived a “boring” or “sad” life, penniless and uneducated, but you showed true, Godly love to everyone, then you have lived a successful life.

“How easy it is to live with You, O Lord!

How easy it is to believe in You.

When my spirit sinks

or scatters in confusion,

and the very smartest people

cannot see further than this evening,

and do not know what to do tomorrow,

You send down clear certainty to me that You exist and that You care,

and will ensure that not all the paths of goodness will be blocked.

On the peak of earthly glory

I look back in surprise on the path I have taken

which I would never have been able to invent for myself,

an incredible path

through hopelessness

from which I was yet able

to send humanity a reflection of Your rays of light.

And for as long as it is necessary that I keep reflecting them,

You will let me do so.

And what I do not finish–well then,

You have assigned others the task.”

I think it is of the utmost importance that human beings remember that they have God-given freewill; but that doesn’t mean we get to do whatever we like with our lives without consequence. It means that we are not forced into a relationship with God, but rather have the opportunity to choose it. As human beings we feel the need to have relationships with each other where both parties involved are willing participants. That’s what God wants for us. He didn’t have to make us with free-will, but He did, I think because He didn’t want to force us into a relationship with Him. He wants to know He’s chosen.

I want to end this entry with another quote from the book. It answers the question of what this Earthly life is for.

“The ancient evil that always dwells within us will always haunt us, and will never quit trying to steal in upon us in order to accomplish the Devil’s main goal – to steal our soul. Only ceaseless courageous battle with evil, solely for the remarkable goal that is incomprehensible to many – the purity of our soul – will justify us before God. But if Christ does not see this struggle within us, He turns away from us, from that priest, monk, or layperson who has turned from Him, leaving him alone with what he has chosen for himself. And that choice is the same as it always was – insatiable pride and desire for the pleasures of this world. As time passes, sooner or later these passions will subvert or even pervert someone who has forgotten about God. Then these passions reveal their true horrible dangers.

Then the Sea of Galilee will rise up, and from its abyss the enraged swine who were drowned long ago will race ashore and hurl themselves on the unfortunate who thought there could be any compromise between them and God. When the evil spirit leaves the man, it wanders through the arid places, seeking rest but not finding it. And then it says: ‘I will come home to the place from which I left.’ And if it comes back and fins the place empty, swept out and neat, ready for visitors. Then it will go and get seven other demons, even more evil than it is, and when they come there, the evil will be worse than before.”

I know it can feel like that isn’t a choice at all…I feel that way quite often. But the truth is that our lives are filled with options, most of them unpleasant, and so we don’t choose them; but that doesn’t change what they are, options.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: 22 pages in the hour.

Reflection: In antiquing there are no absolutes. What I mean by that, in this case, is, not only is an item’s value subjective, but how that value is even determined is as well. For example, one item of a particular type might be considered valuable because it is in pristine condition, but another item of a different type is valuable for the opposite reason.

In the book I come across this when they are talking about an antique and they say that the factory rejects are worth more than even those in pristine condition, purely because they are rare. But, as we know, just because an item is rare, doesn’t universally make it valuable.

During my reading this week I learned about 19th century, decorative plates. It seems that during this time, scenes of “Americana” were very desirable. So pottery companies began putting them on their products. So in demand were these plates, that even British pottery companies began making them.

The funny thing is that these potters, not being experts on “Americana”, “…frequently made mistakes in depicting American heritage. Historical figures are sometimes misidentified…” And wouldn’t you know it? Those “misidentified” pieces are the most desirable today.

So what’s the distinction? Where is that line between valuable and devaluing mistake? I think the pattern that I’m seeing during my reading, is that mistakes that were made by the original manufacturer are often desirable, and those made elsewhere are undesirable. That may sound like a really obvious distinction, but when you consider that not every factory reject is valuable, you can begin understand my confusion.

The following are some tips on “Spotting a pot: How to look at Art Pottery

Shape. Know the types of shapes your manufacturer created.

Glaze. Glaze is a melted mineral mixture that can produce a glass-like substance or can be opaque or textured. If the glaze doesn’t melt, the piece can feel sandy or rough to the touch. You might see places where oil or grease on the pot caused the glaze to miss a spot. Many companies marked these glazed goofs as seconds.

Mold. When you assess a piece of production-line pottery,, remember that they made hundreds of pots from one mold. There is a marked difference between the first pot and the hundredth pot from the mold. Sometimes on the later pots from the mold, the detail is soft around the edges. Crisp detail is more desirable.

Authenticity. At some Art Pottery shows, you see a display of fakes versus the real thing. Study the real and the fake. With Art Pottery, the differences are sometimes subtle. A mark or signature is no guarantee of authenticity because these too can be copied.

Condition. Look for signs of repair. Watch for hairline cracks. If the dealer says he has found no signs of repair, ask for a written guarantee stating he is selling the piece as perfect. If he says, ‘There is not guarantee,’ use your best judgment. Flaking or chipping also reduces the value.”

Until I started reading this book I never had even an inkling that there was more to antiques than their own value. I always thought that antiques were valuable because they had better craftsmanship and were no longer being made the same way today as they were originally, if they are being reproduced at all. But that isn’t the case. There are antiques that have value because of the part of history they preserve. And by that I’m talking about more than just the appearance of the object (i.e. I don’t just mean that a given piece shows what people found aesthetically pleasing at the time; nor what bygone necessities it met); indeed, I’m even talking about more than who originally owned the antique.

There are antiques that preserve a special memory; a very human and touching piece of the past that connects us all. The following are two separate passages from the book that discuss some of the items I’m talking about, and they will illustrate what I mean.

“From about 1885 to 1925, ladies circles painted porcelain planks from many factories. Similar to those shops today where you choose a ceramic piece to decorate, ladies circles were often art classes where women learned the art of painting on ceramics. You can still find these plates, boxes, vases, and other pieces. Some of them look quite amateurish; some are very well-done. Some of the ladies signed their pieces; others will probably remain forever anonymous. The subject matter usually hovers around roses, violets, and poppies – the less complex flowers. Look for signs of these women’s work at shows, auctions, and of course, in your own family’s attic or basement. And note, china painting enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-20th century.”

“You’ve seen the scene in the movies: patients in various types of recovery programs sitting around doing arts and crafts. Marblehead Pottery was born at one of those therapeutic institutions. Patients were to decorate pottery as part of their rehabilitation and healing. Although this was the initial inspiration, early on, the potter Arthur Baggs took over the studio and turned it into a professional plant.

Marblehead focused on making simple shapes, such as vases and jardinieres with gray, brown, blue, green, pink, and yellow glazes. Marblehead products are hand thrown except for tiles and some pitchers, which were molded. Incised geometric, floral, or marine motifs decorate about five percent of Marblehead’s ware. A deep blue is the most common color, and prices go up for unusual colors. You can find small and simple Marblehead pieces in the low hundreds of dollars.”

How cool is it to think that you could own something that not only has intrinsic value because of its age, quality, and aesthetic, but also because of its meaning to the maker? Each piece made in a Ladies Circle meant something special to the woman making it. It meant a chance to not only stretch her artistic muscles, but to also have encouragement/inspiration from and comradery with other women of like minds. Similarly, each of the very first pieces to be later labeled Marblehead, represent a very special piece of their creators, and a precious snapshot of a formative time in their life. It was a conduit and a symbol of the patient’s healing, a picture of a mind or body on the mend. How wonderful to be able to hold dear something that someone generations before held precious as well.

Ever wondered how to be discerning when looking at old silver? I want to end this entry with a few pointers from the book: “Has it been repaired? Look at handles to make sure that they are not damaged or broken. Look at places that can easily break off, such as finials (a finial is the ornamental knob on top of a lid). Look at the feet. Sometimes people plunk down a piece too hard and that presses the feet in.

Is it dented or pitted? With sterling, a silversmith can usually polish out and repair dents and pits. Silver plate is harder to repair, and sometimes requires resilvering. Resilvering can be costly. Avoid silver plate with deep cuts. Watch out for plated pieces with pits, which are small holes that look like black dots and feel rough to the touch. The cost of replating can be greater than the value of the piece. If silver is black, or the tarnish is very deep, sometimes discoloration has ‘eaten into’ the silver Avoid these pieces unless an expert says you can totally remove the tarnish.

Is it genuine? Fakers can transfer an important hallmark from a broken silver piece and put it on a less valuable piece that’s in good condition. Or they replace a mark on a great piece whose mark is degraded. Fakers can cut a hallmarked bottom out of one object and apply it to another piece, to make that piece more valuable. On pairs, such as candlesticks, make sure that both marks are the same.

Breathe hard on the hallmarks if you’re having doubts that they are original to the piece. If someone has added hallmarks to make the piece seem more valuable, you should see the hallmarks’ outline.

Is it monogrammed? If so, are the initials the same as yours? If not, do you like them? Many collectors prefer their silver in its original condition and keep the monogram. Depending on the depth and location of the monogram, its removal can really downgrade the piece because the silversmith has to buff away some of the silver. If you want to remove the monogram and don’t know whether that will cause problems, ask if you can take the piece on approval to a silversmith to analyze it.

Does the type of decoration make sense with the purported age of the piece? You can often place the piece in a general time period by analyzing the types of decoration. Sometimes a plain piece of silver is decorated at a much later date.”


The Psychology of the Child by Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder –

Report: 30 pages in the hour.

Reflection:  While I was reading Piaget’s research and theories about Causality and Chance, I was struck by the genius of his methods. The following is the excerpt that struck me so:

“After three or thereabouts, the child begins asking himself and those around him questions, of which the most frequently noticed are the ‘why’ questions. By studying what the child asks ‘why’ about one can begin to see what kind of answers or solutions the child expects to receive. It is obviously necessary to use the same or similar questions to interrogate other children.”

The part that fascinated me so, was the last sentence. I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to ask my children questions in the same fashion/verbal structure as they do. It makes perfect sense, as the child will then both understand your meaning more clearly, as well feel better understood by their parents, and thus more secure.

Then, too, I wouldn’t have thought to reflect the question back to my child. But to do so would be so helpful in parenting. Not only would it help you answer (because you will have ascertained exactly what answer is required and what depth of answer), but the child’s answer would tell you what level of understanding they already have about a given or related subject, what level of logic or reason they have reached, as well as explain other things they have said/done or will say/do that you otherwise may have been completely baffled by and respond(ed) poorly to.

I know that as a parent it is always important to ask your child why they did or said something the way they did before deciding upon your response, but I hadn’t thought of asking questions in this fashion or area of communication.

Once again good parenting comes down to humility. The humility to not assume anything bad about your child, but to ask questions; which, once answered, shows you their true motives and thus, their heart.


Friday, January 20, 2017; Roughly 359 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: 33 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: The Tale of the prayer and the Little Fox: In Egypt, in whose ancient Christian past there had once been many grand monasteries, there once lived a monk who befriended an uneducated and simple peasant farmer. One day this peasant said to the monk, ‘I too respect God who created this world! Every evening I pour out a bowl of goat’s milk and leave it out under a palm tree. In the evening God comes and drinks up my milk! He’s very fond of it! There’s never once been a time when even a drop of milk is left in the bowl.’

Hearing these words, the monk could not help smiling. He kindly and logically explained to his friend that God doesn’t need a bowl of goat’s milk. But the peasant so stubbornly insisted that he was right that the monk then suggested that the next night they secretly watch to see what happened after the bowl of milk was left under the palm tree.

No sooner said than done. When night fell, the monk and the peasant hid themselves some distance from the tree, and soon in the moonlight they saw how a little fox crept up to the bowl and lapped up all the milk till the bowl was empty.

‘Indeed!’ the peasant sighed disappointedly. ‘Now I can see that it wasn’t God!’

The monk tried to comfort the peasant and explained that God is a spirit, that God is something completely beyond our poor ability to comprehend in our world, and that people comprehend His presence each in their own unique way. But the peasant merely stood hanging his head sadly. Then he wept and went back home to his hovel.

The monk also went back to his cell, but when he got there he was amazed to see an angel blocking his path. Utterly terrified, the monk fell to his knew, but the angel said to him:

‘That simple fellow had neither education nor wisdom nor book-learning enough to be able to comprehend God otherwise. Then you with your wisdom and book learning took away what little he had! You will say that doubtless you reasoned correctly. But there’s one thing that you don’t know, oh learned man: God, seeing the sincerity and true heart of this good peasant, every night sent the little fox to that palm tree to comfort him and accept his sacrifice.’”

This story moves me to tears. How arrogant are we? We the educated, we of “normal” IQ. We have such arrogance. Such sin. God is for everyone, and He wishes to meet everyone on a level that they understand.

Yet we deem ourselves better. Better than the children, whose minds have not fully formed, Better than those with lesser IQs, or those who are disabled. We actually think that one who is “well-informed” and/or of “normal” or “unusually high” intelligence is best equipped to understand God and this earthly life. How foolish.

Does God create imperfect things? Certainly not. For that would imply that He makes mistakes, and we know He does not. So if He does not make mistakes…then those whose brains are not fully developed, or whose IQs are not “normal”…they are not imperfect in their natural state.

It is pride that keeps us from truly believing this, is it not? We want to believe that there is an earthly standard of perfection. But there isn’t. We forget that this is a fallen world, which means that we ourselves are not perfect.

Indeed, I find that the more educated a person, the more “intelligent”, myself included, commit greater sins. For is it not easier to believe in and experience God when you accept Him on His terms, and not on your own worldly ideas? But the more ideas you have, the more you want Him to fit into them. You want all of your earthly ideas to translate to God, and they don’t. They never will. God is meant to be a mystery, and knowledge, for all of its benefits, unchecked, begets arrogance. Because if you know how everything works then somehow you think that you know how things SHOULD work.

Children and those whose minds are simpler accept God on His terms. They make no grand attempts to understand; neither do they sin the way the rest of us do. Their hearts are purer, and thus, closer to God. And we know that God reveals Himself to those close to Him.

So why when a child or a person of lesser intelligence comes to us with stories of God’s work in their lives do we dismiss it? How often when we hear these stories do we smile tolerantly and nod, hoping to disguise what we are actually thinking? Is it because we think that if we ourselves, who are normal, have not experienced such things, then certainly they have not? It is wicked for us not to believe them whole heartedly. For not only is it arrogance that makes us think that God should certainly have manifest Himself to us if He has manifest Himself to them, but also for us to think that He hasn’t!

God is the only way part of this planet is still living today. Which means that every moment of every day He is manifesting Himself; and if another person has experienced Him more than we, then perhaps it is because they didn’t explain away every manifestation in earthly terms. God wants to see us believe, and He knows just exactly how much of Himself to give us, so as not to damage our salvation with either too much exposure, or too little.

So perhaps if we weren’t so busy pointing out all of the earthly reasons that something is happening, like explaining that a wild animal could be drinking the milk, we might remember that, not only couldn’t that little animal be alive at this moment to do such a thing without God, but without it being God’s will, it wouldn’t.

Why would God reveal Himself to us further, if we won’t even accept the first attempt? He will not give us solid food until we can stomach it.

I think the person who has seen much of God, explains away little.


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: 23 pages read in the hour.

Reflection: I think my favorite part of the reading section was what I’ve read so far of the Basic Decorating: Bringing the Past into Your Present chapter. It covered:

“Discovering what you like

Choosing your design style

Marrying old and new

Cross-training your antiques”


“Understanding how designers work”

There was tons of much needed advice that was greatly appreciated. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m finding it difficult to settle on what to collect. I knew I wanted to buy antiques that I could live with, functionally, in my home (i.e. vases I could use, dining chairs, desks, beds, etc.) But I know that I don’t want every item in my house to be an antique (my current goal is to have one antique in a room). So where does one start? Here are some tips: “The first rule of decorating with antiques is to buy what you like. You need to create a mixture that makes you feel comfortable and at home.

Shelter for the Spirit by Victoria Moran (published by HarperCollins) is a great way to get in touch with your inner decorating self. Antiques at Home, by Barara Milo Ohrbach (published by Clarkson Potter), is a rich and fascinating guide to creating your own marvelous milieu.

The first part of incorporating antiques into your home is figuring out what look and feel you like. Here are some quick ways to find out:

Notice how you feel when you walk into a room filled with old things. Do you prefer being surrounded by history, or do you like just a splash of the past? What kinds of antiques make you feel comfortable and at home?

Look through some home decorating magazines and mark or tear out the rooms you like. Keep a folder with pictures you like. Or keep them in a photo album (the sticky kind). Collecting these pictures lets you spot common themes in your like and dislikes, and helps you hone your own style.

Focus on colors you like. If you despise green and look terrible in it, chances are you won’t be happy in that green upholstered Victorian love seat you’re thinking about. Of course, if you must have it, just add in the price of re-upholstering.

Size up the situation. If your rooms are small, you might gravitate toward smaller scale pieces. However, a piece that’s grand in size, color, or scale can always make a statement.

Think about your living style. Do you want comfort? Do you want elegance? Do you want antiques that are safe around curious children and frisky pets?

Designing between the lines

There’s an art to ‘designing between the lines.’ Horizontal lines are restful and inviting. Vertical lines give a feeling of majesty or dignity (such as a tall case or grandfather clock). Curved lines give you a feeling of growth and gracefulness. If a piece has been crudely painted, but it has great lines, it may still be a worthy piece of décor and a good buy even after you factor in the costs of stripping and refinishing.

You can take away the home-like feeling when you let one antique overpower a room. You want to design the setting so people notice and appreciate your things, but you don’t want the antiques to overwhelm or distract people.

Your design attitude: The tuxedo or the khaki

Symmetry gives you a formal look, and asymmetry makes things more casual. The way you place things affects the feel of your room.

Suppose that you want to display an antique clock and a couple of candlesticks. For a formal look, use symmetrical balance: the clock in the middle and a candlestick on each side. For a more casual look, create an uneven balance. Push the clock to the left and put both candlesticks on the right. Raise one of them a few inches with a block of marble or wood to carry the casualness one step further.

Pay attention to ornamentation. For example, if you have an ornate Victorian sideboard, heavy with intricate carvings, your other dining room pieces may be carved, but less ornately. Combining pieces this way gives you similar ornamentation, but still lets you play off and high-light the sideboard.

Use antiques to set the tone for the room or to dress up the room. An English antique chest and a well-placed piece of Meissen or Dresden porcelain can dress up a comfortable living room.

Think about the purpose of the room. For rooms where you want calm and relaxation, choose neutral colors and furniture with simple, clean lines. For lively rooms, choose brighter and diverse colors and objects that invite conversation.”

Very helpful, no?

The following chapter was about various kitchen and dining room antiquities. Among those discussed was the butcher block. The authors remarked that butcher blocks were made the thick and sturdy way that they are because they needed to withstand repeated punishment from the cleaver. They then said that that is where the phrase “Leave it to cleaver” comes from.

Now, I have never heard that phrase, but it put to mind the phrase, and title of the oh-so wonderful television show, “Leave it to Beaver”. Not only do these phrases bear a remarkable enough resemblance for one to call the other to mind, but their connection to each other only grows when we remember Beaver’s last name. Cleaver. Coincidence? I think not.

After this very fun realization I moved on to reading about The Windsor Chair. Apparently this is a chair that has seen not only indoors, as well as the out, but also virtually every the home of members from every level of society. It is very versatile, not only because of its structure, but also because of its varied aesthetic designs. Here are some that I find pleasing:

Do you know why pie safes were invented? I just found out! I knew that it was for storing pies, and if I asked I probably would have said that they were used for cooling them as well…but I didn’t know why. Why couldn’t it just sit on the sill? What happened to make that a bad idea? Well…the answer is rather obvious, but I never thought of it: “…long before screens and storm windows, pies could on window ledges where cats and birds and bugs could take a bite.” It’s so obvious it makes me laugh. Living in this modern world, we forget all of the little inconveniences that our ancestors suffered.

Another example is from the Victorian Era. It was a time when tea time was heavily observed, and when there was a unique utensil for EVERYTHING. So, did you know that they had a special tea time spoon for scooping bugs and leaves and things out that may have fallen into their tea cups? I didn’t, and it blows my mind that I never for a second (in this age of bug deterring candles and screened in porches) even thought about the impact that bugs and natural debris would have on afternoon tea in the garden.

Among their acutely use oriented objects, the Victorians had Chocolate Sets. They are like tea sets but for hot chocolate. I find that terribly refined and romantic. I’d love to have one someday.

Reading Challenge; Jan. 7th, 2017 (Part 2)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017; 362 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon –

Report: I read 31 pages in the hour.

Reflection: There was a Schema-Igumen Monk, Father Melchisedek, whose story really made me think. To preface, a Schema-Igumen Monk is a monk whose entire job and purpose is prayer. Before taking the schema-vows, Father Melchisedek worked in the monastery making furniture, frames, etc. The following is an excerpt, in which is related his first experience with death (and by that, I mean he actually died for a moment): “He said that he had suddenly seen himself standing in the midst of a giant green field. Then he had walked on through this field, continuing straight but not knowing where he was going, until his path was blocked by a gigantic moat. There, amidst thick mud and clumps of earth, he saw a multitude of icon frames, church lecterns, and metal overlays for icons. There he also saw crooked tables, broken chairs, and strange wardrobes. As he looked at them, he recognized his own carpentry work. He stood looking at his own work both recognizing it and yet utterly surprised by it – and suddenly he had the feeling that somebody was standing over his shoulder…He lifted up his eyes and saw that it was the Mother of God She gazed with melancholy at all his work of many years. And then she spoke: “You’re a monk…And all we wanted from you was just one thing, the main thing: repentance and prayer. Instead of that, you gave us this woodwork…”

This story is so meaningful to me because it poses, in my mind, a very serious question: What is God asking of me that I am not giving? And why am I not giving it?

Do I not want to do what is asked of me because it is “too hard”? But I know that God never gives us more than we can handle! So…either I don’t really believe that, or He’s just asking more than my laziness wishes He were.

Am I offering Him something other than what He asks because I don’t know what He is asking of me? But God never sets us up to fail, so He cannot be asking something of me and not making it clear. So why am I not hearing it? Am I making myself too busy? Why? To avoid?

Am I afraid of what He is asking? Do I really think that it is easier to give Him something He doesn’t want versus whatever it is that He truly wants from me??

But I know from experience that my avoidance and vain offers of whatever He isn’t asking for only cause me distress, anxiety, depression, and pain! I know that, though what I’m wanting Him to accept appears easier to give, it isn’t in the end. It’s not what’s best. It’s not what’s fulfilling. So why do I fight so hard not to hear, not to see, not to GIVE what He is asking of me?

This brings to mind a struggle I’ve had. My husband expresses in a million and one different ways what he needs from me to feel loved, and a spotless house is not one of those things. Nor, do I in fact have the energy to keep up a spotless house. So why have I been so hell bent on maintaining a spotless house? All it does is exhaust me, make me anxious and angry. It doesn’t please my husband either. And then spiteful, passive aggressive I becomes wicked and hurtful. I lash out, “punishing” those around me as well as myself. I’m an emotional nightmare! So why do it? Why not simply love my husband the way he asks me to love him?

I’ve started working on this this past week, and there is serene happiness in our house now.

Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: I read 27 pages in the hour.

Reflection: How to find an antique mall: “Signs on the road…Yellow Pages…Antique Shops…The Internet”

How to prepare before you go: “Divest yourself of purses and backpacks…You may want a pen and paper, a tape measure, and your flashlight.

When you enter the mall…Here are some questions you might ask: Do you offer discounts? If I want to get into a showcase, do you have people around to help me? Is there a restaurant or snack bar? How many floors are there? Anything else I need to know?”

If you have time, here is a good method to see everything and zero in on what really interests you: “Simply walk quickly through, letting anything catch your eye. Then walk more slowly and deliberately. Be sure to look under tables for merchandise that is kept on the floor.”

Another one of their helpful tips was to write down where things of interest are located during your first walk through.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017; 361 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon

Report: I read 29 pages in the Hour

Reflection: What I read today was mostly concerned with obedience. The obedience of a person to their Spiritual Father. In the Orthodox Church we have confession and seek advice on how to better ourselves. It is most encouraged for individuals to seek out a Priest, Monk, or Nun who they see has Godly wisdom, and ask them to become their Spiritual Parent. In this way the individual becomes obedient to this person, giving them trust.

I know, to many, outside of the Orthodox Faith this probably sounds unintelligent, insecure, or unnecessary. I can assure you that this is not the case; the thoughts you are probably having are off, most probably, for lack of knowledge on the topic (I won’t go further into it here).

Pride, I believe, is one of the worst sins we can commit, because it closes off roads to healing. Yet we commit it every day, usually, without consciously realizing it. It is insidious and crafty. It crawls through us and inhabits every cell.

When reading about obedience, indeed, the complete obedience a novice should have to their Abbott/Abbess, I was struck by the immense pride I carry. Could I have unflinching obedience to someone? I haven’t yet…But it is in obedience that humility lives. And humility is life-giving.

I believe that for someone to be obedient there must be trust. Trust in the person, but ultimately Trust in God. As a wife, I am called to obey my husband (This may upset you, the reader, to read. But the anger, or fear you have at seeing these words, it is from pain, not truth). I have been very blessed to not only marry the man I love, but to love a man whom I can trust. God has made my task very easy. I am not given over to a tyrant (If I had married a tyrant it would be my own sin, for I have grown up in a place where I am free to choose who I marry, which means that I am wholly responsible for that choice), or a man who sees the world differently than I; so when I am a disobedient wife….what excuse do I have?

Obedience is not meant to be a burden, but a blessing.

Another passage that truly touched me was the following, “I will not tell stories about our many ‘ascetical feats’ while we were in Pechory Monastery. I do not want to run the risk of making fun of this even in a good way, because I believe that the Lord accepted and blessed even these unfinished and naïve spiritual labors of ours. After all, God looks into the heart of a man and perceives his inner intentions. And the intentions that we young novices had were pure and sincere.”

I can’t help but as the question, “When God looks into my heart, what does He see?” As I said above, pride is insidious…so even when I tell myself that I did such and such with a pure and sincere intent….how often am I deluding myself, and refusing to see the deep motive of self-preservation/vanity in it?

Further on, Archimandrite Tikhon writes about how God waits so patiently for us to pay attention to Him. And how He never forces Himself on us. It puts me in mind of something that my Spiritual Father has said in sermon: He said that it is as if each of us is sitting beneath a fruit tree, and God has placed the fruit just where all we need do is reach our hand up and take it.

But we have to reach. We can’t pull a Newton.

I see our actions in this life as us either reaching, or not. It is said that if you force our bodies to do an act, our hearts will follow. In the child psychology book I am reading, the authors talk about how as babies we learn a lot not by first thinking, but doing. It gives examples of how babies’ accidental physical movements actually develop connections in our brain. So why should it not be true of the heart?

I have seen this a lot in my own life. If I force my physical self to pray, or prostrate, or to stand still, or give to the poor, my heart is not far behind in a deeper understanding of virtue; if only for a moment.

My mother often said that your actions will always betray the position of your heart. It is true. If your heart is in a humble place, close to God, you will find it difficult to sin. But if your heart is full of self- importance, it cannot be close to God, and you will find it easy to act accordingly. That’s why I think it is a blessing that God made it so that through physical obedience we could move our hearts.

Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: I read 23 pages in the Hour

Reflection: Today I read about glassware: What’s the best kind. How to tell old from new. As well as a fair bit about mold-blown glass, pressed glass, cut glass, Victorian era art glass, and Art Nouveau era glass.

It is very difficult to accurately determine the manufacturer of glass. Especially old glass. Apparently manufacturers often didn’t label their pieces. And even if they did, in today’s world, it’s not hard to fake.

For example, some manufacturers used acid to etch their signature into their work. But today, anyone with a laser pen can sign a piece.

The very first thing to determine, when you’ve found some glass you like, is whether or not it is in fact old. So here are some things to look for:

“Flake off:…you can often find flaking around the rim of antique glass. A flake is a small flat piece without much depth…

Signs of wear: Old glass typically has scratches on the bottom. Hold the glass up to the light and look at it in different angles. No fine lines, no slight signs of wear, is a strong clue that the piece may not be antique. Use a loupe (a jeweler’s magnification tool) to look at the scratch marks. Old glass has marks in many different sizes going in many directions. With ‘faked’ age, the lines go only in a few directions and are often similar in size.”

After you’ve determined it is old, it is time for further inspection to attempt to ID the piece:

“Tradekmark: Is the glass signed or marked?

Technology: How is the glass made – Blown, molded, or pressed?

Style: What stile is the glass in? What period do you think it is from? This helps you date the glass.

Pattern: What is the pattern (if the glass is pressed or cut)? This helps you figure out the company and helps you date and value the glass.”

Thursday, January 5, 2017; 360 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon

Report: I read 26 pages in the Hour

Reflection: We’ll start with an excerpt: “It is only…through mysterious humility incomprehensible to the world, that a true Christian comes to one of the two greatest revelations in life. The first of these revelations is that one must discover the truth about oneself, and see oneself as one truly is. You must meet your own self. And believe me it’s the most important acquaintance. A vast number of people live their lives never even bothering to discover themselves at all. Sometimes we only we only have the vaguest notions or fantasies of who we are, and so depending upon our own vanity, pride, resentments, and ambitions we see nothing. But the truth, however bitter it might seem to s, is that we are ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’…Remember that verse from Revelations? And this truth only comes to us through scriptural and ruthlessly honest examination of oneself. Through true humility. True humility does not humiliate a man. On the contrary, anyone who survives this ordeal, this bitterest and harshest of truths becomes a saint….”

“But what is the second revelation?” we asked. “He said that there are two main revelations in a person’s life. The first is to become acquainted with one’s own self. But what is the second?”

“The second?” The monk smiled. “You know the second revelation not one bit less than I. It is the truth that our Church patiently reminds us of in every single Divine Service without exception: ‘May Christ, our true God, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother and of all the saints, have mercy upon us and save us, for He is good and lovest mankind.” (End of Excerpt)

I think that I know myself…but part of knowing yourself is accepting what you are (by that I don’t mean that you become stagnant, but rather that you be humbled and feel peace with knowing you are nothing, and that only through God you grow), and if I have truly accepted what I am, then why is there so much that I have done that I am trying to forget, excuse, or repress? It is my pride that is keeping me from the humility of accepting my filth.

And without accepting it I cannot truly relinquish it to God.

The second revelation written above is such a blessing. But there is a reason that it is the second revelation. Because I would be all too happy to make excuses for myself, that God loves me by virtue of me being His creation (Which is absolutely true), and never make any strives forward. How easy it would be to justify my wretchedness, and indeed my soul, away.

I do allow myself to take comfort in the knowledge that God never gives me more than we can handle. And we know that Christ, whom we are called to emulate, never sinned. We would not be called to this if it were impossible.

I often see the hard things in my life as nuisances. And, in my foolishness, I feel that I am closest to God when things are easy. But when things are easy, how often do we forget God?

“Then I asked him, ‘Your grace, Bishop Gabriel! You have lived a remarkable and interesting life. You were a young novice in the Monastery of Odessa, at the time when the great elder, Father Kuksha, labored there. You also lived in the Holy Land working as a secretary of the Russian Mission in Jerusalem. For many years you were our abbot in the Pskov Caves Monastery, associating every day with our wisest elders, whose names are too many to count. Then you created a diocese in the Far East. Now you are the Bishop of Blagoveshchensk. What was the very happiest time of your life?’

The bishop grew thoughtful and at length answered, “The very happiest times of my life were the years when I was suspended and disgraced. Never before or since in my life was the Lord as close to me as back then. It might surprise you to hear this, but, believe me, it is the truth…’

He fell silent again and then added: ‘My brothers, have no fear of the punishments of the Lord! For He does not punish us as criminals, but as His own children!’”

It puts me in mind of that story, where the man dies and sees his life as footprints on a beach. He observes that there are 2 sets of footprints side by side, God’s and his. But then he notices something else; that at the hardest times during his life, the footprints change from 2 sets, to just one. He turns to God and asks Him why He abandoned him during his darkest hours? And God replies, “My son, during those times, I carried you.”

That story never fails to bring tears to my eyes. God loves us so much, but we are as spoiled children. He never stops loving us, but when times are good, we do not notice his abundance. So he allows either outside calamities, or our own stupid decisions to shade our lives. For it is like a drawing. You can only see the light in contrast to the shadow. We can only know the true goodness, and benevolence of God in contrast to difficulty.

And, in His benevolence, He never gives us more than we can handle.

“The Lord does not like cowardice. This spiritual law was once revealed to me by Father Raphael, but in turn that law had been passed to him by Father Alipius. In one of his sermons Father Alipius preached: ‘During the war I was a witness to how certain soldiers were so worried they might die of hunger that they would carry little bags of crumbs on their back. So worried were some about their little bags of bread crumbs, so eager were they to prolong their life rather than fight the enemy, that these people were invariably the first to be cut down by enemy fire. They perished along with their bread crumbs. But those who were willing to strip their backs if need be, and to die to fight the enemy – those were the ones who survived.’”

The above observation is an analogy for the spiritual life. When we are created, whether we desire/believe it or not, we become part of the war between God and the enemy. Make no mistake, God will be victorious, but who of us will be left standing with Him? I see the breadcrumbs as our earthly cares, and I do believe that is what Father Alipius had in mind.

One of my breadcrumbs that I have carried with me for a longtime, is guilt…I was once told that the proper amount of guilt is not so little that you remain unchanged, and not so much that you lose hope, but rather just enough to keep you moving (or rather, fighting). But how often do I wish to wallow? Instead of humbly accepting God’s forgiveness, and fighting on, in pride I choose to punish myself and not forget.

This is one of the reasons God gave us confession. That we might have just the proper amount of guilt. A priest should be able to guide you to the proper frame of mind, so that you will accept your absolution. But so often I receive God’s absolution, and in my sinful arrogance I think I should be punished more.

I somehow delude myself into thinking that God doesn’t really know when I should be forgiven, but rather lets me off the hook undeservingly, and that I can somehow, myself, atone properly.

But it is arrogance to think that a human being could ever make themselves worthy.

The truth is that there is nothing I can do that will make up for what I have done, and I need to humble myself to accept God’s undeserved forgiveness. It is pride for me to insist that there is a way for me to deserve it. And this pride that keeps me punishing myself, wallowing, it is what leaves me defenseless on the battlefield of the spirit. For in so doing I have dropped my weapons and my guard. Even going so far as to turn my back upon the enemy.

A saint is humble. They accept God’s forgiveness after they have fallen. And, instead of staying on the ground and wallowing, thus sinning further, they immediately jump up and keep fighting. Never breaking their stride.

Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse

Report: I only read 17 pages in the hour. :/

Reflection: As I’ve mentioned previously, antiquing is terribly subjective. What’s in one moment can be out the next, and some never even get their 15 moments of fame. In this section, I read about Tiffany. Not the famous jewelry company, but the famous artist who gave the world the chance to literally illuminate their homes with art.

Evidently, his work was not appreciated in his time; and there are cases where pieces were even destroyed in order to repurpose the materials they consisted of.

The following is the story of a woman whose taste, beyond reproach, saved the legacy of Tiffany: “When Lillian Nassau opened her antique shop in New York in 1945, her merchandise was mostly European eighteenth and nineteenth century porcelain, glass, and objets d’art. In the late 1950s, Lillian bought her first Tiffany lamp, a Wisteria, for $200.00. Intrigued by its beauty, she began buying other works of the Tiffany Studios, and added other objects from the Art Nouveau period. Within a few years, she completely changed her shop’s inventory. Her passion for the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany sparked an interest in decorative art collectors. Gradually, the handmade lamps and hand-blown glass regained favor with the collecting public. Gone were the days when Tiffany lamps were smashed on the sidewalk so the copper leading could be gathered and sold as scrap metal. Today you can view a resplendent collection of Tiffany at the New York shop that bears her name.”

Now, I don’t think there are many people today who could look at a Tiffany antique, and not find it beautiful. Even if they didn’t think it fit their personal taste, I think most would find his works beyond judgement.

What I want is to cultivate my taste, and improve it to the standard of Lillian Nassau’s. This woman had such incredible taste, that she singlehandedly (from what I’ve read) brought an artist’s creations into favor.

And not just a little bit of favor! Tiffany antiques sell for enormous sums! They are truly desired for their beauty.

They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but clearly there are things that transcend that, for the most part. And I want to refine my taste to that point.

It is true that some people are born with an inane sense of taste/style, and that some are not. But I don’t see that that means that those things cannot be learned. One just has to know how to go about it. I think that is why antiques fascinate me so. They are things that society as decided have some intrinsic value.

I’d like my judgement to have intrinsic value too.

What’s really caught my attention, from this section, is Amberina. Isn’t that a pretty word? Amberina. I think it would be prettier if it were just Amberine, but I digress. Amberina is a heat-sensitive glass (that means its color changes with heat) that contains gold. Because of the method used to make Amberina pieces, the top of the piece is a red that fades as it goes down, becoming a lovely amber/yellow at the base of the piece.

When looking at an Amberina piece, it is important to note the hues and their depth. In a good piece, the red will be a deep wine, and the yellow should be a true amber (this indicates age).

The following images of Amberina Pieces are from An antique pricing guide that I stumbled upon:


Friday, January 6, 2017; 359 Hours to go per Subject this Year


Antiquing for Dummies by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse –

Report: Read 17 pages in the hour.

Reflection: Today we will talk about paperweights! Below are some popular types:

“Millefiori: A mosaic pattern, bringing together pieces of glass of different colors and heating them until they are welded without the colors bleeding. These…weights are made of ‘canes’ (drawn rods of glass), all bundled together.

Flowers: Either a single flower or a bouquet of flowers.

Sulphides: Cameo-type white clay figures inclusions in the weight. These generally feature historic figures, such as Napoleon and Queen Victoria.

Fauna: Snakes or lizards or butterflies or other types of insects.

Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables tend to be fairly realistic miniatures, often displayed against a latticework background.”

How to determine the age of the weight:

“The old are heavier, because the glass has more lead content.

By studying the canes in the weights, you can determine the different factories and eras.

Old paperweights have more bubbles, because the artists didn’t have as much control over heat as modern artists do. Unless bubbles are intentional, they are not desirable.

Check for scratches on the bottoms of old weights. There should be marks!

Check the top rounded surface in different lights and angles for surface scratches. Scratches are common and, if minor, they detract very little from the value of the paperweight.

Old weights are seldom artist signed. The modern weights done by artists are often signed and many are also numbered editions as well.”baccarat-paperweight

Image is from “Rare magnum antique Baccarat ‘B 1848’ scattered millefiori and Gridel canes paperweight.” The “Gridel canes” refers to the canes with the animal silhouettes.

After some exploring I think I can safely say that I like the cane paperweights best…possibly…

Becoming an Expert; A Reading Challenge

Recently, I read that if you read about one subject, for one hour each day, in seven years you will know enough on that topic to be considered an international expert.

This New Year I have given myself a challenge: To start this process in not just one area of study, but three. Heaven only knows how far I will get, but, as incentive, I’ve chosen to blog about the subjects as I go.

An hour a day means that I will be devoting 7 hours a week to each chosen field of study. I plan to post, every Friday at midnight, my notes/thoughts from each hour of reading that week.

It wasn’t easy choosing my three subjects; for I have MANY interests. All of which I’d love to know about expertly. However, there were a couple that stood out, and one that simply fell into my lap.

My first choice was Child Development. My husband and I are hoping to have children very soon and a well-informed (humble) parent is a good parent. To kick off the New Year, I’m starting with The Psychology of the Child, by Jean Piaget.

My second choice was Orthodox Christianity. I have been Orthodox since age 6; and while there is much that I know of the church, the older I get, the more I realize what a small piece of its theological grandeur that is. My starting book will be Everyday Saints and Other Stories, by Achimandrite Tikhon.

The third topic is Antiquing. There are a couple reasons for this; firstly, because it is a subject of great interest to me. And, secondly, because I already owned the book I will be starting with. And that is money conscientious (I’m going to be reading roughly 1000 books, in total, and that gets expensive). The book is called Antiquing for Dummies, by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse.

Before beginning, I thought it would be prudent to find out just what my reading speed actually is; because, obviously, the faster I am, the more I can read in an hour (My eventual goal is to get down to one book a week).

According to the Staples test, I read 167 words per minute. That made Me 33% slower than the national average. However, after some practice, roughly 20 minutes in total, I took another reading test by ReadingSoft. According to it, I am up to reading 320 words per minute, however my comprehension is only 55%.

Throughout this challenge I shall be working to improve both my speed and comprehension. Some of this will happen naturally but I’m hoping that by being mindful of it while reading, I will increase my rate of improvement.

The websites I used for research and testing, and the books I’m starting with:


Child Development (365 HRS/YR for 7 YRS) – The Psychology of the Child

by Jean Piaget  

Religion  (365 HRS/YR for 7 YRS) – Everyday Saints and Other Stories

by Archimandrite Tikhon

Antiquing (365 HRS/YR for 7 YRS) – Antiquing for Dummies

by Ron Zoglin & Deborah Shouse


The article about speed reading in general;

The first and second tests I took;