The Way of the Heart

The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
by Henri Nouwen


“Arsenius, flee from the world, be silent, pray always . . ”

Solitude — Silence — Prayer :: a summary of the spirituality of the desert.


  • the furnace of transformation
  • Temptations that face
    • to be relevant
    • to be spectacular
    • to be powerful
  • The very first thing we need to do is set apart a time and place to be with God.


  • Silence is the way to make solitude a reality.
  • Silence makes us pilgrims.
  • Silence guards the fire (Holy Spirit) within.
  • Silence teaches us to speak.
  • We speak a great deal, but what good does it really do.
  • “wordy unbelief”
  • A word with power comes out of silence. A word that bears fruit comes out of silence.
  • Divine silence in which love rests secure.
  •   . . .  how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.”


  • Pray always . . . solitude and silence are never separate from prayer. They create space for prayer.
  • Hesychia — the rest which flows from unceasing prayer.
  • Prayer isn’t just talking to God or thinking about God.
  • Hesychastic Prayer:
    • prayer of the heart
    • to descend with the mind into the heart and stand before the face of God
    • Heart = the source of all energies: impulses, feelings, mood, wishes, perception, understanding, will, plans, decision, PERSONALITY
  • Hide Nothing :: Surrender All
    • Happy are the pure in heart: they shall see God
  • Prayer — simple, unceasing, all-inclusive.


what’s growing? may 2018

What’s growing in our gardens — May & June 2018

Kitchen Garden

  • peas (edible pod)
  • okra
  • lettuce (6 rows)
  • spinach (6 rows)
  • kale
  • chard
  • carrot (2 rows)
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • radish (globe)
  • beet
  • radish (French breakfast)
  • asparagus
  • hot peppers
  • bell peppers
  • tomatoes (cherry)
  • basil
  • parsely
  • cilantro
  • oregano
  • yellow squash
  • green bush beans
  • rows of blooming flowers interspersed in each bed to attract pollinators

In Seed Flats

  • lavender
  • basil
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • tomato

Fruit Garden

  • strawberries
  • grapes (4)
  • blackberries (20)
  • blueberries (3)
  • peach tree (2)
  • cherry tree (2)
  • plum tree (1)
  • apple tree (1)

Pollinator Garden (New)

  • new round flower/pollinator garden with wildflower mix (includes pollinator mix, hummingbird mix, butterfly mix, shade mix) **to help settle the soil while I fill in with perennials, bulbs, etc.** Will free up half a bed if we can remove these from the kitchen garden
  • primrose (4)

Compost Bed:

  • about 2 feet deep on 8 June
  • layers: <sticks, ashes, grass clippings, food scraps, soil> <sticks, grass clippings, food scraps, soil> (We will continue to layer like this until the stack is 4 feet tall, then 4 bags of manure will be added, 2 bags of peat moss, 2 bags of sand, and then a final layer of grass clippings and soil.

Planning/Dreaming (2019)

  • 7 red raspberry bushes
  • 2 blueberries bushes
  • 1 grape
  • 1 plum tree
  • 1 swamp white oak
  • herb bed (separate from kitchen garden — will free up a half bed (at least) in the kitchen garden
  • add perennials to flower bed
  • expand flower bed towards oldest peach tree, deck, and house
  • “shade house” over 2 half beds for greens
  • sunken greenhouse
  • rain water collection and irrigation hose to each bed


Yard & Garden

There are two months around here that always seem super busy with yard/garden work: April and October, the beginning and the end of gardening season, and the shift between inside and outside.


Here are some highlights of what’s been happening in April (so far):

  • firewood collecting has ended
  • lawn mowing has begun
  • walks deep into the woods have ended
  • walks along the established paths in the woods have started
  • the front yard has been completely cleared of debris from the winter
  • the area where the new pool will go is being leveled
  • 2 of the 4 garden beds have been prepped and planted
    • lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, green onions, peas
    • strawberries
  • garden bed 3 is being turned under
  • compost beds 1 and 2 are both being filled
  • herb and flower bed is being planned
  • talks have been had about possibly buying a tiller (right now all garden work is done with hand tools and elbow grease)
  • talks have been had about how far apart to space trees in the meadow turned new woods
  • cistern 2 is being dug
  • trench from cistern 1 to cistern 2 is complete
  • trench from cistern 2 to creek bed is complete
  • old rabbit yard is cleared of debris
  • east backyard has been cleared of debris
  • laundry is being hung outside again — and it is delightful
  • the driveway is being used as a driveway and a staging area for clean-up piles


The past two tornados have been hard on our woods. I’d estimate we’ve lost about a third of our trees. We started clearing the downed wood starting at the south end of the woods and moving northward. It has kept us in firewood for 4 years. We’re only about half way done. There is still a lot down that needs to be cut up. Our guys don’t work in the woods during the spring, summer and fall. Too much poison ivy and Michael is super allergic.

Our woods were littered with a zillion things from the tornados. Its rough work getting it all out of there. I found 6 tires and hauled them up to the driveway. Today I spotted about 4 more — sigh. I’m not quite sure how you dispose of used tires, but I suppose I’ll make some calls and find out.

Tasks to be finished in April – May include:

  • continue lawn mowing
  • continue walks on the established paths of the woods
  • finish leveling pool area
  • install pool
  • plan deck for around pool and price out options.
  • get two rockers for the front porch
  • get a new hammock (just the fabric part)
  • complete prep of garden bed 3 and plant
  • start and complete prep of garden bed 4
  • finalize plans for herb & flower bed
  • continue work on cistern 2
  • clear west backyard of debris
  • call about dumpster, if needed
  • plant 1 cherry and 1 plum tree
  • plant willow branches in wet spots
  • plant Mothers’ Day trees


more language, an update

More language . . . less social media, an update on my progress.


Since my first post on Feb 11, 2018 about re-learning German for my depth year project, I have steadily worked my way through 10 beginner readers, 5 intermediate readers, most of the Duolingo app, and a grammar book.

I recently started reading and listening to the Harry Potter series in German. I didn’t anticipate it being this challenging, but I am slowly working my way through. It helps that I love the stories and am familiar with them. The vocabulary is the biggest challenge as many of the words aren’t in my dictionary (admittedly it is a very old dictionary, 1985).

I’ve noticed that after a reading session I am more mentally tired and that naturally seems to make me want to move my body rather than sitting still. So I am getting in some extra movement.

For more posts about my Depth Year: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7


Reading: Harry Potter 1 (German), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), The Book of Three (L Alexander)

Listening: Harry Potter 1 (German)

Watching:  Krypton


Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


The kitchen is a tough area to minimize, at least for me. That said, I would never voluntarily give up my InstaPot. It can (and often does) replace many of my pots, pans, and specialty items.  It is my pressure cooker, my slow cooker, my rice maker, cake pan, stock pot, and so much more.

My favorite things to make in the IP are chicken (and then turning the broth into stock — Yum and so good for you), roast (for roast beef and also for beef stew, beef stock), beans (from bag to done in less than an hour), and rice (again, from bag to done in about 30 minutes). I tend not to make super complicated recipes, but I tend to not do that for any reason.


Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)





Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


There are weeks that go by when I don’t use the Vitamix and then there are months that go by when I use it daily. It has a lot to do with smoothies. In the Spring, Summer, and early Fall when I crave a smoothie to break my fast the machine gets daily use. In the late fall and winter, I want and crave warm foods and the machine sits tucked away and nearly forgotten.

I was gifted this Vitamix 10 years ago.  I’m not sure if I would have paid quite this much for a blender. I’ve seen others that might be just as good. I can attest to the fact that this thing is a workhorse. It chomps through ice, through frozen fruit, and it makes a piping hot squash soup — provided the squash is hot when you put in in the pitcher.


Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Heidis Fruhstuck (German), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)



meals in bowls

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I primarily eat my meals out of a pasta bowl.  I’ve been doing this for about 8 years. It started when my husband was in an period of unemployment and we were looking for satisfying ways to have lunch when it was just the two of us at home.

We called them Buddha bowls from the story:

A monk said to Chao Chou, “I have just entered this monastery. Please teach me.”
Chao Chou said, “Have you eaten your rice gruel?”
The monk said, “Yes, I have.”
Chao Chou said, “Wash your bowl.”
The monk understood.

Our bowls were cheap, easy, and quick to put together.  The formula is quite simple and you can change it up in a never-ending of photos.

  • base of greens (kale, spinach, arugula, romaine)
  • scoop of grain or starchy vegetables (rice, quinoa, sweet potato, potato)
  • scoop of protein (beans, fish, chicken, turkey . . .)
  • two scoops of veggies (red peppers, carrot, onion, broccoli, cauliflower . . .)
  • a spoon of toppings (jalapeño, bacon, nuts, seeds, parmesan, feta,  . . .)
  • drizzle with sauce (salsa, tahini/garlic, guacamole, green goddess, cucumber-yoghurt, spicy peanut . . .)

Each week I cook a big batch of grain (2 lb bag), 2 bags of beans (1 lb each), and chop up all the veggies. It is all kept in the fridge and each day I just pull out what I feel like having and. load up my bowl.

*Today’s post includes pictures I have taken this week of my lunches.

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:

  • grate 1 cucumber
  • mince 1 clove garlic
  • mix with 1 cup yogurt
  • you can add: mint leaves and lemon juice too

Guacamole Sauce

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 c cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

Green Goddess

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • fresh green herbs (I like basil, sage, thyme, and sometimes rosemary)



Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Heidis Fruhstuck (German), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Watching:  Krypton, Timeless, The Last Jedi


pasta bowls & other dishes

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


Maybe it is just me, because my family certainly doesn’t follow my lead here, but I primarily eat out of bowls. Pasta bowls to be precise. There is something very satisfying about the aesthetics of it all. I haven’t found anything that wasn’t simply fantastic served in my pasta bowl.

I do have a luncheon plate and a regular bowl too. I tend not to use them very much. I use my cup as a cup and an ice cream bowl for those times you really just need some ice cream. My coffee/tea mug alternates between a more European size (coffee and chai) and a big old  American style mug (herbal tea).

Pasta Bowls and European style coffee cup are Dansk. Luncheon Plate and regular American mug are from Target — although I don’t think they sell this particular one anymore.


I wrote a bit about my dishes and why I chose them here . . . . Simpleness


Reading:  Harry Potter 1 (German edition), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)


Watching: Krypton