Sunday, December 26, 2010


A few photos that show some of our Christmas.  We were together, excepting our German adventurers, and had a quiet holy day.

Kate was busy making gingerbread the day before.

Kate, Meghan and Mary with their "real" earrings!

Tom holding "to the man from the boy" gift.  The wrapping paper was duct tape!

Our eclectic tree.  It is always so much fun to remember how, who and why each ornament in on the tree.

Peter, with a rare smile!

Me, looking forward to some brain work ... thank you Peter!
Later the same day, diving into our stockings.  Note the mural and our faux walls ... now you know why we painted this room the following weekend.

Kate with Dolly the cat curled up, both sound asleep.  It was a good day for that!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

O Emmanuel

"O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God."

Lord, I am more than thankful that at each Mass I am able to see you in the Blessed Sacrament.  I am more than thankful that You feed me with your precious body and blood.  May all the holy priests you have placed in our lives be affirmed in their faith, whether they are strong or struggling with their own private demons.  May all the bishops who have played key roles in our lives be covered in Your grace and continue to be wise shepherds of Your sheep.  And finally, dear Lord, for those in our families who have fallen out of the practice of their faith, stumbled away from You, or have immediate need for Your intercession be given hearts penetrated by Your love, and a deep desire to know You and return to righteousness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Rex Gentium

"O King of the Gentiles (O Rex Gentium): O King of the Gentiles and desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth."

Most of our family is now gathered at our home for Christmas.  Our oldest and her husband are in Germany, and we look forward to chatting with them on Christmas Day.  Tom picked up our two college girls from Detroit yesterday.  It is with much anticipation that we are now together.

I read an interesting op-ed piece yesterday.
I am finishing this book as well.  The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History
It has been a wonderful "short course" on political science in the 20th century.  Since we started on our adventure of home educating our children, I have been drawn very much to studying history.  Our approach, while using some text books, has also included seeking books and resources that tell "the other side" of the story.

And I am looking forward to locating this book for future study.Blood Brothers

In the meantime, our final Advent baking day is here!  We plan to bake like crazy today, and get dozens of bags ready to deliver tomorrow.  On the baking list we have: Cranberry Chews, Glorified Shortbread, White Almond Bars and Scandinavian Kringler (a scrumptious coffee cake).   For my sisters, Tom's sisters and brother, plus Grandparents, we hope you receive your own goodie boxes before Christmas!

And, since we have doubled the number of bakers, we may very well tackle a handmade gingerbread village! If it materializes, we'll be sure to post pictures.

Tomorrow is our "new" annual ravioli making day.  It will have a special significance, as we know Cathy (Tom's mom and the kids' "Nonnie") will be smiling from heaven.

To tie this all into the title, well, it really is the reason for the season.  God is real, God is our source of life, God has sent His only Son to be the Rex Gentium!  May you deepen your own understandings and faith in what is real, true and beautiful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O Oriens

"O Rising Dawn (O Oriens): O dawn of the east, brightness of light eternal, and sun of justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Wonder and awe strikes me whenever I am up early enough to watch the sun rise.  Our last visit to Colorado allowed that, and the dawn was glorious.  I know it is physics, light bending, various parts of the prism breaking through at different speeds, etc.  But, it still draws awe from deep inside my being.  Watching a new day emerge never ceases to draw my soul toward rejoicing in the everlasting dawn of the Son of God.

Today is our shortest day, longest night of the year.  We weren't up to watch the lunar eclipse, to watch the moon show red.  Though, with our wintry cloud cover, the motivation wasn't there.  This is a rare occasion, and many people have placed special meaning on it.  But, it is also just physics.  The author of our world, who actually is the source of those laws people have termed laws of physics, gravity, chemistry, etc. has indeed created a world full of wonder for all of us!

May your remaining days of Advent be filled more with joyful anticipation than frantic preparation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

O Clavis David

"O Key of David (O Clavis David): O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Thank you, Lord, for saving me from my own darkness.  By your grace I have not sunk back into that original darkness You rescued me from, and by Your grace  You continually pull me back from the dark.  May Your light continue to shine more brightly in my soul, illuminating my path to heaven and eternity with You.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Radix Jesse

"O Root of Jesse (O Radix Jesse): O Root of Jesse, that stands for ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not."

Deep roots, deep in history keep us grounded back to the very beginning when the Word spoke.   On a personal level, my familial roots remind me that my ancestors who were devout believers are standing before God, interceding for not just me, for all my family who have, for whatever reason, abandoned a practice of faith. My they intercede for me, and for all our living family, to deepen our awareness of God, how He has so blessed each of us, and may we be led back to those roots and a faithful practice of our faith.  Not for the sake of practice, but in adoration of our loving God and Father!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

O Adonai

"O Lord and Ruler (O Adonai):  O Lord and Ruler the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arms."

Our Friday was busy getting a letter drafted, printed, envelopes addressed, cookies baked, and packages assembled for our visit to Michigan today.  Today will be as busy, but the activity interrupted with two long rides to and from our destination.   Along the way, dear Lord, please guide our words, thoughts and actions to reflect your Law as written in our hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Sapientia

Just so you know, Advent is not forgotten.  This year, even though Advent is almost as long as possible, the time has flown by!  Might have something to do with the shoveling and hauling of firewood!  Or not.

Today begins the beautiful O Antiphons, readying all of us to savor this last bit of Advent, and approaching Christmas Eve with a growing awareness of how good our gracious God is!

I am quoting from my Catholic Daily Planner - thanks to Michelle Quigley for providing this beautiful resource ..

"O Wisdom (O Sapientia): O Wisdom, who come from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly; come, and teach us the way of prudence."

Ahh, prudence.  Well spoken when we make our final gift decisions.  Tom and I have to remind each other, balancing each other, when we do make our gift selections, that the material isn't nearly as important to our kids than the emotional and spiritual.  We can't wrap those and put them under the tree, but we can offer back in an authentic way our deep love for each one of them, and our thanks to God that they were gifted to us so many years ago!

May you walk in His Wisdom today!

Lenten Thoughts

Oh, I know it is only Advent.  But somehow Advent purples prompt me to think ahead to Lenten purples.  While reading this morning's news it occurred to me that my standby of offering up both wine and whining would be inadequate this time around.

So this Lent, what I hope to excise from my words and thoughts is cynicism.  I enjoy a dry sense of humor, but after a few, ahem, emotionally charged incidents the past few days, I am realizing more and more how what I claim is humor isn't.  Plus adopting a cynical attitude toward life is robbing me of the true joy of life.  So until Lent, my intention is to listen to my words more carefully, and see where I lack in charity.  Not the words I speak, but that dialogue that runs inside my head.

I figure it is so deeply seated, that prayer, fasting and other Lenten practices might be the only way God can get me to stop this destructive way of approaching life and the world.  Don't expect any updates.  Just thought I would share with you my intentions.  The result won't be up to me, but I do plan, and having a plan is the first step toward reform.

More Snow???

Yup!  Went to bed Sunday night, woke up to over 18" of freshly fallen snow.  Tuesday the schools were closed, but by the afternoon the snow had finally stopped.  If any of you have followed the news, Hwy 402 that takes us to the border was closed.  In fact, over 300 vehicles were stranded for well over 24 hours.  The OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) were on snow mobiles, and the military was called in for support.  Only one fatality, a man who chose to walk a short distance, and sadly, was found within 50 meters of his vehicle.

Okay, stop with the snow already!!!  It isn't even winter until Tuesday.

A really positive thought is that we live in southern Canada, so it did become warm enough, and there was plenty of salt so that by yesterday afternoon we were driving on bone dry roads.  Not quite the same in the parking lots, but you just take what good news you can!

Plans are to head across the border to get our Christmas cards and packages mailed to all of you back home.  Then we pick up a few groceries, and hopefully some raw peanuts for Tom's peanut brittle, as well as pecans that don't cost over $10 per 3/4 pound.  It's mighty hard to be a southern cook in southern Canada.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fun in the Snow!

Our son played while our daughter filmed from the warmth of our breakfast room.  Enjoy!

The snow continues!  Estimates this morning at 6:30 were over 80 cm so far, and it is STILL coming down!!!

The "boys" had to shovel about 12" so Tom could get out to work.  And we just got back in after helping get Tom out of the neighborhood.  He managed the driveway, but driving to the plowed main avenue enough snow crammed under the car that he had absolutely no traction.  Pushing wasn't enough, so out came the shovels.

One of our neighbors came up and helped as well.  I do love the gung ho, can I help push attitude of our Canadian neighbors.  This is when they shine!  It looks like all of us will have plenty of those moments to shine this week!

Monday, December 6, 2010

And More Snow!

Peter climbed out into the backyard to measure accumulation at 1 pm.  Over 20".  Since then we estimate another 2-4" has fallen.  Schools are closed, that is except ours.  The joys (and not to many joys for some) of home schooling.  I promise not to be too tough.  In fact, we're about to take a "home economics" break and bake some treats.

I tried to capture the snow falling.  Can you guess which little dog does not like going outside to take care of business?  Jess, on the other hand, loves it.  She has blazed a trail around the perimeter just in front of all our massive pine and cedar trees.

Looking out from the Dining Room.  The window sill has about 8" of snow.  Better to be inside looking out!

View out a Family Room window.  The hill is our little Alberta Spruce just off the lower deck.  The sticks are raspberry canes, waiting for warmer weather!  Somewhere under all that snow next to the spruce are the strawberries and hostas.

Oh! Snow!

It started on December 1st with a few days of light flurries.  And so far, in the past 24+ hours we have had well over 18"!!!  Saint Nick arrived on time, though, dropping off chocolate coins and a new movie (as per a tradition we set years ago.)

Schools here in London are cancelled, and the noise of sheer, unadulterated (emphasis on no adults) laughter is infectious.   Our son has been very busy trying to keep both the driveway, sidewalk to the front door, and back deck cleared.  In fact he was up well before Tom, and out shoveling by 5:30 am, knowing his Dad would need a clear driveway to get to work.

He went out once more, but we now have another couple of inches on the shoveled areas.  Here are some pictures of our new scenery!  Notice how deep the roof snow is!

Here is to keeping warm, and everyone safe on the roads today, and the remainder of the week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Colorado Trip

We had a wonderful visit with relatives in Colorado.  The recipes for our Thanksgiving meal was courtesy of Sunset Magazine.  The turkey was brined, then spun on the BBQ.  We enjoyed several new dishes, and now have some new favorites.  Not only did we get to enjoy Thanksgiving together, we had many other huge family meals!  Both of Tom's sisters were generous hostesses.

Here are some pictures to share.  I had to have a picture of the deer crossing sign.  We saw the same thing driving through Lansing, MI ... made me smile that time, as well.

Rudolf crossing sign.

Closest we got to the snow.  

Riley, fastest tennis ball catcher in Boulder.

Tom and Ray... 
(but not the Magliozzi brothers .. sure do miss listening to Car Talk.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Travel Plans

Tom will be flying home from his week in Yellowknife.  He told me last night that he has had to deal with a hot hotel room, and then plunging cold outside.  That makes for a compromised immune system.  Vitamin D and C will be generously dished out on his return.

We have only today and tomorrow to get the pets, house and us ready to leave for Colorado.  The weather looks promising for the drive out.  We hope it holds for the drive home, too!  Our first Thanksgiving as a newly married couple involved a serious car accident, and we do not want a repeat of that!

The pets aren't coming, but we do have to have the house ready so they can be alone for the majority of the day and evening.  Kind neighbors will be feeding and giving them social time while we are gone.

Other than that, we expect to have a more leisurely drive west than the last one the beginning of October.

We all hope that you each have a good Thanksgiving holiday together with your friends and family.  Each year we look back over the previous year, and realize how blessed we have been.  We can also see the challenges, and whether we each rose or fell to the occasion.

This Thanksgiving our immediate family will be apart.  The college girls in Houston, our oldest in Germany with her better half, and us in Colorado with most of Tom's family.  Some of my family will gather in Las Vegas at a sister's home, and another sister will have her family gathering at their home in Washington.  With God's grace, most of my family is planning a trip back "home" for the 4th of July.   Can't wait to see them all, and to meet all the newest members from my nephews' and nieces' families.

May you each receive an awareness of your blessings, may you each receive help in carrying your burdens, and may you each receive consolation in your sorrows.

Wake Up Call

Just thankful that our travels this Thanksgiving week are by car.  Sure hope this is stopped before our two daughters fly north for the Christmas holidays.  Please, pass this on ... it is outrageous, and as Rep. Paul says, if it is illegal (not to say anything about immoral) for an individual to do this, how on earth can it be okay for an agent of the Federal government to do it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pass it On!

Likely this will be taken off soon ... but our President is not legally able to be our President.  Why on earth do we have to continue.  Put Joe Biden in and have done with it all.  That is why we have a Constitution.  That is why we are a Republic, ruled by law, not by the whims of the majority ... and even less so by the elite who "know better."  Another thing ... find this book and read it:
A History of the American People by Paul Johnson

It is not a simple book to read ... don't expect to find this easy to read, either.  But, I'd bet that if you read my blog, you enjoy thinking, and this book will make you think.  It will also make you laugh, chuckle, cringe and see how we are seen by someone who is not from the USA.

Oh!  And Pass on this link ASAP .. we know that YouTube isn't able to hold on to many things for long because of the oversight (in part from Homeland Security) ... Just hope I don't get stopped at the border the next time I cross!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life's Curve Balls

Practically from the first, "Mom?" over the phone I can detect whether I'm about to hear good news, sad news, or just the standard chitchat that my older daughters and I enjoy while keeping in touch.  This past month has had more sad news than good.  But even from the sad comes good, as you know from reading my posts about my lovely mother-in-law, Cathy.

Some other good news, though, is that our oldest is safely in Germany and adjusting to life in a new culture and environment.  She is getting the experience of living in college dorms, though softened a bit with her husband by her side.  We don't get to talk on the phone, but rely on both gmail chat and Skype for conversations.

We don't hear much from #2, though with a new production (MacBeth) in the works I'm not surprised.  She was the one who had the unfortunate task of letting us know that, first, the air conditioner on their little VW Bug had died.  Then a call telling us the brakes on my Sonata, that they were borrowing for the summer, needed to be replaced.  To top off the summer of expenses, she had to let us know the compressor for our downstairs air conditioning unit in Houston house needed to be replaced.

Our third daughter is not as ready to call, but when she does it is usually good news.  Sadly, not a few days ago. At first it was a bit of a surprise, but not after Tom and I talked about everything that had gone on before.  Now that time is helping settle things a bit, life is again approaching stability and normalcy.

The news wasn't anything shocking, scary or even truly dismal.  But, after a late night discussion she and her fiancé had decided to call off their engagement, and put the wedding on hold.  That, of course, means money spent that can't be recouped.  As she said, now she knows why the wedding industry makes out like bandits.  The very fact that she and Brian were brave enough to say stop is good!  Money, in the end just represents time, not a lifetime.  I imagine there are plenty of couples who feel extreme pressure to say "I do" when deep inside they don't want to, but feel compelled because of all "the money" spent.

Our daughters and son all know that we love them, no matter how much money they cost us!  Seriously, though, we do hope and trust that they will always trust us to be completely honest, even when it means  serious disruptions in plans and expectations.  After all, it truly is sinful for parents to believe they have the right to guide their children once they are young adults.  Not saying we abdicate our role as parents, but we also realize that there is a point that emerges where we have to step back, let our adult children make their own way in life, and bite hard on that tongue.

The gratifying thing, though, for me is when what I thought was the wise thing turns out to be the foolish one, and their choice is the best.   When our children were young it was simpler, "Which color do you want to wear?  The blue or the green?"  We could limit their choices depending on how mature they were, and how much time we had.  Now that they are testing the waters as adults, we don't have as many limits to place.

The ultimate test will be in the end, and by then there will only be the ultimate choice, "Do you love Me?", spoken at our own intimate end in this world.  All the choices we allowed to our children, and our own parents allowed us, we pray and hope lead us to emphatically shout "YES!" when we are called to account for our earthly life.

So, the wedding is off.  Perhaps completely, perhaps only pushed into the future.  Far better to have to undo our expectations and contracts now, rather than see our daughter go through with something her fiancé felt he wasn't ready to commit to in January.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Highway Travel

What can I say, except sitting for long hours in the car is, well ... not our favorite way to see the sights.  But, sometimes it is the only way to get from here to there in a reasonable amount of time.

Our trip to Colorado was in the dark, for the most part.  But here are some pictures captured as we left Colorado, and along the way.  They were taken with our Sony Handycam, on the still photo setting.  These aren't the highest or best, taken though the window of a moving car, but I promise, I spared you the poor ones!

Stormy weather moved in for the drive home.
First snow fall on the Rockies!
Along the South Platte River
Almost halfway home
Crossing the Mississippi River
Fall colors in Michigan

Words Worth Remembering

You'll notice one of the links to the left on this page is Catholic Thought.  This ranks at the top of my reading list each morning.  Sometimes I follow links on their lead page, and today I opened up a letter written by Archbishop Chaput of Denver to his people.  The entire article is solid, as are all the writings from Archbishop Chaput.  Here is a snippet from this particular letter:

"Holiness isn’t some magic formula available only to the obviously pious. It’s the simple, daily decision to live differently from the habits of the world; to place the needs of others before ourselves.  We can all be holy. That’s our vocation.  That’s why God created us. We only need to turn our good intentions into good actions—one day at a time."

I've been leading a study group for a small group of women here in London.  We are reading and discuss "Letter to Women" written by John Paul II in anticipation of the Beijing Conference in 1995.  We are challenged through out the discussion to understand how we approach holiness, how we approach our particular role as women in our families, communities and society in general.

Words, like Archbishop Chaput wrote, and quoted above, help me remember that my purpose isn't to become famous, wealthy or gather large numbers of people to "follow me."  Rather, my real purpose is to live an authentic life, to be the gentle light drawing others to Christ and ultimately back to union with the Trinity in heaven.  In turn, I am drawn to others, especially when my path veers off, by their own gentle lights.  

The analogy of a gentle light is important to me.  Often I get distracted by much brighter lights.  You might be able to relate.  They can be those glaring lights that loom from the covers of tabloids and magazines as I stand in the checkout line.  It can come from just reading daily news items, being drawn in by the brighter light of celebrity gossip, a tragic accident, the bickering of politicians, even gossip.  Fortunate or not, I haven't made the deeper connections that come from living in the same area my whole life, so most gossip I am in the presence of does not draw me in as tight as what I remember growing up.

But these other bright flames, I need to be very wary of.  When my attention wavers, I can find myself being caught up in failing to live different habits than the world wants us to live.  

May you each be given the grace to follow the gentle light, as well as be a gentle beacon to others.  And may we all be together in heaven ... even those who don't know they have gone astray.  Perhaps most especially we can pray for those who appear to be so far off the road, that they be gifted with lights to pull them away from destruction, and back to sanctity.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Peaceful Death

Cathy passed away last evening surrounded by most of the family.  We received the call while driving in Iowa on our way to Colorado.  Her wake will begin after all the business has been taken care of and extended family and friends receive proper notice.

While I know we all miss her, and that empty sadness will descend on each of us, some far more than others, today is simply one of gathering, reminiscing, and taking care of business.  Right now Meg and Kate are driving north with Meg's fiancé Brian to be with us this weekend.  Since our oldest daughter, Liz and her husband John Paul fly out of Houston early Sunday morning for Germany they'll be Skyped in when the party gets going.

Cathy's wishes were for no funeral, just a party.  So, planning for that is what part of the business involves.  We'll gather with family, tell more stories, celebrate her life and support Ray.  Plus enjoy a feast of foods we all associate with her.  

We take great consolation in the fact that she was visited by a priest, and anointed, prior to her death.  Many of our friends and family have been praying for her, and several masses have been offered for her as well.  Now we simply rest and trust in God's infinite mercy, and justice.  

May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And may Lynn Cathleen Rinaldi, nee Kelting rest in eternal peace and may perpetual light be made to shine upon her.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Birthday

Tom celebrated his birthday on Friday.  It was twinged with a bit of sadness as his Mom is in the hospital back in Colorado, experiencing some unforeseen difficulties with her health.

Mary and Peter schemed to make him smile, and I think they succeeded.  Peter has been Tom's right hand man with building and home repairs.  Sometimes we think our kids don't listen, but they do.  Peter knows that there are two small tools that Tom, unknowingly, has mentioned he needs to replace quite often.

One of them is his tape measure.  The one he currently uses was a Father's Day gift from our 22 year old when she about 8.  So on Friday, among other errands, we stopped by the local big orange box store and after much consideration, Mary and Peter selected and split the cost of their gift.

When they got home they retrieved the old tape measure from the workbench.  On the outside they labeled it a "BIG BUBBA" ... attached it to the new gift's packaging, wrapped and placed it on Tom's dinner plate.  After opening a really funny birthday card his Mom and Dad sent a while ago, Tom opened the kids' gift.  He chuckled pretty hard, and reminisced about where Kate bought that one.

Mary pulled the real gift out from under the table, and gave it to Tom.  His grin was wonderful to see when he pulled his new tape measure out of the bag.  Naturally, he tested his FAT MAX immediately to see if it really did stay rigid for 11'.  Passed the test.

Mission accomplished!  Happy Birthday Tommy ... and thank you Ray and Cathy for a wonderful husband, and father to our children.


Waiting for the telephone to ring.  Waiting to hear the latest report from the professionals.  Waiting and hoping our next trip won't be one filled with sadness.  Any spare prayers any of my readers have would be deeply appreciated for Tom's mother.

My confidence is in God, and I know He comforts those who are sorrowing.  My own difficulty is in those who sorrow too early.  Hope is always present, but not so evident to those who haven't been blessed with an intimate experience of God, or have rejected Him.

If you are sorrowing this day, don't lose sight of hope.  If you are hopeful today, please pray for those who are in sorrow.

Our rainy weather seems to underscore the sadness that has enveloped many in our family as they wait for prognosis.  My prayer is that they don't rely too much on the experts, and instead turn to God in absolute trust and faith.  For those who have deep questions now, may they receive the gift of faith and good mentors.

May the peace that only comes from Christ be with you and your families today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Truth and why you should vote

One of the sidebars is the excellent Catholic Culture website.  Each morning I am treated to daily Catholic World News emails.  In addition, once a week Catholic Culture sends out an email with linked articles.

The above link is very pertinent.  Some years ago I was part of an email exchange and surprisingly one of the moms who was part of the discussion was defending Planned Parenthood on the premise that they provided prenatal and women's health that wouldn't otherwise be available to low income women.  She was adamant that she did not support abortion, but it was wrong for us to pound on PPPI and only point out their abortions.

Statistics can lie, but in this case ... no lies .. just graphic truths.  The truth about PPPI isn't beautiful, and it is sad . in fact . beyond sad.  It is sadistic.  The natural inclination of any person is to protect a pregnant women, and help her with her baby.

Check out the link .. I promise no graphic pictures.  But, if you have defended PPPI in the past for their "outreach to low income women and families" know that you are supporting an industry that cares only about increasing their profit margin on the backs of those families and on a pool of dismembered children who are truly the hope of our world!

May public funding be cut off from this cult of murder, soon!

Pax Christi

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labors on Labor Day Weekend

Here are some pictures of the clean-up and trimming we did in our front yard.  It started with removing the black lava rock.  We pulled weeds, took out three trees, an old stump, and two bushes.  The roses and yarrow were transplanted to the back yard, and another red leaf plant was moved.  The color theme is definitely green and brown for now.  If the prices are right I'm planning to purchase and add some autumn chrysanthemum.  This about all we accomplished.  Maybe next weekend will be dry and warm enough to finish up exterior paint.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Housework and other thoughts

Yesterday we began our Labour Day weekend with a list of "need to do" and "want to do" we outlined on Friday evening.  Well, that cold I thought would come arrived yesterday!  Chilly, chilly, chilly.  Today it is back up a bit, and looks like higher temps tomorrow.  Friday we had pouring rain!!  Only sprinkles yesterday.
That means our ultimate need to do, finishing the exterior painting, will be delayed just a bit longer.

So, instead of climbing up and down ladders, we turned our focus to the ground level.  Our front yard has been a thorn in our side since moving in.  While the house itself is shaping up, the landscaping is dreadful.  Years of neglect, plus our own priorities in different directions this summer made it look bad.  I tried to justify letting some Queen Anne's Lace grow because it was pretty.  The reality?  It is a weed.  But, a pretty one.

So we raked out black lava rock, screened out the dirt, trenched next to the grass, sidewalk and driveway, and pulled weeds.  Today we did more of the same while Tom took our handy trailer for a load of mulch.  That has been spread on two of the front beds.  In addition we had Peter remove two trees and a stump from the space in front of Tom's den.  It looks pretty bare right now, except for fresh mulch, but at least it isn't full of weeds and gangly volunteer trees.

Oh, and we opted for cedar mulch, even though our across the street neighbors said we'd have to replace it next year.  I know, I know, I know.  But, lava rock is not exactly what I call mulch (though many of our neighbors would disagree.)  At least the cedar will contribute to the soil and compost in.

While we were out yesterday buying casters to tranform one of our yard sale office chairs into a work chair for my hobby room I spied all the fall plants.  Though tempted, it won't be for this year.  I did see several bulbs for spring flowers ... and it reminded me I need to dig out the tulips and daffodils we saw bloom in May so they can get to better spots.

While working in the yard, pulling weeds, digging, raking the craziest thoughts come to me.  One of those thoughts had to do with how much emphasis is placed on talking to teens about sex.  It comes from the market place wanting to sell stuff, as well as schools wanting to stem teen pregnancy.  We talk so much and listen to so much about sex, gosh, couldn't that have something to do with teens seeming to be obsessed?

While we have never sat down with any of our children for "the lecture" they have been well grounded in normal human physiology and psychology all their lives.  As far as mechanics, it is not something we believe need to be made into a special lecture.  In fact, I would tend to believe more that when it comes to reproduction, a young, first married couple can pretty much figure it out on their own without an instruction manual.

No, what we have tended to is teaching by example how to be treated, how to treat others, how to dress to show respect to yourself and others, etc. We have emphasized that sexual activity outside of marriage will only lead to heartache.  Those folks who say otherwise are usually wanting to sell something, but won't be around to heal torn heartstrings.  Last night it came up again on the television with pushing young women (who were openly saying active sex lives were the "norm" outside of marriage.)  This was a commercial for the HPV vaccine.  Okay, well, guaranteed that if their "norm" is played out, there will be worse things than getting HPV to worry about.  I am not naive, but does this all need to be the "norm"?

Those were yesterday's thoughts.  Today I was thinking about the Sunday gospel.  Luke 14:25-33.  During Mass I was able to compare the words the were spoken to those written in my September Magnificat.  Living in London means that the readings are not from the New American translation, but rather from NRSV text.  Of more interest was the Day by Day reflection I read in my little magazine.

The author was Blessed Angela of Foligno, who like me, was a wife and mother.   The one thing she wrote in her beautiful meditation was that when we thank God, as we should, for the good that happens we need to remember that ultimately this life is about embracing our cross and when the sad, bittersweet happens, we have been blessed far more.  Christ suffered for our sins ... and that didn't just mean a mental acknowledgement of our sins.  It meant real suffering.

If He loved me enough to suffer for me, then do I desire to love Him back by thanking him for my sufferings?  Fortunately, Blessed Angela put if far better than I can.  I need to remember that my goal is not to make my life as easy and carefree as possible, but rather to seek out my cross, shoulder it, and struggle beneath it as a sign of love for the cross of all our sins that Christ carried for each one of us.  It is in solidarity with Jesus that I will ultimately cross into the next life, and truly enjoy peace.  Shalom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September begins

This morning, after seeing Tom out the door for work, I sat here to go through my morning routine of checking e-mail, reading daily comics, solving a jigsaw puzzle, plus catching up with some of my friends via their blog posts.  BTW, if you have one, please let me know.  I love the rabbit trails they afford me (when I have the time.)

Last week Peter and I got down to business with his final year of schooling.  This week Mary was included.  She begins her high school studies this year so I decided to teach them both Earth Science and Economics at the same time.  This will be a first, and so far we are enjoying both.

Our girls in Houston started their semester last week at UST.  Kate will be graduating in December.  She read for a part in the UST Theater production of MacBeth on Monday night, and had a call-back yesterday.  I might be biased, but I think she has grown in her acting abilities.  Tom and I were blessed to see her portray the part of Annelle in Steel Magnolias, one of the UST Theater productions last spring.  We were unaware at the first that it was Kate in the opening scene.

Meghan is busy with her school as well as continuing work as a therapist with autistic children.  The wedding is still progressing toward January 8 next year.  We still have plenty of groundwork to cover, but I think it will be as nice as Elizabeth's was a year ago.

Elizabeth is still working as office manager for the Central Indiana Girl Scouts at the Lafayette service center.  She and John Paul have been packing in anticipation of their October departure for Germany.  So far it has been a bit of a roller coaster with conflicting information, but I know that a year from now when they are back in Indiana they will have some fantastic adventures to remember.

We also decided to bite the bullet, and went ahead and signed Mary for ballet this next year.  She won't go on pointe, at least not right now.  Mary and I both decided it would be better for her to get to know her new teacher, Dale Yashida, and for Dale to see Mary's abilities, first.  That means we now can proceed with getting our downstairs "bonus room" outfitted for her practice.

This morning, while I was sitting down, I heard the first signs of autumn.  A crew of honking Canadian geese beginning their journey south.  It reminded me that although it is terribly hot and humid right now (by Canadian standards ... not Houston!) our cold is just around the corner.  That means our labour day weekend will be full of more labor than leisure.  The last of the exterior paint needs to be completed.  We also have plenty of clean-up and preliminary landscaping in the front we want to finish before snow season.  Tom's dad, Ray, and his Aunt Joy pointed out a lot of overgrown trees we need to remove from the backyard.  Some will come out over the next 3 or so months.  The rest will have to wait until next spring.

Last weekend we golfed 18 holes at a course I do not want to visit again until I am a far better golfer.  What a challenging course!!!  It seemed like every hole had water to cross, lots of sandtraps, and a few even had sprinklers!

As we were crossing to the 4th hole, we walked past the clubhouse, and a very Scottish wedding!  Bagpipes and kilts, the whole shootin' match.  Later on Saturday night, our backyard neighbors had their own Scottish wedding outside ... and their party lasted well into the dark early hours of Sunday morning.  They must have fallen asleep, but around 2 in the afternoon it was all cranked back up, again!

Ahhh... we understand it all.  The snow flurries will be here all too soon as it is.. so seizing the moment now is important.  I often have been reminded, too, that the same goes for this life on earth.  The moment can go at any instant, and to be ready for the next step into eternity is really on my mind.  Not morbidly so, but realizing that while Tom and I have been blessed with all of our parents still living, it won't continue.

Not to leave you on a sad note .. just one that we all need to keep in mind.  When I read news items that tell us how to live longer, or how just one simple change might add years to our life, I am also struck with the knowledge that the one thing we all share is death.  It will come, no matter how we might plan to avoid it.  It will still come.  So, take heed, and don't waste away your time to prepare for the inevitable.  May we all be in heaven together .. I'm doing my part, I hope you are doing yours!  Shalom

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Niagara Falls in August

We had the happy occasion to celebrate Tom's Dad's 80th birthday at our home.  Tom's two sisters, Paula and Julie arrived with husbands.  Two of our nephews made the trip, as did Tom's Aunt Joy.  Our two daughters in Houston made the drive in 23 hours.  Liz and John Paul also drove up from Indiana!  What a joyous time we had together.  Enjoy these shots of Niagara Falls, and the family.

Train Trip to Toronto

In front on Union Station almost ready to go back home

Down at the piers overlooking Lake Ontario
CN Tower.  We managed to walk all the way around, then decided to have lunch in the revolving restaurant.
Toward the end of our meal the revolution was complete.  The green roof in the center is the Royal York.  The green roof to the right side is Union Station.  

Just arrived at Union Station!
View from the restaurant of where the Indy Car Toronto race took place.  We could hear the racers while we walked the city.

View of the Royal York across from Union Station.  This is where Tom stays when he has overnight business in Toronto.  We had to make a quick washroom stop inside!  Beautiful old building.

Sunday: July 18, 2010: Tom travels to Toronto on ViaRail often, and earned enough "points" for a free round trip for all of us to Toronto.  We originally hoped that he and Peter could go the the Indy Car Toronto race.  Details couldn't be worked out early enough, as a result we played tourists!  We visited the pier, walked past the baseball stadium, and the CN Tower.  At the CN Tower we were famished, and rode the express elevator up to the revolving restaurant.  During our fabulous meal the view rotated completely around, taking about 70+ minutes.  After that we walked to where the subway/mall is.  The shops were closed as it was Sunday, which suited us just fine.  We were all just curious about how a mall could be located under the city.  Next was a long walk to visit a funky shopping area called Kensington Market.  On the way we walked through Chinatown (as evidenced by all the street signs being in Chinese.)  By the time we were done at Kensington, we hopped on the subway back to Union Station.  The train ride home was first class, including dinner.  It was nice to have one more "must see" checked off our list.  Future visits to Toronto will include several of their museums and art galleries, and of course, shopping in the underground mall.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More Touch-up Work

New front door paint!  Here is the before, and the after.  Same with the newly refurbished front porch lights.  The door hardware was simply wire brushed clean, and looks like new, too!  We never mind spending a little labor to achieve that fresh, like-new feel!  Sure beats spending $$$ for new, eh???  The best part (besides saving money?) ... that is the last of the pink!!!

An Empty Bird House ... NOT

We started scraping and caulking the back of the house this week.  Last week while Tom was in the far north I painted the lower portion trim.  This upper part has really been through the harshest environment with a full southern exposure, and is taking a longer time to prep for painting.

Under the eaves was an old birdhouse.  When Tom dropped took it down on Tuesday night I  had opened up the top, and while it did look like a current nest, there was no visible sign of a little bird inside.  They must camouflage well! It had been placed on the deck, and imagine my surprise when, while I was washing dishes, I spied a small brown bird standing at the opening.  As soon at it left another one flew in, and then I spied a large yellow open mouth just inside the opening.  Both parents made about 4 trips while I watched from inside the house.  That also explains why Dolly the cat has been sitting in front of the birdhouse staring to intently at it earlier in the day.

When I told Tom after he got home after work he didn't hesitate to pull the ladder back out, and reinstalled it back where it had been.  So far I haven't spied the parent birds flying in, but then again, we hadn't even realized they were using the house.

In the meantime we'll keep our eyes peeled for the debut!  In keeping with our updating plans we'll take spruce up the little house late fall once they have definitely moved on.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


One of the unknown bonuses of moving to our new-to-us house are the raspberry canes growing between one of the family room windows and the deck.  They have been producing abundantly, and we have just about reached the end of their growing season.  There are now 6 quart size freezer bags stowed away for treats later on this year.  We have some strawberries, but unfortunately, our May/June rain kept their feet wet, and not much was produced.  Drainage is a serious problem we have to address.  It took a while when we first moved to Texas to adjust to the idea of real rain, real high humidity and heat.  After our 3rd year there, we were finally able to keep a yard looking good.  This climate is different than any I've lived in before.  Much more seasonal, with a nice level of humidity, as opposed to the high in Houston and the low in Nevada we had been living with in years past.