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