Thursday, July 31, 2008

Comfortable back there?

My younger but bigger bro required a destination for his totally hot bike. A Suzuki 800 with a drive shaft -- it's model name escapes me, but it's hot; orgasmic hot, if you know what I mean. He had called earlier in the day, and mentioned tooling on up. I suggested we go for a ride, and then remembered I would have to take the little one with me, as she and I were home alone last night. She is not my usual passenger. Being younger, and less experienced she generally rides with her daddy, who is a more experienced driver than I.

The bro shows up, has some dinner, and I get to straddle and start his bike. It's heavy; way too heavy for me -- I can barely get it off it's kick stand. But its seat is comfortable, and the engine totally hums. He is so lucky to have such a slick ride. Not that I'm dissing my own wheels, but a townie bopping around 250 is far from sexy. (Maybe like in Harry Potter where the wand picks the owner, so does the bike... but I am way off topic here...)

After muscling around the bro's ride, my bike is a dream to get out of the garage. The little one has her helmet on. She is practically rocketing onto the bike as I start the engine. I give her the signal, she's up, grabbing the strap and saying, "I'm holding on here." I know that is how she rides with her daddy, so I give her the nod, knowing my heart will rev a bit higher without the security of her hands around my waist. And we head out to escort bro part way home: destination the ice cream stand in a neighboring town.

My passenger is chatty. "Did you see that bike mom?"

"The black one parked by the side of the road?" I ask back.

"No, the big one up the street. Daddy wouldn't like that one because the handle bars are too high and the seat is too..." Her voice fades to background as we enter the clogged rotary downtown.

"Look at those flock of birds?" Yeah right, I think I'll watch the cars sandwiched around us instead.

"There's another bike. Did you see it?"


Truly, I was enjoying her running monologue, while giving her an occasional answer, and seeing the entertainment advantages of having her as a passenger, until I spied her little hands waving in the rear view mirrors. "Are you holding on?"

"Yes," was her quick response. "Unless I need to itch and then I let go."

It was more like, unless I need to talk. "Don't scratch. Hold on."


But her assurance lasts about a block when she starts remembering the route we road last week. "We're going up here and then turning here, and then we'll go straight until there." Once again I check my mirrors and that hand is waving about in the breeze.

I have visions of her popping off as we traverse some rough road. "Hold on."

For a few hundred feet my passenger is again quiet. But as her chatting starts up again I check my mirrors and she is pointing out birds and landmarks for the cars behind us. And I wonder if we'll be hit because the drivers are so taken a back by the kid pointing all about. Or are her actions like a flashing safety light drawing more attention to the fact a motorcycle is up ahead. And not only a motorcycle, but a bike with a kid waving wildly from the rear seat.

Again I say, "Hold on," and she quiets.

It's amazing how comfortable she is on a motorcycle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grandpa, I got it!

My Italian grandfather made the best spaghetti sauce. And if you asked him what he put in it, he'd say, "Tomatoes... from the garden." But the taste, it was knock you over, rich with flavor that exploded in your mouth. So. I'd watch. Yes, tomatoes, a bit of garlic, pork, meatballs, chopped onion... and I'd make it at home; no go. Grandpa had the sauce market cornered. At his house we had glory, at mine Prego. That is until yesterday.

Yesterday I made Italian chicken from my new Hawaiian cookbook. The sauce was Grandpa's; one bite and I knew. The recipe was indeed based in tomatoes, one 28 ounce can of crush tomatoes. The meat was browned chicken breast; not flavorful pork or meatballs. Added to it was garlic, the liquid from two jars of marinated artichokes, some onion, and Italian seasoning. The secret ingredient was V.O. whiskey. The recipe called for a cup of sherry, which I didn't have so I grabbed the whiskey and gave the pan a good dose, but not nearly a cup.

And after one taste I remembered Grandpa cooking by the stove and close by, the cabinet that held the liquor; his whiskey.

No more Prego or Hunts for this house. I got it, Grandpa! Move the whiskey closer to the stove, no worries.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just a Picture Today

Life is hectic again. The weather is hot again. The garden is under attack again. I need to come up with something for dinner again. I'm tired again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Powerful Prayers

At WYD the power of prayer and the hugeness to the Holy Spirit became very apparent to me. I'm still blown away by the fact my day long, thrown kissing headache was gone after prayer. That's big. Did the people praying over me actually have to be touching me? Right now that question is pressing, and I have to believe the answer is no. And I have to believe in the intersession of saints, since the second miracle attributed to Fr. Damien was a Hawaiian woman being completely cured of cancer after she visited his final resting place.

I received an email last night asking for prayers for two gravely sick people, Michael and Brian. I quickly forwarded the email to the WYD team, and have been pushing my own prayers and asking for intercession from Mary the Mother of God, Mother Theresa, Fr. Damien and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Like the woman in the bible who would not give up her asking, I'm the same. I want to be a religious faith-filled squeaky wheel. Care to pitch in and make some noise.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beer and the Banjo

Life is slowly returning to before WYD normal. Food shopping, laundry, weeding, reinforcing the garden fence against dinner guests, etc... But the best is picking up my banjo, (boy does it need a visit with Arthur for tuning), and brewing the latest batch of beer. It will be an Irish Stout when it's finished.

When I put the wort together, I was a bit nervous, because the yeast wasn't all that active. Did I pitch it too early???? YIKES! Today all is good. There is plenty of activity. And tomorrow I'll call Arthur and see if I can have an adult playdate, ie banjo lesson complete with tune up. Of course, I haven't played for two weeks, and boy did I miss it, so the lesson will be more remedial than progressive.

For WYD the call was put out to witness. With everyone I've run into today, we've talked about the trip. It's nice to meet up with friends, and mention Madrid, Spain in 2011. It would be great if there was a huge contingency going based upon our experiences in Sydney.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Night time at the Bangaroo

Sydney certainly knows how to throw a party!

The Pope

Yes, we got to see the Pope. We were assigned area B section 1: right up next to the stage. At first I wanted to be up front, but the press of the crowd made it impossible to see anything but the heads of the 123 people in front of me. So I politely backed my way out to the fringe where I could see His Holiness just fine. That evening, when the Boston Group met for reflection, I asked,"I wonder if we were more excited to see him, or he was more excited to see all of us." Imagine what it must be like to have over a quarter of a million people come out to see you and hear what you have to say.


For the final (for now) entries at the Dragaroo blog we've all been asked to write down our reflections about the pilgrimage. And even though I been posting pictures and thoughts here on my own blog, these final reflections are still muddled in jet lag. But it's not so bad, as I have the songs We Are One Body and Your Grace is Enough running through my head constantly.

Jet lag is an amazing thing. Lying in bed, I think I'm ready to get up. It's only when I put my feet on the floor that I realize that I might be up physically, but mentally I'm still a mess. Still with a written down to do list I have been pushing forward. This morning, for some unknown reason, I'm making granola; Bosky Dell Farm Granola. I am chalking it up to rekindling ties with family and close friends. That in someway by making the granola that I'll be drawn even closer to the people I prayed for while on pilgrimage.

The best day for me at World Youth Day was the day I had a migraine and stayed back at the hotel. That morning as I showered (hoping the water would take the pain away) I wondered just where my solo pilgrimage would bring me that day. Sixteen Dragaroo t-shirts in hand, I was making my way to a laundrymat to ensure we would have proper team spirit for our walk to Randwick, when I ran into a priest in the hotel lobby. It wasn't just any priest. He was the one who had truly spoken to me in his preaching. He said, "Reconciliation is for everyone." So in the lobby, I thought I'd find out for myself if he was right.

Thirty minutes later, after asking him if he had 5 minutes to chat, I still had a headache, a bag of dirty shirts, had relayed two text messages to my pilgrimaging group about Mass, but felt a soulful sense of relief. Not that he could help in all areas, but he directed me along avenues for myself to explore.

Life unto itself is a pilgrimage. It's going to be interesting to see where this pilgrimage takes me.

P.S. Later in the day I ran into the same priest and he said, "We missed you at Mass." I told him I had gone back to bed, and when my alarm went off, my head was still raging, so I went back to sleep. He asked if I was better, and I said, "No, not really, but I had to get the shirts from the laundry." He then preceded to pray over me with another woman from our group. I felt a warmth and then my headache lifted. Pretty cool, huh!

Friday, July 25, 2008

One more picture before bed

During our flights home from Hawaii we had a 5 hour layover in LA and then a 4 hour layover in Atlanta. This being a pilgrimage we celebrated Mass every day. It was nice actually. Even the youth said that they had a deeper appreciation for the Mass.

While in LA we discovered that there is no chapel in that airport. So we made due with an oversized piece of luggage, a plastic tub, and a Hawaiian cloth. Our location was by the AirTrans check in desk.

It was a lovely Mass. We sang without a guitar or organ.

Slogging Forth

Sunset at the dateline

The to do list is endless. The bright side of coming home is to be given the opportunity to see exactly what I do for a living here at home: Vacuuming, laundry, running errands, food shopping, weeding. Weeding, yeah right -- my garden is gone. The ground hogs have been using it as a breakfast, lunch, and dinner bar. I did find one zucchini. And I still need to make that picture CD for the WYD pilgrim project. Here are some more pics.

Boxing buddies

St. Mary's Cathedral

Take off over Sydney

More Aussie Locals

Can't sleep

Sydney Harbor Bridge at night

Morning of the vigil at Randwick Race Track

The river of pilgrims walking to Randwick.

Stained glass window from St. Augustine's in Hawai'i.

I don't know if this is jet lag or a sincere attempt on the part of my head to explode. So, I'm downstairs processing pics. One of our pilgrim parents wants 25 pics from each day to put together a DVD. With 902 images you would think this would be easy, but it's not. I'll work on it tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More pictures...

Riding the Logan Express back from the airport, I wondered if we actually left. We had been in transport from Wednesday 5:30 AM Hawaii time till Thursday 9:30 AM East Coast time. The days blur, but as I look through these snaps I'm remembering.

My Second Favorite from the Vigil

We, meaning 250,000 pilgrims, slept out at Randwick Race Track in Sydney. Our plot was sandwiched in between two loud contingencies of Germans, a dozen nuns from the Philippines, a group of young families from Poland, and a group of young ladies from Hawai'i, (who danced the hula to the WYD theme song when the Pope came by in the Pope mobile. )

At night we had a candle light vigil and adoration.

The Aussie Locals

Hey It's Good to be Back Home Again

World Youth Day was a gift. The Holy Spirit was present and accounted for. The Pope seemed happier to us 250,000, rather than the other way around, and we were pretty darn happy to see him. The laundry is started. The packs are emptied on the kitchen table. Nine hundred and two pictures were saved to disk. Many more were taken and deleted. I will post a few here over the course of the next week or so. Here is my all time favorite. There always has to be one, and here it is.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Here

The day we've been working towards and waiting for it finally here: World Youth Day. Our bags are packed; but are we ready to go? What will we see? What will we learn? Will we all be safe? Have I packed enough clothes? Will we get through customs okay?

In the cool quiet of this night the cereus has bloomed. She has opened her petals wide and breathed in the night air. My excuse for not sleeping tonight is I don't want to sleep through this event. My own private little vigil.

On the eve of WYD my thoughts are full of Jesus in the garden. And I wonder if I will be just as apt to sit for Him?

Yesterday's walk started off with butterflies and dragonflies; hundreds of them. We feasted on black raspberries, and hunted for early ripening wild blueberries. Our guide, hot on the tail of turkey bayed for the first time in her seven years of walking those woods. Pulling on her leash; eager for the chase. Not today, she was told. The special sightings were limited to one deer, later on -- two distant turkeys, hundreds of baby toads -- two of whom got taken for a brief ride in the hands of an almost eight year old, one squished adult frog, and two black snakes. We were out over two hours, leisurely making our way on trails that still turn me around.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


If a picture is worth a thousand words, here is 4,000 easy...

A lot to say and no time to say it

Sometimes when I sit down to blog, it's a struggle to find something somewhat remotely interesting to ponder. Now, with my blogging time coming to a short term close I have ideas galore.

I want to tell the owner of the Exxon station not 100 yards from my house that it will be a cold day way down under before I'll purchase petrol from his establishment again. (Or any Exxon for that matter) Over the holiday weekend their prices increased 8 cents a gallon. Try and tell me there was a crisis in the Gulf of Mexico that justified the spike. Perhaps the drill operator had a hang nail, or the refinery had a work stoppage due to a shortage of toilet paper. We are being fiscally raped. If ever I need gas, I will push my big rig to the mom and pop station 2 miles away rather than cross your driveway again. There, I feel better.

Here is the latest picture of the Cereus bud. If it doesn't open tonight... well... I'm just happy it's happening. I wonder if it's overwhelming fragrance will attract any moths?

We have our weekly walk in the woods today. I wonder what interesting sights we will see. Seems to be a lot of wondering going on today.

Space dictates the project

Two nights ago I found out two things:
1. I have to carry 24/7 a binder stuffed with all the WYD paperwork on each member of our mighty Dragaroos. Oh don't feel sorry for me Argentina, all us adults in charge have this hefty duty to bear. And rightly so, for safety.

2. My backpack is heavier than I had hoped. With said notebook, camera and lenses, monopod, extra pair of shoes, rain ponch, sleeping bag, etc...

and one more thing, a staggering thing -- We have 9 hours of lay overs between here in Sydney. So I've packed cards, chess, sudoku, and checkers. All travel sized, but still all taking up precious space I had initially allotted to my knitting.

To this end, twice now, I have taken everything out of my backpack and put most stuff back in. In downsizing I ditched the extra package of travel-sized tissues that I know darn well I'll be looking for as soon as the crowd sings the WYD song, but that's it. Everything has been deemed worthy.

What to knit? That question has plagued me for about two weeks? Do I work on a pair of socks, or the dishcloths I hope to make for Christmas presents? The socks have won out on a decision of space. There is no room in the bag for the bulkier cotton yarn.

So if your watching the WYD coverage and see a woman wearing an orange hat, green t-shirt with a heavy pack on her back, and a camera pressed to her eye, while knitting -- that will be me.

Twenty-four hours from now I will be waking up, showering, and heading for the airport. Tomorrow, Late Night Catechism, the St. Pat's Dinner, the parish breakfast, and all those raffle tickets, cans, bottles, Shaws receipts, will finally come into play. Where has the past 18 months gone?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

After the Rain

Little Action

When I got home from our last World Youth Day meeting before take off, I sprinted to the backyard, with hopes that the Cereus had bloomed. No such luck... Here is the blooming progress as of this morning.Take off is Friday AM. On that day I go from ptcakes the mom to ptcakes one chaperon of five for 11 out of 250,000. Those that know my lack of affinity for crowds might be pondering this oh so wild move on my part. The things we do for love; the things we do for love.

You can follow the beloved St. George Dragaroos by reading our daily blog. I might even get the opportunity to posted some photos.

Besides being a religious wellspring, this trip is a photographers paradise. Not that we will spend anytime in the outback, but being among 250,000 different souls... think of all that photographic material; faces, emotions, action. I've cleared my chip, and charged both batteries.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's Happening!!

My Night Blooming Cereus is blooming. It hasn't bloomed for 15 years. And given life's timing, unless in opens sometime over the next three nights, I'm going to miss it.

Ghosts at the wall

The woods we walk are laced with walls. Rocks that were dug, cleared and stacked in an effort to til the land. Today, trees fill the abandoned fields, and paths meander through the trees. Did the land not produce? Were these old fields too hard to farm? As we walk I watch for the ghosts of those who tried to tame the land and of the children who played hide'n seek along its walls.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I know these people!

Well some of them.

Happy Belated Fourth

Hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July. After a lovely walk in the woods with friends here at home, we hit the road, to go camping with family. Our home away from home was Half Moon State Park in Vermont.
A successful camping trip is when I look at my girls and I'm not really sure if they are tanned or dirty. From early morning to late at night they were outside playing, running about, scoottering, fishing, canoing, roasting marshmallows, lighting sparklers, and just plain having fun.One special day, the little one and I slipped away to visit the Bosky Dell Farm where we had a lovely afternoon visit. The little one enjoyed helping out with the farm chores. (I'm dead set on getting some honey bees of our own.) Their kindness touched me. We swapped stories and recipes over some wonderful ice tea. It was if we had known each other our whole lives, instead of meeting, dear I admit, online, while searching for information on Maple Sugaring.
And now that we are home, I miss them, as if they were family. My only hope is we can reciprocate their hospitality sometime soon.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How To Be A Mean Mother

I'm sure every child has accused their mother of being mean at one time or another. Mine did; up until reading this article in the Boston Globe yesterday morning. We had just come back from our weekly walk in the woods with our four-footed friend and her master. The paper was on the table. The headline glaring. One of the girls said, "That is a mean mom." Quickly my mind recalled the poem I keep in the kitchen -- just in case one of them should forget that I'm a mean mom. It's by author unknown. I'll share it here.

How to Be A Mean Mother

A mean mother never allows candy or sweets
to take the place of a well-balanced meal.
A mean mother insists on knowing where
her children are at all times, who their friends
are, and what they do. A mean mother breaks
the Child Labor Law by making her children
work--washing dishes, making beds, learning to
cook, and doing other cruel and unpleasant chores.
A mean mother makes life miserable for her
offspring by insisting that they always tell the
truth. A mean mother produces teenagers who
are wiser and more sensible. A mean mother can
smile with secret delight and pride
when she hears her own grandchildren call their parents mean.
What the world needs now are more Mean Mothers...

I guess we could tack onto the bottom a final line, that would go something like... A mean mom makes sure her child gets their chemotherapy.

The last night our oldest was invited to a cookout. I was out. Her call came in on my cell.
"What does you father say."
"He says it's okay."
I hesitated. "Are the parents home?"
"I don't know, but I'm going with these two respectable students." One is our neighbor.
A friend, overhearing my conversation feed me the advice she had fed her daughter when she was younger-- Don't drink the punch. Don't drink a beverage unless you open it yourself. Get a fresh glass if you put your's down and lose track of it -- even for a microsecond. I tacked on -- If there is any alcohol, drugs or sex going on you call me right away.
Promises were made. Her word was given.

Still I was uncomfortable. I drove home. She had already left. I headed over. I called her cell.
"Are the parents there?"
A pause. "Are your parents here?" Another pause. "It's my paranoid mom..." as if she had any other kind, like the lax mom, the sweet mom, the uncaring mom.
"No Mom, the parents aren't home."
"Be out front. I'm on my way to check this out."
"No, Mom," was her plea.
"Yes," was my answer. "I am your mother."

It was dark. If she hadn't been out front with a friend, I never would have been able to tell which house was which. I swerved to the side of the road, and got out.

"How many people? What are you drinking? What are you eating? What time is this over?"

At first she was pissed. I reminded her that I am the Mom. I'm here because I care. Her mood tempered. I got my answers. Her friend also gave me answers; solid answers from both. I kissed her. Told her I loved her. Reminded her to call if anything should go down.
And as I drove off, leaving her at her first high school party, I wondered if she were complaining to her friends about her mean mom. I don't mind. I care.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Definition: (n) Someone who you happily and willing share your home with, despite the mess that spans room after room. "Come on over, the house is a mess, but no matter. We can sit and knit a few rows together." And they do.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mom Job Number 128,587,389,098,897,980,001,894,903

To stay talking on the phone to child who is babysitting for as long as it takes so she will stay awake until the parents return home.

It was actually quite fun. I had her put the phone up to the household dog's ear. After hearing my melodious voice, he wagged his tail. Now how is that for excitement. I was hoping the bunny mauler would start in on a howl chorus or two, but he didn't. Must've known the children were sleeping.

And the bunny -- she is resting too.

Lessons Learned

Twice a month, our parish makes lunches for the homeless.
Bologna and mustard sandwich on wheat bread
snack package of a salty snack
bit of candy
juice box
in a brown paper bag -- 60 of them.

During the school year the high schoolers handle the job. It is part of their religious education. In the summer, the call is put out to the youth families. For two summers now, I've taken the two little ones to lend a hand. They are expert sandwich makers, and bag stuffers. They use their math skills to count to 60 -- 4 sets of 15. Fifteen lunches to a box.

Last night was different. I had a parish meeting right after lunch making.

"Do you still want to go? You'll have to be good."

Two resounding yeses came up over dinner.

We went. They packed. They were good.