Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Freedom is not Free

Memorial Day, modern day Decoration Day, started after the Civil War. A day to decorate the graves of the braves souls that gave their lives for our freedoms.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Another beautiful reminder that although she's all grown up.

She still knows how to have simple fun!

Melvin E. Emrich

My short term goal at work was to have all the Civil War veterans interred at Edgell Grove Cemetery entered into the database by Memorial Day. There was a list in the office. I went down the list; entering in the soldier and their family members. Done with a week to spare.

Then I came across a name on a marker in the cemetery, not on the list but obviously a veteran: Melvin E. Emrich. All I have is the information on his stone, Melvin E. Emrich, CO. E 6 MASS INF. The flag holder with the symbol G.A.R. supports the claim on the stone that Mr. Emrich was in the Union Army.

I have searched high and low to learn more about this gentleman. Most of the soldiers in CO. E 6 MASS INF came from Acton, a nearby town. Though Melvin was probably brought to Framingham as there are many Emrichs enjoying their final rest in our wooded locale.

If you happen to know anything about Mr. Emrich, a comment or a pointer as to who he was, his birth date, and date of death would be wonderful to learn. Please comment.

Kids do the darnest things

I have one love who, come spring, must bring all and any flowers that bloom around our house, in. It's not unusual for her to quietly venture out evening after evening to sit out in the gardens, carefully selecting her prizes. She sets up the most wonderful bouquets.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The engineer doesn't fall far from the tree

I know that doesn't slip trippingly off the tongue, but I really didn't know how else to word it. My first sight upon entering the kitchen was of this:

A few months ago, my little one found 4 play light sabers, (one person's trash is another person's treasure). Gathering them up, she brought them home and proceeded to put batteries in them. No go, or should I say -- no glow. So they have sat idle until recently, when she preformed a little surgery of her own, on her own. Not only do they light up, but they make noise -- who knew? Two work; two to go. I know she will do it.

Rest assured we do food type experimentation in our kitchen as well. Here is a batch of chocolate covered Oreos for the weekend. First attempt.

We'll see if they last until Saturday.

(Is it bad to let your children lick the chocolate covered utensils and bowl... before breakfast?)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"It's in Giving that we Receive."

St. Francis of Assisi was really onto something when he said, "For it is in giving that we receive." For even when we have the specific intent of doing something for someone else, blessings reverberate back.

For example, the Boston Brain Tumor Ride. This year, I decided to increase our meager one household level of sponsorship by soliciting donations to fight brain tumors, for my own peddling efforts. Reaching 125% of my goal was pretty amazing, humbling, and empowering. Thank you.

But with St. Francis in mind, it all didn't end there. For I rediscovered a form of exercise that doesn't bother my Achilles tendon, that I can use to get to work (a built in pay raise when you think of the price of gas), and that I enjoy.

As mind staggering as a dragon fly maturing from a larvae to it's adult form. Blessings abound. What are yours?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"I'll take it home. Afterall I fixed our mixer."

This weekend was the parish breakfast. The Sunday timeline starts with 5:30 AM: Arrive at hall. Put coffee on. We run two pots: 100 cups of high test; 50 cups of decaf. By 7 AM both pots should be done. This Sunday at 7 AM we had 50 cups of decaf and 100 cups of scalding hot water. The breakfast service starting in about an hour, the coffee king, (our team member who brews the best 100 cups of industrial strength coffee), set up another pot, plugged it in and just as our first guests arrived the brew finished. We were saved.

But what about the broken percolator? We tried swapping out parts. No go. The tube that perked in its sister pot produced nothing. I suggested we trash the set up. "We can't have unreliable equipment when serving a parish community breakfast."

Before agreeing that the pot was heading for the dumpster, our coffee king said, "Maybe it's just a loose wire." And this is where the power of the mixer comes in. For I had fixed our mixer. And as before, we had nothing to lose. If I wasn't able to fix it, the mixer would've gone out on trash day. It would be the same for this 100 cupper.

Back home, the barrel turned upside down on our kitchen table I removed the bottom only to find all the wiring was in perfect condition. What now? ehow.com with the query: Percolator won't perk.

Nothing jumped out at me. Still puzzled I met up with some friends for our hike. While we walked I told them of my latest surgical kitchen experiment. With the final statement that I had no idea what I was looking for, a lesson on coffee makers resulted. Highlighting the all important seal between the tube and the can bottom.

Back home, the coffee maker in the sink, I scrubbed the point of insert. Yes, that could have been the problem. Using the tube that worked in the sister machine, I added water to the 10 cup line, assembled the rest of the unit and plugged it in. It worked!

Now to test it with it's own tube; a no go. I looked through the tube. It seemed clear. I could see daylight. Still, I stuck a nearby screw driver into the base, to discover it had a thick layer of coffee sludge lining the bottom end of the tube. The tube cleared, cleaned and reassembled in the maker and it perked as if it were brand new.

So what's the point of all this? I never would have tried to fix the 100 cupper if I hadn't attempted and/or been able to fix the mixer. Trying new endevours, learning new skills or ideas, is empowering.

(This morning we woke up to the dishwasher leaking all over the kitchen floor. It won't hurt if I take a shot at it. What do I have to lose? If I can't fix it, we'll either call a repairman or replace it.) :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not Always A Woods

Went hiking at the Nobscot Mountain Boy Scout Reservation. A wooded acreage that was not always so. Someone plowed this land, years ago. And hitting a rock, moved it to the side of the field. I wonder who that someone was. I'm sure there is a record of land ownership somewhere. I wonder what they planted. The rumor is apple orchards were very common, but there are no apple trees remaining. And I wonder why they left. Did they die during the King Phillip War or maybe during the small pox epidemic and are buried in the small pox grave site on the way to Tippling Rock?

Quiet and wildflowers line the trails the crisscross the Reservation like the rock walls of yesteryear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fall

While collecting information at work the other day, I slipped and fell. And as I went down my phone took this picture. I was so focused on the mud and moss below me, I didn't notice the amazing beauty above. And didn't realize I had this shot until I was reviewing the data back at the office.

A metaphor of life: It's all in how you look at it.

In the taking of this picture no damage was done to body, phone or soul. BTW I love this picture, but will try for similar shots without falling, next time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Death Comes To Us All

We are a Disney family, but it's not all about the Mouse. A lot of it is about the man. And lately we have been watching documentaries on Walt Disney. The latest was Walt: The Man Behind the Myth. And what took me by surprise is seeing the images of Walt during the summer of 1966. Smiling, happy, seemingly healthy, but months from his death in December. He didn't know. No one knew until he went to have a routine xray, in the Fall. Then he had lung cancer.

I mentioned this to my husband, "In less than 4 months and Walt was dead." He reminded me it was the similar scenario for his father, actually faster. From healthy to death in the blink of an eye.

Live each day as if it's your last.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Note From My LIttle One

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

Arnold fathers a child out of wedlock. A Texas mom is suspected of killing her own son and then leaving his body along a Maine road side. Both topics of the workplace water cooler crowd; both leave us with our heads shaking. Why?

We see the rich and famous splashed across super market magazine stands. Beautiful, rich, smiling, rich, not a care in the world, rich, happy or at least that is what we are all led to believe until a scandal happens. Then shock. How could it be? They have it all, the big job, the bigger house, the even bigger lifestyle and bank roll? The answer: I don't have the answer. I don't think they have the answer. But I think we would all agree that money does not buy happiness or peace.

And for that mom and her son, my heart bleeds. That poor soul to be allegedly pushed to the brink. There are no words, certainly no judgment, only prayers for her and her son.

Things happen. Famous things caught in the media cross hairs, and not so famous things happening down the street. Offer prayers, not judgment. For one day, sadly, the shoe might be on the other foot.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Soft Rain, Thank God

My brother in law in Ireland introduced me to the saying, "It's a soft rain, thank God." I took it to mean, be thankful it's only a misty sort of day, for it could be raining buckets. And that's what we've been having most of the week, soft rain -- thank God. For I can still get out and ride my bike in the mist.

The Boston Brain Tumor Ride is over, why am I still riding my bike? Especially when it's raining outside. It's cool (not in the summer heat). It's calming. It's peaceful. It's relaxing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What are you selling?

Halfway way through the day long presentation the speaker updated his facebook status with: Almost done here. Be home soon.

Now why was I on fb? Shouldn't I have been paying attention? Guilty as charged, I guess. But it was lunch and I was electronically checking in. Only to find out the speaker was electronically checking out. One foot out the door with 4 hours to go.

It was then I realized this day, these talks, his presentations, him, were just product; a wrinkled tshirt, a dented can of soda, a limp day old sandwich, half price -- available now at the corner store. For the rest of the day I listened but I wasn't there. Like the speaker, I had left the building hours before.

We all sell something. At home, my blue light specials announce wake up calls, breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework help, the taxi is leaving, the knitting tutorial starts in two seconds, the movie popcorn is ready and in bowls. At the parish, I sell faith formation to middle schoolers. At work I let my fingers do my talking. Entering data accurately; that's my product.

What's yours?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If I...

walk with the poor today,
I may find a new person in me tomorrow.


Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Not a Tumor... It's an Opportunity

I was talking with a brain cancer survivor's mom yesterday and she said, "My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I believe there are no coincidences. And our son, through his fight and beating this disease has touched and changed many people along the way."


Unless you live in a vacuum, everyday we touch those around us. How will you change the world today? What's your plan for tomorrow?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Images from the Boston Brain Tumor Ride




"There is no try; only do."

What am I bringing to the Boston Brain Tumor Ride?

The forecast calls for rain, so I'm bringing:
helmet (rain or shine equipment)
rain jacket
shoes with Mickey Mouse clog button, for luck and inspiration
a cell phone in doubled ziploc bags
bike tools
patch kit
air pump
spare pair of shoes and socks to remain in the car
wool fingerless gloves
a neck warmer
Goofy sweatshirt over a long sleeved tie-dyed peace tshirt
old lady riding shorts
a change of clothes for after the ride (left in the car)
map and directions sealed in ziploc bags
$625 in sponsorship

That should do it, held together with a prayer.

Thank you for your support.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Tip of Science

On Mother's Day, filling up at a local gas station, a stranger approached and mumbling something that ended with Happy Mother's Day, handed me a pink carnation. Smiling I accepted the flower, brought it home, and placed it in a glass of water.

A few days later I noticed the water was blue. The question went out, "Anyone know what's happening here?" The answer, "Science," came back.

Sure enough it is science. Right here in River City, and it starts with a capital T for transport.

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Light

Working with stained glass in like raising a child. With glass you work the design on a flat cork board. Cutting, and shaping then foiling pieces. All the while, not truly having an idea of what the work will look like. So that first time when the pieces are roughly soldered together, and it can be held up in the light, is a phenomenal experience, or a let down. For some elements that looked good on the board, just doesn't cut it in the light.

Same for children; as parents we work to shape and model our youth. Teaching them right from wrong. Teaching them to be nice and to work well with others. But the true test is when they emerge on their own; out in the world, in their own light.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Racing towards graduation

My baby's last day in high school is next Wednesday. How can that be? Wasn't I reluctantly allowing her to walk to middle school last week? Playing in the 5th grade band the week before? Graduation is in less than a month. She wants a job by then. I'm hoping to finish her present by then. Here's hoping we both succeed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sorry, Little Brain

This past weekend I listened to a homily that briefly touched upon the recent death of bin Laden. The priest stated he believed the United States acted in self defense. That it was a just death. "For we did not know what this man would do next."


I didn't beg to differ. I didn't raise my hand and ask to speak. But I did hear that little voice scream out in my little brain:

Two things:
Evil begets evil and
An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind. Gandhi

I don't understand violence. I can't condone it.
Really, there has to be a better way.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Heaven on Earth

Met a mama fox.
Look close, she's in there.

First fish, caught and released, of the season

Kayaked across the pond.
First one back didn't have to do the dishes.

Foggy foggy morning on the dock.
Few are lucky enough to live in Vermont.
The rest of us; are blessed to visit.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day reminds me of a trip to Disney World. The day and the place for their own reasons are the most joyous and the the most stressful in their category.

For the place, my heart's home away from home, months of planning and anticipation all focused on five, if you are lucky, days of perfect vacation. Talking, wishing and rehashing the details to ensure that everyone's dreams come true. The result: In the course of 30 Magic Kingdom seconds you see the whole emotional gamut: over the moon joy, parents beaming with delight, children napping in strollers, and others overwhelmed to the point of tears. I love this place.

On the other hand, I dread Mother's Day. The girls secretly formulate the perfect day after weeks of interrogating questioning: Mom what do you want for Mother's Day? My answer: No fighting.

They settle on: Breakfast in bed, homemade cards, gifts bought with their own money, all vying for my biggest and solitary atta girl. The results: giggling and whispers, stress and fighting, kitchen disasters, tension and crying -- every year, without fail. And every year, I dread Mother's Day, to the point I wouldn't mind canceling it.

But this year, to my surprise and to that of the girls: Mother's Day came early. Wednesday evening was Mother's Day in the truest and most wonderful sense of the day. For tired from work, food shopping and cooking the lovelies sat me down at the kitchen table, where I could still monitor the simmering pots of chili and pea soup, and proceeded to brush my hair and rub my feet. Five minutes and the world was good.

Nothing else need be done. I'm set for another year. Well, maybe no fighting, that would be nice.