Monday, September 29, 2008

Chairs and Cares

Today was a busy day for chairs and cares. Chair because I helped Mrs. D. reupholster two of her dining room chairs. We pulled staples. Laid out the material. Centered the seats, cut and stapled. Two done; four to go. We chatted; attempting to solve world problems and contemplated the end of the world.

Later I stormed around town getting donations for our next church event, a talk on making our homes more energy efficient, and then secondly on private and federal fuel assistance programs. With the rising costs of heating oil, food and prescriptions, how are people, especially the elderly, going to manage the winter? The task is a tough one. I got a lot of smiles, and promises to get back to me. But I danced out of Stop & Shop after collecting a donation of 24 boxes of cereal. You might ask what is the advantage of 24 boxes of cereal over a gift card? A gift card is given to one family. Twenty four boxes of cereal can give a meal or two to 24 families.

When I visited Lowes I mentioned that a case of window plastic sheeting would be great. Much better than a gift card. The manager smiled and said he would get back to me. At another store the owner mentioned business was terrible due to a summer's worth of road construction right outside his door. Not to be detered I offered to take a coupon off his hands. "I'll drive business your way. Give a coupon for $5 off on a $10 purchase." The owner said he would think about it.

In this business of gathering donations, it really is a sharing of favors.

The talk is November 9th. So, I'll be on the prowl for donations until then. Putting together gift packages for those in attendance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Comfort foods for a comfortable day

My mom turns 70 on Monday. I could ask that familiar question: Where did the time go? for I remember when she was 29 and my dad was 30, and they were old then. Now I'm brushing up against 50. And that sing song little kid tattle tale of, "I know you are, but what am I?" is ringing through my head.

Also chiming in between my ears, is a take off of that other more adult saying of, "I must have money in my account. I still have checks left." But for me it says, "I must be young, I still have dreams that I'm chasing." Along with young children...

Mom, if you're reading... spoiler ahead....

For her birthday dinner here, tomorrow we are having comfort food. Recipes, tried and true, brought down through the ages. No cake but an Indian pudding cozied up next to some hermits, smothered with vanilla pudding. And maybe we will eat dessert first.. before the stuffed meatloaf, mashed potatoes and squash with maple syrup. The bro is bringing antipasto. Just typing that word conjures up visions of my Italian grandparents' kitchen. I can almost taste the marinated artichoke hearts and hard crusty Italian bread.

We will be at least 11, maybe as many as 15 here sitting around tables shared between the kitchen and dining room, but there will be more represented in the foods we eat, and the memories we share.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The quiet

I love the early morning. The quiet that settles on the house. Today was suppose to be a two field trip, football game day after track practice day. The weather has reigned that all in to a no field trips, track practice yes, maybe no band for the football game event. If it were a Saturday, it would be a perfect home game day. Set the card table up in the living room, and master board game after board game. Win or lose; who cares. Fun trumps all.

I have a hard time sending the cherubs off on rainy days. Instead I want to cozy them all, pop popcorn, knit, crochet, and talk. As the oldest headed out at 6:30, we had our I Love Yous, then as she walked off to the bus, I prayed her and my days would allow for more of them. That she would be given the chance to grow up, kiss children of her own, and call her life complete.

In the quiet of the day it is easy to see the goodness that life has for us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Digging out

With all the projects and tasks I've had over the past few months... the piles of papers and debris have grown. So today I went through the piles, recycling old news and filing papers that need to be saved. It is so amazing just how much stuff can collect. Even after working the mess, my desk topology still mimics that of the Rocky Mountains. Not the Appalachian, with its worn peaks, but the Rockies, jagged and precipitous. One quick elbow and the mess will spread across the floor.

But I can see progress... While cooking dinner I did get a fleeting glimpse of the kitchen counter. No ants. No sticky food residue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

God's plan isn't always what we have in mind

Three years ago if you asked me what I thought of reconfiguration and the prospects of moving onto a different parish, I would've told you, "It stinks." And I would've been wrong. Our new parish is more wonderful than I could've ever imagined. It stands as a butterfly stands. Poised for take off. Ready for new adventure.

Three days ago if you asked me what I thought about losing our beloved pastor, I would've replied, "It's a tragedy." And those words aren't off my lips a nanosecond and thoughts of reconfiguration and parish closings repierce my heart. But out of that abyss came wonder.

It's God's plan. Good will come out of this. We can't see it through the tears, but it is there. Waiting for us to be gracious and open our wings. So I look ahead, knowing Fr. is in a better place, and we are in God's hands.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One Picture

The Wake, The Funeral

Fr. O'Brien's wake was from 3 to 7 PM last night. There was an influx of nonstop visitors: Old, young, parishioners, neighbors, friends, family, everybody. There were tears, prayers, hushed conversations, stories, pictures, and laughter. The evening ended with the rosary; A fitting send off into the arms of our mother.

I brought my camera, but never took it out. The moments went unrecorded except in the hearts of those in attendance. But I want one shot today. To arrive early and to get a picture of the empty church. Father's casket lying before the altar.

The girls are coming today. Opting out of school, and playing with friends. To sit one last time with the priest that lead them in the Halloween parade and whom threw the best parish picnic ever... their words.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rev. Frank O'Brien

Our parish Pastor died last night. I'm so grief stricken, that I am beyond words. He truly was God's servant here on Earth. Setting an example of His unconditional love and acceptance. May he rest in the peace and love of God.

For more pictures and reflections, visit his Memory Eternal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today is Mine

Today my calendar is clear. No appointments, no dates, no running around squeezing in meetings and volunteering. Today the World Youth Day parish calendar will be called done. For last night I reviewed the proofs and sent comments back to the designer. Today I will walk the children to school and then continue around the block. Today I will clean my house so I don't shudder as I walk from room to room. Today I will work on my book. Finishing the rewrite on the beginning. Today is mine.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Optical Black Hole

Does anyone know where lost glasses go?

One of my lovelies has lost two pair of glasses in less than two months. The first was lost over the summer. We were reading with them one day. They were gone the next. I searched high and low. Notice I wrote, I searched. It only seemed to matter a little bit when we went for a new pair for school, and I made her pay part of the bill. After all they were her glasses.

We have a mantra: Face or Case. And so convinced of this mantra that when I don't see her peering out from behind corrective lenses, I was assuming they were in the case. Not the case... for set number two are now with set number one, somewhere.

I searched high and low today. Not finding her glasses, but I did come across two old frames from her older sister. A quick trip to Scott's, the neighborhood Optometrist, resulted in one pair with the correct prescription and one not.

So we now have a pair of glasses for school. To stay in school. To stay at her desk and to not go outside on the playground or to the gym. And soon we will have a pair for home. A pair that will not venture out with written permission and a string so they stay on her face, or around her neck -- when they are not in the case.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Catch Up

I went out to the garden today and picked a good arm full of tomatoes. Some time over this summer the rogue tomato plants took over. And thank God they did, as they are the only plant the resident ground hog doesn't seem to enjoy. Me on the other hand, I could sit and snack on those little sweet babies all day long.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Parish Picnic

Candy bar bingo can't be over... I still have tons of Hershey bars and M&Ms.

Yes, it's true. The fun and excitement is over. Hard to believe, after all that worrying about the weather and wondering whether people would have fun, but it's over. I almost feel like it's the last day of school and I don't know what to do with myself. Since coming home I've been in kind of a cleaning stupor.

Of course the calendar project is still front and center. But we should have proofs by the end of this week, and go to print the next. Thank God -- and I truly mean that.

For today's event, the weather cleared. And the overall general feeling was everyone had a great time. The DJ had all the kids up dancing. The candy bar BINGO will ensure they remain up all night. The moonwalk and bocce were a hit, and the food was absolutely wonderful and plentiful. Best part for me was watching the parishioners reading the posters created by the WYD team. The youth did a great job making posters about the trip. There was a lot of wows and "wished I had gones"... nice to see. Maybe Madrid 2011 is in their future.

One person asked when our next event was. The committee members just laughed. Truth be told... March 21st Lenten Soup Night. And before that a few Parish Breakfasts.

Thanks to all who came and enjoyed the event. And a bigger thanks to those on the committee. All of you make our parish great.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Want You!

At the Faire: King Richard's Faire. It's a great place to take pictures; lots of color; lots of action; lots of interesting shows and venues. We think this year's faire is the best by far. Everyone had a great time. Some of the performers even remembered us from past visits.

Friday, September 12, 2008

One ball, two balls, three balls, four...

Juggle, juggle, jungle
A million balls in the air
I'll breathe again on Monday,
or will it be Tuesday...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My camera is broken AGAIN

ERR 99

According to the manual, the picture failed to be captured (YA THINK) and there is no reason for this that Canon could think of when the manual was being printed. So reseat the battery and try again.

I reseated the battery, the lens, the chip. I tried taking a picture with and without the flash. No luck.

I'll be making a call today...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Power of Mom

My 10 year old still believes in Santa. What and why you ask?
Because when she asked, "Is Santa real?" I answered, "Yes."

And she knows I won't lie to her... All of a sudden I am finding that responsiblilty to be daunting. Such faith.

Think about it.

It's a very big deal.


With all the craziness in the schedule it is nice to have a caterpillar to watch. I read online that our little guest will shed its skin one more time. For underneath that cute striping is the soft green pupa that will form its chrysalis. Really, if I had a grad school do over I suspect I'd leave the Energetic and Thermodynamic Regulation of the Spinach Coupling Factor behind and study metamorphosis. Or maybe I'm just an old dog... learning new tricks.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Walking Treasure

Besides getting some exercise, walking puts me within a bend (which is harder on some days than others), and a reach of treasure.

Since becoming involved with the can drives at our church, I find it very hard to walk by a returnable can or bottle. On some trips I've returned with a half dozen of returnables tucked into the crook of my elbow or bulging out of my pockets, (when I forget to take a bag). Some say, "It's only a nickel." Yes, it is a nickel, but it's a nickel I didn't have before. And on these nickels and more 16 people raised over 50 thousand dollars to attend World Youth Day. Making these treasures more attractive are the flip tops, and Coke and Pepsi Reward bottle tops. The flip tops the Girl Scouts are saving for the Ronald McDonald House, the Coke Rewards are saved for our school and well, the Pepsi rewards are for us. So, it's a win win situation: for the Youth Ministry, cancer survivors, the school, us and picking up the litter definitely helps the environment. But lately I've been finding science. For lately I've been spotting Monarch butterfly caterpillars on milkweed.

The kids love it when they see me gingerly carrying my bottle bag into the house. Green milkweed leaves popping out of the top. "Did you find one?"

"Yes." They are gold, black and white wiggly things -- but to the kids, to me, they are utmost treasure. Offering them temporary housing in an old plastic pretzel barrel; we feed them until they are about to burst. Cleaning their house, better than we clean our own -- for they are our guests after all. And we watch and we wait.

Our first guest ate and ate for two days and has been in a chrysalis for about a week. Very light green at first, it has now darkened and has a rim of gold dots. Signaling that it will soon emerge as a butterfly. The jar is in the middle of the kitchen table. My camera is its constant neighbor.

While out walking yesterday I found another caterpillar: plump but still eating milkweed. Once home, it still continued to eat before checking out the sticks that we've included for their fun and possible sites for metamorphosis.

This morning it is attached to the side of the plastic very close to its cousin. It would be so interesting to actually see it form the chrysalis.

There is treasure out there along those sidewalks. Science treasure, cans, bottles and oh yeah -- I also found two pennies and a dime.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

And she waved her magic wand and said...

"Today will be a quiet day."

A day for Eldest, for Cribbage and Dragon Master, and yes Virginia, some yucky Math. A day for working together on projects, and using whispery soft indoor voices. A day for a slow cooked meal and candlelight. A day for letting the machine take a message and sculpting with soap bubbles in the bath.

Friday, September 05, 2008

then rest...

We have a fully funded calendar.
Time to weed the gardens.
and Relax.

Circles upon circles

With the start of school also comes the start of Girl Scouts, Religious Ed., play practice, parish picnic, up coming birthday parties, and track. Layer that with the parish calendar and I am finding that my brain waves are in a constant spiral accompanied by a high pitched bomb whistle... Yesterday while gathering ad material for the calendar I was also thinking about the job chart for the town wide encampment. And wondering just where I put the permission slip for the climbing party we are holding for our first troop meeting. Once the calendar is fully funded... (anyone want to sponsor a month or two...) I'll be able to breathe easier. We need two months more to be a go. I had high hopes yesterday but both parties backed out.

No worries, really. The economy is tough and advertising budgets are shrinking. I completely understand, but still there must be two more companies in the area that could benefit from a full page calendar advertisement.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Really, consider flossing

Today as I underwent dental surgery I wished I had my camera and had a picture taken of me with all those dental implements hanging out of my mouth. The caption would read, "Flossing... It's easier. Think about it."

Truly I do floss, and I am a life long flosser. But I also have, scratch that -- had a large gap between two molars. I won't go into the gory details. Let's just say the phrase "Mind the gap" rings true in my world of dental hygiene.

Hey tooth fairy could you drop off a hand fulls of bills, tied with floss?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


We had a fantastic, awesome, wonderful, out of this world and into the next, time camping this weekend. Cold nights. Warm days. A billion mosquitoes. Calm waters for canoeing. Big fat bass swimming in the deep crystal clear cold water. Warming fires. Toasty marshmallows. Melted chocolate. Great friends and family. Tasty food. Fast paced games and more games. Knitting socks and practicing the banjo. I didn't want to leave...

Why would anyone not camp when given the opportunity? It is totally the best.

And for those keeping count, 3 down 177 days of school to go. The bus was better today.