Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ponderings From the Hammock

You might be able to tell from the header photo up there that our hammock is near a little wilderness. It's actually right on the edge of a small forest within many square miles of countryside. I love it. Such beautiful views, and all the birdsong...  It would be wonderfully peaceful -- except  for one problem: there are lots of creepy sounds of creaking and randomly snapping twigs and rustling in the underbrush up there!
Hammock-sitters are speculating: is it something perfectly innocuous or something that should come accompanied with scary-warning music? Nobody's heard any screeching violins or repetitive 4-note themes pulsating in the depths of the forest. So... Perhaps what we're hearing really is just the wind, or the dogs and cats, or squirrels and raccoons...
BUT. What if it's really (shiver) the neighborhood mountain lion? Or... (Insert scary music) Is it...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Maybe Not the Longest Day

William, inspired by D-Day movie, "The Longest Day."

What's Up:The Specs

* headed for "Oaktree Beach" 
* a member of "Paddy's Light Infantry." (Paddy, btw, is the cat.) 
* a "corporal and a group leader of two divisions." (Huh?) 
* tells me he won't be in this division much longer because he's " getting too fat and these pants barely fit my legs."

So I'm wondering what does this mean? Does he get a promotion when he moves up to the next size pants, or what? I guess I'll have to wait and see, though. He wouldn't tell me because I was laughing...

Playing "War"

Gabe Terrorism Methods
(While watching the WWII movie, "Midway" this morning):

L: Gabe: really good at deadpan sarcasm
R: William: really good at self-righteous disgust
"So, Hiroshima is in Pearl Harbor?"
"Gabe! It's in Japan!"

"Oh! Then Pearl Harbor is in Japan?"
William chokes on his bagel.
"Are you crazy?! Why would they attack themselves!?"

"And Normandy is an island?"
"Gabe! You're embarrassing me!"

Gabe's over there, hiding a smile behind his blanket.

"And that's Cary Grant, right?"
"Gabe! That's a bald Japanese guy!"

Sooner or later William's going to realize that Gabe's playing him. Hoping it doesn't escalate into violence before then.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy, Blessed, Glorious Easter!

Our beautiful church, after Easter midnight Mass, 2016

Big Brother Social Studies Lesson

 Dominic to William:
"Totem poles? Yeah, an interesting history. They were used in warfare...

"The Indians would tie their captives to tall poles...

"...and throw toads at them."

"That's why they call them "toad 'em" poles"
(Well, I laughed, anyway.)

What Most People Didn't Do On Holy Saturday

We had a small window of time for this project while the big brothers were in town, and the days were so filled with ceremonies and traditions on Thursday and Friday (when the boys first got to Iowa), that Saturday was the only day to get it done --  we really needed the extra muscle for this!  The following pictures show better than I can tell:
(See our daffodils?  :)  Love 'em!)

"Use your knees and not your back!"
"Heave Ho!"


Drizzly, chilly day...  and the roof was slippery!  :/  Thus the bare feet, for traction. (But I was more worried about Dan right about here...)

 I started to breathe again at this point.

And here you have it: Gabriel is a very happy young man!  This shelving unit is his baby, you see: Mr. Organization's Dream Shelves.  How can a parent not move mountains for a kid who wants to be more organized!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Day Palm Sunday Happened

It's easy to become so accustomed to the Bible stories we've heard since childhood that we forget they're not just stories; they histories.  Every incident related in the Bible was a day in a life: a day in the life of Jesus, our Saviour; a day in the life of His apostles; a day in the life of the people they met as they walked the dusty roads. 

 Following is an excerpt from one of my favorite Lenten books for meditating, The Day Christ Died, written by Jim Bishop in the late 1950s.  For filling in all the little details, and for making you feel like you're there by the roadside, palm in hand, experiencing the day in His life, this book cannot be beaten.  It's available on Kindle and can be found for as low as .50 a copy used (+ shipping, of course).  Take a look: here

Within a month of having raised Lazarus from the dead; within a week of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, having poured the bottle precious oil upon his feet:

By Sunday morning, the news of the arrival of Jesus was known in every alley in the Holy City.  The people, not bound by the Sabbath, which expired the evening prior, came down the sloping road from the temple toward Bethany to greet him.  They came in festive flocks, and the high priests, watching from the great height of Solomon's Porch, were vexed and passed a resolution condemning Lazarus to death.  They knew that the raising of Lazarus from the dead had excited the people of Jerusalem to a pitch of frenzy for the Messiah; even some who had argued most vehemently that Jesus was not the elect of God were now admitting that he was, and were in the procession which set out to meet him.

It was a clear, cool, lustrous morning, with the spring sun spangling the dewy leaves, and the sky over the white marble of the temple spires was china blue, It was a day to drug the senses with goodness, and soon the road to Bethany was jammed with families, all of whom had their backs to the temple. Some of the pilgrims from Galilee joined their brethren from Judea and many began to pick branches of palm to lay down before the feet of the annointed.

In Bethany, Jesus thanked his hosts, and with his party of apostles and disciples was ready to leave. They walked out to the crossroads, and Jesus pointed to a village nestling against the slope of the Mount of Olives. He said to two of his disciples: "Go into the village directly in front of you and as you enter you will find hitched a foal on which no man has ever sat. Unhitch it and bring it here.

"And, in case anybody asks you: 'Why do you unhitch it?'  just say: 'Because the Lord has need of it.'"

The two went to the little village and found a young donkey, hardly more than three feet tall, tethered to a public post.  They looked around and, seeing no one, untied the line. Two men walked up and, studying the apostles suspiciously, said: "Why do you unhitch the foal?"  The chosen ones looked worried and said: "Because the Lord has need of it."  The owners bowed low and turned away.

When the two apostles returned leading the donkey -- it was gray, with dainty hoofs, as was common to the country -- the others tossed their cloaks onto its back and Jesus, turning his back to the animal, jumped off his toes and sat sideward on the cloaks.

Some started to lead the animal by a halter, but the crowd pressed in heavily on both sides and there was no need to guide it. The road was so thick with people that many families were forced higher into the hills, to ensure a look at the Messiah. Those close to the side of the road threw their cloaks before the hoofs of the donkey and the owners of the capes counted themselves fortunate that the weight of the Saviour had pressed on their apparel.  Others threw palms and early spring flowers.

The Messiah went up the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, and, when he started down the western side, those who called themselves disciples of Jesus gasped as a panorama of people spread below them all the wqay to northeastern gate of the temple.  At once, the disciples burst into song:

A blessing on the King
Who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
And glory in the heights above!

The donkey moved slowly, and crowds pressed from all sides, crying, "Hosanna to the son of David!" and the people threw the palm branches out and made a pliant green road for him all the way to the city.  The Pharisees cupped their hands above the din and said:"Rabbi, reprove your disciples!" But Jesus, moved by the demonstraation, shook his head and said: "I tell you, if these are dumb, the stones will cry out."

The procession moved down the Mount of Olives and close to the garden of the gethsemane, then across the Brook Cedron and up the far side, past the cemetery of white stones and ossuaries, and into the northeastern gate, between the temple and the Fortress Antonia.

The Roman senties looked down on the scene, and they called to their superiors to come look at the Jews in a happy mood. The hosannas rang to the sky and fathers held infants as high as possible to permit them to look upon the face of the Lord. A group of Sadducean priests tried to use this gate to the temple and were forced by the press of the mob to go around to the western side. They were frightened at what Jesus had done to the people of Jerusalem, and some reported to Caiphas that not only had the people acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, but that some Pharisees and elders had been seen bending the knee to the faker. Unless something was done quickly, the temple would have no authority.

When Jesus reached the gate of the temple, he stopped the donkey. The press of people on three sides of him was now augmented by pilgrims running from the Gentile court toward him.

Jesus broke down.  Tears shimmered on his lids and then he sobbed.  He bowed his head and murmered:

Oh, if you, too, did know,
at least on this your day,
what makes for peace!
But alas it is hidden from your eyes!
Days are coming upon you
when your enemies
will throw a rampart round you,
and encircle you,
and press hard upon you on every side;
and they will dash to the ground
both you and your children within,
nor will they leave stone upon stone
within your walls'
because you didnot recognize
the time of your visitiation."

From The Day Christ Died, by Jim Bishop
Nihil Obstat: John A. Goodwine, J.C.D.
Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman, archbishop of New York, 1957

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

As-wordless-as-I-get Wednesday

"William, you know, with my reading glasses on, I can count all your freckles; I can see the pores in your skin!"

"Can you see... my... soul?" Grimace. "No, don't answer that. I know you can. You're my mother."

Note this, kids: all mothers can. wink emoticon It's a skill that comes with the eyes in the backs of our heads.  And your Guardian Angels tip us off all the time, too. So just be good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tickle Me Tuesday

We call this photo:

Some People Pose
And Some People Don't

But their Momma thinks they're both beautiful, regardless.
(Cathy on the left, Theresa on the right.)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring Cleaning

And summer cleaning, and fall cleaning, and winter cleaning...

I remember reading a commentary once from a woman who objected to being called a housewife. "I'm not married to my house!" she said, insisting that a better title (if one has to have one) is "home maker."  

O.K. There's definitely something to this.   Homemaker does sound better than housewife.  Say it out loud:

Homemaker: Can you smell the cinnamon rolls baking in the oven? 
* Housewife: Oscar the Grouch slippers scuffing across the linoleum to dump the trash. 

 Right? It's bad enough that those of us who stay at home have to put up with the disrespect of most of the modern world; at least we should have a glam-title for our chosen vocation. Homemaker sounds nice and cozy, and rather... what? Admirable?
But, I have to come clean on this. (Pun intended)  Though I certainly aspire to and sometimes imagine I approach the ranks of a June Cleaver homemaker in real life -- sometimes maybe once in a blue moon -- in the day-to-day, minute-to-minute, real-life analysis.... I think I'm really more like a housewife. 

It's just the daily-daily of it all, ya know? The never-endingness of the gritty housekeeping tasks take away all the glamour. Homemaker sounds too nice for the reality of it most of the time. There's just so much reality.

Let's talk about throw pillows, for instance.

I can't tell you how many thousands of times I've picked the throw pillows off the living room floor.  It seems that nobody else notices when they fall on the ground.  The anonymous couch-sitters here stand up with a pillow on their laps, the pillow falls on the floor... but they continue rising, and walk out, leaving the pillow to lie there. Surely they notice. How
could they not?  But they don't care like I do that pillows are scattered all over the floor instead of arranged artistically in the corners of the chairs and couches. 

Then there's the kitchen sink. 

Of all the people who live in this house with me (and there are quite a few, big and little), not a one can clean the food particles out of the strainer in the bottom of the sink. Ev.er.  As kitchen chores go, a couple of them can fairly efficiently empty the sink of dishes and adequately fill the dishwasher, but it never occurs to  any of them to wipe out the sink and dump out the strainer.  And why is that?  I'll tell you. It's because they don't look at the sink and see it there, looking pathetic and neglected, like a child with a dirty face that needs to be washed.  They don't care about it like I do. 

How about dirty doors and doorknobs? 

Nobody notices them at all, except to slam in and out of them -- with dirty hands.  But I hate not to see them shining and clean. I love my children, but I don't need to see my children's fingerprints all over everything to appreciate that they haven't grown up and left me yet, God bless them. (Have you ever read that poem? ) For heaven's sake, kids, wash your hands before you touch the doorknobs and doorjambs! (And the walls going up the stairs!)
And, of course, there's the never-ending floor problem. You know about floors, right?
They're the biggest, most obvious continuous surface in the house; it's a shame and disgrace for them to be unswept and smudged with scuffs and mud and spilled tea and I-don't-even-want-to-know-what all over them.  I can't bear for my beautiful tile and hardwood to look so unkempt. Much less the formerly-white carpets. I care about them, and I can't avoid seeing them, no matter how hard I try to walk around without looking at my feet.
Bottom line is that I care about my house.  I want it to be healthful, tidy, and respectable. It's my workplace. The place I do the important work of nurturing my husband and children.  It's the place where we bond, where memories are made, lessons learned, prayers said, jokes made, songs sung, tears dried, life lived. And this is the life -- the sometimes hard, but rewarding life -- that I love. The life that I love because of the people in it. The house that I love because of the people in it. For better for worse; for richer for poorer; for Nevada or Iowa...  Wherever it happens to be. I'm committed. Hopeless. 
Married to it.
Tripping over the pillows and loving every minute of it.
Some Thoughtful Words on the Subject

“No occupation in this world is more trying to soul and body than the care of young children. What patience and wisdom, skill and unlimited love it calls for. God gave the work to mothers and furnished them for it, and they cannot shirk it and be guiltless.”
Isabella MacDonald Alden

“I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion.”
Jani Ortlund

“It's sad if people think that's (homemaking) a dull existance, [but] you can't just buy an apartment and furnish it and walk away. It's the flowers you choose, the music you play, the smile you have waiting. I want it to be gay and cheerful, a haven in this troubled world. I don't want my husband and children to come home and find a rattled woman. Our era is already rattled enough, isn't it?”
Audrey Hepburn

 “I'm only a housewife, I'm afraid." How often do we hear this shocking admission. I'm afraid when I hear it I feel very angry indeed. Only a housewife: only a practitioner of one of the two most noble professions (the other one is that of a farmer); only the mistress of a huge battery of high and varied skills and custodian of civilization itself. Only a typist, perhaps! Only a company director, or a nuclear physicist; only a barrister; only the President! When a woman says she is a housewife she should say it with the utmost pride, for there is nothing higher on this planet to which she could aspire.”
John Seymour, Forgotten Household Crafts