Saturday, January 16, 2016


Writing comes easily if you have something to say.

I vacillate wildly between having nothing to say (Really: nada, zilch.) --
and having so much to say that I can't lasso and corral the words to say it all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Chronicles: Sledding Day

The Monday after Christmas, our neck of the woods was scheduled to have a whopping snowstorm., and everyone here, needless to say, was thrilled at the prospect!  Nobody was traveling, we had plenty of food and provisions stored, and we'd just gotten a new sled and new waterproof gloves all 'round, We were ready for the snow games to begin! It was all just a matter of nature cooperating with our plans.  And it did!  For the most part, anyway.

We had been hearing that we could get between  8"- and 12" of snow throughout the day on Monday, and we did end up getting a good amount -- an additional 4" or so of powder -- added to the roughly 6"of iced-over base from the week before Christmas).  But here's the thing that we didn't figure into our excitement: the COLD!  I mean BRRRR!  The thermometer read about 14 degrees, but the wind was blowing a gale, at least it was at the top of "Ice Cap Mountain" (there was almost no wind down at the house as we are protected by the big hill and trees behind us, thankfully!).  But the windchill up top of the sledding hill had to be -5! Ohmygosh! It took your breath away!

But do you think that would stop us?  Goodness, no! Here are some pictures of the day.  (All I could manage before my fingers froze, anyway!)

The trek through the woods behind the house, on the way to the sledding hills.
That's Anna there, who was right in front of Dan and me on the upward slog.
But, who's that coming down the hill on the green sled?

Still can't quite tell. He was coming really fast!

And before we could really react, we realized that he was coming, indeed! --
directly at US!

And missed hitting us by about 2' maybe!  The stinker!  You know he did
that on purpose!

And who was it?  Dominic, of course!  "Nanook of the North!"
There he goes, back up the hill, with us following.  (Huffing and puffing by this time,
and the wind is starting to hit us, full force, now that we're out of the cover of the

Here we found William (pink hat) and Gabriel (red hat) already at the top,
having already sledded down a couple times.

The wind is blowing right through Theresa's hat.  But Anna's hat (a gift from
Paul, her KK),is doing a great job for her ears!

Here's the sledding gang, December 28th, 2015 (l-r): William, Dominic,Cathy,
Theresa, Gabriel, Anna, Dan -- and me, behind the camera)

Gabe is already worn out.  No kidding, the wind and tramping up and down
the hill takes it out of ya!

William. His cheeks match his hat.  He was cold! But he was a trooper,
broken arm and all!  (He only actually sledded down a couple times and was
very careful, but figured the cast protected his arm one arm pretty well.  The
other bones were still at risk, though... Mom tries not to linger on that notion..)

Cathy.  Squinting in the wind.

Gabe.  Brrrrr!

Me.  Can't we take this picture with my back to the wind?

Me with Dan.  :)  He didn't do a very good job of keeping me warm out there,
 though I told him that was probably in the contract somewhere.

Anna.  Pink cheeks!

Theresa. Pink cheeks!

Trudging up the hill.  Can you see the general path, down to the right of that
big tree?  The whole goal is to not hit that big tree, but to get some more
speed as you go over that last rise and make it all the way down to the
electric fence -- without hitting the electric fence (not hot, but, well... you
wouldn't want to be clothes-lined by it...)

After a couple hours, everyone's getting tired and cold.

Dan's ready to call it a day.  He and I headed down to the house first and put
on a big pot of hot chocolate.

And they all came trooping in a little while later:
Anna. "Where's the Cocoa?"

Cathy.  Looking very Nordic.

Gabe.  His teeth still chattering.

Theresa, with a bloody nose and fogged up glasses.
Seems the very last run, she came down on the sled behind Dominic
and hit the back of his head with her poor little nose!  She was OK, though,
Dominic's head suffered no ill effects, and everyone considered it a successful
event, regardless. Especially after they all had cups of cocoa in hand and had
a chance to warm up by the fire.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Filed Under: Best Days

On December 15th, following the ordination of Fr. Robert Letourneau and the subdiaconate ceremony of Frater Francis Crawford, we got the chance to invite Frater Francis' family over for a little tea and conversation.  Our good friend, Dan Hansen, grandpa emeritus of our parish, joined Frater Francis' grandpa for the event -- perhaps the first tea part either had attended!  And they fit right in like they'd been doing the toast and tea circuit their whole lives.  :)  It was a wonderful time!

You can see here (clockwise), Mari Crawford (far left), Gabe, Cathy,
Dan Hansen, Maddie, Hannah, and "Grandpa." 
Our friend and neighbor and all around great guy, Dan Hansen, with
pirouette cookie cigar, cutting up with Maddie Crawford.
Frater Francis Crawford's Grandpa (we just call him "Grandpa")
enjoying the menu: deviled eggs, curried chicken
sandwiches, cucumber and tomato sandwiches, meat
"roll-ups," cherry and cranberry scones with lemon
curd and mock Devonshire cream, and a variety of
"boughten" cookies, plus orange spice and English
Breakfast tea.
"I'm making out like a bandit over here!"

Hanna gets in the picture a little better in this shot!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In Our Old Farmhouse

In an Old Farmhouse

 by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Outside the afterlight's lucent rose
Is smiting the hills and brimming the valleys,
And shadows are stealing across the snows;
From the mystic gloom of the pineland alleys.
Glamour of mingled night and day
Over the wide, white world has sway,
And through their prisoning azure bars,
Gaze the calm, cold eyes of the early stars.
But here, in this long, low-raftered room,
Where the blood-red light is crouching and leaping,
The fire that colors the heart of the gloom
The lost sunshine of old summers is keeping­
The wealth of forests that held in fee
Many a season's rare alchemy,
And the glow and gladness without a name
That dwells in the deeps of unstinted flame.

Gather we now round the opulent blaze
With the face that loves and the heart that rejoices,
Dream we once more of the old-time days,
Listen once more to the old-time voices!
From the clutch of the cities and paths of the sea
We have come again to our own roof-tree,
And forgetting the loves of the stranger lands
We yearn for the clasp of our kindred's hands.
There are tales to tell, there are tears to shed,
There are children's flower-faces and women's sweet laughter;
There's a chair left vacant for one who is dead
Where the firelight crimsons the ancient rafter;
What reck we of the world that waits
With care and clamor beyond our gates,
We, with our own, in this witching light,
Who keep our tryst with the past tonight?

Ho! how the elf-flames laugh in glee!
Closer yet let us draw together,
Holding our revel of memory
In the guiling twilight of winter weather;
Out on the waste the wind is chill,
And the moon swings low o'er the western hill,
But old hates die and old loves burn higher
With the wane and flash of the farmhouse fire.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Portrait of Geo.Washington
by Rembrandt Peale, c. 1846
During the time of the founding fathers Thanksgiving was a day set aside more for prayer and fasting than for revelry and feasting. Though the ethic was a Protestant one in colonial America, there was no shyness regarding religion, no hesitation in acknowledging Christ as the king and ruler of all nations, no question to Whom Americans owed their many blessings.

This is the first Presidential (instead of state or congressional) Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, issued by George Washington in 1789.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be

– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks

– for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation

– for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war

– for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed

– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions

– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually

– to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed

– to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord

– To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us

– and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Catholic Mom's Trying-To-Remember-It-All Advent Calendar

Can you believe it? 

THREE days until Thanksgiving, which means only SIX days 'til Advent! Are you ready?  I'm sure not! It seems like we only just got through All Saints and All Souls Day, took a breath, and here we are!  We've been working this past week to deep clean the garage and barn, so I at least know where the Advent wreath is, which is an improvement over some years, anyway! But I can't say I've wrapped my brain around the season quite yet.  So, in an effort to get myself organized, I came over to the old blog to dig out my Advent spirit. Here  is the listing of Advent prayers and activities I posted many moons ago for anyone else looking to corral ideas and devotions.


*We'll set up the Advent Wreath to be ready for the first Sunday of Advent . 

Note to self: Print out the Advent prayers and have handy to pray on Sunday.

* On the Feast of St. Andrew, which is on a Monday this year, we begin:

 The Christmas Novena
The most common Christmas novenas
in a nutshel. 

“Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment
 when the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.

In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my petitions,

through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen"

We'll repeat this prayer 15 times a day until Christmas for our various special intentions, ending on Christmas Eve. It doesn't matter how it's done; you can say all fifteen repetitions at once, or split them up during the day, whichever is easiest for you. We tend to do a little of both methods, intending to split them up at mealtimes, five prayers three times a day -- but often enough, missing out and having to bunch them all together at bedtime prayers.  It doesn't matter, though, so long as you get them all in there!  Many many intentions, personal, and general to include in our Christmas novena this year so we don't want to blow it!

A beautiful "click and print" card to post somewhere obvious where we won't forget!

* During the first week of Advent (beginning Monday!), we'll start building our Nativity Scene -- though we're not sure where we'll build it this year in the new "forever"house! The process will continue all the way up until Christmas.  We're going to try to observe more closely the traditional manner and order of constructing the creche than we usually do, adding the traditional prayers and ceremonies you can find at the link.

Note to self:  Find the littlest critters first this year (the ones that don't specifically belong to the Nativity set) and have the children add only one critter a day, then make a bigger production out of the placing of the "official" animals (the sheep, dogs, donkey, and cow) and shepherds on the 18th, and the Holy Family and Shepherds when everyone is together the week before Christmas.  Perhaps have Father over to bless the Creche?
Here's Dominic next to last year's Nativity Scene. He's been the Creche
mastermind for several years now, and not like we're helpless without him...
but w
e're grateful that he'll be here this weekend to consult with us!
* In addition to the Christmas Novena, we'll start the daily Christmas Crib Prayers on Tuesday, the 1st.

We found copies of this sweet little devotion when our big grown up boys were tots and prayed it for years until we lost the prayers during some move or another.  But we found it again a couple years ago, reprinted by the lovely lady at House and Hold ! We were all so pleased; we love this simple devotion. It's especially good for families with little ones.
* See below for the entire read-out.

Note to self: Make some more copies and have available for everyone

* On Saturday, begin Novena to St. Lucy (see below)! St. Lucy is the patroness of: the blind or those with eye problems, martyrs, epidemics, salesmen, throat infections and writers!

*  On the second Sunday of Advent this year, we come to the Feast of St. Nicholas, which  of course we'll celebrate with goodies in the children's shoes in the morning (but no nibbling on any of it until we get back from morning Mass!) and  then a big batch of crockpot peppermint mocha in the afternoon.

(Note to self: Order holy cards and patron saint medals from Aquinas and More or now, in order to get them in time for St. Nick's Day!)

December 8th
* The Eighth of December,  which falls on Tuesday, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (And our grandson, Gavin's, birthday, lucky guy!) It's not a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, but is a great feast of the Blessed Mother, and we wouldn't miss greeting her on this day for anything!  We'll get flowers to decorate our Blesed Mother shrine, and along with Mass that day, we'll decorate and light a Mary Candle:

"The Mary candle: Some families have the custom of decorating a Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.” It can also serve as a reminder to each family member to keep their own light of grace burning as a preparation for Christ’s coming."
(From CERC)

(Note to self: Get Hobby Lobby coupon to bring with me to offset cost of pillar candle.)

* The feast of Our Lady of Loreto. This feast commemorates the miraculous translation of Our Blessed Mother's home in Nazareth to Loreto, Italy, almost 1300 years after her assumption into heaven.  Read the wondrous story here!  In honor of Our Blessed Mother who is the glory of home life, and the perfect example of holy homemaking, we'll be giving the house some good "spit and polish" today.  We'll also take special care to dust and care for all of our holy images: statues, crucifixes, and hanging pictures. And we'll pray the Litany of Loreto in addition to our rosary in Our Lady's honor.

* On Sunday, the thirteenth of December and the third Sunday of Advent, we get to celebrate The Feast of St. Lucy, with all of its special traditions .  The novena to St. Lucy may be begun on Monday, December 5th, if you like, to finish on her feast day.

Novena to St. Lucy

St. Lucy, Your beautiful name signifies light.  By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, preserve and increase this light in my soul, so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.  By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.  St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.  Amen.

(Note to self: Get copy of Lucia, Saint of Light!)

* We won't make our oldest daughter (or the oldest daughter still at home, which would be Theresa...)  bring everyone breakfast while balancing lit candles on her head. She'd do it, mind you!  But I'd be a nervous wreck.  (I'm still a little traumatized by her First Holy Communion Day eleven years ago, when she caught her hair on fire) I think instead, we'll  let her be the one to decorate and hang up the Mistletoe on this day, though. (History and customs of  mistletoe, here.)

December 16th, 18th, and 19th
* Advent Embertide comes around again, on Wednesday, Friday in the third week of Advent (December December 16th, 18th, and 19th). Adults between the ages of 21 and 59 must fast on all three days, abstain completely on Friday (as usual), and partially abstain on Wednesday and Saturday. Ember days are a particular time to pray for our priests, and are traditionally set aside as well, for prayers for safety from natural disaster, and expecting mothers. These are also days when the Church remembers the poor and suffering.  This would be a good time to make Christmas donations to the needy! 

* Today, Ember Wednesday, we can begin the Christmas Novena to finish on Christmas Eve. To finish on Christmas day, start on December 17th. There are several novenas from which to choose:  One here, which is lengthy, involves the entire family and corresponds with the O Antiphons; and another one here, which is shorter and less complicated. (And certainly many more upon a google search!)

* This day marks the feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, exactly an octave until the birth of Our Lord.   Originating as early as the 7th century and widely celebrated in the Spanish Church, this feast was called the feast of "St. Maria de la O," because on this day the clerics in the choir after Vespers used to utter a loud and protracted "O," to express the longing of the universe for the coming of the Redeemer.  As a mother, myself, I love this day for contemplating  Mary, the Mother of God, herself: her faith, her hope, her love -- the Christ Child kicking in her womb -- the wonder and joy of it. The expectation!  

Today, as we have since the beginning of the month, we pray our St. Andrew Novena, and meditate on our little Christmas Crib devotion. If we choose to do a nine day novena for Christmas, we will have started that already, too -- But now we ramp things up a bit more even as we approach the big day, adding the O antiphons to our bedtime prayers.  

(Incidentally, today is also the day we introduce the sheep, shepherds, cows and donkey to the stable in our Nativity scene -- a big day for the children.)

 O Antiphons
* And, last, but not least, we begin the  O Antiphons on Friday, the 18th. These are the prayers taken from the Breviary's Vespers during the last octave before the Birth of the Savior, wherein each "stanza" begins with "O." It's this fact that names the O Antiphons. They are correctly prayed in the evening and can also be sung.

* A Spiritual Christmas Crib

The following directions show you how to build a spiritual crib in your heart for Christ. Use it to put Christ into your Christmas in a real, living way.

Start on December 1. Read the thought indicated about Christ's first crib.

Practice it during the day.

Do this daily during December and make your heart a worthy crib for Christ on Christmas Day.


Frequently during the day offer your heart to the little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home.

--Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and pure.

See that the roof of the stable is in good condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully avoiding every uncharitable remark.

--Jesus, teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard especially your ears against sinful conversations.

--Jesus, help me to keep temptations out of my heart.

Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib. Diligently remove from your heart every inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this intention at least three times today.

--My Jesus, I want to please You in all I do today.

Build a fence about the crib of your heart by keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially at prayer.

--Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by abstaining from what you like most in the line of comfort and amusement.

--Dear Mother Mary, use these sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion.

DEC. 7 - HAY

Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.

--Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest sins.


Also provide your manger with soft straw by performing little acts of mortification; for instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit and stand erect.

--Dear Jesus, Who suffered so much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and thoughtfully.

--Jesus, help me love you more and more.

Provide the manger of your crib with soft warm blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and gentle to all.

--Jesus, help me to be meek and humble like You.

DEC. 11 - FUEL

Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own will; obey your superiors cheerfully and promptly.

--Jesus, help me do Your will in all things.

Bring fresh, clean water to the crib. Avoid every untruthful word and every deceitful act.

--Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for my sins.

Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a treat.

--Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.


See that the crib has sufficient light. Be neat and orderly about your person; keep everything in its place in your room.

--Jesus, be the life and light of my soul.

DEC. 15 - FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful respect towards your parents and relatives.

--Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show my gratitude to You?

DEC. 16 - THE OX

Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without making excuses and without asking "why."

--I will obey for love of You, Jesus.

Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service of others.

--Jesus, accept my service of love; I offer it for those who do not love You.

Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say an extra decade of the rosary.

--Come, Jesus, to accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and patient. Do not murmur or complain.

--Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is important because Jesus will be born again in you.

--Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.


Provide the stable with a key to keep out thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful thought, every rash judgment.

-- Dear Jesus, close my heart to all that hurts You.

Invite the angels to adore God with you. Cheerfully obey the inspirations of your guardian angel and of your conscience.

--Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that you are with me always.

Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn from him silently and patiently to bear refusals and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

--Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy Christmas Communion.

Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the manger of your heart and beg her to lay the Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and telephone conversations and spend more time today thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.

--Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You."

**From: Devotions in Preparation for the Coming of the Christchild, and at the Crib, from Christmas to Purification" by Rev. Frederic Nelson, published by Marian House, Powers Lake, ND 58773