Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tune Fads

Since we have several pianists around here -- and those who aren't keyboard proficient are musically opinionated -- we've come to have "Tune Fads" around here.  Song obsessions.  Some melodies come and go pretty quickly -- like adaptations of pop tunes; they come and go.  But others become part of the fabric of the family -- like Claire de Lune, Mirkwood, the themes from October Sky and To Kill a Mockingbird...  But, you just never know which ones will have staying power.

In the last few weeks, the girls have gotten hold of the themes to Up and Nemo, and the lullaby from Dumbo... I'm thinking they'll be keepers!  And then there's this little ditty, which has become a frequent request around here:

How'd you like that little exchange at the beginning there?  ;) Just a little bit o' home for you big kids and far away family -- and to save for posterity.  This girlish giggling, I'm sure to miss someday...

But, the tune?  Didn't you love that?  See why this one keeps coming back around?  Were you tapping your foot like I was while she played? I love having a soundtrack to our lives!  And this one is a happy one that rather seems to describe our lives right now.  Fun with a teeny little backdrop of drama.  Or vice versa? That works for me. If I start hearing dirges or requiems I may start worrying -- but that's not likely, I don't imagine, with this crazy bunch.

Is there a "soundtrack" at your house?  What would you choose if you could?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Are You Doing Right Now?

Whatever you're doing: drop it -- and follow Cathy.  This is what you need to be doing today.

Past the old trucks and the "Tolkien Tree"...

Under its wide generous branches. You can stop for a minute to take a climb, if you want...

Now you're back down?  Check out the little round grave marker for "Baron." (We assume Baron was a dog, but the mythology around here has developed a whole other story...)

Now, then, follow down this way -- through the meadow past the old studio...

There's Gabe up there.  Follow him down this path.  Look out for stinging nettle!

See how the nettle grows a bit thick through here?  Not a good place for flipflops and shorts!

But the path gets friendlier over the hill.  The grass is soft and green here.  

Now...  Up and around this bend...

See that dark thicket?  The creek runs down under there.

And children run down under there, too...

Because this is where the tree swing is.

 Take your turn?  If you don't make it to the other side, there's a soft wet landing underneath!

Can you think of anything better to do on a Wednesday afternoon in May, though?  Fun, free, and good for your heart.  You can have a snooze in the grass to dry off afterward.  You're welcome any time!

OK.  You can get back to work now.  Or have another swing.  :)  Your choice.

Meet "Patch"

So called because we didn't arrive in time to rescue it from the cats before it had its eye injured. (The other eye, not in the picture.)  You get the thinking there, right?  Anyway.  Looked up how to care for the little bunny, and will raise until it's old enough to safely release back into the wild -- God willing we can get it to eat and keep its eye from getting infected.  But, look. Isn't it the cutest, ever?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Just Running Around

William, who when asked what he was doing here, just answered, like I was dumb to ask such a thing: "Just running around."  Duh, huh?

But, check out how smart he is to be just running around:

 What Happens To Our Brains When We Exercise

Thirteen Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Eleven Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

I've gotta get me some new running shoes! I need these benefits!

Or... maybe I ought to run around barefoot like Hobbit Anna, in light of this:
Guess which feet are Anna's...

The Health Benefits of Going Barefoot Outside

Interesting, huh?

But then there's this:

Ten Obvious Reasons You Should Read Every Day

and this:

Eight Unconventional Ways You Should Totally Be Reading Books

Maybe I'll just pull up a comfy lawn chair and read a book instead.  But I'll do it barefoot.

Like this.  Guaranteed there are bare piggy toes under that denim skirt...  Doesn't get better than this. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Picture This

Dan bought me a really good camera on our 24th wedding anniversary, my Nikon D7000, and  I love my Nikon, but it's been through the ringer.  Three times now, it's been knocked down or jostled and the (poorly designed, plastic) lens mount has snapped. (We blame Nikon, not the clumsy folks using the Nikon, of course... ;) Thankfully, it's an inexpensive piece to replace! But it's a bugger to do the actual job.  The pieces are tiny; it's precision work.  My brother, Steve (bless his heart), fixed it once -- and if I recall properly, Dominic's fixed it twice now.  Most recently a few weeks ago, as a parting gift before moving back to Denver.

Thank-you, Dominic.  We can finally picture Nebraska properly.  And share it with everyone else!

 I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed...  but it makes my heart glad to have been able to post the recent pictures of spring coming to life here in Nebraska -- because they were taken with the Nikon -- and, though I'll never be anything but a hack photographer, I'm afraid, the Nikon makes just about anything look good.  Check it out. Below are some of the first photos we took to test out the lens mount -- just random shots around the house.  They came out better than the most beautiful scenery or carefully worked portrait we took with the little camera we'd been using while the Nikon was out of commission.

Did I say thank-you, Dominic?  I really really do love having my camera back.

A Feast of St. Michael Today

One of the first Biblical stories we hear in grade school Catechism is how St. Michael, before our world was even created, defeated the forces of evil and cast Lucifer, the rebel angel, down into hell.  But there are only a few recorded visits of St. Michael to the earth. 

Castel San'Angelo
He appeared in Rome in the 6th century to Saint Gregory the Great, sheathing his sword to announce the end of a pestilence and the appeasement of a punishment of God. The great angel appeared to St. Gregory suspended over the mausoleum of Hadrian, and the church that was built in its place has since that time been called the"Castel Sant'Angelo" (Castle of the Holy Angel).

Mont St. Michel in the Sea
 St. Michael is also recorded to have appeared at the beginning of the 8th century to Saint Ausbert, bishop of Avranches in France.  After St. Michael's first visit, the good bishop failed to construct a church on the rocky island where the archangel had directed.  Legend has it that, in exasperation with St. Ausbert, St. Michael returned, and to drive home his point, thrust his finger into the saint's skull compelling him to get to work.  The oratory was finally completed in St. Ausbert's time, then rebuilt in the 10th century as a beautiful Benedictine Abbey known as Mont-Saint-Michel in the sea, a famous pilgrimage site to this day.  The relic of St. Ausbert's skull, complete with hole caused by St. Michael, can still be seen at Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches.

In the 18th century, a Portuguese Carmelite nun, Antoia d' Astonaco, reported an apparition and private revelation of the Archangel Michael who had told her that he'd like to be honored, and God glorified, by the praying of nine special invocations corresponding to the nine choirs of angels.  This was the origin of the  Chaplet of Saint Michael.  This private revelation and prayers were approved by Pope Pius IX in 1851.

But the feast today actually remembers the marvelous apparition that occurred near Monte Gargano in the Kingdom of Naples at the end of the fifth century.  The story, as related in the Catholic Encyclopedia goes like this:

In the year 492 a man named Gargan was pasturing his large herds in the countryside. One day a bull fled to the mountain, where at first it could not be found. When its refuge in a cave was discovered, an arrow was shot into the cave, but the arrow returned to wound the one who had sent it. Faced with so mysterious an occurrence, the persons concerned decided to consult the bishop of the region. He ordered three days of fasting and prayers. After three days, the Archangel Saint Michael appeared to the bishop and declared that the cavern where the bull had taken refuge was under his protection, and that God wanted it to be consecrated under his name and in honor of all the Holy Angels.

Accompanied by his clergy and people, the pontiff went to that cavern, which he found already disposed in the form of a church. The divine mysteries were celebrated there, and there arose in this same place a magnificent temple where the divine Power has wrought great miracles. To thank God’s adorable goodness for the protection of the holy Archangel, the effect of His merciful Providence, this feast day was instituted by the Church in his honor.
The grotto under the basilica at San Michel  -- where St. Michael appeared

St. Michael is the Guardian of the Catholic Church, the patron of Kiev, the patron of police officers, all military personnel, grocers, and paratroopers.  St. Michael has also been foreseen as the special patron of the Church at the time of the antichrist.
Click and print coloring page for the day.
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  Rebuke him, Oh God, we humbly beseech Thee, and do thou, Oh prince of the Heavenly Host, through the Divine Power, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

(Pope Leo VIII  composed the original, longer version of this prayer after recovering from a horrific vision God permitted him to see in which evil spirits released from Hell bent tremendous effort toward the destruction of the Church. In the midst of the horror presented in this vision, the archangel Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell.)

* Repost: 2012

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mother's Day Every Day

So, remember how I mentioned (I did mention it, didn't I?) that I'd gotten a part time job at an antiques store?  Well, I do love the job.  The hours are great, minimal and timed so that the kids are never here alone for more than an hour or so -- but there's a catch.  I have to work every other weekend: 1 - 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday --  and in the rotation, I had off Easter weekend, but I have to work Mother's Day weekend.  So, well, darnit... I can't say much.  It is my turn, and I'm not the only mother/grandmother on staff.  In fact, it's mostly mothers and grandmothers that work at the antique store.  But it's all good.  In a happy twist of Serendipity (otherwise known as Divine Providence), I got to spend this past Sunday with six of the children, doing all the things I love to do -- a perfect Mother's Day, just a week early!

After getting to witness Anna's reception of the sacrament of Confirmation -- the true highlight of the day! -- we got to attend a picnic with a whole bunch of other parish families.  Happily, Frater Philip was able to join us and suggested that, since he had permission to "go afield," we should light out of the picnic early and go check out Lewis and Clark Recreation Area in Iowa (just across the river from Omaha).  He'd been telling us about it for years, and the day had finally come when all the stars aligned for us to go!  Except only half of us had a change of clothes and a couple of us hadn't brought anything that even remotely resembled hiking shoes. But, no bother!  Clothes wash, and certainly Mommy can hike up and down the Missouri Valley in flipflops.  Sure she can.  (And she has a limp now to prove it.)

Frater pointing out Omaha landmarks.

You can barely see the Missouri River on the other side of the railroad tracks down below.

And here are the children, starting down the trail.  Why walk when you can run, right?

The Picture Tree of legendary fame. Clockwise from noon: Cathy, Gabe, Frater Philip,
Theresa, William, Anna.

The parents, laughing at how much harder it was for us to get up in the tree than it was for the kids.
Heading down a steep part.  Check out barefoot Anna. (She's really a Hobbit.)
At the bottom of the steep section, there's a big beautiful swing.  (Isn't this a funny picture?  You have to look pretty close
to see the rope Gabe's swinging on.)
William's got Gabe a little worried here.  (But have no fear: no children were injured in the swinging episode of this hike.)
They call this the "Bigfoot Walk." (But it could be the Beetles Walk if this were Abbey Road and not the middle of a forest.)
And, last but not least, the bottom of the hike, The Cave -- where everyone got a cool drink of water from the spring -- and where, incidentally, Gabe found the ring from a 1970s pop can and asked if it was one of those "old timey things."

After this, it was all uphill and I did get a couple of pictures from the climb, but they were pretty out of focus.  (There was a certain concern for the safety of the camera, don't you know...)  I did make it all the way to the top, though, I'm happy to say -- mostly unaided.  (Hey, now. It was steep and I was wearing flipflops!)  As you might imagine, by the time we made it back to the parking lot, everyone (especially me) was pretty tired, hot, sweaty, and hungry.  So we cleaned up as much as we could, and headed to downtown Omaha to a favorite restaurant:
 Spaghetti Works 

Where great pasta is eaten by the bucket, 
Italian ice is enjoyed by the gallon,
and great thoughts are thought
-- by someone else.
Guess whose wise words are the following:

"It is not only possible to say a great deal in praise of play;

 it is really possible to say the highest things in praise of it. 

It might reasonably be maintained that the true object of all human life is play.

Earth is a task garden;

heaven is a playground.

To be at last in such secure innocence that one can juggle with the universe and the stars, to be so good that one can treat everything as a joke — that may be, perhaps, the real end and final holiday of human souls."

-- Right.   G.K. Chesterton

Here's to beginning heaven on earth -- or at least trying to.  And here's to Mother's Day every day. I couldn't be more blessed or feel more loved.