1. Best news first: Nine-tenths of the children are home for a few days! Paul is still over on the western slope in college, but Jon and Dominic are home from boarding school until Sunday. Since Jon's not 18 yet, he's required to have a parent sign for his passport, so, we took the opportunity to bring both boys home for a few days to take care of that and to get Jon's head put back on straight at the chiropractor (He has ongoing problems with his neck, unfortunately...) So, anyway, since Kevin's been home helping get the house ready to sell, we have nine of our ten under the same roof, eating together, praying together, staying up to all hours goofing off together. It's lovely.
2. What we've done on the house so far (thanks largely to Kevin): We chose our replacement flooring and ripped up half of the old pergo in the kitchen; we emptied almost everything out of my little study and had 220 electrical wired in to convert it into a laundry room (Until now, our laundry has been in our master bedroom closet); the boys moved a small decorative pond and dug a hole to access the septic tank into which the washing machine will drain and plumbed the source water that will feed the washer; Dominic pulled down half of the barbed wire on the front-ten pasture in preparation for new fencing; I drove up the hill about a dozen times to the farm we want to buy to remind myself why we're doing this; Dan and I started a novena to St. Philomena, our heavenly real estate agent.
3. I can hear a train rushing by outside. We live a little less than a half mile from the tracks and have gotten used to the sound of the whistle and the rush of the wheels as the coal trains hurry by. It's a good sound, one so much a part of this land that it's like bird song and wind to me. I was surprised that our realtor seemed to think it was a detriment to our property, its being so close to the tracks. But the sound of a train whistle is as much a part of this hundred-year-old farm as the song of the meadowlarks perching on the weathered posts of the original corall. The young men who built this house likely paused in their work to watch the trains go by. Granted, it would have been a steam engine they watched, but the feeling is the same. Off on their trans-continental errands, trains from our day or theirs, tell tales of distant places: Rocky Mountain coal miners filling the cars, engineers and brakemen making the journey, passing little prairie towns and dusty country roads, finally unloading the coal that powers the lights in some big eastern city... Undoubtedly the young family that homesteaded this claim in the early years of the twentieth century considered this homesite a plum spot because it was so near the railroad. I think it's a pretty neat spot, too. I hope someone else comes along to buy this house who agrees with me! (I'm pleased that the house we want to buy is also in easy ear shot of the trains...)
4. Not to sound like I'm complaining or anything, but here's the short list of Places That I'm Forever Having to Clean: That little nook behind the faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen. Yuck. It's always disgusting, no matter how often I clean that out. Then there's the wall going up the stairway. The Littles cannot keep from running their dirty little fingers along that wall when they go up. I've never found a solution to that problem, no matter how much I nag. And how is it that, no matter how many times a day I wipe off the handle to the refrigerator, it's always sticky, gooey, yucky? I haven't actually seen the Creature from the Black Lagoon nipping in for a snack, but I know he must be around here somewhere...
5. So, going to Omaha to get the boys Monday and Tuesday, I clocked about eighteen hours behind the wheel, and I'm still saddle sore. But, I do some of my best thinking when I'm driving, especially when it's highway mileage. I think it's the meditative quality to the half-focused state of concentration. You know how it is when you drive the long stretches? You're not (hopefully!) so relaxed that you fall asleep, but not so alert that you're stressed. The scenery flies by too quickly to pick up the details, but slow enough to appreciate the unfolding of a beautiful big picture. Nothing is required except to keep the car safely on the road and get where I'm going.
And referee the shenanigans in the back seat if I have the kids with me.
But, if I'm all on my own, I can listen to the radio and ponder. Sometimes I'll use my time constructively and say a rosary, chat with my Guardian Angel, or lay out possible scenarios to the Almighty. Sometimes I compile lists in my head ~ but that's frustrating, because I can't satisfy the urge to pull my notebook out of my purse and write things down so I won't forget. But, the most fun trains of thought take me over wild courses of possibilities, one idea leading to another.
Among other things, on my drive the other day, I traveled through every room in the house I want to sell, painting and decluttering, and then I jogged down the road and decorated every room in the house I want to buy. Next, I moved out to the yard of the new house, and tried to decide where I'd put my garden. That made me think of the 900 empty acres of prairie that lie behind that house. Which made me think about how there are likely to be more snakes there than on our current property. Rattlesnakes maybe. Yikes! But then, I remembered big, sturdy old Bella; surely she'd patrol around and warn us of any possible slithery intruders. And, of course, we'll be keeping one of Bella's puppies, because we have to have our Grigio. Then I thought, maybe we ought to keep two puppies, just to be sure all snakes are taken care of. But, what would we name that other puppy? It'd be nice to stay in the Italian theme, I thought. I wonder if St. John Bosco would be offended if we named a dog after him? We couldn't call him John, because we have a son named Jon, but what about "Bosco?" That'd be a cool name for a dog...
Are you dizzy yet? It goes on and on, you know. But, I'll spare you. You get the idea.
Back to our regularly scheduled Quick Takes...
6. Here are some shots of those future grounds-protectors (the white fuzzy ones) and a couple of their groupies (the multi-colored fuzzy ones). There were eight puppies altogether, five little boys and three little girls.
(Check out Anna's shiner. It was a hit and run accident; she was running and hit the truck. The parked truck. Smack! Right into the side of it. This comes of not looking where one is running. Ouch!)
7. I've had the chance to tweak my Lenten schedule, and have decided to pop in only on Thursday nights to write 7 Quick Takes, and, aside from that, will only get on the computer to check my e-mail every other day. Hopefully, I'll get some time on Sundays to run around and visit and see what I've been missing all week.
I'll miss everyone! But, right now, in addition to Lent, I have so much to do in preparation to sell the house, that it seems like a good time to really step back from the computer. If I disappear for a while, assume I'm laying tile or something and say a prayer for me, please!