Let me take a picture of you guys.......wait, let me fix my hair........stop poking me, Thomas......STOP.....STOPPPPPP.......can you please smile this time?????? ......let's put up our forks like American Gothic...shhh....wait...is that Hein Cooper coming out of the ceiling speaker?...stop Thomas! stop Thomas! stop Thomas!.....isn't it weird that I am always wearing the same plaid shirt in every picture I have ever taken? YES, yes it is!.....Ow Ow Ow Reuben stop pinching my arm...can I have your lemonade ice?........time to go!
Sunday, March 26, 2017
An afternoon hike in an oh, so Missouri landscape.
Red Bud trees in flower, moss, the Cardinal's spring call high in the trees, sunlight filtering through bare branches, the smell of soggy leaves lining the path. Early spring. There is nothing more wonderful. As Dicken would say in THE SECRET GARDEN....everything is "wick"......life waking up again.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Lately I have wondered whether a semi-empty nest might be harder and more poignant than a completely empty nest. Like ripping off a band-aid slowly instead of in one quick sweep.
In a big family everyone owns their own piece of the puzzle that makes up the whole. The comedian, the peace maker, the fun one who always thinks up great things to do, the adventurous one, the one who can regale everyone with hilarious accounts of the day's exploits.
You get used to the whole. And one by one the pieces need to get up and go, which is, of course natural and right. But the "eggs" that are left in the nest have to get used to the spaces left behind over and over again. It's just hard. And it makes you acutely aware that "they are not your own". they belong to God. And He is so thankful that you nested them for awhile until they could fly into His Will for them. We must rest in His gratitude.
One day they will ALL fly and the nest WILL be empty. And that will be a new season.
But that we have a nest at all is a wonder of a gift. Praise Him.
Friday, March 24, 2017
I used to think it was such pathetic stuff when the Israelites were crabbing to Moses about no more leeks, cucumbers, and melons after they had crossed the Red Sea. They had just witnessed a pillar of fire, a World Power's army completely drowned before their eyes, a pillar of cloud, and the parting of a sea. And they were worried about CUCUMBERS?
But we have One "greater than Moses" here with us offering the miracles of grace through all the Sacraments He bought with His blood. And I find myself thinking way too much about the COFFEE I gave up for Lent.
Ah, we humans. Such silly little nothings loved so dearly by the Almighty God of everything.
What DOES He see in us pathetic little cucumber lovers? Have you ever wondered?
Monday, March 20, 2017
A Lenten Oratory.
I have often been puzzled by people who mockingly write off Catholics as the "smells and bells" Church. If I am certain of anything in life it is this: humans need to see, feel, hear, and touch beauty.
Lent is that bowl of black ash in the priest's hands, the wooden crucifix draped in red, the smell of incense in a bare church, the feel of kneelers and the dusky stained glass light of a Friday evening Stations of the Cross.
And the light and smell of bees wax candles. It is the rich purple of sacrifice and solemn introspection. It is that empty stomach feeling of a fast day. It is the clapper sound instead of bells on Holy Thursday, the marble starkness of the Good Friday altar, the dry and empty holy water fonts, the golden door of the empty tabernacle swinging wide that always brings such a wrench of loneliness to the heart and makes us acutely aware, "What if He hadn't come?"
So I say, long live the smells and the bells. The Church is a wise Mother and through these sensible things keeps us aware of and longing for the beauty that is Christ's Kingdom.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
My son David recently went on an adventure to Kenya. He spent some time with some Massai tribesmen who were his guides on one of the animal reserves he visited.
Their village was located there and their wives make these beautiful necklaces. David brought one back for me. I treasure it.
I treasure it because it reminds me that somewhere there is a Kenyan woman, wife and mother, in her own part of the world going through her day of cooking, working, and taking care of her children. We come from different cultures, we don't speak the same language. But I know a "piece" of her through the beauty of her handiwork. I can feel, wear with joy, and delight in this piece of loveliness she has created.
It strikes me anew that Beauty is a kind of language through which we communicate, sometimes without words, the intimate soul within. Be it a painting, the clothes we wear, music, or...... a finely crafted necklace.
Oh, what must God be, if we mere humans can share such beauty with each other across the world.
Monday, February 20, 2017
I have been collecting old family recipes in the past few years to give to my older kids someday when they have kitchens of their own. There are the obvious ones: Canadian meat pies, the pork stuffing from Thanksgiving, little knot breads, the popular spaghetti sauce that has morphed into something new from both Tony and my recipes of old. But there are recipes from the more obscure memories of my childhood. My mom's Sour Cream cookies with browned butter frosting....oh my! And one thing she didn't make often, but was worth remembering. Chocolate Steamed pudding with vanilla sauce. This must have been from her British roots on her mom's side.
I managed to find my mom's pudding recipe there. And I thought: how hard can it be? Mrs. Cratchit made one for Bob. I can certainly make one for Tony.
It was REALLY hard. Not the mixing. But the steaming. I had to put the cake pans in a "steam bath" which meant that I had to fill a roasting pan with boiling water while it was in the oven with the cake pans in it. Somehow I don't remember this whole process when my mom made it. But by hook or crook I managed to get the finished product. There were a few casualties on the way. The pans were too full and overflowed their banks, so to speak.
There was the whole lugging the pan out of the oven with boiling water sloshing everywhere. I discovered why all the old paintings of housewives in the kitchen depict them with very large forearms. This kind of cooking requires strength training. And then there was the whole "getting them out of the molds" fiasco.
But at long last...VICTORY. One, solid, small but mighty chocolate pudding with vanilla sauce.
And if you have ever wondered when you would ever use any of those Latin sayings your children have been memorizing over the years, and you have seared into your memory, here is the perfect one for this process:
AD ASTRA PER ASPERA! To the STARS through DIFFICULTIES.