Monday, December 20, 2010

I Need Your Input, Please!

I think, if I can ever get a painter to show up over here, I may have my kitchen finished before too long. (Long story; one was supposed to be here at 9 this morning and I didn't hear until after 3 pm that evidently he has been ill since Saturday........riiiiiight.)

The colors are white, black and red:  white upper walls, ceiling and cabinets; black chair rail, and red beadboard wainscoting.  My floor is black commercial vinyl tile and my appliances are white.

I have gorgeous 1" black and white gingham with which to make cafe' curtains and valances for the two windows; they will be hung on black iron decorative cafe' rods; these, in fact.

The cafe' curtains are easy-peasy; two pairs of lined panels on the lower portion of each window.  It's the valances/toppers I'm having trouble with.  I have plenty of fabric to do either of the following:

Simplicity "Can Tops" pattern, View B at upper left on pattern envelope


McCall's "Home Dec-in-a-Sec", the valance in the lower left on the pattern envelope

Which do you all like better?  I plan to bind the edges of whichever one I make in red bias to match the wainscoting, and all pieces will be lined and weighted where appropriate.

I guess for purposes of comments, we'll call the Simplicity pattern "Can Tops" and the McCall's one "Gathered Swag".  And since I don't have a whole lot of regular readers (yet), please consider sharing this post with your online friends and ask them to come and weigh in. And yes, when all the work is done I promise to post photos!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Went On At Our House Today

We're getting some snow.  At midmorning Lightning McQueen went out to collect the eggs, and a gust of wind caught the door to the chicken coop and blew it shut.  Normally that's not a problem, but this time the latch flipped and went right into the eye bolt.  I heard him yelling, and thought he was just whooping and hollering out there in the snow.  After several minutes I went to the back door to tell him he really needed to bring the eggs in, and this is what I saw:
I went around to where I could see the latch side of the coop door, and :

So I had to let him out.  I'm very thankful I had the presence of mind to get the camera before I went outside, because it just wouldn't have been the same without the pictures, don't you agree?

Lest you think it's only he who does things that are worthy of being photographed, here's Birdman making some snickerdoodles after lunch:
They were delicious.

And here's a shot of Velvet in her natural habitat:

If it stops snowing I may go out tomorrow at some point and see if there are pretty trees with snow on them to take pictures of.  Nothing much is moving in my neighborhood; I suppose the snow removal crews are busy with the main streets in town and will get to me when they can.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two Smiles in One Day!

I just read this article about how (at least with relatively short words) correct spelling is pretty much not related to comprehension.  This made me smile because when they were handing out 'spellyness' before Velvet was born, she thought they said 'smellyness' and took a pass.  Also explains to me why she can read what she writes perfectly well.  So I feel validated in my decision not to be an ogre and drill, drill, drill correct spelling until we have tears and draaaaaaamaaaaaaa.

Besides, why else would spellcheck exist, if it isn't to help people like my Velvet?

I'm Smiling

this morning, because last week I finished the socks I made for a friend's mother-in-law and mailed them off to her, in plenty of time to be able to give as a Christmas gift.  I woke up to a private message on a board where we are both members, that they had arrived safely and that she thinks they are very nice.

I am very thankful that I have little opportunities to use the talents God has seen fit to grant me, to do nice things for others.

In other knitting news, I also finished the "Sunday Swing" socks (photo coming; I've already worn them and the next time they go on my feet I'll take a picture) and over the weekend I knit Velvet a pair of "Fetching" fingerless mitts.
The yarn is Patons Soy Wool Stripes, and I used US5 dpns.  I plan to knit a pair for myself soon; they go very quickly and by the time I'd started the second mitt I had memorized the pattern and was able to just knit.  the only changes I made were to only knit 15 rounds between the last cable crossing on the wrist and the thumb, because Velvet has small hands.

Last night I copied and enlarged charts and cast on the "Cobweb Lace Stole" from Interweave Knits' Spring 2008 issue.  I'm using a US4 circular needle and Skacel Merino Lace 100% wool yarn in a dark taupe color.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Price Check #2

Here's another price-check post for you.  I shopped at Giant Eagle.

Pillsbury Flour, 5# bag, $1.99
St. Ives body lotion, 2/$6 (I think this is something like a 16 oz. pump bottle)
Tuna in water, store generic, 4 oz. $0.79
10-grain hot cereal mix, Bob's Red Mill, $3.99
Birdseye frozen vegetables, 16 oz. bag, $1.00
Betty Crocker Snickerdoodle mix, 2/$4
Progresso Tomato Soup, 2-serving can, $2.39
Potato/onion frozen pierogies, store brand, $2
Radiatore pasta, store brand, 1# box, $1.39
Windshield scraper/brush combo, $1.99
Zhena's Gypsy Tea, Red Lavender, 20 bags, $6.99
Ground round, family size pack, $1.99/lb.

Gas is $3.06/gallon for regular unleaded.  Some places in town it's as high as $3.16.

Getting Ready?

How are everyone's preparations for Christmas going?  So far I have managed to keep Philip's Fast to a reasonable degree, although we haven't gone completely vegetarian.  I'm keeping to the Roman Catholic definition of fasting, which means one 'regular size' meal, the sum of the rest of what I eat not equaling what I have for the regular meal, and also having vegetarian meals on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as prescribed by the Rule and Constitutions of the Confraternity of Penitents.  I'm also keeping up with daily prayer, both the Liturgy of the Hours - Morning and Evening Prayer, with the Little Hours said all together at midday, plus Night Prayer before going to bed; and the Kathisma Psalter about which I posted earlier.  I really enjoy praying the Psalms.

What I haven't done is put up the tree, decorate the house and do a lot of baking.  I have some Moravian Sugar Cake to bake before Christmas, and I'm more and more tempted to go to a tree lot on the 23rd or 24th and buy a tree with a pretty top to cut off for a tabletop-size tree........we have less and less space and I just dread rearranging the entire first floor to have a place to put an artificial tree I don't really even like anymore.  It's too large at the bottom and not nearly tall enough. I need a 9-foot skinny tree, not this 7-foot poufy Norway Spruce that I have.  Not that the existing tree isn't pretty - it is, it just won't fit anywhere any more.

I guess I'm so busy with both the daily things that can't stop just because it's going to be Christmas soon, and also with interior preprations for the season, that I have no energy left for externals.  So, my heart is preparing but my house looks as if it's occupied by people who ignore Christmas. (I was going to say pagans, but I remember reading somewhere that there is some sort of pagan winter-solstice thing that happens right around Christmas, although I don't suppose a tree and stockings are part of what one does to prepare for that.  Is it Lughnasa?  That involves dancing or something, I think.  My, how I ramble.)

Also it will be my birthday soon and I wish it could be different this year, but it won't, so that's that.

In reviewing this post I see several things I could link, but I'd rather just post and go do something else.  I might edit in the links later.

A Futile Wish

They make frost-free freezers, self-cleaning ovens, irons and coffemakers, why can't they come up with a self-cleaning house?  I don't necessarily want mine to be ready for a photo shoot by "House Beautiful", but I always pictured myself living in a house where I could welcome guests at any moment if someone just decided to drop by.  The reality?  I need at least 3 hours notice, and that only gives me enough time to transfer the clutter to somewhere the potential guest(s) won't be.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I don't get it.

You'd think, with the economy as bad as everybody says, a person could get a contractor over here to bid on a job.  So far I've had two no-shows and neither one has bothered to call and say they weren't coming.  Have calls in to two more, we'll see how that goes.

Just in case you were wondering, I still need prayers for that special intention.  Thanks!

Monday, November 29, 2010

News from the Schoolroom

Velvet has finished her math book, Saxon 5/4!  Actually she has 2 more lessons and one Investigation to go, but this was my only free evening this week, so we went out to Barnes & Noble and picked up a 6th-grade math workbook for her to use, as Lightning McQueen is currently using the Saxon 6/5 book.  I've tried having two kids share a book and it doesn't work at all.

Birdman got a 100% on his first Algebra 1 test, and got a promotion to Cadet Senior Airman in Civil Air Patrol.

Everyone is brushing up on their Christmas carols in preparation for Friday's caroling on the courthouse square.

We've begun working in earnest on the 4H project books as well, since the new books should be in at the next meetings and then both Lightning McQueen and Velvet will be working from two books - Velvet has horses and cats, and Lightning McQueen is working on chickens and dogs.

Sometime over the next couple of weeks we'll start gathering information on Italy, our next country for Culture Club.

All three of them are now keeping up with their reading lists on their own; Velvet is turning out to be the readingest kid!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I bought a turkey last year, and then was given one by a friend.  I cooked one and left the other in the freezer.  I cooked that turkey today.  It is absolutely hands down the juiciest, most delicious turkey I have ever cooked.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

If I were not so lazy, I would spend from now until Thanksgiving Day composing and editing a blog post about all the things for which I am thankful.  It would be beautifully written, full of tender verbal images of sweet, rosy-faced children behaving perfectly in every possible situation.  I'd be sure to include at least a paragraph about how fulfilling I find life as a single parent and how much opportunity there is for character-building in the fact that I have not received a single penny in child support in over three years.

And then I would remember that this is a blog, and it's about me, and I'd delete all the above and write the following:

I'm thankful for this blog, even though I have to self-censor quite a bit.  It's an outlet I wouldn't otherwise have, so I'm very grateful to be able to click over here and blather on without caring whether anyone reads, comments or cares about what I write.

I'm thankful for my children, even though they drive me batty almost every day.

I'm thankful for Facebook.  I can keep up with all kinds of things there that would involve me wasting my time reading tons of websites otherwise.  It's just about my one-stop shop for information about lots of things.

I'm thankful for my work, and that I am blessed enough to have a job that doesn't feel like a job.

I'm thankful to be able to homeschool my kids.  The more I learn about what goes on in the public (and parochial) schools here the more I am grateful for the freedom to let my children learn at home.

I'm thankful for my online friends, some of whom I've never met IRL.  They are an endless source of support and blessing to me.

I'm thankful for my faith, and for prayer.  Even though I don't always get the answer I think I want, I know that God knows what I need.

I'm thankful for being a single parent.  It allows me to practice patience and forbearance on a daily basis.  (To be perfectly honest, sometimes being a single parent is a huge pain in the tochis, and I nearly succumb to the stupid and pointless wish for someone to be a dad to these kids so I won't have to do it any more and could concentrate on being a mom.  Then I remember that I'd have to go back to "parenting by committee" and the feeling passes).

Oh, and I'm also thankful for hand-knitted socks, the ability to knit, my garden, our hens, the dog, a working radio in the car to which I can sing along, the ability to preserve my garden produce, and lots of other stuff.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some thoughts about the TSA

You know, for all the liberals would have us believe that most Americans are really in favor of guys wearing their pants down around their hips (how DO they keep them from falling down, anyway), college chickies wearing skirts so short they wouldn't even make a decent tote bag if you were to sew the bottom shut and add a handle, cleavage popping out everywhere, the glories of whatever kind of sexual activity you happen to feel like having, the reason all those folks look so........violated..........when they are photographed or filmed undergoing either one of those disgusting 'grope sessions' the TSA likes to call an 'enhanced pat-down' OR their stint in the X-ray machine where the gawkers behind the screen can see every detail under your clothing, is because they DO feel violated.

This new policy is an egregious offense not only against the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, but the natural law as well.  No one should be subjected to such indignity, in full view of the general public - ESPECIALLY if certain classes and categories of persons (read:  burqa'd Muslimas) are either permitted a free pass or are allowed to search themselves.

This is the ultimate objectification of people.

I've even tried to have one side of my admittedly feeble brain play 'devil's advocate' and allow that perhaps the Powers That Be have some concrete knowledge of some specific threat that is being deterred by smirking rent-a-cops in blue disposable gloves, petting the nether regions of nuns, amputees with prosthetic limbs, cancer survivors with ostomy bags, and little boys.  Nope, I can't see how this is justified.  Not at all. People are having to go into therapy after undergoing these searches.

This is so sad.

(Note:  no links.  I didn't forget them, I chose not to add links, because I could link every single phrase.)

Price Check

This begins what hopefully will be a semi-regular feature here at the Collective.  I go shopping, then I come back here and post prices of stuff I bought.  You get the vicarious thrill of seeing how I spend my hard-earned money, what sort of things we eat, and how much stuff costs here in my neck of the woods.

If you see anything on the list that is priced way different, either higher or lower, than what it costs where you are, feel free to comment and let me know.

So, here we go.  This week I shopped at Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based grocery chain where I have a discount card that gets me in-store specials and 10 cents per gallon off the price of gasoline at their gas station for every $50 I spend.  

Pasta sauce, store brand,  $1.50
Canned carrots, store generic brand, $0.59
French fried onions, store brand, large size can, $3.00
Grated 100% Parmesan cheese, store brand, $3.00
Vermicelli, 1# box, store brand, $1.00
Pepsodent toothpaste, $0.99
Campbell's Cream of Onion soup, $1.67
Salted butter quarters, 1#, store generic,  $2.69
Alberto VO5 hair conditioner, $0.79
Yellow onions, 3# bag, $2.50
Mrs. T's Pierogies, 2# bag, $4.39
Fresh yams, 2.08#, $1.04
Fresh cranberries, 1# bag, $1.99
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, IQF, store brand, 3# bag, $6.99
Milk, 2%, gallon plastic jug, store brand (no hormones/antibiotics certified), $2.68
Sugar, store generic, 4# bag, $2.19
Frozen peas, 1# bag, store generic, $1.09
Pecan pie, Marie Callender, frozen ready-to-bake, $5.99

Gasoline, regular unleaded, gallon, $2.989

All the prices I listed above are with any in-store discount gained by using my card, except for the gas price.  I had 70 cents saved up in discounts so I actually paid $2.289 a gallon. That's not an exhaustive list of what I bought, either; just a representative sample, trying to list something from each department.

Prayers Still Needed

Please continue to pray for a special personal intention.  Thanks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Assorted Things

First, if you read this please say a prayer for me, for a special intention.  I can't say what it is right now, but perhaps someday.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Last Friday we went with the other local Catholic homeschoolers to see the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.  I would love to share pictures with you, but sadly they did not permit photography inside the exhibit space.  It was very interesting, and we all enjoyed it very much.  One of the most fascinating things was a small gallery that was fixed up to be like it would have been when Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Ladders and board scaffolding, lanterns, buckets of faux plaster, paintbrushes, and on the ceiling a partially-completed mockup of the ceiling, with outline drawings of parts of the paintings.
Also, there was a gallery with vestments and liturgical vessels used by various Popes.  Pope Pius IX' chalice and paten were breathtakingly beautiful - not that the others weren't, but his was my favorite.  One one side of the chalice cup was engraved a Christ Pantocrator, and the other side had the symbolic pelican piercing her own breast to feed her young.
At the end of the exhibit there was a bit of 'extra' - a gallery with items from various parishes in and around Pittsburgh, showing the history of Catholicism in SW Pennsylvania.  There was a beautiful enamel-and-jeweled chalice from my Archeparchy, as well as several reliquaries from St. Anthony's Chapel which we have visited a couple of times (it houses the largest collection of relics outside the Vatican).

Session #3 on Cantor School is this Saturday; I need to get my tote bag packed up with necessary things.

Lightning McQueen has decided that he would like to "go Eastern" with his hair - many Eastern Christian seminarians, deacons and priests have long hair that they wear in a ponytail, and he wants to grow out his hair.  So we're going to try it.  Hey, it's HAIR.  If he gets tired of it and it's long enough, he can donate it! (Mine should be long enough to donate by the time the Great Fast begins, by the way).

Birdman is off this evening at his first Spiffy Event - this year's Pro-Life Rose Dinner.  In a tie. And a real dress shirt.  And a cashmere sweater.

We had this month's Culture Club today, and our country was Kenya. Velvet and Lightning McQueen did a PowerPoint with various facts about Kenya - flag, location, animals, food, etc.  I made Kuchumbari, a salad with tomato, onion, cilantro, carrots and lime juice.  It was delicious!  There were two other families there, and we had lamb stew, a vegetarian bean and rice stew, chappatis, ugali (Kenyan equivalent of polenta, only much stiffer) and three flavors of chai tea.  We'll skip December and start up again in January with Italy.

I've put away the current personal pair of socks to do a commissioned pair for an online friend who doesn't knit, for her to give to a special family member.  I'm halfway down the foot of the first sock in the commissioned pair, and got to the gusset stitches on my socks (sock #2) before I put them aside to do the commission.

My senators are pathetic excuses for elected representatives.  And considering one of them was just sworn in earlier this week, that's really sad.  No problem though; they weren't elected for life.  Bwahahahaha.

Thanks for praying for my intention.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Trying Something New

Part of praying the Hours, or really any Prayer Rule, is the Psalter.  In the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, you pray most of the Psalter over a four-week cycle.  In the Eastern Churches, the Psalter is divided into twenty sections or parts, called Kathisma, and you pray the entire thing once a week. (Twice weekly during the Great Fast).

This is my first Philip's Fast as an official Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic, so I am trying to incorporate some Eastern practices into this period of preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Silvia, who blogs here, is doing a Kathisma Psalter prayer group in which participants each pray one Kathisma each day for the period of the Philip's Fast, praying the Psalter twice through in that time.  You are assigned a beginning Kathisma and then you just pray them in order every day - this means that every day the entire Psalter is prayed, and because the names are on the post I linked, we are all praying for each other.  I think that's beautiful!

As for the rest of what I'm doing for the Fast, I am of course adhering to the St. Martin's Fast guidelines of the Confraternity of Penitents and will try to be vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays (too much vegan makes me cranky, I have to have a bit of cheese or some cream in my coffee). This, plus the rotating Psalter prayers, the Hours and my other intercessory prayers, should make for a (hopefully) fruitful Philip's Fast.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where Have All the Paper Boys Gone?

I recently began following Lenore Skenazy's blog, Free Range Kids.  Reading the posts has made me much more aware of, shall we say, "less-than-free-range" opinions coming out in casual conversation.  Just a couple of days ago I was reminiscing with someone about the way things used to be, and the convo turned to paper boys:

ME:  Remember paper boys?  I was a paper boy [actually I was a paper girl, but I digress].  Why don't they let kids deliver newspapers any more - oh yeah, something BAAAAAD might happen.

OTHER PERSON:  Yes, the paper companies are probably worried about kids being molested or kidnapped, or something even worse, so they were smart to switch to adults and make the routes only easily done in a vehicle. That way they don't have to worry about parents suing them.

ME:  You know, now that I think about it, I would say it is actually safer for kids to deliver papers now than in was when I was a paper carrier.  Now the customers can pay online, by mail or phone, and the carrier does not need to have any personal contact with the customer at all.  When I carried papers, I had to collect the money every two weeks from my customers, most of whom I dealt with in person.  Also, papers don't have to be delivered as early in the morning now; I delivered evening papers but my Sunday route had to be done before 7 am and now the deadline on Sundays is 9 am.

OP:  You're probably right about the things you mentioned, but you've not considered the pervs who lie in wait for kids out unsupervised.

ME:  And just how many stories have been in the news about kids carrying newspapers who have been assaulted, kidnapped, molested, killed, etc.?

OP:  {crickets}

ME:  exactly.

A Home Economics (or Lack Thereof) Lesson

Lightning McQueen has a 4H meeting this evening and this is our month to do snack.  I needed something for 45 (!) kids that wouldn't put me in the poorhouse - most families bring granola bars or a veggie tray and juice boxes, but after I checked the prices I decided to do apple juice in a jug (2 gallons) and homemade oatmeal cookies.  Lightning and I made a double batch of cookies yesterday, and he and the other two were told in no uncertain terms that there was to be no cookie thievery, because we still needed to bake another double batch of cookies to have enough (we had to do them over 2 days because Crockpot and Drumstick only lay one egg each per day and I'd sold all but 2 eggs on Saturday afternoon).

This afternoon I was finishing up a project and I could hear Lightning in the kitchen cracking eggs, so I came downstairs after a few minutes - ready to really lay on the compliments for taking the initiative to bake the rest of the cookies on his own.

Imagine my, um, astonishment to find HALF the already-baked cookies EATEN, and a good amount of the cookie dough of the as-yet-unbaked batch gone as well.

Now all three of them are in the kitchen making a double batch of shortbread to make up for the cookies they ate (had to be shortbread because I can't think of another kind of cookie that doesn't require eggs that we also have all the ingredients for).  Sigh.

Someday I will laugh about this, just like I may be able to eventually laugh about the time I stayed up past midnight the night before a homeschooler's meeting to bake cookies for 25 kids and when I got up the next morning over half of them were gone.

My children are very sanctifying at times.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart........

I sincerely hope that no one ever says that I am a joyless person.  I wouldn't mind very much being called ugly, or vain, or opinionated, or weird, because I think of myself as those things quite often.  But to be called joyless? That would really hurt.

Go see what Father Dwight has to say about that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day!

Today was our annual Veteran's Day visit to the WV National Cemetery in Grafton.  The photo above is a memorial plaque outside the office and gravesite locator kiosk at the entrance to the cemetery.

Some views of the graves of those who served our country.
 The above is the gravestone of the husband of one of my mother's friends.

 Above and below are photos of the oldest grave in the cemetery, a soldier who fought in the Spanish-American War.  This grave was relocated from the original National Cemetery in Grafton (which we have yet to visit; perhaps next year) which is closed to new interments.
One day I'd like to go to Arlington and witness the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns there, but until then this is a very fitting substitute.

If you served our country, in any capacity, during war or peacetime, please accept my heartfelt thanks and know that you are in my prayers today.  If you are the family member or loved one of one who served, thank you also.  If you didn't serve, please thank someone who did!

This evening we'll be attending the Veteran's Day parade, in which Birdman will be marching as a member of a color guard.  I'll take pictures and post them in a future entry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pardon my Rant, Please.

I went downtown this morning to pick up some work from a boutique for which I do "overflow" tailoring, and when I came back home the pictures below are what greeted me at the entrance to my neighborhood.  Our neighborhood, while not as historically 'pretty' as some others in my town, is a really nice place to live, relatively quiet (unless you live on the hill below me; then you have to deal with college students' loud raucous parties at intervals throughout each semester) and has some nice old - as in over 100 years old - homes.  I know about the 100+-year-old homes because I live in one of them.
Anyway, about a year and a half ago our neighborhood association decided to commission two signs at the most-used entrances to our part of town, this sign is the larger of the two and is two blocks from my house.  the other sign is very similar but is about 1/3 the size.  The original sign was designed by Jamie Lester, who used to live about 3 blocks from me and who designed the scene found on the West Virginia state quarter.  The sign was installed, a nice flower bed was designed and planted, and we Woodburnites were quite happy with it until about a month after it went in, it was stolen.  Someone dismounted it from the brackets that hold it to the posts and just carried the whole thing away.  If you look at the pictures you can see that this would not exactly be a 5-minute job; it was held in place by a whole bunch of lag bolts and the posts are 4x4 lumber.  No trace of it was ever found, so the NA had a replacement made and installed around the beginning of last summer.  Now this.  I am just disgusted that someone thought this was a fun thing to do.  It's one thing for college students (yes, I think this was a college 'prank') to throw plastic cups around in the street after a wild party, to hold mud wrestling bouts in a kiddie pool in their back yard, to carouse until ungodly hours when their neighbors (including yours truly) are trying to sleep - those are things that the Litter Control Officers and Police Department are quite capable of doing something to deter.  But this is unconscionable.  I hope by some miracle of the internet, the perpetrators' parents happen upon this post, realize THIS is what their kids were vaguely bragging about, and haul their sorry butts to the police station to turn them in. 
Oh, and you can see in the bottom photo that they stole the street signs from the pole at the intersection (and pushed the pole over too), as well as signs from SEVEN other intersections within 3 blocks of my house.  Yeah, real mature.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Things to Think About

My high school graduating class was the last to get all the way through primary and secondary education without any influence from the federal government via the Department of Education.

What do bishops and cardinals talk about when they are not being bishops and cardinals?  I occasionally have a mental image of a few bishops around a kitchen table in some episcopal rectory somewhere, playing Monopoly; a couple of cardinals in a hotel room after some sort of synodal session, arguing over who is going to go fill the ice bucket and yelling at the tv over a game of football.

My yard looks naked without any endorsement signs.  I am forcing myself to wait to publish a congratulatory post until the election results here are certified.  It's very difficult, but I could always use more patience.

I am very thankful that I only have one more Tuesday night of Reader's Class (I got another 'that was beautiful' at last night's class).  Being a Church Reader is a lot more than 'pick up the book and do the reading.'

You meet the nicest people in the unlikeliest places sometimes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Catching Up

So.  I'm one round from being done with the gusset decreases on sock #1 of a pair of "Sunday Swing" socks, knit on US0 needles with 72 stitches.  I tried the sock on and the heel flap on these socks is very tall, which means that if you have a high instep towards your ankle these socks will fit very well.  I do, so that's a good thing!

We've begun having a math test every Friday.

Last Friday was the Homecoming parade for the university here.  I ended up with the Republican party contingent near the front of the parade, the boys were with the pro-life entry towards the middle, and a little further back was Velvet with the riding stables.  After I finished the route I walked back up the street twice and walked back down with the kids.  I have been to every single parade here in the past 4 years, and have only sat and watched once - the rest of the time I have been walking with one entry or another.

We had our second "Culture Club" meeting last week too.  Our country was Canada; the other mom whose idea it was to have this neato group is from Alberta, and she had all kinds of books to look at and even some Canadian money for the kids to see.  We had salmon, crepes with broccoli filling and cheese sauce, fresh rhubarb and blueberries, and cheese beer bread for our covered-dish lunch.  Lightning McQueen did a short presentation on sports played in Canada (complete with a drawing of a hockey rink) and Velvet told us about Candian wildlife.  Next month our country is Kenya; we wrote the names of countries the kids would like to study on slips of paper and drew from a bowl.

Oh, I did mention I'd post about Cantor School in a previous post.  Our Church has a course for prospective Cantors (or anyone who wants to learn to sing our services well) that began in September at our Archeparchial seminary in Pittsburgh.  It meets five Saturdays per academic year for four years, and there is an additional component of Reader Instruction that meets six weeknights per semester at a parish in the Pittsburgh area.  I'm taking the Reader course this fall also and we're halfway through - I'm not so terribly fond of the late nights but I really am learning a lot.  It's definitely worth the time and gas money!

So that's my last couple of weeks......fall is here and we've had some chilly nights (and days, too), the leaves are colorful, and I'll be getting the kids' portraits taken in a couple of weeks.  Also need to get a new furnace filter and make sure all the windows are shut completely (when your house is 100 years old sometimes the windows take a bit of convincing).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I feel old and I don't even care.

I took Velvet and Lightning McQueen to see "Secretariat" this afternoon.  I remember seeing him win the Triple Crown, ergo the title of this post.  Seems hard to believe that was 37 years ago!
I have no idea whether the entire backstory to Secretariat's success is exactly as presented in the film, but I'd have to say it's more likely true than not, because if you were writing a story about a horse who won the Triple Crown and wanted him to have an interesting history, you'd be hard pressed to come up with anything even close to that of this horse.  The future of the Tweety family, and of the stables where he was foaled, literally rode on Secretariat's back.......and all nearly came to naught at the Wood Memorial, his last outing prior to the Kentucky Derby of 1973, where he only showed (and that poorly).
I think the film is well cast, the characters are believable.  And Disney didn't seem to make any great attempt to "p.c." the characters; a few of them are almost caricatures, they are so typical.  And the acting is good too; I admit to fighting back tears when Penny sits at her daddy's bedside after he's had a stroke, holding his hand as she tells him about her horse and he passes on.
Even though I knew exactly how events in the second half of the movie would transpire, I was not for a minute bored.  I give this movie an enthusiastic thumbs-up, and when it's available on DVD I plan to purchase it for our home video library.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Now I have a little bit of insight about what, exactly, to pray when I come across people who trumpet "I used to be Catholic, but then I became a Christian."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time Flies.....

whether you're having fun or not.  The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy for us, what with getting into the "new" routine of having the kids' Religion classes on a weekday evening, 4H starting back up, having to buy Lightning McQueen yet another pair of Sunday pants, my going to Cantor School (about which more in a bit) and trying to decide how regimented and scheduled we're going to be with schoolwork.

Rifle Club for Birdman has moved back indoors, so I have a slightly shorter trip to drop him off at the indoor range.  He now brings "his" rifle and equipment home with him after practice, so with all that lying around the house tends to occasionally look as if we're preparing for a raid by the ATF or something.  Add that to the couple of weeks when he had his fake rifle for CAP Color Guard here, and, well.......
I ordered and received his new Algebra I curriculum, which he'll be starting in a week or so.  I may have mentioned earlier that I decided this year to let the kids finish their old math books before jumping into the new books, so I am ordering curriculum as I actually need it, instead of having to remember to have all the funds available for a whole year's worth of curriculum for 3 kids all at once.  So far this is turning out to be quite workable.
I'm waiting on him to make up his mind as to whether he (Birdman) wants to take the Golden Horseshoe test in April.  I would really be thrilled if he did take it, and even more thrilled if he won, but I have made a conscious decision to try very hard NOT to live my life vicariously through my kids. (I was on the GH team for my junior high school back in the day, but my school ended up not sending us to take the test.  Long story.)
He's now into "The Fellowship of the Ring", having finished "The Hobbit" late last week. I think he's actually going to read the whole series this year.

Velvet is volunteering at a horse show on Sunday.  I had to get a green shirt for her, as the stable owner was fresh out of official shirts.  Fortunately I found a nice t-shirt at Michaels that I'm pretty sure is very nearly the proper shade of green, and this way she doesn't have to endure the ignominy of borrowing a polo shirt from one of her brothers.
She continues to plug along at math, although I still have yet to figure out what her real difficulty is.  I know she can do math in her head, because I sneak it in at the grocery store and other places when we are shopping or traveling.  It's just getting tangled up between her brain and her fingers somehow.
She's going to continue doing a horse project for 4H, and also do a cat project (using her grandmother's cats, as Lightning McQueen and I are allergic and we can't have them in the house).  Last year's horse project got a purple ribbon for high Division score, so I'm confident she'll do well this year.

Lightning is still on KP duty.  He did agree to re-do his chicken project on which he fizzled out last year, and also said he'd like to do a dog project - that will be relatively easy, since we of course have chickens and a dog. He's selling eggs pretty regularly, and he and I would both like to add to our flock (is two hens a flock?) in the spring, eventually having six hens.
He's doing fantastic in math, though.  He was pretty well finished with his 4th grade Math book back in the middle of the summer, so when we picked up again after Labor Day, I dug out the Saxon 6/5 book and had him start in that.  He's doing very well, so we'll stick with that for him.
He's reading through some Hardy Boys books right now; I'm not sure if he really enjoys them or he just can't find anything else he'd rather read.

I'm hoping to have a field trip next week, and of course there will be pictures.  They are also going to be in the college Homecoming parade that's coming up.

I've finished the scarf I was knitting for a swap, and have only to dye and block it and it will be ready to send off to my swap partner.  I'm also nearly done with the socks for Baby Juliet, which I need to get cracking on because I need the needles for another pair of socks for me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The kitchen floor got swept today......

because Lightning McQueen got mad over Birdman stepping on his toe at lunchtime, and knocked the sugar canister off the table onto the floor.  The lid was not on the canister.  It was nearly full.

Lightning had to sweep the floor, and also give up $2 for another bag of sugar.

But the floor is cleaner than it was!

Monday, September 27, 2010

my own little catch-22

I get a fair bit of fodder for blog posts from other blog posts.  The other day a friend wrote this post, which got me to thinking. (go read the original post; I'll wait).

I'd like to think I would have followed Him.  But God's plan for me is that I am here, now, thinking about how I would have reacted if I'd lived when Jesus walked in the Flesh, and realizing

that my mother would have met Him at some point

and she would have heard

He loved little children


she would have forbade me to even speak to Him

because she would have been convinced He was a child predator.

Finally, something at which I truly excel.

I read this a few days ago, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, and I realized that I am really, really, really good at appearing Perfect.  I'm not, of course, but maintaining the facade?  Easy-peasy.

If you paid any attention to the very first post on this blog, you know that I am a professional self-employed tailor who is a single (divorced) mother to three homeschooled kids all under 14.  I get no child support from their father, and they have no contact with him (court ordered).  So I wear a lot of hats.

I don't wear any of them very well.  I am a lousy housekeeper; my house is cluttered and messy.  I own so many books I have them stacked on the edges of the stair treads between the first and second floors.  I am so negligent about mopping my kitchen floor that I had it redone in that commercial tile that's black with gray and white flecks in it because it doesn't show dirt and crumbs.  My vacuums are constantly clogging up with thread and hair.  I haven't had the laundry caught up in months.  The bottom of my toaster oven is covered in crumbs, and my microwave tray is only clean because I was out of town last Saturday at a class and my mom cleaned it.  I have dust bunnies that are constantly on the verge of forming their own government and staging a coup d'etat.  I went for 5 weeks this past summer without doing the yard.  We eat a lot of frozen stuff, even though I think meals prepared from scratch are much better-tasting and more nutritious (not to mention there is more variety if you cook from scratch).  I work about 50 hours a week, if you count time spent on the phone making appointments and calling clients to let them know their projects are done. In addition to those work hours, I also take my older son to Civil Air Patrol drills and Rifle Club meetings, my daughter to riding lessons at the far end of the county, and daughter and younger son to 4H meetings and events.  I have started turning over some of the duties to one or the other of my kids, such as changing light bulbs.  But I still have to remember that the new bulbs are on top of the fridge.
In addition to the general parenting, schooling, working and homemaking tasks at which I am not perfect, I'm also not perfect as a woman or a Catholic. I'm divorced, you know.  Never mind that I would be the first person to admit that I have very poor choice when it comes to men (or boys, as the case may be, but I digress).  I married a lazy, conceited, entitlement-attitude-inflicted, alcoholic, verbally/emotionally/financially/physically abusive child molester.  (And all of those attributes except the last can be applied to husbands #1 and 2 as well).  I have sort of managed to solve the problem of always choosing the worst sort of man:  I do everything I can to be as mean, disagreeable, opinionated and unladylike to any man who shows the slightest inkling of an interest in dating me.  I even went so far as to have my mother's engagement diamond re-set and commenced to wear it on the 'proper' finger, to further discourage any would-be suitors.
This means, of course, that aside from my homeschooling group, the gals with whom I get together and knit, some really good online friends and the folks at my parish, I have no adult companionship in my life.  I'm very afraid that I'll grow old and bitter (the bitter thing?  I'm making good progress on that one) without ever having been to Julio's for dinner (long story; when I post this I'm going to make sure I put that on my Bucket List).
There's more, but I think you get the idea.  I refuse to be Perfect at a blog post that lists all the ways in which I'm not perfect.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't be fooled........

Endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce does not necessarily the best candidate make.  Thanks to Mr. Manchin, our electricity bills are about to go up.  Not next week, next month, or maybe not even next year, but they will go up, thanks to this new law.

This is the candidate we need to send to the United States Senate on November 2.

Monday, September 20, 2010

You May Skip This Post if You Aren't a Catholic, a Homeschooler, or Both.

A friend recently sent me a link to this article and asked me what I thought.  I warned her that my opinion would show up here, because quite honestly I think the author failed to make his point (actually, I think he failed to make any point at all, except that he doesn't know how to formulate a thesis and defend it properly).

The first two paragraphs of the article made me think that the author was going to end up exhorting me, even laying on the guilt trip, to immediately take myself to the nearest Catholic school, signing my children (and my limited funds) away thither until such time as secular, government-supported schools quit calling Christmas vacation "winter break" and go back to giving kids the whole of the Easter weekend off (as in, Great and Holy Friday through Bright Monday).

A little further on he mentions that his concern is not "socialization", but after he gives the erroneous definition that this term has come to mean - spending the majority of one's time with those who are the same chronological age - he fails to define true socialization, which is the ability of a person to conduct oneself properly, with good manners, in the company of anyone, no matter what their age.  He then continues:
 "I mean something much more radical and (perhaps initially) more difficult for homeschoolers to accept: that education is for the perfection of the child, and the child is perfected for a life in society."
I agree with this.  I do not, however, agree with his next statement in which he says that "The common approach to homeschooling today is inherently dangerous, because it may go against what our entire Western tradition and the Catholic Church herself teach about the education of the young – that education should not be done in the homeat least not for long, except during a time and place of crisis."

In the first place, I think the Church document he then proceeds to quote in an attempt to justify the preceding statement (which still has me scratching my head, if anyone can see how he got that quote above, from the three quotes he cites in the article, please educate me in the comments.  Because I don't see the connection) have most likely been taken out of context.  Secondly, at this point in my reading I am convinced that this is just thinly-veiled advertising for Catholic schools, so I'm waiting for him to start promoting that.  Instead, he goes off on yet another tangent about "home-churching".  (I don't know any Catholics who are "home-churching".  I know Protestants who are, and it so happens that they are also homeschoolers.  But I don't think that those are related in the case of which I am most aware).

Read on a bit further and here we find the major, glaring error in the article:
Homeschooling calls for a heroic life, but the Church has never held that it is necessary for parents to lead a heroic life in the pursuit of simple, natural things.

At this point I want to invite the author over for dinner and, after we've had dessert, take him by the shirt collar and shake him till his teeth rattle.  What a ridiculous statement!  The Church calls everyone to sainthood.  Everyone.  Not just the rich, or the people who drive blue cars, or those who send their kids to Catholic school, or those who cover their heads in Church.  Everyone.  You, me, the grumpy old man who lives around the corner, the girl at the checkout in the grocery store who can't count back change without looking at the cash register display, my mom, your grandma, my best friend's in-laws........
And how do we achieve sainthood?  By living the virtues (remember those?  there are seven of them) heroically.  Maybe we won't ever be formally canonized, with Mass propers or a proper Tropar and Kontakion, holy cards or medals, icons and relics, but if we live our lives the way the Church calls us to do then we are to become saints, because the Church wants us to go to Heaven (Remember the Baltimore Catechism?  "Why did God make me?  God made me to know, love and serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next." ).  We have NO EXCUSE.

When my kids act like they'd rather be part of any other family but ours, I sometimes tell them that "God sent you to ME, because He knows that I am the best person to bring you up to follow His plan for your life."  If the purpose of an education is the perfection of the child so that he is able to follow his discerned vocation and achieve sanctity for himself, then who could possibly be more qualified than the child's parents?

And what do you know, at the end of the article we discover that the author is a homeschooling father.  You want to know why I think he wrote what he did?  Because he thinks homeschooling is more like "school at home", where the kid(s) sit at desks or a table and do work out of textbooks, and it's turning out that he's feeling guilty over discovering that a lot of homeschooling (especially Catholic homeschooling) isn't like that at all; it's more like life, where the children learn theology and the Catechism by living it, and most other subjects are covered in the course of daily living in a family where Catholic means 'who we are', not just 'what Church we attend.'

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Practical Education

I have declared today to be an Official Rainy Day.  Birdman and Lightning McQueen are baking oatmeal cookies.  The following subjects are surreptitiously being taught:  math - measurement, time, sequencing, multiplication, fractions (I had them double the recipe because we love cookies).  Language arts - reading comprehension, following directions, vocabulary. Science - baking as chemistry; how do all those ingredients turn out to be cookies?  I suppose there's probably some social studies in there too, since they are having to work as a team (two people are the smallest form of 'community' there is, you know).

In case you want to declare a Rainy Day and bake some cookies, they're using the yummy recipe from this awesome cookbook - although my copy is the one I used when I was their age.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Last Week at Aquinas Academy

Well, our "official" start to the new academic year got off to a slow and messy start.  Instead of starting with the next grade level's material, I decided to back up a few lessons in math and use those repeated lessons as a review.  Once we're finished with the books from the previous year we'll order new ones.  So Birdman is finishing up with Saxon's Algebra 1/2, Velvet is working in the last part of Saxon 5/4, and in an effort to find math to challenge Lightning McQueen a bit I'm putting him in Saxon 6/5 (he had Seton's Math 4 last year and found it b-o-r-i-n-g).  I like the 'spiral' method of Saxon a lot.

We'll be doing journals this year, again.  I hope to also be able to keep up with reading lists, and we'll try the library in a couple of weeks to see if my three ya-hoos can manage to actually do what you go to the library to do - look for and check out books.

This fall's civics and social studies will be working on political campaigning; stuffing envelopes, handing out yard signs and other campaign lit, working the phones, all that kind of good stuff.  I've got several field trips in mind too; I think I mentioned them in a previous post.

Science?  Well, we've got plenty of animals around here, what with Velvet's riding lessons (which also counts for PE), Lightning McQueen's chickens, Eli the dog and Chuck the parakeet.  Velvet is going to be in her first horse show on October 2, about which she is very excited (I think; she is very low-key about it really).  Just walk/trot/cross rails, but you've got to start somewhere, right?

I'm going to try to do regular academic-year progress posts this year.  This way I'll have a more permanent record of what we did and when - paper seems to disappear around here.

I also need to schedule 'school pictures'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Otpust 2010, Part 2

The porch of one of the (now unused due to disrepair) Pilgrim Houses, where a group of Pilgrims gather on Saturday and Sunday nights and sing traditional hymns and liturgical songs.  

Here are a few more photos from the weekend for you.  Once the rain cleared out on Friday evening you can see that the weather could not have been more perfect.  Not too hot, but nice and sunny, with a lovely breeze.

Cross atop the dome on the Shrine Altar

Lightning McQueen carries the Processional Cross for our parish at the candlelight procession on Sunday evening

Memorial to victims of abortion, near the cemetery

My Godson with his mom, Godfather Fr. Kevin, and me

Clergy and bishops processing to the cemetery for the Parastas service.

I am so happy that we have this family tradition! I'm just sorry it took so many years to discover it.  During the time we were members of a Latin parish we never knew this wonderful spiritually enriching weekend even existed.  Now for the past four years, and hopefully for many more to come, it is our end of summer, beginning of the academic year 'retreat'.

Otpust 2010

Last weekend, from Friday afternoon through Monday morning, the kids and I were at the 76th annual Pilgrimage on honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, at the Monastery of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great in Uniontown, PA.  I'm determined to get this posted, with photos, today, so I can move on to other things.

One of the things the kids in our parish do is clean the racetrack kitchen in preparation for Pilgrimage.  We sweep, hose the floor, wash down the chairs and tables, wash serving trays, and clean the refrigerators so the Sisters and volunteers have a nice clean place to serve cabbage rolls, hot dogs and other refreshments to pilgrims.

Here are Lightning McQueen and Birdman, along with one of my bff's sons (foreground) and Velvet and another bff son (background).  It was a bright, sunny day!  Here are some more:

One of the things we enjoy about doing this is that once we're all done, we get to go up to the Motherhouse and have lunch with the Sisters.  They are always so happy to see us.

Then there is a frenzy of planning, shopping and laundry on our part until the day we leave.  We load the car and try to get headed out by lunchtime, so as to allow plenty of time to set up our campsite before the first Divine Liturgy of the weekend.  This year we had a bit of a cloudburst right as we'd finished, so Velvet's sleeping bag had to be laid out on top of the car until it dried (tent leaks, ugh).

another view of our campsite; I'm standing in front of my tent.  The tents visible in the photo belong to my bff's family.

"kitchen" area; this year I used the car as both food storage and a closet, which worked out very well.

Then it's time for the opening Divine Liturgy.  Usually it's held at the huge Mother of God shrine, but due to the wet weather it was held in the main room of the Trinity Center, a building that houses the Gift Shop, pilgrim dorms and the main room where talks are presented (and Liturgies celebrated when weather prohibits them being held outdoors).

There are many processions throughout the weekend.  Part of the whole experience of Pilgrimage is the walking, so we make sure to wear comfortable shoes!  (Note:  I always have a huge agony of indecision over what to pack, since it is pretty much a continual Church service but it's also camping, and my Church clothes and camping clothes are mutually exclusive).
Processional crosses, decked with flowers and ribbons to identify the parish, lead each procession.

More in the next post.......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In case you were wondering if men are affected by abortion......

Came across this (scroll down a bit to the second letter; I couldn't figure out how to link to just that one) today after lunch.  Abortion kills.  First it kills a baby.  It also kills relationships, trust, and sometimes affects things that happen a long time after the actual abortion.  It's the taking of a life, that keeps on taking.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pilgrimage, anyone?

I just had to give you a little peek behind the scenes at what it takes to go on Pilgrimage in the 21st century.  The dates are a given; the Pilgrimage to Mount Saint Macrina in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been held on Labor Day weekend every year for the past 75 years.  This is our fourth Pilgrimage, and we've just about gotten it down to a science.

First we have to plan menus.  We make a chart with blocks for each meal, then decide what to eat at each meal.  The only non-negotiable meal is Sunday night's dinner; we always have filet mignon and salad - I get the vacuum-packed bacon-wrapped steaks from Kroger, freeze them, and by the time Sunday rolls around they are thawed but still cold, and ready to pan fry on our camp stove.

From the menus we make an exhaustive grocery list; it usually takes at least two trips to get everything because we can't buy the really perishable stuff until a couple of days before we leave.

Then we get out all the sleeping bags, tents (yes, you read that right), dining pavilion, screen house, folding chairs and tables, dinnerware and cooking supplies, and check everything over well.  Anything that needs to be replaced gets an entry on the shopping list.  This year we needed a couple more flashlights and some batteries; I splurged and got a headlamp to wear for reading in bed and singing on the porch (more on that when we get home).  I also bought a spare can of white gas for the stove, just in case.

We took the chairs and tables up to the monastery and left them under a tarp behind the rectory last week when we went up to clean the racetrack kitchen (more on that upon our return as well).  That clears out the floorboards of the car so we're not riding with our knees up by our ears for 30 miles.  We still have to put the tents, sleeping bags and clothing in a soft car-top carrier on the roof, because they will squish and the cooler and other 'hard' items have to go in the back of the Subaru.

Tonight we made the final trip to the store, Birdman baked the pepperoni rolls, and we moved everything that's packed to the back room ready to go in the car on Friday.  Tomorrow we'll make the tomato soup, a batch of Prosphora (Communion bread) for our parish, get the outdoor feed box filled for our chicken-sitters, and gather the rest of the non-perishable food.

Friday morning I'll deliver Eli to my mom's, then come back home and we'll start packing the cooler and loading up the car.  I hope we can be pulling out of the driveway right after lunch; once we get to the monastery we'll set up our campsite and then relax a bit until services start.

Baby Juliet

For those of you who read this blog and are praying for baby Juliet and her family, you can read this wonderful blog, started by Juliet's mommy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Haven't Quit.....

I'm just really busy with work, and getting ready to go on Pilgrimage at the end of this week.  I have several wedding parties in here for Labor Day weekend, and those things have to be done by tomorrow so the clients can pick them up tomorrow evening or Thursday.  I have to make one more trip to the store for food and other supplies, then get ready to get packed up and go!  My friends and I call it "Byzantine Catholic Woodstock" - it's a really wonderful experience, and a perfect way to end the summer on a grace-filled note!

We'll also be starting our school year next week, so I'm doing some mental planning for that. I'll have to get in touch with the middle school where Birdman would go if we didn't homeschool, and get a copy of the West Virginia history textbook for him to use.  I hope to have him take the Golden Horseshoe test this year.  I also need to buy composition books; I know I purchased a whole box of them last year ago but I can't find them anywhere!  And erasers; we go through erasers like there's no tomorrow. (While some might think this is an indication that we make a lot of mistakes, I prefer to think of it as evidence that we are determined to get it right, no matter how many times we have to correct ourselves).  I also need to finish planning our fall field trips; we make a visit to the National Cemetery in Grafton on Veteran's Day (we pray for those buried there, and I usually put together a short program of patriotic readings).  A few other places I'd like to visit are Shanksville, PA (the crash site of Flight 93 on 9/11) and Johnstown, PA (as in the Johnstown Flood), and the Frank Lloyd Wright house "Fallingwater".

I've also been knitting; I've put aside the scarf for a while to try to finish my socks, and I need to knit a pair of baby socks for a darling little micro-preemie named Juliet, the niece of one of my online friends.

So have a lovely week, and a blessed and safe Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Catholic Vote, or, The Wonky Plank in the Democrats' Platform

Came across this interesting article a few days ago; evidently the poll referenced found that Jews and Catholics, both of whom have been pretty much reliable as far as the Democratic party being able to count on their votes, are now slowly but perceptibly shifting towards the GOP.  This reminds me:

Back when the 2008 Presidential election campaign was at its high point, I got into a lengthy and rather heated conversation on a private internet forum regarding the candidates, their respective political parties, and all sorts of other things.  One of those other things involved the difference in the official position on the sanctity of life between the platforms of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  I left the Constitution Party, the Libertarians, the Green Party and other "third party" platforms out of the discussion because I was conversing with someone on the other side of the country, and the two major party candidates were the focus of our discussion - third party candidates not consistently making the state ballots across all 50 states.

The other party to this discussion held the view that Obama's social policies and campaign positions were closer to Catholic social teaching than were McCain's.  Also, my counterpart opined that it was fruitless to either be vocally pro-life, participate in activities to further a culture of life (such as protesting at abortuaries, etc.) or to bother to vote for a candidate who professed to be pro-life because, as he put it, 'there will always be abortion, and it might as well be legal so women won't have to resort to quacks in back alleys with coat hangers.' (I disagree with both statements, by the way.  Obama advocated socialist positions while campaigning, and has attempted to impose a socialist rule on America since taking office - and the Church roundly condemns socialism.)

First of all, I'm Catholic, as I mentioned in my very first post on this blog.  I would hope that I am a faithful Catholic, and as far as I am aware I adhere to all the teachings of the Church that are necessary to remain in good standing with the Church.

Secondly, I've read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The sanctity of life takes precedence over every single other social justice issue extant, simply because without a respect for the most vulnerable lives in society - the unborn and the elderly - how can we as Christians hope to bring about any other meaningful social change?

"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.  From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.  (CCC, 2nd edition, paragraphs 2270 and 2273, emphasis in the original) 

Third, I took the time to download and read the official platforms of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties.  What I read was rather shocking, and after thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that I cannot ever, in good conscience, as long as I profess the Catholic faith, vote for any candidate who officially identifies his or her political party affiliation as Democrat, due to that party's position on life issues and the resulting possibility of my being a source of scandal through my support of a Democrat candidate for any elected office.

You may download the 2008 Democratic Party platform here.  The relevant section is at the bottom of page 50 and the first line of page 51of the pdf document, in the section titled "Choice."  Money quote:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.
The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

Not only are the Democrats in favor of abortion and contraception, but they have placed their positions on these two issues before they even mention, almost as an afterthought, the fact that they also support women who choose to have their babies.

You may also notice, if you read the entire document, that the Democratic Party solution to what ails the nation is nothing but huge, bloated government entitlement programs.  That in and of itself violates the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which means that social issues are taken care of at the simplest level possible.  For instance, you notice that your neighbor down the street has lost his job and though he goes out job hunting every day, it's been a while and you think he might be getting low on groceries.  Instead of sticking a note on his door with the address of the nearest Food Stamps office, you drop off some bread, peanut butter and jelly, and maybe offer to give him a ride to a food pantry if he's really strapped.

Now see what the Republicans have to say about life issues in their platform; the relevant section can be found by clicking on "Values" and then the title of the following quote, at this link:

Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.
We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.
Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.  

I think that a true conservative, Constitutional limited-government candidate is going to take positions on the issues, and favor policies, that more than 9 times out of 10 are more closely aligned with subsidiarity and other facets of Catholic social doctrine.  In my opinion, a smaller government takes less from its citizens in the form of taxes, leaving them more of their hard-earned income to distribute to charitable causes as they see fit.  A smaller government limits its citizens' choices of livelihood less, so that it is easier for that person to discern and follow God's calling in his or her life.

So my vote will be cast for the BEST candidate for the elected position to be filled, taking into consideration both the individual candidate's positions AND his party's official platform position.  Because of the Democratic Party's official pro-abortion and pro-contraception position as stated in its party platform, I do not consider myself, as a Catholic, able to cast a vote for a candidate who is running as a Democrat.  Most of the time this means I'll vote Republican, although I will vote for a third-party candidate when that candidate's position on life issues and policies which affect those issues, as well as the third-party platform's official position, is more closely aligned with Church teaching than the Republican candidate's.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Never a Dull Moment......

Crockpot has gone broody!

  Since we have no rooster and it would be pointless to allow her to sit a clutch of eggs, we've set up our dog crate in the backyard on skids to raise it up off the ground (to let the air circulate; evidently if you let them lie down flat it keeps their body temp up and they won't break off the broody behavior), with a food dish and a waterer.  She's NOT happy.

 Velvet had to wear gloves to get her out of the coop and into the crate.  Drumstick is pacing around the outside of the crate, very interested in Crockpot's food (same thing as in the feed box of the coop, but chickens are stupid).  It's like visiting day at the penitentiary.  We're going to leave her in the crate until Sunday and see if that takes care of the situation.  If not, we'll have to move on to Plan B (except that I don't really have a Plan B at this point).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Are You Reading?

I'm currently reading several books; I don't seem to be able to stick to just one book at a time.  I'm very slowly and thoughtfully working my way through The Art of Prayer: an Orthodox Anthology and Saint John Climacus' The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

From the introduction to The Art of Prayer:
The Art of Prayer, then, represent the fruit of careful reading over many years in the monastic life....the bulk of the extracts come from Russian writers during the second half of the [nineteenth] century.  Taken as a whole, Father Chariton's anthology sets before the reader the spiritual teaching of the Orthodox Church in its classic and traditional form....
A random quote:
 If you are not successful in your prayer, do not expect success in anything.  It is the root of all.

I have a long way to go, really.

My "lighter fare" right now is A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge by Charles B. MacDonald. It's very well researched and not at all dry and boring.  I find the battles of the European Theater of World War II to be fascinating.......funny that should be so, since the family members who served did so in the Pacific Theater.  That whole period of history really interests me, and it is an endless puzzle and an amazement how everyone got into the 'war effort' at that time - and how different it is today.

So, what are you reading?

Friday, August 20, 2010

We're Weather Junkies, I Guess.

Tonight we are watching an episode of the Weather Channel series "When Weather Strikes Back" featuring 'Freak Waves', waves that can come seemingly from nowhere and reach up to 125 feet in height.

Some of the footage is very beautiful; right now they are showing waves off the coast of Ireland; the breaking waves beat upon the shore and upon each other.

We enjoy a lot of the Weather Channel programs; it's a comfortable way to see the awesome forces of nature from our dry and not-so-extreme-in-temperature living room.  It's also a good way to learn quite a bit about meteorology without even trying!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Brain is Working Overtime Today

Why is it that it is perfectly fine for organizations whose purpose is to raise awareness about animal abuse to use both still photos and live-action footage of starved and severely wounded animals - horses, dogs, cats, monkeys - for the 'shock value', in an attempt to further their cause..........but if a pro-life organization tried that, they'd be sued into oblivion?

I kind of know the answer to that question already, but every time I see the television ad for the Humane Society that shows footage of dogs and cats who have obviously been horribly mistreated, I wish I had the available funds to try just one 30-second ad in favor of human life using actual photos of the end result of abortion.

And yes, Eli was adopted from an animal shelter.  Chuck is a rescue too, his original owner having discovered an allergy to birds which made it impossible for Chuck to live with her any more.