Friday, December 30, 2011

Glad I Was Prepared...

A while back (I'd link to the particular post but I am posting from the app on my phone and I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet) I posted about whether or not I should take off the diamond ring I've worn on my left hand for years as a sort of visual 'leave me alone' message.

I did remove it and put it away. And at Christmas this year I received the promise ring in the photo. Yes, it is a diamond. It is beautiful.

At some point I promise to post the whole story, but suffice it to say for now that Mr. Awesome and I dated in high school, lost touch with each other, proceeded to live very tumultuous and oddly parallel lives for the next 31 years, and at the end of October he found me online and we are now writing OUR history.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and here's to a New Year full of awesomeness for all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Part of the Reason I Haven't Posted in a While

And if you look over there on the right sidebar, you'll notice there are more of us than there used to be.

Life is good. I am loved, as are my children. I have someone to love and share my life with.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Squeezable, yes?

My oldest, his wife and their son came to dinner yesterday evening. Look at this chubby face! Isn't he the cutest thing?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another field trip

This evening we went up to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Uniontown, PA to hear a concert by the choir of the Bl. Paul Gojdich Seminary in Presov, Slovakia. As soon as I figure out how to get a (not very good) audio snippet uploaded, I'll post it. It was a lovely evening, and I didn't even mind driving home in the rain (although we did have to blowdry a chicken once we got back).
And who knew there was a wind farm just east of Cheat Lake? I need to get out more, evidently.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Field Trip!

We visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA today, and then traveled up through Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands to Johnstown, where we toured the Flood Museum, History and Children's Museums, and the Johnstown Inclined Plane. Most of the photos are on my camera, so I will write a longer post when I get those uploaded (this weekend, at least that's the plan).
It was a perfect day for driving and being outdoors, and the trees are nearly at peak color. We had a great time!

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Chicken Coop, Construction Covers Most School Subjects; an Exercise in Stealth Schooling

We purchased four Cochin pullets at a poultry swap meet at the beginning of the month, and over the weekend we built them a coop. I think we managed to cover pretty much all the usual school subjects in the process!
We've been scrounging lumber and building supplies for a while; the fetching and carrying is good exercise (P.E.) and the kids asking for leftovers from various projects around the neighborhood is good public speaking practice (oral grammar and composition).
We had to figure out where in the yard to put the coop. It had to be a location not exposed to much direct sun or harsh weather, but also had to allow for good ventilation and the door had to face in a direction that allowed us access for cleaning, collecting future eggs, and letting out/locking up the chickens as necessary. (Geography, weather science)
Building the coop itself entailed math (measuring length of boards, checking for square corners and plumb walls, and level floor), vocabulary (names of tools, building supplies and hardware and different kinds of lumber), spelling (shopping list for a very few un-scroungeable items), penmanship (writing the actual list), social studies (educating passersby about what we were doing and why we keep chickens), science (life cycle of hens, how to tell when they are close to laying age, what their needs are as to food, water and a nesting spot, the fact that roosters are unnecessary for egg production).

This seems like a good place to introduce you readers to chicken math. Regular math says that we have 8 chickens; four in the original coop and four in the new one. BUT one of the older hens no longer lays, so she doesn't count. That makes 7. The other older hen lays irregularly, so she only counts as half a chicken. Total is now 6 1/2. Then the four pullets aren't laying yet, so they don't count either. This means that by using chicken math, we only have 2 1/2 chickens!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In case you were wondering....

What an egg without a shell looks like.

Laid by Drumstick and immediately collected by Velvet (otherwise it probably would have been eaten).

Lightning McQueen opened it with a knife and said that aside from the lack of a hard shell it was just like any other egg.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Project!

We have collected all the materials we need to build a DIY incubator, and will begin putting it together soon.

We're using an old crafting cabinet, but other people have used insulated coolers (styrofoam too, though these don't make good brooders after the chicks hatch), large drawers, plastic storage totes, etc.

Want to build one too? Here's a materials list:

Some kind of container you can drill holes into and cut a window in, for the incubation box
A 12v fan from an old desktop computer, leave wires attached
An old cell phone charger or other 12v transformer that plugs into the wall
A piece of plexiglas or glass, about 9" x 12" for a viewing window
Duct tape
A lamp socket with cord
A light bulb (40w suggested; may have to adjust wattage to get temp to the right point)
Hot water heater thermostat (lower)
Hardware cloth
Thermometer and hygrometer
Pan for water as a humidity source, also jars filled with sand, pebbles or hot water to use as heat sinks

We also picked up a package of styrofoam insulation panels to insulate the cabinet, since it is made from thin boards.

You'll also need a drill and bits, screwdriver, keyhole saw for cutting the viewing window, electrical tape and/or wire nuts, perhaps some aluminum foil, and a desire to watch eggs hatch into chicks.

I included a photo of the cabinet as it is now. Regular updates to follow!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Report Card, Sort Of

I realized I haven't said pea turkey about the new school year in a while, so here's a bit of an update!

Birdman was promoted again in CAP. He's now a Cadet Senior Master Sergeant (only 2 more promotions until he's a Cadet 2nd Lieutenant!) He's been doing remarkably well with his Geometry, considering he can't watch the teaching CD-ROM right now. Biology is going well too; he did an experiment the other day in which he extracted DNA from dried peas. I was chained to my sewing machine and unable to take photos, unfortunately.
He's also pretty much taken over the yard work....I may give it a good going-over in a couple of weeks but its bearable the way he does it for now.

Velvet....math remains a problem, but I have determined that she CAN spell. She just chooses not to - in too much of a hurry maybe? She wrote me a note the other day and ALL the spelling and punctuation was correct! I plan to put the note in her folder and save it.
She's quite responsible about letting the chickens and Eli out in the mornings, which is very helpful since she gets up way before either of the boys crawl out from under their respective rocks. I have a bit of trouble getting her to remember to take a poo bag with her when she walks Eli, but even that is improving.
We have some new neighbors staying with the family across the street, and she and Lightning have befriended the two children. Velvet enjoys having a new playmate in the afternoons, and they seem to have a good time together.

It's a struggle to challenge Lightning McQueen. He was blessed with an abundance of smarts, but way too much of it goes towards thinking of ways to get into trouble. He's a year ahead of Velvet in math, and I'm trying now to think of other structured things to keep him occupied so he won't run me completely into the poorhouse.
He and are going to work together and build an incubator in which to try to hatch chicken eggs, and we're also going to build a second coop to expand the flock.

I had put a field trip on the calendar for this coming week, but I pushed it back a week because it's been so of the destinations is Johnstown, PA and I'd hate to get caught in another flood up there!

Birdman will be going to the library this week to research Korean recipes for our first International Menu Night; as soon as we have a menu I'll post it. I have a feeling the main dish will probably be bulgoki.

(Realized there is one misspelled word in Velvet's note, but believe me that's an improvement)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It Is a Mystery to Me

Why any marginally politically-educated, properly catechized Catholic could ever vote for ANY Democrat, but that's just me.

I found the closing sentence of the following article to be particularly interesting:

Why Obama is in Danger of Losing the Catholic Vote in 2012 |

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy Weekend!

I attended the first of our state GOP's Lincoln-Reagan Galas on Saturday evening. I carpooled with a friend with whom I serve on our county's Republican Executive Committee and two nice young women from the university's College Republicans.

The Honorable Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, gave the keynote speech. We were also treated to brief speeches by each of our state's Republican representatives in Congress - Rep. David McKinley, P.E. (WV-1) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (WV-3). AND an address by Mr. Bill Maloney, the GOP nominee for Governor, which special election is coming up October 4.

A great evening, filled with interesting people, good food and conversation, and lots of points to ponder. I was even able to lay the groundwork for some good civics education opportunities for my children over the next few months. And I got to dress up and look nice, which is always fun (because I don't do that often enough for it to be ho-hum).

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

International Menu Nights, 2011-12 Edition

A couple of years ago we did a series of international menu nights, in which we had one dinner per month with all the menu items from one continent.

In case you're wondering, we did include Antarctica.  We pretended we were polar explorers and had granola bars, chocolate candy, beef jerky and hot cocoa while sitting around the chiminea in the backyard. :)

This year we are doing individual countries.

Birdman made little slips of paper with the names of countries on them; four countries from each continent. We included Australia but omitted Antarctica. ;)

This month's country is:


Stay tuned for the menu, recipes and a full report in a week or so!

Wednesday without Words

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not so happy Anniversary

Wearing the Dad Hat

This weekend we had shop class.  Remember shop? Girls had to take home ec, shop was purely a boy thing, and woe to you if you wanted to take the class for the other gender.

Here at the Collective, we're equal opportunity.

We have, as you already know, chickens. Their coop is converted from a wooden shipping crate. From our studies on how to care for them, I learned that coops need a lot of ventilation so the chickens stay healthy. To make the coop easier to get into and clean, and to provide more air circulation, we took the roof assembly off and added a 10" clerestory-ish window all the way around, screening with hardware cloth. Then we set the roof assembly back on the coop. We also moved the existing roost boards to hopefully eliminate poo in the nest boxes.

We'll have to make some kind of shutter system for really cold weather, but I have a few ideas for that little task. We also are going to add an outboard nest box and put vinyl siding on the coop to improve the appearance.

Birdman was a big help with this project. He helped disconnect the roof from the main part of the coop, and cut some of the boards for the window framing. He helped cut and staple the hardware cloth as well.

Velvet helped with carrying tools, measuring and holding boards as they were being cut. She also helped make sure we didn't squish any chickens when we set the roof assembly on the ground after its removal.

Lightning McQueen was a general fetch and carry person; holding screws and boards, handing me different tools, and asking all sorts of questions.

I had to disconnect the light switch wiring from the box when we took the roof off. It's been a long time since I did any electrical work, so to help make sure I got the switch wired up correctly when we were finished, I took a picture with my phone before I disconnected anything. (Sort of made that part of the job into an Ikea project, ha ha). Then I simply made the wires look like the photo, stuffed them back into the box, put the cover back on, said a brief prayer that I'd done it correctly, had Birdman plug in the cord, flipped the switch on, and booyah, it worked!

I meant, again, to take a picture of what it looks like now that it's finished, but once again the light got away from me and it's too late. I'll get it up eventually, I promise. Meanwhile, here's one from right before we set the roof back in place. And one of the light switch box, in case you ever need to wire a light switch.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Collection of Opinions, Which As An American I am Free to Express

The Muslim al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were for all practical purposes an open declaration of war. Unfortunately, this enemy doesn't play by the usual rules. Terrorists don't care to wait until an enemy trespasses on their turf to take retaliatory action.
Terrorists also don't really have to have a logical reason to do what they do. They are motivated by hate and an evil ideology.
So it should be pretty obvious that there really isn't an effective way to reason with or fight terrorists, except to exterminate them wherever they raise their ugly heads.

I guess terrorists are similar to cockroaches. You can't sit in your house and whisper sweet nothings at the baseboards, telling the roaches to go to the next town. You have to spray, put out murderous bait, and mash the little boogers into oblivion - and keep after them, because once you have them they never completely go away, you can just keep them from taking complete control.
In many ways, terrorists are also like octopi and other animals who can regenerate themselves when they have body parts cut off.  Over the past ten years, our military forces have captured and/or killed a lot of terrorists. But by golly, the terrorist attacks haven't stopped! In fact, I would bet that in the ten years since 9/11 there have been MORE terrorist attacks worldwide than in the previous twenty years, maybe even more than that.
Why is this? Muslim terrorists don't give a rat's patootie if we capture and kill their head guy. The second in command just moves up to take his place. They also don't much care if we do take all our soldiers and sailors and come home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and wherever else we have military on duty in the war on terror.
What they DO care about, though, is this: complete and total domination of the entire world, because this is what they believe is their purpose in life. (As a Catholic Christian, MY purpose in life is to develop as close a relationship with Jesus Christ as possible, and to someday enjoy Heaven with Him).
Say what you will about the Muslim belief that Christians and Jews are "people of the Book", it's just a fact that Muslims want the whole world to be Muslim, and it doesn't matter much how that goal is achieved.
What should we do? Good question. It gets harder and harder to be a Christian openly - in the rare instances where public prayer is permitted, the direct mention of God is not. Policies set in place for purely safety reasons are being protested by Muslims as "Islamophobic" - such as the 'no headgear' rule at an amusement park that caused hijab-wearing Muslimas to object loudly and violently. Daily prayer and Scripture study is a part of the lives of many Christians and Jews, but I challenge anyone to show me an employer who provides a chapel/prayer room for his Christian or Jewish employees, the way some employers have been ordered to provide prayer rooms for Muslim employees.

We could make a start at taking America back to being the great "shining beacon on a hill" that she once was, by securing our own borders. Enforce the effective laws that already exist. Stop giving 'civil right' status to earned privileges. This is the United States of America; if you don't like it then fortunately it is just as easy to leave the country as it is to enter.

"Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Yes, but for how much longer?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering, Because We Must

Sunday is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a thwarted attack on most likely either the White House or the US Capitol.
I was at work. At the time I had a business partner, I was going through an agonizing and messy divorce, and the kids were of course too young to remember any of it.
We listened to a radio station at work that occasionally did spoofs and played pranks on local people, so when they cut the music and started with the news bulletins I didn't pay a great deal of attention. But the news didn't stop, and soon my business partner and I were sitting at our machines, jaws agape, listening as the broadcaster gave us the play-by-play of the second time in history that America was attacked on its own soil.
Eventually we gave up all pretense of working, and moved the radio out into our lobby, where we sat at the desk and listened.
We kept the shop open, and a few clients came in to pick things up, but I don't remember anyone coming in for a fitting. At closing time I took my children, who came to work with me as they did every day, and went home.
I turned on the tv and saw for the first time what I'd been hearing about all day.
I wondered, when I was listening to the radio, why our Air Force and other military forces seemed to do nothing. I think it was because it all happened so quickly.
I must have watched the video of the towers falling a hundred times, if I watched it once. I remembered flying out of New York City on my way to my new duty station in Turkey back in 1988, and how I marveled at the Twin Towers and how they dominated the skyline. Even now when I see New York City on tv or in a movie, my mind's eye puts the towers back in the picture.
I remember hearing about Todd Beamer and his (and his fellow passengers') selfless act of incredible bravery and patriotism....who knows what would have happened if Flight 93 had not crashed in that field in Shanksville, PA.
I remember realizing that the country I love so much, my home, would never again be the same place, because it takes a special kind of evil to plan and (almost) accomplish what the Muslim al-Qaeda terrorists did - to come into OUR country and attempt to destroy it.

This is the first post of a short series. Stay tuned for the rest of my thoughts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh I Wish It Would Rain

In Texas, that is. We've had more than 24 hours of steady rain here; the temperature right now is 58 degrees....Saturday night it was 82 at this time of night. It's supposed to be rainy all week, just about.

Meanwhile a huge portion of Texas is burning. I have a lot of friends in Texas, and I see their posts about new fires in my Facebook feed and my heart aches.

People are losing their homes, roads are closed, and a few people have died as a result of these terrible wildfires. Texas has I think more than half the state in what they call Exceptional Drought, and I believe they need something like a foot of rain to end it.

If you are reading this, please take a moment RIGHT NOW to say a prayer that Texas gets two things: firefighters to help get the fires under control, and RAIN. Lots and lots of rain. I don't think they would object much to a tropical storm right now, even. Then share this post on any and all of your social network sites - Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Plurk, email, link to this on your blog, let's get this prayer network out to the whole internet!!

Thank you so much in advance! May God reward you for your prayers!


This is a test post. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Class Reunions, and other stuff

Last Friday and Saturday night I attended my 30th high school reunion events in Clarksburg. It was wonderful! I got to reconnect with my best friend from high school (the only person for whom I have ever been a bridesmaid) and lots of other classmates.
Friday night we had a dinner and dance at a banquet center....I got to dress up (which I don't get to do very often) and cut footloose on the dance floor to some good 80s tunes.
Saturday night a bunch of us met at a little bar downtown, but then decided we'd rather go out to the Red Caboose instead. It was a BLAST! I got to talk to more classmates and had some yummy shrimp scampi.
Two great things about the weekend: no one recognized me (and I was told several times that I look great, which made me happy and proved I have a long way to go in the humility department), and I didn't hear anyone complaining about people who like to do fun things that have no other purpose besides being fun. Quite refreshing.
Hopefully the ones of us who are still local will be able to get together more often!
Other random things:
I read somewhere that rickets is on the rise. Makes me glad I don't make my kids smother in those wetsuit-looking suits....I also don't contribute much to the financial success of the sunblock manufacturers.
Oregano and Barbecue are laying regularly every day now. :)
If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with a stubborn, borderline defiant, destructive, disrespectful child who never has any remorse or regret for misdeeds, please share.
I'm reading an interesting book right now about the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Once I get this Blogger app figured out I'll post a link, but it should be on Amazon.
We have thunderstorms right now, and the wind is from the north which is pretty much opposite of the way it usually comes. We had hail the size of marbles!
I think that's it for now.
Happy Labor Day!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Show Them the MONEY

Creative Minority Report: Evil Judges Knee Deep In Baby's Blood: taxpayer money is used to perform abortions! That's what they say, but when the money is cut off, they don't whine about not being able to do pap smears and breast cancer screening, they scream about not being able to kill babies.

Disgusting and unconscionable.

'via Blog this'

Just Because

Someone finally took photographs of me that I actually like.
Lightning McQueen, Birdman, Rally-Man and me

Uncle Birdman with a smiling (!) Hatchling

Clockwise from upper left: Velvet, Lighning McQueen, Mrs. Rally-Man, Rally-Man, yours truly, and Birdman

Deo gratias for family!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Could St. Jerome Help Here?

The reason I asked about St. Jerome is that, in the very center of the photo above, is a hornets' nest. Hornets are known for their grumpy disposition and general unfriendliness when disturbed, and St. Jerome had a bit of a temper too.

This particular hornets' nest is overhanging the street beside my house.  It is in a maple tree that is in my backyard; the one that provides shade for my chicken coop.  It's NOT the one that's dying and needs to be cut down (isn't that always the way?)

If I had normal children I could say:
"See that? It's a hornets' nest. If you bother a hornet, not only will it get mad, but it's kind of like throwing a rock at a gang member; the hornet you aggravated will give the super-secret distress signal to his brothers, sisters, cousins and aunts and THEY will then be aggravated at you for daring to irritate their relative.."

And after that little speech, the normal children I do not have would carefully consider things and decide that a different spot would be better for playing in the street.

But no! (So I suppose I need a saint for wayward children too; any suggestions?)

MY children are outside, in the street, directly UNDER the hornets' nest, happily playing with paper airplanes, which they are carelessly flinging into the air with utter abandon, completely unconcerned that at any moment, given a wayward puff of air current, one of those paper airplanes could SMACK into the hornets' nest and


Sixteen years ago, when living in another place, I discovered a hornets' nest on the eave of my outbuilding. I called an exterminator, and ended up having to pay for TWO sservice to determine that it really was a hornets' nest (evidently some people confuse paper-wasp nests with hornets' nests, although personally I cannot see how that could ever happen, they look nothing alike), and then for the hornets to be exterminated and the nest destroyed.  Sixteen years ago that cost nearly $150.  I shudder to think what it would cost now.
Money I haven't a lot of.  Prayer, I'm kind of good at that, so that's what I'll go with this time.  Any other ideas?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daily Bread

Dough almost ready for the first rising
 I baked bread the other day, and happened to take a couple of photos.  I really enjoy baking (but I wish my kitchen table wasn't so wobbly so I could really put my back into the kneading), even though I am not presently allowing myself to have any bread, since I am pursuing a state of non-lumpiness and carbs are TEH ENEMY!

I rarely purchase bread at the store, and when I do it's usually something off the day-old display, some artisan bread that is usually $5 a loaf but didn't sell so I can get it for way cheaper - sometimes as low as a dollar!

My overused foil bread pans
Here are my bread pans.  Yes, they are the disposable foil kind.  I know they are only supposed to be used once.  But I like THIS PARTICULAR SIZE and I cannot find it in a 'real' bread pan.  So I buy the foil ones and use them until they are just so utterly misshapen that I cannot stand to use them any more, throw them out (or use them for holding table scraps for the chickens and THEN throw them away) and buy new ones.

I wish I could say I bake every day, or that I bake ALL my family's bread, but sadly I haven't achieved that level of pioneer-ness yet.  I could do it if necessary, but right now it isn't.

Oh! If you look back up there at the first picture you will see that my dough is resting on a wooden board.  My mom got me the most wonderfully fantastic Paula Deen pie board at Wal-Mart a month or so ago, and it is the greatest thing to knead bread on!  One side has different size circles etched into the wood so you can roll your crust out to the right size with no guesswork, and the plain side is the side I use for kneading bread. It's acacia wood, kind of slick like bamboo but darker and a lot heavier.  This is really like an easily-moved-around butcher block, but I don't ever plan to put a knife to this board.  Bread and pie crust only, thanks.

Anyway, wobbly kitchen table, ugly dented bread pans and everything, I still make pretty good bread.

Kind of like what God can do with us when we choose to let Him lead.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm So Vain.....

I nominated myself for one of The Crescat's Blog Awards.  Once voting opens, I would appreciate your vote.

(Photo has nothing whatsoever to do with blog awards, voting or anything else referenced in this post.  I just posted it because I think this is a pretty nice looking dozen eggs; six from our new girls and six from Crockpot  - Drumstick having not laid a good egg in quite a while).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Which I Ramble Disconnectedly

There's a good point here in this article; I'm one of those Christians who knows about the existence of a LOT of things that make some of my friends cock their heads and go "wha--?"
Things I shouldn’t know exist. | Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff
Some of the things I know exist that I probably 'shouldn't' (although I risk being tyrannized by the shoulds) know about?  Pink, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Harry Potter, Lady Gaga, where to buy a good but relatively inexpensive strapless bra, the purpose of body tape (and where to purchase it), boutique denim.....

And as if that wasn't enough to think about in one blog post, here is a really sad story about what happened to a woman who tried (successfully, but REALLY, what she had to go through) to retrieve her miscarried child's remains from the hospital in order to give the baby a proper burial. That touched me because, way back in a previous life, I was pregnant and the baby died at 20 weeks in utero. The doctors tried all sorts of things to induce labor but nothing worked, so I ended up having a D&C.  I was young and confused at the time, and it never occurred to me to ask either the baby's sex or to have the body released to me so the baby could be buried. I did try not very long ago to see whether the hospital bothered to record whether the baby was a boy or a girl (because in God's Providence I happen to be friends with the wife of a person pretty much a grand poobah at the hospital in question), but records were searched and alas I will never know whether it was a Samuel or a Zoe. I'm not really even sure why that matters, but it does, a little.

I saw a guy running along the side of the road earlier today in Day-Glo green running shoes.

I met a gal for lunch today, with whom I went to high school. We hadn't seen each other in THIRTY YEARS (my heavens, there have been wars that were shorter.....). The server had to come back twice before we quit talking long enough to decide what we wanted to eat, and I'm surprised we ever got anything into our mouths. It was really great to reconnect with her, and I hope to be seeing more of her in the future. She said I haven't changed at all - she's a very good liar, ha ha!

Last Monday night was the university's Fall Fest thingy - they have bands come in and do concerts on the plaza of the student union, yada yada. Normally we can't get to bed until it's all over with, because we are about a quarter mile as the crow flies from the stage.  So our tradition the past three years is that we have Movie Night!  This year's movie was Soul Surfer, suggested to me by one of my Facebook (and real life) friends.  It's the true story of Brittany Hamilton, a young surfer whose arm was bitten off in a shark attack.  A really good movie!  My big thing about movies I let my kids watch is 'is it a movie that shows that perseverance, honesty and hard work are VIRTUES, and that doing the right thing is always THE RIGHT THING even though it's difficult?' This movie has that and more. Great scenery, good acting

'scuse me, there is a chicken in my dining room

now she is in the living room

and a wonderful story (even if the part where she gets attacked by the shark shows a LOT of blood, but it's all highly relevant to the story).

(Oregano has been escorted back out to the yard where she belongs.  I have no idea who let her in.)

Speaking of chickens, we've gotten three eggs every day for three days straight, and Drumstick has developed a limp.  We don't know what's the matter with her, so we have her in the puny ward (dog crate next to the coop with a tarp covering it) to keep her from running around and perhaps injuring it further.  We're giving her yogurt as a treat for the extra protein. She hasn't laid a good egg in a couple of months, one of the limitations of this breed of chickens - they lay extremely well but their 'career' is rather shorter than that of heritage or non-production breeds. We'll always have a couple of Red Stars, but I'd eventually like to have six hens and the other four will be heritage dual-purpose breeds - Dominiques and either Leghorns or Orpingtons (most likely Leghorns because they lay white eggs and we've had some requests for those).

I have more randomness but I think I've blathered enough! One last thing: Birdman turned 14 on Wednesday (yikes).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Now You Have to Subscribe to My Channel

Because I successfully uploaded my first YouTube video this evening!

Granted it's just a short clip of Drumstick with a limp, but who knows what I'll come up with next!

Back to more regular blogging tomorrow evening if I don't have to stay at job #2 too late. Sorry for the hiatus, but things have just been not conducive to writing for the past few days.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Singin' the Egg Song

Oregano's freshly laid FIRST EGG!
 Wednesday was a big day for Oregano; she laid her very first egg!  As you can see from the photo, it's quite a bit smaller than Drumstick's egg.  Eggs generally start out small and get larger as the hen gets older.  Our breed of chickens, Red Star, typically lay very large eggs once they get some "experience".  Crockpot's and Drumstick's eggs, as a matter of fact, are so large that a carton meant for jumbo eggs will not close on them!
Comparison to one of Drumstick's eggs :)

I was surprised to find that Oregano's egg, while small, was very heavy for its size (it felt like its weight was very close to Drumstick's egg!).  I plan to invest in a scale of some kind so I can weigh them.....I found a listing that tells how heavy the different sizes of eggs are, and I'd like to be able to tell the folks who buy our eggs what the comparable size of store eggs is.

We're still waiting for Barbecue to start laying, but I imagine it won't be long now. They are 19 weeks and a day old today; Red Star pullet generally begin laying somewhere between 18 and 22 weeks of age.

It was truly amazing to hear Oregano "announcing" her egg, and then going out to the coop to find her still in the back of the coop (not in the nest box, but at least next to it where the pine bedding is nice and clean), arranging bits of bedding around herself as if to make a better nest, and looking very proud of her accomplishment.  The flap-door I cut in the back wall of the coop was handy for photos, as well as enabling me to collect the egg without either having to contort myself into a pretzel or send one of the kids in after it. We can just reach in and get the eggs now!

Plus, these eggs are made even more special by virtue of the fact that they come from hens that we raised from week-old chicks!

Stay tuned; I hope to be posting about Barbecue's first egg soon........

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What I'm Reading

Right now I've got several books going.

The Soloist, by Steve Lopez.  Story of a newspaper columnist who befriends a talented musician who suffers from mental illness.  It's my 'downstairs' book, the one I read over lunch, or when I am waiting for a client to arrive for a fitting appointment. I'm about a third of the way through this. (When getting the link to the listing for this, I discovered that it has been made into a movie).

The Last Ship, by William Brinkley.  Naval novel of nuclear holocaust leaving just one American ship and one Russian sub. I've read it before so it's going quickly this time around; I'm in the final quarter of the book. This is my 'light bedtime reading' book.

On the Holy Spirit, Saint Basil the Great.  Discussion on the third Person of the Trinity by one of the greatest of the early Fathers.  This is very slow going, as there is a lot to digest in every paragraph.  I expect it to take me about a year to finish this. I generally pick this up in the morning before I start work, while I'm waiting for my iron to heat up.

What have you read recently, or what are you reading now?

Too Good Not to Share

Recently found in my facebook feed:
Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zaccheus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead.... God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!

Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Stigma of Single Parenthood

I just read one of my favorite bloggers' very well-worded rant about how insulted she is when parents crow/complain about being 'single parents.'

I'd like to add my two cents.

I commented on her post and mentioned that a lot of people tend to lump all single parents into the same category - that of 'unwed mother' as if the only way a parent could possibly be a single parent was to find themselves pregnant "by accident" and then not marry the child's father.

I have five children. They have three different fathers. I was married to two of those men.  I have made some pretty poor (crappy, actually) choices in men over the past couple of decades. However I like to think that perhaps now I have my head on and pointed in the proper direction, and while I'm as sorry as I can be that my poor decisions left my children without a 'traditional' family in which to grow up, the fact remains that I am, and must continue, to do it on my own.

(Minor clarification: I did not get to raise my eldest for several reasons, and my second eldest hasn't been a member of my household for several years now as we are estranged. But the three youngest have been 100% my responsibility for about the past seven years; the father of children #4 and 5 is prohibited from any contact with them).

Now that my youngest child is 10 years old I don't need a sitter, but from the number of people who were willing to help out when I needed one, you'd think I live my life under a rock.  Exactly one family was 99% always willing to watch one or more of them when I needed to take another to a doctor appointment or I had some child-prohibited activity I had to do.  There were three other families who watched them......once or twice each. Those other families, by the expression on their faces, the tone of voice as they (obviously reluctantly) accepted my pleas in need of a sitter, made it perfectly and painfully obvious to me that they were REALLY doing me a favor.

The end result of all this?  I haven't been to the doctor since I fully recovered from my very necessary carpal tunnel surgery three years ago.  I haven't been to the dentist in about 5 years, I think. I got sick and tired of ALWAYS having the same (large) family watching my kids so I just decided I wouldn't do that any more. My kids have been 'sat' in their own home exactly ONE time by someone who wasn't their grandmother. Every other time someone has watched them, they've been at the other family's house. When I go away on a retreat my mom comes and stays with them - she got terribly offended the few times I had them stay with the same big family who would watch them for short stretches - but now she says she isn't going to do it any more. No, I have no idea what I will do now. Most likely not go on retreat until they are old enough to stay at home alone.

I realize that the majority of single parents do have a pretty decent support system (heck, I know single parents who actually have social lives!), but there are those like me who don't. (I think this probably has something, if not a lot, to do with the fact that I and a good many of my 'real-life' friends are Catholic - and I'm sure even my non-Catholic readers know that being Catholic and divorced is not the most friend-attracting combination).

So if you're married, thank your lucky stars.  If you're married and know of a single parent who could use a break now and again, how about OFFERING?  And if you happen to have the ability to actually sit those kids in their own home, how about OFFERING to do that? Married couples have sitters out the wazoo, and the last I checked the sitter came to the kids' home the majority of the time.  Maybe that single mom you know would love to not have to load her kids into the car and schlep them to your house so she can go to the eye doctor/job interview/gynecologist (I once took my three youngest kids with me to a mammogram appointment, because I had to. I changed the appointment five times in an attempt to get a sitter and finally just told the appointment nurse that I had to bring them with me).

Oh, and you might have to OFFER several times before that single parent you've decided to help out will actually accept the offer.  We single parents get used to the idea that it's all us, all the time, because usually it is.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Home From the Fair

The fair closed last night with a really good Demolition Derby and a nice car show. Here are some photo highlights from Thursday (poultry show), Friday (Marty Stuart concert) and Saturday (car show and Demolition Derby):

Lightning McQueen with Oregano and Barbecue, at the livestock show barn

Lightning McQueen waiting to enter the show arena. Oregano won 1st Place and Barbecue won 2nd place in their class.
The smaller of the TWO Ferris Wheels at the fair, neither one of which I rode :(

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives!

Love those old Mopars

Full-size class at the Demolition Derby. Studip lights!

Velvet's feline anatomy exhibit

Lightning McQueen's canine anatomy exhibit

Velvet's horse breeds exhibit

My Bayerische socks

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just to Clarify.....

I have absolutely no problem with people who choose to order their lives completely around exclusively religious activities.

What I DO have a problem with, though, is people who live exclusively religious lives and look down their collective noses at people who choose to enjoy secular things in an effort to maintain a sense of balance in their lives.

Imagine never feeling comfortable sharing about a really fascinating book you've read because you know you'll be looked at as if you have suddenly sprouted a second head.

Think about how you would feel if you knew that if you invited a person to some activity or event you really enjoy, your invitation would be either refused or ignored because it doesn't first and foremost involve church.

Imagine knowing that if you asked a group of people to get together with you a few times a year just for a snack-and-gab, the only way you could get them to commit to showing up would be to have it be a prayer group-with-refreshments.

What if you always had to go shopping by yourself, with no one but the sales staff in the shops to tell you whether those pants make your butt look fat, or those shoes really don't go with that dress.

Because I really do make an effort to being a "glass-half-full" type of person, a couple of advantages to these sorts of situations are that you really get some good practice in 'custody of the tongue', and you learn to be very comfortable with enjoying things alone.

It's almost like tunnel vision in many ways.

If you read anything much about icons, you will eventually (probably sooner rather than later) come across a discussion about how, in an icon, perspective seems to be somehow 'reversed' so that instead of looking forward toward a 'vanishing point' somewhere in the far background of the subject being portrayed, YOU are standing at that 'vanishing point' and looking OUTWARD. Icons aren't pictures or paintings, they are windows.

And it is through the window of my religion that I see all the other things in the world.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are You a Pharisee?

I've been mulling over a post about this for a while now, and reading this in my reader this morning made me decide that perhaps it's time to get it written.

That post, as you know if you clicked over and read it, is mostly about the 'women wearing pants' debate that occasionally bubbles to the surface of the Catholic blogosphere.  One excellent point made by 'priest's wife' is that even if all Catholic women were to immediately, right this instant, begin wearing long skirts, these same women would still be considered to be dressed immodestly by the standards of the Amish, Orthodox Jews and Muslims.

Amish women not only wear long skirts, but they wear a headcovering, have sleeves to the wrist, and their necklines NEVER expose the collarbone.

Orthodox Jewish women either wear a voluminous headscarf or a wig that conceals ALL their hair.

Muslim women wear the hijab, a scarf to cover the hair, and the more observant ones also wear abaya, a (usually black) robe-like garment that reaches almost to the floor and has long sleeves and a high neckline. (I refuse to discuss burqa, as Muslim religious dress is not the focus of this post).

Why is it that women are, in many places, tasked with the responsibility of making sure that the eyes (and minds) of men with whom we interact are not 'led astray' by our clothing? Where are the diatribes against men with wandering eyes?  Where are the Catholic bloggers waxing eloquent about men who LOOK at women to whom they are not married? Don't give me any of that junk about it being harder for men to control themselves.  Self-control is, after all, one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, so if men can't control themselves, did the Holy Spirit mean that gift only for women? I don't think so!

Not to say that women can just throw on any old thing and prance about, trusting the men around to NOT LOOK. We do have a responsibility to look feminine and fashionable without appearing 'loose' or 'easy'. (gasp!)

I think Catholic bloggers who have nothing better to do than whine and gripe about women in pants, need to get a life.  Get over it.

And yes, I wear pants. I even wear jeans!

Which brings me, finally, to the point of why I started furiously typing in the first place.  One of the things that irk me no end is the way, all too easily, people get so caught up in RULES that they forget what was the point of the rule in the first place, which or course takes all the FREEDOM out of being obedient to whatever rule you've got a bee in your bonnet about.

People who, when you mention a book you read and enjoyed, don't ask about the plot, or where they can find the book, but ask instead "Is the author Catholic?" "Is there anything anti-Catholic in it?" "There's no kissing, is there?"

People whose first thought (or question, sometimes) about meeting someone new is "is he/she Catholic? If not, are they anti-Catholic?"

People who do NOTHING unless it has a specifically religious purpose (and if it's a Catholic purpose, even better) because secular activities are eeeeeeeviiiiiillllllll.

People who trumpet their disdain for any (and all) secular activities at every opportunity (see above).

Sometimes I feel as if there is a group of Catholics out there who think we all need to be one-dimensional (or at least we should hide and be ashamed of the extra-Catholic - meaning "outside of our Catholic identity" - parts of ourselves.  Hide that love of books - or at least only admit to reading books by or about Catholic Saints! Don't talk about movies or music, unless it's "Into Great Silence", "The Passion of the Christ", "The Song of Bernadette" or Catholic composers.....preferably of Mass settings and Gregorian chant.  No hobbies - how dare anyone have an interest that doesn't revolve around spending time cheek-by-jowl with family members 24/7 - if you have a hobby and it doesn't include your family, then you are a bad parent/husband/wife/child! Vacations to destinations that aren't first and foremost an opportunity for pilgrimage? Nix 'em!  Friends who are Protestant/Jewish/Muslim/atheist/agnostic? Barely acceptable, although you'd better be talking up Catholicism at every breath and spending hours on your knees for their conversion......and their conversion should be the ONLY reason you associate with them.

Where would the woman at the well have been if, when Christ approached the well to ask her for a drink, she had instead scurried away with her face hidden in her veil? (And for that matter, what if the only thing He had said to her was to ask her for the drink and then dismissed her, because after all she was a woman to whom He was not related). Zacchaeus? A "tax collector", which really meant he was an extortionist for the Roman Empire. Hated by his fellow townspeople. He would've been out of luck, stuck up in the tree there. Those poor souls possessed by the demons whom Christ expelled into the herd of swine? Condemned to torment in this life and the next (it's not likely they were Jews, since swine are treif to Jews).

To me, being a 'well-rounded' person does not mean knowing the responses to both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Mass as well as being able to sing the responses of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. It doesn't mean owning both a Douay-Rheims and a New American Bible. It doesn't mean adding prostrations to the Liturgy of the Hours.

A well-rounded person can converse about a multitude of different subjects, is able to admit when they don't know/aren't interested in a subject (without condemning the other person's interest, by the way), and has interests and knowledge of subjects outside those completely contained within the sphere of Catholicity.

(interestingly, this post appeared in my reader as I was working on this one. I think there's much in it that has to do with my poorly composed little rant here.  And shortly afterwards, 'priest's wife' posted a replay of her "Perfect Catholic Mom" post that gets to the bottom of things from her perspective; I admire how she makes her point without ranting the way I always seem to do)

All around me I see people who are figuratively chewing their fingernails to the quick, developing ulcers over whether they are 'good enough' Catholics. They make me glad I'm already Catholic, because I'm not sure I'd be inclined to convert if they were my only example........they are constantly worried about this or that, whether they pray enough of the "right" kind of prayers, whether their association with non-Catholics is scandalous or sinful, and they just don't have any JOY.

And I thought JOY was what life in Christ is all about.

What brings you joy?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Years In A Row

Lightning McQueen and I took a stroll over to the exhibit hall at the fair last night to see whether his and Velvet's 4H projects had won ribbons (and I wanted to see how my socks fared too).

Lightning McQueen:  second place for his exhibit on canine anatomy

Velvet:  first place for exhibit on horse breeds, second place for feline anatomy

I had entered my Bayerische socks:

First place!

Photos to come; we'll be at the fair the next three evenings - tomorrow is Lightning McQueen's poultry show debut, Friday is a concert I've been looking forward to for months, and Saturday is the car show and demolition derby.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Terse Tuesday

Evidence that my kids do not, in fact, fight ALL the time.
Happy summer!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pool Party!

Saturday evening we went down to Clarksburg to River Bend Park to a pool party. Only one other family showed up so there were only 6 of us swimming in an Olympic-sized pool! A few highlights:

Velvet comes down the slide

Velvet after exiting the slide

Birdman tries the diving board

What happens when I pull this rope?  :D

Lightning McQueen off the diving board

Lightning McQueen comes down the slide
All in all we had a great time, even though we didn't get home until after 10.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Imaginative Friends

 Drew this face on a tomato they got from their garden, and it was in the basket of fruits and vegetables they brought to Divine Liturgy this morning to have blessed for the Feast of the Transfiguration.

They did have the presence of mind to put it 'face' down in the basket so it wasn't grinning insanely at Father while he was doing the blessing.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Going to the Fair!

Oregano being tested for typhoid
Lightning McQueen is showing his pullets (who are really hens now, as at least one of them has laid an egg, but I digress) at the county fair next week.

The birds have to be tested for typhoid and have a leg band put on before they can go to the fair, and the County Ag came and did the testing a few days ago.

First we had to catch them.  Ha ha! They quickly figured out that something was up, and they were literally all over the place trying to get away from us.  Birdman finally cornered Barbecue over in the corner of the yard, and Velvet managed to get Oregano before she got completely under the chicken coop. Oregano had her turn first, and behaved rather well.  There was some trouble with the leg band, and the first one broke, so they had to do that twice. But she was finally pronounced healthy, banded and then it was Barbecue's turn.

Barbecue waiting her turn

She has no clue!
 Chickens are not very bright.  In fact, they are rather stupid.  Actually, they are very stupid (in some ways).
Bok-BOK! What are you doing?
Barbecue was a bit uncooperative
 Afterwards they both strutted about the yard as if they'd won some super prize. Silly chickens.
Thank goodness THAT'S over with!
I'll let you know how they do at the fair after the show next Thursday!