Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Propeller, Huh? Well, You're an Emergency Beacon!

This post by Single Dad Laughing reminded me that my kids and I do play a lot of silly games!

When I was younger, my brother and I used to insult each other (like siblings have done since time immemorial, and probably will continue to do).  But we didn't call each other boring, mundane names like 'stupid head' or 'dumb bunny'.  No, my brother once called me a FUSELAGE, I retorted back by calling him a FLAP and thus began the game of "insult the other person by calling them the name of a part of an aircraft."

See all that neat stuff there?  All of it a potential insult.
At various times my kids and I have called each other:  rudder pedal, elevator, wing, nose cone, landing gear, bomb bay door, turret, ejection seat.......and now that Birdman is in Civil Air Patrol we know even more obscure aircraft parts like pitot tube (a little doohickey on the lower leading edge of a wing that takes in air, and somehow tells the airspeed indicator how fast the aircraft is flying).

There's another one (as if I think you need more examples of how truly WEIRD we are) - a few years ago they got tickled by the word 'cornucopia' and I happened to be having an allergy flare-up; every time I sneezed one of them would come back with "CORNUCOPIA" and they would all collapse with glee.  So now, in addition to saying Gesundheit or God Bless You, when someone in the family sneezes, either the sneezer or the first person to open his mouth shoots back "CORNUCOPIA!!!!!" and we all have a good laugh.

What else?  Well, Birdman LOVES Spoonerisms, so sometimes we go hor fowers, litching the first sweaters of words a'la The Capitol Steps' "Lirty Dies." Whip your flurds!

Then there's the tiara, but you'll have to wait a bit to find out about that........

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Friday.....isn't it?

I'm up to 10-hour work days now, and having to work on Saturdays.  This will last until the end of May.  I will do my best to keep posting, but sometimes I won't be organized enough.  Like this afternoon, we went to the store and I saw several things I could have blogged about but I thought I didn't have my camera (it was at the bottom of the Black Hole that is my purse, under my wallet, two receipts from Kroger and a weekly planner).

Birdman is off this weekend to CAP Leadership Training Camp at Camp Dawson.  It's quiet around here; when 1/3 of the kids are gone the bicker factor goes down by WAY more than a third.  Funny how that works.

My house (at least my fitting room) looks like someone exploded a formalwear warehouse.  It takes me 10 minutes to rearrange things hanging so I can close the bathroom door to take a shower.

Velvet is up to 2 lessons a day in math.  She was finishing in about 15 minutes and only missing 1 or 2 problems. I may do the same thing with Lightning McQueen next week, he's a speedy student too!

Did you see photos of Kate Middleton's wedding gown?  (Or should I call her Princess Katherine now).  Absolutely stunning.  Very elegant!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dreams Really DO Come True, Under the Checkered Flag

I mentioned in a previous post that the story of my first Indy 500 could make a whole blog post on its own, so finally here it is. 
At the main gate to IMS, Race Day 2010.
 First I have to give you a few bits of backstory.  My family lived in Indianapolis, up on the north side near 54th Street and Keystone Avenue, when I was younger.  For as long as I can remember, the Indy 500 was part of my Memorial Day weekend, although we never attended in person. We watched every year on our 19-inch black & white Motorola television set, munching on popcorn and having Kool-Aid (my brother and I) or iced tea (my parents) as we cheered our favorite drivers on.
We moved away just before I started the fourth grade, but I remained a fan. (It amuses me that my brother never did care as much about it as I did; I have very clear memories of being a total pest to my mom one year, BEGGING her to get my father to take me to the race.  But if I had gone then, the rest of this story wouldn't be nearly as fabulous).

Huge billboard on the back of the grandstand near Turn 1, Race Day 2010
 My parents had several reasons for us not attending (at least ones they would tell me; I think in retrospect that at least part of their refusal had to do with the Snake Pit of the late 1960s and early 1970s) - noise level, the fact that fans near the track often were hit with flying tire and car debris, and the chance that someone would suffer fatal injuries in a crash.
So we never went to the race.  We did go to the museum once or twice, but actually seeing the race in person was a dream, first appearing in my childhood and recurring on an annual basis every Month of May.

Wing and wheel logo on the sidewalk outside the track, photo taken from inside!

Some of the now-legendary drivers were fixtures at the Speedway every Month of May (and it makes me chuckle to realize that most of the 'household name' drivers of today weren't even alive when my heroes were behind the wheel - Al Unser Sr., A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Gordon Johncock, Jackie Stewart and so many others).

Fast forward to me as a (chronological) grownup.  I served in the US Army from 1986 to 1990, and my second-to-last assignment was at a wee tiny artillery base in Turkey.  By this time I was in the habit of stopping everything to watch the "500" on television every year, and whenever I met anyone with whom I was stationed who was from Indiana, I always asked if they were a race fan.

As luck would have it, the supply clerk in my unit in Turkey is from Indiana (he still lives there, actually, but I'm getting ahead of myself).  We listened together to the 1989 race on the Armed Forces Radio network, but I had to wait until I got back to the States to find out about Emerson Fittipaldi drinking ORANGE JUICE instead of milk in Winner's Circle.  (The following year we were both back in the US, again stationed at the same post, and we watched Arie Luyendyk (???????) take the checkered flag...... Arie WHO? we said).

Here I remember that we talked several times about going together to the 500, before we lost track of each other......

(Trust me, all this not-specifically-related-to-the-race stuff is important.  You have to know it to understand the total and complete awesomeness of my 2010 Indy 500 experience).

So, life goes on, I get out of the Army and end up back here where I am.  Supply clerk goes to Desert Storm,   life continues, he gets out of the Army and ends up where he is. I have to say that while he was not the person with whom I spent the most time while we were stationed in Turkey, he is the person I remember the most about.  I made halfhearted attempts to reconnect on several occasions, but it wasn't until late 2009 that I had
the brilliant idea to see if he was, by any chance, on Facebook.
Resting the feet before we find our seats, Race Day 2010

BINGO!  I sent him a message, asking if he remembered me, we friended each other and after a short while he invited me and the kids to come to Indy for the 2010 race.

Phone calls and facebook messages began flying back and forth, overtime hours and extra projects were taken on, no job was too small and no hour too late to make the money to have my long-held dream come true.  Plans were made, arrangements decided upon, caretakers for the menagerie were engaged.

Cars to the starting grid, 2010
 Here is where I remember, and tell Birdman, that I remember the promise I made to him when he was 9, that I would take him to the "500" the year he turned 13.  That would be 2010.  Heheh.

OK, I have to have a name for my Army buddy so for reasons I care not to divulge, he will be Jimmy henceforth.

We spent Friday night and Saturday morning at Jimmy's in a town about an hour from Indy.  We left there in mid-afternoon, stopping on the way to go to Saturday evening Mass at a conveniently-located Catholic parish.  We stopped for gas, dinner and box lunches in Speedway and then began running the traffic gauntlet to the Coke Lot where we would car-camp overnight.  (I should say now that the night before the race is kind of like Mardi Gras, in May, with race cars instead of Krewe parades.  There were portions of Georgetown Road where I made my kids put their heads down below the windows, because you know what has been seen cannot be unseen......)

I can't believe I'm here.  2010
Breakfast the next morning was a delicious all-you-can-eat deal at the American Legion post, after which we walked across the street to the gate and BOOYAH I am inside the fence, on Race Day, for the first time in my life!

We walked up a set of steps to a landing in one of the grandstand stairways, and stood next to the fence and looked out at the track.......all of a sudden I realized, I'm HERE.  I'm not at home in front of my TV, I am actually part of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing this year!  I could see the pit area, the Pagoda, the scoring pylon, and as far as I could see, seats.  Hundreds of thousands of seats.

Pace Car, 2010
 I got to hear Jim Nabors sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" and I felt like I was back home again.  Balloons?  check.  Flyover?  check. (well, we heard it, but couldn't see the planes because we were under the overhang in C Stand; a good thing because temps set a record that day).  National Anthem?  check.  Lump in throat and tears in eyes?  check, check.

Excitement? in spades.  Emotion?  I can't begin to tell you.

I could go on for a whole book's worth but I think maybe you get the idea that I had a really good time.  :)  So good, in fact, that right now we are planning our trip to the 2011 race, only this year we are camping in Lot 2 from Thursday through Sunday, and  we've decided to brave the viewing mounds in the infield instead of springing for grandstand seats - by doing this we can do Carb Day, A.J. Foyt Day and Race Day very nicely.

And to Jimmy - you know who you are - I know I didn't thank you nearly enough for helping me make my dream come true. I wonder, do you remember when we were stationed at Fort Sill and we talked about going to the race together?  I do, and I'm really glad you were the one to see my face when I looked down the front straight at the Pagoda for the first time.  You're an awesome person and I hope I see you at the "500" this year so I can say what I didn't say last year.  ;)

Dario Franchitti on his Victory Lap, 2010

The wait is over.

My sock pattern is now LIVE on Knit Picks - go here to order your copy of the pattern.  You may comment here if you'd like advice about substituting yarns.  And please come back after you've knit a pair and post a link to a photo!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This is how

you manage to stay (relatively) clean if you're tent camping at the Indy 500:

Freshen Up | PRO Monthly

There's a cost involved, and I have no idea what that is, so we'll be taking a good supply of wet wipes with us. I'd hate to have the personal hygiene budget end up bigger than the food budget!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hide! Mom's Got the Camera Out Again!

I thought I'd share some random stuff, since my brain is rather fried from work today.  Some days it just flows, and others I have to seemingly fight for every stitch I sew.  Today was one of the latter.  I did get all the day's projects done though, and finished the patterned portion of the heel flap on my current sock (one of the patterns in Cookie A's Sock Innovation, I'm pretty sure it's "Devon").  I will be setting that aside shortly to knit a pair of Centennial socks for one of my Twitter followers; she gets a pair of handknit socks and I get some awesome barter in exchange, ho ho!

It is not possible to take a candid snapshot of any of my children.  They are like Vogue models, always posing.

Here's my mom holding Oregano after our Easter dinner.

Velvet and Barbecue.

Lightning McQueen explains everything. Whether it needed an explanation or not.

Finally, a little pop quiz.  What Muppet does this photo remind you of?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just for fun.....

Pithless Thoughts: Orthograph #131 - Christ is Risen!

This Makes Absolutely No Sense

Any of you have signs that look like this in your town?
I noticed them a couple of years ago, but aside from being mildly irritated (as if my town was snobbish and exclusive prior to the signs going up, RIIIIIGHT) I didn't bother to check into what it might mean.

I don't know what made me finally google "morgantown inclusive community" but hoo-boy did I get a surprise!

Go ahead and click; you can see the current month's "Inclusive Community" calendar right here.

You will notice that only about a third of the dates on the calendar are Jewish or Christian.  I think you can scroll back through the months and see that in addition to the wide variety of Eastern non-Christian religious holidays listed for April of this year, most if not all of the Muslim important dates are identified as such too.

This is all fine and dandy; I'm all for members of whatever religion letting other people know when a major holiday is going to occur.  I will repeat, I have NO PROBLEM with religious evangelization whatsoever.  I am a Byzantine Catholic and am going to stay that way, but if the local Hindu temple wants to get the word out about one of their festivals, I have no issues with them putting a blurb on this calendar, buying a billboard, getting radio ads or what-have-you.

What I DO have a problem with, dear readers, is when a CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN does the announcing for non-Christian faiths.

Click back over to that calendar and see that the same person is the go-to for all but two of the events/holidays on the April 2011 calendar.  Folks, this guy is Catholic.  He attends the Divine Liturgy at my parish on a reasonably regular basis.

I refer you to the Gospel of St. Mark.

I just can't reconcile that Scripture with what I see on that calendar.  Again, to clarify - I have no desire to stamp out all non-Judeo-Christian religions from my town, my state or my country.  None at all.  I just think they need to find someone in their own camp to be their publicity agent.  Because I'm a smidgen scandalized, to tell you the truth.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Which I Brag About My Socks, With Surprising Results

I was playing around on the computer on Friday, and I came across a twitter contest of sorts.  @IndyCar wanted regular (as in, not racing insiders) followers to tweet why they should be mentioned in the Tweep edition of "Follow Friday".  I replied that "I love IndyCar so much I designed a pair of socks to commemorate the Centennial", along with a link to this blog post, and whaddya know, I made the top 6 and got a mention and a #FF from @IndyCar!

As if that wasn't enough, I opened up my TweetDeck on Saturday and my eye fell on @chrisspangle's tweet about the current edition of his internet newspaper #IndyCar Times, and he linked to my blog post about the socks!

You seriously would have thought I'd won the lottery, the way I was jumping around and going all 'woohoo!' and  everything.

And the pattern isn't even for sale yet.  Hopefully some of the race fans who follow @IndyCar and @chrisspangle either knit socks, or know people who do. There have to be knitters who are IndyCar fans (and vice versa), because there's a yarn store that advertised in the 2010 program for the Indy 500!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Christos Voskrese! Voistinnu Voskrese!

I thought I'd give you all a little tour of my parish as an Easter gift.  Enjoy!

After the Vespers and Procession of Great and Holy Friday, I stayed so we could all go to Confession before Pascha.  While my kids were confessing, I took these photos.  This is the front of the nave, from about where I stand to chant the Epistle.

This is the Tomb with the Burial Shroud on it.  During the service, the Tomb was where the tetrapod is in the first photo.  We have to move it to the side like this because otherwise people cannot approach for Communion. (It's a very tiny temple)

This is the icon on the ceiling of the nave (it would be the dome if we had one).

The choir loft and kliros (cantor's stand).  My usual spot is to the left of the left-hand pillar; there are two short pews there and I sit in the front one.

The icon behind the Holy Table.
 In the half-dome above the wall behind the Holy Table is this icon of the Holy Trinity, in the style of Rublev's icon.  I love how the halos seem to glow.

The icon of the Resurrection.

A joyous and blessed Pascha to all of my readers!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Look Mom! Chickens!

I forgot to put something in the photos to give you an idea of how much bigger Oregano and Barbecue are!  They now have feathers pretty much everywhere except for the lower part of their necks.  It looks as if Oregano (foreground) will have a floofy tail like Crockpot, while Barbecue's tail feathers are a bit more organized.

 Here's Crockpot.  You can see how her tail feathers are all sprangled out and discombobulated.

Drumstick, on the other hand, is a much neater-appearing hen and has a very tidy tail.
If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would have two laying hens and also be raising two more pullets in the house, I would have said they were crazy!

This afternoon Oregano and Barbecue got some time out in the sunshine, contained in the dog crate (which I guess is now a pullet playpen), while Crockpot and Drumstick patrolled the yard and Eli (the dog; I never post about him because he's not nearly as interesting as chickens, poor thing) dozed in a sunny spot.  There were only short, minor skirmishes but nothing serious.

Birdman mowed the grass while I was at the grocery store buying a ham and some other things for our Pascha basket, and I ran the weedeater once I got home.  I am SO thankful we didn't get all the rain that was forecast.  My yard looks much better now.

Once the young'uns came back indoors we discovered that the heat lamp had burned out, so Birdman and I went off in a tearing hurry to Wally World to see if we could find one.  They do not sell heat lamps of any sort.  I did, however, get a new tube of fake tan for my legs, some 'bare spot repair' grass seed, and some Italian bread with garlic spread to go with.  I wandered through the clothes but didn't find anything that yelled at me.

Crispy thin crust pizza for dinner while watching the movie "Up", and now we're trying to fight our way to the top of the mountain of laundry..... kind of like being caught in a denim-and-toweling avalanche.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great and Holy Friday

This evening we had the Vespers of Great and Holy Friday, with an outdoor procession.  Towards the end of the service, Father takes the cloth, painted in the style of an icon, that represents the burial shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the altar boys carry the censer, a clapper, the processional cross, and pillows bearing items symbolic of Christ's suffering and we all sing the Troparion "The Noble Joseph" and process out of the nave, outside and around the parking lot then back in, where Father places the shroud on the Tomb and we are able to come to venerate it and kiss the Wounds of Christ on the Shroud.

On the pillows are attached:  a pair of dice (for the lots that were cast for Jesus' seamless garment), a small lance or spear (for the soldier who pierced the side of Christ), a scourge, a wand and sponge, a crown of thorns, and a hammer and nails.

Here is a YouTube video of the procession while singing the Tropar: (not my parish; I need to practice with the video function on my camera some more)

Afterwards we all went to Confession.  I am one of those people who don't mind going to Confession at all; our priest is a very good confessor and I always get some good insights into why I do the things I don't want to do when I go.  I should go more often but that would mean going to a different parish (Roman), and I would have to go through months of the priest getting to know me and my circumstances, and there is always the chance that I would end up with conflicting advice and truthfully just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge!

It was chilly and rained off and on all day today, and now as I sit here typing this post the wind is whistling in the hemlock trees outside my window and the house gives a little shudder every so often because of the wind.  It's suitable weather for Great Friday, really.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Places I'll Go......

Some of them I know, and some I don't.  This evening I know one place I will not be, and that is at Church.

I had big plans!  I got up on time this morning, the kids got up (sort of) on time, they (mostly) did their schoolwork without whining and griping......

yes, I know it is Holy and Great Thursday.  I know that most kids, no matter where they go to school, are off school.  However, my children have been a bit of a behavior/scheduling/bickering/not doing what they are told problem lately, so they do not get an Easter Vacation.  But I digress.
.....and they all said "OK" when I told them THREE TIMES that Vespers and Divine Liturgy would begin at 7 pm and that we. were. going.

Fast forward to 6 pm.  67% of the children are showered.  100% of them are dressed, but only one of the three has on clothing suitable for Church in the middle of the week.  One even still has on the dog-walking sweatpants from early this morning.  Two of the three have uncombed hair.  The one who wears glasses, isn't. I discover that the one who is, I think, ready to go out the door to Church is in fact NOT WEARING SOCKS. At least dinner is ready.

6:30 pm.  100% of the children are dawdling over their dinner, the sweatpants child has not changed his clothes, my hillbilly kid still has not put on any socks, and I have not only developed a headache, but my TMJ is back with a vengeance.

6:35 pm.  I call off Church, since if we leave rightnowthisveryinstant we will get there exactly on time, but I still see sweatpants on the dog-walking kid which means we will be very late........this kid takes to change his clothes.

Life is so grand, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's Go For a Walk, Shall We?

Here are some of the photos I took yesterday.  These tulips are a source of endless bewilderment - I bought 50 bulbs in assorted colors, and every year for the past four years a portion of them have bloomed, but I have never had the same mix of colors twice.  Last year they were deep red, white and cream.  This year you can see they are a lipstick red and yellow.  Go figure.

And here are our egg-producing girls, Crockpot (front) and Drumstick.


Grape hyacinths.  These aren't mine; they are in the yard of a house two doors up the street (it's for sale, priced very reasonably, let me know if you'd like to look into being my neighbor, lol)

Narcissus on the bank a couple of blocks from our house.

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Not-so Manic Monday!

We went for a walk around the neighborhood this evening.  I took some photos which I will upload tomorrow, mostly blooming flowers.  We have tulips at the back of the house, and yet another stray grape hyacinth has turned up next to the front steps.  If it doesn't rain too hard tomorrow maybe Velvet could be convinced to go out with the big spoon and move it into the flower bed where I have put the rest of them.

It was a really lovely afternoon and I wished I could be out in the sunshine and warm air, but I was hard at work on the current prom gowns - dresses for twin sisters.  After I finish the second dress tomorrow I have a few bridesmaid dresses, a sorority formal dress, and a few wedding gown repairs to do this week, along with an entire wedding party in pink and green!

Birdman tells me he is applying for a staff position at this year's CAP Encampment!

Lightning McQueen is FINALLY caught up on his poultry notebook for 4-H.

Velvet is getting to be quite the Draaaaaamaaaaaa Queen.  A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was having a day where she'd be "complaining about being hung with a new rope" and that's about how dear Velvet has been acting these days.  Oy.

Oregano and Barbecue went outside in the yard this afternoon, and were thoroughly examined by Crockpot and Drumstick, but no pecking ensued. (They were safe in the dog crate anyway).  I'll have to take more photos of them in the next couple of days; they are getting to the stage where they are only cute if you (a) remember what they looked like before they got this many feathers, and (b) know that at some point they will be earning their keep as egg producers).

I'm about to chew my fingers to nubs waiting for my sock pattern to go live on Knit Picks.

And it's Great and Holy Week, so we have Church on Wednesday and Thursday evening, Friday morning and evening, Saturday night and Sunday morning (and then Bright Monday and Bright Tuesday services too). I will be praying for you, readers; please say a little prayer for me if you're so inclined.

How's your Spring going?

Birdman sez.......

He is learning about the hippopotamus of a triangle today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Conway is a Winner, any way you look at it.

Congratulations to Mike Conway, who won today's INDYCAR race at Long Beach!  You can get the box score here.  I was wrong about today's winner, but I feel good about being wrong, because I saw Conway get airborne and into the catchfence on the last lap of the 2010 Indy 500. (Video of that crash here.)  Quite a comeback in eleven months!

I'll be glad when it's May again and time for Indy.  I guess I'm an old fogey racing fan, I just can't get as excited about street and road course races as I do about the ovals.

Great job, Mike, and hope to see you in the winner's circle again soon!

Get the Broom.

If you have a mulched flowerbed that needs to be un-mulched, I highly recommend turning some chickens loose in it.

This is what happens when you forget and leave the gate open.

They ended up out in the ditch there beyond the end of the car, happily rooting around in the dirt and mulch there.  I managed to get them and put them back in the yard without making a COMPLETE fool of myself, although my college-boy neighbors, and the lady who had to wrestle her ginormous dog to a stop to prevent him from getting after Crockpot and Drumstick, did have a good chuckle.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Checking in on the Chicks

We've had Oregano and Barbecue for a bit more than a week, and they are really growing!  I'll need to go get another bag of feed for them tomorrow.

 They preen often, and sometimes act like they itch!  When they preen themselves, sometimes down floats off of them and there will be a new feather visible.  It's pretty amazing.

They got to spend a good bit of the afternoon outdoors today.  The jury is still out on what breed they are and what color they will be when they get their adult feathers, but they seem to have brown earlobes so I am hoping they turn out to be brown egg layers.  (We can charge more for brown eggs.)

Speaking of selling eggs, we sell ours for $3.50 a dozen, $1.75 a half dozen, and 35 cents each.  That's more than the grocery store (but less than Wal-Mart, where 'jumbo' organic cage-free brown eggs are $4.22 a dozen, and they are not nearly as big as our eggs), but our eggs are huge.

We tried putting Oregano and Barbecue in the dog crate and putting that in the yard where Crockpot and Drumstick roam, but that didn't last very long. O and B are rather stupid and can't get the idea that if they put their tails up near the mesh of the dog crate, C and D will pick at their little tail feathers, and Crockpot even sticks her head into the crate and tries to peck them.  So we moved the crate to the outside of the picket fence, where they could still see each other but no chance of any touching, and the rest of the afternoon went well.  I'm hoping that we can do this regularly so that when it comes time to turn O and B into the yard, we won't have World War 3 in deciding the pecking order.

Here are the four of them this afternoon:

We have a piece of screen fabric on top of the box now, and Velvet had to secure it with some canned vegetables because they figured out how to jump up between the screen and the edge of the box, and escape.  Houdini chicks!

In other news, Birdman got a B on his first Biology test, and Lightning McQueen and Velvet each got an A on their math tests.  Birdman will have a Geometry test next week; the book is set up so there is a test after every 5 lessons once you get to lesson 10.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Offer it up.......

My current project is allowing me to pray a LOT as I work on it, because it's rather like asking Rembrandt to paint the Mona Lisa on the lid of a shoe box.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I knew there was something that bothered me about the hymn (and I use the term loosely) "Take and Eat", which someone I know recently breathlessly informed me is now her most favoritest hymn EVER.  Go here and read the whole thing, then come back.  I'll wait.


It would probably help my non-Catholic readers if there were mp3 files of those hymns somewhere (because the melodies are just as insipid as the words, but based on what you read, do you sing that kind of stuff at your Mass?  If you're not Catholic, what hymns to you sing?  Does anyone sing hymns like "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name", "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence", and "The Old Rugged Cross" anymore?

What are people singing in church nowadays?

Please pray for a young woman who is pregnant.  I don't know her name, but I read an anonymous post today in which this woman posted that she is regretting her pregnancy, her fiance' is inconsiderate and just a not very nice guy, and she is thinking of "faking a miscarriage and visiting PP."  So she needs our prayers!  Thanks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When You Look in the Mirror, Do You See a Child of God?

I'm working on a pretty big non-work project right now.  Basically it involves putting together a presentation/class on how, despite the fact that we're not supposed to form opinions of people based solely on appearance, people do just that.  And how, by subtle adjustments in one's appearance, a person can manage that first impression to be more accurate in presenting on the outside what that person is on the inside.  Sort of a 'clothes make the man (or woman)' thing.

The reason this is important to me is because we, as Christians, are supposed to be evangelists, and how can we evangelize if we look like (as my friend put it so well) we forgot our Zoloft, or spent the relief check on kitty litter?

I don't mean the kind of evangelization that brings pairs of Jehovah's Witnesses or LDS to the door, complete with tracts and a refusal of any offer of refreshment. I mean the kind that shines from within, that makes a person's face transparent with JOY that comes from a real, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. (After all, we Catholics, along with the Orthodox, have the most personal relationship of all Christians with Jesus, because we receive Him in Holy Communion!)

It's turning out to be a very interesting, and very big, project.  Mainly because we have to present this information in a way that doesn't make people feel as if we are saying 'hey, you look really sloppy, people aren't going to take your Christianity seriously because they won't be able to get past the fact that your pants are too short and you have two buttons missing on your sweater'.  Rather we want to make people really THINK about the fact that, as baptized Christians, we are sons and daughters of God.  Jesus is our Lord, and also our Brother. In Him we are loved beyond all imagining......

Ever been in love?  And knew that the person you loved, loved you back?  Didn't you take extra care with your appearance to always look your best for that person?  Scripture tells us not to WORRY about what we are to wear, or eat - but it doesn't say not to pay any attention to our garments or food.

I think some people get so hung up on dressing modestly that they lose sight of the fact that modest does not mean sloppy.  And some people deliberately dress in old, ill-fitting clothing because they think this is evidence of their humility.  To me, dressing in a way that says "look how little attention I pay to my clothing and personal appearance" is just as prideful as flaunting designer labels on every article of clothing and wearing stuff with the price tag hanging, a la Minnie Pearl.

We have a dignity, innate in us because we were each individually created by God for His purpose, and we ought not to ignore that dignity in an attempt to seem not 'worldly' or 'secular'. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are His vessel, and the vessel that holds such treasure ought not to be treated poorly.  We must clothe our souls with prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and our bodies with dignified, seemly garments, to be fitting vessels for our Lord God and Savior.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Got the Green Flag!

I got the official email from the folks at Knit Picks today.  They are delighted to include my Centennial sock pattern in their IDP program, and they hope to have it up on the site in 3 weeks or less!

The time frame really couldn't be more perfect.  Three weeks from now puts the debut of the pattern during the first week of the Month of May, and for 2011 it's a grand month indeed!  You can see a schedule of events held at the track this year right here.

I'm thrilled beyond belief.  What started as a personal effort to memorialize an event that's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, has morphed into something much bigger and, I hope, better.  Here's to warm feet, lucky socks, fast cars, and tradition!

See you either at the track, or the yarn store!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Quick Hello

to my readers, who seem to be from:

the USA - Hi there!

Germany - Guten tag!

Iran -                                                                                                                           !أهلا ومرحبا بكم
(the above is in Arabic, since I couldn't find a translation into Farsi which is what I think is spoken in Iran.  Correct me if I'm wrong, please.)
Ukraine - Привіт і ласкаво просимо!

Australia - G'day! :)

Canada - Hello, or Bonjour (in case you are Quebecois)

Poland - Witam i zapraszam!

If the Ukrainian, Arabic and/or Polish are incorrect, it is the fault of Google Translate.  Thank you for visiting, and I hope you'll stick around and become a follower.

The Neighbor Project

Right before the New Year I read this book, in which the author tries to get to know his neighbors in an upscale suburb by going on sleepovers to their homes. It made me think that, even after living in the same house for almost 6 years (and in the same neighborhood for 10), we don't really know our neighbors.

So I'm making a real effort to get to know the people who live near us. (We're not going to do sleepovers!) Most of our neighbors seem to work rather long or irregular hours, plus the weather hasn't exactly been conducive to either being outdoors in the yard or walking around the area, so we've gotten a bit of a slow start.  I have hopes, though, that as the weather improves and folks start mowing grass, sitting out on their porches and taking walks, that we'll be able to actually meet the people who live near us and put names to most of the faces.

We do have new neighbors across the street from the back of our house, and I took them a loaf of homemade bread a couple of weeks ago.  I got to see inside their house, which has beautiful (original) narrow pine tongue-and-groove flooring, a rather outdated kitchen, and a gas-fired steam heating system with real radiators.  They're doing a bit of remodeling in the (outdated) kitchen, installing new light fixtures to replace the ugly utilitarian ones in the dining room and living room, and the husband tells me that the big project for this summer is to replace the hideous stoop in the front with a real, usable, as-near-to-original-as-possible front porch. The family is pretty nice - parents and two young-adult kids (upper high school age).  They were enthusiastic about the prospect of buying eggs from us when we have them, and seem to be making great progress on the house.  I'm thankful that the house wasn't bought by a landlord, chopped up into apartments and rented out to college kids.

We're going to start with the houses we can see from our house, then branch out from there.  Homemade bread, fresh eggs and maybe some goodies from our (hopefully soon to be started) garden will make good icebreakers, I think.

I've been thinking of what to call these neighbors when I post about them; I think I'll call the husband Handy Man (he seems to be pretty competent at a lot of home improvement tasks).  Then I guess logically there would be Mrs. Handy, Son of Handy and......what to call the daughter?  Suggestions welcome!

Do you know the people in your neighborhood?  Do you live somewhere that it's hard to get to know the people near you, and how do you deal with that?

Life at Aquinas Academy, Where Learning Happens Even if You're Shooting Nerf Darts at the TV

I remembered a couple of days ago that I haven't posted anything about what we've been doing in the way of school lately.  So:  Velvet finished her 'catch-up' math workbook and has moved into Saxon 6/5.  She's doing rather well; I think she just needed a bit of extra practice and a slight change of pace.  Birdman finished up with Algebra 1 and chose to do Geometry, followed by Algebra 2 (the same way I did in high school oh-so-many-years-ago). Fortunately there is a tutoring CD-ROM for the Geometry so I don't have to work so hard to dredge up my high school geometry!  He's also taking the Apologia Biology.  Lightning McQueen has moved up to Saxon 7/6 (!).  Velvet and he are working on their 4-H project books:  horses and cats for Velvet, and chickens and dogs for Lightning McQueen.  I recently posted about our two new chicks, which are growing and soon will be at the stage where they are no longer very cute, but still not useful as egg-layers. (We had to put a screen lid on the box because they figured out how to get out of the box a couple of days ago).

Each of them has a reading list on which they record the books they read, and we do mental math at the grocery store.  Civics and social studies is taken care of by following the local elections, going to political campaign events, and getting to know our neighbors (which reminds me that we have an interesting project going this year but I'll post about that later). I've also started little geography quizzes where I ask them to tell me how to go to some place.

We got the registration forms in the mail for 4-H camp, which I am going to try very hard to send them to this year.  Birdman of course will be going to CAP Encampment (he was recently promoted to Cadet Tech Sergeant, by the way), and may be going back to Cincinnati to visit his friend, who moved there a couple of years ago.

I still have plans for a trip to Johnstown, PA at some point; there are several museums there we'd like to see - both the Johnstown Flood and the Immigrants' Museum.  And Gettysburg, PA (I'm trying to figure out if we can do both of those on one very long day).  We also hope to go back to Indianapolis in May......there's an awesome variety of stuff to see there, not all of it connected with the race.

I'm happy to report that Birdman's penmanship is improving.

The spring peepers are peeping now, and it's very tempting to go get a dishpan full of tadpoles and puddle water to watch them grow.  We'll probably be over on that side of town sometime this weekend so I might just do that.

I still need to do a post about our "neighbor project" and another Price Check post.  I hope to get to those in the next couple of days.  I'm waiting to hear back from Knit Picks about my socks too!

Friday, April 8, 2011

In No Particular Order,

here are ten random facts about me, because I just read a post like it over on Fear Not, Little Flock.

  1. I pray that someday I will find someone with whom I can spend time without having to pretend I'm someone I'm not.
  2. We have two laying hens and two new chicks, and I don't eat eggs except in recipes.
  3. I dream of living off-grid on a farm out in the boonies somewhere, and having a horse and buggy (or mule and wagon) instead of a car.
  4. I pray over all the clothing I take in for tailoring, but especially for the wedding gowns, and extra prayers for the brides who are not getting married in a church.
  5. Another thing I pray for is that my kids will someday find where they fit in.  It hurts a great deal to see that they don't, now.
  6. I have no desire to learn to make meatballs.  Why should I, when delicious ones can be bought at the store?
  7. I like looking at places I've lived or visited on Google Earth.
  8. It bugs me that my house is always messy, but not enough to spend 2-3 hours a day cleaning.  It's a big house, and my kids don't pick up after themselves at all.
  9. I like ethnic food but I'm way too lazy to cook it myself.
  10. I wish more people would comment on my blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I Am a Lackluster Housekeeper

Why bother to try, when it's just going to get messed up again 30 seconds later?

And the sock behind the television? Been there, done that, didn't even get a t-shirt.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Our Family is Growing!

Meet Oregano and Barbecue, our new hen chicks!
Oregano is in the front and is a little lighter in color than Barbecue, who's in the back.  We fixed them a little pen made out of a grocery store box with newspaper and pine bedding, a plastic lid for a food dish (I just couldn't justify the expense of a chick feeder for only two chicks) and a waterer that screws onto the neck of a quart Mason jar.  And a heat lamp, of course.  If it's nice weather they will go outdoors to play for a little while tomorrow; once they've feathered out we can start acclimating them to being outdoors all the time, as well as introducing them (gradually) to Crockpot and Drumstick.

I think the size of our yard will comfortably support six hens, so next year I'm going to splurge and get two Dominique hens - they are very pretty spangled black and white, and lay large white eggs.

I'm not sure whether these are brown-egg or white-egg layers; all that matters is that they lay dependably.  I will be glad when we no longer have to maintain a waiting list for eggs, and can sell them as they come along!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mini-Vacation! (kind of)

This past weekend I was at the Gilmary Retreat Center in Coraopolis, PA for an annual gathering of the Life Pledged members of the Confraternity of Penitents - we have an annual retreat in July for all members, inquirers and guests but this one is much smaller (and in many ways more fun, although the July event is fun too).

Anyway, we kind of rotate the responsibility for hosting and choosing the location, and this year was my turn to be hostess and organizer, so of course I picked a place "right in my own backyard", less than two hours from home.  Birdman and Lightning McQueen had been to Gilmary a couple of years ago for an Altar Boy retreat and spoke highly of it.  They were right; it's a great place.  Very comfortable, friendly and helpful staff, good food!

The only thing Gilmary doesn't have is clergy staff, so I had to figure out other arrangements for that.

Keep in mind that (a) I'm Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic; (b) I'm the only non-Roman Catholic in the Confraternity; (c) probably the majority of Catholics know little to nothing about the other Particular Churches in union with the Holy See; (d) there is some seriously hinky stuff going on at a fairly decent number of Roman Catholic parishes; (e) our Confraternity is very much the opposite of hinky.

I discovered that there is a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic parish, St. George, less than 15 minutes away from Gilmary, AND remembered that the pastor there is my former pastor and my Godson's Godfather.  So, I arranged for us to go to Friday evening's Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts and also to Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning.  On Saturday we had a very reverent Communion Service, celebrated by a great transitional Deacon from the Archdiocese of Baltimore (who incidentally is a convert from Episcopalianism, having been a  priest chaplain of a convent of Episcopalian nuns who also converted en masse) who will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood on June 24, 2011.  At this Communion Service one of our retreatants made a Life Pledge and private vow to live the Rule and Constitutions of our Confraternity.

Before this, the most common thing I'd heard from Roman Catholics about the Byzantine Liturgy is "are you sure it's really Catholic?".  Never mind that we pray for the Pope by name a minimum of four times at every Divine Liturgy, some people get hung up on the filioque (really the fact that we don't add it when we say the Creed) or our use of leavened bread.

None - not one - of my Confraternity brothers and sisters expressed anything but appreciation.  Some of them have assisted at a Divine Liturgy before, but most had not.  But they weren't put off, they were excited!  And they loved it! (I'm sure it helped that the building itself is very beautiful, and Father has a great voice....)

All in all this was one of the best retreats I've had.  I won't even complain about having to scrape ice off my car on Sunday morning, because the rest of the weekend was just so full of awesome.

Oh,  almost forgot:  if anyone ever needs a bakery cake and the Moon Township Giant Eagle is within reasonable distance, definitely get your cake from there.  Try the white almond cake with buttercream frosting.  Paradise in a box, no kidding.

Just a Passing Thought......

Phone just rang, and on the other end was a person whose voice, once she asked her question (related to pricing of certain alterations on a bridesmaid dress), sounded a little familiar.  I gave her the same ballpark figures I give everyone (I can't quote over the phone, because obviously I can't see you in the garment from here).  After she hung up I checked the call log on my phone and yes, it was the same person.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because the first time she called, she scheduled a fitting appointment.

(The reason she called a second time is that my business had another name a few years ago, and depending on where you look for my number, you can come up with either name - but the phone number has been the same for 10 years.)

So, here's a tip:  if you need to check prices, call everyone you intend to ask for an estimate before you book an appointment. And be prepared to be told that the actual estimate, once you keep the appointment, is higher than what you were told over the phone; you may think one thing is the problem but the issue might really be something entirely different, and I charge according to what I have to do, not what the client tells me is needed.