Prayer of St. Ignatius

Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. 1John 3:18

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three men and a girl



AKA -- I made an apology in advance to our neighbors this weekend. "For awhile, our driveway and curb are going to look like a used car lot."



All the chicks are back home. On Thursday, Faith and I went to campus to pack up the kitchen of Joshua's apartment and fill the van with boxes to bring home. On Saturday, we took a car and a van and loaded them up and brought the rest home (a lot of which went straight to the curb because of stupid landlord rules that it couldn't go in the dumpster). I cleaned the apartment and we locked up and left. As I did all this, I had many thoughts to share with those of you following closely in my footsteps -- getting ready to send your babies off to college. Alas, those thoughts are now gone, like the gray, sudsy water down the drain.

An acquaintance once told me regarding the condition of college dwellings, "After you move them into their dorm (or apartment) you can never go back. The sight of it is like looking into the sun -- it will blind you." I completely agree. The problem with college dorms and apartments is they are never clean to begin with, so you can hardly leave a truly clean dwelling behind, and the dirt accumulated in a year is astonishing.

And really, you can hardly not go back and get them, right?

I suppose I could have pulled up to the curb and said, "Load it up and hop in."

At present, my garage is full of boxes -- some that have belongings that will be stored until the wedding next year, and some that need to be unpacked, and all contents washed in hot water and harsh soap before they are put away.

The funny thing is, or not funny if you are me, I thought I had a whole week to catch up before I moved Geoffrey home (for three weeks until his grown up apartment is ready). But, after we arrived home and unloaded the boxes on Saturday, Geoffrey arrived in his car loaded full of his boxes. He is home, for good (temporarily), but will go back each day and bring more home. Most of it will stay in the garage for a month and get moved to his next apartment in August.

Do I have any advice? I told Doug we have a new rule --"If you leave home for college you can never come back." I know...that's mean. So, I'll revise it to "If you go away to college, your stuff can never come back." These kids today think they should have all the comforts of home while they are away at college. Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of "comforts of home"? So, I guess my advice would be -- don't set them up for comfort at college, set them up for school. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't let them take their electronic gaming consoles, or DVDs and viewing devices, and I would spend a lot less money on anything devised to comfort. I also won't be cleaning any more college apartments. Nope. You're on your own there.

So now the kitchen table is full at meal time again, and I am exhausted. I cooked a big meal yesterday (this dish with my own homemade sauce and meatballs -- six "yums") and an apple pie for dessert. I cooked most of the day (I've never been able to reconcile "no work on Sunday" with big Sunday dinner). My washer has been running almost constantly since Thursday evening and I have hardly a dent in the piles. First world problem, I know.

Lucky for you, I didn't take one photo, so you can wait to be blinded by your own experiences.



I did take this photo at home yesterday -- this is me for the rest of the week.







Thursday, July 17, 2014

Word crimes



My eldest son sent this video to me with the comment, "Weird Al really understands me."

I laughed out loud when I watched it.

I admit to being guilty of a few of these word crimes, especially on this blog. But my children and I all text in complete sentences, which, I hope, says something of their education. We most definitely are grammar snobs. Between Dominican sisters who taught me in primary school, and wonderful homeschooling English texts written before 1965,  I even think in proper grammar. Yesterday I was trying to decide, in my head, if the pronoun I had just used in the sentence, in my head, was in the correct form and if the pronoun I used (me) should be in the nominative or objective case -- while I was doing my laundry! By the way, the sentence called for an objective case pronoun, so I was correct. Too much? Maybe, but I hopefully won't be guilty of many of these word crimes, though I do use quotations marks for emphasis ::blush::

I hope you get a laugh out of it.


PS There are a couple of mature Weird Al-isms in the video, but I'm confident they will go over any child's head.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Yarn Along...Tiny Tea Leaves cont'd.








I'm still working on my Tiny Tea Leaves sweater for Faith. Just this morning she asked me if it was finished yet and I replied, "It's not exactly sweater weather." She said, "I know, I just wanted to know if it was finished." She must have plans, because Faith always has a purpose when she inquires anything. It has been cooler than normal, so maybe she thinks it will get some wear before October.






I'm in the home stretch as I am about a quarter of the way finished with the second sleeve. I must confess, I have real problems with the first and last picked up stitches at the armholes. They never really look secure and I always worry that they will come loose and leave a big gap. Any suggestions from more experienced sweater knitters?




I am listening to Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra. It is the shocking and true story of the author's life in and out of foster homes in Suffolk County New York and the life in between foster homes with her abusive and extraordinarily neglectful mother. The author tells how she grew up at a very young age, not only by witnessing her mother's sinful and hateful behavior, but by being left to mother her younger siblings at an age when she could barely take care of herself. It is so very sad, and appalling to know that this sort of neglect, both by a mother, and a government child care system takes place in this country. While it did happen several decades ago, I'm sure it still happens in many places and to many, many children.

I gave up on listening to  Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott. Some books are just better read than listened to, and that is one. I haven't finished reading  Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard yet. A dozen pages a night makes for slow going. My eyes just won't stay open for more than that. 

I need to start looking for another project when I finish the sweater, but in the meantime I have an order of six scapulars to sew and have delivered by July 15, so I best go get sewing.



While I was outside taking photos of the sweater, I couldn't resist getting a picture of my praying angel. She looks so sweet among the green and red foliage.



Check out Ginny's post for some more knitting projects and some summer reading!




Tuesday, July 08, 2014

{7/8}...streaming




















You can't see it in this picture, but the tree tops over our house were swaying with the incredible gusts of wind all day.



Last night we went to bed to an incredible storm. I was so tired that only the really loud claps of thunder woke me, but it lasted for quite a long time. Fortunately there were no tornado sirens and we stayed in our beds. The weather over the weekend was so beautiful with temps in the 70s and clear blue skies, that the storms before the weekend and after make it seem as if God did us a great favor by giving us super Fourth weather. I know we couldn't possible have had gorgeous weather all over the country (in fact, I hear they definitely didn't in North Carolina), but I am grateful for ours.

~~~~~

Faith and I went on our first official bike ride tonight and I am scouting out all the dedicated bike trails that are close by. I didn't fall my first time out, so I consider it a success. Faith chuckled at me a few times until I told her that if she was going to laugh at me I wouldn't take her along any more. She stopped after that.

~~~~~


In my post yesterday, I forgot to tell you a heart-warming story that I heard at Mass on Sunday. A friend from our church celebrated her daughter's wedding on the Fourth of July. Her daughter was engaged to a Marine and last week he learned he was going to be deployed -- just days before the wedding. A serious conference with several commanding officers apparently got the deployment delayed, and on Wednesday the young groom set off from one of the Carolinas to Columbus to obtain the marriage license for the Friday wedding. His car broke down somewhere in North Carolina. After he had it towed to a mechanic, he learned the mechanic wouldn't be able to have it repaired until sometime Thursday, but not in time for him to make it to the state department for the license. While his fiancee calculated how long it would take to drive to North Carolina and back and whether they would make it in time, he had it towed to a dealership nearby. After explaining the situation to the service department the manager of the dealership gave him the keys to a brand new sports car and told him to bring it back when he returns after his honeymoon. He said they'd have his car repaired by then. The young man explained that he wouldn't be back for ten days, and the manager told him to enjoy his wedding and honeymoon. 

There are still incredible people in this world, who apparently have a great appreciation for our men in uniforms and the institution of marriage. Amen.



Monday, July 07, 2014

A camera/brain dump



It's been a long ten days since I was last here. We had a busy holiday and few days leading up to. Lots of family, food and (illegal) fireworks. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the "three Fs." Once people arrive, I never remember to get my camera out -- just too much too do, cooking and playing.
So, there is a lot more brain dump than camera dump to this post.





























I have been sewing a lot. I finished that baby boy quilt, but didn't want to post photos until I knew the recipient received it. And he did. He's such a cutie.

On my birthday, I decided that all my skirts needed a "cut" and I cut eight inches off all of them. They are now knee length and I feel a lot less dowdy. They are not short, by any stretch, but I think the length they were was fairly matronly. Since then I stitched another blouse for Faith, some cloth napkins, and added some pretty fabric to some hand towels for the half bath. I have fabric for two blouses for me, one more for Faith, some little drawstring bags to hold some little Folkmanis hand puppets for birthday gifts, and I want to try making covers for the Magnificat -- maybe something for the shop. I'm never short on projects. I also have seven scapulars to hand sew.

We had a big crowd for the Fourth. I cooked for two days preparing drinks, dinner, and desserts, and we had travelers from Maryland, Kentucky, and Cincinnati. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We decorated more than we usually do for the Fourth, and the flower arrangement above was a sort of "test drive" for wedding arrangements. The blue color is from Water Gems -- cool, huh? As usual, Doug had a lot of fireworks, most of which were illegal in Ohio, but please don't tell the local police. Our new neighbors from California said they have hardly ever seen fireworks because there is usually a ban on them where they are from because of the fire hazard. And the girlies next door, the twins, saw their first fireworks right out in front of the house. They loved them!

Speaking of the girlies, one of the twins had open heart surgery today. I don't know what the name of the condition was, but the surgery was partly repairing a hole in her heart and partly something else. I went over at 5 this morning to stay with the other little one, as they had to be at the hospital at 6. Shortly after noon, I got news that the surgery was over and was a success. The doctors called it "textbook," so now we're praying for a textbook recovery, as well. I think I'll be in bed early tonight -- it's been a while since I got up at 5 a.m.

Before my brother Jeff left town for Maryland, he bought and delivered a new bike -- for me! I was stunned -- I can't remember when anyone gave me such a generous gift. He is a serious cyclist and I had asked him to look at a bike we got second hand from my in-laws last year. I wanted to have it fixed up so Faith and I could go riding. He went to a bike repair shop and found out many of the parts are not made anymore, and since I wanted wider tires on it, they would pretty much have to remake the bike. So, he bought me a new one. Today I bought a basket, and a helmet, so I am ready to go. I haven't ridden in more than 25 years, so I think I have a steep relearning curve ahead. But once I am back in the saddle, so to speak, I think it will be fun to get around on two wheels. Our small town has a lot of bike paths, so we should be able to travel quite a bit by bicycle.

I think that's quite a bit of excitement for the last ten days! At least it feels like I need a short vacation now. Or maybe just an early bedtime.





Monday, June 30, 2014

The Winner



I hope you all haven't been holding your collective breath, because I am many days overdue in announcing the winner of the rosary giveaway. It's been a rare moment when I've been home since I announced the giveaway, so please pardon the delay.

I know for certain that this dear woman was meant to have this rosary, because after I first picked the slip of paper with her name on it, I noticed one slip of paper had fallen to the floor before I placed them in the bowl. So, I put all the slips in again and I picked her name another time. Destiny!

Congratulations, Anne. Email me your address and I'll get it right in the mail.











Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yarn along and some chatter




  I'm joining Ginny at Small Things today for knitting and some chit chat.




 


I hit the ground running today, and while it didn't feel good at first, I sure am glad I did it. I was slicing strawberries for fruit salad at 7 a.m. and delivered walking taco lunch, fruit salad and dessert to dance camp by 10 a.m. I had a load of laundry done and a birthday cake in the oven by 11:30, and when the tornado drill siren sounded at noon I was almost finished with the vanilla custard ice cream base. I had a brief teary moment when I remembered that today was my grandma's birthday as well -- this is the first birthday without her. I loved that we shared a birthday. I love thinking that for one year, I was her birthday present, her first granddaughter. Now I am asking for her prayers in heaven. St. Mary Ann, pray for me! 



I finished the Tiny Tea Leaves body and when I started on the sleeve I realized I did not have the correct size dpns. I have already knit this sweater once, so I either lost those needles -- unlikely -- or I used the wrong size last time. I had to order some in the correct size, and they just arrived today, so I guess instead of sewing neat stitches on my quilt, I will knit neat rows of sweater sleeve. I find that both knitting neat rows (not lace) and sewing neat quilt squares by hand is very therapeutic for anxiety. Neat and tidy, and not exciting. Just choosing the next colored square is enough excitement these days. I actually feared I would wake up this morning and feel so awful I would not be able to get lunch finished for dance camp. Thank you for those prayers -- they carried me through. Hopefully my busy morning will not have me yawning by 8 o'clock when the rubber chicken dinner speeches commence this evening.  Though I probably will be. Please excuse.







I saw this book this morning at Reinventing Mother, and I decided to order it on whim (hopefully not a regretful decision) for my kindle. The title is An Everlasting Meal and it looked so interesting, because I am nothing if not a practical woman. It looks to be like the cooking version of Home Comforts, a book I enjoy reading over and over.

I am also listening to Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott. It is the continuation of Little Women, which I did not know was even in existence (gasp!), and it must have been a while since I read Little Women and I am confusing the book with some films because there are parts of this book which I thought happened in Little Women which are actually happening in Good Wives. Make sense? Not really? Bad sentence structure, too, but I have caramel icing to make so I can't stop and fix it. 

Anyway, it's all good -- at least Louisa May Alcott, and Buttermilk Cake with Caramel Icing, homemade vanilla custard ice cream, and another birthday. Happy 52nd to me.

Have a wonderful June 25th...six months until Christmas. {wink}



Note: Amazon affiliates contained



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

{6/24}...streaming and a giveaway



I had to throw that "giveaway" in there to get your attention, didn't I? Maybe I did, but it's authentic -- a giveaway at the end of this post. Now, don't go scrolling to the bottom. That's cheating. {wink}


I'm having a bit of a pity party this week. Want to come? That's why I decided to have a giveaway. You'll all come to my party and maybe it will cheer me up as much as the winner.

This week Faith is at dance camp, and Noah spends his mornings at summer school, so instead of doing laundry, ironing, or paying bills, I decided to sit down and blog. Because I am having a pity party.

Tomorrow's my birthday. I know, I know, I should be happy. But, I'm not happy about getting older (cough: 52: cough). I should be happy that I am getting older and not dead, but really, that's not a very high spot to set the bar is it? Let's rise above "at least you're not dead."

I'm having a pity party because tomorrow's my birthday and I have to attend a rubber chicken dinner with my husband. You know what a rubber chicken dinner is, right? It's a big event, where you sit with people you don't know, and make polite conversation, while you eat chicken and vegetables (and God forbid a pre-set salad: shudder) that has been prepared in quantities to feed 500, and then you listen to a speech with a big request for money while trying not to look at your watch, or phone. Sounds like fun, right? And here I thought I was going to get to go out to dinner. Well, I guess I sort of am. At least I won't be cooking. To top that joy, my husband informed that this organization (The Catholic Foundation) decided to schedule this event every year on June 25, so as long as my husband is in Catholic fundraising in this city, guess what I can always look forward to on my birthday?

Ok, enough about my birthday. I am still planning to bake my own cake, however. And eat at least two pieces. I'll skip the rubber chicken.

I'm also having a pity party because the PT did not work. I repeat, did not work. That blah blah blah pop. Nothing. Halfway into my grocery trip on Saturday I could tell. It was a long day, and not only did the pain not go away, but the bursitis in my hip (the location where the IT band originates) got worse. So I think instead of stretching the band, she just managed to pull on it and aggravate the bursa. You can google those terms if you're interested, but it's nothing very interesting. I always laugh when I google them because IT band syndrome is typically found in runners and cyclists. Ha! I'd just like to walk, and now sit, without pain.

Another fun thing going on is I am weaning myself off of Neurontin (generic is gabapentin), a drug my doctor prescribed when the nerve pain in my leg started two years ago. I can't believe I've been dealing with this pain for two years, but I have. Actually my doctor's colleague put me on it while she was on vacation. Did she tell me this was a brain drug and it would alter my brain's chemistry and I would have to wean myself off of it over months, maybe a year, and experience really uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms? No, she did not. The really frustrating part of this withdrawal is, it's not like withdrawing from illegal drugs, or even pain medication, because I never felt the effects of it. It never made me feel good or relaxed or gave me any of the effects you get from using other drugs that cause withdrawal. But, now that I am going off of it, it causes anxiety and a feeling I can't really describe other than I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I have restless sleep, and jumpy legs. Sounds fun, huh? You want to do it, too, right? It's going to be a long time before I am off of it completely because the brain takes a long time to start doing the things that this drug was doing for it. In other words, my brain stopped doing something that it needs to start doing now. I tell you, never ever go on a drug that changes your brain unless you really have no other choice, and you are fixing your brain with the drug and not your leg. I'll take pain any day over feeling anxious and creepy. I don't think it ever really worked for the pain anyway, so that's why I'm going off of it.

So, now that all that is on the table, we can really talk.

I got all my plants in pots over the weekend. That was a good distraction.  Here's a few of my pretties:







This is a lemon drop wishbone flower. Can you see the little wishbone that the stamens make. Isn't it sweet?




And this is a pretty Margarita gerbera daisy on the back deck table. She's such a pretty girl.




The front porch got a makeover, not only with fairway coleus and prism sunshine petunias, but with cushions and pillows.




If you need me, I'll be hanging out right there.





Oh, and here's a bonus picture. This Strawberry Yogurt Cake just tastes like summer. yum.


And now...a giveaway. In an Etsy shop, when you list an item, you pay a small fee for the item to stay in your shop for four months. After four months, the item "expires" and you have to pay another small fee to renew the listing. This pretty rosary "expired" (I really don't like that word) and instead of renewing the listing, I am just going to give it away. It's too pretty to languish in a white box in my cabinet.





And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, `They are my people';
and they will say, `The Lord is my God.'" Zechariah 19:3





This rosary is made with the colors of fire and silver. The Ave beads are 6mm silver Swarovski pearls, and the Pater beads are 8mm Swarovski deep red coral satin. 

They are much more beautiful than can be captured in a photo.




The beads are wire wrapped by hand with non-tarnishing 20 gauge silver wire.





 The center, a Madonna on one side and image of "Ecce Homo" on the reverse, and the beautiful scrolled crucifix are both made from pewter.






The solid structure of the wire wrapping makes this rosary almost indestructible.


If you would like a chance to win this rosary, just leave a comment in the comment box, or send me an email at momoffthegrid(at)gmail(dot)com (replace the words and parentheses with symbols). 

I will choose a winner at 7pm on June 26, the Feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, one of my favorite saints. Here is what he says about the rosary:


The Holy Rosary: the joys, the sorrows, and the glories of the life of Our Lady weave a crown of praises, repeated ceaselessly by the Angels and the Saints in Heaven–and by those who love our Mother here on earth. 
Practice this holy devotion every day, and spread it. 
The Forge, 621


And remember me in your prayers, if you would. They are the greatest gift any one can give another.








Friday, June 20, 2014

A week's end

Whenever I think of the "weekend" I always remember Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton saying, "What is a week end?" Don't you sometimes wish you lived in a world where one day was just as good as another? All equal in their loveliness? I sort of do, I must say, but weekends still hold that charm, even though they often require a lot more work than week days. I live in an opposites world!


Happy Friday!

Today is officially the last day of school for the "school year," except for the CAT tests Faith needs to take week after next. Next week is dance camp and after that it will be July! I hope to take about six weeks off. I think the school kids around here go back mid-August now, which means the pool closes and no one rings our door bell at 10 am asking for Faith.

Ever since we started dance three years ago, I feel like my summer gets a really late start -- recital is end of May. I don't even have flowers in pots yet. I'm not sure there will be much left at the garden store. My perennial garden is full of weeds and it's already too hot to get out there. I have so little energy right now, I feel like I can barely make it through the minimum around the house. I find it's so hard to know what I should be able to do because I feel like I don't do enough. Some people, like my friend Jennie, down on the farm, could run circles around me all day long. Yet other people, who sit at a desk all day, come home and sit on a sofa and watch TV all evening. I'm somewhere in the middle but I feel like I get worn out pretty early in the day lately.

Yesterday I went to physical therapy and I thought it would be my last visit, but after the PT pushed and pushed on massaged my IT band, she moved my leg and my hip made this loud "pop." She said it was the loudest blah blah blah pop she had ever heard in her 30 years as a physical therapist (she called it something but I didn't catch it). It didn't sound that remarkable to me. In fact, I'm pretty sure my joints pop quite a bit all the time. But now she wants me back next week to see if there was some sort of miraculous recovery. Not. After seeing her, and really thinking about this "condition," I truly believe that my hysterectomy et al. six years ago caused most of these problems, or not really "caused" as in something was done incorrectly, but that they resulted from the surgery. I know I have a lot of scar tissue, and I really think that is causing the back problems and leg problems. But I don't think there is much to do about scar tissue. Further surgeries would just cause more. My primary care doctor (too many cooks in the kitchen?) is referring me to a physical medicine doctor who can "supposedly" ablate the nerve that causes the pain. I think it's a long shot, but here's to hoping. "clink"

Ok, on to fun. Next week is a big birthday weekend. My father, brother, both grandmothers, and "moi" all have birthdays within three days of each other. When I was little, I loved sharing my birthday with every one else. We just added more candles and lit them again...very practical but a lot more spit on the cake. This year, after the loss of my beloved grandma, there are now only two of us to celebrate on earth. But, I will certainly remember all the years we had to celebrate together. Next Saturday, our family is having a reunion, which we don't traditionally do with any regularity. Since my grandma died in February I think we all realized how very little we see each other, and we should make more of an effort. The farthest one to come is from Florida, and most are within a couple hours' drive. I hope to see a lot of family and I think my younger cousin is awesome for hosting and pulling it all together.

In the middle of the week, on my birthday, I am sponsoring lunch at dance camp. I love these "tween" girls with their abundant energy, and constant chatter and love for each other, and am taking them walking tacos, fruit salad, and snickerdoodle bars. I am hopeful that my husband will take me out to dinner so I can use all my energy before lunch and then relax. I am planning my dessert however, and I think I will just have to bake my own cake again. Not because I HAVE to do it, like no one else will (though no one else will), but restaurant dessert just doesn't equal homemade cake and ice cream. I think it's Buttermilk cake and caramel icing again. Wanna come?

This weekend we have absolutely nothing on the calendar. Happy sigh. I hope the heat breaks a little so I can get the rest of the garden weeded and mulched, and some flowers put in my pots. I actually think I will plant all coleus this year. I love those beautifully-vibrant leaves. 

And in between the items on my to-do list, I'll be parked right here.




I have been working on my quilt quite a bit, as you can see. I'd like it to be at least square, which would be 18 squares by 18. Right now it's 18 by 7, so I have a a lot of stitching to do. I'd really like it to be longer than it is wide, so I'm thinking 18 x 24, but we'll see how it progresses. Next week I'll post some tips, so if you want to start your own hand-stitched quilt, you can see how easy it really is. I am kind of working on both ends right now. When it's finished, I'd like the top and the bottom to be all blue, with the opposite corners shades of blue and the gradient of colors in between. It's sort of random, I guess you could say. Random with intention. There ya go.

And I'll share a little secret -- I watch Luther while I'm quilting. It's a BBC modern-day detective show. Definitely not for the kids because it is a police show, ya know -- murder mysteries -- but it's good. As good as Sherlock, I'd say, without the wonderful quirkiness of Benedict Cumberbatch. The third season just came up on Netflix a week or so ago. I watched it and then decided to start over again. Shhh...don't tell my husband I am loafing during the day.

And here's a little bonus for you. I took one of the photos I posted in Monday's post and placed it as my computer's wallpaper. It's so cheery. I challenge you to put one of these photos on your computer's wallpaper and not smile. {wink}





Have a happy weekend.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Smelly Blog and a Good Story...



...so grab a cup of coffee, or fetch your glass of iced tea.


I have been using my deodorant, so I can only imagine your lack of participation (ahem), here is because the reading material stinks. Maybe you're all very busy doing what summer requires of you, but I see by my feed stats that you are most definitely stopping in to visit, you just don't feel like talking. And that's ok. Maybe you just don't have anything to say about that last post. It's very possible my life just flat out bores you. It flat out bores me a lot. Also, I have been there -- just not much to say and so I leave and don't say anything.

The funny thing is, this morning, after two days of waiting for you to stop by and say something (thanks, Patty!), I got a request in my inbox to complete a survey on why I blog. A girl from Poland doing a research paper contacted me. Did she contact you, too? It was harmless information she wanted, and I feel empathy for people who have to reach out to strangers and ask for help, so I completed it. Really, she just wanted to know why I blog. Many people apparently blog for money, but clearly I would be homeless if I did that. By her questions and my answers, I remembered why I blog -- to make new friends and to share common interests.

So if you are one of those people who show up in my feed stats, stopping by every day or so, but you never say "hi," please do. I'd love to know who you are. I feel like you are popping into to my kitchen, and I'm waiting to chat with you.



And on that note, today I am going to share a story. It's one I have told few people, but when I do, it gives me a great feeling to see how they react. Most people are at first, disbelieving, and then filled with great hope.

Interested?

This is, in many ways, an extraordinarily sad story. There is just no getting around telling it without telling the sad part. But it is, in the end, really a glorious story. Because if you believe in God, if you believe in heaven, if you believe in miracles, it is not sad at all.

On the Thursday after Easter, in the year 1982, my father died. He quietly died of a heart attack, sitting in his favorite recliner in the family room, taking a short nap in the evening after dinner, while my mother quietly ironed in the kitchen, just 20 feet away. My father was 42 years old. I was 19 years old, and away at college. Two of my brothers were upstairs in their rooms, and the other was working.

My mother heard my father start to wake up from his short nap (she heard him push the foot part of the recliner chair down), but then she heard nothing else. When she checked on him a while later, he was gone, or mostly gone. She called an ambulance and she called my brothers from upstairs. My brothers, both in high school, started CPR (something which I believe earned them a special place in heaven).

We'll never know if my father was still alive, if my brothers kept him alive at all, or if he was gone. The ambulance arrived, and our neighbors came over, and the medics tried to help him for a brief time. Likely they saw what the situation was in reality and loaded my father on a stretcher and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced DOA.

Sad story. I know (and here I was just thinking I was being boring and now I am flat out being sad).

But while the ambulance was in the drive with its lights flashing red streaks in the dark night, a man walked across the lawn and through the open front door and asked if he could help. He wore a black shirt, black pants and a white collar. He was a Catholic priest.

My mother told the priest that we were Catholic, what had happened, and he went to my father, bent over him while the medics worked, and gave my father Last Rites. My father was unconscious, there was no Confession, no Holy Eucharist, just (extra) ordinary Last Rites.

The Code of Canon Law (1005) says, "This sacrament (Anointing of the Sick) is to be administered in a case of doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, is dangerously ill, or is dead."

A month or so ago Faith and I read in her religion book (Seton's Religion 6 for Young Catholics):
"If a person dies suddenly, a priest should be called because the priest is allowed to give absolution and to give the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This means that even though a person has died, since no one is sure when the soul leaves the body, the soul may still be present and he would receive the benefits of the Sacrament."

When a loved one dies, a Catholic's greatest concern is whether or not that person's soul will go to heaven (at least most Catholics I know). We often don't have Anointing before death. How many people die suddenly, in car accidents, of unknown medical conditions, of heart attacks? What a great joy to know that even after death, we still have the chance for salvation!

The miraculous part of this story is that after the priest administered Last Rites, he left. He walked out the door and disappeared. My mother said there was no car anywhere in sight. And in the commotion of the medics taking my father out and the ambulance leaving, she lost track of where the priest went. She asked our neighbors if they knew him, but no one did. I'm sure, in reality the story is not as mysterious as it sounds, we just don't know the whole truth. But in appearance, a man of God came out of no where, granted my father the chance of eternal salvation, and then disappeared.

Whoever he is, he has my eternal gratitude, and I pray, a most wonderful place in heaven.