Thursday, March 01, 2018

All in Black and White Again

Here we are all in black and white again.

It's only March 1st. No Michigan resident could have seriously believed the winter was over. And yet I think we all were hoping.

I enjoy winter. I love a good blizzard, as long as my loved ones aren't driving in it. But come the end of February we are all getting a little weary. Shoveling snow is hard work.

Today the temp is hovering a little above freezing, meaning the snow will be wet and heavy, the hardest kind to remove.

And yet it is as beautiful as ever in its monochromatic starkness. The big, heavy wet flakes are descending on us. They would probably melt right away if it weren't for their sheer volume. Hour after hour they will come, until a number of inches have accumulated.

Well, time to enjoy it yet again, and even this may not be the last snowfall of the season. We could have another, even two, even three. Or it may be the last. We never know in Michigan. Every year is different.

Perhaps that is why some say living in a cold climate helps produce character. We have to accept. We have to endure. And realizing that we never know what tomorrow may bring helps us place ourselves in the hands of God. It's true not just for weather but for our very lives.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Construction Update....

So, moving right along..., They have completed the exterior siding. Best view of siding going up was from my kitchen window.

 So, naturally, that is the view we arranged for Blaise... The workman pictured above would occasionally turn and wave.  So kind.

And, yes, I did, with his mother's permission, let him sit on the counter with his feet in the sink. He thoroughly enjoyed watching the siding progress and then, naturally could not resist a little water play in the process.

Half the flooring complete...

And, now, all the flooring is installed and one coat of finish has been applied. It may be completely finished by the end of the week.

All I can think of is dance floor!!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Word On Fire Classics: Orthodoxy

I have had G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy on my book shelf for some time. Now I must read it. You have to love Bishop Robert Barron's ability to succinctly summarize a truth.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Federal Holiday is Still Called Washington's Birthday!

Did you know that the name of the holiday we celebrate on the third Monday in February is George Washington's Birthday?  This in spite of the fact that George Washington's actual birthday is February 22.  In 1971, Congress, always acting in the people's best interest (tongue in cheek), passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to give workers more three day weekends.  Yes, they really did that.  This act effected George Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran's Day.

 I enjoy a three day weekend as much as anyone else.  But when you have a holiday named George Washington's Birthday and we know that George Washington's birthday is February 22, does it really make sense to change it to the third Monday?  Almost seems dishonest.  Anyway, that's Congress.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12 and the third Monday in February is usually between February 12 and February 22.  Thus the holiday, George Washington's birthday, has morphed into something called President's day. But, let it be known, the federal holiday is still officially called George Washington's birthday.

There.  Got that off my chest. :-)

George Washington is rightly called the Father of Our Country as indeed he is.  I just finished reading his first inaugural address and I'm all teary eyed.  What an amazing man.  What an incredible leader.

 Mount Vernon, George Washington's home

View from Mount Vernon

Views from Mount Vernon, George Washington's home

Much of what I am about to write about George Washington is from the Mount Vernon website and www.history. com. Mount Vernon is, of course, the home of George Washington and is a fascinating place to visit.  The Mount Vernon website provides a wealth of information about our first president.

Washington was a Virginia gentleman and a successful farmer and businessman.  He was one of the largest land holders in the U.S. at that time owning 8,000 acres at Mount Vernon and 50,000 acres elsewhere. He knew first hand the effect of British taxes on the colonists and supported independence from Great Britain very early on.  As a Virginia delegate to the First Continental Congress, Washington was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and eventually led it to victory.

Washington was a valiant commander in chief. states "George Washington exhibited great steadiness and courage in battle and was frequently near the front lines during his many battles.  At the Battle of Monongahela in 1755, Washington had two horses shot out from underneath him and his coat was pierced by four musket balls.  At Kip's Bay and the Battle of Princeton, Washington risked his own life when rushing to the front lines to rally his flagging troops."

In 1787 he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention and was elected its president.  He was the first to sign the Constitution.

Washington did not want to be president.  He wanted to return to Mt. Vernon to his family and farming but instead bowed to public pressure.  He won the election very easily.  John Adams, who came in second, became vice president.  At that time there wasn't a popular vote for president.  Only the Electoral College voted for president.  George Washington was elected unanimously twice, the only U.S. president to ever have this distinction.  At the time the United States consisted of 11 states with a population of 4 million people. (Today the U.S. population is 318 million.)

Washington D.C. had not been built so Washington never lived in the White House, although he was very involved in its design as well as in the design of the U.S. Capital.  As president Washington lived in New York and Philadelphia.

According to the Mount Vernon website, at the age of 28, George Washington was 6 ft. 2 inches tall, weighed 174 pounds, and was known as energetic and an excellent dancer. "Dancing was an important part of the social fabric of 18th century life.  And as Washington's social stature began to rise, the number of balls, cotillions, parties, and dances he was invited to also rose considerably. Young Washington, blessed with an athletic frame, quickly came to love dancing and there are many accounts of his dancing throughout the night with an array of female guests."

Did he have wooden false teeth as some have said?  He did not, but he was plagued with many teeth problems and he did have dentures eventually. has some very interesting information about George Washington's teeth problems.  You will feel great sympathy for Washington and deep gratitude for modern dentistry.

Yes, he owned slaves, a topic the New York Times today, as we celebrate Washington's birthday, so tastelessly decided to detail in an op-ed piece.  But he did have some reservations about slavery and ultimately was the only slave owning president to provide for freedom for all of his slaves in his will.

Under President Washington, the United States became a country, not only by winning independence from England, but also by instituting many of the structures that are a part of the fabric of our country even today.  He signed the Judiciary Act of 1789, establishing a six member Supreme Court and the position of Attorney General, and authorizing the creation of a Department of Foreign Affairs (later to be called the State Department), and a Secretary of State.

He signed the Coinage Act of 1792 that established the dollar as our currency.

He authorized the construction of six frigates, the start of the U.S. Navy, with the Naval Act of 1794.

And Washington is said to have read the Bible and prayed every day, on his knees.  From Washington's first inaugural address:
No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. 
Read the entire address HERE.

 May God continue to provide for and bless these United States of America.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Recent Sights That Have Made Me Smile

Here is the new room, sheetrock up, opened to the old family room. I'm loving the light.

And then this thank you message from my daughter for the valentine I sent sweet.

And yet another gorgeous sunrise out my eastern bedroom window. The glory of God every morning. I don't know how anyone can see the magnificent beauty of a sunrise or a sunset and still question the existence of God. His glory is all over everything.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

Remember man that you are dust....yes.

Ash Wednesday as a day of fast and abstinence allows those of us who have led privileged lives to experience something unfamiliar-- hunger. For many people, this is an every day occurrence. For us it is jarringly unfamiliar and even a little distressing. Perhaps, because of our weakness, we are thus given a special opportunity to offer something to the Lord.

But Lent is much deeper than hunger. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 540:
Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning." (Heb 4:15) By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.
Surely, Jesus experienced temptation to a degree unlike anything we can imagine.

Lent is a time of great grace. May we not miss the opportunities we are offered to receive more of what the Lord longs to give us. From CCC 1438:
The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).
And from In Conversation with God, the meditation for Ash Wednesday: "God wants to detach ourselves from the things of the earth and return to him. He wants us to abandon sin, which makes us grow old and die, and for us to return to the fount of life and joy." Jesus Christ himself is the most sublime grace of the whole of Lent. (From an Ash Wednesday homily 2/28/1979 Pope Saint John Paul, II)

May each of us experience a holy Lent.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blaise Learning to Talk-- "Come ON!!"

Blaise looks very much like his mother did as a baby. The only people who don't think he resembles his mother are those who didn't know her as a baby. But Blaise's budding ability to communicate very much resembles his dad.

His father, my son-in-law, is a very engaging person who is hilariously funny. I see the beginnings of these traits in Blaise.

As Blaise learns to talk he has added some emphatic, and rather funny, expressions. Shortly after learning the word no, Blaise started saying no way, only he emphasized the way as though it were an emphatic suffix. He would say no oo-way. And this in answer to simple yes/no questions such as Would you like some juice? No oo-way! I'm sure he wondered why everyone would chuckle at his responses. He was just expressing his own personal intensity.

More recently he has added the expression Okay, fine. And this again in answer to a yes/no question. Would you like some oatmeal? Okay, fine. It is as though he has learned another way to add an intensifier to his answers. I find it linguistically interesting as well as humorous.

I think my favorite example was when Blaise learned the expression Come on! In various situations he will say Come on! It's hilarious. Once there was a repairman in his kitchen trying to fill out a receipt. The pen wasn't working. He shook it, scribbled, shook it again, and quietly said under his breath (to the pen) "Come on." Blaise echoed him with a forceful, "Come on!"

This child is just so funny. Grandchildren are such a gift.