Thursday, December 05, 2013

From this morning's reading in Magnificat.

Pride sets subtle snares.  Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life-- our own or someone else's-- we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden:  "You shall be like gods."  Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross.
I love this quote.  I have seen it in Magnificat before and every time I read it it hits me.  Not only are we not in control of others' lives, we are not in control of our own.  Yes, we have choices.  We have lots of choices.  We can choose to love.  We can choose to let go.  But there is an awful lot that we must just accept because it is beyond us.  To do otherwise, to fret and wring our hands, to get angry and emotionally flail about, all these reactions do is destroy our peace.  Yes, there is a time to speak up, a time to fight, a time to try to bring about some kinds of change.  But, for the most part, our everyday life requires acceptance if we are to know peace.

Hope you are having a blessed Advent.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Today is a cold gray day, the kind of day that builds character.  And there will be worse days to come this winter.  It gives one the opportunity to learn endurance and to pull peace and joy from within.

Thanksgiving!  Hope yours was wonderful.  We had only 6 people at our Thanksgiving table, the smallest number in a very long time.  Four family members could not come.  One son in London.  One son in Dallas.  And one daughter and son-in-law in Atlanta.  So we missed all of them but look forward to Christmas when everyone will be home.

It was a fun day, nevertheless, with Mary and Liz, and Mike in from Indiana, and his girlfriend Katie who flew in from New York.  I still bought a 20 pound turkey.  Force of habit.  And everyone enjoys the leftovers.

And now here Advent is upon us!!  Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel!  We were able to celebrate the First Sunday of Advent before Mike and Katie left.

Mike loves to sing, and since his girlfriend Katie is a vocal performance major in grad. school, I did not have to twist any arms to get our little group to sing.  Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel!!

"Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord."  Psalm 122

Monday, November 25, 2013

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

      his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

Lamentations 3:22-23
This was the view from my bedroom window this morning.  The glory of God all over everything.  How often he gives us these spectacular color displays as we start a new day!  And when we end our day as well!

The Lord is good all the time.  It is so easy to take his ongoing and lavish gifts for granted.  May we always be grateful!

Friday, November 22, 2013

When I wrote the previous post I had not realized that today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, may he rest in peace.

When the assassination happened I was in third grade, in Sister Joseph Therese's classroom at St. John the Baptist School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  If my memory serves me correctly, Sister was called into the hallway by someone who spoke to her.  When she came back into the classroom, she had a look on  her face very similar to when we were about to get into very big trouble.  She then quietly said that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.  I believe we were all dismissed then to go home.

Even as young as we were, we all knew that something very, very horrible had just happened.  The adults were all crying.  I remember my family watching television as the president's body arrived back in Washington.  Jackie came off the plane with the president's blood still splattered on her outfit.  I remember my mother's gasp.  Later, I hear her talking to a friend and marveling that no one had gotten Jackie another outfit to wear.  Only recently I learned that the First Lady had not changed clothes intentionally, so that the country could truly see the horror of what had happened.

It was a terrible tragedy and one of my earliest memories of a public event.  God rest the souls of the Kennedy family who have passed on.  And may the Lord console Caroline Kennedy in a special way today as she recalls this terrible loss as the only one left of the immediate Kennedy family.

Lord have mercy.
Fall is coming to an end in Michigan, at least the spectacularly beautiful part.  The colors are mostly gone except for the brown of the dead leaves still hanging on.  Frost is becoming more common.  Scraping the windows in the morning has once again become something to keep in mind when planning how to arrive at destinations on time.  The glory of Michigan Autumn is transitioning to the character building adversity of our beautiful winter.  Time to religiously apply hand cream if I don't want my thumbs to crack.  Time to be sure heavy coats are worn, or at least are in the car, in the case of a breakdown.  Time to get out ALL the gloves and mittens.

That being the case, why I am I writing about something that is quintessentially associated with Autumn?  Because I never got around to writing about it when it was happening!! OK?

Liz with her friend Jonathan at the starting point of pumpkin carving.

Our family has enjoyed pumpkin carving for many years.  We've done simple patterns and complicated patterns, patterns with personal significance (like university logos), scary patterns, and darling patterns.
I've only recently realized that not everyone knows how very easy this is to do.

Patterns are available everywhere...Meijers, online, etc.

You take your paper pattern and tape or pin it to the pumpkin, folding the paper over the folds of the pumpkin.  Then, using a push pin, you push little holes into the pumpkin along the lines of the pattern.  When the paper is removed you have the pattern to cut outlined on the pumpkin.  Then all you have to do is cut it out!

Special pumpkin cutting tools are probably essential.  They usually come with the patterns if you buy them at a drugstore or Meijers, etc.  They're little, cheap serrated saws and knives.  Sometimes you can find just the tools, separate from the patterns too.  Once we even found a little battery powered electric saw.  Of course, my husband had to have that. :-)

Sometimes advice from the old pro is helpful.

The cat was Mary's, a pattern she's done before.  Always impressive, it's not that difficult because there are no odd angles and all the lines are pretty easy to cut.

 Jonathan did "the joker."  This was difficult and an impressive first project.  You can see the many little lines.  It took a long time.  In fact, he and Liz just barely finished theirs before the trick-or-treaters started to arrive.

Liz did this "Tinkerbell."  It was also difficult, with very small lines and several parts, like the wings, where you only cut partway through so the light is a little diffused.

Fun family projects!  What I love about pattern pumpkin carving is that all ages can enjoy it, with the possible exception of the very young, and even they can do simple patterns with some help.

And everyone enjoys the results!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ann Arbor Pedestrian Traffic

Ann Arbor is an interesting place to live in a lot of ways.  Opportunities to hear magnificent music, great restaurants, lots of art (some interesting, some beautiful, some just stupid, in my humble opinion :-)...the community has a lot to offer.

Pedestrian traffic, however, is not one of its advantages.  Around the university driving is a nightmare.  It really is.  I have been dropping my daughter off at campus each morning and it terrifies me.  As soon as you get to the streets around campus, State Street in particular, the pedestrians seem to be unable to see cars.  I feel like I'm driving under an invisibility cloak.  Students cross wherever they want.  They cross diagonally.  They come out from between parked cars. They literally will walk right in front of your car without even looking up.  They're like toddlers who have not been taught that streets are dangerous.

I'm an attentive driver.  I focus on my driving.  But what I'm used to doing is watching very closely all the cars around me, the traffic signs, etc.  I associate driving with these actions.  I think everyone does.  But on State Street it's equally important, if you don't want to kill someone and I don't, to watch all the pedestrians anywhere near you, the ones on the sidewalks as well as those who may pop out from between two cars.  You never know when they're going to appear on the street in front of you.  And there are hundreds of them.  Sometimes they run out ....without even looking.  It's as though you must assume that every student at U of M has no knowledge of cars and what they can do.

There is about a four block stretch where I am literally turning my head 90 degrees, back and forth, all the time.  First the sidewalk on my left, then the street, then the sidewalk on my right.  And I have to keep doing this, rather rapidly, over and over again.  I go quite slowly because if a car stops suddenly in front of me I may not notice it for a second or two, so focused am I on the pedestrians about to walk out in front of me.

It's like one of those computer games or hand held games where you have to keep rapidly dodging the bombs or whatever they are that are coming at you.  I hate those games too.

Anyway, God bless these pedestrians.  May they stay safe.  And may the Lord keep my eyes wherever they need to be, to see whatever I need to see.

One more piece of advice to give to our college bound students.  Wherever you go to school, regardless of the tone of the community you will be living in, don't forget that cars are big and heavy and dangerous.  Having the legal right of way as a pedestrian does not in any way guarantee your safety if you walk in front of a car.  Use good judgement.  Don't walk in front of a car unless it is stopped and the driver has made eye contact with you.  You'll still get where you're going plenty fast enough.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thought for the Day:  If you're raising a large family and you are also trying to have a clean, neat, and organized house you can kiss your mind good-bye.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Facebook...I love it.  I hate it.  OK, I love it.

I hate the time it seems to devour.  You start to read your feed and before you know it 20 minutes have passed.  Or more.

The superficiality of the posts can also be annoying.  Pictures of your dinner, complete with alcoholic beverage?  Really?  I like to hear little bits of news from my friends.  Photos are always nice.  New baby pictures are wonderful...

Truth be told, I really like the political posts.  I like the links to interesting articles.  I hate it when people complain about political posting.  Is thinking not allowed on Facebook?  Is there some reason why people think the expression of political opinions is offensive?  Do they not want to be bothered with news of anything significant happening in our country or world?  It's as though they're saying, "Please, only shallow, meaningless communication here.  Leave our apathy alone."  Hmmm.  I don't understand that.  We are called to think.  We are called to discern.  We are called to be informed citizens.

So what do I love about Facebook?  I love keeping up with friends I have not seen in a long time, especially through photos of what they are doing.  I love the occasional Scrabble game.  I think it's wonderful to share prayer requests and to get updates about prayers answered and requests for continued prayers.  And it's very convenient to send someone a quick message using Facebook.  For people who are on FB often, this is quite likely the fastest way to get a message to them.  

I like the birthday reminders.  I like receiving birthday wishes from people who would not otherwise know my birthday.  And I like sharing photos.  (And I like seeing what my adult children are doing....)

Facebook is often getting a bad rap.  I think it really enhances social connections....(as long as you don't let it pull away too much of your valuable time.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Texting.....OK, I mostly love it.

It's great to send my children a quick message.  Remember when you couldn't get a message to your child at school unless it was an "emergency?"  It's great to just send them a quick text.  "I'll be a few minutes late."  "How late does that meeting go again?"  Etc.

When I'm picking someone up I can just send a text saying "Here."  Very convenient.

Texting also saves time.  If I just have a quick question for someone a text is very efficient.  "Where shall we meet"  "Are you here?"  Etc.

But texting is impersonal.  Yes, it takes less time but it also is completely devoid of the niceties that actual conversation includes.  "Nice talking to you."  "Have a great day."  "Let's get together soon."  "Thanks for calling."  Some of our young people might be surprised to learn that you end phone conversations in that manner.  Why would they be surprised?  Because they rarely make phone calls.  There is something a whole lot more personal about responding to a person's voice than responding to a person's written text.  And, at least for the time being, it is still necessary to sometimes make a phone call.  Young people need more practice on the phone.  It doesn't come as naturally to them as it did to my generation.  

Again, I think it is rude to text in the presence of a real, live person without asking said real live person if they mind.  Explain why you need to do it, or why you need to read a text, and ask if they mind.  Then do it quickly and put the phone away.  It's particularly rude to text or read a text during a meal.  My rule is don't do it unless it's truly very, very urgent and even then, only with permission from the people present.  Ask for their permission.  Even if you know what their answer is going to be.  That's courtesy.  

Next post?   Facebook.  I love it.  I hate it.  Truth be told, I mostly love it.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

My Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

I used to really hate some of the new technology.  My father was always fascinated with it.  When cell phones were first coming out he bought me one.  It was huge.  It could barely fit in my purse.  They were so uncommon then that when I got a call in a store I would try to hide behind a rack to talk so as not to draw a lot of attention.  It was embarrassing.  Still, it was reassuring to have one while driving in case there was an emergency.  I think that's why he bought it.

Now I don't go anywhere without my cell phone.  When my kids leave the house that's the last thing I ask.  "Do you have your cell phone?"  When I occasionally forget mine I feel very vulnerable in the car.  What if my car breaks down.  I guess I would then walk to the next exit just as everyone used to do. :-)

But cell phones have their downside too.  Here's my take on technology:

Cell phones--  I love.....the convenience.  I love to be able to reach my family members anytime.  I love that they can reach me.  I love that meeting places never need to be arranged any more.  We just call each other.  (although this time-this place agreements always worked pretty well too.)  I love that no one gets lost in a crowd anymore.  And I love the safety of always having a phone with you.

I hate that people are answering them even when they are in the middle of a conversation with you.  My new rule for my children is the following.  No looking at a screen of any kind, for any reason, when there is a real live person in your presence.  If it's an urgent call, ask the people you're with if they mind if you take this call,  explain why you need to, and then step away from them a little bit.  Make the call brief.  The real live people must be given a priority.

Never, ever answer a cell phone call when you are seated at a table with other people, as for a meal.  In fact, it's best to turn your phone off.  Nearly every call can wait.

I can see this is going to take a while.  In the next post I'm going to write about how I love/hate texting.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I've lived in Michigan for some 45 years now.  I've gotten used to the cold in the winter.  Well, it's still cold.  It's still drastic, but you come to expect it and accept it.  And the winters here are very, very beautiful.  As is the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  We love our seasons.

Today, the temperature was 33 when I came down to the kitchen at 6:00.  Winter has begun.  The other day my youngest child was about to head out the door for school without any jacket at all.  "Liz," I said, it's only 34 degrees."  She answered, "Mom, I'm from Michigan.  I don't get cold."

(But we do get cold.  We're just used to the feeling.  LOL)

Someone posted this video on Facebook recently and the onset of cold Michigan weather made me think of it.  I don't know who made the slideshow but the music is "Michigan Girl" by Ruth and Max Bloomquist.  

You gotta love the mitten!  (This is for you, Anne and Zach Simkins :-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I heard someone say today that a two year old's behavior is something the parent has no control over.  It wasn't a joke.  It was about a specific behavior problem that was bothersome to the mother.

Over  my years of being a parent I have heard this attitude expressed in different ways many times.  I don't understand it.  Isn't one person the parent for a reason?

Of course, a parent does not have absolute control over how a child responds to a situation or how a child chooses to act.  But, over time, a parent has a great deal of control and enormous influence over a child's behavior.

If my two year old were doing something I did not like, there would be consequences for the behavior.  (This isn't rocket science.)  The consequences would be unpleasant.  The child chooses to avoid the unpleasant consequences and the behavior disappears.  Of course, sometimes even this much intervention is not necessary.  With a compliant child, sometimes all you have to do is explain why the behavior is not right and how you do not want to see it again.  Sometimes even with a somewhat willful child, if you've been consistent about consequences, just explaining why the behavior is wrong and adding that if she/he does it again such and such is going to happen will suffice.  But most children will test you to see if you really are going to respond and to see how much they can get away with.  If you are not willing to enforce consequences then, yes, you will have no control over your child's behavior.

There must be an awful lot of nonsense being written out there about parenting.  Perhaps that explains why we see so many poorly behaved children and teens these days.

Monday, October 14, 2013

During Spirit Week leading up to Homecoming at my daughter's high school, one day was designated a "Disney Day" and all the students were allowed to dress like a Disney character.  My daughter dressed as Cinderella.  On that day she found in her locker, left there by her good friend, the following invitation to the Homecoming Dance.

How cute is that?  I understand that, knowing she would be dressed as Cinderella, he spent quite some time looking for a "glass slipper."  After she opened the locker he appeared with a rose and asked her to go to the dance with him.  So sweet.

Subsequently, this deserving young man was elected Homecoming King!  I said to Liz, "Hey, you really are going to the dance with royalty!  Haha!

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

""The Christians were in an ominous silence, weapons in one hand, rosaries in the other.   Think about that!!!- See more here//

I love the rosary.  I know it has brought about many a miracle over the course of history, but for me the miracles have been mainly in my own life.  Some of them I have talked about here.

Today though I want to write just a few suggestions on how one might meditate on the mysteries of the rosary.  These are just ideas, mini meditations, that one might consider while saying each mystery.

The Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation

Scripture tells us that Mary was afraid when the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  We can just imagine.  What did Gabriel look like?  Did his presence light up the room?  How long did he speak to her?  Did Mary wonder what the consequences of her pregnancy might be?  What would it be like to have that kind of trust in God.

The Visitation

Surely Mary and Elizabeth had an established friendship before the Visitation.  Elizabeth was so happy to see her.  Had Elizabeth been lonely with Zechariah unable to speak?  What did Elizabeth mean when she asked "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should visit me?"  Did she understand what she was saying?  Did the Lord reveal to her who Mary was carrying?  How they must have enjoyed each other's company

The Nativity

This was a delivery under difficult circumstances.  We don't know just how close to the birth Mary was before they finally were taken to the stable.  Perhaps the birth was very imminent!  Do you think riding on that donkey stimulated the onset of labor? (all according to God's plan, of course)  Was it peaceful on the straw?  What was it like for the shepherds when the sky was filled with angels?  FILLED with angels.  It must have been magnificent.  How awestruck they must have been to then find the newborn king lying in a manger.

The Presentation

What joy must have been in Simeon's heart when he saw the Holy Family enter the temple.  He had waited his entire life.  What did Mary and Joseph think as they heard Simeon's words?  I imagine they had a peaceful sense of confirmation.  And what did they think when Simeon said that Mary's heart would be pierced by a sword?  When Joseph heard this ominous word surely he felt very protective of Mary and the Baby Jesus.  Again, a confirmation of what had been revealed to them.

The Finding in the Temple

Imagine Mary and Joseph casually thinking that Jesus was with the other parent.  What concern they must have had when they realized both had thought the same thing.  And then the horror of realizing he had been left behind.  How awful those days must have been.  What agony to wonder what horrible fate might have befallen him.  And then the reunion in the temple.  Surely Jesus had the sweetest of loving smiles on his face when he asked why they had looked for him.  And didn't they know he would be in his father's house?  Again, surely he was smiling and hugging them as he said these words.  And what amazement must have been in the hearts of those who had heard such insights from a twelve-year-old.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A very happy birthday to my youngest son who turns 22 today!!!!!  He has been a joy and a blessing to our family since the day he was born (and before!)

May the Lord bless him and keep him all the days of his life!!!!!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let thy glory be over all the earth!

Most mornings I take our labrador retriever "Nala" for a walk.  Unlike most retrievers, Nala is not the smartest dog who ever lived.  OK, let me be a little more blunt.  She's an idiot.  But what she lacks in smarts she more than makes up for in affection and adoration of her people.  She's so enamored of my husband she often sits under the table and quietly licks his shoes, as though even licking his shoes puts her in awe of her master.  LOL

I enjoy walking Nala.  But I especially enjoy it when the glory of God is all over everything.  I know, his glory is all over everything every day.  But there is something about the Fall in Michigan.  I saw this leaf on the sidewalk today.  And the color is just beginning.  It will continue to increase in magnificence for several more weeks.

Walked right by these flowers of my neighbor's growing right next to the sidewalk.

MUMS!!!  Aren't they sweet?

I planted these darling little white flowers myself.  I have no idea what they are.  They look like tiny snapdragons.

And alyssum!  I bought the white ones because someone at the farmers' market told me that it is the white ones who have the heavenly fragrance.  And they do!

My morning glories...mostly green vines, but the little blossoms are popping up more and more.  Hope they'll all have time to bloom before the first hard frost.  (Notice Nala's head in the lower right corner :-)

His glory is over all the Earth!!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

At the end of the entry for today in Magnificat there is a quote from Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier (whom I've never heard of :-)

"Prayer is a private audience granted to us by God."

May I never think of prayer as something I must get to.  Indeed.  A private audience with God!!!
It's a beautiful Fall day which I would be enjoying on a bike ride with my daughter if it were not for this persistent headache and mild stomach distress.

I don't eat gluten anymore as a result of advice given me by another daughter.  She thought gluten might be upsetting my digestive system.  Once I tried eliminating gluten it was obvious that she was right.  I may have accidentally been glutenized last night.  Any time I eat out it's a real possibility.

So.....still kind of getting used to this new way of eating....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I do not have a notable view from my bedroom window.  It looks out over rooftops of houses not very far away, but still there's a lot of sky to take in.  The window I most enjoy at night is the Eastern window because it's high and the shade does not need to be closed for privacy.  Sometimes I can see the moon from this window.  (Once I pinched a nerve in my back by trying to arch backward to see the moon with my head on my pillow.  Not a good idea. :-)

But this morning this was the view I was treated to.

NOT. a bad view.  "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Great is his faithfulness!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Morning Glories!

The other day I wrote about my neighbor's morning glories blooming all over his white picket fence and how he had told me that the blue ones need their roots in a cool location and generally "are prissy."  LOL.

Well, if the blue beauties are prissy, what would you call these white ones?

I'd call them rockin' hardy survival-of-the-fittest morning glories!!  Note that these are growing where they were NOT planted, right out of a crack between two cement patio blocks.  I love it when flowers do this.  OK.  I know it's not supposed to be there.  In fact, in my last post about morning glories, Mimi commented that where she lives white morning glories are considered weeds.

American Heritage Dictionary entry for weed:  a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted in cultivated ground.

The little flower is attractive though, is it not?  It is not undesirable or troublesome because I like it there.  (All right, truth be told, these same morning glories in a nearby bed are entwining themselves all over the other plants.)  Weed vs. it in the eye of the beholder?

I love the blue morning glories for their vulnerability and strikingly beautiful blooms.  But I love these little, white, weedy ones too....for their resilience.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I have a favorite time of day to take my dog Nala for a walk.  It's twilight.  That time of day just before it's dark.  The sky is so beautiful, such a deep, dark blue.

But any sunny day is a good time for a walk.  I love the brilliant colors of the flowers I pass, the green of the trees, the lush grass...Nature, in the sun, drips with the glory of God and I find it almost spectacular.

This morning the sky was grey.  It was drizzly and the usual bright colors seemed washed out, overcome by the moisture in the sky.  It was dreary.  I missed the lovely Autumn weather of Michigan.

But I realized that the glorious colors of nature are only possible because of the grey, moist skies that nurture all living things on the Earth.  Without the rain there is no growth, in fact, no life.  I think there may be a life metaphor here.   There are the days of wonder and the days of struggle.  Is it perhaps the days of struggle that nurture the days of wonder?

Ahhh, maybe there are just good days and bad days.  :-)  Sunny days and rainy days.  And it's all good.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Phantom Coffee Pot...

Yes, the phantom coffee pot.  My husband commented that it had never looked so clean.  Indeed.

This is all that was left after it bumped another glass.  Looks funny though, doesn't it?

It looked even funnier with a big hole in the side but coffee still in it.  No, we didn't try to drink what was left.  :-)  I think that decanter only lasted about a year.  Thankfully, you can buy just the pot.  Have to be careful with glass!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

I planted a number of morning glories right next to my front porch in the Spring.  The vines took off and climbed up the railing very nicely.  We eagerly awaited their blooming as the vines climbed all the way to the edge of the roof.  And we waited...and waited....and waited.  Finally I concluded that the soil or the weather or something was wrong.   I accepted that they would probably not bloom at all.  The vines still looked pretty.  Then one morning we woke to a couple of these little flowers smiling back at us.  And eventually there were regularly 8 or 9 opening every morning.  Mind you, this is September in Michigan.  It's pretty late.  Still, a treat nonetheless.

As I walked our dog Nala one recent morning I saw one of my neighbors whose morning glories are blooming and climbing all over his white picket fence.  I said, "I'm enjoying your morning glories."  Then I explained how little mine were blooming.  He told me that they take a long time to bloom if the roots are in a shaded location (Mine are.)  He also asked what color they were.  His are purple.  Mine are pink and some blue.

He said the blue ones bloom late.  I guess I'm lucky to have the one beauty pictured above.  He said, "They're prissy."  I laughed.  Prissy flowers are not a good choice for my flower beds where survival of the fittest is the rule of my not-very-green-thumb.  These "prissy" flowers are beautiful though, aren't they?

Whenever I see these lovely vines with just a few reluctant blooms I'm reminded of the Lord's mercies.  New every morning.  Indeed.  Great is His faithfulness.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reflections on September 11

I have to confess that throughout the day on September 11, I more than once looked up when I heard the sound of a plane flying overhead.  The thoughts that were so frequent in those days and weeks after the attack returned several times.  Is that plane flying unusually low?  Do planes that size usually fly over this area?  It's been twelve years...but I still bear the scars of an American who remembers the day that evil had its way with my country.

September 11 was also the anniversary of the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, including our ambassador, and where calls for help were ignored.  It was a shameful example of executive incompetence in the State Department and the White House.   That the subsequent explanatory deceptions were largely ignored by the mainstream media made the situation all the more tragic for the families of the people who died.

John Yoo wrote an excellent article in the Sept. 16, 2013 issue of National Review entitled  A Thousand Little Tyrants in which he  details the bloating of the administrative state under the Obama administration.  I recommend it.  I particularly appreciated his mention of the handling of the Benghazi tragedy.  Here is an excerpt:
President Obama's allegiance to the liberal administrative state guaranteed that his presidency would run aground on the very shoals that Hamilton marked out.  It's operations are so vast, and its reach so sprawling, that it lies beyond the control or comprehension of any one man or group of men, making rational management impossible. 
It's dispersal of authority and dilution of responsibility produced the debacle in Benghazi, where no one felt responsible for the fates of American diplomats trapped in the consulate, nor would any decision, had it come, have been executed with the speed necessary to save them.
Surely the "dilution of responsibility" did contribute to the horrors of that night, but one has to wonder if the president's hesitancy about what to do in Syria was not also in play during the Benghazi attack.  A leader needs to lead.  The most important time for that to happen is when American lives are at stake.  If the media were doing its job we would know by now what exactly happened and why no rescue was attempted.

These are strange and disturbing times we're living in....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11-- 12 years later

In some ways it's hard to believe that 12 years have passed since that fateful 9/11.

In other ways, it's very clear.  I picked up my son John from grade school on that day.  The school had not told the students anything, thinking it best for parents to take on that job.  I was grateful.  John was only 11 at that time but the stunned look on his face communicated that he understood quite clearly the horror of what had happened.  Now he's in graduate school in London.  Funny how the aging of our children confirms for us the passage of time.

I don't want to see any replays any more.  I don't want to the see the towers collapsing again.  It's just too painful.

Several weeks after 9/11 there was a mysterious plane crash in New York.  I was in the waiting room of a doctor's office at the University of Michigan Health Center.  A number of people were gathered around, glued to the TV, wondering if this had been another terrorist attack.  My daughter Mary, only 6 quietly cried as she looked at the TV and I realized she had seen the 9/11 replays way too many times.

A woman from the registration desk had seen Mary's reaction and came walking over to her.  She leaned down and quietly said directly to Mary, "Would you like to watch Sesame Street?"  Mary nodded through her tears.  That woman walked right over to the TV and changed the channel to Sesame Street.   She glanced back at us and I silently mouthed "Thank you."  She smiled, giving not a glance to the adults in the room and went back to her desk.  I will always be grateful to her.

9/11 was an awful day.  The most powerful country in the world had been brought down with a couple of box-cutters.  So many people died, so many died trying to help.

That there were people so full of hate, so lacking in any kind of rational conscience, was horrifying.

May they rest in peace, Lord.  You have told us to pray for our enemies and so I do.  But I pray too that you would open the eyes of all those who would kill innocent people, all those who hate.  Please protect this country, Lord, from all those who wish us harm.  You, who have loved our country from the start, please do not abandon us to the forces of evil.  Please protect us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, pray for us!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yesterday it was chilly enough for me to change into jeans from shorts.

Today we have a heat advisory.  The high is expected to be 95.  I kid you not.  This is MIchigan.  But I'm not complaining.  It's a beautiful, clear blue sky.  Just lovely, really.

Some scenes from my backyard.  Love this flower..

This is my favorite flower bed.  I can see it from my kitchen sink and lots of birds come to the bird bath.

This is my least favorite bed.  OK, I kind of lost interest in it.  The mint (which I do love) is taking over along with weed and vines.  Oh well.

I  love the color variations in this flower.  Is it orange?  Is it pink?  It's both!!

Basic sweet, bright pink zinnia.

This is kale which replanted itself from last year.  The stalk is big and woody but we've gotten a lot of kale from it.  I've made white bean with kale soup, but usually we make kale slaw out of it.  I posted the recipe a few years ago.  You can find it here should you like to try it.  My entire family loves it.

And this is our very silly dog Nala.  Here she is eating pears that have fallen off our pear tree.  She eats loads of them, whole!  She really does!  She can eat an entire pear in about 5 seconds.  We're trying to limit her food so she will lose weight but it's useless.  She just makes up all the calories in pears!!!  It's so funny!

Well, I'm off to pick up one of the girls.  Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 09, 2013


It's raining.  Sometimes heavy, loud downpours.  Sometimes light, misty dribbles.  It makes the white rope hammock look dirty.  It probably is.  The sky is that light, grey even color that lets folks in Michigan know it may indeed rain all day.  It's the kind of day that makes 63 degrees feel chilly.  I'm thinking about the shorts my daughter wore to campus today.  It's good we went back for the raincoat.


It's peaceful.  A little chilly.  I may put jeans on instead of the lightweight, cotton capris I'm wearing at the moment.  My arms in this t-shirt and bare feet are asking for a little more coverage.

I'm getting things done that I've put off.  Love that feeling.

Praying for...

Angela... a seventeen year old girl whose mother I know.  She was hit by a car a few weeks ago.  Praying for a complete recovery from her head injury.

Peace!  In Syria and throughout the world.  My goodness, things are getting crazy out there.  Grateful to be an American.

For Alexa....Over ten days of a migraine headache.

For my family....Always.

For all the intentions in my little notebook... there is a lot to pray for....This isn't heaven.

Time to go put on those jeans....

Thursday, September 05, 2013

My youngest child has started her senior year of high school.  How the heck did that happen?  She's also decided she wants to be a pilot and has started ground school.  She only got her driver's license a month or so ago.

One of my sons is at the University of Dallas and is now a senior there!

Another son is attending graduate school in London!

My oldest daughter and her husband are in Atlanta where my son-in-law is completing chiropractor school.

How did my children come to be living so far away?

I don't like having them so far away.  It feels unnatural.  I miss them so much.

At least those in Dallas/London/Atlanta are all in school.  Maybe they will wander back to Michigan as they graduate.

My oldest is out of school and settled in Indiana.  At least it's in the Midwest and only a few hours from here!

The hardest is having a child overseas.  It's just SO FAR.  There's an entire ocean between us!  And with the world becoming more and more unstable, more crazy, I really would feel more at ease if all my children were at least in this country.  But my London son is doing good things over there and it is his plan to come back to the U.S. when his degree is complete.

My second oldest daughter is going to school locally and is living at home!!  Woohooo.  So nice that she is still here.  I love having my children around.

But...I realize it is unlikely that they will end up permanently here in Michigan.  I'm hoping for at least a couple though.  Or a couple who are at least in the Midwest?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lying in bed, reading, blogging, and wondering why my stomach keeps hurting.  It's best not to wonder too much.

Four kids are home for vacation.  Love it!  Two teens (who are always here) and two early twenties.  We're going through a lot more food, needless to say.

I love having my kids home.  Since my youngest is now a senior in high school these times are becoming all the more precious as the time approaches when perhaps none of them will be here year round.  Every day's a gift.

Blue sky outside my window with trees rustling in the wind.  Nice.  There is nowhere I have to go tonight (that I can remember).  Love that feeling.  I guess I'm just a natural homebody.  (Or a couch potato.)

Our family has been enjoying this video from a South Bend, Indiana station, WNIT.  It's an interview with my oldest son, Mike Bogdan who will be playing Marius in the South Bend Civic Theatre's production of Les Miserables together with Kathleen Raab who will be playing Cosette.  The interview starts a little over halfway into the clip....about 13:35.

Can't wait to see this show!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court!

Would that all Supreme Court Justices had the integrity of Antonin Scalia.  Here is one clip of his dissent of today's ruling.  Read more excerpts from The Blaze here.

 "That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and everywhere “primary” in its role."
Justice Scalia is my favorite Supreme Court Justice.  Saw him speak at the University of Michigan once.  I'm so tired tonight.  I'll write more about this disastrous ruling tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Les Mis has been on my mind lately and not just because my son is playing Marius in the South Bend Civic Theatre production.  (shameless promotion)

I have noticed that some people love Les Mis!  I am one of them.  I think it elevates virtue, promotes justice and Christian charity.  It inspires one to strive for good.  And I love the music.

Others, I have noticed, hate Les Mis.  They think it's depressing and sad.  Some people have very strong negative feelings about it saying things like "I REALLY don't like that show."

Why is there this extreme difference of opinion about the same show?

Some, but not all, of the people who dislike it are people who are not in the church or have very little faith.  Is that it?  Is it a lack of faith and hope that causes people to not see what others see in the story?

Or perhaps the dislikers are extremely compassionate and empathetic people and the suffering is too much for them?

I just find the differences in opinion very curious.  Still thinking about it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just a little proud....(maternal bragging alert)

OK.  So I'm just a little proud of my firstborn.

He has always loved the stage.  Always enjoyed music, acting, singing, and dancing.

He's a teacher now but he is still enjoying these passions of his, not only through his teaching, but also in his spare time.

He will play Marius in the South Bend Civic Theatre's production of Les Mis!!!!

And I just HAVE to share this article about him from a local news station.

Can't wait to see this show!!! (Being his mom and all :-)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anatomy of an Action Movie

Disclaimer.....for the most part, I don't like action movies.  Perhaps it's just me.  I just don't get them.  To me...the following describes the action movie:

A little bit of plot, often quite interesting, tiny bit of character this point it has my attention.  Then the action begins.

High speed chase scene or dramatic, violent fight that seems to go on a little longer than necessary.

Then the chase/fight continues.  It goes on and on and on.  Fire, explosions, dramatic falling and/or jumping, more violence, buildings collapsing, people running for their lives.  (The people desperately running seems particularly popular right now.)

Then it stops.  There is a little dialogue, maybe a little bit of plot development.  You start to think maybe this story is actually going to get kind of good.  And then....the chase/fight resumes.  Again, the violent fighting, the close call, fiery escapes, explosions, near misses.  This goes on for what seems like an interminable length of time.  Finally, it stops and then there may be a little dialogue and the story actually develops a little.  It seems like the film has hope.

THEN, the chase/fight starts all over again.  By this time, the plot is getting a little convoluted.  Some of the details are not making sense.  It's like the viewer is not really expected to think, just to go with it.  This chase/fight goes on forever!!  It's like the grand finale of a fireworks display except that it's not beautiful.  Instead of hoping it continues you start to hope that the film will eventually come to an end.  More fire, explosions, the hero is injured (!), the bad guys look like they might win, more violence, more destruction.  What was the story line again?  How long can this go on??  It feels like forever.  I wish I had brought a book so I could go to the lobby and meet everyone there.  And still it's going on and on and on.  How many different ways can people fight and chase each other?  In the case of science fiction apparently the limit is only the creativity of the filmmaker.  And those filmmakers are very creative.  Has it been an hour?  Could they really have been chasing each other for an hour?  One of these times I'm going to time it.

I'm sorry.  The non-stop adrenaline rush does not do anything for me.  I find the endless chase scene tiresome.  Sometimes I close my eyes to see if maybe I can fall asleep.  By the end, I'm usually just annoyed and irritable.

Am I missing something?  What is the appeal of these movies?  I get that there is a lot of testosterone and this appeals to the guys.  Chase scenes/fights only hold my interest for about five minutes.  It seems to me that the average action movie is made up primarily of these scenes.  Are there women who find these films entertaining?

Friday, June 14, 2013

I've been under the weather for the last couple days, spending quite a few hours in my bed trying to get my digestive track to behave.  Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "The Land of Counterpane" came to mind.  Stevenson was often sick as a child.  Can't you just see the young boy playing like this?  

My "toys" have been my laptop, my TV remote, my "Magnificat," my prayer notebook, and a magazine.

It's such a lovely poem.  Here it is.

                                                         The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I went to Curves for the first time in a long time this morning with my friend Patti.  I drove because her car was in the shop.  After Curves we went back to her house where she made a delicious gluten free lunch--- salad with pecans, apple pieces, grilled chicken with poppyseed dressing.  It was just delicious.

Patti and I have known each other for a long time.  We've been through a lot together.  So this afternoon was a comfortable and relaxing time of catching up, laughing, and sharing.  We had a cup of tea together-- something we've shared probably thousands of times.

She showed me her gardens and the lovely things she's planted.  She also showed me the various herbs growing on her property and we talked about the herbalist who had just taught her about the value of each kind of plant.  I saw (and heard) her impressive rooster and her hen and the 5 or 6 chicks that are now about half grown.

There were no children with us this time, unlike the many (maybe all?) the other times we've sat and talked.  Between us we have 17 children.  Ha!  I only have six.  She has the rest.  Our children have had many good times together, as have our families.  We are heading into a new phase of our lives,  as both of our youngest children head toward their senior years of high school.

Patti and I share the same faith, the same overall values, and the same priorities.  We think the same things are funny.  She has been a good friend to me and I thank God for our friendship and all we have shared.  God is good.  All the time.

Summertime....and the livin' is easy...

Yes.  I used to sing this song to my children as they were going to bed.

Well, I sang it to all of them except for John who asked me not to sing.  LOL  It was a few years later that we discovered he had perfect pitch.  :-)

It's nice to be catching up on some sleep.  Nice to have not so much on the schedule....

My gardens are all planted and doing well.  I had to get them in early for Mary's graduation party.

My husband says we should always schedule grad. parties early.  I think I agree, although those few weeks before the party were not easy.

I'm sitting here drinking a cup of coffee.  Then I'll have a relaxed prayer time.  I love it.

And it doesn't hurt that the weather is pleasantly warm.  And even the cold summer days are pleasantly warm compared to our winters.  I can walk the dog without a coat.  Yes it's very pleasant.

One great benefit of living in Michigan is that the summers are not long enough for us to take them for granted.  We love our great Spring, Fall, and Summer weather.  And I have to say there are even things to like about our winters.  They can very beautiful.

God is good.  All the time.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Mary has graduated from high school.  She worked so hard throughout high school.  I'm really proud of her.  In September she will continue her studies at the University of Michigan.  My father would be (is!) so proud.  An alum of Michigan himself, he always dreamed of having one of his grandchildren graduate from there.  He left this world to soon to see John graduate.  (Although I'm sure he was watching from the other side.)  And now I know that he is delighted with Mary's school choice.

Three of Mary's siblings were able to attend her graduation.  Many thanks to Mike, in particular, who drove over 5 hours round trip to be there.  He is a very faithful brother.

And Anne flew in from Atlanta to be at Mary's graduation party.  How cool is that.  She was able to stay for 5 days.  So nice.  Her husband Zach was busy out in Colorado winning the Division 1 Rugby Championship.  Yup.  They did it.  And we were able to watch the game online, but through our TV.  It was really quite a thrill.  Zach is an excellent player and has spent many, many years improving his skills in rugby.  We are really proud of him.

And yesterday was the last day of school for Liz.  I was at school all day helping in the Resource Room in the morning and at the Used book and Uniform Sale in the afternoon.

So today is quite a relief.  The girls and I spent an hour working on cleaning up our rooms.  (Yes, I worked on mine too and it definitely needed it. :-)

Tomorrow we plan to skype with John in London.  We miss him so much.  So looking forward to having him home in a little over a month.

And Liz has become a high school senior.  Wow.  It's almost too much to fathom.