Tuesday, April 27, 2010
So the other night we were watching some show we'd never watched before called "My First Home" or something like that? And it turned out to be the most annoying show I'd ever seen in my life and I'm still not over it. I don't know what the other episodes are like -- surely they can't all be that bad -- but I'm cautious about finding out because I like myself without an aneurysm.
This particular episode featured a young couple, newly married, who wanted to buy their first house. He was a teacher and she was a bank teller or something like that, so you get the impression that they weren't rolling in money, right? They were in their mid-twenties. Their realtor was a childhood friend of hers, and like most couples setting out to buy their first house, they had a list of requirements as long as a wet Monday on what kind of house they'd be willing to move into.
Their first desire was to live in a house with several acres of land. Their second? An older home, someplace with three bedrooms and several bathrooms and big gracious rooms. Initially, that didn't seem to be too much to ask, and I expressed mild interest to Meelyn on what type of house their agent would come up with, especially since the mortgage loan amount the couple had been approved for was not exactly a stellar sum.
"Will it be some tumbledown old shack, infested with spiders, featuring linoleum from 1934 and sitting on four acres of unmown weeds?" I wondered.
Much to my surprise, the realtor took the couple to a "historic home" (house agent-speak for the above truthful description) that had been completely renovated inside. The outside retained the historic character, but the interior had been completely gutted and remodeled to reflect a more modern sensibility -- an open concept with modern cabinetry, soothingly neutral colors and new light fixtures, appliances and cable TV and internet hookups. Since the house was sitting on a nice, big lot complete with a barn, I felt a little sad for the two of them because this cute place was at the very top of their budget.
To my surprise, however, they were giving it some serious consideration, already intent on modifying the brand-spankin'-new features of the home.
"Well, we'd really like to have granite countertops in the kichen and baths," she said, disdainfully noting the attractive laminate topping the fresh, clean cabinets.
"And we'd want to have hardwood floors throughout," he said, scuffing a scornful toe on the pristine wall-to-wall carpet.
"And definitely tile floors in the entryway, kitchen and bathrooms instead of this vinyl," she added, wrinkling her nose distastefully.
Yeah? Wouldja like to have those things? Well, newsflash for you here, young'uns: WHO WOULDN'T? Who wouldn't like to have expensive granite countertops in kitchen and baths, who wouldn't like to have gorgeous American hardwood stretching from great room to staircase to hallway to bedrooms? Who wouldn't want to have some nice quarry tile in the foyer?
But you know, you have to start somewhere, and if the house you're looking at is already at the top of your budget and it has none of those things you so deeply would like to have, maybe you should realize that you have Moët & Chandon tastes on a Bud Light budget and set your sights a little lower. Understand that those granite countertops in your parents' kitchen? They worked a long time to get those things and you shouldn't just expect to have them yourselves when you're just starting out, you spoiled, ridiculous brats....whoops! Sorry! Aunt Shelley gets a little irritable between the hours of five and seven-thirty every afternoon, but it's nothing a glass of (on sale) wine from the grocery store can't take care of. Just to take the edge off.
Anyway, these two dipwads, after looking at two other houses that were so far beneath their expectations that they both practically flinched when they walked through the respective front doors, they decided to spring for the top-of-the-budget place, BUT...
They decided to take out a bank loan -- using what as collateral, I don't know -- so that their "upgrades" could be installed before they moved in because asking a couple of twenty-five year olds to move into a house without granite, hardwood and quarry tile? Well, that is JUST. NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. Even if they're strapped for cash for the next twenty years. At least when they're pacing the floors, worried and wondering how they're going to pay the mortgage, they'll be pacing on that nice hardwood. Geez.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
After Mass, Aisling was glowing with happiness, giddy and excited, so we all went out for a late dinner to calm her down.
The picture to the left is of Bishop William Higi of our diocese, which is named Lafayette-in-Indiana, giving his usual excellent homily. It was nearly the same one as last year's at Meelyn's confirmation, but that's okay because it's a message we all need to hear over and over again: We can profess Jesus as Lord and Savior, but if we don't live that way, if the message of salvation is only in our minds and not in our hearts, then we aren't really saved. And other than that, all I can add is that Kayte's son Matt is the altar server on the very end there, looking so much taller and broader than the last time I saw him, which was in the fall.
Before the Mass started, however, a couple of very strange things happened to us. They were those kinds of things that Carol, Susie and I have discussed before, i.e. the tendency in our family to attract oddballs of different sorts. Sometimes people come up to us and speak random remarks that are inapropos to anything that's happening. Or they do weird things that end up getting them in trouble - boy, does Carol have a story about that. It seems to be some kind of family heritage: my own father has what my mother has referred to as "a ministry to the naked," due to his stumbling upon the undressed in several awkward situtions and being forced to render aid to them while modestly averting his eyes.
Thankfully, I didn't have to experience any nakedness on Friday night, but I did encounter one of those folks who has an urgent need to tell you Too Much Information, whether you want to hear it or not.
I was in the nave of the church, having walked into the narthex with Aisling to find her group from our parish. I left her there with some friends and went back into the church, where I was arranging some hymnals on a bench to reserve seats for my husband, Meelyn and myself. While I was placing hymnals at a comfortable distance, I heard someone behind me say, "Excuse me? Ma'am?"
I turned around to find a lady about my own age standing on the other side of the aisle. "Yes?" I said pleasantly, smiling at her.
"Do you know where the confirmands and their sponsors are supposed to meet?" she asked.
"No, I'm afraid I don't," I replied. "I just took my daughter out to the narthex to meet with her group, but other than that, I don't know anything."
"Oh," she said, crestfallen. "See, I'm a sponsor this year and I wanted to make sure I got everything right this year? Because last year, I was so confused and I stood up at the wrong time and sat down at the wrong time and my friend, the one I was sponsoring, she was, like, 'What is wrong with you tonight?'"
"There is a lot to it," I said sympathetically. "These big, complicated Masses...."
"Yeah," she agreed. "Last year, I started my period on Confirmation day and I was bleeding like a stuck pig and I had the most horrible cramps...."
"Oh," I said faintly, trying not to shoot my eyes back and forth to find the nearest exit.
"So I told my friend, 'I am nearly DEAD from these cramps and I'm worried I'm going to leak blood through onto my dress so I just don't have much brain left over to think about when I'm supposed to stand and sit,'" she continued in an we're-all-girls-here-together manner that I found very disconcerting. I mean, I'm sorry about her cramps and all, but I just wanted to put the hymnals on the bench and go on back out to the van where Meelyn was waiting without having to explore the intricacies of someone else's menstrual cycles, y'know?
It didn't seem too much to ask.
But it seemed that she had the desire to continue talking to me, perhaps attempting to engage me in a discussion over which feminine hygience products I find the most efficacious, but I was not going down that road. With a hurried, "Excuse me," I went out the side door of the church as if I had wings on my heels, leaving her there to see if she could discern the onset the onset of this month's Untimely Visitor without me there to help her.
Once I got back to the van, Meelyn and I went to run a couple of errands, and by the time we got back to the church for Weirdness Phase 2, all the confirmands and their sponsors were seated in the nave and being given their marching orders by a man with a clipboard and a headset, which reminded me of Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner, so I immediately dubbed him The Confirmation Planner.
As Meelyn and I sat down, a blonde woman in front of us, a sponsor, turned around and said, "Are you bystanders?"
Bystanders? I thought. What a strange word to use. As if we have the habit of stopping by random churches to observe how their practices for Confirmation Mass are organized? "I'm a mother," I answered her. A bystanding mother? A mother who stands by? Who knows?
"Oh. Well, then, you're not supposed to be in here. They just made the announcement that all people who aren't part of the Confirmation Mass need to leave. You're all banned from the church until 6:30, and then you can be seated. So I'm afraid you'll have to go out to the narthex now," she said loftily. She tossed her sleek, pageboy haircut just a little and pursed her lips in a smile that reminded me uncannily of a tiger baring its teeth -- unfriendly and a little bit predatory.
I gave her a level look and said "Oh," in a cool voice, and glanced around at about twenty other people sitting in the pews around us who obviously were not part of the Mass. One was an elderly gentleman with bowed head and closed eyes, leaning forward on his cane; another was a girl of about ten who was reading The Thief Lord and chewing gum. I decided that Meelyn and I would stay put. So it would be better -- friendlier and more helpful -- for the lot of us to go and stand up in the narthex for nearly an hour with nowhere to sit and perhaps say our prayers? I don't think so, sister.
Talk about bossy! I wanted to give her a boop on the nose and say, "Who died and left you in charge?" but I didn't, of course. I was sure thinking it, though, and decided that if anyone came up and told me to move, I'd tell them that I was slightly handicapped and couldn't stand out there on the tile floor of the narthex for an hour, and then if they gave me any more grief about sitting in the house of God, I'd pull up my left pant leg and show them my gnarly six inch scar.
At least she didn't tell me to move because she'd just started her period.
Friday, April 23, 2010
It's an exciting time and I feel, somehow, a great sense of accomplishment. This feeling is probably about the mental check-list I carry around in my head for both girls: Still home schooling? Check. Made it through junior high? Check. Attending religious ed classes and paying strict attention to all the requirements for Confirmation? Check. Working our way through the high school years? Check. SATs, scholarship-seeking, college acceptance and high school diplomas are still down the road a piece, but today? I can cross off another item.
As much as I'd like to expound on this happy event and what it means not only to me and my husband, but obviously also to Allison, it has been brought to my attention that if I don't attempt to tame my hair and touch up my makeup, I may well scare the bishop and cause his big hat to fall off.
For anyone who lives around here who may be wondering if we forgot to invite you to Aisling's open house, we did not forget. It's just that we're not having it until May 16. Let not your hearts be troubled: You will have a chance to eat a really amazing chicken and almond casserole upon that day.
For an explanation of what Confirmation is and what the sacrament confers upon a person, click here. There are also some interesting bits about the history of Confirmation, both in the Bible and from the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
We were, however, in a room with four year olds. I don't know about you, but four years old is an age that I find particularly adorable. Kiersi is four years old right now and she makes me laugh. So cute, so serious, so funny - it's a hoot to eavesdrop on the little conversations they have among themselves.
There were three little girls in our classroom and they were all playing with the very nice wooden kitchen set in the church nursery. The three of them were cookin' up a storm with the assistance of two plastic fried chicken legs, a serving of plastic peas, some plastic corn and -- improbably -- a Boston cream pie, also plastic.
I was watching them covertly, smiling, until one of them made a remark that made me burst out laughing.
"Hello, hon," the be-pigtailed pixie said to another child who'd just traipsed over. "Can I get you something to drink? I have chocolate soy milk!"
Isn't that the cutest thing ever? Hee hee!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Okay, so it was a really busy weekend following a really busy week (Shakespeare class started and threweth me for ye olde loop) and so I didn't ever get my meals planned. In a hasty, slap-dash and completely unorganized manner, then, here is my menu plan. Such as it is. Pity my family.
Menu Plan for the Week of April 19, 2010
Monday - What did we eat last night? I remember that everyone liked it, but whatever it was has completely gone out of my head. But we did eat. Because they let me sleep in the house last night.
Tuesday - Beef and bean quesadillas and corn casserole. I had to send Meelyn to the grocery to pick up everything except the tortillas.
Wednesday - Chicken pot pie? With....mashed potatoes? I don't know.
Thursday - I have no clue. Just....no clue.
Friday - Aisling's Confirmation Mass is on Friday, so I assume we'll be eating somewhere cheap afterwards, which....gulp. We'll probably be eating at about 10:00, although I do remember from Meelyn's confirmation last year that they had cake and all kinds of hors d'oeuvres in the parish hall afterwards.
Monday, April 19, 2010
A bunch of the teenagers in our homeschool group frequent the Fountain Square Theater every other Friday night to go swing dancing. This is a pleasure my husband and I have denied to our children because the cover charge is $10 a person. Also because the last thing I personally feel like doing after a long week is driving to downtown Indianapolis, although I think it could be argued that on a late Friday afternoon? It's better to be driving to downtown Indianapolis than from downtown Indianapolis.
Anyway, this little get-together was a shocker because it's perhaps the first time in history that THE BOYS were coming up to me and the mom who organized the evening (Terri) and complaining that all the girls wanted to do was hang around talking instead of dancing. Hello? Terri and I chivvied the girls out of their chairs and they finally took the floor, everyone becoming a little giddy from dancing to songs like "Jailhouse Rock," "The Twist" and "Cotton-Eyed Joe."
It was a bunch of fun watching them and hearing the old music. Everybody was smiling. It was a really fun way to spend a Friday evening, so thank you very much, Terri, for setting it all up. We had a great time.
In the photo above, Aisling is dancing with her cute friend Andy, who was trying to teach her one of those complicated spinny-turny-arms-in-airy maneuvers.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
She is a much better daughter than I could ever have hoped for, especially when you consider the twenty-two hours of pain med-free labor I endured. I was going through some kind of Earth Mother phase back then, and you can be assured that two years later? When I staggered into that same hospital's front lobby to deliver Aisling? I was asking everybody I clapped eyes on for drugs.
But Meelyn, in spite of her birth during which my husband, watching television avidly, kept me apprised to the goings-on at the Waco invasion while my contractions continued PEAKING ("Damn, honey! They're driving a tank through that wall!" to which I replied, "Yeah, well? It feels like someone is driving a tank through my [edited because this is a family blog]"), has been nothing but a delight from the very beginning. She is one of the ones who gives the world hope for teenagers. Happy birthday, lovely girl!
Friday, April 16, 2010
There's an online definition which says that getting up on the "wrong side of the bed" is an Americanism which leaves one grumpy and unsociable, which in my case is a vast understatement because calling me "grumpy" this morning is kind of like describing Bonnie Parker as "a sassy young lady with a keen sense of adventure."
I need coffee. Lots of coffee.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I have a goodly number of new students in the class this time, so I am all armed with handouts and notes for a little (*ahem*) speech I'd like to make to welcome them and get things started. Don't worry, kids. I promise to be done talking by around 5:00. Heh.
Will, you have been such a good friend to me. Teaching these classes is one of my greatest joys. I mean, other than chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts, which are just WRONG, they're so bad and probably not even real chocolate, let alone fudge and WHY ARE THEY SO GOOD??!!
Listen - you keep quiet about my strange and consuming passion for the Pop-Tarts and I won't tell anyone that art historians believe that that cool gold hoop earring was actually painted on the canvas long after the portrait was completed. It makes you look so savvy and swashbuckling and I kind of hate to burst people's bubbles.
This dinner was made from one bag of Hurst's 16-Bean soup, the ham bone I had leftover from Easter, two boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix, and six diced green onions. Oh, and some salt. That's it. Couldn't be cheaper, couldn't be easier - I think the bag of dry beans was something like $2.35 and the Jiffy mixes were forty-seven cents each. And it tastes wonderful. If you were brought up in a place where bean soup was served often, the very aroma wafting from the kettle can bring back memories. For me, it's being in Grandma Houser's kitchen, playing Old Maid and Crazy 8's while Grandma cooked the lunch.
And see? In the picture? It's pretty, too.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The theme for this week's meals is Cheap and Even Cheaper. Last week was our spring break, and we elected to use some of our grocery money to have some treats, like the Redbox movie rentals I mentioned, plus lunch at Panera one day and some ice cream cones interspersed throughout our week. Planned beforehand, we can still eat very yummily, if not fancily.
Menu Plan for the Week of April 12, 2010
Monday - 16 Bean Soup and Skillet-Baked Cornbread
Tuesday - Refried Bean Quesadillas and tortilla chips with queso sauce
Wednesday - Beanie-Weenies and Velveeta Shells-n-Cheese
Thursday - Baked Spaghetti (leftover from Saturday and dressed up with mozzarella and pepperoni)
Friday - A trip to some restaurant that features a dollar menu. (The girls are going to a teen gathering from 6:00 - 9:00 and we'll be driving.)
On Saturday evening we had spaghetti and my homemade meat sauce with breadsticks and on Sunday we had patty melts (a very guilty pleasure), homemade potato salad and chips.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The sad thing is that I had just opened my mouth to say, "Hey, as soon as we're done with this errand, let's go get an ice cream to celebrate Easter and spring break!"
The words died unspoken on my lips and we all grimly looked at the former premises where many the happy waffle cone has been eaten. It looked very forlorn.
It's got to the point where I'm almost afraid to look around me these days, for fear of what I'm going to see next that's gone with the wind. Last month it was Blockbuster, now the ice cream store, Noble Roman's, with the best breadsticks in town, bit the dust last fall. Ugh.
That copper-roofed tower is connected to the historic Presbyterian church that is not quite a block away from our house -- that ginormous yellow-sided house you see in the foreground and an equally huge blue house stand between us and the church, directly across the street. The church is so beautiful, not just the building, but also the landscaping, which at this time of year is an absolute colorful riot of spring flowers. And the added bonus? Now that we have the windows open, we can hear the bells in that tower chiming every hour and half hour.
In the past five years, then, I've stood at my bedroom window in times both happy and sad and looked out at the verdigris cross on the roof of that church. It's a very pleasant and comforting sight in whatever kind of weather we're having, but especially beautiful set against the ineffable blue of a warm April morning.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
This city has a number of chain movie rental stores, but we were dealt a truly crushing blow when the Blockbuster CLOSEST TO MY HOUSE closed down a few months ago, a fatality of the stinky economy. I say "crushing blow," not only because that Blockbuster was close to my house because this is not all about me, even though my brother rolls his eyes and claims I think it is; no, I'm assuming that that Blockbuster was also close to a lot of other people's houses and now if they want to rent at DVD from Blockbuster, they not only have to drive about three miles further, they also have to drive BACK TO RETURN IT, which we all know is the hard part.
It would be so helpful if movie rental stores would employ people to drive around to everyone's house and pick up the DVDs they watched over the weekend, and if the public library would also do that instead of having their usual attitude of "You checked it out and we expect you to bring it back," this would be a perfect world, would it not?
Anyway, this is our spring break and while the first half of the week was warmed with the golden sunshine that poured down on us like honey, the latter half of the week has been cold and rainy. Thus, Meelyn, Aisling and I have been interested in watching a few movies and those chipper red kiosks started looking interesting to me.
The Redbox movie kiosks seem to hold about forty-eight new release movies, most of which I seem to have never heard of. When Meelyn and I went to rent "The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" two days ago, it was one of the three movies in that whole giant (red) box we wanted to see, but that's okay, because apparently the Redbox fairies bring new DVDs fairly frequently: there was a list of new releases and when they'd be added to the (red) box posted on the machine.
The nice thing about this new movie rental system is that there are about four of them within a five minute drive of our house and you just can't beat that. The not nice thing is that they do offer only new releases, so if you have a hankering to watch, say, "Weekend at Bernie's" or "Viva Las Vegas," you're out of luck. And if you want to watch "Julie & Julia," you have to get there while it is still considered to be a new release, or it sucks to be you.
But these things are a lot of fun, they're not hard to figure out, they're cheap and they've made the past couple of days of our spring break very pleasant indeed.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I've been in need of new glasses for quite a long time, not just because my old prescription was four years old, but also because of Sarah Palin.
You see, when Sarah Palin came on the scene at last summer's Republican convention, people started looking at me with my rimless glasses and saying, "You know who you kind of look like?"
They'd take me in, frowning a little bit and moving their heads from one side to the other, attempting to sum up the superfical similarities: Last summer, my hair was still long and the style I'd adopted was much like the bangs-swept-to-the-side style Sarah Palin wore. And there were the rimless glasses. We were both brunettes and even our eye color -- hers hazel, mine green -- sort of struck some people.
"You look, kind of, you know. Around the top part of your head? Like Sarah Palin. With the glasses and all."
Okay, that was just embarrassing. Not that it's so tragic to be even slightly compared to Sarah Palin in the looks department, because no matter what the political persuasion, I don't think anyone objected to Sarah's looks. Some had honest admiration and others were grudging and gave off the aroma of sour grapes, but we all know she's very pretty.
However, the only part of me that was being compared to her was....the top part of my head? Like, from the eyes up? That stung a little, mostly because it was obvious to anyone who had eyes in their own heads that ANY resemblance we bore to one another ended with the bottom rims of our glasses.
So I started kind of worrying that people were going to think my hair and my glasses were like that ON PURPOSE. Like I was copying her or something, and how embarrassing would that be? Sarah Palin and I might share similar hairstyles, spectacles and coloring, but I'd make about three of the woman, I would. Which is not something I want to contemplate, especially thinking cringe-worthy thoughts like people in the grocery thinking, "That poor large dear must think she looks like the sexy Sarah. How tragic."
So I cut my hair off, and it was high time to have that done, too. And now I have new glasses. And I posted a picture of my made-over self on an internet chat board I belong to and one person said, Oh, Shelley! You know who you look like? You look just like the writer of the Sookie Stackhouse series, Charlaine Harris!"
So now I'm thinking of peroxiding my hair and stepping up the use of eyeliner -- maybe going for some black frames with dark lenses? -- and getting a great big Billy Idol thing going. Just....well. Just because.
On Sunday mornings, this very long conference table is covered with doughnuts laid out on platters. COVERED. I consider myself a bit of an expert on the American pastry -- the tiger tail, the applesauce, the frosted roll, the simple glazed, the sugared -- so please trust me when I say that I know doughnuts when I see them, lots of them.
Over to the left, where you can see some light coming in from a big window? There's a table beneath that window holding a large coffee urn, a cream pitcher and several graciously displayed little dishes of sweeteners.
There are two Masses on Sunday mornings at our parish, so that's a lot of doughnuts. But I ask you: What about those of us who go to the Vigil Mass on Saturdays?
Do we not find ourselves in need of refreshment after Mass? Would we not benefit from standing about in the hallway, getting in each other's way and trying not to drop food on the new carpet and narrowly avoiding spilling a beverage on a friend?
So here's my proposal: Doughnuts and coffee are somehow inapropos for the Vigil Mass, so I think we should go with a snack concept. Perhaps platters filled with chips, bowls of dip sitting temptingly off to the side. No cheesy snacks, however, because kids will be sure to touch the paint and the furniture and have the place looking frowsy in no time. But we could have some of those Keebler fudge-striped cookies, couldn't we? Everyone likes an elfen-made fudge-striped cookie! And instead of urns of coffee, we could have those camping thermos things with the handy pour spouts filled with lemonade or iced tea.
I think this would be a very nice thing to do and give all the vigilers a chance to bond over goodies instead of giving us all the bum's rush out the door as if everyone has plans for Saturday night or something.
Hershey does not enjoy a car ride. Wimzie, now - there was a dog who even learned how to spell C-A-R and R-I-D-E. At the end of her life, we had to take to saying things like, "You know that rolling box that achieves forward propulsion through the intricacies of an internal combustion engine? Well, we need to get in that thing and go buy a gallon of milk."
And then there's Zuzu, who has already learned the deep pleasures of barking at bicyclists, motorcyclists and people pushing baby strollers as we zoom by. Her long, houndy ears flap around her head like dish cloths on a clothesline and every hair of her elegant mustache goes all a-bristle with excitement: Car ride? A CAR RIDE??!! You betcha! When? Whenarewegoing? Rightnow? Rightnowarewegoing? All expressed in a high-pitched yapping that could deafen your ears and quite possibly stop a clock.
But Hershey's different. Car rides, he clearly indicates, make him feel ishy in the tummy. He tolerates them. He has no desire to hang his head out the window, tongue lolling. He will look out the window -- firmly closed -- but that's only to peer anxiously at the passing landscape to see if it looks anything at all like home. When we finally have the car parked safely in the driveway, he scrambles out as soon as the door opens and high-tails it for the back door. He does everything but kiss the ground.
So that's why I was so pleased to capture this picture of him nervously gripping the edge of the seat, it is true. But also smiling and holding his head up. His smile does look a bit fixed, like a middle-aged woman accidentally running into her husband's much younger second wife in the liquor store when she is buying a bottle of chardonnay to spend the weekend with and the new bride is buying some champagne to celebrate the happy couple's six month anniversary, but it is a smile nonetheless. Which is, you know, better than barfing on the carpet.
Monday, April 5, 2010
With the volume turned up to a setting that could be labeled "Triumphant," if not just plain "Loud."
If the reaction of the people sitting in front of us was any indication, the sudden burst of sound was a bit of a shock, bursting forth as it did into the quiet church: I practically saw light between them and their seats. After their initial fright, they all obediently picked up their hymnals with trembling hands and sang along, once they found their voices.
If I could be allowed a moment of shameless bragging -- and where would that be, if not on my own blog? -- Aisling did a wonderful job. There is a LOT of music at the Easter Vigil Mass and some of it is pretty difficult, but she went to rehearsals and she practiced like mad at home and she succumbed to the vapors a few times, but when all was said and done, she carried it off like a pro. It was beautiful and we are so very, very proud of our girl.
This is our fourth year of doing this traditional blessing at our parish, but only the first year I've known how to work a digital camera. Duh.
Anyway, our basket held the following items: the ham, pictured in its inelegant plastic wrapping at the far left, our painted Easter eggs, the Honey/Oatmeal bread I baked, a blue container of salt, a candle and a bottle of chardonnay from Cupcake Vineyards, all because I couldn't resist the simple yet luscious elegance of their label. I hope the wine is as delectable as their packaging. I'll keep you posted. And don't forget to take note of my lovely embroidered Easter basket cover, which I bought on e-Bay for eight dollars. You don't often get a family heirloom for such a low price.
The blessing of the baskets was a great success this year, with about twenty families taking part -- last year, I think it was maybe about six. One fellow I'd never seen before came puffing in with an Easter basket the size of a baby dolphin just as Father was getting ready to do the blessing; the man paused in embarrassment as Father, who had just raised his arm with that holy-water-sprinkler-thingy, lowered it down again and said, "C'mon, bring it up. I was just getting started."
The man, chagrined, came forward and plunked his basket down on the floor as the rest of us looked interestedly on, wondering what on earth he had in the thing. It was heeeyooooge. Maybe an entire roasted hog? A fifty pound bag of salt? Whatever it was, it nearly had him knackered, and he stood up, back creaking a little, and wiped a sheen of sweat off his brow and apologetically scuttled into a pew.
The whole blessing takes about fifteen minutes, which is kind of a short time for the half-hour-there-half-hour-back we have in travel time, especially since I was in the throes of misery and had to sit in a seat that allowed me a direct line to the bathroom. Sorry to keep mentioning that in all these posts, but it's important to remember just how lousy I felt or the fact that I had an honest-to-goodness healing about five hours later won't be the momentous occurrence it truly is. Just tell yourself that I was in the bathroom all day powdering my nose. Maybe that will help.
Many thanks to Laura, whose sensible Menu Plan Monday idea, posted at her blog, I'm an Organizing Junkie, have made a difference to hundreds of familes on the internet, with more added weekly.
Menu Plan for Easter Week, April 5, 2010
Monday - I have Moms' Night Out with some friends tonight and my husband is going to watch the Final Four game (go Bulldogs!) with his favorite cheapo nasty pizza that the rest of us won't eat, so I'm covered. A break from the kitchen, woooo-hooooo!!!
Tuesday - Taco salad, the first one of the season
Wednesday - Easter ham, green bean casserole, carrots and homemade biscuits
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner! Amish Breakfast Casserole
Friday - Meatless! Refried bean quesadillas with tortilla chips and spicy queso sauce
On Saturday, we had Ragù Americana for dinner -- it was a leftover I took from the freezer and defrosted. Fortunately, the girls are very competent in heating up red sauce and cooking pasta, because I was far too sick to eat anything and couldn't even bring myself to sit at the table with them. I somehow managed to put a Cherry-Glazed Ham in the slow-cooker before we left for the church; it is our family custom to have a little spree when we get home from the Easter Vigil Mass, eating sandwiches made from the ham and the bread I baked for the Easter basket. And as much candy as we can throw down our throats, of course. On Sunday, we went to Mom and Dad's house for Easter dinner and it was delicious.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I logged on here yesterday evening before we left the house to take Aisling to music rehearsal before the Easter Vigil, and I was in a bit of a pickle.
I had woken up yesterday morning feeling sick. Just, you know, nauseous and intestiney and with that feeling that it would be a really good idea not to stray too far from the bathroom. It totally felt like a twenty-four hour stomach bug, but the problem was, I wanted to be at the Easter Vigil in, like, ONE hour.
So I logged on here and asked for prayers, and I thank you, those who e-mailed me to say that you did. And I sent up a few of my own, along the lines of "Jeeeesus, please make me feel better because I....I....oh, wait a minute until I get back from the bathroom because it just seems WRONG ON MANY LEVELS to pray while leaning over the toilet, Lord..."
'Cause you know what? I stopped feeling sick right before we got to the church. I mean, I STOPPED FEELING SICK. The nausea and....other stuff? (*ahem*) It stopped. Dead halt. On a dime. Complete arrestment of forward motion. Over. Arrivederci, adios and au revoir. I'd been feeling like crap on a cracker ALL DAY LONG and as soon as we pulled into a parking space, it ended and has not come back.
Healed! I was healed of a stomach virus! Seriously. Make fun of me if you want to, but let me just say that I took NO Immodium-AD, NO Pepto, no medicine of any kind. And I got better and it was lovely.
What a very nice and extremely practical Easter gift that was, huh?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
But if you happen to check in here? And you're of a mind to send up a prayer for me between the hours of well, NOW and about 11:00 p.m. EST with the daylight-savings-dealio that I really don't understand? PLEASE SAY A PRAYER FOR ME.
I really want to be at this Mass. It's my favorite one of the whole year. And Aisling is playing. My husband is reading the eighth reading. And my mom and dad are going to be there. *sob!*
Friday, April 2, 2010
It's been a busy Holy Week for us here as we make our preparations -- both solemn and joyful -- for Easter. Schoolwork was frenzied on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as we wrapped things up to be ready for spring break, which started yesterday.
The Triduum -- Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday --is one of the best times of the year to be a Catholic, and that's high praise coming from someone who thinks that every single day of the year is the best day to be a Catholic. Anyway, the churches all seem to be open and there's always something going on: evening prayer, rosaries, holy hours, the beginning of the Divine Mercy novena today, and my personal favorite, the Stations of the Cross.
The girls and I are all spiffed up ready to head out in an hour or so to go to our parish's Good Friday services, which include the Stations, a communion service (since Good Friday is the only day of the year when there's no Mass in any Catholic church), the Veneration of the Cross and the beginning of the aforesaid Divine Mercy novena. It's a blessed day. Solemn and sorrowing, yet somehow a-quiver with anticipation of what we know is coming: the grand and beautiful celebration of the resurrection of Our Lord at the Easter Vigil.
After the services are over at the church, we're off to the grocery to finish buying things for our Easter basket, which will be present at the church for blessing promptly at 1:30 tomorrow. That completed, we'll go home and count the hours until it's time to return to the church at 7:30 for music rehearsal, with the Easter Vigil Mass starting at 8:30.
Great, happy, lovely excitement and joyfulness await us. Jesus is the cause of our joy.