Tuesday, July 31, 2012

appropriate Mass behavior

On Sunday evening Will was supposed to serve his first Novus Ordo Mass. However, he had been asked a few days before if he could compete in the Red Jacket Regatta in Rockland, a small boat sailing race for youth. Tim drove down to pick him up early so he could get to Mass on time, but when he arrived, due to the lack of wind, Will was all the way across the harbor. While the sacristan was understanding of the circumstances, I hope that next week's Mass will go a little more smoothly. For in addition to Will's absence, Mary asked if we could sit in the back pew and that was a huge mistake. 

I won't go into all the details, because that would be gossip just for the sake of being nasty, but the family sitting in front of us made our family, with the smaller children drawing pictures on their bulletins and Julia Ellen drawing in my tiny notebook through Mass looked angelic in comparison. But I'll just say that there were large quantities of toys, wailing, chatting by the grownups, and Playdough was almost ground into the carpet. The woman who was sitting beside them leaned over at the end of Mass and said, "Are these your children?" "Well, it is a few of them (Timmy went with Tim to pick up Will)." "They are so well behaved and so nice looking." At this point there was a little whispering from behind me because the children knew that I would stop at the store on the way home. I waited a moment until the priest exited the church and then explained,"If they get a compliment then they get doughnuts." 

Now, I've always been one of those middle-of-the-road moms when it comes to little children and Mass, I've brought religious coloring books, bags of Cheerios, sippy cups of water, holy cards to organize in a little picture album to keep them occupied and quiet. I've rarely seen any horror shows depicted on the internet of kids bringing McDonald's Happy Meals into the cry room, screaming fits that go on through the entire homily, or Nintendo games played during the Consecration. But as I told Mary after informing her that it was all her fault for begging me to sit in the back, we will be sitting up front in the future. After 14 years of taking unruly children out of church, spending most Sunday mornings in the cry room, training babies to be quiet for the sake of those around them, I refuse to subject myself to someone else's poor parenting during Mass.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

learned my lesson

I've been working on an antique looking lap quilt for some time, the piecing went together quickly, but only because I didn't trim the excess fabric after I added the next row. When I started quilting, the straight lines looked great, but the free motion daisy design just kept looking awful, I had little control over the stitch length, the quilt kept refusing to move. I changed the needle, re-threaded the machine, took it in to the dealer to be cleaned and oiled, attempted to put wax paper/Pam spray on the back for more glide... nothing worked. Will and I spent over a week picking every stupid flower out, because by the time I gave up I had tried to quilt 20 flowers. They looked awful. After letting the quilt sit for a week or so, I gave it another go today. This time I quilted little leaves and spirals in the black open spaces and was successful for the most part. 

Then it hit me, my own laziness in not trimming led to all that extra work. The poor machine was quilting through, not 3 layers, but in some blocks, 5-6 layers of fabric. No wonder it was struggling and skipping stitches and refusing to move over the seams. I can't take it apart, but I will never, never sew another seam on a paper pieced block without trimming to 1/4 " again!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

author read aloud

On Tuesday morning sailing was cancelled due to a forecast of thunderstorms that didn't materialize until 4:30pm. However, I had found an interesting activity for us in Stockton Springs at the library to make up for the disappointment. Chris Van Dusen, children's author and illustrator of the Mr. Magee books came to give a fabulous presentation and read aloud of 3 of his books, including one of our favorites, The Circus Ship

This story is based on the real 1836 sinking of a circus ship, The Royal Tar, off the coast of Vinalhaven, but with a much happier ending. The children had a wonderful time helping point out the hidden animals, Charlie and Timmy finding the trickiest ones, and have looked at the book again and again in the days since.

People who live in big cities always cite their cultural opportunities, but even in the wilds of Maine we have plays, art galleries, library concerts, and famous authors willing to share.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

sick, sick, and car sick

This past two weeks have been a little draining. The week before Will went to Boy Scout camp he had  3 days of fever, diarrhea, and a dripping nose. Luckily he recovered enough by Sunday to enjoy a week of camping, canoeing, and orienteering. Julia Ellen came down with the same odd combination of symptoms this Saturday and we decided that Tim would stay home from Mass with the two little ones, there being only room for 4 children in his new car. The van was still at the shop, getting a new transmission installed. After we arrived at the church 30 minutes early, I let Charlie and Maggie go over to the playground while I called Tim on my cell phone.

"The bad news is that Charlie gets car sick in your car."

"Oh my gosh, not my brand new car!"

I couldn't let him suffer too long, "The good news is that Charlie did not get car sick IN your car. We pulled over at Hollywood Casino and he barfed in the bushes."

However, I had to call Tim back a bit later. Within 15 seconds of climbing on the playground equipment he was stung on the cheek by a wasp and started screaming. I piled everyone back in the car, stopped at McDonald's for some ice to put on his face and gave up on anyone in our family attending Mass this week.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

forced time out

Things have been falling apart at our house this past week. My internet connection was down for 3 days and since Will is at Boy Scout camp, I had no idea how to fix my modem problem (thank you to the nice man on the phone from India who kept repeating, "I apologize for your frustration," when they couldn't find my account. "But I have your satellite dish on my roof and we have had service for a year!")  My van has been in the shop since Tuesday afternoon when the transmission suddenly died. It won't be ready until Monday. And most distressing of all is that I was diagnosed with bursitis and arthritis in my sore hip. I've only run a few times since my last race and start physical therapy on Monday. I took off almost 20 years of running, mostly to have babies, and now I feel like I threw away the gift of that time. If I don't get better, I don't see how I can continue, it isn't fun to run with constant pain. 

But after having my short pity party, I realize how truly blessed I am. My connection to the world was resolved with just tightening a loose connection on my modem. My van is fixable and we can afford to make that repair. My hip seems to be improving a bit and, even if I could never run again, I can always take up swimming to stay in shape. My husband loves me, my children are all well (except for Julia Ellen's minor fever), and I have food in the pantry. There are many people who are caring for sick loved ones, millions of people don't have a job, and many more are worried about how to pay the bills. Today there are almost a hundred families in Colorado standing by a hospital bed or mourning the loss of their loved one. The only thing I can give is to offer up my pain for them, for the survivors to be given peace and have the strength to recover physically and emotionally from this massacre and for the souls of those who have been killed.    

stocking up on school supplies

It is the middle of summer, time for trips to the lake, dropping off kids at camp, swimming lessons, certainly not time to think about backpacks and notebooks, but now is the time to act if I don't want to spend a fortune on school supplies. Our local big box office supply store is Staples and they are running some great loss leaders on all the things I need this fall. When I combine that with my teacher discount card and a 15% off back to school card I bought for $10, the floor of my schoolroom is filling up with bags of gear. The big kid's school apparently does not come out with lists until the first day, by the time all the sales are over, but I can guess what items they will need and buy now. I already bought all their uniform needs at the school consignment sale last month, so all I need left are some cool lunchboxes (Maggie doesn't want to borrow her little sister's pink Hello Kitty one) and a year's worth of mechanical pencils.

Friday, July 13, 2012

curling up with a good mystery

I'd like to think that the folks who work in the Bangor Library's children's department think of our family with fondness. After all, we are likely the family with the most consistent attendance as well as sheer volume of books checked out, but more than that, we return our books within the two week checkout window. Wednesday, when we were standing at the counter I was told that one of my selections was actually on hold by someone else, but it was accidentally put on the shelf. He said that I needed to return it within two weeks, but I assured him that I would do so by Friday at the latest. The murder mystery, Death of a Kingfisher, was one by my favorite authors, M.C. Beaton, and sure enough, I had it finished within several hours of returning home that evening. If you like non-gory mysteries with a share of humor then you will like the Hamish MacBeth series that spans over 20 books and goes back at least that many years. Featuring a local copper in rural Scotland, this series is just the thing to curl up with on a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea and a plate of cookies. 

The other new mystery series I enjoy also has a new title out, Aunt Dimity & the Village Witch, by Nancy Atherton. The heroine is an active mother of twin boys living in a village in England, which has an unusually large number of murders and mysteries considering its diminutive size. The author does make a point of promoting the moral equivalency of paganism and homosexuality, but the overall story is well written and just I ignore those bits.

So, these two novels will go back in the book drop bin this morning after dropping off Charlie on his last day of science day camp.He has been having such a grand time building things, making new friends, and taking things apart that he has said, "Thank you Mommy for signing me up for science camp," every afternoon after I have picked him up. Maggie has also been at camp again this week and was even on the TV news a few days ago (look for the pink hat). I wouldn't have known a thing about it, but the librarian mentioned it and pulled it up on her computer so we could watch her dance and sing, practicing for the big show next weekend.

Monday, July 09, 2012

product endorsement

Up here in Maine we have two seasons: snow season and bug season. The first flying critters out to eat you are black flies, which leave bloody welts on the neck and head. They usually last until about Father's Day, when the deer flies and mosquitoes appear. Deer flies are nasty critters who circle the head in an attempt to drive a person insane and then land on the back of the arm for a nasty bite. The only respite from all these bugs is the first frost in early October. While Maine summers are lovely and much enjoyed, there is one thing to be said for the colder months: there aren't any bugs.  

 A few weeks ago I was at the local hardware store and noticed a product near the register specifically to address this problem called Deer Fly Strips. Made by a local, this super sticky strip of what looks like packing tape has pheromones sprayed on it to attract the pests to come a little closer. Once their wings or feet touch the glue, they are stuck. In just a few hours of wearing my hat in the garden and on the front porch, I had collected 7 deer flies on the back of my hat, all frantically buzzing in an attempt to become free. Since all they wanted to do was take a chunk out of my skin, I felt no pity for the creatures. Perhaps I sound a little callous, but St. Francis never lived in Maine and saw his 3 year old's neck covered in welts from "Brother bug". I've gone back to the house to collect my hat to work in the garden and look forward to wearing it for a trail hike planned later this week. It is a little gruesome seeing out baseball hats in a a row with carcasses stuck all over,but it sure does make going outside in Maine during the summer a lot more pleasant.  

Saturday, July 07, 2012

reason # 567

Yesterday I stopped by the fish market to pick up a haddock and scallop casserole for supper followed by the grocery store for dessert. My total at Hannaford came to $17.76.

"How appropriate," I said. 
The cashier, a young woman said, "Huh?"
"The total bill, how appropriate that it is 1776." She still looked at me like I had 2 heads. 
"You know, the Declaration of Independence, the 4th of July," I explained.
"Oh, I never knew the year or anything," was her reply. 
And then it just slipped out, "You went to public school, didn't you?"
"Yeah, Hampden Academy."
"And that is why I homeschool my kids," I replied before I gathered up my bags and walked out. 

Too harsh, I'm sure. But I'll move hell and high water before I send my kids to a school where graduates don't know the date of the birthday of our nation.  

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Walter Hunt 3K

Up here in Maine, the 4th of July means parades, picnics, trips to the lake, fireworks in the backyard (now that they are legal, thank you Gov. LePage) or in town, and the annual race between Brewer and Bangor just before the parade. I took Mary, Maggie, and Charlie to compete and with my hip still a little sore (I figured out that it was from changing chairs in front of my sewing machine making my body do some weird contortion to step on the foot pedal, a true quilting injury) I wasn't expecting much performance-wise. I ran the first mile in 5:58, finishing in 12:02, 17 seconds faster than last year, but another middle-age lady passed me in the last 10 seconds, so I didn't win my age bracket. The kids didn't do so hot, Charlie even got sick during the last portion of the race. We did get to see the entire parade while walking back to the car. The rest of the afternoon will be spent resting followed by corn and watermelon for dinner and at dusk fireworks in the front yard. 

Bangor Daily News article about race, my finish is at 2:24 on the video. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

gardening fail

To say that I'm disappointed by Fedco seeds is an understatement. I thought I was being efficient by purchasing all my garden plants from the same place, but while I was happy with the quality of their trees, raspberries, potatoes, onions, and asparagus I bought this spring, about half the seeds I bought were defective. Only a few of the flower seeds I started in little pots sprouted and none of their broccoli, sunflower, or corn came up, even after planting new seed after it was evident the first sowing didn't sprout. Many of the pumpkin seeds didn't sprout either and it being the beginning of July, it is too late to buy seed from another source and start again. 

Luckily we do have plenty of carrots, broccoli (Burpee), onions, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and lettuce. Instead of being able to eat sweet corn 10 minutes after picking and being able to put bags and bags of pureed pumpkin in my freezer, I'll have to buy both vegetables from the farmer's market. Next winter I will buy some more raspberry plants and fruit trees from Fedco, I'll go back to buying my seed from Johnny's Select Seeds, a Maine company with a sterling reputation.