Tuesday, August 28, 2012

my second win

On Saturday I left my family and company to drive over to Skowhegan for the New Balance 5K. With both my running shoes frayed and full of holes, I went for the hope of winning one of the 20 pairs of shoes given away by the outlet store. The weather was perfect and before the race began I noticed a mom I had noticed once at the commissary. She is also a Catholic homeschooling mom of 6, though her children are a bit older. We talked about teaching CCD and curriculum and I assume being distracted helped me, because I ran very smoothly and finished with a new PR of 21:58 and was the first female to finish. I used my prize to get Tim a free pair of shoes, he really needed them and was unlikely to purchase them himself. I'm so glad I decided to run, I not only came home with 3 pairs of new shoes, but the phone number of a new friend.

race results

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Today after the children's auntie and uncle left for the rest of their vacation, the little kids and I cleaned up the garden, planted cover crops, and harvested carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower. 

The carrots and cauliflower went into the freezer for winter muffins and soups, the onion was spread out on the picnic table to dry, and one of the heirloom tomatoes was sliced up, sprinkled with a bit of salt and eaten in about 4 bites by me. 

I dug up the now empty beds and after spreading a little lime and fertilizer we broadcast buckwheat seeds. The grain we planted a month ago after pulling the peas up is now blooming and perhaps we can even grind some flour to supplement our pancakes.   

Friday, August 24, 2012

course champs!

Last Sunday Tim and I raced in a brand new race in Bucksport to support their cross-country team. The male-female relay had the guy run 3 miles before his female teammate repeated the same course. The brackets were based on the couple's combined age. Tim and I ran together, his first race in at least 20 years, if you don't count running the PRT every 6 months. Despite our good times (23:47 and 22:28), we just happened to be the only pair in the 91-99 year old bracket and won a pair of t-shirts. It was nice to participate in a race that didn't count for any points in the Sub-5 series, just a lovely run through the shaded woods for fun and all the baked goods we could eat. Now that we hold the course record for our age bracket, we will see if we can hold onto it or even beat it next year. 

Tomorrow is another race for fun, the Skowhegan 5K with 20 pairs of New Balance shoes as door prizes. Last year I thought the shoes were for the place winners so I killed myself to win my bracket, only to find out afterwards that they are randomly drawn. I'll see if I can have better luck this year as both Tim and I desperately each need a new pair of running shoes. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

keychains, backpack pulls, and fun

A few weeks ago I found a Shrinky Dink Klutz book at the thrift store for $0.99. Yeah, perhaps a couple of times in my childhood I traced and colored pictures and watched someone bake them in the oven (it wouldn't have been my mother though, she recoiled from anything crafty to do with kids). The special plastic was all torn out, but I headed up to AC Moore, our local big-box craft store with my handy-dandy 50% off coupon in hand. Not only did I get a package of clear plastic discounted, I added on my teacher discount (by showing my HSLDA card) and received another 15% off. Every week on my errands I made a point to stop by and pick up another packet for less than $3. At first I was stressing out about baking them and having them ruined by curling up on themselves, but after purchasing an embossing tool (it's a cross between a glue gun and a mini hairdryer) I can bake and shape their little pictures without even turning on the oven. 

The little boys have gone wild, and while Julia Ellen may have ruined a few of their projects, the results are impressive. The most money I've had to expend in this creative explosion are for a handful of keyrings to attach them to backpacks, lunchboxes, and whatever else they can imagine. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

our last packout

Yesterday, the same day a year ago we packed out to come to Maine, the movers arrived in a big orange truck to box up and wrap in blankets all our possessions. So far the house hasn't sold, despite the picture-perfect views of the mountains and brand new granite countertops, we haven't even had a showing in over a month. But it is clean and free from everything we own now except for a few camping items and Tim's coffee pot. He has another few days of work this week and then the last week of August before he starts his new job. For 12 years I have been alone during most of the summer, shlepping kids to camp and lessons, making them clean and find stray library books, getting them ready for Mass and buying doughnuts afterwards for good behavior. And, yes I organized the packout yesterday alone as well, arriving the evening before, making sure everything went as smoothly as possible and running up to Food City for some lunch for both my crew and the movers since my husband has been living off of Stouffers frozen dinners, coffee, and ice cream. 

But now we are back at the farm and once more I need to get into high organizational mode for they will arrive tomorrow to unload the truck and I have to have this place ready. Today I have to disassemble one set of bunkbeds and pray that they will fit back-to-back with their matching bunkbed in the boy's room. Timmy is too old for a toddler bed anymore and he has been switching between sleeping on a mattress on the floor and bunking with his brother. The girls get another set of bunkbeds with drawers underneath for Julia Ellen's clothes, space is more of a premium in their room with all the dolls, stuffed animals, and such that they accumulate. The double bed in the apartment has to be taken down to the garage to make room for the queen bed from the Auburn house. All the excess beds, dressers, and kitchen items we have accumulated over the years living in two places needs to be taken to the trash and treasure building at the dump. 

Did I mention that at least some of the unpacking must be accomplished by next Thursday when Tim's sister and her husband come for a visit?  I'm not going to panic or stress out, for this is our 10th and last packout in the last 16 years of marriage and I have all the time in the world to rearrange our stuff. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

two firsts

Last Sunday Will served his first Novus Ordo Mass and I received Holy Communion from a lay person for the first time in 12 years. There are so few vocations in the diocese of Maine (only 6 current seminarians) that they have moved to a "cluster" system of staffing parishes. The 6 churches in the greater Bangor area used to be served by 12 priests, but are now covered by 2. They are very good and holy men, but worked to the bone every day, especially on weekends to say Mass at every church. Other parishes in the area are in the same boat, the Bucksport priest travels to Stonington and Castine, each town an hour away from the rectory. He literally has to run out the door after Mass to make it in time for the next one, never able to offer Confession to the outlying parishes. It is a sad state of affairs and I am fervently praying for a new bishop (our old one was transferred to Buffalo) who is orthodox and on fire for the Faith. Orthodoxy in belief and liturgy results in vocations as we can see in both religious orders such as the Nashville Dominicans and the priesthood, as evidenced by FSSP

Will has served as an alter server in the Traditional Latin Mass for 7 years now, ever since his FHC at St. Benedict in Virginia. But there is no TLM anywhere near Bangor, and I understand that our priests just can't do one more thing, especially something involving training and taking away another Mass to squeeze it in (they can't legally say more than a certain number of Masses each day). So I made arrangements for him to begin serving, with one non-negotiable; that he not serve with girls. I don't want to go into why I believe that girls reduce the number of boys willing to serve and why this in time dries up the feeder mechanism for future priests, because these arguments are so obvious. So, last week he served with another boy and everything was lovely, both the sacristan and the priest commented positively about his professionalism on the altar. We sat up front after the previous week's debacle, so when it came time for Communion and the priest was distributing Holy Communion to the left hand side of the church, we went up and received in the hand from the lay person. I don't recall if he attempted to bless the little ones, which is not appropriate, but I had to remind myself that while I am a stickler for doing the right thing during the liturgy, others have not had my experience and knowledge. I may be a convert, but I have read and studied the history of the Church and her traditions and know that only a priest or parent is supposed to bless a child. All in all, it was a lovely Mass and I am grateful that the parish is willing to accommodate our "quirks."

This Sunday I thought Will was scheduled to serve Mass, but as I was kneeling in the pew the sacristan asked me to come to the vestibule. He explained that two servers were already scheduled for that Mass, but one of them was a girl. It was up to me if he vested or not. I hesitated for a moment, but said, "He'll just sit with us." He was very gracious about it and promised to talk to the coordinator about having Will serve next week. This has been a big transition for our family and while we knew what we were in for when we left the Auburn area and the TLM every Sunday, it is still hard emotionally. My hope is that our example, as well as the example of other faithful families, combined with the ministry of holy priests, and hopefully a very holy and orthodox new bishop, can, in time lead to a renewal of orthodoxy and more vocations to the priesthood.

Friday, August 10, 2012

too smart by half

Last September the kids and I went to the Bangor Humane Society and brought home 2 kittens. The children and cats played, Julia Ellen dragged them around, and I fed them and cleaned their litter. Today the cats are 1 year old and one of them is not welcome in our house anymore. Star, the girl kitty, loves to lounge around all day and is polite. Night, the boy cat, is huge, muscular, and gets into trouble every day. He gets on the kitchen counters, knocks over vases of flowers, and likes to drink out of the faucet. Fresh water in his bowl every morning is not apparently aerated enough so his latest trick is to turn on the faucet by nudging the handle of the kitchen sink, leaving the water to run for hours. He doesn't merely threaten to let the well go dry, but since the hot water faucet is easier to manipulate, I have woken several mornings to steam rising from the furnace room vent, his having used so much hot water that the tank has refilled and was being heated by expensive propane. I've taken to putting mixing bowls over the handles, but it isn't really a long term solution. 

Several times I've gotten so mad to throw him outside, but all that will do is bring fleas into the house. He can't stay out there because he would be food for the nightly howling coyotes in a matter of days. But since his other trick in the past few weeks is sitting in the mudroom and bolting out the door, I think he really wants to live outside. The only option seems to be to turn Night into a barn cat. He can spend time outside, go into the barn to sleep through a kitty door, and keep the mice under control. Just as the Little Golden book, Four Little Kittens, bases its story around the idea that kittens, like children, have different personalities and vocations, some kittens are just meant to be alley cats, ship cats, barn cats, or house cats and no amount of behavior modification is going to change that.     

Friday, August 03, 2012

I love living in Maine

A few weeks ago I needed some garden product to keep the nasty striped beetles off my pumpkin and cucumber plants. After dropping off big children at some activity I only had Timmy and Julia Ellen in the van. Inevitably the toddler fell asleep just before we pulled into the Hampden Hardware parking lot. I got out and saw one of the young men who works there standing in the entrance to the back barn. "I have a dilemma. The baby is asleep and I don't particularly want to wake her up." After explaining what bug I wanted to keep off my plants, he told me that the product recommended by my gardening book is not legally available in Maine, but that he had some powder to try. While standing next to the van, I examined the product, paid for it, and got change without ever going inside. Obviously this would never happen at a suburban big-box store.

Then yesterday the kids and I finally had enough free time accompanied by beautiful weather to pick blueberries. This year is expected to be a bumper crop and our town's blueberry field certainly was evidence, the berries were so plentiful I could hold the quart basket under a clump, wiggle my fingers and see 20 berries fall in. We filled 5 quart containers and a huge flat bottomed basket in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, my sunglasses kept slipping down my nose and I put them in my pocket. Inevitably they fell out and even after wandering around and around we couldn't find them, since all blueberry bushes look alike. After getting home I got dressed to go running and made up a sign to put up at the entrance to the field.     

I finished my 10 mile run and sat on the porch cleaning blueberries and drinking Cocacola for a bit. While I was in the shower, a lady called and left a message saying that she found my sunglasses and left them on the picnic table. After supper I called her back to say thank you and sat on the porch thinking, "There are few finer things than being right here, drinking a tropical adult beverage, watching my kids play among the newly baled hay, and cleaning the last of the blueberries I picked this morning in Maine."

Small town Maine with its friendly people and wonderful scenery truly is "The Way Life Should Be."