It’s been a rough winter. Maybe it was just the election, the economy, etc. I don’t know. But it’s finally getting a little warmer, and I am hesitantly optimistic that we’ve seen the last of the frigid weather.
1. I’m sure we’ll see our last frost the day before my greenhouse plastic finally shows up. I expected to have a nice, sprout-full greenhouse to show off by now, but my plastic sheeting is backordered… all of the gardening places are reporting a huge uptick in sales as people try to pinch pennies by vegetable gardening.
The good news is, I can grow lettuce almost year-round here. It doesn’t like the really cold weather (“really cold” being a relative term, meaning, around here, “around 30 degress during the day”), but pops right back up as soon as it gets the least bit warmer. I have seedlings up that I planted last week, and volunteers from last year’s gone-to-seed plants that are already four inches high.
2. Of course, being in a military area, the date of the uniform shift is usually a good predictor of weather shifts. When I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, I was walking to class and overheard two professors talking. The first, apparently a new professor, complained about the chilly weather so early in the season. The second, apparently more senior, assured him, “Oh, it will get downright hot next week.” First prof asked how he knew. “Because the mids shift into their long-sleeved uniforms next week, so we’re bound to get a nice, long, hot spell. Happens every year.” And it did.
3. As I was standing outside a local abortion clinic last week, freezing and praying, I noticed two signs.
The first is on the front door to the innocuous building which houses the abortion clinic. “This is a smoke free building.”
The second was the only bumpersticker on the back of the abortionist’s minivan: “Change the world- nurture a child.”
“Irony” just doesn’t cover this.
4. I am continually amazed at the things I have to specify.
“Do not jump over your baby sister.”
“Don’t drink from the dog’s dish. Yes, that’s exactly how he uses his tongue to drink his water, but don’t do it!”
“Do NOT lick the dog.”
“Do NOT bite your brother.”
Maybe it’s a sign of progress that three of the top four phrases that occured to me were addressed to the two-year-old. So, either I’m making progress with the older two… or I’ve lowered my standards and my brain refuses to notice. I think I’ll choose to believe the former.
5. At the risk of disclosing my actual location to those of you who don’t know (reference previous comments about husband’s feelings on keeping some measure of internet privacy), I will tell you that we attended an absolutely incredible parish mission this week, given by Fr. Larry Richards. If you’ve never seen him, I’d have to say he most reminds me of Glenn Beck (that’s a good thing). Distinctly, in fact, and I wasn’t the only one to say so.
Also, if you’ve never seen him, be aware that his style is… well… shall we say, “straightforward.” (He says every conference generates a solid load of hate mail and complaints, which is really too bad. He is an excellent preacher.)
He makes you laugh, then, when he has your attention, he usually hits you with one of those pointed spiritual questions that leaves you saying, “Oh. Yeah. I could seriously do better on that, couldn’t I?” People didn’t laugh when he was going through the examination of conscience and got to artificial birth control. “But everyone is doing it…” was a funnier line when it was applied to teenagers and pre-marital sex, apparently.
Many people were moved to tears on each of the four nights of the mission. Go check his website for free downloads (This week: “He must increase, I must decrease”); any description I attempt would be so woefully inadequate to explain his preaching (although the clip online this week seems rather mild for him).
6. Ok, I will repeat one thing he said. (Not the serious stuff; I need to chew on that for a bit before it makes it onto the blog.) One of the hysterically funny bits (ok, hysterically funny if you’re a Catholic fed up with the ridiculous liturgists who seem to think they’re there to promote “creativity” (which means tambourines) or “relevance” (which usually means “modern” music that reminds you of “Age of Aquarius” or “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie) or “loving atmosphere” (which means we substitute something about God taking care of us when it’s supposed to be time for the more penitential psalms) or some such junk in the mass). It’s funny because, sadly, it’s true.
What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?
You can negotiate with a terrorist.
7. And, in belated honor of the feast of the Annunciation, another cookie. (Which is celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas. Or, as a wise cracking priest at the Academy once said at daily mass on the Annunciation: “You have 270 shopping days until Christmas.” The mids tried not to laugh too loud. The little old ladies looked offended.)
Brother (who was given a bunch of the cookies to take back to the rectory for the priests and monks) said he wasn’t sure what to do with them until someone explained what they were. A friend hijacked them from her sons, reasoning, she told me, “They wouldn’t appreciate such a beautiful cookie! They can have the ones from the box.” My mother-in-law said she nibbled the edges because she didn’t want to ruin the picture. The youth director said it looked like he should build it into a shrine. (I made him promise to eat it.)
Nope, it’s a cookie. A springerle cookie, to be exact, which, to my mind, was perfect for spring. (I make the speculaas for Christmas; it’s closer to gingerbread, but better.) Both the mold and the recipe come from House on the Hill. I used a generous amount of ground orange and lemon peel, plus two teaspoons of almond extract instead of the anise oil.
I thought about putting a poppy seed or sesame seed into each cookie to symbolize Jesus at his conception: hidden, but already present with us. (But I forgot.) As Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life once said in a homily (again, my paraphrase; it was a while ago):
Christmas is not the primary feast of the Incarnation of Christ; the Annunciation is. Jesus did not take on our flesh at Christmas; he had already done that at the Annunciation.
If you can’t tell, that is the angel Gabriel on the left, greeting Mary on the right, under the arch. (See the middle of the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke.)
Remember to go visit Jen at Conversion Diary and check out some of the other “7 quick takes Friday” entries!