“Mom, I Can’t Feel My Toes.”

On this, the third snow day of the school year, we finally got actual snow. Admittedly, I never expected it to snow. 1-2 inches in north Louisiana? Puh-leeze, weatherdude! What are you smoking???? We may get ice and sludge and generally terrible driving conditions, but real-deal snow tends to pass us by. We Shreveporters live in what I call “the weather bubble.” Weather aims right for us, turning at the last minute to soar above us or below us, rarely coasting directly through our lovely city. We are grateful that most of the bad stuff passes us by. Unfortunately, so does much of the fun stuff.

Until today.

That heavenly snowfall began around 9:00 a.m. and continued its White Christmas cascade all morning long. But as I look out the window while writing this, the snow seems to have finally stopped falling. 12:21 pm. The driveway is mushy and the street is beginning to regain its grey asphalt hue, no longer smooth and white…which tells me it is melting… just like weatherdude said it would.
(Which also tells me the roads may not be as treacherous as they were two hours ago. I may try again to haul my butt into the office. Y’all don’t lock me out just yet!)

I love the color of our world when it is illuminated by sunshine. But if it can’t be gloriously bathed in bright yellow, then I prefer it to be white. This white…

DSC_0645My photography skills leave a lot to be desired, but my desire overwhelms my pathetic lack of skill to bring you this…

DSC_0624And this…

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My poor, poor confused spring bulbs. :(

And finally, yes, the kiddos took to the great outdoors, shunning their screen devices for a sacred morning of pelting each other with snowballs…

Aaron with a snowball earbud.

Aaron with a snowball earbud.

Look!  They're touching!  And smiling!!

Look! They’re touching! And smiling!!

…and competing in a snowman building contest.   Here are Misty with her creepy penny eyes…

DSC_0015 … and Frosty McTaxFraud, each sporting their very own coffee mug. DSC_0017Does anyone else agree with me that Frosty has a quirky Al Capone look going on? Nice bat.

So, while the kids toast their tootsies in front of the fireplace, I’ll leave you with a few more snaps of my favorite place on earth…

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the garden in winter…

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St. Francis near Mason’s grave

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The Mabelline!

DSC_0606 DSC_0595 DSC_0579 DSC_0599 DSC_0722DSC_0627Mabel’s favorite part of any snow day is coming in and getting dried off.

I’m gonna need more towels.

List Therapy: Things I Like

Here I am, head spinning from a stressful busy week, finding something to be  peeved about at every turn. In fact, this started out as a list of pet peeves (admittedly, some stupid, some funny, and some universal). As I mentally ticked off the things that tick me off, a still tiny voice in the back of my head said, “Way to focus on the positive, Lori.”

Ahem.

So I backed up a bit and decided to make my list about things that make me happy rather than the things that annoy me. Here goes.

  1. Sunshine. The brighter, the better.
  2. 70 degree weather (Can I get an amen?!)
  3. Babies cooing (even if they are so far in my past that I’ve almost forgotten them…almost…my memory was stirred by the family who sat behind us in church on Saturday.)
  4. Mabel in her role as “the Christmas Puppy.”
  5. Sunshine.
  6. Coffee with a just-right proportion of milk. It never lasts long enough. Good thing there are refills.
  7. A clean kitchen.
  8. Glimpses of summer at the end of January.
  9. Seeing Dom and Vic playing basketball when I pull into the driveway.
  10. Planning this year’s vegetable garden.
  11. Our freezer full of deer meat, which means I don’t have to buy hamburger meat at the store for almost the rest of 2015.
  12. Gospel songs, Statler-Brothers style.  “Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?…”
  13. Stove-top popcorn drizzled in Kerrygold butter– better than the movies!!
  14. A new bottle of nail polish.
  15. Sunshine.  (Can you tell I wanted to spend the whole day outside?)
  16. Realizing in the midst of stress just how blessed I really am when Aaron asks me, “Mom, do you need a hug?”
  17. Mommy-daughter time.
  18. Mom-son time.
  19. Dom time.
  20. Sunshine.

What was I stressed about, again?

The Tap on my Shoulder

My favorite inspirational author is Max Lucado.  I have a shelf full of “Max books” and I have read them each multiple times.  His writings somehow resonate with me at the intersection of who I am and who I should be.  Often, his words remind me of truths my heart has always known, even if my thoughts have obscured them. 

I have in my office a flip-calendar called Grace for the Moment, Volume II which contains snippets from his various books .  If you ever see my little flip-book, you will notice that it is permanently displaying October 31.  I have not yet read Max’s book Traveling Light, but the excerpt from it which is the meditation for that day spoke loudly to me several years ago when I first flipped to it.  

It speaks even more loudly today.

No person lives one day more or less than God intends. 

‘All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.’ (Psalm 139:16)

…We speak of a short life, but compared to eternity, who has a long one?  A person’s days on earth may appear as a drop in the ocean.  Yours and mine may seem like a thimbleful.  But compared to the Pacific of eternity, even the years of Methuselah filled no more than a glass…

In God’s plan every life is long enough and every death is timely.

Peace to all who mourn. 

Two Souls

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I wrote the post on Father David Richter early Sunday morning, almost immediately upon hearing of his sudden and unexpected death, a death which came only three days after the passing of his own mother. After three phone calls, with vision blurred by tears that would not cease, I sat at the computer and wrote. I poured it all out as I usually do, knowing that I would come back to it later and clean it up, make sense of it, try to make it worthy of the man it represented. As I waited throughout the morning for an official, public social media announcement from our Bishop or Vicar General, I read and re-read what I had written. Surprisingly, I changed nothing. Once I was certain my writing would not be the initial notification of his death to anyone close to him, I published it. The outpouring of sympathy and prayers for Father’s family and even for us was overwhelming.

Father Dave’s family is now preparing for a double-funeral on Saturday, where we will mourn together as we commend to our Creator the exceptional souls of him and his mother. To be honest, I have always expected Father Dave to celebrate my funeral Mass. Attending his feels like taking a fastball to the cheekbone.

And so I write through the grief.

Sometimes, in the moving and re-assigning of priests within a diocese, we grow considerably attached to one in particular. The priest becomes a staple in our lives and at our gatherings. We claim him as our own. We invite him into our homes and into our families. We call him for everything. We ask him to baptize our children and visit our sick relatives. We give him the comfy recliner when he comes over to watch a football game. We weep a bit, and we keep in touch when he is reassigned to another parish. We make a point to meet up whenever he is in town. For the Mainiero family and a small portion of Ebarbs in Shreveport, Father Dave was ours.

As much as our family embraced Father Dave, his mother embraced us. She, too, became family. I recall her offering gentle advice before my wedding, when she said to me, “The wedding reception is just a celebration. Be sure you plan for the marriage. The life you two will have together – that’s the real party.”

From my perspective her own marriage seemed one to emulate. When Father Dave was pastor of St. Elizabeth and we would all gather for Sunday morning Mass, I would see Mr. & Mrs. Richter seated about four pews ahead, always together, always smiling. Even from my vantage point behind them I could see their bond, their faithfulness. And I could certainly see parental joy radiate from both of them every time their son celebrated Mass.

Mrs. Richter was proud of all her boys. No one who knew her, even on a limited basis, could ever doubt that she had immense reverence for who her sons are. She spoke so highly of them that I respected each of Father Dave’s brothers long before I met them. I assumed that my own mother-in-law’s duty to Father Dave as his secretary and the resulting care for all things that concerned him was the impetus that initially bonded Charolette and Mrs. Richter. I later came to understand it was likely the shared experience of mothering all boys, together with a fierce love and protection for their families, that solidified their friendship.

It feels natural to celebrate with gratitude the life of Mrs. Richter and the gift of her friendship to us. It is painful for me to think of Father Dave in past tense. My heart, along with thousands of others, is broken with his death. As I struggled to wrap my head around why this happened – a question I know I cannot answer – I imagined a scenario in which Mrs. Richter, upon entering Heaven, saw something that wasn’t quite right. Then, straightening to her full height and with a glint in her narrowed eyes she stated succinctly, “Well. My David can fix this!” And modeling his life after the Master whom he served, Father Dave simply would not deny his mother’s request.

We will each struggle in the days ahead to reconcile our gratitude for a life long-lived and our ache for a life cut short. I thank God that this faith which we share affords us the peace of knowing that we will see these two beautiful souls again.

Father Dave

He was my first office-job boss. He confirmed me. He heard my first confession. He married me and Dom. He baptized our first child. He blessed the land on which we built our home. He was the first priest I ever saw drink a beer.

He was part of our family in so many ways that including him in everything from the most special of occasions to the most mundane came naturally. He often attended family holiday gatherings where he witnessed first-hand our wrapping paper mayhem.

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I had the privilege of working for Father Dave twice. During my senior year in college I was an office assistant at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where he was pastor. Later, I worked as his secretary in the Chancery of our diocese where he served as Vicar General. In our second working relationship he asked me only once to take some mail to his apartment which was located on the other side of our office building. Inside his home I confirmed what I had always suspected – that he lived simply and neatly with very little fluff.

Usually serious and pensive, Father Dave had a unique funny side. To this day he is the only priest who has ever shot me with a rubber band. I will never forget the look on his face as he peered around a filing cabinet, professionally wrapped the band over his cocked thumb and took aim.

Father Dave had his favorites, too. He was a staunch fan of the Dallas Cowboys and all things Star Wars. As I stooped to take a book from the bottom shelf in his office one day, I was shocked to find that I was face-to-face with a twelve-inch tall Yoda perched on the bookcase. I gave a startled gasp before laughing out loud, only to turn and find Father Dave rocking back in his chair, hands folded across his chest, nodding with a sly grin.

He was soft-spoken and witty, and he gave great consideration to his words before he spoke them. He was kind and hard working, gentle and good, quiet and reserved. He was far too young and his leaving came far too soon.

Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep.  Earned it I have.  Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall…Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.

Oh, Yoda, if only it were that easy.

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Father Dave blessing our property before construction. June 2012

 

My Latest DIY Gig

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So, I’ve kinda been working on another project. It’s one that I’ve had in my head for several months. Originally, I wanted to somehow put a photo of me and Dom on a canvas and then script out the words to a love poem in a diagonal around the photo. I haven’t worked it all out yet, but it’s still something I plan on doing. Just… later. Because, really, this other thing morphed out of thin air and sort of took over the photo I was gonna use.

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From the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, November 2009.

Original problem: I need coordinating art to hang on either side of my dresser mirror, which stands pathetically bare at the moment. (And, please ignore the fact that the bed is not made. Thank you.)

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Original idea: Why don’t I paint two canvases to hang on either side?

Secondary problem: What color to make the canvases? Match the room’s moulding? I have that paint. But I want it to look like art. “Hey, Aaron, do you know how to blend paint colors to make them look good on canvas, like watercolor blends or something?”

“Nope. I haven’t been to art camp in like, three years, Mom.”

“Crap. Thanks anyway, sweetie.”

When what to my wondering eyes should appear? My sister-in-law gave me this personally hand-painted wood-art for Christmas. When I asked my mom where in my home she thought I should hang it, she replied without missing a beat, “In your bedroom. You have all black-and-whites in there.”

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She’s right. The bedroom would be the perfect place for it. And then it hit me. Black canvas. White paint. Suddenly, I had my outline. I just needed two perfect quotes. And two perfect pictures. Egad. Whatever “perfect” pictures might include me are so few that they have been excessively overused in everything that represents me. My favorite photo that includes me is from 2007. My second-favorite photo is from 2009…and it’s taken from behind me (see above). You get my drift, right?   Finding two pics of me that are self-proclaimed-“worthy” and not already over-used is going to be next to impossible.

And then my heart spoke up. I have been sorting photos of Mason lately because I want one of them on a mousepad for my office. I found some adorable pics. (The World’s Best Dog…14 years…we’re gonna have more than a handful of good pictures!) By the way, this is his “Did someone say, ‘treat'”? face. Lord, I miss this dog!

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I was also saving a list of quotes that I pondered when we were planning Mason’s headstone. And so I went there. I cried. And cried. (And cried some more). But eventually I settled on one that worked with another quote I had been wanting to place in our home. As Billy Joel sang, it’s all about soul.

“For the soul of every living thing is in the hand of God.” Job 12:10

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

And there I had it. One canvas for Mason, one canvas for me and Dom. Two photos, printed in black-and-white to complement the others in the room. I had the photos printed through MPIX.com because I love how they print B&W photos. They just look awesome. (Get the True Black and White matte paper. It’s worth the extra pennies!) And I figured that under a slew of Mod-Podge, maybe MPIX’s photo paper could hold up like I wanted it to. My own printer paper? Maybe not.

So here is the finished product. What follows after this are directions for those fellow DIY-ers who just like the satisfaction of making something yourself.

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Instructions:

Materials you will need: Canvas, word processor, internet access (if you don’t already have the fonts you want to use), acrylic paint, mixing palate or plate, brushes, photo, Mod Podge glue (matte finish), pencil, graphite paper, tape, paper towels and a jar/bowl of water. This project takes approximately three days to complete, in order allow proper drying time between steps.

First, determine what size canvas you need. I knew I wanted tall-skinny canvases, so I went with 12×24. I found a 2-pack at Michael’s for relatively little cost (with a coupon). This size works great for word processing design, too, because you can base it off of a standard 8½x11 piece of paper.

Second, decide what photo you want to use and what size. Cut a piece of paper to the size of your photo. An 8×10 worked perfectly with the 12×24 canvas, but so would a 5×7. You be the judge here. It’s your art.

Third, design your word art. I used Microsoft Word to space and position my lettering. Set your page properties at 0.5” margins all the way around, and then select “Landscape” orientation. This lets you size your letters to fit your canvas, based on text being 10” wide (size the text on each line specifically). You can set your page size to your actual canvas size and see what prints on letter-sized paper, then literally cut and paste once printed to make it all match up.

My favorite fonts are Cambria (standard font in MS Word) for the block print, and Allura for the script. Scriptina Pro is also a great font for a flurry-ish script. I use dafont.com for downloading all my script and special fonts (Search these font names on their site to download). Size ‘em up, making sure your sidelines are all even with each other, if that’s the look you want. Print on regular paper and then cut off the extra margins so that you can line up your text and tape in place.

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Size up your text with your photo size – place it all on the canvas to be sure that you’re lining it up right.  Remember to use a blank piece of paper cut the size of your photo (or the actual photo if you have it already.)

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Now that you’ve got your wording and photo size all worked out, go ahead and paint your canvas. (I had already painted mine.) If you’re looking to do a solid color like me this will be a breeze. If you want a mottled, blended-color look, you need to know what you’re doing on your own because I am absolutely no help here. ;) I painted mine solid black, remember?

Once your canvas is dry, you will need to use graphite paper (either black or white, depending on your canvas color) to transfer the font image onto the canvas in the desired place. I taped my wording to the canvas and then slipped a piece of graphite paper (or, transfer paper) underneath it.

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Use a pencil to trace around the letters, making sure to move your graphite paper as you go. (You will notice that in my example, the word “soul” is off-center. I had to go back and trace that word last so as to center it with the rest of the text. I could have done that earlier in the paper-taping process, but I didn’t.

When you are finished tracing, you will have this very erasable outline.  (Be careful where you lay your arm to paint, as you could wipe away the markings you’ve so carefully made. You also want to be sure not to apply too much pressure on top of the canvas so that you don’t inadvertently stretch it out.

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Ok, here’s where we have to talk about brushes. First, I know NOTHING about brushes that I haven’t learned the hard way, and even that is pitifully little. What I do know is that you need the teeniest, tiniest brush to paint the words in your selected font. I didn’t know this on the first painting, and my letters lacked definition. See? Yuck.

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That was done using a small angled brush, which I thought was appropriately small enough. But alas, I was wrong. In any brush, your paint is going to eventually glob up and if your brush is too big, then the glob just gets really messy. Like I said, I thought my brush was small enough. No, the next picture shows you the brush I used on the second painting. See, my mother-in-law is a retired certified ceramics teacher. The brush is hers. This is the brush she uses for eyelashes and pupils on the faces of her small creations. This is the brush she insisted I take with me when I raided her stash of supplies for my project. This is the brush that I thought would be too small for any grand thing I was going to do, but this is also the brush that made my words come to life on the canvas. It doesn’t look like much, but trust me, it is mighty.

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So once you have traced your words onto the canvas, and you have your handy-dandy teeny-tiny brush poised in the air, you are ready to paint, my friend. Squeeze out just A LITTLE of the paint from your tube onto your palate or mixing tray (a paper plate works just fine). I squeezed out a quarter-sized dollop of white paint for the first canvas. I used only a twelfth of it and the rest went to waste. Go easy on the squeezing, is my point.

Now, be a good little student and color in the lines. You’ll be so pleased when you do!

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The good thing about using a solid, dark background, is that if you need to touch up any goofs, it’s super-easy!  (See period after the word “God.” I messed up and brought the tail of the “d” up too far.  Once the ModPodge is applied, you won’t see any of the touch-up areas.

Now, where the Mod Podge is concerned, I purchased a small bottle of the Matte finish.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but my bottle of glossy Mod Podge looked every bit of its twelve-year age.  I thought the matte version might be a nice touch.  As it turned out, it is not a flat finish, but is not a super-shiny finish either.  I like the minor sheen that the matte option imparts.

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Once the text has dried, you are ready to adhere your photo.  Take a generous size brush (mine is 2″ wide) and dip into a bowl full of the Mod Podge glue.  Brush onto the entire back of the photo before gently placing the photo in the desired place on the canvas. Get the glue as close to the edges as you possibly can.

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Smooth the photo onto the canvas with your hand.  Once the photo was smoothed (remember not to press too hard) I flipped the canvas over onto a towel on my countertop and pressed harder with my hand to make sure the canvas was well-pressed to the photo.

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Allow to dry (1-2 hours).  Clean your brush in the meantime and allow it to dry also.   Cover the glue so it doesn’t dry out.

Once the photo and your brush are dry, using the same 2″ brush, gently sweep Mod Podge back and forth in smooth, easy strokes running the width of your canvas.  Be sure not to stop in the middle.  Once the entire canvas is coated in Mod Podge and you are satisfied with the brush strokes, allow to dry (2-3 hours).

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A few notes about this last step: Be sure to go all the way down the side edges with your glue so you get a uniform look all the way around the canvas.  I worried that the parts of the rounded edge where my glue seemed to pile would be a problem, but they turned out just fine.  I cannot see brush strokes on the canvas, but I can see them on the photos.  It’s not obtrusive at all, but I might investigate a smoother brush for future projects.  Also, the Mod Podge dries so clear that you won’t see any of the glue that might accumulate at the edges of your photo.  Just make sure it’s not a big glob and you’ll be fine.  The glue dries incredibly fast.  I believe within 20 minutes I could not see any glue on the canvas or photo.  It is at this point that you could put on a second coat, but I chose not to.  I hung mine on the wall 2 hours after finishing the last canvas.

And now, my friend, your work is done.  Hang your art on the wall with pride. (P.S.  You may want to affix a picture hanger of some type to your canvas prior to hanging.  I skipped that step also, but I may go back and add it later.)

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Farewell Fourteen!

If I were a glass-half-empty kind of girl, I would have to say that 2014 sucked Shrek’s big toe. Our litany of misery reads like a warped version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. One seizure (Dom), triple-bypass (Pops), four family funerals, six months of chauffeuring, and seven months without our favorite of all God’s creatures, the incomparable Mason.

True, 2014 was a roller coaster of blessing and curse, bitter and sweet. And yet, it seemed to me that each time we sunk into the valley of emptiness and grief and the fear of what could have been, our faith buoyed our souls out of shadow and into sunlight, reminding us not only to be grateful for each day we have with those we love, but also that the end of what we can see on Earth is not an end at all.

So with my glass half full, I present our Pictoral Year in Review:

January: Let’s just go ahead and start this off with the one wonky, unrelated-to-anything photo of the year.  Here is a show-stopping pic of our trampoline on the first icy day of January.  As you see, sleet does not keep my kids from bouncing, or, er…sliding. January2014

February: Aaron was in 8th grade and getting ready to celebrate Mardi Gras in high style with the Class of 2018.  Here he is dressed to impress – or at least dressed to make me cry!  (Never mind that his Daddy was dressed EXACTLY LIKE THIS the first time I saw him!) I noticed Aaron’s height compared to the mantle’s edge as I posted this, and was pleased to show him that he’s grown four inches this year! Feb2014

March: Victoria made her musical debut at my grandmother’s house by playing the water glasses.  She’s not nicknamed Gracie Lou Freebush for nothing! March2014

April: I’m not entirely sure this happened in April, but it is in the right place on the timeline of my camera roll, so it gets the billing, even if it’s not really a “picture.” I was joking in the last line of my reply, but this really did make me proud! 20140328_133804000_iOS

May:  Paw prints and heartbreak. May2014

June:  Headed to Grandmama and Granddaddy’s house on a Saturday.  We decided to take Mabel so she wouldn’t be home all alone.  Here she is propped in the backseat and grateful for the outing. June

July: Victoria and her sweet friends gave Mabel a spa day. July

August: You know those moments when you’re just hanging out, enjoying life, and you suddenly feel like you’re witnessing the present and the future all at the same time?  Yeah, this was one of those moments.

September: My boss came over and taught us and our parents how to make Italian sausage.  Primo!!!!  Here Dom and my dad are learning to case the sausage. DSC_0553 October: My first fully-completed Pinterest project.  I started this back in March, I think.  Finished it in October.  My favorite literary places. I’d spend a lifetime on Blackfriar’s Bridge just to catch a glimpse of Tessa and Jem. 20141012_165517719_iOS November: Dom and I headed to a fancy-schmancy dinner one evening, and he asked Vic to take our picture before we left.  So glad he did.  Wish I’d had the foresight to put the ironing board up first. Me & Dom December: All I asked for was one sweet photo of my darling children together.  This is what I got, which is pretty typical of them nowadays.  {sigh} Teenagers! IMG_4848 There it is, folks.  Our 2014 in a nutshell.  Come to think of it, my glass runneth over.

Ready

While at my local grocery store this weekend Dom and I stopped by the manager’s window to purchase some stamps for our Christmas cards. As I swiped my card in payment, the kind grey-haired woman behind the glass asked if we were ready for Christmas.

“Whew!” I groaned. “I hope so.”

Dom chimed in behind me, asking the lady if she was ready for Christmas.

“I’m always ready!” she beamed. Suddenly, my exasperated I hope so sounded shallow and disconnected. “I’m spending it with my mom,” she continued. “People keep asking if we’re going to have a lot of presents, and I say no. We’ll be together and that’s what really matters.”

This little lady in the manager’s booth taught me something I should have known my whole life, or at least been cognizant of for the last three weeks. Doesn’t Advent give us the opportunity to be grateful, to await in joyful anticipation the celebration of God’s love for us that is Christ’s birth? Instead of thinking about the rush of Christmas cards and tentative meal plans for Christmas Day, shouldn’t I instead be thinking during the whole year of how amazing it is that God loved us enough to become one of us, and – even more – gave us each other on which to practice love?

That sweet lady reminded my heart of its values and rekindled within me a gratitude for the true spirit of Christmas. Walking out of Brookshire’s, I felt like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged where he’s wild-haired and giddy, exclaiming, “I get it now! I believe it’s gonna happen now! I’m ready!!”

May we always be ready for Christmas!

Ballot Blues

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Where elections are concerned, I used to have a hard and fast rule: I would not vote for ANYONE who bashed his or her opponent in campaign advertisements. It didn’t matter what I thought about the issues or the candidates. If a candidate couldn’t spend his or her energy telling me how good a job he or she was planning to do, and instead focused on telling me how bad a job his or her opponent was going to do, then I deemed that the candidate was not of the character that deserved my vote, and I discarded him immediately.

And then came the day that my own rule left me no one to vote for. Not a single candidate stood without a stone in his hand.

So I didn’t vote that year.

And I regretted it. Not immediately, and not as a direct result of the winners’ actions. I regretted it eventually through an understanding – and an acceptance – of our political process.

Newsflash: there are no perfect politicians.

Closer-to-home newsflash: there are no perfect people. I should really stop looking for them and expecting them to run for office.

It is human nature, when attacked, to fight back. Rare is the person who can turn the other cheek. Even more rare the person who can turn the other cheek and still win an election. But I believe that any response should be an answer to the original accusation, not an attempt to deflect attention to an entirely separate issue. As an example:

Accusation: “My opponent voted 9 times out of 10 to kill puppies.”

Unacceptable Response: “My opponent says I voted to kill puppies. What he didn’t tell you is that he voted to open strip clubs in every school district in the state. If you care about your children, you’ll vote for me.”

Preferred Response: “What my opponent has stated about me is false. My record shows that I voted consistently against the killing of puppies. If I am elected to serve you fine people, I will continue to vote against puppy-cide and work to implement a puppy protection agency where people can anonymously report incidents of puppy abuse.”

I mean really, is that so hard???

I wanted so badly to just abstain from voting again this year. Fuming one recent morning over my perceived lack of quality candidates, I stopped dead in my tracks as I entered my office building. This poster greeted me and gave me cause to re-think my position on the whole political mess.

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I do hold a prejudice against politicians in general. I assume kickbacks and special-interests and pockets lined with thirty pieces of silver. But prejudices are unfair. They are stereotypes. And they don’t serve to make me or my community any better. What will make my community better? My active participation in the process.

So, despite the fact that there was not a single campaign advertisement on my television that did not slander and defile political opponents, I voted this morning. I put all the negativity out of my mind, and I voted for the people whom I hope are not inherently opposed to my core values.

It was the best I could do.

Maybe Someday

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Maybe someday I’ll stop saying we have two dogs.

Maybe someday I’ll stop missing the thumping of his tail.

Maybe someday, when someone new comes over and meets Mabel, I won’t feel obligated to explain who Mason was.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to talk to someone else about his or her dog without crying for my own.

Maybe someday I’ll remove his name from the heartworm pill reminder on my phone.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to walk down the aisle at PetSmart where his brand of dog food is shelved.

Maybe someday I’ll look at pictures of him without a hitch in my breath.

Maybe someday we’ll have another puppy.

Maybe someday I’ll forget the feel of him curled up under my feet.

Maybe someday I’ll stop missing our old routines.

Maybe someday I’ll stop comparing Mabel’s personality to his.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to laugh out loud at his goofier moments without ending up in tears.

Maybe someday I’ll stop noticing all the “firsts” our family experiences without him.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to see yellow fur and a wagging tail without being reminded of the Mason-size hole in my heart.

Maybe someday.

Not today.

Definitely not today.

Happy Birthday, Monk! We miss you still.

Mason after a stormy night, March 2014.

Mason after a stormy night, March 2014.

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