Saint Anthony, personal assistant

Saint Anthony has been working overtime for my family lately, and we are all eternally grateful.

A few weeks ago, I lost one of my diamond stud earrings, given to me by EP Dude before we were married. (I actually got my ears double-pierced just so I could wear them all the time.) We found the back to it by the front door and after a while, I gave up looking, but kept sending little pleas to St. Anthony when I thought of it. Last Friday, Wee Ninja Girl was playing on the floor by the bookshelf in our study when I noticed that she got really quiet. That's usually the signal that she's about to put something small in her mouth. I called her name and she jumped and looked at me with a big ol' guilty look on her little face. In her hand was my earring.

Last weekend my family went to the Sterling Renaissance Festival, near Syracuse. My younger brother, The Engineer, somehow lost his $300 digital camera. He reported it and after a few days probably gave up as well. Still, St. Anthony was pestered by all of us. Yesterday, The Engineer got a call from the Festival staff saying his camera was found.

Today I went to the DMV to renew my registration. I didn't get the notice in the mail, even though I thought I changed all my information when I got married in 2007. I must not have changed the registration. I stood in line for 20 minutes or so, with my forms all filled out only to be told that they wouldn't renew it without the title to my car. Yeah, I had NO idea where that was. Frustrated, I took Wee Ninja Girl home and did what any other reasonable adult would do.

I cried and called my mom.

She looked in her strong box, I looked in mine, no title. I called my dad (who works for the DMV--behind the scenes) and he thought maybe I could still renew it anyway. Armed with that information and shooting prayers to St. Anthony, I put Wee Ninja Girl down for a nap and decided to search through the disaster that is my craft room. I went through about 7 boxes and in the 8th I found a medal. A St. Anthony medal.

The title to my car was in the very next box.

So, thank you, St. Anthony! You can put up for feet for a little while and enjoy a much-earned rest. Have a beer. I know I sure want one. Maybe I'll wait until after I get back from trip two to the DMV.

And when you are finished, do you think you could maybe find a Fall co-op for The Engineer? He really needs one...


Random thoughts of summer

If I had to summarize the Rochester summer in one word, it would be "soggy." It's rained almost every day since the beginning of June. We can't go hiking anywhere without wading through ankle-deep swampland. So much for my plans to hike in Mendon Ponds Park three times a week.

All this rain has made my yard the home to about 35,678,345,637,887,435,890,001 mosquitoes. And every single time I step my big toe outdoors I get bitten.

Yesterday was the last day for our organist at our church and I am very sad. I know that when people think of music in a Catholic church they often think of shawled old ladies hunched over a little organ in a dark corner, singing Gather Us In in a shaky, off-key warble. That may be true in some places (*sigh*), but our organist was probably the most phenomenal musician I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. His fingers and feet danced across the keyboard and pedals. He accompanied the cantor and choir with grace and made the church ring out in praise of Our Lord. This past Easter, he came into the Church, much to the joy of the congregation. He will now be the new organist at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California. They are so lucky!

I am also terrified that the lovely, traditional hymns we've been enjoying since joining this parish will be replaced with things like Digo Si, Senor! or Up From the Earth. *shudder*

I crocheted an adorable mountain hat for Wee Ninja Girl for our trip to the Adirondacks last week and I'm just waiting for a warm, sunny day so I can get some pictures of it to post along with the pattern.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from our vacation to Hoel Pond, near Tupper Lake.

Not sure if this is Hoel Pond or Turtle Pond. I think it's Turtle pond. Doesn't it look so peaceful?

Wee Ninja Girl trying not to get blown away on the back deck. It was really REALLY windy that day. And she kept taking her hat off and throwing it on the ground, so the Dude let her go bareheaded for a few minutes. (I promise it was just a few minutes, mom!)

Her hair is very random, too. She has three cowlicks, so I can never do much with it, but the windblown, messy look works for her personality.

This very hungry hummingbird sipped nectar from the feeders all day long, despite the wind.

Extraordinarily Patient Dude and I have been trying some new recipes lately, since we eat the same eight meals all the time. Sometimes it's worked out for us, sometimes we've had to hold our noses just to swallow the results, but it's been fun overall. My favorite place to find recipes is AllRecipes.com. The best part is that others who have tried them out will post corrections, variations, and other helpful commentary. I just made a yummy fresh sweet cherry cobbler and am eternally grateful to the comments regarding the overabundance of sugar in the recipe. I cut back on it and the results were amazing. And delicious.

Which is why all this summer rain and gloom is bad for me. I can't go out and hike or take walks, so I stay home and bake.

And now we've come full circle.


Happy Birthday, Grampa!

My grandfather, my father's father, lives in the same house where he has spent most of his life. Grampa loves to tell stories of his childhood and youth, and he always has an eager audience in his grandkids.

When he was very young, he and his older brothers would spend afternoons in the movie theatre where his father ran the projector. I always pictured three little Italian-American boys in chairs against the wall under the projection window, enraptured by the flickering images on the screen. Their favorites were the westerns, and they'd spend hours recreating the stunts they saw.

Grampa tells of mixing sugar water into shot glasses at his kitchen counter and pretending it was whiskey. Sometimes, one of the brothers would climb on top of the icebox a huge desert boulder to leap down onto the heads of the unsuspecting passers-by. Then there was the time Grampa's older brother leapt through a plate glass window in the dining room during "saloon brawl."

Oh, their sainted mother! Such patience!

Once they were told to kill a chicken for dinner. Not knowing any other way to kill anything, they attempted to hang it. I will spare you the gory details from that escapade; it's a story much better told at the dinner table while eating chicken. Or so that's how we always heard it, much to my grandmother's chagrin.

As a young man during World War II, Grampa was finally able to enlist, only to find that the war was over. He was sent to Japan as part of the occupation. One night, while out past curfew, he and some friends were about to be caught by the MPs. Thinking quickly, Grampa just ran into the nearest house and shut the door. The family inside didn't say anything, but served him a plate of their dinner and then he went on his way.

Later he thought that he may have been just a tad intimidating, what with bursting through their door at night, armed to the teeth.

Grampa has always been a kind, gentle, and loving man. He loves to talk to people, always coming home from the grocery store with a story about meeting "this guy" next to the watermelons or "this guy" in the checkout line.

These days he putters around his house and yard, always busy with some project or other. He'll probably take it easy today, although I'm sure my family that lives nearby will make sure he gets a cake and some presents.

Happy Birthday, Grampa! Wish I were there!


Adventures in Pittsburgh and Poopy Ice Cream

Last week Wee Ninja Girl and I travelled with my parents and my youngest sister (Ms. T, age 12) to visit my Big Brother, his wife K, and my three nieces: Energizer Bunny (age 7), Sweetie-O (age 5), and Newbie (age one week!).

I will spare you all the details of the car trip. As someone who travelled by car frequently as a child, I am used to my parents' grueling ambitious methods. For example, when we stopped (once every four to five hours), we used the bathroom. It didn't matter if we "didn't have to go." We just WENT. Because it would be a long time before stopping again. We were given small treats every once in a while as we passed a milestone—usually smarties or a travel game. I hate to think how much smartie dust my poor dad vacuumed out of cars when we were young.

Their methods certainly worked, though. They drove from Albany, NY, to Fort Leavenworth, KS, in three days with five kids in an '86 Volvo station wagon. In the winter. As an added bonus, at least three people in the car were sick at any given time. Fun times!

Unfortunately, Wee Ninja Girl is not quite conditioned for that sort of torture regimen, so we ended up stopping more than I would have liked.

Anyway. As expected, we had a blast visiting everyone. My sister-in-law was amazingly spry and energetic for a woman who just gave birth naturally a week before we arrived. What's that? Green isn't a good color for me?

On Thursday, my mother decided to treat us to some ice cream. She and my dad had seen a sign for an ice cream place as they took a stroll that morning. Never one to be left out when there is ice cream involved, I strapped Wee Ninja Girl into her new umbrella stroller and headed out with my mom, Ms. T, Energizer Bunny, and Sweetie-O.

It was hot. And humid. And the umbrella stroller turned out to be too short for me and a huge pain to push uphill. Because they live in Pittsburgh and one can't seem to take three steps in any given direction without going uphill. Needless to say, I was less than cheerful by the time we saw the place, although I'm sure no one could tell as I cleverly masked my displeasure.

It turned out to be a Greek lunch counter that "Now Serves ICE CREAM!!!!!" according to the hand-scrawled sign in the window. Our choices were Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry. Apparently, the freezer burn was included at no extra charge. It took the guy at the counter about 20 minutes to scoop and serve five orders. I had hoped there was frozen yogurt for the Wee Ninja Girl, but she was happy with the bag of cheerios I always carry around. I know, she's awesome.

At least we had entertainment. Next door was a tattoo/piercing parlor with a giant window facing the little patio where we ate. Lots of shiny, colorful people to watch!

Energizer Bunny and Sweetie-O couldn't wait to tell Big Bro and K all about the poopy ice cream. We did clarify that "poopy" described the overall experience, not the flavors.
And at least the walk home was mostly downhill.