Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teeth Whitening Ads - Buyer Beware

See this before you send in for the "free trial" for teeth-whitening products. They aren't really free and you may not realize it if you don't read the fine print.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They're on the move!

I'm keeping up with my walking despite a problematic right hip. I figure I better use it or lose it and the exercise doesn't seem to make it any worse. At any rate, a regular route is to the dam and back. I always stop at the river and look for the great blue heron because they are frequently fishing when I walk in the evening. No herons, but a flock of small birds flying about. I couldn't distinguish what they were at first, but after watching for a few minutes and noting the yellow band on the tail I thought they must be cedar waxwings. And sure enough some who rested on a tree branch a little nearer showed the distinctive Zorro mask and the crest.

How I love those dear little birds! It must be migration time for them because that's when you generally see them -- flying in a group and stopping, but not staying, for a short break.

If you haven't taken up birdwatching, you are missing out on one of life's most enjoyable offerings. God mentioned the birds and the flowers in the gospels as well as the fox in his den and other delights of the natural world, so all these creatures must have something to teach us. They all obey God's will by nature. Would that we did by choice instead of so often going our own way to our peril.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jack Webb and Johnny Carsons Trade Tongue-twisters

I'm posting this for some clean Sunday fun. No doubt the clappers were taken from the Cathedral of St. Clotilde. Try these tongue-twisters yourself. Think you can do it as well as this dynamic duo?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Of Crepe Myrtles and Lives of the Saints

We have two crepe myrtle plants out front that we purchased several years ago on the way home from the Outer Banks. Last year they bloomed abundantly. This year one plant didn't bloom at all and the other got only a few flower clusters. We haven't figured out what the problem is: something missing in the soil? Too much rain? On strike?

Whatever the reason, the poor blooming reminds me that our spiritual life is sometimes like that. We are the fruitless fig tree or the flowerless crepe myrtle that the master says to cut down and throw into the fire. But then the gardener begs for a reprieve. "Let me try to figure out what's wrong with this poor plant and fix it," he says. "If that doesn't work, you can cut it down later."

I think the Blessed Mother is our spiritual gardener always urging her Son to give us one more chance for a change of heart, one more opportunity to be a fruitful, flowering vine. All she needs to see is one flower, one tiny sign that our hearts are not completely sterile and she works the soil with her prayers and waters it with her tears.

Today is First Friday, when the Church invites us to reflect on the apparitions of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. It was she to whom He revealed His desire for devotion to His Sacred Heart and that Catholics attend Mass on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month in adoration. From an early age St. Margaret Mary desired to be united to Christ in his sufferings and He answered her prayer by allowing her to participate in a small way in his agony. She suffered from terrible headaches that sometimes kept her from laying her head on a pillow. She often spent entire nights in Communion with Christ.

If you want to draw closer to Christ immerse yourselves in the lives of the saints. It brought St. Ignatius of Loyola to conversion and many others as well.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Make a Retreat with the Lord

I've been home from retreat for just over a week and I'm longing for another already. The happy news is that I can always take a five minute break to meditate on the face of Jesus or a twenty minute rosary walk or read a short life of a saint from Ann Ball's wonderful collection, Modern Saints. The sad news is that I will not have a sustained time of quiet and meditation with the daily Tridentine Mass for another year at least.

The 2009 retreat was indeed a peaceful and prayerful withdrawal from the world at a particularly dark time for our culture as the unborn and the elderly become ever-more targeted by the death-dealers on Capitol Hill. It was good to get away from the bad news and focus on the good news of the Gospel. Since the purpose of a retreat, however, isn't to run away from the world, but to withdraw for a time to be able to more effectively do God's will in the world, I thank God for putting me right back into the midst of the fight. Every morning I put on the armor of God and prepare to hold my ground and do what I can to take some back from the enemy who often seems much more zealous for evil than we are for good.

So I will still periodically pulling out my pictures of Mattaponi Retreat Center and sigh and pray that I may go again next summer to refresh my soul once more. But here at home I will fight for the unborn and do what I can to share and defend the faith. May I always do it according to God's will with the help of the Blessed Mother.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mr. Tumnus' Lampost

Wherever I go I am always on the lookout for Mr. Tumnus' lampost. When we lived in Alexandria, it was just around the corner and I always said hello to Mr. Tumnus when I walked by confident he could hear me even if I couldn't see him. Fauns are shy after all. I haven't found his lampost yet here in Woodstock, but I'm confident I will. On retreat in Maryland a few weeks ago I found it easily and kept my eyes peeled for Mr. Tumnus himself although I never caught a glimpse of him. But then you never know about fauns...and beavers...and bears...and other talking animals. They speak when inclined and can be private and quiet when they choose to be.

We have some deer who turn up in our orchard when the apples are on the trees and I'm sure if I asked they would tell me the apples are fine. Sometimes the babies stand on their hind legs and bat at the ones still hanging and then fling them around when they fall. Oh, by the way, if you meet mole, toad, and rat sit down for awhile and listen to their tales of the river. No doubt they will have a full picnic hamper that they will open and you can share treats as well as stories.

And don't forget to turn off the TV and introduce these delightful friends to your children. They will never fail to be pleasant companions for them and take them on exciting journeys to lands of adventure.

Camp Kreitzer's Last Summer Fling

The last week of August was also the last big summer adventure on the Camp Kreitzer calendar. The Lauderdale kids came for a week and we had more activities planned than we could fit in the hours available. So we didn't throw rocks in the river or walk on the scary bridge. But we did: bake cookies; swim, take hikes on the Lion's Tale Trail and the Storybook Trail; go for lots of tractor rides; have a picnic and wade in the creek; spend a day with Dave and Jes and family for swimming, a campfire, and fireworks; eat lots of popsicles served from Brendan's Tiki Hut; spend a morning playing with friends; read Mr. Wolf's pancakes at least a dozen times; go to the library; stop at the farm to get fresh eggs; bake (and eat) cupcakes; go the Shenandoah County Fair and get armbands for the rides (but forgot the camera); and watched Brendan dance the hula.

We ended every day with a decade of the rosary and on the way to meet Tara and Lawrence on our last day, Ryan insisted that we "say the rosary for Mommy and Daddy." So we did.

It was a joyful end to the the Camp Kreitzer summer season. We have an open calendar for the fall including apple picking, hiking, and more campfires. Y'all come.