God vs. Gold

When we plan a budget, money seems to be the center of our planning! We make extensive calculations as to where, when and why our money will be spent. We have today to work with, tomorrow to think about and the distant future to consider. We sometimes deal with money needs and disbursement first in our life with everything else coming in second or as an after thought. The world tells us we need gold or it’s equivalent to survive.

If it is to be God’s Will, many of us will have a long life here on this earth. And if we acknowledge God’s Will in our lives, we will realize that without God, we are nothing and can do nothing. Why then do people spend so much of their lives seeking the gold first and giving secondary importance to the spiritual gold needed to attain eternal life?

Although, as modern day Catholics, we do not worship pagan gods, do we ever stop to consider that some of our pursuits are in the nature of idol worship? As responsible parents, we see to the care of our families. The greater of this burden, naturally, falls on the husband and father who needs to earn the living in order to provide for the family. Sometimes it seems that people get caught up in attaining money and material comforts and forget to work on the necessary requirements of the soul. A father’s burden is difficult as he has to balance the material care of his family’s needs with the spiritual nourishment of their souls. The mother has the job of maintaining the home life and reinforcing the nonphysical aspects of preparing their children’s souls for their final judgment day.

Needs is the divisive word here. What one person determines to be a need, may be unimportant to another. Do we judge others by what we want or by what brings them happiness and the hope of heaven? Are the needs we think important required for a successful life here on earth?

Financial situations go up and down. Life has struggles every day, some exceedingly trying, others annoying. What do we use to face this day-to-day crisis of being human beings? Look around and see what people hold most dear. And I will bet it is not usually a prayer and an hour in church!

Life is a search for the gold. We need to decide which gold will improve our life’s situation. Money can certainly ease us through our earthly life but could distract us from our ultimate purpose in life and slide us right past heaven. The road to heaven is not an easy climb whereas downward descents usually go rather quickly and without thought. It is very sad when you hear people say that God doesn’t really want us to struggle. Christ’s life on earth was certainly contrary to that thought!

Where Have All the Whole Words Gone?

I awake in the a.m. and retire in the p.m. I live in the year some thing or other AD. As far as I am concerned those are about all the initials I need in my life. Life, however, doesn’t agree on this point. Each day finds me deciphering mysterious sets of letters that represent actual people, places and things.
I am trying not to be paranoid but I feel like I am constantly on a game show of some sort. The representative initials can hit without warning. It is up to me to successfully translate their meaning before I can continue with my life.

Initials, lone letters of the alphabet loom on the horizon of my sanity. Try as I might to avoid them, they invade when least expected and I have to immediately struggle with a translation in order to keep up.

I arrive at morning Mass in the a.m. and soon hear that the RCIA will meet that evening. CCD will take place on Monday afternoon. It is suggested that all attending these meetings get there ASAP. They probably divulge the newest sets of initials early on in the program so one doesn’t want to be late. As Mass progresses, if I find anything out of the ordinary, I am told to refer to the last meeting of the NCCB.

I return home, slowing at RR crossings. I discover the sprinkler system is on the blink and will require PVC piping PDQ or we will have a flood. On the way to the garden shop, the radio DJ tells me it will be warm and sunny. Pretty long words to be used by someone with a two-letter name.

At the store, I experience a delay as the IBM system seems to be down and they are having trouble getting through with the AT&T. The clerk gives me a bright smile and apologizes for the SNAFU!

My busy day requires visits to both an MD and a DDS. Good thing I am not a PhD or I might spend more time than necessary trying to figure out why.

When I get home, I get my mail and find letters from AARP and advertisements from BMW. There is also an invitation to a BYOB party. I feel the strain of the day setting in and decide that I won’t care about finding out what a BYOB party entails. The sender provided a SASE so I could RSVP promptly.

An evening in front of the television sounds brain-numbing enough for an over-abbreviated person. I tune in just a they show pictures of UFO’s on the news. And the same story appears on ABC, CBS and NBC. A semi-interesting documentary on the life span of a bat suddenly informed it’s viewers that it was being shown on PBS.

A video selection begins with a soldier who is AWOL. The newspaper has the ACLU defending someone again. I make a deliberate effort to calm myself and think in well-spelled out, whole words because I know if I really start emoting at this point, I will pass out . . . and someone will probably start CPR.

Strawberry Fluff

Strawberries have made their annual appearance in the stores and in our gardens. Time to made use of the bounty and surprise our family with a cool yet tasty dessert.

Strawberry Fluff

1 package (10 ounces) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
1 cup boiling water
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Drain strawberries, reserving syrup. Pour boiling water over gelatin in a bowl. Stir gelatin until it is dissolved. Add enough cold water to reserved syrup to measure one cup. Stir into dissolved gelatin. Chill until almost set.

In chilled bowl, beat cream, sour cream, and vanilla until stiff. Beat gelatin until it is foamy. Fold gelatin and strawberries into whipped cream. Pour into a one-quart mold or into individual molds. Chill until firm Garnish, if desired, with sweetened whipped cream.

*Sour cream is a great stabilizer for homemade whipped cream. It helps keep the whipped cream from breaking down and lasts in the refrigerator a couple of days. It also add a nice flavor to the whole dessert.

Potential Reprisals at the Dinner Table

Since they could first express themselves, my children seem to think that I am trying to poison them! Lest you think the worst of my motives, my children equate excess servings of vegetables and salads with child abuse.

Like most children, mine consider the basic food groups to be fat, sugar, salt, candy, fried, caramelized and fast food. You put anything braised or poached within a few feet of them at the dinner table and children tend to self destruct rather than ingest vitamins. Mom does the best she can, they are willing to acknowledge, but with the advent of the Internet, there must be some recipes even Mom could make edible. Isn’t it wonderful how discerning our children are about culinary delights at an early age?

My search on the Internet provided me with the following potential taste treats:
Deep-fried, pancake batter covered Oreo cookies. See? I was keeping in mind the fried aspect of the basic food list!

A combination of sour cream, avocado and creamed Spam comprises this recipe. According to this recipe, you layer the ingredients, freeze them and then scoop them into a cone and sprinkle with bacon bits. Would I lie to you?
Then there is a bean fudge. The binding ingredient is refried beans combined with chocolate to form ‘fudge’!

Keeping in the snack category, I discovered a wonderful liver cookie recipe. The only thing the recipe didn’t cover was why anyone would make them.
If you want to inspire a gourmet reaction, the deep-fried Span with the raspberry sauce, is sure to be a winner. Can I ever go back to the mundane baked chicken?

And don’t forget the secret ingredient in the ‘sure to please’ chocolate cake recipe. Now I have a use for leftover sauerkraut!

Can you believe it, however? After doing all this research, my children were still not happy. Not one of my new recipes struck a happy note with them. It is curious that now when I serve the usual pot roast or salad, they seem to eat more readily than when I offer scooping them up a big cone of frozen Spam and avocado instead. Go figure!

You Can’t Pick Your Relatives!

I’ve often heard that one can’t always (probably never!) chose their relatives. I speak from experience. Strangely that seems to be the same situation in regards to our cat kingdom.

Due to someone’s carelessness, about six years ago the neighborhood was left with a lot of cats who all found their way to our house. We didn’t have a cat and didn’t particularly want a cat but ended up with 15 at our doorstep. We eventually found homes for them or they wandered off to find their own homes . . . but we ended up with one ‘runt’ in the vast litter that no one seemed to want. We got our first cat. It worked out and life settled down.

In finding all those other cats homes, the day we were supposed to deposit three of them with a family in 29 Palms, one of the bunch didn’t come home and we ended up taking only two to the new home. The third one just wasn’t around so we figured it found a place or, sadly, got run over or something.

Four months later, Fresh, the missing cat came home. Being on her own, she was a feisty cat that would scratch if you petted her too long. She liked the outdoor life and slept at night in the garage. Although she played with our cat when they were front porch kittens, they hated each other now.

Two years ago, my daughter found a very placid kitten under a car next door. It was obvious it was hungry but had a ‘lily of the fields’ attitude that food would eventually come to him so no use stressing over a few hunger pains.

Last year, my husband was working in the front yard and was startled when a big gray and white mangy cat came tearing up to him screaming. Turned out that was his dinner time announcement. He was a very friendly, placid cat that ate, slept, and screamed a lot, mainly for food. My daughter found a home for him with friends and enjoys visiting him every weekend or so. He still screams for food but loves his new people and their two cats. They named his Speedy, mostly because he isn’t!

The relatives side? We were checking our security camera one morning and were shocked to see our third cat, Buster Kitten, on our front porch but before panic could set in, Buster showed up in the computer room. It was very obvious this was probably his brother if not a very close relative. He visits often at night either looking for his long-lost brother or food . . . probably food.

A few weeks ago, another cat showed up both on camera and in person. Given the yowling for food and the fur coat, Speedy had a brother. He had a collar so had a home but having lived with Speedy for awhile, dinner time was all the time. We don’t feed him but he lives in hope.

Last week, we are heading around the corner of our property on our way to the store when we saw ‘Fresh’ playing in the front lawn like she loves to do. She was hopping and prancing and just having a good time. We pulled to the curb to
open the remote garage door in case she wanted in. She looked at us and there was no recognition in her eyes at all. Fresh is a very small black cat with brilliant yellow eyes. So was this one but it wasn’t Fresh. Another relative here for a visit.

Last night, when my husband was closing up the house, he found Fresh perched up
in the tree looking down. At the foot of the tree was Speedy’s brother and Fresh’s cousin. Before Speedy’s brother could scream a dinner order, my husband deliberately turned and without looking back, went into the house and firmly closed the door. A few minutes later, the ‘right’ Fresh the Cat was at the door to come in and the door was deadbolted . . . just in case, you know!

By the way, the cat pictured above? That was one of the original invasion we named Howl because every morning he would sit on our hose box and howl for food. He left before we could find him a home and turned up four years later. He was well-fed and obviously had found himself a home. He can’t quite remember why he comes here but seems to remember that sitting on our hose box and howling resulted in food . . . but not any more.

Reality Memories From Bygone Homeschooling Days!

When a new school year begins, we all anticipate great things being accomplished with our intellectually willing children. There are many things we would like to hear as we begin our studies but reality sets in all too soon.

1. Time for school! I thought we would take it easy today but several of you little darlings sent me private notes, begging to begin with math instead of art!

This is the third time I have called you to the school table! And you used up your art time yesterday when you crayoned your new math books.

2. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some fresh cookies and milk? It has been two hours since breakfast and you must be hungry. I promise we will still work on Geography afterwards.

No, you can’t have something to eat. You should have thought about hunger when you refused to eat breakfast this morning. Yes, you have to finish Geography and no ad-libbing on the maps today. No undiscovered countries that only you know about!

3. I can’t believe how neatly you set up your insect collections for science. And to think I only assigned this term project yesterday and here you are done already!

Smashed bugs don’t count for your bug collection even if you remember what it was before you squashed it. I don’t care if you weren’t the one who mashed the bug. You shouldn’t have put it in your sister’s bed to begin with!

4. How wonderfully you combined your poster paints to make a copy of one of the great Masterpieces! And you didn’t get a drop of paint on the floor, table or mommy’s art book.

Look, it is a numbered dot-to-dot coloring page. What do you mean you don’t understand the instructions?

5. Sweet child of mine! No wonder you asked for an extra two hours of school yesterday. You were busy composing this wonderful story for English class. Double-spaced and typewritten, no less.

A three-page composition doesn’t count if written in crayon! It was supposed to be on what we did on our summer vacation. And I did not spend it torturing you! But don’t give up on the idea – there is always next year!

by Barbara Barthelette

A Home Schooling Math Memory!

A real life school lesson . . .
Mom: Marc, Jane has 5 maps and . . .
Marc: What are maps?
Mom: Maps show the world. So, Jane has 5 maps and Hope has three maps . . .
Marc: What’s Hope?
Mom: A girl’s name.
Marc: Can Hope be a girl’s name?
Mom: Yes! Okay, Jane has 5 maps and Hope has 3 maps. How may maps . . .
Marc: What’s on the maps?
Mom: Countries of the world.
Marc: What countries?
Mom: They don’t say.
Marc: So, what do you think?
Mom: I think we had better figure out the problem!
Marc: The problem about what countries are on the map?
Mom: No, how many maps do both girls have together!
Marc: Jane is a girl’s name, too?
Mom: Yes! How many maps do Jane and Hope have all together?
Marc: Did you tell me how many each had?
Mom: Tell you what, let’s do phonics instead! Today we are learning the “J” sound. Okay, color all the pictures that begin with the sound of “J” like “Jane”.
Marc: Jane? How many maps does this Jane have?