We Three Kings . . .

Every year, on January sixth, we celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings or The Epiphany. This morning, the celebrant of the Mass reminded us of marking our doorways to bless all who enter our homes in the coming year.

With just a piece of white chalk and an inclination, you can notify the world that you believe in your faith and honor the Three Kings who traveled so far to meet the God they had been looking for many years.

Chalk in hand, write over your front doorway:


The numbers stand for the year – 2018.
The initials are for Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthazar

To finish off your mini-service/blessing:

Dear Jesus, as You led the Three Kings to You by the light of a star, please draw us ever closer to You by the light of Faith. Help us to desire You as ardently as they did. Give us the grace to overcome all the obstacles that keep us far from You. May we, like them, have something to give You when we appear before You. Amen

One time, I had some Jehovah Witnesses come to the door. I always stop my day to chat with them and get my two cents put forth. On this occasion, one of the gentlemen kept looking up over my head. Suddenly, he asked, “What is that writing over your door?” indicating my Three Kings marks for the year. I explained it to him and he was very taken with the idea and thanked me for telling him.

A few months later, the Jehovah Witnesses were at the door, again, and in the middle of our discussion, one of them pointed to the markings over the door but before he could verbalize a question, the other one exclaimed, “Oh, listen to this! When I was here she told me about it and this is really a neat idea!”

Apple Oatmeal Bars

There is the slightest bit of coolness most mornings now which we call cold in California! Apple season is upon us with a huge variety starting to grace the shelves of our grocery stores. Combine apples with cooler weather and upcoming holidays means cookies! And adding oatmeal can only give you claim to them being healthy so you can permit yourself to down several along with hot tea or a cold glass of milk.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

When Fall approaches, apples are in abundance. Nothing like a spicy apple and cinnamon concoction to put the sent of holidays into the air just a bit! This is a cookie-type bar cookie with a lot of taste and goes well as a snack or dressed up for dessert.

½ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup rolled oats
2-3 green or tart apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups total)
Juice and zest of one, small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan (approximately 12x9x2-inches) with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.

Cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract, and the apples. Now stir in the rolled oats, apple mixture and nuts into the flour/butter mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Cut into desired-sized bars and either sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with a lemon glaze. Goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a generous portion of freshly-whipped cream.







The Sounds of Silence . . .

We woke up this morning . . . to the sounds of silence. The Fourth of July is over and all is left is the scent of smoke, charred matches, burnt pieces of paper and dust which I hope blow away soon. For the last two weeks, we have been treated to preliminary testing of fire works every night and kept hoping these overzealous yet inconsiderate people would eventually lose interest or spend their last penny and sulk in the dark come the actual day of the Fourth. Unfortunately, no such luck.

Around six in the morning on July Fourth, the first round of ‘official’ fireworks made themselves known and continued sporadically throughout the day, just enough to keep every dog in the neighborhood aware and yowling.

Around seven, the real show began and given the carnival-like display of colorful explosions overhead, I think we were safe in assuming a lot of illegal fireworks were at hand. A look around the neighborhood showed a lot of children being kept far back from the curb while grown men got to light the fireworks . . . which is a good thing but after about 30 minutes of constant boom, boom, boom, I noticed children wandering off to play yet the dads and grandfathers just kept at it. A can of beer and hours of making things explode? A nearly idyllic evening. Someone did post on the internet something that probably described this aspect of the Fourth perfectly:

Children! Be careful around fireworks. Let the grownups in your life who have been drinking all afternoon set them off for you.

Celebrating the Third and Fourth of July!

Now, one has to understand before I begin my tirade that I am not against joyful occasions and celebrations. However, the fact that a home across the street from us decided to set off a multitude of fireworks (and, definitely not the type one buys legally!) from six in the evening until almost midnight kind of take the festive edge off of the Fourth of July for me . . .

Oh, wait, yesterday was not the Fourth of July yet this household celebrated it long and loud. Earlier in the day, I noticed they had a large panel truck in their driveway and two of the people were hefting out four, large totes from the truck . . . and, soon, after the explosions of ‘merriment’ started going off. I have a feeling that the contents of said totes just might have contained fireworks of a legal nature.

Every year, the fireworks get more intense and showers of colorful explosions burst forth over the roofs in our neighborhood, while the less ‘explosive’ neighbors hurriedly start wetting down their roofs, walls, and fences.

It is actually kind of sad how the picnic atmosphere and holiday barbecues are a side dish to the fireworks. We’ve walked about when the children were younger to watch the various goings on and there never seems to be much joy in the occupation. Children sit on the sidewalk, dads yell to stay back, and explosion after explosion goes off even while the next set of noisemakers are set out.

When I was around eight, we spent the day with friends on the Fourth of July. Fireworks were something we weren’t familiar with so we happily enjoyed a day of swimming and fun food not hurrying through in order to get to the fireworks. One of my favorite memories of the day was getting my deeply-hued aluminum cup filled with ice and soda that made the color of the cup seem brighter as the cold condensed on the outside. The ice clinking was an added bonus. In the evening, the grownups suddenly showed up with matches, sparklers, and some fun ensued. I remember we children being lined up on the lawn and each handed a funny wire stick and told to keep it away from our faces . . . so we did. Then one of the dads carefully lit each one and suddenly we were holding a cascading flood of delicate sparkles. One of the mothers poked some of the sparklers into a tree’s branches and we witnessed a tree in seldom-seen glory and wondered greatly at the wonders to be found in our small world. Just as the last sparkler gave out, some funny, black ‘pills’ were lined up in the porch light. Two parents carefully lit each one and they turned into a creeping, crawling caterpillar that quickly disappeared into dust. No loud explosions. No one got hurt or frightened and we ended the event with bowls of ice cream and chatter about what we had seen and done.

In any event, the neighbor’s early advancement into Fourth of July noise lasted up to midnight. Since we attend the 7:30 a.m. Mass and I get up at 4:45 a.m., finally getting enough quiet to fall asleep took the edge off the early morning awakening. We made it to Mass on time, didn’t fall asleep during the sermon and I thought ‘hopefully, the ‘worst’ of the Fourth of July was over early. Then the adamant hand shaker at the Sign of Peace turned around and was sporting an obama tee shirt. Last week, he wore a pro-life one. I guess nothing is over until it’s over!