Monday, January 16, 2017

For Whom The Bell Tolls

I know... cheesy to steal the title from the ever more famous and great writer, Ernest Hemingway, but I like it.  And it works for this post about church bells.

There is a pretty little Catholic church, St. Patrick's, on the next block.  Jason's Mom said it used to have a contingent of Nuns and even, at one point, served as a Monastery but now was vacated for lack of a large enough congregation to warrant the expense of keeping clergy there.  Someone still rings the bells, though.  And the parish website lists a full schedule of meetings and masses. So who knows?

Photo from the website of
Our Lady of the Mountains
Roman Catholic Parish of Cumberland, MD
I've noticed the bells several times at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm.  At first I thought they were marking time.  And then I became vaguely aware that there were significantly more than 6 (or 12) peals... This morning I counted 22.

And so I went to Google for some answers.

I learned that the history of ringing church bells dates back to 400 AD. Paulinas of Nola was the first to introduce them to the Christian church and Pope Sabinianus sanctioned them in 604 perhaps as part of the meshing of Pagan practices into the early church as more people became members by force if not by choice.  Pagan winter celebrations have long included ringing bells to drive out evil spirits perpetuating the idea that bells have great spiritual significance though nothing in the Bible distinctly calls for the ringing of bells as part of worship.

Today's Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches ring bells at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. as a summons for members to pause and recite The Lord's Prayer or Angelus.  This schedule is also steeped in ancient tradition. Christianity draws from Bible verses speaking of thrice daily prayer:

Psalms 55:17 says "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."

And Daniel 6:10, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."

Praying 3 times a day is consistent with the Jewish practice of visiting the Wailing Wall.  And sounding a call to prayer is analogous to the Islamic tradition of the adhan from a minaret.  I think it's very interesting that we draw from so many diverse cultures and traditions for something so pleasant as bells on neighborhood churches.

About St. Patricks, their website gives this history "The rich history of Mt. Savage includes one of the first masses celebrated in the area in 1793 by Fr. Stephen Badin (the first priest ordained in America). As the Catholic population grew, St. Ignatius Church was built between 1829 and 1835. When a larger church was needed, construction began on what is now St. Patrick’s Church, named for the predominance of Irish immigrants. The new church was formally dedicated in October of 1873. Mt. Savage is also the birthplace of Edward Cardinal Mooney (1882-1958) who was elevated to Cardinal in 1946 by Pope Pius XII."

Pretty cool... While I still have no idea if 22 bell peals at 6:00 a.m. has meaning, or is just the result of an especially enthusiastic bell ringer, I can say I've walked in the footsteps of America's first priest now!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

That Year End Wrap Up Post

2016 started out hopeful... kind of went straight to hell from there but ended on a decent note.  I gained many experiences.  I'm going to trust that the ones I didn't enjoy and don't see the reason for are truly needful in some plan bigger than me.

So just what did I do?

I started saying "YES" to the adventures that presented themselves.  I went out and explored myself instead of waiting for a human companion.  I took more pictures because this world is an icredibly beautiful place.  I talked to strangers and listened to their stories of how life led them from where they were to where they are now.  I healed my soul a bit more and got a little closer to actually being me again.

I experienced some firsts. Even at my age there are lots of first times left!

  • visited 13 states - AL, SC, VA, MD, WV, and PA for the first time
  • tasted hominy, sauerkraut, bok choy, fish sauce and persimmon
  • tried some new combinations of food - kidney beans and potatoes fried together, turnips cooked with beef, potatoes, onion, celery and carrots in a pressure cooker (I'd always eaten them raw from my Dad's garden before), a Pennsylvania Dutch dish called Slippery Pot Pie, and Vinegar Cake
  • lived without running water or electricity for 3 months in a semi-remote mountain setting
  • showered at a truck stop (I didn't even know you could before this experience!)
  • drove a box (moving) truck
  • had to ask for a jump when I ran my car battery out
  • gave a jump to a stranger who was stranded alongside the road having done the same
  • made blueberry jam (never lived where a bush grew in the yard before and I'm too cheap to buy them!)
  • got the car stuck, and luckily unstuck, in the mud a few times
  • learned to clip the dog's nails by myself

I also did some things again that I hadn't for a long long time...

  • bathed in a creek
  • pooped in an outhouse
  • shot a pistol
  • observed wildlife up close - mostly deer, wild turkey and a variety of other birds
  • blogged a bit more regularly (at least toward the end of the year)
  • picked enough wild blackberries and black raspberries to make jam
  • experienced a Ward/Stake split/reorganization at Church
  • took a course where I struggled hard to learn the material (thinking I will go out of  my way to avoid using it forever more - it was that hateful!)
  • read the Book of Mormon
  • forgave someone who was very hard to forgive

And I even did one that I'd sworn never again... moved to a place where winters are cold and snowy.

I've marveled repeatedly at just how adaptable, accepting, and forgiving my dogs are... troopers through thick and thin. They amaze and inspire me daily to try harder and do better and grow up to have their attitude about just taking life as it comes.

I failed friends.  Circumstances changed suddenly and I didn't/couldn't do what I promised and I'm still scrambling to get that set right. And friends failed me. Different ones in different ways. It hurts but I still love them and want them in my life so I'll get over it.

I've been scared. And sad, And lonely at times. I've had people worry about me. And I've wondered myself if I'm ever going to get me put back together and rebuild an entire life and future.

I've also felt peace and love and hope and connection.

And, again, declared the coming year to be THE YEAR OF ME!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Random Stuff

Here's some stuff I've decided to share but none of it is really enough for a full on blog post by itself... so today, you get this week's odd random collection.


I saw something sort of like this on Pinterest a couple of months ago and when it led to a pattern for purchase, I decided I could probably knock it off.  I did. It's not an exact replica but it's close.  I'm happy with it and so I present you my version of a Napping Kitty Christmas Ornament!

To make your own, ch 4 and sl st in first st to form a circle.  Round 1: Ch 1 and make 11 sc in circle, join with sl st. Round 2: Ch 1 and make 2 sc in each st except the last one that would complete the round.  In this st, ch 2, hdc, dc, *ch 2 and join in first ch (this makes an ear)*, 3 dc repeat *  *, dc, hdc, ch 2 and join with sl st. Round 3: Pull loop from sl st through to front  of kitty at appx 3 o'clock position and ch 2, sc in first sc of Round 2 and in each st until you come to the kitty's head, sl st to join.  Form a loop to hang ornament and tuck tails (no pun intended) neatly.  I used a G hook and the Sugar & Spice cotton yarn to make this cute calico.


Kitchen Dog was showing his skills off today.  He went to the kitchen with Jason's Mom while she was putting some icing on a Vinegar Cake and bumped her elbow when she was adding powdered sugar to the bowl.  He proudly sported this look for a couple of hours before the sugar worked it's way off his face...

But back to the Vinegar Cake.  She told me it was a recipe from the WWII-era when things like flour, sugar, eggs and butter were rationed.  This is a way to have a cake without butter or eggs.  I was a little skeptical that the vinegar taste would come through and be a little weird, but the cake is really very good.

And it's been discovered.  A simple search on Pinterest found the recipe posted on sorts of websites and blogs under names like Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake and Depression Cake.  Rather than retype it yet again here, I'll just provide you with a link to someone else's recipe.

But seriously... look it up and give this cake a try!


Jason had some time today to run around and show me Mount Savage, Frostburg, Cumberland and some other adjacent towns in Maryland.  We took the boys to the dog park in Frostburg.  It's not anything spectacular, just a big fenced in open area where they could run off some excess energy.  Kind of plain but it does the job. And oh boy!  Did they take advantage of a chance to run freely!!

Lightning made an escape.  And Jason took off in a hot pursuit that would make ol' Rosco P. Coltrane proud and got a successful capture.  Coming back to where I was waiting by the gate he took a shortcut on a dirt access road that looked rather like an old rail line had been pulled up, someplace it was probably never intended he should be, and got stuck when the front driver's side tire broke through the ice on a massive pothole and dropped about 15 inches.  Sigh.

When it proved to be somewhat rather less than easy to get unstuck, he walked Lightning down to me and I put him inside the park where Jack was waiting on him with great anxiety. Then I walked across the grass to see if I could help, even if it was just to add some weight (don't think it let alone say anything!) to the back of the vehicle to help it gain traction.  That plan didn't work.  Bigger sigh.

Before long a nice man came along and offered to pull us out.  Not before someone else passing the dog park saw my 'unattended dogs,' decided they'd been abandoned and called the police though...  The officer was nice and found our explanation of what happened satisfactory and left with a hearty chuckle and wishes for a Merry Christmas.  Whew!

Yes, folks, this is how my life goes.  You seriously cannot make this stuff up!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Place is Trying to Kill Me!

I swear it is!

Let me tell you about the string of mishaps this past week.  First off, we've had about 10 days of mostly wet weather so the ground is quite soft and mushy. Again.  Mud is my constant companion.  And enemy.  I've decided I dislike mud almost as much as snow... slimy, slippery, oozing over the top of my shoes mud everywhere.  I don't have a single kind word to say about it and after it introduced itself to my bottom (clad in clean pants no less!) a couple of times I refuse to even try to find kind words about it!

It's made the main drive into what I now refer to as Deathtrap #1.  There's a part of it where one side is a steep 4 or 5-foot embankment, the other drops off 10-12 feet to a tributary creek, and the part where your car needs to be is... mud.  It's only that way for a few yards but a few yards is plenty!  My back wheels find absolutely nothing to grip through here so I fishtail wildly.  Usually falling short of making the top, I slide backwards down the hill until  my tires can grab on some stray bits of grass convinced that if that drop off doesn't kill me I will be injured badly enough to wish it had.  By the time I make several tries and fling enough mud to crest that little rise and roll on up to the cabin, my hands are shaking and I've screamed a rather creative string of profanities.

As an alternative, Jason showed me where to turn off by one of the natural gas wells and come up the back way through a pasture.  A couple of days ago, that presented itself as Deathtrap #2.  There's a specific spot where the car is tipped so far to the side that I'm scared I will roll so I've been going around it, just a few feet lower around some young trees. I spun out there and slid backward down the hill.  By the time I got the slide under control, my back wheels were about 6 inches from the edge of the high creek bank.  It took 45 minutes of inching forward and back and desperately trying to convince God this was not a good day for me to die to get the car turned sideways so I could back up enough to find a different angle to get up and around that corner of the fence. I did it!  Mud put up a heck of a battle that day, but I won!!  And when I got to my parking spot next to the cabin, I sat there for a few minutes shaking and saying a prayer of thanksgiving.

I also have to tell you about Gizmo's new habit.  He has taken to grunting when he wants something.  It's a deep, gravely, irritating sort of grunt and then he raises his little eyebrows and stares off into space with a coyly innocent expression while I try to devine what it is he wants.  Outside, food, water, a treat, a R-I-D-E to the P-A-R-K... it all gets the exact same grunt.  He woke me up with the grunt a few nights ago.  I figured out that he was going to barf pretty quickly and struggled to get Jack and Lightning off me so I could jump up and open the door.  The doorknob fell off in my hand.  And Gizmo did not get out in time...  Is there anything more disgusting than cleaning up a giant dog barf in the middle of the night?  Unfortunately, yes.  There's the part about fighting him back from eating it, as if round 2 is going to sit any better in his tummy, while you clean it up.

After a half hour of fidgeting around I did get the knob to slide into place but it's still coming off about every third time I need to open the door.  Mostly that's just a nuisance but it has potential to make a real problem into something even worse.

Like last night.

I was feeling rather pleased with myself for beating mud at its own game 2 days in a row and wanted to sit down and peacefully sip a cup of cocoa before bed... I put a pan with some water on the Coleman burner and proceeded to put the hot chocolate mix in my cup.  I've said before that thing ain't right... but Jason can't find a problem and dismisses my discomfort with using that flaming little burner.  So I grit my teeth and so far have managed to cook a few meals on it. I still say that thing ain't right!  I think it might be possessed and whatever is in there sure as heck doesn't answer to "Genie!"  It flamed out. Again.  This time worse than ever before... It spit up fuel like a fussy baby which caught fire all over the top of the dry sink and nearly lit up my sleeve while I tried to shut it off and smother the flames with a damp towel. The flames jumped to the floor this time so I did a little dance stomping them out. And I managed to burn a dishcloth, too.  Not just a little singe on the edge either... half the dishcloth is a gaping black hole.  And the cabin is filled with the acrid and ever attractive scent of Eau de Ashes.  Or is it Charcoal #5?

I think it's time for a new adventure.  And this next one really must include a hot shower, a real indoor toilet, and a fully functioning kitchen!  I've proved I can survive an off-grid prepper sort of existence.  Maybe not thrive in it, but I can survive.  And that's good enough for  me.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

5 Minutes You'll Never Get Back

Last night as we were getting settled in bed Gizmo decided he needed to snuggle. He may be all sorts of wonderful but a snuggle dog Gizmo is not... He just doesn't have that soft, squishy, comfortable-to-cuddle-on-your-lap kind of body and he doesn't usually even try but every now and then he decides you are in desperate need of a dose of his kind of lovin' and heaven help you, there's not a darn thing you can do about it. You will be Gizzered!

Gizmo, November 11, 2016
Last night was my lucky night...

He took a mighty leap at my side and ended up clinging for dear life with his front legs wrapped over the top of my head and the rest of his body hanging down past my shoulder. His embrace felt more like being trapped in the clenches of a love sick baboon than something pleasant, but I love my little dude so I endured it. Jack was sound asleep and snoring by my other knee already folded into as neat a little ball as a 100-lb Doberman can get which is, actually, surprisingly compact. And in that moment, for no apparent reason whatsoever, I got the giggles. Like out of control, could not stop, shrieking-at-the-top-of-my-lungs kind of giggles proving once again that I am awfully easy to keep entertained. Anyway, I laughed so hard there were tears running down my face. I was gasping for breath and probably turning blue from lack of oxygen. I laughed so hard I almost threw up. Lightning was so worried! He kept stomping round and round and over the top of me, crushing a lung in the process, and sniffing at my face. His expression was utter confusion about what was wrong with me. I guess I don't indulge in a good hard laugh often enough... I guess that needs to change!

Jack, November 11, 2016
After I finally got myself under control, and Gizmo off of me, I decided I was hungry and deserved a snack for surviving such a most excellent workout. I've been very good and didn't even buy any easy-grab-and-snack-junky stuff on the last grocery run so I had to resort to one of my Mom's standby munchies: buttered saltines. Yeah, I know. Ew! Could there be a food that tastes more like cardboard? And butter "just greases it up so it slides better," as she used to say. My Mom buttered everything. Everything. Even pepperoni pizza. But I digress... We were snacking on crackers (which I don't even like except with chili and then it's more like I have a little chili with my bowl of crushed up crackers) and Lightning burps like a third grader in a school yard contest. I swear if he knew how, that was a burp where he could have got the whole alphabet out. He looked as surprised by it as I was!

Lightning, November 11, 2016
To celebrate his utter lack of good manners and top the evening off, I took on the challenge of getting all 3 boys to howl at the moon with me. Not an easy fete! It's like they know howling is a talent that they missed the heavenly line up to get for this lifetime so it takes some serious effort to get an "owoooooo" going. And they still sound more like strangling goats than anything... Is it sad that I have a better howl than my dog? True story!

If you're still reading you've either laughed with me at least once or I just succeeded in wasting 5 minutes of your life that you've got no chance of ever getting back.  Either way...

Thanks for sharing in my bit of ridiculousness!!