Sunday, June 30, 2013


Today while in the car, DF said "We still haven't had any hippos at our house."  Which is completely true.  I got a mental image of a sign outside the door that says something like '1076 days without a hippo'.  Each day we could dutifully add one more to the number. 
And then we, the parents, could hope that the number never goes to zero.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Back from the Woods

I'm back from Pacem in Terris and I had a very peaceful time.  You can click through to their website if you'd like to see pictures (and it might make it easier for you to understand the place as I write about it). 
As I said, it was peaceful.  There was one big problem and I'll write about that up front.  The problem?  Bugs.  The weather for the past six weeks has been very wet and for the past couple of weeks mostly hot.  It's been the best possible breeding weather for insects and boy howdy, they've taken advantage of it!  This meant mosquitoes, spiders and even some cockroaches.  I have rather a large fear of bugs and it took me at least a full day to get over a panicky feeling that they were coming for me.  (Going to sleep the first night was rough.)  By the second morning, they were more a part of the environment for me.  If I'd been there a week, I probably would have named the roaches.
As to the place itself, the people could not be nicer and the cabins are quite nice.  I was greeted at the main building and had a short interview with a staff member.  She had suggestions on how to find peace and was very clear that hermits were on their own and weren't being judged.  Then I was driven to my cabin (maybe half a mile from the main building) and shown around it. 
You may want to consult a picture from the website now.  The cabin I was in was named for Catherine of Siena.  Each one has the same layout, one room with a bed and rocking chair and a large picture window.  On one side is a screen porch with another chair.  The cabins are private from each other and hermits are urged to be quiet and not disturb the others.  My window looked right out at a forest.  There were constant birds and on the last morning there were three deer between my cabin and the biffy!
The cabins are without electricity and running water.  I was given three gallons of clean water and I could have asked for more if needed.  There was a propane heater and a propane lamp.  I also lit candles.  The staff gave me a basket of bread, cheese and fruit (and I brought some stuff of my own to eat).  The main building is open from 8a to 8p every day.  You can hike down there for a private shower or to use the exercise room.  (Or to benefit from the a/c!)
Each day at 530p, guests can attend a dinner at the main building.  I did both days and they were some of the highlights of my trip.  On Wednesday night I met a young seminarian who is studying at the Vatican.  If they let me study at the Vatican, I'd strongly consider becoming Catholic myself!  I also got to know a couple of priests.  I enjoyed hearing them talk shop and they were patient with my questions about Catholic hierarchy.  I also met a married couple who were retreating together.  After dinner, they kissed each other goodbye until supper the next night and went back to their separate cabins. 
Pacem in Terris is a Catholic place but I never felt particularly pressured there.  They mentioned that a large number of hermits come from Bethel college.  I couldn't recite along with the prayers before and after the meal but that wasn't really a problem.  In fact, it was inspiring to be with genuine believers. 
I may go back, but if I do, it will probably be in a less buggy season.  They said that October is their busiest time.  The pictures in the winter look stunning.  If it sounds interesting, then I'd highly recommend it to you. 
I went looking for peace and quiet and I got two full days of it. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Off to the Woods

For the next two days I'll be here, by my self.  Very, very much looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Great Power Outage

We lost power Friday night.  A storm rolled in about 8p.  I'd just gotten the kids down to sleep when the first winds told us that something big was coming.  We just had time for a quick round up of open windows.  I put my phone on the charger 'just in case'.  Then the lights flickered and the power went out.
It was still plenty light out so we could watch the winds and rain.  We noticed some leaking from the seam where the porch joins the house so we quickly moved things out of the way.  We found the emergency radio (thanks Heidi!) and cranked it up.  Strong, strong winds outside.  I think I heard something about 70 mph winds.  The FP Gal said that it looked like a hurricane.  We set up candles and broke out some cards.
The whole storm passed through very quickly.  It was all done in less than half an hour.
We opened the window and could hear sirens going and going.  Police cars and firetrucks, but the sounds of it.  They went on for at least another half hour.  The FP Gal said that it was strange that they were close enough that we could hear them but they never seemed to get wherever they were going.
After a bit we ventured out to see the damage.  We could see a large branch down across the street, down into the street itself.  We took a short walk and saw some big trees down about a block from us.  We also found some shingles in the back yard but, lucky for us, they came from the neighboring house.
No power meant no fans or a/c in the house and it was a warm night.  It also meant no lights or clocks for the kids.  They woke up about 430a and I tried to gentle them down.  About 6a, the FP Gal took them out in the van to get some donuts for breakfast.  A little while later she picked up LL and myself and we went out to the MOA, where they had power.
Back home later in the morning.  We picked up some ice so that we could try and keep the fridge and freezer cold.  Fortunately, our power came back on about 1p.  Unfortunately, the internet was still down.  (Yes, I'm fully addicted.)
Overall, we were very lucky.  The weekend kind of sucked but it could have been much worse.  Our power was out for less than a day.  Some places have been out for days.  We could easily have had a damaged car or house and we didn't. 
We'll take those blessings, thank you very much.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Make Your Own Museum

Here is a story of a guy who is making art reproductions with a 3D printer.  What an amazing idea!  The future sure is an interesting place.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Monday

A collection for you this time:
This one is from Relia.
The giant sequoia is from DF.
And, of course, an architectural fragment is my pick.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Monday, June 03, 2013