Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Faux Wild Life

Looking at stuffed animals made me feel as if I was looking at wild animals at Majestic View Nature Center in Arvada, Colorado. I figured this would be as close as I would ever get to a Raccoon, a Great Horned Owl, a Bobcat, a Gray Wolf, a Lynx, a Red Hooded Duck whispering in a raccoon's ear, a Black Bear, a Pronghorn (resembles an antelope) and a Ring-Necked Pheasant. One of the volunteers told me that most of the animals are from Colorado and some were found at the park.

There was also a gem and mineral display, guarded by a security guard, which did not hold my interest. Lots of rocks and geodes which were pretty to look at but not my cup of tea!

As I walked I noticed the different formations in the sky. I remembered being a little girl, stretched out on the grass and looking at clouds. I would run indoors, yelling for my mother to come and see what I had seen but by the time she went outside, the formation was gone. Today the clouds were absolutely amazing.

And then I saw a real life wild animal and my day was complete!

"Wild animals are less wild
and more human than
many humans of the world."
Munia Khan

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Three Months

Three months without my son.
Three months my two grandchildren are without a father.
Three months when he left this earth.
Three months of anger, missing, grief, pain, questions, anxiety and heart ache.
Three months ago a young man with a wonderful personality, a great sense of humor and full of fun left us.

Not a day passes that he is not in my mind. Thoughts of what could have been and how it might have been different fester in my mind. Thinking about his death I pray for peace, for understanding, and most of all an answer to the question, why?  Three months have gone by since my final goodbye. Every time I look at his picture, every time I talk to him, every time I smile at him or I greet him in the morning or at night, I wonder how his life could have been different.

I think about how angry he would make me, but I push these thoughts to the side and enjoy looking at his pictures and remember the fun times. What gives me comfort is picturing him with my parents, his uncle, his friends; surrounded by their love. Sunsets and sunrises give me a peaceful feeling and I think that maybe heaven is a perpetual sunset.

 He is frozen in the photos, forever smiling or forever with an arm around me or his children. I talk to him and how I wish I could hear him answer, yet I know that will never happen. If he can hear me, he knows the love I have for him is now and forever.

At mass today, it was as if the homily was directed at me. The Beatitudes are thought provoking but one line made me take notice: "Those that are in mourning, may you be comforted." A message from heaven directed to my heart. Could I ask for anything more?

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Surprise that Surprised Me

Today I took forty-four persons to Blackhawk, Colorado to gamble at the Mardi Gras Casino.  Arriving at the Casino, everyone scattered to find a favorite machine. I found my lucky slot machine and played, with no luck, for about an hour. I left the machine and began searching for a machine that would say, "Play me, Play me." Imagine my surprise when I saw a man that looked familiar. A few machines away was a white haired lady with her back to me. I said, "Lupe," and she did not move. I said it a little bit louder, and she turned. Here was a friend from my childhood. We had been school mates from grade school until high school.

She stopped gambling for awhile and I sat down and we talked and talked and talked. She still lives in my hometown and told me about many of  the people I remembered, though many names did not ring a bell. I do not know if I did not know them or if I had just forgotten them. Many of our classmates have passed away yet some still live in Greeley. Some are ailing and quite a few have died. She told me she had a knee replacement. She has eighteen great-grandchildren. I told her I did not have any great but I had four grandchildren. I told her about my son passing away and that my daughter lived out of state.

We discussed how Greeley had grown from when I lived in the town of about 33,000 and now it's about 96,000. There are four high schools instead of the two I remember. There are four Catholic churches and I remember two. There are shopping malls and when I was growing up it was downtown Greeley where we shopped.

What a wonderful time we had discussing what we remembered and then I said goodbye because I had to meet some friends for lunch. While eating lunch, Lupe came up to me and said, "You brought me good luck. After you left I won a small jackpot!" I told her I was glad I was good for something!
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a surprise pops up that leaves one feeling happy.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What A Difference a Day Makes

On Friday, January 20, 2017, my emotions were of sadness, feeling frightened, anxious, and anger. I wondered how the man that would become president could have won the election. Some of my friends watched as he was sworn in as the forty-fifth president if the United States. I did not. I had traveled to Latin countries and the United States was looked at with awe and admiration. Lately, I do not think many countries are in awe of our country.

Seeing President Obama and his family leaving saddened me. I have always believed that he had our best interests at heart. See my blog of  October 5, 2008 titled Peace Corps Types to see how I feel about our forty-forth president.

On January 21, 2017,  I watched television and saw the many states and countries where women marched to let the new administration know that they did not approve of the way women are treated. Without me thinking about it, I felt proud to be a woman and wished I had joined the many united marchers. An article on the Internet mentioned that fifty states and thirty-two countries would have people marching. I also read: "The women-led movement brings together all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliates and back grounds to our nation's capital.

There are many things that frighten me about our new president. Mostly how he says he never said certain things but videos show him saying the very things he denies. His tweets. How he verbally attacks those he disagrees with. Yet, he is our new president and I pray that he will get enlightened and maybe his undignified rants will not happen.

In the meantime, hooray for the people who came out on Saturday. As the words to Lee Greenwood's song  are heard, I also hope that God Bless the U.S.A.


Friday, January 20, 2017

A Winter Walk

Daily walks take a rest when the weather is snowy and cold. Ice is my enemy and I find myself staying home for fear of slipping and falling. After our last snow storm and our Colorado sun had melted most of the snow, especially from sidewalks, I decided to go for a walk. The landscape is different when there is snow on the ground and ducks and geese huddle together. It almost looks as if they are stuck to the ice!
Walking at Majestic View Park there was still a lot of snow. The lake was completely covered in white, the grounds and hills had animal prints, yet the sidewalks were dry. I walked until I came upon an icy section and turned around and retraced my steps on the dry sidewalk. Somehow, the air even seems fresher on a cold day.

The following day I walked around Lake Arbor and the sun shining on the frozen lake gave it an eerie appearance. Like being on another planet. What seemed like hundreds of short blasts of honking geese flying above me ended up landing on the ice with outstretched wings. What a sight!

The one thing I know for sure is that no matter what time of the year I take a walk I will encounter God's beauty all around me. I also know I walk faster in the winter and possibly, just maybe, I burn more calories!

"Snowing is an attempt of God
to make the dirty world clean"
Mehmet Murat Ildan

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Plumber in Antarctica

Antarctica is the southern most continent and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Ninety eight percent is covered by ice yet it is known as the largest desert because it only gets about two inches of rain annually. No trees or plants grow and the ice is about three miles thick. October to February is considered summer months and this is when most of the work is done. Information from National Geographic on the Internet.

If you are wondering why my blog is about this area that most people don't know about or even think about, it is because today at our Young at Heart Luncheon we had Charles Moffat speak to us about his year at the South Pole. He has lived in Arvada for thirty years, is a plumber, and once his children were older, he decided to go work in Antarctica. My guess it was something on his bucket list!
His title was contractor and the scientists were called beakers. Ages ranged from recently graduated college students to the oldest worker being seventy-seven years old.

Paraphrasing what he said: "It doesn't snow, but it is cold and windy. The wind blows the snow around making visibility difficult and buildings are built on stilts because the snow could bury the buildings if they were built on the ground.  To get to where I was going I flew Denver, Dallas, Australia, New Zealand (Christchurch) and to McMurdo station. From McMurdo I was deployed to where I would be working. The plane does not have brakes but slides a long way down a runway until it stops. Some planes have skis and the runway is extremely long!"

I thought his gear, which he said he had to wear while traveling, seemed quite heavy. Goggles, knit hat, red parka, gloves, wind pants, boots, sunglasses, and long underwear. He already had bout 80 pounds of gear that he was taking plus 35-40 which they gave him. They were then deployed to what ever stations they would be working. The cold seemed too cold to me but he said that in seventy degrees below zero he would sometimes run outside in his pajamas and slippers!

Christmas sounded like a interesting day. A 5K race, a luau, games and a fun time. When a satellite passes over they can get on their computers and can call home. He was able to call home daily and believes that some were jealous and upset because they couldn't. He mentioned that a cup of coffee thrown outside freezes before landing on the ground. The psychological testing did not sound like much fun but I am sure it is a necessity to find out that one is not going batty! "Freshies" are eaten for awhile (fresh vegetables) but once they are gone it is all canned food. Most of the food is stored outside. Since the water is the cleanest in the world it tends to pull minerals out of the body. The inside of the buildings are kept at about fifty-eight degrees. Now that sounds cold to me! He said that his plumbing skills came into play in removing human waste through pipes dug into the snow.

I would have liked to have seen his slide show with the beautiful light displays, but he could not get the projector to work. As he described the southern lights (Aurora Australis) and the blues, greens, reds, etc. it did seem like an outstanding sight to see. The moon can be seen for two week in summer and the sky is never dark. In the winter there is no light.Windows are blackened so that it looks like night because most of the work is done in the summer. Winter, when it is dark, is not an easy time to work. The South Pole is not in the same place as when he left  it. It moves  towards Africa about thirty-three feet a year. Eventually it may disappear into the ocean!

He probably told us much more but I hope I have captured the main points. The presentation was interesting and informative and those that remained to listen were amazed at the work he did in Antarctica.

For his work in Antarctica he received a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Feel Good Movie

The Magic of Belle Isle: After alcoholism depletes his enthusiasm for writing, celebrated author finds his creative passion renewed when he moves to quaint Belle Isle and gets to know his next door neighbors. The blurb on the Netflix envelope sounded interesting and when I watched the movie I was glad I had requested the movie.  I had never heard of the movie though it came out in 2012. The movie had many things that reminded me of my family. A character named Finn (my California family's dog), a young girl who liked to write (at one time my granddaughter enjoyed writing), a dog who wouldn't fetch (similar experience with Finn in California), and a writer who no longer wanted to write, (sometimes I am in those moods.)

I enjoyed Morgan Freeman's vocabulary and how he expressed himself and the innocence of the three young girls. The kindness of the easy-going mother (Virginia Madsen) seemed unbelievable. Would she ever get angry?  A friendship grows between the next door neighbors and the author eases up on his drinking, making the story move in a positive note. How the relationship between mother and teen-age daughter develops and how a handicapped neighbor is helped all made for an interesting story.  There is plenty of humor in the movie and the New York Observer commented: A warm human feel good experience about bringing out the best in people. The movie was directed by Rob Reiner and that in itself is a big plus!

On these cold and dreary days, I am happy I found this movie. A feel good movie for sure!

"I always felt like a good book
is a friend that does
what no friend can do;
stay quiet
when I want to think."
Quote from The Magic of Belle Isle

Friday, January 13, 2017

Some People Never Grow Up

I suppose that never growing up can be a good thing or a bad thing. Picking up a prescription at my health provider, something caught my eye. It was an older man and my guess would be he was around his late seventies. I determined his age by the way he walked; carefully and slowly. What did not fit his profile were his shoes. Different colored lights rippled along the bottom of his sneakers. His shoes stood out from the other people waiting and I thought, good for him! The lights were mesmerizing and I found myself staring at the glowing shoes and when I looked up, he was staring straight at me.

"Neat shoes," I said and gave him a big smile. He nodded and said, "Yes, I like them. No one is going to run into me because they can see me coming a mile away!" He and his lighted shoes walked away
and I thought, his grand kids must have given him those shoes for Christmas or this man has a very young heart! On the Internet the price of shoes with lights on the bottom run from $37 to $120.

Either way, he did have some neat shoes though I am not sure if I could have worn them with such aplomb!

"Life is better in
running shoes
with lights"

Four Garbage Bags

Two days ago I decided to go through papers cluttering up my file cabinets and drawers. I could barely open the drawers and I thought, surely not all this paper is necessary. I had some old, and I mean old, copies of income tax returns. It has taken me a few days of discarding stuff I had been hanging on to, and I have four garbage bags full of shredded paper. What made me think I needed to hang on to papers with the date of 1978 or older?

This morning I saw a blurb on Facebook about the minimalists. Two fellows who decided to down size and leave their high paying positions, their electronics, clothing they had not worn in ninety days and now they feel better than ever. They live in a cabin in Montana and do not use their phones as daily and continuously as they did in the past.

In case you want to know more about those authors, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, you can look them up on the Internet. It seems that decluttering and simplifying makes one live a better life.  A quote on the Internet that makes sense: Minimalists don't have less, they have more. More time to do what actually makes them happy or what is important to them.

Somehow, we grow up thinking that the more we have the better our life will be. Will Rogers said:
Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like. I am wondering, when I read that I should do what ever makes me happy and if what I have does not make me happy, that maybe I should become a minimalist.

After seeing how much paper I have accumulated through the years and these few days I have gotten  rid of lots of it, maybe, just maybe I have begun the decluttering of my life! As I look around my house, I can see there are many other things I could get rid of and I am seeing another garage sale in my future!

I opened a drawer and found seven bathing suits that I keep hanging on to in hopes that I will look like I did when I bought them. I tried each one on and kept four. If I am to be a minimalist I probably
should have gotten rid of all but one (or two) but since I am new at down-sizing, only three went into a bag to give away.  Two still had price tags on them. What does that mean? I must have either found a tremendous sale or I had purchased them in hopes of shedding some weight and, guess what, I never got rid of the extra pounds!

"Minimalism is not
that you should
own nothing,
but that nothing
should own you!"
Quote on Pinterest

Monday, January 9, 2017

Who Got The Baby?

On Friday, January 6, 2017,  I was invited to a party celebrating what is known as the Feast of Three Kings. I could not go. On Sunday I was invited to another celebration for the Three Kings and again I was unable to attend. Two fiestas in the Mexican tradition and as I found out are also
celebrated in many countries. I know that gifts are exchanged at this time, that it celebrates the three astrologers who followed a star to the manger, that a special round bread, like a ring, is made with a symbol hidden in the dough, and people gather for eating the bread and drinking hot chocolate.

When I was growing up, my family did not have this custom. Later, in my life, I would hear about the tradition from Hispanic friends who came from Mexico or Spain. I have since learned that other countries other than Latin countries, celebrate the day.

Germany and Poland have chalk blessed and over doorways they print the initials K for Kaspar, M for Melchior, and B for Balthazar for good luck during the year. Cake is served.

Italy and Russia have a witch who climbs down the chimney with gifts on January 5
for children to enjoy on January 6.

England celebrates by keeping a Yule Log burning until Twelfth Night, (January 6) and this is to bring blessings and good fortune for the coming year.

In some countries children put their shoes out and on January 6 they find gifts in them.

In Catholic churches the day is known as Epiphany that means Revelation in Greek.  The day is also known as Little Christmas or Twelfth Night. In the Bible we learn that three kings (astrologers) followed a star to the manger where Jesus was born and brought gifts of  gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Possibly the tradition of giving gifts began at that time.

My friends bake a ring shaped sweet bread with a small doll, to represent Baby Jesus, placed inside the bread. The Baby also represents the hiding of Jesus when Herod wanted all babies killed. When the bread is sliced the person who gets the doll must then host a party on February 2 which is known as Candlemass Day. This is when Mary presents Baby Jesus to the temple and candles are blessed. I have also heard this day call "The Day of the Presentation."  The host serves tamales, hot chocolate or atole (hot dried corn beverage) to the guests. 

I do not know who got the tiny Baby Jesus on Friday or Sunday but I am calling my friends to make sure I get the date of the Candlemass (Candelaria) on my calendar so I can join these traditional celebrations.

A blessing of candle or wick
on this day you can take a pick.
Celebrate presenting a Baby,
by enjoying atole and tamale.
On February two
no matter what you do
make it a ground hog day;
either way,
you chose between play or pray.
E. Moscoso
January 9, 2017

Note: Pictures shown are from my friend's Facebook page.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Twenty Years A Priest

On January 6, 2017, a celebration for our priest at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community took place at the Spirit Center. It all began with mass at five with many parishioners present. Deacons and priests helped in the celebration.  Even though it was only about six degrees outside, inside the warmth came from all who loved the priest. For the first time I picked up on the priest's sense of humor. He began his homily with, "I was asked how long I intended to talk, and I said 'This is my celebration and I will speak maybe a long time!' "

He gave a wonderful synopsis of how he became a priest giving most of the credit to his mother's prayers plus everyone else who prayed for him. He talked about his uncertainties, seeing his father cry for the first time, not sure he wanted to stay in the order he had chosen, and how he thanked everyone for accepting him and praying for him. There were other things he mentioned, but I could only retain what I have written. Yes, amid the Christmas decorations for a joyous season, the love for our priest was noticeable.

The reception area was decorated in red and white and two long tables were loaded with food from different kinds of salads, main dishes consisting of pastas, chicken, and casseroles. Dessert were three large cakes with one decorated in a special way!

As I watched people approach our priest, I wondered if he even got to eat. He was constantly surrounded by his parishioners.

This Is Your Life was a video of parts of his life. A roaring reaction when we saw him with a beard and moustache or feeding a kangaroo. We saw him on his travels to Medjugorie, Australia, India and Mexico and saw him at weddings, celebrating mass, and funerals. He was the priest who sent my son on his journey to heaven and even though I had always liked him, I found myself loving and respecting the kind, spiritual and humble priest more than ever.

I am sure he will remember his 20th year as a priest celebration and know how much he is loved and appreciated.

Dear God, we are fortunate in having your beloved priest in our parish.
Thank you for sending him to us and allowing us to know and love him.
Thank you for this kind man who celebrates twenty years as a priest.
Watch over him as he continues serving you with an open and holy heart.

Congratulations Fr. Jacob!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Two Masses For My Son

Most of my friends are thoughtful and kind but some go beyond by requesting a mass. All my life I have never asked  for a mass to be said for someone I know. I haven't even wondered why people do such a thing. I have never given it a thought but every Sunday I would see the names listed in the church bulletin. This week I finally got the picture. On New Year's morning at seven I attended mass and felt a big thrill when I heard it announced that the mass was for my son. A sentence from the homily by Fr. Jacob stuck with me:  Dream for the future, but live for today." I felt happy and proud that the whole mass would be offered for my son's soul.
The following day, at nine in the morning, another mass was offered for him. How thoughtful of the persons who had requested these masses. At this mass it felt good to be surrounded by some of my friends and I enjoyed the hugs I received.  In April there will be another mass at the Shrine of St. Anne for the repose of my son's soul. Somehow, the masses also help me!  I also noticed that the masses are not only for those who have died, but for special intentions of those still living.

I now read the list of names, say a short prayer for those remembered and I will have some masses said for my parents, my brother, my son and a friend. Strange that at my age I am learning something that many have always known. My thanks goes to those thoughtful friends who requested the masses. I read somewhere, not sure where, that when a mass is celebrated many angels are on the altar along with the priest. Now that is a beautiful picture!

"For each and every mass that we hear
with devotion during our lives, Christ
sends a Saint to comfort us in death."
St. Gertrude, the Great