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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lenten Meditation: Gun Shows, Harley's, Costco, and Mortification

Today, the first Saturday of Lent, I started out by going to the TSRA (Texas State Rifle Association) meeting. Actually, we only went to the gun show part of the meeting, since we did not have time to stick around for the seminars and meetings. acouple of thoughts came out of walking around the displays.

One is that one part of the economy is really booming; all the folks reported a brisk sale of guns and ammunition. Signs indicating accessories which might be outlawed in the future by our present regime were everywhere. The only down side of this economically stimulated niche was that ammunition was in short supply, and the prices were higher than a few months ago.

Another thought is that some of the vendors at gun shows don't seem to be there to sell guns. There were some tables full of food, perfume, cameras, knives (well I guess that is okay), and books. While most displays were very professional and organized, there were other tables that looked as if they were selling stuff left over from a garage sale. The only thing I saw in common with all these tables was at least one gun for sale on each table. I spent the longest time talking to a man who had a collection of old cameras.

The kids wanted me to buy an AR-15, but I don't know what I would do with one. We couldn't shoot it on our property without the bullet traveling to the next county. I did enter a drawing for a few things. One was for a gun safe, which would be a great way to store the air guns that are literally stuffed into the first gun safe we have. The other drawing was for something which falls under the 'Harley-Davidson' category of things in this world.

Let me explain.

As a physician, I have a bad attitude about cigarettes, cigars, hang gliding, parachuting, motorcycle riding, ATV's, and accordions. All of these things are associated with bad memories from working at high level trauma centers or, in the case of the accordion, from taking my children to a piano teacher who had a picture of the 'father of the accordion' on her mantlepiece. Since I only see the down side of these things, I would never allow one in my house. For example, I would not want a motorcycle because of the danger it would expose myself and my family to. The exception is in the case of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle; if one found itself somehow attached to my estate I would keep it 'just because it's a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.'

Enter the Harley-Davidson of guns: the Thompson Machine Gun.

This is the one which was made famous during the 1920's and was used extensively during World War II. I am sure the one I probably won't win is not fully automatic(I am not licensed to have a machine gun, to the great disappointment of my sons), but it still would be cool to fire, kinda like this one:


After going to the gun show, we stopped off at Costco. It was lunchtime, so I sent the two Noisykids with me to grab a slice of pizza and a drink for all of us. In the meantime, I went shopping. Within minutes, I had entered the free samples zone, and soon found myself full of goodies. I had pot roast, baked tilapia, smoked salmon, almond butter, pizza(two kinds), organic pasta sauce, apple slices, sliced turkey, sugar cereal, chicken salad, bagel and cream cheese, and some muffins. After all that I did not want what the boys brought back from the food court. I ran into one of the workers at Costco who recently graduated from our homeshooling group, and he smiled at me and said,

"Ah, Lent!"

All this sample testing went well until I stopped by one table and popped a handful of what looked like granola into my mouth. Not much taste, I thought.

"That's cat litter you just put into your mouth, son," the man at the display said.

All this indulging in food, and the comment about Lent made me remind the children(and myself) that I have to try all the samples for the good of Costco as well as for the good of my family. I mean to say that if I did not try something, I would not know if it would be acceptable for my family. How else would we have known that peanut butter filled pretzels were better than they looked?

About Mortification:

Lent is here, and there are some things I have decided to give up. They are three simple things which go along with the family sacrifices.

They are:

1. 15-minute rule on the computer, which I am flagrantly violating by typing this post. This includes not putting anything on Facebook unless it is in response to another person's message on Facebook.

2. Custody of the eyes. This is something any male must practice, and I am cracking down on myself this Lent.

3. I am taking a temporary vow, not punishable by sin if it is violated. This vow is to:


Please pray for me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Visit to the Monastery

This is the monastery, with one part of the residence completed. The lean-to sheds are surrounding the cloister, or open square which will eventually be surrounded by buildings on all four sides. The crypt chapel is the concrete structure to the right, and it will be the foundation for the church.
Here is a better view of the crypt chapel.
Below are three views of the guest house where we stayed. It is a really cool log cabin house!

After taking these pictures with my cell phone camera, I put it away, since there was no signal out that neck of the woods. So I did not take any pictures of the work, nor did I take a picture of the stream I forded in the 2006 Ford Explorer.

I took two of the Noisykids to a working retreat at Our Lady of the Annunciation Monastery at Clear Creek in Oklahoma. Check out their website for a lot of great pictures of the monastery and their property.

We went there last year, as described here in this blog entry. This year, to the disappointment of the boys (and I suspect most of the dads) we did NOT get to clear brush and set it on fire. Instead, we spent the weekend laying electrical wire around what would become pastures for goats or cattle.

I asked one of the brothers for advice to tell my sons if they were considering the religious life. After a few moments, he said, PRAY, THINK ABOUT IT, and LEARN TO RIDE A BICYCLE. Hmmm.

I try to work as long as there is sunlight, but after sunset I tried to get some spiritual time in before collapsing in bed. I went to confession, perused the book store in the Gate House, and got to eat dinner with the monks on Friday night. If you want to read the long version of how meals are served, take a look at the book called The Rule of St. Benedict.

My version of dinner follows: First, the Prior(Head of the Monastery) meets the guests at the door of the refectory(dining room) and washes the hands of the guests. This is a cursory, ceremonial washing, so it behooves the pilgrim to clean under his nails before presenting himself for dinner.

By the way, only men and boys can eat with the monks, as this is an area restricted to men only.

After saying grace, a section of the Rule of St. Benedict is read aloud by a monk who chants throughout the meal. During the meal, the reader chanted the text of one of Pope Benedict XVI's recent audiences. After sitting, food is served to the guests. A word to the wise: eat fast and eat heartily, for an empty plate is whisked away as fast as it is emptied.

The meal started with a soup, and I followed the example I saw last year, where the pilgrim sitting across from me broke pieces of his slice of homemade bread into the soup in order to expedite the consumption of said soup. All of the food was delicious.

After the soup, we were served an omelet, which was a bit too salty for my taste - but then again, I am trying to avoid a lot of salty foods.

Rice pudding followed, and I thought that I should send my wife's recipe for rice pudding to the good monks. I am not a fan of rice pudding, but I do know that no one makes rice pudding like my wife's rice pudding.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the monks set a plate of some dark things next to my plate. I expected them to be dates, which we had last year with the rice pudding. Instead the plate was filled with knockoff Oreo cookies. I skipped them.

I did drink the lemonade they had at the table rather than the water.

I went to Low Mass Saturday and Sunday morning, and Compline (night prayers) each night. Sitting in the crypt chapel, listening to the monks chant the psalms, gave me a tremendous sense of wonder and joy, realizing that regardless of what is happening in the world, be it death, sorrow, joy, or pain, these monks are there every day praying for our souls.

Baby Bernard at Six Weeks

My baby

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Martial Artistry

Today some of us participated in a test for advancement in Taekwon-Do. We started at the lowest level with a White Belt, which represents innocence - no prior knowledge of Taekwon-Do.

All five of us qualified for a yellow stripe on our white belt, which is the next level up from white belt.

Testing involves a series of patterns which demonstrate various punches and blocks. This martial art involves physical and mental effort, and one must show proficiency in knowledge of Taekwon-Do. Of course, there is nothing interesting in watching people get quizzed on knowledge of Taekwon-Do. Breaking things, now that's a different story. Watch two of the Noisykids destroy trees:

Here is a video of me breaking a board:

Here is Noisykid #4, who got the highest score on the test, going through one of the patterns. I am proud of all my children, and especially proud of my oldest son at home. He helped me with some of the patterns.

Here we have the youngest Noisykid(and Taekwon-Do student?) practicing his 'Ready' stance:
Note that his shirt has a Sheriff badge and has the caption, I'M IN CHARGE! How true:

Of course, I always remember my first experience in the martial arts; this special type of hand to hand combat has almost disappeared:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I saw this on Times Online

Two children should be limit, says green guru


I recall asking someone – shortly before Noisykid #4 was born – “Now that you have met them, which ones should I remove?”

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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