My beloved aunt is having serious surgery today. Would you please offer a prayer for her, and for my uncle, who is feeling worried?
St. Therese, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
[Almost 6 pm on the east coast: Amended to report that my aunt is doing incredibly well after surgery. Thank you so much for all the prayers--they helped tremendously!]
[Friday Morning, September 21, My aunt has a fever--please keep those prayers coming.]
[Sunday, October 14th, updated to say that my aunt is doing extremely well and will (hopefully) be home in about a week. Thank you all for praying!]
The Roman city of Pompeii, suddenly decimated by the wrath of Mount Vesuvius, is, as you know, a perfectly preserved example of an Ancient Roman town. There to this day you will find uncracked eggs gathered in a bowl, a leashed dog curled in endless sleep, pots and pans left set to boil upon the fire--the precise and permanent picture of life as it was at a distinct moment in time.
This was exactly the way we found things here at home upon our return from San Francisco.
The truth is that I had done no preparation for our three month trip, hurling some clothes in a box to be shipped to our destination one or two days before leaving New York and that's about it. Upon our return, I was amazed to find the house exactly as we had left it, the perfect time capsule of our life back in May. A script from A Midsummer Night's Dream sat splayed on its spine; a Scrabble game in progress awaited a next move on the coffee table; a pitcher of pink peonies drooped forlornly on the mantle, the centerpiece from our almost forgotten Rhododendron Tea.
The Mary Garden outside, long neglected and left to nature, reminded me of Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the green things embracing Our Lady so that we could hardly find her. Full grown melons we had never planted huddled beneath the hostas, their vines and yellow blooms crocheted in a chain stitch throughout the unruly bed. Tomatoes sprang up mysteriously, the evidence of a child's afternoon snack all those months ago.
It was only yesterday--believe it or not--that I entered the learning room in the cottage for the first time, surprised to find scrap paper, books, blocks--all left in their places since May. I reached for a garbage bag, tossing the useless papers indiscriminately, when my eye fell upon a bright yellow sheet covered in numbers. It was Agnes' scrap paper from last year's foray into Algebra. Words were written on one side that made me laugh out loud--the "doodling" of a student whose mind was evidently more on Shakespeare and A Midsummer Night's Dream (not to mention escape!) than anything else.
Here is her simple [she's only changed a few words from the original], yet amusing, parody of Nick Bottom's speech to the "Wall" from Pyramus and Thisbe, the play within a play:
O grim-look'd math! O math with print so black!
O math, which ever art when play is not!
O math, O math! alack, alack, alack,
I fear my mother's promise is forgot!
And thou, O door, O sweet, O lovely door,
That stand'st between the smaller house and mine!
Thou door, O door, O sweet and lovely door,
Show me thy pane, to blink through with mine eyne!
Thanks, courteous door:
Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I?
No recess do I see.
O wicked door, through whom I see no bliss!
Cursed be thy wood for thus deceiving me!
I must admit to enjoying this visit to our lives as they were in May.
Still, I think it may be time for a bit of spring cleaning to bring us back into the present!
[This is the 500th Cottage Blessings post.]
can only mean one thing:
And the memorable stories are just beginning to pour in!
because the First Communicants are back!
We will miss our "Blessed Mother Blue," but "Cottage Garden Green" is nice too!
Here, for posterity, is our San Francisco blog banner photo of Maureen by the Bay. Thanks again to Lissa for turning both these memorable images into banners for me!
What was Love2Learn Mom expecting?
We had only been planning her San Francisco visit for two short months (OK, maybe three). How could I possibly be ready when she arrived with a mere two or three months to prepare? And surely, she was not expecting for the children to be dressed or for us to have food or water in the house? Where on earth was I supposed to get food and water with only three months' notice?
If the incomparably endearing and good-humored Alicia was expecting the author of Cottage Blessings to be a gracious hostess--or even a normal human being--that folly was dashed within moments of entering our fabled manse in San Francisco. We were preparing to leave town only a few days later, and to say that I had lost control of things would be putting it mildly. When the doorbell rang at our appointed hour, I was on the phone upstairs, barely aware that the morning was over and our long awaited date had arrived. I bolted down the grand staircase in bare feet, greeting my hapless guest with apologies for everything from the bedraggled state of my hair to the sundry odds and ends collected (and waiting to go in boxes addressed for home) in the formerly beautiful front hallway.
Alicia laughed and smiled, merrily enduring the endless comedy routine I automatically go into whenever things go awry. [If you have ever seen a mother bird squawking and awkwardly feigning a broken wing to draw attention away from her hidden young, you will know about how delicately I use humor to keep guests' minds off my shortcomings.] We sat chatting in the living room--feeling uncannily like old friends [complete and utter disarray will do that]--while the children appeared in dribs and drabs like dwarves to the house of Beorn.
Or perhaps more like timid munchkins: "Come out, come out, wherever you are, and greet the young lady fresh from a cable car . . . ."
Not at all surprisingly, Alicia--a San Franciscan at heart--loved the grand old house, which was still glorious in spite of all the living we had done in it. She was at once taken with our large collection of books (amassed during a three month reading frenzy on all things San Francisco) poring over them with alacrity. If Alicia noticed that the baby was undressed and covered in pen marks from shoulder to foot or that Patrick and Maureen were wearing a layer of morning cereal on their shirts, she did not let on.
Before long, she found herself riding shotgun in the big white van, rolling up and down break-neck hills and bound for Golden Gate Park. We introduced her to one of our dearest friends and sipped tea in The Japanese Tea Garden. Over cups of Oolong, I took out my trusty digital camera only to discover that the memory card was back home in the card reader!
Alicia took the picture below at my urging. The purple plum in the center is actually Marie's San Francisco Zoo cap. It fell off her head as she leaned over the Drum Bridge to look for Koi and seemed to me the perfect still life representing the quirky things that kept happening that day. More than once, I found myself repeating, "You know, Alicia, we are not usually like this" or "I'm not really this ditzy, honestly, this is very unusual for me." Dear soul that she is, Alicia almost looked convinced!
Perhaps my favorite line from the entire day came from my daughter Agnes--it was uttered with heartfelt sincerity and spoke perfectly for all of us: "Mrs. ___, we have only known you for an hour now, but already I feel as if I am going to miss you."
And miss Alicia we do!!!
We would like to have another day just like it in New York, but this time with Alicia's children along as well!
Trivia question: While in San Francisco, we had the pleasure of seeing both the wonderful Diane and the fabulous Alicia (among other friends). What other blogging Mommy greeted the same two guests this summer?
I just noticed something fascinating and could not resist sharing the observation here.
In the recent post, Daddy has the last word, I told about finding a forgotten Loreto holy card with a prayer for aviators purchased at the Mission San Rafael. The timing (just before our flight home) was so perfect that I wrote, "The Blessed Mother is not slow to let us know she is caring for us, sometimes even before we remember to ask for her help."
Just now, I was looking over posts from the San Francisco trip--we've only been home a week, and already I'm reminiscing--and came across the story of Maria, the woman who treated our family so kindly at the Mission San Rafael. Reading that account again all these weeks later, I cannot help but be amazed to note that Maria's parting words to me (and I would have no recollection of this if it had not been written down) were "the Blessed Mother always takes care of us."
Suddenly, these words have taken on new significance, and you may be sure I will be pondering them for quite some time.
Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us!
"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."
By popular demand ("popular" meaning, at least one or two people), I give you Rodin's Thinker in cream cheese (circa 2001):
"The modes of expression of men of genius differ as much as their souls."