Homesteading

They Make Me Laugh

I am speaking of my furry and feathery roommates, of course. They never cease to amaze me and bring me joy. This developing homestead is home to 3 goats, 20 chickens, 3 ducks, 1 cockatiel, 1 Blue Heeler, 6 rabbits and 10 cats so there’s always something going on. And I usually find myself in the midst of deep belly laughs as a result.

Tuesday morning I was sitting in the easy chair in the rabbit room for bunny playtime. Bunny playtime is just what it says. It is a chance for each of the bunnies to have some time outside of their cages to stretch their legs a bit. While they play, I “supervise” while eating breakfast, doing some Bible study, journaling and/or studying one of my herbals; it’s a bit of quiet time for the human. There is a child-safety gate in front of the doorway to keep Max, the Blue Heeler out (dogs and bunnies are typically not a good combination…) but the cats have free run of the room. And, over the last 18 years of raising rabbits, I have witnessed some pretty amazing bonds between my cats and rabbits. However, Tuesday morning, unbeknownst to me, Emmylou was already in the rabbit room hiding under an old crafts’ bench. Blizzard the Lionhead came hopping out of her cage and, after greeting her sire, Rhys, who was also hopping around at the time, she crawled under the crafts’ bench. Suddenly, I heard someone squeaking and squealing, and saw a flash of white and gray paws. Thinking the worst, I stood up to investigate when Emmylou streaked out from under the bench and dove behind one of the feed bins. A moment later, Blizzard hopped out, unscathed, but the squeaking could now be heard from behind the feed bin.

Uh-oh…

For everyone who has been following my blog, I had some “visitors” last week that Emmylou and Whitney quickly dispatched; last week’s mouse-capades was being revisited. Yes, we’ve had the occasional field mouse get in before; it’s an old house. But not this steady of an invasion. My only guess is the intense humidity is driving them indoors where, thanks to the AC unit, the temps are more agreeable. The aforementioned feed bin is a metal trash bin and the lid is well-sealed so there shouldn’t be anything to attract them otherwise–especially with 10 cats in residence. Anyway, confident that Emmylou had it under control, I went back to my reading.

A little later, Blizzard and Rhys were back in their cages; Alys and Sweet Pea were now hopping around. I heard another squeak from behind the feed bin. This time it was loud enough to attract Alice (named for Alice Cooper) who came running from the kitchen to assist his sister. And, amazingly, Sweet Pea. I’m not sure he was really intent on helping the cats catch a mouse but he followed right along at Alice’s heels and, together, they dove around the other side of the feed bin, trapping our unwanted visitor. I was reminded of the movie, “Babe” where Mrs. Hoggett comments to her daughter and son-in-law that “if it isn’t a duck that thinks its a rooster, its a pig that thinks its a dog”. Incidentally, in keeping with last week’s mouse-capades, one of the cats decided “Grandma” needed a new present. Mom found the remains on the rug beside her bed that afternoon. Somehow I just haven’t been able to convince any of them that mouse remains are not everyone’s idea of a good present…

Yesterday the amusement was in the barnyard. Taffy–short for Taffeta–the Silkie hen, has been broody all week. While all of the other chickens have been seeking the cooler temps under the multi-flora roses or else under the deck, she’s been in the hen house setting on a nest of eggs (which I doubt are going to hatch and will likely wind up in the compost bin before too long). Anyway, Taffy finally decided to leave her nest yesterday morning. But Taffy has to announce it. She went from zero to 60, streaking from one end of the barnyard to the next, cackling and squawking at the top of her lungs. Then, spotting Corporal Denim, she circled back and rubbed up against him much like the resident felines do my ankles when they’re hungry. After all this time, how was I to know these two had a budding romance and the poor boy was finally “getting some”? Corporal Denim has been a bit of the barnyard joke. He is a Cochin rooster, a beautiful boy with fiery-red feathers. But he’s a Cochin and considerably smaller than most of the hens. L’il Peep was also a Cochin but she preferred my big Polish Crested rooster, Sargent Feathers, to Corporal Denim and so she ignored him. Time and again, I’ve watched Corporal Denim try to mount one of the larger hens, only to get thrown off as easily as one would swat at a fly. He would get so excited–excited enough that, once thrown, he would start humping the ground in his frustration–a sort of chicken masturbation, I’m guessing. But not anymore. The poor boy was strutting and preening yesterday to put the proverbial peacocks to shame. I’m not sure where all of this leaves Tank, the third rooster, but he frequently dances around the Polish “twins”, Kiel and Basa; hopefully, he can hold his own with them.

And, if Taffy’s squawks weren’t enough to wake you up around here, they are suddenly being echoed inside the house as Smoky the Cockatiel, the master of mimicry, has learned how to crow like a rooster and cackle like a hen. Mom called me into the kitchen one morning, thinking Smoky was dying or something because he was hunched over in the corner on the floor of his cage, emitting this squeaky sort of screeching. Was he in pain? I wondered the same thing myself but, as I approached the cage, he stopped and hurried over to where I was standing, singing and strutting. He was all proud of himself about something. When I walked away, he went back to the corner making this squeaky, screeching sound again. There seemed to be a pattern to it but it took Mom and I a while to figure it out; Smoky’s voice isn’t quite as bold as the chickens. The amazing thing about it though is that he also has started pecking the floor of his cage while making this screechy chicken cackle and crow. His cage is in the kitchen, which is at the front of the house; the barnyard is in the backyard. He has no visual of the chickens at all yet he’s got a pretty good impersonation of them. And, when he’s mimicking the hens, he seems to be mimicking the high-pitched “ba-gok” that signifies an egg being laid. Who would’ve thought? I guess he’s branching out from the once-endless renditions of the themes to “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Odd Couple”. His previous owner had to go into a nursing home, which is how Smoky came to me, and I’m guessing the gentleman watched a lot of TV Land. He may have also had either a scanner or “Adam 12” and “Emergency” were other favorites; Smoky is rather fond of suddenly squawking out, “Rescue! Rescue!” followed by a perfect rendition of the static created after the dispatcher stops talking.

These are just some of the antics, recent ones that have had Mom and I in stitches. With this menagerie, there’s always something happening at the modern-day homestead. They make me laugh…and that is the sweetest gift of all.

May God bless you & keep you!

Abuse, Alcoholism, Faith, Frugality, Gratitude, Holistic Health, Nature, Religion, Spirituality, Yoga & Fitness

Recognizing the Little Miracles

This morning 3:30 was a bit of a struggle. My body isn’t quite settling down to sleep at the earlier bedtime needed to support such an early rising. But I know it won’t be much longer. I feel myself waking up just minutes before the alarm and I am waking up on my own. This morning–barely! I was tempted to make a quick trip downstairs to the loo and then give in to the temptation to go back to bed for another hour…or two. But I drew a deep breath, pulled on the big girl pants and got on the yoga mat instead.

And my favorite yoga video–A.M. Yoga for Beginners with Rodney Yee (Gaiam)–broke. I popped the VHS tape (yes, it is that old, that beloved) into the VCR (yes, I still have one–two, actually) and there were all these squiggly lines across the TV screen (the TV is an analog, btw…) then the VCR actually shut off and ejected the tape–almost. It would only come out so far. So I turned the VCR back on and pushed it back in, hit rewind. It rewound. I hit play. More squiggly lines and, after another moment or two, the VCR shut off again, spitting out the tape; again, halfway. So I tried to extract it. And the tape snapped. Judging by the accordian-like folds in it, it has seen its better days.

Normally, I would throw a little temper tantrum; the peace of my day would’ve been totally spoiled. This would be “proof” that I should have gone with my first instinct and gone back to bed. But I think the combination of Al-Anon daily literature and Positive Affirmations for Life, “Affirmations for Living a Complaint-Free Life” (Farnoosh Brock) program is finally being absorbed somewhere in the DNA, or at least the psyche, because I had only a fleeting moment of calmly thinking “That sucks” and then I reached for a lesser-used yoga video, “Stress Relief Yoga for Beginners” with Suzanne Deason (Gaiam). It proved to be a nice change of pace and helped release some of the shoulder tension I had been holding onto. I remembered why it has also been a bit of a favorite of mine and I came away from that half hour feeling totally relaxed and energized…which is how one should feel after a yoga workout. So there’s the first little miracle of my day. I overcame a personal, well, not exactly a hang-up but I didn’t allow this little hiccough to overshadow everything else. I didn’t view it as “the end of the world”. (It’s funny because I usually maintain calm in major calamities (i.e. true crises) but its the little things like this that usually frustrate and irritate me to no end)

However, as I sat down to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, I started thinking that replacing it with the DVD version probably wouldn’t be all that expensive; I would really miss this video. It’s a very gentle series of stretches that really wake up the body-mind, helping me to focus. And, without it, those times when I’ve been lazy and given into that temptation to catch another hour or two of sleep, I find my joints really starting to ache. Yoga, in general, has been like food and water for me–I need it to feel healthy and strong each day. Again, I would really miss this one. So, despite trying to keep my spending to the barest minimum, it would be worth the investment. After my prayers, affirmations, Mind Movies (Natalie Ledwell), and meditation (another small miracle–I reined in my usual impulsive nature), I went online to http://www.gaiam.com and looked to see if this video was even still available. It was given to me in 2002 by a friend so it is at least 15 years old but, apparently, it is a popular seller because Gaiam still carries it.

And here’s the third little miracle of my day: Gaiam is hosting a big sale of their DVD’s. You could buy 4 DVD sets (i.e. more than one DVD in each) for just under $19. I had mentally budgeted myself that if A.M. Yoga for Beginners was over $30, I would just have to make due without it. Now I have 3 other DVD sets coming with it; should be here in a few days. Even with shipping and handling, I didn’t exceed the $30 cap. And this actually answered another longing in my heart. I’ve been thinking I would like to try some new yoga routines and here I have several coming to me. Proof that He really does give us what we need…and maybe even a few of the things we want. Earlier this week, my favorite juices, bananas, frozen strawberries, and Sunbutter (for making smoothies) all went on sale at Big Y–and that seems to be a regular thing. When I really need something, He provides a sale so that I can afford it.

I’m going to shoot for the stars now. With a little help from above, maybe someone will have a sale on a good pair of walking sneakers in the not-so-distant future. A little cardio would be a good thing and I have 20 lbs. extra to shed. You never know. Little miracles occur every day. And these are just the material. If we look closely enough, we may begin to see those little miracles everywhere. I’m going to keep looking for those little miracles. And be grateful for each and every one of them.

May God bless you & keep you!

Alcoholism, Environment, Frugality, Homesteading, Minimalism, Zero Waste

Tiny Houses

I am going to have to nix the Monday night Tiny House fest. There is no way I can rise and shine at 3:30 in the morning after staying up past 10 o’clock. Sleep depravity does not a good blog post make.

I love tiny houses. I love their creativity. I love the significantly lower carbon footprint tiny living makes. I love how everything has a place and everything is in its place because such a tiny area would become quite cluttered in a very short time without such organization. I love how everything has multiple purposes and can transform almost like magic. And, I guess, if I really think about it, there’s still a little girl inside of me looking at them as a sort of high-end playhouse. I love the mobility of them, too. It speaks to the free spirit within me that wants to roam at will but not lose the creature comforts and sanctity of home. If I had a tiny house, my menagerie of pets could travel with me and, thus, I would lose the anxiety that inevitably pops up whenever I am away from them. This last part I questioned when I first learned about tiny houses but, over the last couple of years, I have seen some great designs–some that have included chicken coops, rabbit dens, and even a goat pen (for a very small amount of goats). I lean more towards the re-purposed school bus though. There have been some great conversions on HGTV and some of the buses are 40 feet long–much longer than the traditional tiny house. Either way, there is something infinitely appealing about them. I’m a minimalist at heart. And tiny houses definitely promote minimalism.

Watching all of the Tiny House programs on HGTV has been a weekly routine ever since Mom had cable TV installed. For the most part, I abhor television. I consider it a waste of time and there’s very little by way of real entertainment on it today. Insipid sitcoms and reality shows just don’t appeal. Too much violence, too much promiscuity, too much greed and materialism. I’m old school. I want a compelling story line with characters I’d be proud to welcome into the living room each week. Today, such a program might just create a new trend. It would certainly be a novelty.

But I am digressing as always…

As stated in other postings, Mom watches HGTV religiously so, when she saw the advertisement a while back that there were programs dedicated to Tiny Houses, she brought it my attention. She doesn’t quite understand my aversion to television and keeps trying to capture my interest. Because I do tend to favor the articles in Treehugger about tiny houses, I started watching them with her on HGTV. Again, I enjoy the creativity, the thought, the planning that goes into the building of each one. Like most of the other shows on HGTV, eventually, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But the tiny scale still amazes me. Besides the animal accommodations I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen some clever hydroponic systems for growing vegetables and herbs; love the rooftop decks; and one woman made an archway out of hanging planters filled with plants that have been proven to improve air quality–not that all plants don’t filter carbon monoxide and purify air, but these were plants that she had studied that do the job best. It was really an attractive feature.

While I do enjoy watching all of these clever designs on how to bring big living into a tiny footprint, when Mom is away from home, the boob tube typically stays off. And I don’t miss it at all. So I am confident that nixing Tiny Houses will be easy enough. Perhaps I’ll take some of the ideas I’ve learned there and build a story around someone who lives in one…

….or maybe I’ll build a tiny house of my own “someday”. Of course, Mom and I always joke that we would each need one because our relationship is strained enough trying to live together in a house that’s, roughly, 1500 square feet; under 400 square feet might be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Maybe we’ll start our own tiny house community instead. How cool would that be?

May God bless you & keep you!

Environment, Faith, Homesteading, Nature, Religion

Heatwaves

I nixed the church picnic yesterday. Some of it was pride; I had nothing to bring to this potluck. Some of it is because I am still trying to get right-side up financially and have had a recent setback or two; the rest, because I refused to cook/bake anything in this infernal heatwave. In retrospect, I realized I could’ve brought a beverage–a nice herbal sun tea, maybe a couple of varieties. But I didn’t think of it until after Mass when I was driving away from the fun and fellowship.

Of course, five minutes outside in this heat is enough to reduce me to a puddle of sweat and that was the greater reason for nixing it; I’m no fun at all in this heat. I’m a fall through spring kind of gal. I always joke that my dream home is in Alaska. That’s only partially true. Yes, I would love to visit Alaska–it’s definitely in the Top 10 of places to see before I leave this planet–but getting Lisa of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom across the Canadian border would be a bit of a challenge. I’ve heard enough horror stories about quarantined animals when they cross the borders; I’m not willing to risk it. Northern Maine would fit the bill just fine; as long as I’m near the sea, I will be happy.

Befittingly, I saw a recent photo on MSNBC of what the US will look like if our seas rise 25 feet. This is due, of course, to our polar ice caps melting, as is happening at an alarming rate despite all those individuals in Washington, and otherwise, who would rather wallow in denial about global warming than actually try to do something about it. Anyway, it showed the Capital building with only its dome sticking up above the water level. Maybe something inland might not be amiss; who knows where northern Maine will be if those seas do rise from all that melt-off. It’s a scary concept. And while the cowardly side of me hopes I never live to see it, I also don’t wish it upon future generations. I could fall back on biblical truths, about God’s promise not to destroy the earth with flood again, but this wouldn’t be total destruction as it was in Noah’s day; there would still be land mass, just the boundaries would dramatically–and tragically–change. And the loss of life would be astronomical. When I really think about it, I am tempted to join the Denial crowd and pretend everything is fine, that there aren’t species of plants and animals rapidly going extinct due to shrinking habitats, or that it’s not that important. I want to forget that every life form is vitally important and duck my head into the sand. I want to give up this mission, this passion that consumes me–not quite to the point of fanaticism, but close–and let someone else make a difference. But, I am reminded of another biblical truth: if He leads me to it, He will lead me through it. He has put this dream, this passion, in my heart and there’s no going back.

There’s also this infernal heat again that makes denial impossible. Though we had heatwaves even when I was a child, they have grown steadily in their intensity. That scares me, too. But I counter that fear with gratitude that, so far, all of my loved ones–human and humane–have weathered this heatwave unscathed; I hope the same can be said for you and yours. Stay cool!

May God bless you & keep you!

Animal Rights, Environment, Homesteading, Nature

Of Mice…and Mom

I am hoping today’s search and seizure mission will prove successful. Otherwise, Mom may be in for a few surprises when she comes home from Auntie Sandy’s house. She’s been petsitting this week so that Auntie Sandy could go to Atlantic City with both Aunt Debbies and Cousin Amanda. In her absence, the cats have been extremely busy.

This soon-to-be-modern-day-homestead (we have a long way to go before we are a working homestead, providing all, or most of, our food supply ourselves) comes with a fixer-upper house that was built in 1915. Not being of the handy sort, it may be awhile before that fixing-up is done; financial constraints have put much of the work on hold for the moment. But that’s neither here nor there. What is here is an old house with plenty of little gaps to allow in the occasional field mouse (and that wasn’t meant to rhyme even if it does…). Considering mice can flatten themselves enough to get through a hole only the size and circumference of a dime, those little gaps can be easy to miss–for mere humans, of course. The mice seem to have little trouble spotting them. What is curious though is why they would choose to go through those gaps in the first place.

Having raised mice, hamsters and even rats–yes, rats!–for pets, I can tell you they are intelligent and affectionate creatures. Zady, Clara and Lulu would all climb into my hand for their nightly fix of sugar snap peas with Zady scurrying up my arm afterwards (these are rats, not mice) and onto my shoulder where she would reach up, plant a gentle ratty kiss upon my cheek then climb up my braid to sit on top of my head for awhile. Rueben loved baked mac and cheese, and rather than run on the stupid wheel going nowhere, devised a method of racing down one of his ramps and pouncing upon the wheel, causing it to shimmy and rock back and forth. He could do this over and again for hours. Anyway, their intelligence, also their low-cost maintenance (I could feed them for less than $10.00 a month–counting the special treats like sugar snap peas) is one of the reasons they are often chosen by science to participate (without their consent, of course) in behavioral studies. Like most animals, with love and patience, they are capable of learning and can be trained, or taught, a wide variety of tricks and/or habits. Amazingly, they also have their own individual personalities, something most people don’t consider whilst standing atop a chair, screaming like banshees, while said rodent scurries around on the floor. This is not my folly but it may be Mom’s–even if the mice in question are no longer capable of scurrying.

Of course, there is a distinct difference between the mice and rats found in either a laboratory or a pet shop. Mice and rats have long been considered vermin–and for good reason. In the wild, they are host to all sorts of diseases and, especially with rats, if not domesticated, they will think nothing of taking a chunk out of human flesh. I am reminded of a display at King Richard’s Faire many years ago. Now I’m not certain how much time, effort, and research King Richard’s Faire put into this display; many of these torturous devices may simply be the fancy of Hollywood and pop culture. However, it is part of their wax museum, a museum displaying the many different forms of torture and punishment inflicted upon the supposed criminals of the Middle Ages. One display shows a man with a cage over his head with a rat trapped inside said cage; the man has multiple bite marks upon his face and scalp. I do not doubt that a rat would do such a thing if trapped in such a way. I had a chunk taken out of a finger that I lightly tapped along the side of cage in a pet shop once. The cage was high up on a shelf and appeared to be empty, save for the fact there was a water bottle hanging inside about 3/4’s full. Even on tiptoes (and I’m a tall woman), it was impossible to see inside so I was hoping to attract the occupant to the side of the cage that I might have a look at them (going to the pet shop for me is the equivalent to taking a little kid to the zoo; I love all creatures great and small and each are deserving of at least a moment of my time and admiration). Anyway, the occupant was a rat, one that obviously had not been handled much because he (or she) struck with the speed of a viper, pushing his snout through the bars to grab said finger. Perhaps it was a lactating female–I don’t know for certain because she/he was too high up–protecting her young (could be the reason for the high location especially if the young were still in the cage with her to keep her from being disturbed–duh), but I am quite certain he/she was also a future candidate for some viper’s dinner, as the majority of rodents kept in pet shops are typically part of the food chain. Again, neither here nor there. However, while I am convinced of their intelligence as displayed in captivity, I find myself questioning that intellect in the wild. Sure, they are clever enough to find their way inside but, in this case, why would they even bother? Could they really be that desperate for food (of which none is left out for their consumption) and shelter?

I am in line with becoming the next “crazy cat lady”. There are 10 felines sharing this domicile with me. Can a mouse be suicidal? Or, in this case, it might be best to ask if “mice”, in the plural, can be suicidal, as in the past 24 hours I have watched first, Emmylou, and then Whitney, racing upstairs and into Mom’s room with the limp body of a mouse dangling from her mouth. Trust me. The first one that Emmylou caught did not get back up, race downstairs and allow itself to be re-captured by Whitney. So the first one had a friend or mate that blindly followed her inside.

I’ve come a long way. In years past, my affection for rodents, owing to their domesticated cousins being beloved pets, would move me to follow my lucky felines and attempt to save the poor mouse. Though thoroughly traumatized, those that were still living and breathing were placed outside (where they likely were stupid enough to come back in later on…); those that didn’t make it, received a proper burial, complete with a brief prayer. I still give them a proper burial but I’ve learned to let the cats do their proper job in dispatching said mice; I have no more love for their filth than the next person.

Today, it will likely be a “common” grave; there are at least two corpses lying in wait for Mom’s approval when she gets home tomorrow. Though I know Emmylou and Whitney intend them as gifts, I doubt they will be appreciated. No, they won’t be scurrying around anymore but Mom might still be climbing on that chair, shrieking like a banshee. So let’s hope my search and seizure mission is a successful one, lest, Mom be the one thoroughly traumatized.

May God bless you & keep you!

Homesteading

An Unlikely Inspiration

As a dyed-in-the-wool metal head, Dolly Parton being an inspiration seems a bit unlikely but, here I am, at 5:14 a.m., having been awake since 3:45 this morning, pounding away at the keyboard. Actually, despite my love affair with metal (and, I confess, at nearly 50 years of age, I tend to gravitate towards symph (or lighter) metal rather than today’s I-can’t-sing-but-only-growl heavier metal), Dolly really is a favorite of mine. In interviews she has a plucky sense of wit and humor. She’s intelligent. She’s down-to-earth. She’s also God-fearing. And I have always considered her music well-written, the gentle delivery of her songs resonating deep within. I am not the least bit ashamed to admit that some of her CD’s are tucked into the shelves between Megadeth and Within Temptation. But that is neither here nor there.
In trying to establish myself as a writer, I have been kicking around different times of the day to devote to writing; midday always seems too fraught with distractions in the form of “to-do” lists and chores. With a homestead to care for–more specifically, the goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and cats that will often make their own schedules each day–working an evening job, a very modest practice in Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health, and being a full-time student working towards a degree in Creative Writing, finding that time has been a bit of a challenge. Because I work evenings, I have been leaning more towards writing after work when all of the chores and “have-to” obligations are completed but, by then, the brain is toast and I can’t seem to string two words together that make sense even to me, never mind someone else trying to decipher them. And a recent interview with a career coach emphasized the importance of blogging today in the literary world. So I’ve been kicking around those times, hoping to develop a more consistent blogging routine.
And that’s when I saw the little blurp in a magazine. I can’t even tell you which one. I was either in the laundromat, or else, reading it during lunch at work, but it was an article about the effective habits of successful people and rising early in the morning was dubbed as a fairly universal habit of successful people (early bird catches the worm?). In this article, Dolly Parton was quoted as saying that she does her best writing at 3:30 a.m. Now the quote could have been bogus; I have no way in knowing whether or not Dolly Parton really does get up at such an early hour to write her songs and such but, it seemed a hopeful choice. And one that actually resonated with me.
I tend to be an early riser no matter what hour I go to bed. The early mornings are a great time to do some gentle yoga stretches, pray, meditate, visualize and recite some positive affirmations. It’s a quiet time. Most of the world–at least the local one just outside my door–is still abed, the crickets are still chirping outside my window, and there’s a certain peace that settles over the soul with the first rays of light coming over the horizon, heralding the opening notes of daily birdsong. (Can you tell I just finished a course in Nature Writing???) It is a good time for allowing the creative juices to flow as the inner critic seems to slumber on at least until sunrise.
I’ve only been at this super-early rising routine for a few days but, I confess, I haven’t really needed the alarm; I’ve been awake before it goes off. That’s a good thing because it tells me that I’m not depriving myself of sleep and, to deviate a little from the subject, one of my psychology textbooks linked the common practice of many of hitting the snooze bar repeatedly with the increased potential for developing Alzheimer’s. The text recommended not using an alarm at all, if possible, because it is that startled awakening that does some of the damage.
Anyway, I am digressing…
But I am also blogging.
Allowing Dolly to influence me in this capacity is perhaps a good thing. She has long been a part of the eclectic mix of music that helps fuel my inner muse…and, at this hour of the day, a little less offensive playing in the background as I write the next bestseller than, say, Doro–whom I love just as much–but we’ll save the queen of metal for that much-needed jolt of energy in the afternoon. At this hour of the day, it’s a little overkill.
The sky is just beginning to lighten now so I will sign off and say, “Good morning to you all!” And may God bless you & keep you!

Abuse, Alcoholism, Animal Rights, Environment, Faith, Frugality, Homesteading, Minimalism, Nature, Religion, Zero Waste

Sunday Laments

28 people attended the 11 o’clock Mass this Sunday–and that was counting members of the choir, the Lector and Eucharistic Minister.
28?
And Father Elson (who would make 29 people in church on Sunday) made an announcement that every 5 years the Diocese of Norwich does an evaluation of churches to determine if there is enough attendance to warrant keeping them open. This year is the 5 year mark again for Our Lady of LaSalette. If we fail the evaluation, our doors may close forever.
What is wrong with this picture?
I remember as a little girl that St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Oakland Beach, Rhode Island would be full every Sunday morning. We’re only talking the mid-1970’s so what has happened in the last 40 years to take people away from church? Away from God? I am speaking, primarily, to Christians, because I do not know if attendance has fallen in the synagogues, mosques, or any other houses of worship. And, though I spoke of Catholicism, it does not matter the denomination. I have visited Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalian churches in recent years and their attendance is down, too. I think that it is truly sad that our modern-day society neglects Him so greatly–especially with all of the violence and degradation that seems so prevalent in this society.
Okay. Maybe it is not that folks are neglecting Him. Maybe the kids’ soccer/softball/badminton practice isn’t taking precedence over keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Maybe we’re not worshiping St. Mattress either. Maybe we’re not being influenced by all the anti-God media that laces our society. It could be that it is just the whole “organized religion” thing that has turned folks away. And I understand the myriad reasons that might happen.
Though this would fall under the category of “hearsay”, I have friends with parents who used God–or their religion–to punish their children when they did something wrong. I know of two such individuals who talk about having to kneel on popcorn kernels and pray the rosary for whatever offense they committed. Personally, I think this would be one of those individuals that Jesus said “woe unto them” for keeping the little children from coming to Him, not to mention a form of abuse. If a child associates the divine meditation of the rosary (or any other religious practice) with punishment, it is little wonder that their relationship with Him would be tainted from the very beginning. I know of one individual who was denied food for her children because she was not a regular member of the parish that she visited for help. Okay. I have visited the local food pantry in recent times and I know they have specific towns that they serve; their pantry is stocked only so full. So, on the one hand, I can understand this position, but children were starving. At the very least, a point in the direction of someone who could help might have been appreciated. Another refuses to attend because a beloved relative was denied a eulogy due to their civil union with a member of the same sex. Yes, I can pull Scripture that supports this stand. But I believe we are born with our orientation. I am hetero. If I were to date again, it would be as natural as breathing for me to date a man. It is not something I consciously think about and choose. And I have to believe it is the same for someone in a same sex relationship. If I am wrong, somehow I do not think continuing this modern-day witch hunt against the LGBT community is going to help the situation. The Bible also teaches us not to lie and to deny one’s orientation would be the same as lying. We do not know His plan for anyone else but we do know He also commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and to “judge not lest ye be judged”. Sadly, in taking this stand, the loved ones who came to say their last goodbye were denied the healing closure of bereavement and worship. And, truly, a funeral or memorial service is for the loved ones left behind as much as for the soul of the departed.
Yes, someone (parents? grandparents?) rammed religion down your throat as a child. Perhaps they used a religious practice to punish you. But it was not God who used religion to punish you. Yes, you and your child were denied food but it was not God who denied you. It was a person. And it doesn’t matter if it was someone of the cloth. They may be a representative here on earth of our heavenly Father but they are still human, with all of the fallacies and short-comings of the human race. Yes, a loved one was denied a Sacrament. Again, it was a human being who denied it.
Something else I hear a lot of, too, is questioning. And the questions all boil down to the same thing: why does He let bad things happen? He gave us the Bible as a road map for living a good life here on earth. He also gave us the right to choose whether or not we will use that road map to continuously seek Him and to obey his commandments. He had to give us the right to choose or our faith would be meaningless if we did not seek Him for ourselves. I know it sounds like a platitude to say that others choose NOT to follow Him and so they commit these atrocities against the earth, it’s creatures and, most especially, our fellow Man. That doesn’t give much solace for the loved ones of victims from our fallen world, or even when illness takes those loved ones away. The truth is, I don’t have a better answer and I would to God I did. As a survivor of child molestation, there have been many times in my life that I have asked “Why?” myself, times when my anger has gripped me and left me railing at Him for forsaking me in my time of need, as I remember all the times as a little girl that I knelt beside my bed and prayed that the abuse–and the alcoholism that helped fuel it–would end. But it didn’t. However, I do believe that He has a plan even for that. And I do know that whenever I choose to follow Him, despite the loss, the horror, the pain of bad things happening–even to good and godly-people–that somewhere along the line, His grace does lead me through it and there is always that little nudge to take that pain and make something happy and positive from it. Maybe it’s a specific action to alleviate future sufferings. Maybe it’s simply a command to listen more to others, or to pray. Maybe it’s a command to listen more closely to Him…and to obey those instincts that alert us when something is wrong. Or perhaps it is simply a command to understand that in order to love my neighbor as myself, I have to learn to love myself enough to make that a valid command.
God commanded us to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy”. A bad experience in one church or with an individual from a particular church or denomination–a bad experience, period–should not prevent us from coming to Him each week in worship and prayer. It should not deny us the fellowship and support of a worshiping community either. God simply is. God is enough. And that should be reason enough to keep that Sabbath Day holy.
May God bless you & keep you!