Thursday Thoughts

In the manner of Pablo Picasso,…..

…..Kaiya’s latest artwork (which I’m able to see because of a program provided by the school district that enables parents and other permitted people to see and comment on their darlings’ works of art) uses the artistic concept of cubism. It’s a self-portrait. As always, I’m impressed…..

I’ve always thought she would be a writer. Now I wonder whether art is calling her name.

Another Bomb
While I’m complaining about the heat (and, by the way, yesterday was much a milder day, with temps reaching only the mid-70s), my friends and family in Denver are experiencing another so-called bomb cyclone. I am 65 years old and had never heard that phrase until a few weeks ago. I think the weather people are getting bored. At any rate, Denver and its environs are experiencing another blizzard. Yuck yuck and yuck.

Check the Tank
The other day after Lilly and I finished geocaching, we were driving down the street towards Sonic Drive-In. Lilly — seated in her booster seat in the back seat — said, “Aunt Kris, how much gas do you have in this car?” The question caught me off guard. “Lilly, I have almost a full tank of gas. Why do you ask?” “Welllll,” she said with a voice full of doubt, “sometimes people run out of gas and I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to run out of gas.” I was once again reminded of just how little faith our children have in us. 

Happy Belated Siblings Day
Yesterday was apparently Siblings Day. I only know these things because people started posting photos of themselves with their siblings. Well. I can do that too….

Blistering Booty

Yesterday was the hottest day of 2019 thus far in the Valley of the Sun. At its peak, it was a sizzling 97 degrees. (Year-round residents who put up with temperatures nearing 120 degrees in the summer listen to my complaining about yesterday’s temperature and snidely comment under their breath, “When it’s 97 degrees in July, we put on a light cardigan.”)

So I’m not sure why I thought it was a great idea to introduce my 5-year-old great niece Lilly to the game of geocaching on a day when you could toast a tortilla on the sidewalk. “What’s geocaching?” she asked. “It’s a game where you hunt for hidden treasure,” I told her. She grinned, and got a shovel with which to dig for treasure and a ziplock bag to hold all of the money we would find. I didn’t have the heart to break the news to her that the most we would find is a tube containing a little piece of paper to sign that would require no digging.

We went to the area at which I thought the geocache was located. Given my terrible sense of direction and my inability to accurately judge distances, it was not surprising to find that the geocache was further away than I thought. Nearly a half-mile walk, in fact. A half mile is doable, but not with a 5-year-old carrying a shovel and a plastic bag in temperatures creeping dangerously close to 100 degrees. Lilly’s face was getting more and more flushed and she was caring less and less about pirates’ booty.

Suddenly I had an idea. While Jen was visiting, she and I found a geocache very close to Lilly’s very own house. We could find that one pretty quickly even with my directional challenges. I wouldn’t necessarily have the satisfaction of finding a new cache, but Lilly would.

“There’s a geocache right by your house,” I told Lilly. “Do you want to go find that one instead?”

“Does a bear s**t in the woods?” answered Lilly. Not really. But she made it clear she thought that was a dandy idea. And so we did, and in mere minutes she found the treasure…..

When I geocache with my grands, our tradition is a to finish off our adventure with a trip to the nearest Sonic for a limeade. Well, the truth is I have a diet limeade and my grands have a milkshake. (Hey, I’m the nana, and they’ve just found a few hidden treasures and deserve a reward.) I suggested to Lilly that we go to Sonic for a limeade.

“Some candy!” she countered.

We met in the middle. She had a blue raspberry slushie with Nerds. I had a diet limeade.

And she took a few selfies, which actually don’t look that much worse than most of my other photos…..

And made plans to go geocaching another time when it’s a bit cooler.

Drink to Good Health

We hear a lot of bad news these days, don’t we? Great Britain can’t figure out how to handle Brexit. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has been declared a terrorist organization. Floods have damaged much of United States’ bread basket. I can’t keep up with all of the earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes around the world.

But amidst all of the bad news, I finally heard a piece of good news the other day. It came from Town & Country Magazine. What was the news?

VODKA IS GOOD FOR YOU. Move over, kale and acai berries. Step back, red wine. Bring me a glass of Stoli’s or Grey Goose. Because HEALTH FOOD.

Actually, the truth is I would prefer an ice cold martini made with Tanqueray gin rather than Grey Goose vodka. I know bartenders make more vodka martinis than gin martinis, even though the definition of a martini is a drink made with gin, stirred, not shaken (sorry James Bond), garnished with an olive or a lemon peel. I can deal with a Grey Goose martini. But People, when you pour lemon flavored vodka and sugar into a martini glass that has previously been dipped in sugar, you might have a really good drink, but you don’t have a MARTINI. No to the Lemon Drop martini. It takes more than the shape of the glass in which your adult beverage is served.

Wow. That felt good to get that off my chest. Excuse me while I drink a shot of a certain stress-reliever.

Now, back to vodka as health food. According to the article, there are seven ways in which vodka is good for you. One of the ways, of course, is that 1)it acts as a stress reliever as I implied above. But the others seem a stretch surprising: 2) it’s a natural disinfectant and antiseptic; 3 ) it prevents blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes, and lowers cholesterol; 4) it’s a natural astringent and deep-cleans your pores; 5) it controls bad breath; 6) it relieves symptoms of arthritis; 7) it reduces blood sugar levels and helps prevent diabetes.

See what I mean? You could really live on nothing but vodka. And if your boss accuses you of alcohol on your breath, just say, “Well, of course I have alcohol on my breath. I wouldn’t leave the house without using a breath freshener.”

Someone with whom I worked once informed me (as I was sipping an ice cold gin martini) that gin kills brain cells. Nonsense, I thought as I took another sip and bit into the bleu cheese olive. He’s thinking about the gin that they made in bathtubs in the 1920s. Bathtub gin probably not only damaged your brain, but also grew hair on the bottom of your feet. Not MY gin.

The article, by the way, adds that vodka was originally invented as a form of medicine. I’m only happy that I can drink it as part of a Bloody Mary and not just have it poured onto an open wound with a stick between my teeth.

The writer of the article doesn’t credit any particular research study. I wonder if a study was funded by the Smirnoff Bartending School of the United States.

Processed with Rookie Cam


Grammatic Grace

This past weekend’s Mass readings gave me a lot of food for thought. Unfortunately, the thoughts I had weren’t particularly spiritual in nature. But it’s hard to stop thoughts.

Bill started it all. He, unlike me, always reads the day’s Liturgy of the Word prior to Mass. I wait for the lectors and the deacons or priests to do their thing. I like to be surprised.

He’s doing so when he leans over to me prior to Mass and asks, “Isn’t this sentence redundant?”

The sentence to which he referred was from St. John’s gospel about the adulteress who the scribes and Pharisees were about to stone. It comes after Jesus had suggested that anyone among the group who was without sin should throw the first stone, after which they all slunk away like boys who broke a window with a baseball. Jesus tells the woman he wouldn’t condemn her either. Then he says:

Go, and from now on do not sin any more.

It took me a few readings before I saw the redundancy: from now on do not sin any more. See it?

So, I lean over to Bill and whispered, “I guess you need to take that up with St. John. He wrote the gospel.” To which Bill responded, “Well, he was quoting Jesus.”


The bolt of lightning didn’t come, so I suspect that Jesus didn’t condemn Bill for his concern about a potential grammatical error. Jesus likely just blamed it on the translators. It’s probably not the only grammatical error in the gospels. The writers were fishermen and tax collectors, not writers. And they didn’t have spellcheck.

But since grammar was already on my mind by that time, when I came across this sentence in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I cringed:

…..For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippeans 3:8-14)

Say what? Oh Paul, for the love of all that is good and holy, there must be some way to divide that sentence into several that make sense. Here was my best effort:

For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things. I consider them so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him. My righteousness is not based on the law but instead on faith in Christ, and his death and resurrection. If I share in his sufferings, I too may attain new life.

No wonder Paul got on everyone’s nerves. And it’s bad enough that I have to be the world’s editor, but do I have to look heavenbound?

(Oops. And now I, too, have to watch for the lightning bolt.)

Saturday Smile: Georgia O’Keeffe in Our Midst

The other day I got a text message from Kaiya, who informed me that she had been home sick from school for the last couple of days. A cold and sore throat, which needs to be taken seriously since she has asthma.

Oh I forgot to tell you, she wrote.

What? I replied.

So there was this publisher. He wanted some pictures that kids drew for his book. He came to our school and asked our art teacher to have 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders draw pieces of Colorado. He then picked out 20 out of the almost 300 kids that drew a picture to be in the book.

And then there was the most important part….I was picked for my art piece to be in the book.

Wow! I asked what she drew.

An eagle flying over the Rocky Mountains.

Needless to say, this nana is more than proud. I promised her I would buy a million copies of the book. I hope I can keep my promise. I can’t wait to see the picture she drew. This special girl always makes me smile…..

Have a good weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Baker’s Daughter

Reba Adams is a journalist working for an El Paso magazine. She has been asked to write a feel-good Christmas piece featuring German immigrant Elsie Schmidt who runs a German bakery using the recipes she learned from her German parents. Thinking it will be a slam-dunk, Reba is surprised to find that she is entranced by the story of this immigrant who lived in Germany during World War II. She is so entranced, in fact, that she comes back again and again to the bakery where she is fed bodily and spiritually by the story of this strong woman.

Elsie’s story includes being engaged to a Nazi officer, while at the same time, rescuing a young Jewish boy who nearly brings disaster to Elsie and her family.

The Baker’s Daughter, by Sarah McCoy, is a wonderful account of what it was like to be a typical German family and business owner during the time of the Nazis. Being a baker’s daughter myself, I loved the stories of how the family offered the baked goods for the German people who often didn’t have enough to feed their families.

The main problem with the story, at least in this reader’s opinion, was the sideline story of Reba’s boyfriend who is a border agent in El Paso. I liked his character and his story at the beginning, as it seemed to show both sides of the issue. But it troubled me that the author tried to compare the immigrant issue to the Holocaust, and I found that distracting and offputting.

Still, the story was enjoyable and any book that ends with recipes captures my attention.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Say It Ain’t So
Our eldest grandson Alastair was born 14 years ago tomorrow. He’s a very special young man. Being the only boy surrounded by three sisters, he takes pride on his ability to get under each sister’s skin in unique ways. He can spend incredible amounts of time drawing and designing, destined to be an architect or an engineer. When I receive my thank you note from the kids for a birthday or other holiday gift, his note is often my favorite. The best one was the year his Papa and I sent him a chemistry set for his birthday. We called early the morning of his birthday, and was told that he was in the emergency room already with a cut hand from a beaker that had broken. His thank you note went like this: Dear Nana and Papa, Thank you for the chemistry set and science book. I have done a few experiments. My hand is feeling a lot better. Love, Alastair. Hope your day is happy! You won’t cut your hand on this year’s gift. Here are three McLain men….

Guardian Angels
When Bill and I traveled in Europe for three months in 2008, we were convinced then — and are still convinced — that we had a travel angel. There were just too many times that we were saved by God’s hand from a serious boo-boo. Likewise, when Bill recently installed hardwood flooring in our Denver home, we were wondering just how we would move the piano. The day he wanted to start, two men came to collect our freezer. Bill asked them if they would like to earn a few bucks, and they agreed, and moved the piano down the two stairs to the entryway. When it was time to move it back, a plumber accepted the same offer. Yesterday afternoon, Bill and our friend and neighbor Dale were working their pants off trying to remove the stump that remained from our tree being cut down. A three-man work crew from a place I will not mention on this blog (for fear of getting them fired) went past the house, and then turned around and came back. Need any help? they asked. Bill gave them a few bucks and the three men spent an hour-and-a-half removing the stump. Most people are good.

Check Under Your Scrambled Eggs
Bec, Jen, and I went out for breakfast the other morning. I had heard about a place called Joe’s Farm Grill, and we decided to give it a try. The food was delicious, with many of the ingredients coming straight from the farm on which the restaurant sat. We chose to eat outside because it was a beautiful morning. However, we decided NOT to climb this tempting tree for obvious reasons…..

Since our bones are old and brittle, we aren’t sure which would be worse — the falling or the scorpion stings.

One Looks Different From the Other
I was cleaning out the cupboard I use to store our liquor, and realized we had two bottles of Irish cream: one was purchased by Jen and one was purchased by Bill. See if you can guess who purchased which bottle…..