Friday, November 30, 2007

"Terror" on the Trail

Fox 2 news ran a story on the 9 PM edition last night about a cyclist who is bothering people on Grant's trail with rude and confrontational behavior.

Of course, there's no excuse for the guy to push other people around, though I would like to hear his side of the story. I wonder if he was calling out to people in advance of passing them? Whatever he was doing, he definitely crossed way over the line when he decided to get physical with other people.

Too bad Fox 2 didn't contact Trailnet, whose offices are right on the trail, because it would have been a great opportunity for Trailnet to talk about trail use etiquette. I have definitely experienced my fair share of frustration when cycling that trail. In particular, I come upon situations where there are several people together walking abreast, taking up the majority, if not all, of both lanes of the trail. I always call out loudly that I am passing on the left and in that situation, I'll usually call out at least twice. Most people don't move over or even acknowledge that they have heard me. As long as I can get by, I don't care if they move over -- I just want a simple hand wave or head nod that tells me I have been heard, so that when I pass, I know they are aware of my presence.

What I really would like to know is whether those rollerbladers were exercising single file as the clip shows or if they were taking up both sides of the trail when these confrontations have happened?

Unfortunately, the net result of this news story is that it reinforces in people's minds that cyclists are inconsiderate jerks. The vast majority are not, but there are a few gung-ho types, as with any sport, who are. If he's that gung-ho about cycling without "pesky" pedestrians and rollerbladers in his way, he should be a real man and try doing his workout on the road. At the mercy of cars and trucks, then he'll see what it feels like to be the vulnerable one!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chocolate Rain

This vid was very popular over the summer. It's very peculiar because you wouldn't expect that voice to come out of that young man and he has interesting mannerisms. I'm sure I'll sound like your grandmother when I say this, but it's refreshing to see a young person doing something creative and unique with his talent.

It was so popular, other people on YouTube parodied it. My favorite is Chad Vader's version.

Now, you can find promos for the Comedy Central Last Laugh '07 for it using the same fellow. And, Dr. Pepper had the same idea, but much more elaborately done/over the top than Comedy Central's.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christ the King

Today was the Solemnity of Christ the King, which means that the Roman Catholic Liturgical year almost at its end, and soon we start the season of Advent, the time for the anticipation of Christ's birth.

In today's homily about Christ the King, my pastor reminded us about the cosmic Christ with these words, "Christ yesterday and to-day, the beginning and the end, all time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever." This statement is drawn from the Paschal Vigil Mass (a.k.a. Easter Vigil Mass), at which time the new fire is lit to represent the light of Christ in the world.

Remember and reflect on the vast eternalness of Christ in our lives.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


OK yes I admit, I am in the Information Technology industry, but I had to call the Geek Squad to help me get my wireless network running.
From Geek Squad

Let that be a lesson to all the people who seek free computer advice from me or other IT people -- we don't know everything there is to know about every piece of hardware and software that exists. It's like asking asking an orthopedic surgeon about your heart condition -- sure, the surgeon likely knows of the heart condition, but isn't practiced at treating it, and you would be better served to seek out a cardiologist to help you.

Turns out the network issues were not completely due to my hardware ineptitude -- the router I had purchased has known issues (though they were unknown to me), so we replaced it with one I picked up yesterday when hubby and I were at Best Buy. Turns out the same Geek Squad guy I saw at the store yesterday in the computer area is the one who came to our house today to help us. Very professional guy and 2 hours later, I had 2 desktops, 1 laptop, and two printers networked.

Anyway, hubby was pretty happy that the wireless network is running:
From Geek Squad

Then all the excitement wore him out.
From Geek Squad

Friday, November 23, 2007

All Around Town

Busy day. Went to Mass this morning. Good peaceful way to start the day.

Came home, got the hubby and we headed out for just a little Black Friday shopping. Went to Best Buy and JC Penney and that was it. Got my step-daughter's gift done, so I can check that one off the list.

After shopping, we took some goodies from yesterday's meal to a friend who had surgery earlier this month. Had lunch and visited with him for a bit. He started to look sleepy after a while, so we took our leave after about 2 hours so he could rest. Healing is hard work!

When we left our friend's, we saw this:
From Day After Tha...

I think this guy must receive his radio signals from deep space. Who needs an antenna that big? NASA?
From Day After Tha...

Continuing on our way home, I asked hubby to take me by the Macy's downtown so I could see the Christmas display windows. Saw a performance artist guy in front of Macy's who wanted $2 to take a pic. I only had a buck on me, so I told him and said I guess I can't take a pic. I turned around from him, and decided to sneak this pic of his reflection:
From Day After Tha...

About the same time, he said he'll take the buck. He did some weird thing where he tilted himself sort of sideways while making some kind of mechanical noise. Meh.
From Day After Tha...

Macy's windows were neat:
From Day After Tha...

Went home, dropped off the hubby and then I went to a jeweler to get three of his watches' batteries replaced. I also checked out the jewelry for myself there while I was at it. Gotta' come up with something to ask for this Christmas, after all. ;) Saw some beautiful things there.

Stopped downtown on the way back to go to another jeweler just to look at some things there, too. Afterwards, I took a walk and snapped some pics of downtown with the Christmas lights up.
From Day After Tha...

Was fun to do a little sightseeing in my own town. Also seeing the Christmas lights help me get into the holiday mood.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


What a nice Thanksgiving today. Started the day with Mass, which always puts me in a good mood -- or, on some days when things aren't going so well, at least it puts me in a better mood! Hosted the big shin-dig here at the house -- a couple of friends, my hubby's five sibs, their respective wives/significant others, and their children joined. A little smaller crowd than usual this year, but still a good crowd of about 20 people here.

Feeling pretty grateful that we have a nice size home where we can entertain a big crowd, as well as thankful for the means to be able to do that.

Winner dessert of the day was a pecan chocolate chip pie. That's a keeper.

Not sure we'll be doing much of that Black Friday shopping tomorrow. Just didn't see much that was compelling. We'll probably be pretty low-key this Christmas with just a few presents for my husband's kids, a couple of things for some select friends, and an exchange between me and the hubby. I'm trying to move to a less consumerist lifestyle in general, so this is in line with that effort.

Instead, we'll be bringing lunch to a friend who is homebound right now due to recent surgery. Might get in some pickup games of volleyball tomorrow night also.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't Forget

In the busy-ness of preparing for Thanksgiving, don't forget about those who, for one reason or another, may not have any plans this year. Why not invite a co-worker who you know is going through a divorce or maybe someone you see at the coffee shop in the morning who you know is alone. It'll let them know you care, even if they don't take you up on the offer.

Also, don't forget to set aside a donation or some volunteer time to give to your favorite food pantry.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Today, my parish celebrated the Rite of Welcome for Julie, who plans to convert to Catholicism shortly. She comes from another Christian faith tradition, so our parish formally welcomed her using this rite today.

The congregation gathered inside the church as it usually does before Mass. Meanwhile, Julie stood outside the church with her sponsor, waiting for us to come outside to join her, welcome her, and process with her into church. The parishioners met with her outside and enveloped her all around with her at the center -- the effect being that the we brought her into the fold of our parish community literally and metaphorically.

In a few months, she will be confirmed and will receive Holy Communion for the first time in the Catholic Church.

The rite we celebrated today with Julie brings back a great number of memories and emotions for me, as rituals, in part, are meant to do. I was agnostic all my life (nearly atheist at one point), had never been baptized, and in 2005, after lots of contemplation, evaluation of other denominations, and self examination, I made the decision to become Catholic. I was fortunate enough to have as a resource Lu who, I found out some time after she agreed to be my sponsor, had been a School Sister of Notre Dame who taught Latin for many years. (The Holy Spirit clearly was guiding my choices!) She was and is a great blessing to me. I also had and have the benefit of a wonderful pastor, spiritual adviser, and pastoral associate.

One of the most poignant parts of the Rite of Welcome was the signing of the senses. After the procession into the church, Julie stood with her sponsor in front of us all. We all sat down so everyone would be able to see what was happening. My pastor read aloud these words while Julie's sponsor made the sign of the cross over Julie's forehead, eyes, ears, lips, heart, shoulders, hands, feet, and finally, from head to toe over her entire body:
Receive the cross on your forehead as a reminder of your baptism into Christ's saving death and resurrection.
Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord.
Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God.
Receive the sign of the cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God.
Receive the sign of the cross over your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith.
Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ.
Receive the sign of the cross on your hands, that Christ may be known in the work which you do.
Receive the sign of the cross on your feet, that you may walk in the way of Christ.
I sign you with the sign of eternal life, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
As Father spoke these words, my mind easily returned me to the memories of two years ago, when I was recipient of the same ritual. In particular, the signing of the shoulders really touched me because it is a vivid reminder not only of our need to surrender our selves to Christ, but also that Christ is with us at all times.

Christ is the only burden I have ever borne that has made life easier rather than harder.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas Exchange

I asked hubby last night what he wanted for Christmas. Conversation went about like this:

He said he didn't want anything.

I said how about I make him a cheesecake a month for a year.

He said that the last thing he needed was more irresistably delicious calories (I added the irresistably delicious part myself -- artistic license you know).

I said then how about a once a month session with a personal trainer.

Excitedly he said, "oh yeah, I can get a hot female trainer so that I will be motivated to go to the personal trainer!!"

I thought about it a sec, then said, "sure, I'd be glad to be your personal trainer."

Problem solved. ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parish Auction

St. Stephen Protomartyr Catholic Church 2007 Auction pics.

Lots of people! Lots of food and drinks. Good fundraising for our parish. Great job by the organizers!

Thanksgiving planning

Oh boy! I looked at the calendar this morning and fully realized Thanksgiving just just a little over a week away. Hubby and I typically host, so there's a lot of prep work that has to happen between now and Thanksgiving.

One thing I have never managed to do is exceed in quality my mother's cloverleaf rolls she used to make at the major holidays. These rolls were melt in your mouth tender, flavorful, slightly sweet, looked beautiful, and smelled heavenly. She would brush the tops with butter when they came out of the oven. Just delightful and a wonderful holiday memory -- still can't bake anything with yeast in it to this day without thinking of those rolls.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Quick post this evening as I am just about wiped out for the day.

Last night was my parish's biennial fundraiser auction and it was quite the bash with well over 400 people there and lots of money raised. I snapped lots of pics, and when I get them posted on the web, I'll put the link here later (here it is!). I didn't leave until after midnight and didn't get to sleep until 2 AM. Got up at 6:30 to go to Saturday 8 AM Mass.

Mass today had Luke's gospel about a person who is trustworthy/dishonest in small matters, this person will likewise be trustworthy/dishonest in great matters. This gospel is a great lesson in how to conduct one's self with honor -- it really resonates with me since I work very hard to have good character and to me, honesty is essential to having good character. People don't mention this concept -- good character -- much anymore, but I have too much to say about it to get into it right now. I'll come back to it another day.

Came home and worked in the kitchen for a while this morning -- got a lot accomplished. Put together another no-knead bread that is rising as I write this, set a turkey breast to brining (to be baked tomorrow), baked some creme brulee brownies from a mix I won as part of one of the auction items from last night, baked some toffee bars, sauteed some chicken breast for use in salads.

This afternoon, I played paintball for the first time ever! That was a lot of fun and I'll definitely do it again. Buddy of mine I work with helped organize it. It's a good time. I ran through the woods and crawled through the grasses and even though it was my first time ever playing, I managed to take out a former Marine in one of the matches. I was pretty amazed that I did that.

Came home and shed my grungy paintballing clothes, grabbed a shower, and before you know it, I was ready for an evening with my husband at a romantic restaurant. From sweatpants and hiking boots covered with cockleburrs to a feminine cashmere sweater and 3" heels -- say what you want, but I am versatile!

Friday, November 09, 2007

One piece of broken glass at a time

Last night, Sr. Marie Charles Buford, CSJ was honored for her 36+ years of service to my neighborhood through her work for and leadership of the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation. Royale Orleans was packed with over 300 people there to celebrate her dedication to the Carondelet neighborhood.

There were numerous elected officials, religious women, priests, family members, community leaders, CCBF board members, and friends in attendance. I rubbed elbows with State Rep. Tom Villa, 11th Ward Alderman Matt Villa, 13th Ward Alderman Fred Wessels, 25th Ward Alderwoman Dorothy Kirner, Mayor Slay, Collector of Revenue Greg F. X. Daly, Sheriff Jim Murphy, Lt. Colonel Tim Reagan, Fr. Chuck Barthel (Pastor of St. Stephen Protomartyr Catholic Church), Fr. Richard Quirk (Associate Full Pastor at the Old Cathedral), former STLFD chief (and nearby neighbor!) Sherman George, Joan Smith (a stalwart community activist and member of Corinthian Baptist Church), former St. Louis Mayor Jim Conway, KMOX's Charles Brennan MC'ed, and there were many others I knew from my parish and the neighborhood.

The evening's program had thoughtful touches throughout. One of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet played a lovely harp during cocktail hour. A good number of the Sisters -- probably close to 50 -- were in attendance, many of whom lent their luminous voices to a musical program during dinner. The first selection the Sisters sang was "How Can I Keep From Singing" and they were simply beaming with pride for their friend -- I think this verse of the song sums up Sr. Marie Charles' leadership:

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
Also included in the evening were a previously recorded interview of Sr. Marie Charles recalling the history of the organization and a number of tributes to Sr. Marie Charles by people with whom she has worked over the years. Gov. Blunt sent a letter of recognition, which Rep. Villa read aloud, Mayor Slay recognized November 8 as Sr. Marie Charles Buford Day in the city of St. Louis, and Alderman Matt Villa presented her with a proclamation from the Board of Alderman commending her years of service to the city.

One of the most poignant recollections of the evening was recounted by Fr. Quirk, who said that Sr. Marie Charles once told her that community rejuvenation starts by picking up just one piece of broken glass at a time -- just one. After a while, you have picked up enough pieces to put together a window that people can look through -- a window to a better future. Sr. Marie Charles has put together a lot of broken pieces of glass in Carondelet over the years!

Having engaged myself in community volunteerism now and then, I have a great deal of respect for someone who dedicates their life's work to a community like Sr. Marie Charles has. It is not easy to maintain one's focus, enthusiasm, and drive in the face of many obstacles. Sr. Marie Charles has shown us all how it's done.

God's blessings on you Sr. Marie Charles in your retirement and thank you for your years of hard work, loyalty, and service to our neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Catholic Athletes

In looking for a lay organization for Catholic amateur/recreational athletes, I came across this site. The organization was formed "in response to Pope John Paul II's call to evangelize the world of sports". Prominent Catholic athletes involved in this organization witness their faith in Jesus Christ to others through their lives, actions, and speaking engagements.

I think one of the things we must remind ourselves, especially in a culture that tells us that our bodies have to be perfect (whatever that means, I don't know) is that our bodies are a gift from God -- miraculous, uniquely ours, and mysterious in so many ways we have yet to even discover! Seeing that gift elevated to awe-inspiring use by athletes of any level or ability is a great reminder of God's power and love for us. Special Olympics athletes are particularly inspirational examples of determination and give the rest of us sloths no excuse whatsoever to slack off!

Engaging your own body in a sport or activity is a glory to God and an active use and extension of his creativity. Caring for your body with proper nourishment and rest are thanksgiving to God for our breath, our movement, and our very self and being. Feeding your spirit with prayer attends to the health of your soul and mind.

When I am cycling, especially on a lengthy ride, one of my habits is to stop at a Catholic church along the way, step inside for a couple of minutes, and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I usually put a little holy water on myself, then carry a little out of the church on my fingers. I use the latter to bless my bike, usually making the sign of the cross on my bike's top tube. Then I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for my body and physical abilities, request my safety, and pray for the safety of other cyclists.

Afterwards, I feel refreshed, both physically (which is always needed at about mile 75 of a century!) as well as spiritually. For the rest of the ride, every time I look down at my bike's top tube, it's almost as if I can see the cross I made with the holy water, which reassures, refreshes, and strengthens me.

My Simple Cycling Prayer
Father, thank you for for my body, my movement, the life you gave me, and my physical abilities. Thank you for the example of determination and perseverance you gave the world in your son Jesus Christ. Please send the protection of your Holy Spirit to continue to keep me and other bicyclists safe as we ride today.
+ In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Whistle Stop

Hubby and I picked up a friend at the airport last night. Since our friend lives in the north county area, we decided to stop in Ferguson at the Whistle Stop Cafe to grab some dinner and visit.

Whistle Stop seems to be the Ted Drewes of north county, with the exception that in addition to frozen custard, it offers a selection of sandwiches and soups. However, it is similar to Drewes in the sense that it appears to be a community gathering place, and drew a steady stream of customers during our visit in the latter part of Sunday evening.

I had a Dusty Road sundae. I have a fondness for malts and anything that has malt powder in/on it, so when I saw the malt powder mentioned on the menu, that clinched it! It was really, really yummy.


As if I needed any reasons not to run a marathan, here are ten. I hate running anyway, and I'm definitely not built for it.

In the athletic world, I'm what is referred to as an Athena -- a female athlete over 150 lbs. (or 140, depending on the source -- either way, I have no problem qualifying!). For men over 200 lbs., their moniker is Clydesdale.

However, the article begs the question as to whether or not my endurance sport of choice poses health situations similar to marathoning. Personally speaking, I sometimes feel confused after a century ride, but that's because I am wondering why SAG hasn't beered me yet. ;)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mmmm, donuts!

I do love me some donuts now and then. I also love to cycle. An online acquaintance said he was putting together a ride that would tour five south St. Louis city donuts shops today. Oh yeah, I'm in!!

I lit out from home near Carondelet Park, north on Grand, east on Forest Park Parkway, north on Euclid, east on Lindell, north on DeBaliviere to our meeting place at Forest Park Parkway and DeBaliviere MetroLink station. One of the riders was coming from IL, so he was arriving via the MetroLink. Roger is a stalwart cycling supporter and is very instrumental in supporting cycling in the metro-east area. Once Thomas and Arlene arrived, we rolled!

We did a partial loop around Forest Park's trail system, ultimately ending up near the police horse stables, where we used an underground tunnel to pass underneath I-64 (or 40, as most people call it). Avoiding the fast Kingshighway traffic, we traveled through the Hill's quiet streets, winding through the neighborhood until we got onto Shaw, crossed Kingshighway there, and not long after that, we found ourselves in front of World's Fair Donuts (1904 S. Vandeventer). It was about 6.3 miles of pedaling from the MetroLink stop to arrive at our first donut destination.
From Donut Cycling...

I was fascinated watching the man who was producing donuts. He expertly cut them from the dough, and flipped them onto his thumb in what could be described as a miniature version of a ring toss game. He was fast and efficient. He said those donuts would be ready in 15 minutes. Fresh!!
From Donut Cycling...

Arlene was thoroughly enjoying her donut; you couldn't have stolen that grin from her face!
From Donut Cycling...

Leaving World's Fair donuts, we passed the Botanical Gardens and eventually made our way to one of my favorite shops, Eddie's Southtown Donuts (4701 S. Kingshighway). His donuts are light as air and melt in your mouth! He remembered seeing me in when I had a sling on my shoulder earlier this year (due to an off-road cycling mishap), so he seemed glad to see that I was back on the bike and that I brought friends!
From Donut Cycling...

After Eddie's, we headed to Hampton Avenue with the intent to go to St. Louis Hills Donut shop (6917 Hampton Ave.). Unfortunately, even though the shop's posted hours are 5 AM - Noon, and we were there about 11:52 AM, their shop was closed. Oh well, their loss!

At this point, since I was so close to home, I broke off from the ride and headed to my parish. The other three riders in the group were going on to the Donut Drive-In (6525 Chippewa near Watson) and then to O'fashion Donuts (5120 Southwest), then back to the Forest Park MetroLink station.

Conveniently enough to the purpose of my ride today, my parish was having its monthly "donut Sunday", so I popped into the parish hall to chat with some folks. I managed to stuff a jelly donut from the parish inside a bag with 2 donut holes from Eddie's, then stuff that into one of my jersey pockets without squishing any of the jelly out. I deserve some kind of award for that.

After I got home, I threw on the cozy robe and plopped down at the 'puter with the donuts, a hot steaming drink, and a cuddly cat.
From Donut Cycling...

Ah, sweet reward!

Check out more pics of the trip in this slideshow:

Friday, November 02, 2007

All Souls Day

My Archdiocese recently unveiled a new version of its web site.

Overall, I think it's better than the prior version. It tries really really hard to put a much friendlier face on our Archbishop, who has gotten himself into hot water with the media on more than one occasion (Here, here, and here.) since he has taken the helm here in St. Louis. If nothing else, it should be obvious that the Archbishop is a principled man, whether you agree with his principles or not.

Person to person, I have had good experiences with Archbishop Burke. I met and have spoken with him several times in the last year and a half. When a very close priest friend was unexpectedly near death, he came to the hospital ER to personally administer last rites to him. I was very impressed that he went out of his way to minister to our friend and the gentleness and seeming sincerity with which he administered the rite.

My friend is top of mind lately because this month marks the one year anniversary of his death. He died far too young. He was one of the most lovable people I have known, had a good sense of humor, and fantastic taste. Say a prayer for Fr. Marvin on today, All Souls Day.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Say It Ain't So, Lance

GAH! The gossip mill says Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olsen are an item. Lance Armstrong seeing Ashley Olsen? Puh-leeeze, Lance, c'mon. I know she's young (21), and she's reasonably pretty, but dude, really. You're like 36 or something.

If you are old enough to (a) remember the Olsen twins on Full House and (b) were too old to have given a care about that show when it originally aired, then you are too old to be seeing her.

Major notch down in my respect for the Lance-inator after hearing this news.