Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008's almost a goner

I really can't think of many years I have wished to be over as much as I have wished for this one to be over.

I hate to even say that because despite all the difficulties 2008 has presented, God has been pretty good to us personally. My husband and I both have jobs. We have our home. We have our health. We made some major home improvements this year by replacing our first floor carpet with laminate flooring and extending our patio in the back yard. We didn't take one of those crazy adjustable rate mortgages that so many people are trapped in now. I saw some really wonderful concerts this year: the Police, Michael Buble, Chicago/Doobie Brothers, Dave Koz, Harry Connick, Jr., and yes, even Barry Manilow. I also attended some good plays and musicals, so I am very fortunate in that I am in a position to do those things.

On the other hand, I was laid off from my contract with Anheuser-Busch and had to go through a 2.5 month jobless period while I conducted my employment search. The company I am now working at was bought by another company, so there is some uncertainty as to my future with the new organization. There are assurances from my company that things are looking good for our group here in St. Louis, but you never really know. I suspect I won't know much of anything for at least three more months. All that "job uncertainty" that we hear so much about in the news is exactly what I am experiencing right now. On top of all these things, my friend Kathy passed away unexpectedly on Thanksgiving.

I visited my friend Jan and our friend Amy on Christmas at Jan's home. I wore a pretty and cheerful reindeer pin on my coat lapel; I have worn it in my coat lapel every year since I received it as a gift from Kathy. Jan and Amy immediately complimented me on it; neither of them could restrain themselves from welling up with tears when I told them it was a gift from Kathy. It's been that kind of year -- that kind of holiday season.

Additionally, I am not at all happy with the existing administration, but am hopeful President-Elect Obama will be able to right our country's standing in the world after all the damage President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and crew have done to it over the past eight years. I am also hopeful that the environment will once again become top of mind for our administration and more importantly, our citizens. $1.30 a gallon gasoline is a relief from the $4 a gallon we experienced earlier this year, but let us not forget that our gas-guzzling ways got us to $4 a gallon in the first place.

So 2008, I won't miss you too much. Here's to a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Joys of Home Ownership

We built our house and closed on it November 1, 2002. In that time, the house has behaved pretty well, though it's starting to show a little wear and tear.

So this year, we made a few improvements to the home. We took up all the carpet on the first floor and replaced it with laminate flooring. We also extended our patio in the back yard so that we have a very generous space for outdoor entertaining. Ultimately, we also plan to install a knee wall along the perimiter My brother-in-law also graciously put up chair rail in our dining room -- a project that had been languishing for about two years.

Well today we get the joy of having a plumbing issue that is somewhat frustrating. The soil stack (waste pipe) from the second floor bathroom has a leak in it some place. At first, we were hopeful the leak was somewhere in the basement, which isn't finished and would therefore provide easy access to the plumbing, but Murphy's law being what it is, unfortunately the leak is above the basement ceiling. So I am now listening to the plumber cut holes in our wall. I am hoping he at least can keep the holes in the hall closet instead of having to cut into the dining room side, which would then affect that fabulous chair rail!!!

We have had some wonderful times in this home and I am overall very pleased with it. There are a few things I would change about it, but it has been a place where we have loved, worried, prayed, laughed, cried, strengthened friendships and family ties, mourned the deaths of loved ones, and had wonderful parties and meals. God has truly blessed us with a good life in this home.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Quick Note

Just a quick jot today. Christmas was very good this year. We enjoyed the company of nearly 30 people on Christmas Eve and I was very glad that more of my side of the family came to visit this year. It was nice to have a great big house full of people and kids, all sharing the Christmas spirit together. God is great.

I am off work right now -- won't return until January 5. I am using the time to get the house cleaned up, things put away, and to do some household organizing/cleanout.

More later!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's the Winter of Soup!

I really enjoy cooking and this Fall/Winter has so far been spent trying lots of different soup recipes; I try a new one at least every other week. I've tried chicken and wild rice soup, minestrone, lentil and sausage soup, vegetarian chili, turkey chili, and split pea soup. I also have made my old favorites zuppa toscana and good ol' regular chili.

Some of these soups, like minestrone, are just things I've wanted to try to make. Others, like the chicken and wild rice soup or the lentil and sausage soup, are efforts to re-create something I had elsewhere. The chicken and wild rice soup is based on a recipe I got when I bought some wild rice from a restaurant called the Northern Lights Roadhouse near Beaver Bay, Minnesota in September. The lentil and sausage soup is similar to one I had at a German restaurant in Minneapolis. Each time I prepare those soups, I am reminded of our wonderful trip.

Often the soup recipes make far more than I can eat, so it's a great opportunity to share my blessings with other people. My husband Joe's co-worker Jim, my co-worker Sara, and my friend Fr. Ron have all been recipients of soup care packages. Something about sharing of your food is very powerful. Of course, I am reminded of the Last Supper and of the many other occasions in the Gospels during which Jesus shares a meal. Somehow, there's an intimacy created when sharing a meal -- even if it's just in the form of a take-home container of homemade soup.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Friend Kathy

We had some very sad news on Thanksgiving -- our friend Kathy passed away that morning!

Kathy was a wonderful, giving, kind person and she will be sorely missed. She was full of a joy for life and shared that generously with so many people.

In addition to her wonderful gift for sharing in her personal relationships, one of the most remarkable things about Kathy's life was how she spent it professionally. She worked in the St. Louis Special School District for 31 years. For most of those years, she taught behaviorally-disordered children. Later, she moved into counseling for both children and parents.

There really isn't much I can do here to adequately explain Kathy's wide-ranging influence. All I can do is say I miss her and I look forward to the day when I see her again.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend's Here!

Am glad it's the weekend! Our new patio is in and solid. I got a delivery of firewood today, and the step-kids and I are planning on having a little hot dog roast tomorrow evening.

Thanksgiving is almost here and I am looking forward to hosting my friends and family. I thank God for my employment and my husband's employment. We are very blessed and fortunate.

I'm also keeping in mind those who are in a less fortunate position, especially considering this really rough economy. Tomorrow the boy scouts come back for their Scouting for Food pickup. At church, we have a "giving tree," so I grabbed a leaf and picked up a couple off items for that. Sunday, there's an event called Cranksgiving that, weather permitting, I'll also participate in. It's organized by St. Louis BicycleWORKS. It's a food drive done by bicycle with the proceeds going to Food Outreach. I especially like this last event because it's a way to give back and get some much-needed exercise on my bike!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick Update

Gosh I can't believe it has been since last month since I've updated my blog. I think I'll just have to at least make a habit of updating it, if only in short posts, at least once a week or so.

Short version of what has happened in the last few weeks is we have been doing some work on the house in the last few weeks. The latest is we just had a patio extension poured this week and it looks pretty good. Next project will likely be installing some exterior lighting around the patio and doing a little backfilling around the patio since there is one corner in particular that has quite a step down to the lawn. Next Spring, we'll be doing some plantings at the edge of the back yard and some other beautification in the back yard.

Last weekend, we were a host house for our parish's version of the Amazing Race. There were 32 teams who competed in a number of mind-bending and physical challenges that all had to be completed within a certain time-frame. 16 of the teams went through our house -- it was a lot of fun hosting and the teams were put to test at our home.

I've also spent time getting ready for the holidays, coming quickly around the corner. I picked up the turkey last week and only have a couple more things to purchase for the Thanksgiving menu. Meanwhile, I've also been doing some Christmas gift shopping. I'm about 90% complete with my Christmas shopping, so I am well ahead of the game there.

Other than that, life is pretty good. I am very grateful for my home, my health, my hubby, my cats, and my employment. I am praying for those who are seeking employment and hopeful that the economy will recover in the next year or so.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Long Time, No Post

Yep it has been a while since I posted. Let me sum up:
September I did the MS 150. I did 75 miles the first day and around 30 the second day. I now refer to it as the MS 105. While I didn't get all 150 miles done, I did raise $742.56, which I am pretty happy about.

Also in September, I went to Minnesota. I spent time in the North Shore area, which was beautiful. Also went to Minneapolis for a bit while my husband attended the national Holy Name Society convention.

After getting back to St. Louis, we spent the last week of September/first week of October getting our house ready to have the carpet throughout the entire first floor replaced with laminate flooring. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the week of October 6 were installation days. The rest of the week was spent cleaning and putting the house back together.

The week of the 13th, we had some exterior painting done. I also spent some time enlarging some of the photos I took in Minnesota and we hung them throughout the house -- they look pretty good.

The next major project is going to occur within a few weeks -- we are getting our patio extended in the back yard. We'll be extending it to the entire width of the house and about 30 feet deep. Looking forward to being able to hang out more in the back yard after we get that done.

Other than that, Gus the cat is still looking for a home.

I'll try to keep you up to date more often!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kitty Needs a Home!!

A stray kitty showed up at our back door and he's a great boy -- loving, affectionate, trusting, and loyal. We named him Gus. Unfortunately, we have more than our quota of kitties and can't take him in.

He has grey fur with white paws, tail tip, and chest. He is neutered, was de-wormed and given rabies shots last week. I have the paperwork to show all the things I had done for him.

Gus would be ideal for a household with no other cats. The one drawback with Gus is he has FIV, which is why he would be better off in a single-cat household. The vet's office says he is about two years old. FIV, while incurable, is managed by keeping a close eye on your cat's health.

Give this great kitty a chance. Drop me an e-mail at addyforjunk[AT] if you have a home for him.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Under the weather

A little under the weather today, so I am letting myself rest from cycling.

Thursday night I did a 24 mile ride with some friends and it was raining for the first 10 miles, so that might have helped whatever bug I had get a foothold. Anyway, the ride was fun and it was worth it.

I picked up a saddle for the commuter bike that is like the one I have on my road bike. The saddle on my commuter bike is comfortable for about 15 miles, so I need something that I can use for longer distances, so I can use the commuter bike for touring.

Looking forward to the Tour of Missouri coming up next month. Very exciting event!

Even more exciting is I'm also very much looking forward to doing my first ever MS150. I decided to have a little bake sale every Monday in August at work to fundraise for the event. People at work have been really supportive of it. There are two different items from which to choose each Monday. Our next items are cheesecake brownies and banana crumb muffins. Should go over well!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More WNBR "Coverage"

Roger Kramer has a nice roundup of some of the WNBR coverage, including this video:

The video gives a nice sense for the celebratory nature of the ride.

The Riverfront Times also has a slideshow and a video. (NSFW)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Weekend ride roundup

It was a great weekend for riding and cyclists in general. I had a great time participating in the first ever St. Louis World Naked Bike Ride (link is NSFW). No, I didn't go nude, but exposed as much as I was willing in public, which is to say, not much!

Especially when compared to other people:

One male rider was completely nude (there are pics of him in the album) except for a red hat, black socks, and black shoes. He had style, that's for sure.

It was a lot of fun and a creative way to protest oil dependency. Plus I just really love a nighttime group ride. Total mileage was around 22 by the time hubby and I rode from home, did the ride, and rode back home.

More photos are in the album. Many of the of the photos are NSFW . . .
From World Naked B...
After being out late Saturday night, it was rough hearing the alarm clock go off at 5 AM. I finally rolled out of bed, threw on the gear, and hit the road for what was going to be a 90-100 mile ride. Goal was to ride out to Chesterfield Valley to meet up with a group of fellow MS 150 riders, do a 31-40 mile training ride with the group, then ride back home. I got out to Clarkson on Baxter when I started to really worry about the gathering clouds in the distance. Around Wild Horse Creek Road I saw streak lightning. I was just looking for a spot to pull over and make a phone call when my team mate beat me to the punch.

So I turned around and was headed back on Baxter when it became obvious that I was not going to be able to outrun the storm. So, seeing the Monarch Fire Department fire station # 1 with its garage invitingly wide open, I ducked inside. The fragrance of a hot, homemade breakfast made its way temptingly from the kitchen into the garage. A couple of the firemen came into the garage a few minutes later and I let them know I was hanging there until the storm passed. They were very gracious and invited me to eat breakfast. I really would've loved to try their cooking, but I had 30 miles left to go on that ride and couldn't put anything substantial in my stomach. But I took them up on their offers to refill my water bottles and to hang out as long as I needed.

So, I hung out, watched the lightning and rain, then checked out one of the guys' new Harley, and chatted for a long time with a fireman named Shelby. I really enjoyed the conversation and really appreciated their hospitality and giving me a safe place to stay until I could get back on the road. Thanks, Monarch FD!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fun Stuff

I haven't posted any pics in a while. I've had the fortune of traveling to Chicago a few times this summer for business. I finally took my point 'n shoot camera with me last time and snapped some pics. I just love that Cloud Gate sculpture.

This is the view from the 28th floor of my Chicago office building looking towards Lake Michigan:

This is looking up at my building. It's the one on the left with the pediments at the top--it's a 50-storey building.

One of the neat things about that building is that you can see it a number of times in the background of several shots in The Dark Knight. The Wayne Industries building is, I believe, the IBM Plaza Building, which is located at 330 N. Wabash.

This is an exterior shot of St. Peters in the Loop. I left enough people in so you can get a sense of the scale of the crucifix on the exterior.

and another:
From Chicago Pics

All for now -- more later.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"I live with MS"

I had never in my life heard someone say those words to me until today. Whew ... that is a tough sentence to hear from someone!

I've been preparing for the upcoming MS 150 bike ride and at work I posted some flyers about a little bake sale I'll be doing around the office every Monday in August to raise funds. I also distributed the flyer via e-mail to the people on my floor. Today, I received an e-mail from one of my co-workers thanking me for what I was doing.

I stopped by his cube and chatted with him for about 30 minutes. He was so appreciative to me for what I was doing to help out with the MS ride and there was a wonderfully genuine and deep gratitude in his eyes when he spoke to me about the ride and his struggle with MS. I was very touched by his willingness to share that with me; it was a wonderful gift.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Martha, Martha, Martha!

OK I know it's supposed to be Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, as in Brady, but today is Martha's feast day!

I love the stories about Martha because she's so real and yet she's a saint! Her stories have examples of human nature that, despite the passage of 2,000 years, are still as relevant as ever! Today's Gospel reading from John (11:19-27) puts on display Martha's grief about her brother's death and frustration with Jesus for not having been there when Lazarus was sick. It's the appeal that we all make to God at one time or another: "Where were you?!"

Naturally, the majority of the focus regarding this story is put on Jesus' miracle when he restores Lazarus to life. Certainly, this is one of the most amazing stories in the entire New Testament. In addition, however, I think one of the most important lessons to remember from this story is that Martha's angst and later in the story, Mary's tears, are seen and heard by Jesus and he is moved with compassion for them and by his own love for his friend Lazarus. Jesus has that same love for each of us and he is there for us too -- perhaps not at the time we expect him, but he will be there.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting by with a little help

Went for a ride today in Illinois. I had planned to do 65 miles, but 17 miles into the ride, my front tire blew. So I set about the business of replacing the blown tube with my spare.

First, I inspected the tire to find the culprit -- it all came down to a tiny piece of glass about 1 - 2 mm in diameter. It had gotten lodged in the tire and had worked its way through the tire until it finally punctured the inner tube.

Next, I got the tire pulled away from the rim with my tire lever and removed the blown tube. About that time, a family in a minivan happened by and asked if I needed help. They even offered to put me and my bike in their van and take me back to Coffeen, a town I had passed through about two miles back. A little unsure as to whether I would need help or not, but also not wanting to delay them since I guessed by the way they were dressed they were on their way to church, I said I should be OK and if I need help I would catch a ride with someone else. They said OK and drove away.

I pulled out the replacement tube and blew a little air into it to give it some structure so it would be easier to install it between the rim and tire. I was working on threading the stem into the hole in the wheel's rim and about that time, the same family pulled up, coming back from Coffeen (I think they must have gone into town to get some gas). They asked again if I wanted help and this time, I accepted their offer -- the last time I put a tube in between the tire and the rim, I ended up tearing the tube!

So with their help we got the tube in, aired it up as best as we could with my mini pump, and parted ways. I told them thanks and God bless them. What a great show of kindness from strangers. I turned around and headed back to the start point for a total of 35 miles.

A snippet from today's reading from Romans comes to mind:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
Indeed, the Spirit was looking out for me today!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tour de Donut Results Are In!

Yahoo!!! I stayed in the top 10 this year, even with the new and improved categorizations.

In previous years, the men and women were divided into Men/Women Over 50 and Men/Women Under 50. So this year, I was categorized with women under 40, as opposed to last year, where I just fell into the broader Women Under 50 category. That means I had a narrower and younger field against which to compete this year, and I still managed to make it into the top 10. My time was actually a couple minutes slower than last year (I was 1:38:14 in 2007), but I am still glad I made it to number 9 again this year with a time of 1:41:26 in a field of 156.

I'll have to find a team to hook up with next year and see what I can do with some help drafting. I am sure I could easily shave 10 minutes off that time if I were drafting.

Hubby finished well also. He fell into the Men 40 - 50 category at number 38 in a field of 149. His time was 1:46:06.

By the way, the best donut-adjusted time went to a guy who ate 33 donuts. His donut-adjusted time was -0:25:06. All the results are here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

South City Ride

Had four other riders show up this evening and we had a nice time getting to know each other and chatting the miles away. Thanks Jeff, Bill, Adam, and Susan for coming out.

I was rewarded with a stunning moonrise as I rode home. The full moon is tomorrow; while it was still low in the east, its color resembled a pale peach veil.

Planning out at least one very major ride for the weekend -- probably on Sunday. Looking to do 75 - 80 miles. Probably will go to IL for that one.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Cowbell

The folks on the forum have been discussing where to find cowbells locally. Of course, the conversation digressed into SNL/Blue Oyster Cult territory with some hilarious results.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

20th Annual Tour de Donut

It's in the books (however, their site is not updated with 2008 results as of this writing). Nearly 1,000 people attended this year -- I think the number I heard was 975-ish. The longest distance someone traveled in order to participate in the event this year was achieved by a couple from Hawaii.

My bike computer said 1h 39m and some change to complete 32 miles. I faded a little in the latter half out of tiredness, naturally, but more so because I took one water bottle and it was gone by the first half. Actually, it wasn't completely empty, but the remaining H2O in the bottle was in solid form. There was water at the donut stops, but I skipped it because it had rained earlier and it would have taken too much time to trudge through the mud to get a bottle, trudge back, etc. In the end, I averaged 18.1 mph.

I don't know my standing yet for this year, but I am hopeful I again landed in the top 10 in Women Under 50 category -- donut-uncompensated, of course. ;) Last year I squeaked in at number 9.

After the ride, hubby and I stopped into Staunton's "block party", which they throw in conjunction with the Tour de Donut every year. Picked up a couple of grilled items and some mini funnel cakes and chowed down.

I can't say enough about how welcoming Staunton is to all the crazy cyclists that descend upon their town once a year. They always have tons of volunteers doing registrations, passing out t-shirts, guiding everyone on the course, picking up trash, stopping traffic, and many more behind the scenes. In addition to the volunteers, lots of residents park their lawnchairs next to the course and clap and cheer as the cyclists go by, which provides an experience that most of us amateurs rarely get -- it's a treat to be treated like a celebrity or pro athlete! After all, who among us regular folk doesn't need a little cheering on now and then?

UPDATE 07/13/2008 - Roger Kramer has some info about the results and his TdD adventures here. He says the results are expected to be posted some time this week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Journey

My job is taking me to Chicago a couple of days each week for the next few weeks, so I have less time to blog, which is a shame because there's lots to talk about every time I come back from a trip. I wanted to be sure to relate this story, though.

At the hotel where I usually stay, they have a little happy hour every evening with free drinks and appetizers. It's a wonderful place to meet other travelers and hear their stories, the drinks are tasty, and the food makes a light evening repast. Tuesday night, I popped in for a drink and the place was pretty full. I spied a bar height table with two empty chairs and, weary from a day that started at 3:30 AM, plopped down with my drink, my plate, and my book. In a couple of minutes, another woman carrying a book -- a stranger -- turned up to the table and asked if the spare seat was taken. I welcomed her to join me. Sharon looked to be in her mid-40's.

Naturally, we started talking about our respective books. Mine happened to be Thomas Merton, which then lead us to talk about our religious backgrounds. She said she is Jewish and when she was a child, she lived on a block with some children who attended a nearby Catholic parish/school. Unfortunately, these children were not very kind to her. When she was three years old, she had blonde curly hair; she told me how one of the boys took her inside his house and cut off all her hair. When she asked why he did it, he said it was because "Jews aren't supposed to have blonde curly hair." On other occasions, some of the Catholic kids on the block would ask her to lift her top so they could see her belly button. When she asked why, the children would say "Sister told us Jews' belly buttons are black." Oh my!

I was moved with compassion for Sharon after she told me of the unkindnesses she endured in these (and probably many more untold) unfortunate situations. I immediately felt compelled to apologize and I told her I was sorry that she had to go through those things. With a gentle wave of her hand, she dismissed my apology as unnecessary since, after all, I hadn't done those things to her and for that matter, I wasn't even a Catholic until two years ago. Just then, Sharon's co-worker Nathan appeared, and in an instant, our conversation took a completely different turn.

My point here isn't to toot my own horn, but rather to draw attention to the journey that brought Sharon and I together that evening. What a coincidence -- surely God had a hand in it! I was only in Chicago for one night while she just happened to be staying there while attending a conference for work. While the simple apology I gave surely isn't enough to compensate Sharon for the harassment she experienced, I hope it helps take away some of the hurt or perhaps disenchantment that she must carry with her, considering that she could still vividly recall these events from 40 years ago.

So many opportunities are presented to us every day to show love to others, whether to someone as familiar as a brother or to a perfect stranger. It is up to us to be attentive for God's gentle urgings in our consciences and heed them.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No Go

Sometimes, you just gotta' call it!

Had organized my Thursday night ride and two people showed up promptly at 6:30 PM, but with the gathering clouds threatening, we decided to call it off. Jason and Lauren, thanks for coming by!!

Tomorrow should be better riding weather -- 81 and partly cloudy. Doing my 44-miler. Husband says he wants to coordinate to meet up with me somewhere along the way, but he's not into getting up as early as me to get out there.

I think we might try this ride on the 5th.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


After spending about a month's worth of my free time holed up in the office in front of the computer, my schedule again is allowing me to hit the bike!

Went for a nice leisurely ride with a buddy from the forums on Thursday night. The ride is open to any adult with a bike and helmet. Click the link for a map. Starts at 6:30 PM sharp. Pace is determined by slowest rider and uses a combination of on-street bike routes, streets without bike routes, and Grant's trail. No-go if rain or lightning. You can also check the thread on forum for a go/no-go decision on Thursdays.

Saturday was a beautiful day for a ride. Left the house with the hubby around 9 AM and headed to Grant's trail, into Kirkwood, out to Manchester and stopped at our halfway point, which is my former pastor's new parish. He spotted me riding by his office window and popped out to say hi. He invited us in and refreshed our water bottles with ice and water then helped me plot out a different route home that avoided traffic on Clayton Road. It took us on an amazing downhill on Carman road -- I hit my brakes when I was nearing 40 mph. That was fun! I'll definitely be using that route again -- made a great loop and the hills in the area were a lot of fun/challenge. I made it a goal to work on my hills in 2008 and this is just the thing.

In case you are interested, here's the cue sheet:
From Carondelet Park, go west on Holly Hills Boulevard.
LEFT (south) on Morganford.
Leaving the city, Morganford turns into Union. Continue on Union.
Cross over I-55 on Union.
LEFT on Hoffmeister just after I-55 overpass.
RIGHT into Orlando Gardens parking lot to Grant's trailhead.
Continue on Grant's trail to the trailhead at Holmes.
LEFT (north) on Holmes from Grant's trailhead.
LEFT on Adams.
RIGHT on N. Geyer.
LEFT on Clayton Road (careful of fast-moving traffic).
LEFT on Weidman Road.
LEFT on Carman.
LEFT on Dougherty Ferry Road (fast-moving traffic approaching 270).
RIGHT on N. Geyer Road.
LEFT on Adams.
Adams turns into West Lockwood. Continue on West Lockwood.
West Lockwood turns into East Lockwood. Continue on East Lockwood.
LEFT on Big Bend.
RIGHT on Murdoch.
Bear LEFT onto Murdoch Cut-Off.
RIGHT on Lansdowne.
RIGHT on River Des Peres boulevard (fast-moving traffic; no shoulder).
LEFT on Morganford.
RIGHT on Holly Hills Boulevard back to Carondelet Park.

Total mileage is right around 45 or so. You could add more mileage by zipping around Carondelet Park a few times or if you are feeling adventurous, you could turn around at Weidman and Clayton and take Clayton all the way back to Forest Park and do the 7 miles around Forest Park. Lots of options.

I'll post a map of the route when I get a little more time. Hope to see you out there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Pastor, My Friend

This weekend is the last time Fr. Chuck Barthel will say Mass at my parish as pastor. He's a wonderful priest and lovely person in so many ways. Our parish has become very attached to him and we will miss him.

Fr. Chuck was pastor when I converted to Catholicism. Not only was he presider at that Mass on Easter Vigil 2006, but he is also my first and only pastor ever! So, it will be a new experience for me to adapt to a new pastor.

Fr. Chuck has many qualities that one would hope for in a priest: compassion, dedication, commitment, passion for his ministry, deep care for his flock, kindness, and holiness. In addition, he is one of the most meticulous people I know, which shows in his attention to detail during liturgical celebrations.
From Easter Mass 2008

Fr. Chuck, good luck at your new parish. Dominus tecum!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Wanna' Be Charlie

One of the wonderful things about riding a bike is that I meet a lot of fine people and learn a lot of things about them in a very short time. The bike is a vehicle -- literal and figurative -- for a common understanding between individuals that likely would not occur if say, people just happened to be walking next to each other on the street. Striking up such acquaintances and carrying on conversations while cycling is a remarkable way to while away the miles, especially on a very long ride.

Well today, I met a man who was an amazing inspiration. I met Charlie.

I passed Charlie on Grant's Trail. I noticed his bike right away because it was a lovely bright yellow Cannondale road bike. I also noticed he was an older man, but one who looked fit for his age. I called out to him I was passing on his left and he thanked me for the courtesy. A short while later, I was stopped at a traffic light. He pulled up on my left and we began to talk. So, when the light changed and we could cross, I hung with him and we started chatting.

It turns out that Charlie is 76 years old.

Charlie has had two hip replacements.

He had neck surgery last year.

Most amazing of all, Charlie said he was planning on riding the MS150 this September. He said this will be his 19th consecutive MS150. He simply rides as his own one-man team. In addition to riding in the event, he also volunteers for a variety of other events related to MS150.

Charlie has raised over $250,000 in the 19 years he has ridden the MS150.

I wanna' be Charlie.

Click to view my MS150 page.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Canticle of Mary

Tomorrow's Gospel reading from Luke (1:39-56) contains the Canticle of Mary, also known as the Magnificat. This is one of my favorite passages in the Gospels because the excitement, awe, and wonder that both Elizabeth and Mary are experiencing are so vividly communicated -- two mothers-to-be who know they were chosen by God in very unique and special ways. I love to imagine myself in Elizabeth's home when Mary arrives.

I have never personally known the experience of pregnancy and serve a tertiary role in the lives of my step-children, but due to a project I am working on for my parish, I happened to sit in on the tail end of a parish Moms group meeting last night. It was a beautiful experience to sit among these women who have given over much of their lives to motherhood -- the bond they share is deep and potent. They are at ease with each other and willing to share of themselves with one another; this capacity for giving of one's self is one of the most powerful strengths about women in general.

These moms are aware of their role as models of faith in their children's lives. They are trying hard to provide guidance to their children while also providing spiritual growth for themselves. Keep up the great work, ladies.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bike Month

May is National Bike Month -- just a way to encourage people to get on their bikes and ride! Also, it's a reminder to motorists that with the warmer weather comes greater numbers of cyclists on the road.

Friday was National Bike to Work Day. Trailnet, which is a fantastic locally-based organization that promotes active lifestyles, coordinated 20+ "refueling stations" where riders could stop by, grab a little pastry from Companion Baking, pick up some water, socialize with other riders, and head to work. They had a station in Forest Park by the History Museum with news media, so I decided to pop over there before work Friday morning to support Trailnet. It was a nice time to meet some other folks -- saw some familiar faces and met two people from the Multiple Sclerosis society.

The ride to work from Forest Park was around 4 miles. A morning mist permeated the park and the sun filtering through the trees was eerily beautiful.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cycling Season is On!

At last, we are getting some fairly consistent warm/dry-ish weather. Just in time, because today was the first 5-Star century ride for me.

Today was a day of obstacles:
  • It started when I got a little lost driving to the ride -- 14-mile detour!

  • Flooding re-routed 30 miles of the ride, causing a lot of overlap on the route.
  • Trains kept getting in the way of crossings at inconvenient times -- spent at least 30 minutes waiting on trains!

  • I got a flat tire. SAG was nice enough to change it for me. :)

  • A driver in a giant pickup truck buzzed me at about 60 mph.

  • The wind was a factor as it picked up throughout the morning.

  • One of the water stops wasn't ready in time for many riders to use it.

  • I wiped out on the road around 45 miles or so. Fortunately there were no cars around when I did it. I have a beautiful strawberry with a big bruise and bump underneath it on top of my elbow. Also have a bruised left hand and a road rash on the front of my left calf. The crash took out my cycling computer. I think it can be fixed -- just don't know how yet.
In addition to the physical obstacles, there was the psychological obstacle that goes along with riding a century -- setting out to ride a bike 100 miles in one day is daunting! Even though I have done three century rides before, I felt a little unsure going in to this one because I haven't had much time on the bike this year due to the poor weather. First ten miles of the ride was spent debating with myself over whether or not to do the entire ride. Before I knew it, I had 25 miles under my belt, and had decided that I should be able to finish the 100 miles after all. Then the flat and the accident happened and those two things -- on top of the other stuff -- were enough for me to call it quits after 65 miles. At least I got in a metric century. ;)

On the bright side, the injuries from the crash are not serious. And, since I had made up my mind to finish the ride at 65 miles, I was able to push myself in the last 10 or so miles and see how fast I could go. Unfortunately, since the computer was on the blink, I don't know how fast I got to, but with the tailwind I had at that point, I am pretty sure I was in the 23 - 25 mph range. That was fun. It was really fun when I passed the much fitter person on a time trial bike -- sweet! :)

There's another century coming up in a couple of weekends. I'll give it another try then. :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Fun with Food

There is a segment of the population that really likes good food. In that segment, there is a subset who likes to know how to prepare good food. Within that subset, there's a group of people who like to know the science behind how the elements work together to make good food happen.

Alton Brown was made for this group.

I would call these people sci-foodies -- they are like science fiction geeks who love food and get into all the details of it. It's like being one of those trekkies who can rattle off any obscure detail about Star Trek you could ever think to ask -- like how many tribbles were used in the Trouble with Tribbles episode -- except the obscure details are about food. (For the record, I am not a trekkie and, no, I don't know the answer.)

Anyway, me and a bunch of other sci-foodies got to meet Alton Brown last Sunday as he gave a short talk and a book signing for Feasting on Asphalt - the River Run. He had some interesting things to say about sustainable agriculture, organics, and much more. He fielded lots of questions from the audience also.

One of his stops in the Feasting on Asphalt series last year was here in St. Louis. He visited numerous donut shops and as a result, I think St. Louis is known as the donut capitol of the country now! So I thought he might like to know about the Tour de Donut, which is a 32-mile bicycle race that takes place every July in Staunton, IL. He seemed really interested to learn about it and wrote it down on a note so he could remember it.

For every donut you eat, you can take five minutes off your time. Some people have consumed enough donuts to arrive at a negative adjusted time -- quite a feat when you consider that you have to scarf down tons of donuts then ride your bike in warm and muggy July weather. I did the race for the first time last year, but I opted out of the donut part!

It was delightful meeting Alton and who knows, maybe we'll see him at the Tour de Donut this year.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I did the 11th annual Tour de Stooges ride today. This year, the ride took place in Highland, IL instead of Lebanon, IL; the change in location was because the number of riders outgrew that community's ability to handle them all. I think the count of riders last year was around 700.

The choice to move the location was a good one. The route was interesting enough, but not extreme. In today's case, however, an interesting course was made very challenging by the addition of a sustained 15 mph WNW wind with 25 mph gusts. I spent the first 40 miles riding with the wind pushing me from my left, my right, or head-on. About a third to a half of the remaining 24 miles was spent with a tailwind -- a great relief. I am a stocky rider with lots of meat on my bones, but even I was getting pushed back and forth across the road by the wind.

Spending five hours on a bike, I had time to think about a lot of things. At certain points, I couldn't help but think of the symbolism of wind as the Holy Spirit. After all, how appropriate since Pentecost is a week from tomorrow! I have to admit, with the wind making the day's cycling so challenging, my thoughts didn't go much beyond "wow, this is hard!" Now that I have had some time to reflect on the day's experience, I wonder to myself if some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as fortitude/courage and understanding/common sense aren't given to us -- but rather (l)earned -- the hard way! I certainly learn courage -- and perseverance -- by enduring against the wind on my bike. Common sense also tells me not to expend all my energy early on a long ride like today's -- I have to be conservative at the beginning of the ride if I am to make it for the long haul.

How does the Holy Spirit challenge you and push you to be better, more courageous, or wiser? You might face physical challenges of your own such as disability, infirmity, aging, or something else. What about emotional, social or professional challenges -- any of these can feel nearly as crippling as a physical problem. What is the Holy Spirit teaching you through these obstacles, how do you work with them, and more importantly what do you learn from dealing with them?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Catching Up

Finally the weather is improving. Better weather = more riding + less blogging. So a quick round-up is in order. . .

Starting cycle-commuting to work last week on the new bike. All is going well with it. I am very fortunate (and grateful!) to have access to some really fantastic facilities at work for bike storage and showers in the fitness center for cleaning up. I will eventually invest in all-weather gear so I can ride in the rain if necessary.

Speaking of upgrades, yesterday I picked up some SPD pedals for the Dew so I can click into the pedals.

They are Shimano A530. I didn't realize how accustomed I had gotten to being clicked into my bike until I was riding with standard pedals again!

Fun stuff
Went to music trivia at St. Stephen's last night. What a great time! I never go to any trivia night with the intent to win -- just to play and have a good time, which I did.

Went to Barry Manilow Friday night -- yes, Barry Manilow. I am not a huge fan, but was going along with the hubby, who really likes him. Yeah you read it right -- I said my hubby really likes Barry. Anyway, it was neat hearing certain very popular songs of his live. I think I counted a 27 piece orchestra: 11 strings, 9 horns, 1 rhythm/acoustic guitarist, 3 keyboardists + Barry from time to time, 1 percussionist, 1 drummer, 1 bass guitarist. He also had four backup singers. By the way, Barry really loves his Botox.

On top of it being a Barry concert, it also happened to be the first event inside the new Chaifetz Arena. They have some serious logistics issues to work out, but the facility itself was fine.

Have been to several food places since I posted last. Went to The U sandwich shop, Buffalo Brewing Company, and Pappy's Smokehouse. All three are at the corner of Lindell and Cardinal, just east of Compton. Food was good in all three, though the U needs work on handling its orders well.

Last but not least, of course, is God! Since starting my new job, my schedule has not afforded me the opportunity to go to weekday Masses, which I miss a lot. I think I am going to give a try to the mid-day Mass at one of the downtown Catholic churches.

Regarding today's readings, I am always so happy when the Holy Spirit is given special attention in the readings. I think we often overlook the Holy Spirit and it is unfortunate, because the Holy Spirit is a wonderful source of wisdom and guidance for us in our day to day living. Try using the Examen of Consciousness to get in touch with that guidance every day -- you may find it to be a wonderful source of grace throughout your day by adding it to your everyday routine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do the Dew

I decided to take the cycle-commuting plunge and recently picked up a 2007 Kona Dew. I added a rear rack, panniers, bike computer, bell, and tail light to it. I moved the computer from my road bike to the Dew and indulged myself in a new cadence computer for the road bike. I need to add a headlight on the Dew, but think I can cannibalize one from another bike instead of buying a new one.

The Dew is surprisingly peppy to ride and can take going up and down curbs with ease.

It's a simply elegant bike without a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles. I like the trigger shift system, which is what I was accustomed to on my mountain bike prior to getting the road bike last year. I even like the periwinkle color!

My new workplace is just 6.6 miles from home. One of the reasons I chose this employer over a couple of others was their proximity to home, their on-site fitness center, and their accommodations for cycle-commuters. I knew that they had secured parking for bikes -- I was envisioning an outdoor area with perhaps a nearby parking attendant. I had no idea how nice of a facility it would be! I took the tour of it this week and it turns out the secured parking is indoors, on the 4th floor of one of the buildings, accessible only to those who have registered themselves for a spot. Wow!!!! The registration also includes a locker where I can stow my stuff! The fitness center is only two floors up, so since I have a membership there, I can use it to grab a shower.

I am really excited about commuting by bike -- great way to get some exercise and help the environment! I am also excited about not having to buy as much gas -- it's about $2.50 a day just to get back and forth to work. My husband is even getting into the act -- he was so impressed with the Dew's ride that he decided to buy one for himself and he is planning on cycle-commuting a couple of days a week also.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Randomly Recurring Cat Photo

This is Penny. She's adorable in her awkward mannerisms. This is a good example -- she's lying on a stool with a paw hanging over the edge.

She's also the kind of cat who chases her own tail.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Newstead Tower Public House

Just a quick summary review of Newstead Tower Public House, where hubby and I recently went with a friend. Scale of 1 - 5 with 5 being the best.

Atmosphere - 3.5
Interesting building shape -- renovator did a good job working around a series of structural support posts that slice the room in half. Nice decor for a pub, with interesting colors, good lighting, and other decor touches to look at. Smoke free, which is a wonderful thing. Seating at the bar or in tables and chairs. Big windows to look out of. The acoustics of the space make it difficult to carry on a conversation when there are lots of people in the space. Musical entertainment that started later in the evening put the kibash on most efforts to chat.

Drinks - 3
The pub had a surprisingly limited selection, but that didn't seem to bother me or my companions. I had a Griesedieck Brothers Golden Pilsener and my friends had their usual Bud Select and Dewar's with water.

Food - 2.5
I had "Benne’s Farm roasted chicken sandwich with brie, arugula and aioli" and the sandwich was ever so mild on flavor -- I think the most flavorful thing on it was the arugula. I put pepper on it to give it a little more interest. Wouldn't order it again.

Hubby had fish and chips, which was described on the menu as "beer battered cod with fried potatoes, chopped pickles and mayonnaise". He liked them and cleaned his plate. Even though the menu didn't specify it, his meal came with a little side of greens.

My friend had a hamburger, described as "Fruitland Farm grass-fed ground chuck with pickles & field greens". He liked it, and cleaned his plate, but his expectation on the field greens was that it would be a small side salad as opposed to a garnish on the burger itself. Since my hubby is not so much an herbivore, I offered his greens to my friend.

Portions were small-ish overall.

Service - 2
One word -- slow. There seemed to be a total of three servers handling the space. It seemed to me that one of the servers who might have really been intended to work the bar was helping out the other two. In any case, it amounted to what appeared to be some level of confusion. Replacement drinks were slow in coming.

Overall rating of a 2.5+. Would go there again.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Randomly Recurring Cat Photo

I'm starting a new feature -- Randomly Recurring Cat Photo. It's too much pressure to commit to a "Feline Photo of the Day" -- even "Bi-Weekly Quadriped Image" is too much! So you will simply have to be content with a cat pic whenever I feel like it. I suppose, strictly speaking, the occasions on which I decide to put up a cat pic are not random, but to you my reader, they will seem to be at random.

I digress.

Here's the first in the series. This is my kitty Purrl.

She's a tortoiseshell (torti for short) and I've had her since 1999. She was probably about four months old when I got her. Very loyal and attentive. One of her unique features is that often whispers her meows to me. Who knew cats could whisper?

Off the Vine

Last night, I went with some friends to the new-ish restaurant, Off the Vine. Another friend wanted a review, so I figured I would post it here also.

1 - 5 rating system, with 5 being the best.

Atmosphere: 2.5
It's the former Blue Water Grill space on Hampton at Columbia. Low-ish ceiling, or at least it seems that way with heavy beams in the structure. In addition to the dark brown beams/ceiling, the walls were painted a dark mustard, and the floor is a concrete slab. Decor was nice enough, if maybe a little sparse, but with a place that small, there's not a lot of room for elaborate decor. While we were there, there was a downpour outside and a table about six feet from us had to be moved because the ceiling was leaking. Since I am allergic to cigarette smoke, I was worried there would be a problem with smoking, since they allow it/have a bar area, but no one there smoked, or if there were smokers, I didn't notice it.

Drinks: 3.5
They had a very extensive wine list. You can get wines by the glass, half carafe, and bottle. They also had a decent assortment of beers and cocktails.

Food: 3
Braised Short Rib as starter: 1
Very small portion considering it was an $8 appetizer -- the meat itself was literally two bites. Meat was very tender. Served on top of a green risotto, which was pretty, but I have no idea what the flavor of the risotto was -- the menu says it was an Italian parsley risotto. Under the risotto was a sauce. On top of the risotto was a grouping of olives, mushrooms, and garlic. The olives did not go well with the dish. The sauce seemed like an attempt at a burgundy sauce, but it was bitter as if some ingredient in it had been burnt and did not taste good at all. The meal had a loooooong way to go to recover from this poor start.

Frisee salad: 3.5
I have never had a salad with a poached egg on it before, but it worked well. It was a hearty cold weather salad -- also had potatoes, red onions, pancetta, and cracked mustard vinaigrette on it. The greens were very fresh.

Roasted Beets salad: 3.5
Lots of good flavor. Well prepared. Nice presentation. Interesting/artistic colors. The goat cheese fondue, which served as the dressing, was especially good with the beets.

Andouille and crab gumbo: 4
This item is not on their online menu, but it's on their in-house menu because they just started offering it six days ago, according to our waiter. It comes with a generous number of substantially-sized andouille sausage chunks. Crab bits were more broken down and blended throughout. I had the 10 oz. bowl portion and I would definitely order it again.

Hanger steak: 4
This steak came with pomme frites and a creamed spinach; this is also is not on their online menu. I was concerned this steak was going to be tough, but it was very tender, flavorful, and the pan juices included underneath were a good choice. The creamed spinach (their menu refers to it as "melted" spinach) was very mild/delicate, and I think maybe if one were eating the steak alongside it may have been too delicate to go with that beefy steak, but on its own it was quite nice.

Devil's food cake with peanut butter center: 2
I was envisioning more of a lava style center, but it was more of a peanut butter-flavored cake in the middle of a dark chocolate flavored cake with a ganache poured over the top, garnished with whipped cream, mint leaf, and strawberry cut into a rose shape. This dish was not as exciting as I thought it was going to be -- the taste was rather drab. I should have gone with the meyer lemon cheesecake instead.

Portions: 2.5
Generally speaking, the portions were small-ish for the price, except when it came to the "large plates" menu items. This worked out great for me, but if feel like big portions, this is not the place to go. The hanger steak was the only item we ordered from the large plates section of the menu and it was a decent portion. They could have been a little more generous with the pomme frites, I think -- the portion looked like one potato's worth (not that one person really needs any more than that, but they are good for sharing). In looking at the other plates that were going around, it seemed the large plates were generally a good portion, though not huge/oversized.

Service: 2
I had what has to have been one of the most peculiar servers I have ever had wait on me. His mannerisms were very odd and his style distracting. He was usually on the spot with most things we needed, so his timing was not an issue, but he was just a one-off. I think he was going for an "elegant flourish" style of serving, but really ended up more in the "awkwardly over-trying" category. I didn't see other servers doing it, so I think it was just his thing. But I have to give him goody points because at the end of the meal, when he asked how we liked everything, I mentioned the bit about the braised short rib and without prompting, he took that off our bill.

Overall, I'd give the place a 3.5. They have improvements to make, but the food has promise/interest. I would go there again.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rolling, rolling, rolling!

At last, the weather is starting to act like Spring around here! Naturally, that means one thing -- cycling!

I put just under 75 miles on the bike in the last three days while the weather has been good. Pretty much the same route each day -- from home to the end of Grant's Trail and back. Muscles are tired -- tomorrow is a rest day since it looks like the weather's going to be rainy anyway. Definitely can tell I need to drop some pounds to help me get back into condition. I've been lazy and haven't worked out in about a month, so that doesn't help either!

Some news happening of late is that I am starting a new job a week from today. It just so happens that the new employer is only seven miles from home and they also have a workout facility with showers on site. I haven't seen the facility for myself yet, but I hear it is very nice. I am hoping to get myself organized enough to cycle-commute on a regular basis. Can't wait to check it out!

Of course the possibility of cycle-commuting leads me to my next thought -- shopping for a commuter bike! Thinking about something durable that can double as both commuter and touring bike -- something that is suitable for Katy Trail rides as well as the urban jungle -- so if any of my dear rider-readers have suggestions, please comment.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Sometimes, rather than trying to digest all the readings for a given day together, it is useful to reflect on one idea or even just one word. The concept that really caught my attention today was that of abundance (John 6:1-15).

I have been very fortunately blessed with a great share of spiritual abundance in my life, particularly in the last few years. The Holy Spirit has led me to a Christian life, acceptance of Jesus Christ as my redeemer and soul-savior, helped me understand that I am one of God's children who is and has always been loved by the Father, and has brought me to a wonderful parish community.

In trying to understand what it means to be one of God's children, I think we all have, at one time or another, a hard time wrapping our heads around that idea. How does a being so cosmic even notice me, let alone love me, a single soul among billions? How awesome is the idea that I am sister, through the brotherhood of Jesus Christ, to all the others here on this planet now, those who came before me, and those who will exist after me?

Being a relatively new Christian (just passed my two-year anniversary this Easter), my status as a child of God is something I am only lately really beginning to fully grasp. It has been another in numerous epiphanies in this unfolding mystery of my faith.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Computer Day Today

Internet Security:

That's Mischief and Purrl, my two intimidating tortoiseshell kitties, keeping me safe on the Internet.

Yes, that messy desk is where most of the magic happens, friends. I hope to clean up/organize the entire office shortly, but since I am working on a project right now, the priority is to get that done first. Deadline is just a couple of weeks away and I have to learn a content management system and build the site by then. Have a pretty good handle on the system itself -- just have to build the site now.

Mischief was striking some cute poses today:

And Purrl, well, all I can say is she was striking some poses:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hardware Fun

Swapped out my USB-based wireless networking card for a PCI one today. Had some help though. Oreo is saying she can't quite figure it out:

So we called in the expert, Mischief. She's not afraid to get into her work:

Mischief also helped me decipher the tech. support person's accent.

Yes, for all you Harry Potter fans, that is a Hogwarts table I was using temporarily for my workbench.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Word for the Day Is Potential

Each day this week, the first reading at Mass has been from the Acts of the Apostles and have been focused on what I would call the Adventures of Simon Peter! In these readings (see below for complete list), Peter seems to have found his voice and his courage. He has just cured a man who was crippled from birth and this same man, who now walks on his own, enters jubilantly into the temple! Recognizing the man who once begged outside the Temple, many are astonished. Simon Peter says to them it is by God's grace that he was able to accomplish the healing.

Numerous Sanhedrin, realizing their authority was threatened, plotted against Simon Peter and John, arrested them, but ultimately could not find a way to justify detaining them. Through it all, Peter is courageous, composed, even heroic! Who is this guy? Is this the same person who denied Jesus Christ three times on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion?

Through these stories, we finally see in Simon Peter what Jesus must have seen in the bumbling, imperfect, cowardly, brash, and sometimes foolish fellow all along. He saw that Peter had potential, and in these stories, we see that Peter's potential is realized: his faith in Jesus Christ is strong and surely with a bit of help from the Holy Spirit, he becomes courageous.

What I like best about Peter's story in general is that this man -- so full of failings -- is the man Jesus Christ chose to lead the Church in its earliest stages (Matt 16:18). It is comforting, as a person who is much more like Peter than like Jesus, that Jesus might be able to see beyond my many flaws and help me also realize my potential in, through, and for him.

Monday through Saturday readings 03/24/2008 - 03/29/2008:
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Acts 2:36-41
Acts 3:1-10
Acts 3:11-26
Acts 4:1-12
Acts 4:13-21

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I have seen the Lord"

I'm a day late posting about the Gospel story from John (20:11-18) that describes the moment when Mary meets the resurrected Jesus; it's such a beautiful moment I felt compelled to write about it. The story is so abundant with meaning on both literal and symbolic levels.

Mary was utterly beside herself with grief over Jesus' death. Her eyes were overflowing with tears and her mind overwrought with countless and powerful emotions. Maybe her grief or perhaps anger got in the way of recognizing Jesus was there with her. Maybe her disbelief?

Taking this story literally, I can only have a teensy sliver of an imagining of what it must have been like for Mary to experience Jesus' return -- the incredible joy that must have coursed through her at the moment of discovery, the amazement, the excitement, the full realization that indeed, Jesus is the messiah as he had said! Taking the story figuratively, I think about the ways in which I have difficulty recognizing Jesus. Sometimes strong emotions cloud my vision so that I lose sight of Jesus in myself. Or perhaps something makes me, like Mary, not even recognize Christ in the people who are closest to me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Reason Not to Shop at Wal-Mart

Read this story.
"The family's situation is so dire that last year Jim Shank divorced Debbie, so she could receive more money from Medicaid."

While by the letter of the law, Wal-Mart was within its legal rights to pursue the money from the family, why would they risk the bad publicity? All the bad publicity this will generate will cost Wal-Mart much more than if they had let it slide. What a shameful way to treat someone.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Go Tell Everyone!

One of the forms of prayer I use is to try to imagine myself inside the story, especially a Gospel story. What would it have been like to be Mary of Magdala in the story from today's Gospel (John 20:1-9)? It is still dark as she approaches Jesus' grave in the garden. Mary is probably with a friend or family member as she approaches the tomb -- imagine yourself accompanying her. Think about what kind of grief Mary must have been experiencing at Jesus' unjust trial, horrific torture, and barbaric death on the cross. Her pain must have been immeasurable. To top it all off, she discovers Jesus' tomb has been opened. Her reaction tells us she immediately suspects Jesus' body has been removed by someone else. As if Jesus hadn't suffered enough in life, perhaps Mary thought, now her Lord's tomb is desecrated too!

What about Simon Peter? In the Gospel story, John says Simon did not even enter the tomb, but just peered in to see the burial cloths, then walked away with the Beloved Disciple. Was he confused? Shocked? Frightened? In any case, it seems he doesn't know what to do with the thought that Jesus is not in his tomb. Imagine yourself in Simon Peter's frame of mind; the last few days have been a confusing whirlwind of events and emotions, not to mention the shame of having denied Jesus, just as Jesus said Simon Peter would.

The Beloved Disciple enters the tomb, and right away he believes! How does he know to believe? What speaks to him about the empty tomb that leads him to believe? Is it the careful arrangement of the burial cloths that lead him to believe that the body was not stolen, but rather that Jesus is alive somehow? Is he hoping against hope? Then, he and Simon Peter leave.

We have the benefit of knowing what happens next -- Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead into new life as God has promised. But imagine what emotions the three disciples of Jesus in this Gospel story must have felt at this point: confusion, heartache, grief, ill at ease and worry or even wonder about what would happen next, discouragement, excitement, hope, but also disbelief. What would I have felt at this point? What would any of Jesus' disciples have felt?

While I imagine myself in this scene, I am not sure I would have wanted to experience firsthand the tragic, gut-wrenching, and heart shattering events that led up to Jesus' resurrection. On the other hand, being among the first to experience and receive the good news -- the amazing and world-changing news -- of Jesus' resurrection would also have been astounding and even too overwhelming to comprehend!

2000 years later, it's still hard to fully internalize the good news. In our Father's wisdom, perhaps this is why he made the Easter season last for fifty days -- just so we could begin to grasp the fullness of his love for us!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick

Today's celebrations go much beyond that which is typical of a saint's feast day -- in St. Louis it's an unofficial holiday! But, remembering that we are in Holy Week, I thought I would share with you this prayer of St. Patrick:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.son who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holy Week Begins

Today was Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. This week is filled with wonderful opportunities to marvel at the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Of the readings today, which were all very powerful, the one that caught my attention the most was this portion of Philippians 2:6-11:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
(Phil 2:6-8)

The idea of emptying one's self for God is one that I often struggle with. One of the hardest and most unexpected adjustments I made when I chose to become Catholic was to learn humility and obedience to God and his will. I still work on that daily! For 35 years of my life, I didn't answer to any divine authority, so it was/is quite a change in mindset.

So, how do I keep the everyday stuff from getting in the way of God's work within me? One of the tools I have been using throughout Lent is the Examen of Consciousness, which is an Igantian prayer that focuses on finding God in everyday things. It takes about 15 minutes to do this prayer and very naturally leads me to a conversation with God about my day. Some suggest to pray it twice a day -- once around the middle of the day and once in the evening. At this point, I use it in the evenings and plan to continue the practice after Lent is over.

Another thing I have done this Lent is I have gone to Mass nearly every day. I am very fortunate to have been in a position to do that this Lent and I am very much looking forward to experiencing Holy Week more fully than I have been able to in the past. I have never attended a Chrism Mass, and I am looking forward to doing that this Thursday (10 AM) at our Cathedral Basilica.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I went with a friend to the Ivory Theatre last night to see Assassins, which is a Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical. As the name suggests, the play is about people who have either assassinated or attempted to assassinate American presidents. It was an interesting treatment of a tough subject. It is playing until March 29 and tickets are very reasonable.

In addition to my interest in seeing the performance, I was at least as interested in seeing the theatre space itself. Ivory Theatre, opened in 2007, was converted from what used to be St. Boniface Catholic Church. St. Boniface parish was merged with my parish in 2005. While I know many people are still sore over the mergers and some people might be offended at the use of a formerly consecrated space for entertainment purposes, the building has become a fine, tasteful performance space. Given a choice between recycling the church building into a theatre or tearing it down, I think the use of the building as a theatre is a better option.

That being said, St. Boniface was not my parish before the mergers and I only attended Mass there once. It had some stunning stained glass windows that dated back to 1893-1894 and were made in Austria. The windows have since been removed. I believe the windows have been installed in a new Catholic church in the St. Charles county area.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Things to Come

Today's readings are foreshadowing things to come. People are very near to stoning Jesus to death because he is doing things they do not understand, and he has made them afraid. Jesus escapes; where does he go? He returns to the place "where John first baptized" (Jn 10:40) and an amazing thing happens there -- people begin to believe (Jn 10:42). Once Jesus returns to the source of new life -- baptism -- people begin to see more clearly, become calmer, and understand God's works.

This Gospel story reminds us that we should also return to our baptism -- it is our source of eternal life and refreshment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Riding

Went for another ride today. Started at home and rode down to Grant's Trail and back. The weather was great -- 70 degrees and sunny -- so there were lots of people on the trail, which made getting up/maintaining speed difficult at times. Even so, I did just under 25 miles in about an hour and a half. Averaged around 15 mph, which was pretty good considering all the stopping/slowing/starting and people/animal-dodging I had to do. My knees are telling me I have to get better at using the appropriate gearing. ;)

Speaking of riding, I found this video lately, which speaks to cyclist awareness by motorists. Clever and to the point!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ride Yesterday

Got in another ride yesterday on Grant's Trail. This time I added the Clydesdale Park loop for just under 18 miles total. Got it done in 1.25 hours, which isn't too bad considering having to stop for traffic/lights and slow down for pedestrians, rollerbladers, kids, and dogs on the trail. Husband had the leg up on me for the first half of the ride, I think because I ate a Clif bar too soon before the ride. The second half belonged to me, however. Top speed was around 24 mph (no one was on that section of trail when I reached that speed--safety first ya' know).

Speaking of rollerbladers, I saw one of our SSP parishioners getting in her workout with doggie along for the ride. Go MR!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Homeward Bound

Went to my hometown on Sunday to visit family, snap some pics, and get some delicious pizza at Mario's.

Went out to one of my favorite spots for viewing the sky -- I try to get there when there are meteor showers. Got some nice pics -- this is one of my favorites:

Sunset in Patriot's Park in Greenville looks like this:
From Greenville visit

I spent lots of time with Dad at this park when I was a kid. He used to take me out on the rowboat around the lake. There's one in the pic above, but I am sure that is a replacement for the one we used -- or maybe the replacement's replacement's replacement -- since that was about 30 years ago.

It was good quiet time -- just me and Dad.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

One of these things is not like the others

As you might imagine, we didn't get in a bike ride today after all . . .

First Ride of 2008

Went on the first bike ride of the 2008 cycling season yesterday. Just an easy 15 miles or so on Grant's Trail. Felt good to be back in the saddle again.

Weather today is also warm so hubby and I are planning another ride -- probably try Route 66 State Park today, since it is one we haven't done before. This park was created out of what used to be the Times Beach community.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cabin Fever

Feeling the cabin fever, I took our road bikes into the bike shop yesterday to have them tuned up. I am hoping the predictions for 53 degrees and sun on Saturday come true so I can finally get get in my first ride of 2008.

Of course, I have also been daydreaming about the latest model bikes. I was toying with the idea of splurging on an Orbea this year, but I doubt that will happen. For now, that bike remains in the realm of fantasy, but it's fun to think about anyway!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bottomless Well

In this morning's homily, my pastor asserted that God's love is like a bottomless well. No matter how many times we go back to draw from the well, it never goes dry -- God's love is infinite and always available. Even when -- especially when -- we experience a dry spell, an inexhaustible life-giving wellspring is there to refresh us, sustain us, and give us life here and in the hereafter.

Assuring us that God's love and forgiveness are always available to us, today's reading from Micah vividly describes a God who is like a loving parent who can't stay irritated at his children for long:
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt?
Micah 7.18-19a

I especially love the imagery that God is "treading underfoot our guilt". Certainly there are times I feel heavily burdened by my sins, but my sins are so insignificant to God and his love for me so vast, he conquers them as easily as if he were taking a stroll in a garden.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Have Mercy

Today's readings focus on mercy and forgiveness. The readings strike me as bookends to each other -- the first reading from Daniel (9:4b-10) asks God's mercy for humankind, while in the Gospel reading (Lk 6:36-38) Jesus instructs us to be merciful to each other.

Of course, Christian living focuses a great deal on forgiveness. The Bible shows us over and over again that God forgives us, creates new agreements (covenants) with us, and provides methods, such as the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), by which we may be reconciled to him when we make poor choices.

Jesus' parallel teaching -- not only in Luke today, but throughout the Gospel -- says that not only is God merciful, but we are to take that example of mercy and apply it amongst ourselves. Mercy and forgiveness are not the exclusive domain of our Father and Jesus leads us to that understanding. We must strive to be as merciful as God is merciful in our interactions with each other.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I think about a lot of different things, but as life has gotten more complicated, my ability to do focused contemplation for long periods of time is not what it used to be. When I was younger and my life was much simpler, I used to be very good at it -- those were the days when I would/could go for long walks in the woods or by the creek on my own. A dog or a kitty would follow me now and then, but usually I was alone in creation with my thoughts and each time those thoughts took a turn, I had time and the focus to follow the change in direction until I reached the end of the path, or until a new turn could be taken.

Some days I would climb the Red Bud tree in the yard -- it's where I spent a lot of time looking at praying mantis, butterflies, ladybugs, daddy longlegs, or walking stick bugs.

The thing about walking stick bugs is, they are so well camouflaged, I couldn't spot them easily like a butterfly or a lady bug. I had to slow down, usually come to a stop, and maybe even clamber up into a tree to find one. Then I waited to perhaps catch a glimpse of one as it moved slowly along a twig or branch or hoped my powers of observation would help me discover one. Most of the time, I never saw one, so it was a treat when I did.

Working on my goal this Lent is a lot like waiting for one of those elusive walking stick bugs to come into focus. I must slow myself, focus my attention, and wait patiently. I may even face some disappointment along the way when I don't find what I am seeking, but when the wait is over, I will be richly rewarded.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We are ambassadors for Christ

"We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us."
2 Cor 5:20

I could spend all of Lent savoring this single statement from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. What do Paul's words mean to you? What do you feel when you read that sentence?

For me, this statement is a reminder to keep Christ top of mind and centered in my life at all times. It's easy to focus on Christ today -- Ash Wednesday -- when a physical reminder of his influence is traced front and center on my forehead for everyone to see. Perhaps just as importantly, I see the ashen cross each time I look in the mirror. My smudged reflection reminds me of my Christian faith, my sinfulness, and my Lord who is my savior.

When I read Paul's words, I feel a great sense of responsibility to behave in a Christian way at all times, in thought, word, and deed. That's a lot of pressure! Then I remember Christ's words in Matthew 11:29-30 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Notice Jesus doesn't say, "be sinless, just like me!" He says to learn from him. Learning includes lessons, and some of the best lessons come from mistakes!

Even with all my numerous defects and insufficiencies, God still loves me and his love is eternal (which is too much to comprehend!), patient, and forgiving. God knows our mistakes, our inadequacies, our sins, but he still loves us just the same.