Thursday, March 31, 2016

"What if _____?"

March 31, 2016 - "What if _____?"

I needed to be here tonight. I cannot explain “why”, exactly, I just really “needed” to be here tonight… even though it’s over 35-miles from home and I have no other reason to be in Stamford right now. 

So here I am… standing at the door of what was once “Peter’s Art of Framing”… crying. Why the fuck am I here? I don’t know. I haven’t even been able to drive past this shopping center since the day we turned over the keys to the landlord. I force Holly to drive out of the way just to avoid having to pass by here… yet here I am now… tonight of all nights. Why the fuck am I here?

I guess my real question is: “Why the fuck am I here… and you’re not?”

I just don’t get it... and I don’t think I ever will. I think about this night one year ago. I think about that phone call. I think about all of the days since that moment… and I can’t help but want to scream “WHY!?!”.

For the last year every day has been harder and harder. I can’t stop thinking about all of the possible “What if ____?” questions.

What if I had taken you up on one of your several attempts to convince me to come work with you? Would I have been in this place with you on this day one year ago? Would you still be here if I had been?

What if I had called or texted you that morning? Would there have been something you would’ve said about how you were feeling that would have had me telling you to close the damn shop and get to the doctor? Would I have even had the mindset to do that? Or would I have blown it off as being nothing more than stress?

What if _____?

What if _____?

What if _____?

Why can’t I get these fucking "What if _____?” questions out of my head?

Damn, I wish you were here right now…

I wish I didn’t “need” to be here right now…

I wish…

I wish so many things…

But none of them are going to bring you back to us.

So I pray…

I pray that you are watching us…

I pray that you will help guide us, because none of us know what the fuck we’re doing or where the hell we should be going anymore…

I pray and I pray and I pray…

I miss you more than you could ever possibly know!

I love you, Bro!

I love you!

- Vin

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366 Project - Day 91 - "Pray for us!"

March 31, 2016 - "Pray for us!"

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, filled with infinite love, broken by my ingratitude, pierced by my sins, yet loving me still; accept the consecration that I make to You of all that I am and all that I have. Take every faculty of my soul and body and draw me, day by day, nearer and nearer to Your Sacred Heart, and there, as I can understand the lesson, teach me Your blessed ways. Amen.

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us...
St. Joseph, husband of Mary, pray for us...
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us...
San Pio di Pietrelcina, pray for us...
San Gennaro di Benevento, pray for us...
San Lorenzo di Roma, pray for us...
St. Bernadette of Lourdes, pray for us...
St. Veronica of the Holy Veil, pray for us...
St. Therese, the Little Flower, pray for us...
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us...
St. Dymphna, pray for us...
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, pray for us...
St. Peter the Apostle, pray for us...
St. John, the Beloved Disciple, pray for us...
St. Jude the Apostle, pray for us...
St. Luke the Evangelist, pray for us...
St. John the Baptist, pray for us...
St. Matthew the Apostle, pray for us...
St. Mark the Evangelist, pray for us...
St. Benedict of Nursia, pray for us...
St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us...
St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us...
St. Christopher the Martyr, pray for us...
Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us...
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us...
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us...
All Saints of God, pray for us...

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death...


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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

366 Project - Day 90 - "Iron Maiden"

March 30, 2016 - "Iron Maiden"

Iron Maiden - "The Book of Souls World Tour" - Madison Square Garden, NYC

Tonight was abso-freakin'-lutely incredible!

The concert was abso-freakin'-lutely phenomenal...

Our seats (fourth row center - directly behind the soundboards) were abso-freakin'-lutely amazing...

Yet those were just "parts" of what made the night so wonderful.

What really made the night so incredible was being there with my brother Kenny by my side. Just the two of us... toasting our $11 beers in memory of our brother Peter - who will have been gone for one year this Friday.

Kenny's first ever concert was an Iron Maiden show - and our brother Peter is the one who brought him. Now, here we are - thirty years later - and Kenny and I are at an Iron Maiden show, celebrating Peter's memory. By the time we get home it will be well after midnight, and will officially be March 31st, marking one year since our brother was rushed to the hospital.

Emotions are deep tonight. They'll be deeper tomorrow. They'll be even deeper on Friday. They'll continue getting deeper as we move through Saturday and into Sunday morning's Mass which is being held in Peter's memory.

The truth is, however, that the emotions will be deep for the rest of our days. "I", for one, will NEVER recover from losing my brother Peter. I cannot speak for anyone else - though I'm sure that the rest of our family would say the exact same thing. Time may make some days easier - but it cannot completely heal so deep of a wound.

Tonight, the second-to-last song the band performed was one of my favorites: "Blood Brothers". As we - and the thousands upon thousands of other fans in The Garden - sung out the chorus "We're Blood Brothers!", I stood there with tears in my eyes clenching Peter's ring, which hangs on a chain around my neck and which I never take off... and my brother Kenny and I leaned in to one another and yelled "I love you, Bro!" into each others ears.

We're Blood Brothers!

*   *   *


Intro: "Doctor Doctor" - song by UFO

1) If Eternity Should Fail
2) Speed of Light
3) Children of the Damned
4) Tears of a Clown (dedicated to Robin Williams)
5) The Red and the Black
6) The Trooper
7) Powerslave
8) Death or Glory
9) The Book of Souls
10) Hallowed Be Thy Name
11) Fear of the Dark
12) Iron Maiden


13) The Number of the Beast
14) Blood Brothers
15) Wasted Years

Outro: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" song by Monty Python

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

366 Project - Day 89 - "Getting Ready"

March 29, 2016 - "Getting Ready"

Tomorrow night. Iron Maiden. Madison Square Garden.

Up the Irons!

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Monday, March 28, 2016

366 Project - Day 88 - "Abstract (Silent Piano)"

March 28, 2016 - "Abstract (Silent Piano)"

It's "Day 88" of my 366 Project... so it's only fitting that today's photo be of a piano with its 88 keys long since silenced.


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

366 Project - Day 87 - "Abstract (Tulip)"

March 27, 2016 - "Abstract (Tulip)"

We've had such a wonderful Easter Sunday spent with family and friends - that I only had a moment to take one quick soft-focus shot of one of the tulips from the beautiful bouquet our friend Nancy gave us today.

The morning was great - with my first sips of coffee since Shrove Tuesday last month.

The Easter Sunday mass was beautiful... and afterwards I spent my Holy Hour in prayer before the Eucharist. For much of that hour I was the only one in the Adoration Chapel. Just the Lord and me... and my prayers.

Easter dinner was wonderful. Family and friends and lots of dessert and conversation.

Now it's after 11PM and I'm the only one awake... sitting here sipping some wine and eating some Soppressata as I type these words.

Yep - we've definitely had a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Buona Pasqua!

*   *   *

Saturday, March 26, 2016

366 Project - Day 86 - "The Light of the World"

March 26, 2016 - "The Light of the World"

Tonight we celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass... and this is my candle, lit from the flame of the new Paschal Candle. The light that shines in the darkness...

"Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

     - John 8:12

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Friday, March 25, 2016

366 Project - Day 85 - "Good Friday (Hot Cross Buns)"

March 25, 2016 - "Good Friday (Hot Cross Buns)"

Today is Good Friday and will be spent in prayer... so there's only time for one quick shot - of the Hot Cross Buns we bought for today.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

366 Project - Day 84 - "Holy Thursday"

March 24, 2016 - "Holy Thursday"

This evening I walked to church for the Holy Thursday mass. It hurt. A lot, actually. By the time I arrived at the church my feet and legs were on fire... I was out of breath... extremely thirsty... and sweating so much that my shirt was soaked. There were quite a few times I didn't think I was going to make it - and almost considered calling it quits and whipping out my iPhone to call for help. With each pain, however, I thought to myself "This is nothing compared to what our Lord endured." If he could live and dive for love of me... surely I could manage the small sacrifice of finishing the walk to church.

I arrived at church an hour before mass - and quickly made my way to the restroom to clean up. Thankfully I had thought ahead enough to bring a change of clothes and a hand towel - and, for the sake of those who would have to sit around me, deodorant. I cleaned and changed and made my way into the church to pray.

The mass was, of course, beautiful. This year the "Washing of the Feet" was performed on the group of children who will be making their First Communion in a month or so. As Mass ended the entire congregation followed the Blessed Sacrament out of the church... around the building... and into the Chapel, where it was reposed. We knelt in adoration for a time... keeping watch with the Lord, before making our way home.

Tonight the altars will be stripped of their linens and all decorations in preparation for tomorrow's Celebration of the Passion of the Lord.

The Triduum has begun.

*   *   *

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

366 Project - Day 83 - "Tea is NOT Coffee"

March 23, 2016 - "Tea is NOT Coffee"

Today is "Spy Wednesday". It marks Judas' betrayal as he accepts thirty pieces of silver from the high priests and awaits his opportunity to turn Jesus over to them. (See Matthew 26:14-16)

Today is also the last day before the start of the Holy Triduum, which cumulates with the celebration of the Resurrection - and thus the end of the Lenten season.

What does this have to do with "tea not being coffee", you ask?

Simply put: I gave up "coffee" for Lent.

That in and of itself is nothing significant. Lots of people give up drinking coffee for Lent. Others give up chocolate... or soda... or all sweets... or television... or whatever. It's meant to be done as an act of penance - and therefore should be something that truly will serve as a reminder to be penitent each day of the Lenten season.

For me that is coffee. It's very hard for me to even imagine a morning without coffee. Or an afternoon without coffee. Or an evening without coffee. I usually drink a pot of coffee a day... and almost always order coffee when we're dining out, or stop at a Dunkin Donuts for coffee when we're out and about on our errand runs or what have you. Coffee is a constant part of my day. Just like my iPhone - if I don't have coffee nearby, I feel... well... "naked".

I actually like tea. I prefer a good southern-style sweet tea served over ice with a bit of mint in it - but that's besides the point. I like tea... but tea most certainly is NOT coffee. Every morning since Ash Wednesday I have woken up to a cup of tea only to be reminded of how "not coffee" it is. I've also been limiting how much tea I drink - so most of the time when I would normally be grabbing the coffee pot I find myself grabbing the jug of water from the fridge instead. Water is NOT coffee either.

Throughout the day, with each sip of tea or water or whatever - I realize that it is not coffee and that something is different about this moment... this day... this season. With each sip I am reminded of "why" it is not coffee that I am drinking... and I take a moment to focus on that "why".

But "giving up something for Lent" is only a very small portion of the Lenten Season. It's meant to be a mere physical/daily reminder of the need for penance. There is so much more to the days that make up Lent - and it's actually more about "giving" than it is "giving something up". Throughout the season we focus on three things: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

This Lent has been a particularly special one for me. Many changes have occurred - from spending approximately an hour each day in prayer, including praying the Rosary daily... to making a weekly Holy Hour with the Blessed Sacrament, and all sorts of positive changes in between. I begin and end each day with prayer and the reading of Scripture. I pray... I fast... I give alms - and in-between I actively work on strengthening my relationship with God.

Now Lent draws to an end. Tomorrow is Holy Thursday. The following day is Good Friday. Saturday night will be the Easter Vigil Mass... and Sunday is the celebration of the Resurrection, and the start of the Easter Season.

Am I looking forward to having a cup of coffee on Sunday? Yes, I most certainly am.

Yet part of me will very much miss the sips of tea.

*   *   *

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

366 Project - Day 82 - "Prayers for Brussels"

March 22, 2016 - "Prayers for Brussels"

Today I offer all of my prayers for the intentions of the people of Brussels, Belgium... especially for the victims and the families of the victims of today's terrorist attack.

*   *   *

Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual
human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin:
individual sin and the "sin of the world,"
sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.

May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.

(The above is an excerpt from "Prayer for Peace: To Mary, the Light of Hope" by Pope St. John Paul II)

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Monday, March 21, 2016

366 Project - Day 81 - "Abstract (Spring?)"

March 21, 2016 - "Abstract (Spring?)"

Supposedly it is officially Spring now.

Not here.

Not today.

This morning snow covers the spots where, just yesterday, the green shoots of flowers could be seen popping through the soil.


Not here.

Not today.

*   *   *

Sunday, March 20, 2016

366 Project - Day 80 - "Palm Sunday"

March 20, 2016 - "Palm Sunday"

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark...

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethpage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, 'Why are you doing this?' reply, 'The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.' " So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!"

 - Mark 11:1-10

(Today's photo is a close-up of one of several palm plants which surrounded the altar at my parish this morning.)

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

366 Project - Day 79 - "Festa di San Giuseppe"

March 19, 2016 - "Festa di San Giuseppe"

Today is "St. Joseph's Day". To Italians and Italian-Americans, this is sort of our "St. Patrick's Day" - except we tend to wear red instead of green - and we focus more on food than on drink. St. Joseph's Day is also the equivalent of "Father's Day" in Italy.

In our house the "Tavola di San Giuseppe" (St. Joseph's Table) has been set up and blessed - and the Litany of St. Joseph has been prayed.

The three tiers of the table represent the Trinity. The small Palm Crosses will be placed upon the graves of our loved ones this weekend. The food that is currently on our St. Joseph's Table represents just a small portion of the food that will be donated to the local food pantry and homeless shelters.

There's no "Zeppole", yet. They're traditionally on the table as well - but we're going to be out of town for most of the day today, so those will have to come later as a sweet ending to the day.

So - from our family to yours - "Buona Festa di San Giuseppe!"

San Giuseppe, prega per noi!


*   *   *

Friday, March 18, 2016

366 Project - Day 78 - "Self Portrait with Stock Pot Lid"

March 18, 2016 - "Self Portrait with Stock Pot Lid"

Just me...

and my camera...

and the lid to one of my stainless steel stock pots which is desperately in need of a cleaning.

That's all.


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Thursday, March 17, 2016

366 Project - Day 77 - "Old Photographs"

March 17, 2016 - "Old Photographs"

I have an old wooden Bolla wine box filled with even older family photos that I'm slowly in the process of scanning to the computer.

Seeing faces I have not seen for 15, 20, 30 or more years - it always brings about a certain feeling, a certain emotion I cannot really describe. Many times they bring about smiles... sometimes they bring about tears - but "good" tears.

The wonder that is photography never ceases to amaze me. Moments captured in 1/60th of a second (or faster) to be held and cherished for years to come. It truly is magical, this whole "photography thing".


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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

366 Project - Day 76 - "Anniversary (One of Three)"

March 16, 2016 - "Anniversary (One of Three)"

Today is "Wedding Anniversary #1" of our three wedding anniversaries. Or, depending on how you look at it, it's "Wedding Anniversary #3" of our three wedding anniversaries - since today is the anniversary of the THIRD time that Holly and I were married.

For those who don't already know, let me explain...

Holly and I have been a couple for 20 years now. This year we will have been married for 17 of those 20 years.

Our first wedding was our "Legal Wedding" - performed by the Mayor of Danbury in his office, with just a few family members in attendance. That wedding happened on June 14th - and we ("I") chose that date because it happened to be "Flag Day" - and whenever anyone would ask me what my favorite holiday was, I'd say that it was Flag Day.

Holly and I were both practicing pagans at the time, so our second wedding was our "Pagan Wedding". That wedding took place on June 19th (Juneteenth) because it was the next Saturday after Flag Day that year. That was a much larger and beautiful wedding... and we performed the ceremony ourselves as we didn't want any sort of a minister or Justice of the Peace to perform it for us (which is why we had the "Legal Wedding" beforehand).

Over the years things changed... and after two decades of walking a pagan path I returned to the Church - which meant we had to have our marriage blessed by the Church in order for me to receive the Sacrament of Communion. So we had to have a third wedding - our "Catholic Wedding" - and that wedding happened on March 16th because, well - "John 3:16".

It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful day! My brother Peter stood as my Best Man, with my son Brandon serving as "Unofficial Best Man"... and my niece Frannie stood as Holly's Maid of Honor, with our daughter Caitlynn serving as "Unofficial Maid of Honor". (I say "unofficial" because at that point neither of them had completed the Sacraments - so they could not stand as our "official" witnesses).

Even though Catholicism was not and is not her path, Holly fully supported me and continues to support me and my path. We don't always see eye-to-eye on certain matters of faith and even certain political issues - but we respect each other's beliefs and,  well... the differences just keep things interesting!

So I guess you could say that Holly is "The wife so nice that I married her thrice!"

All three of our anniversaries mean something special to us. All three of them have special memories and emotions attached to them. Each of them is equally important to us.

So if you go by the calendar - this is "Anniversary #1" as we travel through the year. If, however, you go by the order in which the weddings happened - this is "Anniversary #3".

Regardless, I wake up every morning and I make my Morning Offering and Prayers as soon as I get out of bed... and every day I give thanks for being blessed to have Holly as my wife.

To Holly,

Thank you for choosing me... and for continuing to choose me day after day!

I love you more than any words could ever express!

Happy Anniversary #1 (or #3)!!!

 - Vin


*   *   *

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

366 Project - Day 75 - "Abstract (Sheer Curtains)"

March 15, 2016 - "Abstract (Sheer Curtains)"

What do you call it when a bored photographer and a bedroom window with closed mini-blinds and sheer curtains meet?

Well... I don't know what YOU call it, but I call it "Abstract (Sheer Curtains)".


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Monday, March 14, 2016

366 Project - Day 74 - "Abstract (Wholesale Club)"

March 14, 2016 - "Abstract (Wholesale Club)"

Why is it that every time we're on our way out of our local BJ's Wholesale Club we end up getting the one receipt-checker who feels the need to count all of our 30 or 40+ items and then go through each box we've packed to make sure the items are the exact ones that are on the receipt? Is it really necessary?

Just wondering.

*   *   *

Sunday, March 13, 2016

366 Project - Day 73 - "The Holy Land Cross of Waterbury"

March 13, 2016 - "The Holy Land Cross of Waterbury"

If you're from Connecticut, you're probably already familiar with it.

If you've ever driven through Connecticut on I-84, you've probably seen it.

It's "The Holy Land Cross" - perched high upon the hill that looks over the town of Waterbury.

There has been a large illuminated cross at this site since the 1950s. In 2008 it was replaced by a smaller (yet still very large) stainless steel version that did not light up - but was illuminated at night by spotlights. That cross did not last very long however... and was eventually removed in November 2013 to make way for the current one, which was first illuminated just before Christmas, 2013.

This current cross stands just shy of 60 feet tall and is almost 30 feet wide. It weighs over 13 tons and has 5,000 LED bulbs which glow through the darkness. It can be seen for miles.

And so tonight I'm standing in an empty parking lot a couple of miles from the cross... standing in the darkness... looking up at its glowing light.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:5


*   *   *

Saturday, March 12, 2016

366 Project - Day 72 - "Spring!"

March 12, 2016 - "Spring!"

It's a very beautiful, spring-like day today!

The windows are open...

The boy child is playing basketball in the driveway...

Leica has perched herself on the couch to watch the scene...

While Beethoven's Sixth Symphony plays in the background.


*   *   *

Friday, March 11, 2016

366 Project - Day 71 - "Parenting in the Emergency Room"

March 11, 2016 - "Parenting in the Emergency Room"

I was recently asked the question: What is it, exactly, that is so physically hard about parenting?

It's a simple enough question... isn't it?

Yet the answer is so complex that it is, in and of itself, a hard one to explain. It truly needs to be experienced in order to be understood... so the only answer I was able to give was along the lines of "Just wait. You'll find out soon enough."

My wife and I have two children. Our daughter is about to graduate high school and is preparing to move out of state to begin college this fall. Our son is a freshman in high school, and struggles to get through each day of being a teenage boy with Autism. The last eighteen years have been a rollercoaster ride for us as parents. There have been extreme highs and major dives to low points with lots of twists and turns and loops along the way. At the very least it can, at times, be a very emotionally-draining experience... which in turn ends up becoming a very physically-draining one.

Today has been the perfect example of the rollercoaster ride of life as a parent - as 90% of my day thus far has been spent in the emergency room with my daughter.

The day began beautifully. I woke up early... saw both kids off to school... took care of a few necessary tasks - then went right back to bed to sleep in a little... only to be woken up by a phone call from my wife saying that she had just received a phone call from the high school that our daughter was having an emergency and that they were calling 911. My wife was in the process of rushing to the school and trying to arrange for her mother to come pick me up so I could meet them at the emergency room.

All I knew was that something had gone wrong and that my daughter was shaking uncontrollably and her eyes were moving back and forth like crazy. I didn't know if she was alert or not. I just knew those things and that the ambulance was on its way.

A sudden sense of panic set in - during what was, perhaps, the most agonizing 15 or 20 minutes I've ever experienced. I was shaking like crazy... my heart was racing... I couldn't focus as I tried to make sure that I was ready to rush out the door as soon as I saw my mother-in-law's car pull up. I don't know how many times I had to stop myself to calm myself in order to be able to do something. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. I found myself talking to myself - saying things like "No No No No No No No No" over and over again... and actually telling myself what I needed to be doing as I scrambled to find both my Xanax and my Parkinson's meds to stop the shaking. I was running around the house... and suddenly realized that I was crying and praying harder than I have in a long time.

The knowledge that something bad has happened to your child - yet not knowing exactly what is going on and being helpless to do anything produces a sense of pain and agony that really cannot be described.

We raced to the hospital and actually pulled in at the same time that the ambulance was backing in. I rushed in to the ER - hysterical - and the attendant wouldn't let me through because she hadn't been entered into the system yet. Thankfully a different staff member heard what I was saying - that of course she hasn't been put into the system yet because they're in the process of taking her out of the fucking ambulance as we're standing here fucking talking - and he went into the ER and then came back out to walk both my mother-in-law and me to the room.

Walking into the room... seeing your child shaking uncontrollably as staff members try to figure out what the heck is going on is an absolutely terrifying experience.

Thankfully we have an amazing ER here... and the staff is incredible. They had her calm as soon as possible - and hooked up to an IV while they ran blood tests and such to find out what happened. I don't know how long we ended up being there... it was at least three or four hours, I think. Little by little she became calmer and calmer... and you could see that she was stabilizing and returning back to her normal self. Things became much more relaxed in the room... as staff brought us drinks and food and such as we waited for the doctor to come in.

We're home now. She is doing well and is going to be fine. It appears that the entire episode was a result of her body reacting to a recent increase in the dosage of a medication. The medical particulars of what happened don't really matter any more though... what matters is that it was one of the most terrifying experiences I think we've ever had as parents.

Now that we're home... I can't help but think about the last 18 years. The late-night doctor calls. The trips to the emergency room. The many sleepless nights. The physically exhausting days. The mornings when it was a struggle to get out of bed because you were just so worn out - but you had to do it anyway. The emotional highs and lows of milestones like the first day of kindergarten and the first time your child came home in tears because of something another child said or did to them. All of the ups and downs... all of the emotional highs and lows... all of the times where you found yourself crying in your bedroom, wanting to scream... and all of the times where you found yourself crying tears of joy, of happiness, of pride.

Being a parent truly is the hardest, most emotionally and physically demanding job there is - and it has to be experienced in order to really understand just why that is the case.

I wouldn't trade it for the world though.


*   *   *

Thursday, March 10, 2016

366 Project - Day 70 - "Abstract (Plastic Lid)"

March 10, 2016 - "Abstract (Plastic Lid)"

It's a beautiful day today...

A day to open the windows and air out the house...

A day to put some music on and do some writing while I sip some tea...

A relaxing, beautiful day...

Oh - and apparently it's a day to take abstract photos of the lid of a plastic storage container too. Who knew!?!


*   *   *

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

366 Project - Day 69 - "Abstract (Bubble Wrap)"

March 09, 2016 - "Abstract (Bubble Wrap)"

Today I'm playing with a freshly opened roll of bubblewrap - for packaging up the things I sell online.

That's it... I've got nothing else for today.


*   *   *

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

366 Project - Day 68 - "Abstract (Tiny Bubbles)"

March 08, 2016 - "Abstract (Tiny Bubbles)"

Playing around with my camera and a plastic water bottle while listening to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3.


*   *   *

Monday, March 7, 2016

366 Project - Day 67 - "Abstract (Cracked)"

March 07, 2016 - "Abstract (Cracked)"

Roof leaks lead to a bowing and cracking dining room ceiling which now has to be ripped down and replaced.

*   *   *

Sunday, March 6, 2016

366 Project - Day 66 - "70"

March 06, 2016 - "70"

Today we're celebrating my mother-in-law's 70th birthday with a surprise party!



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Saturday, March 5, 2016

366 Project - Day 65 - "Abstract (Flowing Glass)"

March 05, 2016 - "Abstract (Flowing Glass)"

Just me...

... and my iPhone...

... and a glass bowl that appears to be flowing.


*   *   *

Friday, March 4, 2016

366 Project - Day 64 - "Snow Drops (Galanthus)"

March 04, 2016 - "Snow Drops (Galanthus)"

I don't know why, but every year I find myself looking forward to the blooming of the Snow Drops in our front yard.

There's only one very tiny spot where they grow. Some years there'll be a half-dozen or more blooms... other years, like this year, there'll only be a couple. They're so low to the ground and completely surrounded by a sea of Pachysandra that they're almost impossible to notice unless you know they're there and are looking for them. Yet every year, without fail, they're there... and every year, without fail, I find myself eagerly anticipating their return.

Small and delicate, yet with a certain strength to be able to grow and bloom when the rest of nature seems to be saying "No. Not yet!".

I know that they're a completely different species, but something about them brings back memories of the tiny Lily of the Valley that would bloom in my grandmother's yard.

They make me smile.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

366 Project - Day 63 - "Abstract (Glass)"

March 03, 2016 - "Abstract (Glass)"

It's a quiet kind of day today.

A day for simple photos.

A day to relax... maybe do some reading... sip some tea.


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

366 Project - Day 62 - "Being Catholic"

March 02, 2016 - "Being Catholic"

Two very interesting experiences happened to me yesterday, the first of which involves a social media post by a longtime friend... while the second occurred while eating a "Moons Over My Hammy" sandwich at Denny's.

In the first of the two experiences, a friend posted a status about coming home and finding a Jesus pamphlet stuck in their front door... then went on to express pride that their child took it and ripped it up. The post finished with the statement that if everyone were to do that, the world would be a much better place.

I thought long and hard about whether or not I should respond to the post. In the end I did respond, asking how, exactly, that was a "good" thing and something to be proud about. Someone I do not know then responded to my response by saying "How is that not a good thing and something to be proud of? Kid's a freethinker.".

I don't know which frightened me more: The original post which I responded to... or the reply the stranger made to my response to that post. The emotion and thought of it filled my mind for the remainder of the day.

Hours passed and I found myself sitting at a Denny's having lunch with my mother in between doctors appointments. Very near to our table were two gentlemen eating lunch while having a very in-depth conversation about religion. It was quickly made clear that both were Christian... and that one of them had a degree in theology. The primary subject of their conversation was Christianity and, in particular, Catholicism.

My mind kept getting distracted by their conversation - as it was quite loud and difficult to ignore, but also happened to be of a subject I'm quite familiar with. Their conversation started off well enough with a general agreement that Christianity was "the way to go". When they began talking of Catholicism, however, things seemed to go down a very twisty road. Both made it quite clear that they admired Pope Francis and what he is "trying to do"... and, based on what was being said, it appeared that both had been Catholic at some point in their lives but have since left the Church.

Right about this time my mother began asking me questions about the Church... and talking about how much it has changed since "years ago".  Our conversation and the conversation of the two gentlemen sitting nearby seemed to intermingle. They were talking about specific tenets of the Roman Catholic Church... yet 7 or 8 out of every 10 things they were declaring consisted of incorrect information. They seemed to be extremely firm in their knowledge of what the Church says about "this" or what the Church says about "that"... as well as why Catholics do "this" or why Catholics do "that" - yet they simply were not getting the facts correct.

My mind shifted back to the conversation with my mother... and her statement that the Church has changed a lot over the years and that Mass is so different now than it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago. We talked about how there are many people who do not genuflect before entering the pew. We talked about how few people go to Confession. We talked about how many people head out the door immediately after receiving Communion, without staying for the final prayers and the declaration that the Mass has ended. We talked about many things of that nature... and it made me realize that it isn't the Catholic Church that has changed, it's the Catholics themselves who have changed.

I'm Catholic and an active member of my parish. I also happen to come from a Catholic family. Combine the two and, well, lets just say that I know a heck of a lot of Catholics!

What amazes me is how many Catholics I know or have met over the years do not know the "basics" of their own Church. Many don't know "why" we dip our finger into the Holy Water Font and cross ourselves upon entering and exiting the church - or when you "should" and "shouldn't" genuflect, or why we even genuflect in the first place. Many do not know the conditions under which you "should" or "shouldn't" receive Holy Communion. Most do not know that you are supposed to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays of the year (unless it happens to be a Solemnity), and think that the "No Meat" rule only applies during Lent. Even more don't know that most Catholics (it depends on age) are required to both Fast and Abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I have met other Catholics who see the Brown Scapular that I wear, who did not know what it was... and have never heard of a Scapular before. That I can somewhat understand, as the wearing of Scapulars has unfortunately become less common in recent years. Far worse is that I've had the same happen with regards to the Miraculous Medal. A very large number of Catholics I've spoken with do not know the details of how "that whole Purgatory thing", as they put it, works.

Yet all of this information is right there in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That's another thing though... as I've met far too many practicing Catholics who have never heard of nor seen a copy of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", which is sad. No - I don't expect every fellow Catholic to have fully read and studied the "CCC" - but to not even know that it exists and that within it the basic tenets of the Roman Catholic Church are defined just seems strange to me. Even worse - many have never read the Bible itself - and only know what they've heard during mass.

Looking at the overall picture - I look back on that social-media post I mentioned at the beginning, and I think to myself: Why am I surprised by this? How can we expect others to know and understand the beauty of our faith when so many of us do not even make the effort to know and understand it ourselves!?!

I might get hell for stating this... yet I can't help but feel that many non-Christians have the negative view of Christianity that they have because they've never met someone who was truly trying to walk the path of the teachings of Christ. That might be why so many people are taken aback at some of the actions and words of Pope Francis... they just aren't used to seeing a Christian actually being a Christian!

I pray ever day that this will change. I know that I am far from perfect. I know that I have committed a great many sins in my lifetime... and I still continue to sin (which is why I spend so many afternoons in Confessionals, LOL!). In our current world... our current culture... there is no such thing as a "perfect Catholic" or a "perfect Christian". We may never reach the perfection that is Jesus Christ... yet I cannot help but feel that we who call ourselves His followers should be constantly trying to do just that.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

366 Project - Day 61 - "Abstract (Looking Down)"

March 01, 2016 - "Abstract (Looking Down)"

There are times in life when it seems as if you are at the very bottom of the stairs, looking up at all of the steps you have to climb to get where you want to go.

There are times in life when it seems as if you are at the very top of the stairs, and the only direction you can go is down - because there is no more "up".

Most of the time, however, it seems as if you are somewhere in the middle. That can be a very confusing place to be, because at times you'll feel that you need to keep going up... and other times you'll feel the need or desire to go back down.

Then there are the times when you feel as if M.C. Escher created the staircase you're on... and you have absolutely no clue which way is "up" or "down" - or if, perhaps, you're somehow going sideways while walking upside-down.

That's kind of where I am today...

... and I have to admit, it's actually kind of fun!


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