"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis De Sales

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 16)

1. Sunday's reading, Mathew 20:1-16, is a parable that I had not put much thought into. That's because I was thinking how odd it was that those who went to work later in the day would receive the same pay as those who started on time. The concept of a "fair day's pay for a fair day's work" is one that I grew up with and follow in my daily job. Unfortunately I missed the word "parable," or chose to overlook it. This is not about work, it is about faith and love of Jesus. Many of us, in following our spiritual journeys, arrive at accepting God's Grace at different times in our lives.

My interpretation of the parable has me standing around trying to figure things out. I arrive at dawn but was not ready to work. Later at nine I headed toward the vineyard but was easily swayed to do something else. Then at noon I took a second trip to the vineyard. But once again I didn't make it. Other things seemed more important. Finally, at three o'clock, I went to the vineyard and began working. Thankful that I finally made it there and embarrassed that it took so long.

So I am receiving my "wages" and moving forward. It doesn't bother me that those who come after me receive the same wages. Well, sort of. I mean if my son or close friend joins us in the vineyard at five o'clock, I'm happy for them and welcome them with all my heart. But, will I or can I do the same for someone who has been hurtful to me or another? This is where God's love is, forgiving all of us for whatever we have done. Condemn the sin, not the sinner. God give me the strength and faith needed for forgiveness.

2. The garage is suppose to be a place to park a car or two, depending on the size. I use it as a work area complete with work bench and storage bins. There is a storage area for those things I don't need to access all of the time and also one for the "bulk" items we purchase from "Sam's Club" and "Costco." Pretty much all in order, sometimes.

One day I place an item in an open spot that I'm going to take somewhere. It might be clothes for "Goodwill" or a tool for one of our sons, or a "return item" for a store. All of a sudden this space becomes cluttered with more items and begins to overflow on to my work bench. There is no where to do "work." So I spend time re-organizing, redistributing and removing things. I still haven't figured out how to keep it organized "all of the time." Then again maybe that's not really important. They're only "things."
3. Dee has safely returned trip with my sister Kim and Sister in law Karen. I really missed her but I am also happy for her. She had a great time and brought back a lot of pictures. Life will now get back to normal for me. :0)

4. I have noticed that if we human beings tell ourselves something long enough, whether it is true or not, we will begin to believe it. The papers have been talking about another recession and how much trouble we are facing. I know things are not as before, but I believe we are climbing out of our economic issues. We are not out of the hole, so please don't push us back down.

5. Sister Melannie Svoboda, S.N.D. wrote an uplifting muse in today's "Living Faith."

"God is in our midst. Against the roar and clamor of bad news, we must listen for the whisperings of good news in our own hearts, families, churches, schools, workplaces and peace-negotiation tables, wherever people of good will are engaged in bringing peace into their specific situations, and doing so with courage and love."

There is always hope as long as we have faith and believe. Life is not always easy but God has given us the tools to deal with life. All we have to do is use them and know that He is with us.

Happy second day of autumn.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 15)

1. "If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,
     complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
     Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
     each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others."  Philippians 2:1-4

When we are selfish, when we don't look out for our brothers and sisters we are not walking in the spiritual path. I spent a week with eight other people and my wife. We shared a home at the beach. We shared cooking, talking, laughing and crying. It was a week of love and joy. We became closer as friends, strengthening our love of Christ and of one another. I am thankful that He has changed my life. 

2. One of my co-workers has been keeping tabs on the various candidates running for office of the President. Apparently he is not fond of Rick Perry and his views on religion. He quoted the phrase about "separation of church and state." This brought to mind something I had read on President Jefferson. In 1802 he wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. In the letter he used the statement, "wall of separation between church and state." It appears that this is where "separation of church and state" comes from. It is not in the First Amendment. 

Many people have taken this statement as being law and it really isn't. So, saying prayers in public places such as schools, sports events, etc. should not be an issue. "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.." I am not a lawyer but it seems that if I want to pray at a public place, I am exercising my freedom of religion.  

Just my two cents.

3. When I made my confirmation God blessed me by providing Sister Regina Paul. She was short in stature but tall in faith. She taught me how important faith is and to trust in God. She lived the things she taught. A beautiful follower of God that now resides with Him.

Last night I met another woman tall in faith. She has gone through divorce, job loss and family issues. She made her weekend, became a team member for another weekend and completed college. She has touched and helped others, as was indicated by the affirmations after her talk. 

She has had a difficult journey, one that saw changes and improvement in her life. Her smile and mannerisms are contagious and makes people feel like there is nothing that can't be accomplished as long as you have faith. God has blessed her and He has blessed us by having her as part of our community. And like Sister Regina, she lives the things she teaches. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 14)

1. We were on the beach Sunday and I found it interesting just watching the different people. Some tall, some short and some average in height. The body shapes varied from a little over weight to those who appeared to have spent time exercising. Hair styles were short, long and in between. A few had no hair. Colors varied and provided a walking rainbow much like watching a pageant. 

Characters for any writer to use. All I had to do was watch and observe how they walked, how they interacted with each other and pay attention to their mannerisms. 

2. I spent time painting some historical miniatures on Tuesday. The current project is two sets of Scottish pipers with drummers and flag bearers. One set is for my friend David and the other one will be mingled into my command stands or something. 

After completion of them I need to work on a Colonial artillery unit and Brigade commander. These are required for my game at Cold Wars next March.

3. Wednesday night we got into a discussion about humorous classic movies. The top two were "Young Frankenstein" and "Princess Bride." It was fun acting out our favorite scenes and laughing about the story lines.

4. Sunday was a busy day. Dee made sauce before before church because everyone was coming over at one for an early dinner. Afterward we went to the Church picnic where the grandchildren jumped around on all the inflatable bouncers. There was ice cream and popsicles for desert. Our friend Dan passed out helium balloons providing a variety of colors that seemed to please everyone.

It was a good football day as well. The Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins both won.

OBX September 2011 Friday

This is the end of our vacation week. God has continued to bless us with sunshine and camaraderie. After breakfast Dee and I headed out to the beach. I found a large colorful shell in the surf. A great ending to the week. The rest of the group came down to enjoy the last day in the sand.

Lou and I watched "Inception" while Dee and Brenda wet shopping. It was an interesting movie although we don't know how much was real and how much were our dreams.   :0)

Dinner was left overs from the week. A real smorgasbord with a plethora of foods from fish to chicken and vegetables to fruit.

Saturday morning we packed and went to "The Duck Deli" for breakfast. Homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, home fries, grits, coffee and more. A great place for breakfast.

We had a safe leisurely ride home. Mom came over with dinner and we showed her my shell collection and Dee's photos from the week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

OBX September 2011 Thursday

A steady rain was coming down this morning, the type that nourishes the earth. There was no thunder and no lightning. It was our 20% chance of rain which was to pass and bring back the sun later in the day.  

On a morning like this the coffee tastes better. There is a pleasant aroma from the kitchen where Brenda is preparing lemon blueberry muffins. Everyone is together and enjoying good conversation. It's a delightful way to spend our vacation. 

The weather cleared up faster than I thought, so I was out to the beach searching for shells. My endeavor was successful and provided me a lot of fun jumping in and out of the surf. This was a good time to be on the beach. With the tide going out and a rain storm the night before the ocean shared it's treasury of shells.

The ladies went out for a shopping day. Jack and Roger headed out to do their thing while Lou, Tony and I went back to the beach. 

Dinner was at the Colington Cafe which seemed somewhat anti-climatic compared to the great cooking our wives did all week. But, it was still great. The service; excellent as always.

Back to the house and Thursday Night Football in Lambeau Field. Green Bay versus New Orleans. We are ready for some football!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

OBX September 2011 Wednesday

Last night we played "catchphrase." It was the "guys" against the "girls." We won two out of three and then smartly retired from the game. As always there was a lot of laughing. It is one of the best games for four or more players. We had ten which made it even more fun.

Pam, Tony, Dee and I went for our morning beach walk. God has provided another beautiful day for us. What few clouds there were eventually moved north. We found more shells and met a couple from East Aurora, New York. Not many people on the beach which is nice for us. No crowds.

The wind picked up and the red "no swimming" flags came out later in the morning. The sun was still shinning so we sat on the beach reading and conversing about different things. 

In the afternoon we went out to the Tangier Outlets in Nags Head. I bought some shirts and Dee picked up a few things as well. Ice cream at "American Pie" was a great ending to the afternoon. The homemade ice cream served in their waffle cone is excellent. 

Tonight Brenda cooked flounder with brownie pudding for desert. I need to figure out how to get these beautiful women to prepare these deserts for me. Or at least get the recipes to Dee.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

OBX September 2011 Tuesday

This morning was sunny and warm as I walked along the beach. The sky over the ocean was like a light blue canvas with white steaks loosely strewed about. Flying just a few feet over the gentle waves were a flight of pelicans. Lined up one behind the other in perfect formation. 

People enjoy walking their dogs early in the morning and today was no exception. I counted at least twelve. Some just walking and others chasing tennis balls in the surf.

I went back and joined everyone for breakfast. Afterward Pam, Tony, Brenda, Dee and I took a walk around Four Seasons village. We checked out the Recreation Center and then played "which house I like the best"

Dee took pictures of the front of the house and one of me in the "quiet room" at the Recreation Center.

I took an early evening walk on the beach and met Beth and Steve Turnbull. Having my Turnbull shirt and Scotland hat on made the introduction easier. They are from Norfolk, Virginia and are here for the week.

Maureen and Susan are cooking tonight. I love this place!

Monday, September 5, 2011

OBX September 2011 Monday

This morning I went for a walk on the beach before everyone woke up. There were just a few people out that early in the day. I used the time to pray the rosary which was quite soothing. The light ocean breeze, the sound of the surf rolling against the shore and the sun gently lighting the morning sky over the ocean. There were clouds west of me slowly heading north. Colors of white changing into grays, scattered and not really forming into any type of storm front. God was all around me.

When I returned to the house Dee, Brenda and Lou were ready to go for a walk, so off we went. By this time there were a few more people on the beach but it was still void of the crowd that would arrive later.

After breakfast we all went down to enjoy the sun, sand and gently rolling waves. Dee got a nice shot of Jack and I. We were watching a young lady attempting to kayak out beyond the surf. She tipped the kayak twice, the second time loosing complete control. Unfortunately the kayak came rolling in with the waves and hit a young woman in the back. The life guards were on top of everything and brought her on to the beach. They called the rescue squad who arrived, analyzed her condition the took her to the local hospital to make sure she was not seriously injured. Dee caught a picture of the incident. 

The afternoon was lazy and relaxing. We're on vacation, no plans and no rushing.

Tonight's dinner was Dee's delicious strombolli. Maureen made her famous peach cobbler for desert. A great way to end the day. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

OBX September 2011 Sunday

Dee and I did our morning walk on the beach. The ocean was calm and the water warm. The sandpipers were scurrying up and down the beach searching for their morning breakfast. We found a couple of nice shells to add to our collection and then headed back for breakfast.

We all spent time on the beach enjoying the sun, the sea breeze and companionship. There was reading, napping and people watching. A lazy day at the beach. Photos by Dee and Tony.

Maureen and Jack arrived a little after noon and settled in.

Pam made sauce for dinner, which was excellent. Our anti-pasta included cheese, bread, and Lou's famous Sopressata sausage which he calls "soupy." He brought it from Westerly, Rhode Island as it is not available in Richmond. Dee and I do the same thing when go to Buffalo. We bring David's special sausage and Sahlen's hotdogs from Buffalo, New York.

OBX Septemer 2011 The Arrival

Pam, Tony, Brenda, Lou, Dee and I arrived at the Morris Farm Market in the early afternoon. This is one of those "gathering points" that we use when heading for the beach. We picked up fruit and vegetables and wandered around stopping at most of the sampling areas. My favorite spot is the home made ice cream that is churned by an old John Deere tractor. Dee had pumpkin and I had chocolate.

We met up with Susan and Roger at Awful Arthur's and then headed to the rental house. 

The house is one that the "beach group" has been renting for a long time. This is our first visit and Dee and I are blessed that we were included. The first evening was relaxing and we managed to do a walk on the beach. Dee took the pictures shown below with the exception of the one of her and I. Tony took that one. The view of the house is from the back.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 13)

1. There has been a "shift" at work. Once again we are moving, although the direction has not been confirmed. My area of responsibility is putting together data. Some of it is updated from the last time I completed this task, but there is no new stuff. The baseline date has been changed to reflect where we are in this year's calendar. It reminds me of the Randy Travis song, "Ants on a Log."

'Ants on a log,
Floatin down a river but not getting anywhere,
Powerstearin wheels just ain't connected,
And we can't jump off like flees on a dog,
Can't fly away like flies on a hog,
We're really just along for the ride,
Like ants on a log." 

2. Wednesday evening we had pizza at Angelo's Restaurant with our "Beach" friends. Not everyone showed up but we still had a good time. I convinced Mom to come along and she enjoyed it. Sometimes she thinks that she is "out of place" but she is loved by everyone.

These impromptu dinners are the most fun because they usually are last minute and give us all a break from the everyday things that go on around us. This is recovery time from hurricane Irene and prep time for our beach vacation that starts Saturday. 

3. Thursday evening Dee prepared dinner for Stephen, Christina and the girls. Dee's pizza is always a hit.

Eryn and Hailey stayed with us and as always Dee enjoyed their company. She gives them her full attention and they love it. It is one of her "gifts from God."

4. Tonight I'll pack for our trip to the Outer Banks. This is still one of my favorite vacation spots. It's relaxing, it's quiet and I love the walks on the beach with Dee.

The weather forecast looks good.

5. Power was finally restored at Church of the Epiphany. Unfortunately the Ultreya that was scheduled for this evening has been cancelled. 

These things happen and we must work through them. In the Richmond area we have been dealing with a lot over the last couple of weeks, but they are minor compared to what many along the coast are dealing with. Lost homes, lost business and a lot of damage. Please keep all of these people in your prayers.  

Remembering 2011

My apologies for my post "Nine Years Later." The editing was not well done. Please take the time to read this.

There will be a lot of articles and information as we approach September 11, 2011. I am re-publishing an article that I wrote, September 2009, on my website entitled "Remembering." 

Dedicated to John Vigiano Sr. and his family. My prayers are with you.

"I listen to National Public Radio, NPR, every morning on my way to work. On Friday mornings there is a segment on “StoryCorps.” Each week a different story is aired and I always look forward to listening to people tell a little bit about their lives. Yesterday on the eighth anniversary of 9-11 John Vigiano Sr. told the story of his two sons. John Vigiano Jr., a New York City fireman and Joe Vigiano, a New York City Police Detective. Both sons died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

As the story ended I had just pulled up to get a coffee at our local Panera Bread. I sat in my car for a few moments to regain my composure. We have three sons. Their ages are 30, 34 and 36 and all of them are still alive and healthy. The youngest, Stephen, is a Lieutenant in the City of Richmond Fire Department. Stephen is the in the center, front row of the picture. We know the dangers that both firemen and policemen face every day. To them it is “just their job,” and they can’t imagine doing anything else. I pray to God to keep Stephen safe. I tell Stephen and his brothers that I love them, but probably not as often as I should. So now if I miss an opportunity you can go to my website."

                                 “I love you.”