Saturday, September 27, 2014

Seven Quick Takes - Florida

The Adventure Begins

We went to Universal Studios last July - first family trip with all four of us in several years - and long overdue.

1. July is a great time to go, if you're a fan of heat, humidity and rain showers.

2. The rides are awesome. They leave you alternately dizzy, soaked, jazzed, or some combination of the three.

3. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is really best seen in the evening. The plastic snow on the rooftops looks less plastic at twilight.

4. Stay at the onsite hotels, simply for the express ticket. You may feel a bit bad as you zoom past the people standing in hour-long lines for rides. But you'll get over it quickly, trust me.

5. Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks is awful. However, most folks believe all British food is awful, so perhaps they are just trying to meet expectations.

6. Butterbeer is fabulous. It is the best drink ever. Sorry, Silver Oak, it just is.

7. I know why they make you pay extra for internet at the onsite hotels. It's to get you and your kids off of it. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Minnesota - Seven Quick Takes

Lake Vermilion

1. Cabins in Minnesota do not have air conditioning. In late July or August, when the temperature hits the 80 degree mark, they smell exactly like saunas and are just as hot. Fans are of little help.

2. The restaurants in northern Minnesota have the best blue cheese dressing. Which makes up, a bit, for the aforementioned lack of air conditioning.

3. Ice cream cones come with three scoops. If you ask for a single scoop, you get a raised eyebrow and at least two scoops. Minnesotans take their daily calcium requirements very seriously.

4. Minnesota politics is interesting. It is the land of Jesse Ventura and Al Franken.

5. One of the local restaurants served Tilapia instead of Walleye at its Friday Night Fish Fry. Won't be going there again for that. Tilapia. Really?

6. The Chocolate Moose in Ely is where it's at. Trust me on this one.

7.  Despite what the state website may say, the mosquito is Minnesota's state bird, not the loon. Vying for second place are the horse fly and the deer fly. Bring bug repellent with 100% Deet.  Spray the cabin, the boat, your clothes, your life jacket, even your fishing pole. Bring several cans. You can also spray the bugs themselves - you will come to hate them that much. Just sayin'.

Friday, March 29, 2013

More than Enough for Me

Suscipe Prayer:

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours;
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

-St. Ignatius of Loyola

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanks, Pope Benedict XVI

The news broke early this morning that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of this month due to ill health.

As a non-card carrying member of the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club and an Anglican, I am sorry to see him go. It is my fervent prayer that the next pope will be cut of the same cloth, because B16's service to his Church and mine has been gratefully received, by me, if not by everyone.

May God richly bless the retirement of the Rottweiler of the Faith.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Am Ann, A Stone

I am part of a wall. It is what I am meant to be and all that I am.

I am a living stone, oddly shaped, planned and placed by God.

I am built upon a foundation whose cornerstone is Christ, whose mortar is the Holy Spirit, and whose owner is our Father God.

I am connected to all the stones of the wall, resting on some, holding up others.

I am strong and weak, sheltering and protected.

I am uniquely created to never be complete or whole alone.

I am in love with what God has created, with my fellow stones.

I am at home in this wall, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.

I am Ann, a stone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

seven quick takes

One of my favorite bloggers does this thing called seven quick takes. Short, off the cuff thoughts - a snapshot of a day or an hour.

1. President Obama really, really should not have said to Gov. Romney that bit about we have these things called air craft carriers. That was utterly rude. Had I been on the fence, he'd have lost me right there.

2. I got a raise today, I need to work more! It's nice to be edging away from minimum wage, and on toward being a bigger support. And I'm doing it without getting another degree (which had been my interest). Plus I can work in my pjs. It's all good.

3. I'm going on a date with my beloved tonight. Having recently gotten over losing my voice for a week, I'll be too busy talking to eat much. Sorry, honey.

4. A boy from my niece's high school was killed in a joy ride that ended badly yesterday. It hits very close to home, and I am praying that she remains safe through her life. I cannot imagine the pain those parents are in. I'm hoping to spend some time with her this weekend. Hugging will be on the agenda. Much hugging.

5. One of my best friends is in from London for the week - I think she took my profile picture in front of the Whole Foods in Kensington, where she indulged my need to stop in at the British mothership. I'll see her for lunch tomorrow. She's a poet. She's also funny, compassionate, wise and wonderful. I'm grateful for her friendship and so looking forward to wallowing in it in person for a bit.

6. I went to the Diocese of Quincy Synod two weeks ago. The bishop ordered me to keep talking. Within a day, my voice decamped, totally gone. So if you have something you'd like me to stop, or start, email Bishop Morales and ask him to order me to do (or not do) it, and we'll do an episcopal experiment. The worship at Synod was fabulous. Let those of us who know tell those who don't. Very, very mission oriented place to be for anyone who has decided to follow Jesus.

7. And finally, I love Hot and Spicy Cheez-its. I just do. They're not vegan, or organic, or even close to being good for me. But I love them. I will not buy another box, though, because I cannot resist them. Now it's time to brush the crumbs off my shirt and go to get my girl.

Living as the Spanish Do

These pictures were taken during the trip we took with my brother and sister-in-law to Barcelona in March. The four of us were wandering, which we did a lot of while in Barcelona, and happened upon this tapas bar around the corner from the beautiful Santa Maria del Mar. Let me just say, sometimes the best things happen to those who wander.

I'd been wanting to visit the city since I was 20 and drove through it on the way to catch the ferry to Palma. I hung out of the car window, soaking up the sights as my French maman sputtered at the drivers around us under her breath.

So my family indulged me, and dusting off my university Spanish, we rented an elegant flat in the old town, just off the Plaça Sant Jaume. It was beautiful, in the center of everything, and incredibly noisy. People filled the street beneath our balconies, laughing and carousing until the garbage truck came through at 3:00 a.m. and blessedly swept them all away.

We arrived in the afternoon, wading through a marathon to reach our flat, where we rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of Spanish red. We found dinner at a nearby restaurant, crowded with folks from all over, ate dinner and collapsed.

Being good travelers, we decided that while in Spain, we should live as the Spanish do and eat every two or three hours. Some mornings we went to the cafe across the street; some mornings my brave brother struck out alone in search of caffeine, God bless him. The ladies at the cafe didn't love on him, he speaks no Spanish, but hail the conquering hero, he came back victorious with coffee, warmed milk and pastries.

Each day we'd talk about what to do and then sight see until was time for the traditional mid-morning snack of a grilled ham sandwich with a beer. I am, for the record, hugely in favor of that tradition. I found it's really impossible to be a vegetarian in Barcelona, the ham is too good. Is there a classification for vegetarians who eat fish and ham? Yeah, I know, that would be "not vegetarian."

Anyway, a bit more wandering, and it would be lunch time! And lunch was a variety of courses, served with wine, leaving us ready to go back to the flat for a nap. A short nap though, as who would want to miss the 4:00 churros and chocolate? The chocolate is like melted frosting. Mmmm.... And get this, you're supposed to dunk the churro into it. Oh man alive.

All this eating pretty much forced us to walk in order to both ward off a sugar high and work up an appetite for tapas, which are served two hours later. We chose from a selection from the bar, ordered a beer, and continued sampling until we were full. Actually we were only supposed to take a few, to stave off any pre-dinner munchies, but we wanted to try a little of everything while we were there. So we did, paying for our tapas at the bar on our way out.

By this point in the day, we'd have had a beer at 10:30, wine with lunch, a huge dose of sugar, more beer with our tapas and our pace slowed considerably. Which was pretty ideal for popping our heads into churches and finding plaças that were tucked betwixt the buildings, rewarding us just for looking.

In a tiny, oddly-shaped square by the Plaça del Pi, we found a perfectly Spanish restaurant where we ate two of the five dinners we had in Barcelona. They were pleased to talk about wine with us, and we ate stunningly well. Lamb in a jammy, meaty sauce, fresh seafood pasta, and an incredible plate of Spanish ham left us content, but somehow still able to spend the rest of the evening watching street theater with a gelato in hand.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last weekend about selling your house and retiring to travel around the world. I'd love to do it for a year, with family and friends visiting as possible. I could happily spend months exploring Barcelona alone. But I'd have to keep wandering. Because the way they eat there, if I were to stop, I'd weigh too much to fit anywhere but in the cargo hold on the flight home.