Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ode to Tooth Number Seven

I had an adventure at the dentist yesterday.

Ok, really, I had a tooth extracted yesterday. Only it really wasn't a tooth anymore, it was a "root tip." That's what they call the thing that remains where a tooth has broken off.

Broken. Off.

This tooth, Tooth Number Seven, was the bane of my existence for a very long time. It grew in horribly crooked some twenty-five years ago, and my parents never thought it was enough of a concern to correct. I longed for braces--not just to straighten out my tooth for aesthetic reasons, though that was certainly a huge factor in my own motivation. It also caused me no end of pain, for Pete's sake. Bump the lip? Cut the lip. And suffer the wrath of the ever-present canker sore. Seriously, if I slept wrong, I'd end up with a canker sore.

It was impossible to floss around, being so tightly wedged against its neighbors as to disallow the floss, even the really thin kind, to swipe between them. This meant that despite frequent brushing it fell into rapid decay once the cavity began. I had it filled and re-filled, but the fillings never really sat well...and eventually the thing broke off.

Broke. Off.

In a cheeseburger.

A McDonald's cheeseburger, no less. With no pickles. I don't like pickles.

You know, filling enough to stave off rabid hunger, but soft enough to cushion the head of a sleepy toddler.

In other words, nothing requiring much chewing.

This occurred at the beginning of June, and yesterday, I had the resultant "root tip" removed. Sitting in the chair, sucking like mad on the stream of nitrous oxide, I remember thinking absolutely clear, lucid thoughts. One of them was this: why is it that when that gas hits your brain, you can think clear thoughts but cannot speak clear words? Some things are a bit funnier, yes, but for Pete's sake, why can't I tell these people about the things I'm thinking? It's as if physical actions will only go in slow motion where your voice is concerned, and your lips have turned to inflated rubber raft sides flapping uncontrollably in the wind. But in my mind, I was thinking about blog entries, soup recipes, thing on my t-do list (which certainly must extend from here to the moon) and every-day, ordinary things--and all at average speed.

Despite the inability to speak while gassed, I had not a care in the physical world. Where normally I would have stiffened a bit at the jabs which delivered the numbing medication into my gums and the roof of my mouth, I just sat there and thought about how many cans of red beans I need for minestrone soup. And instead of balking at the idea of someone taking hold of something firmly implanted into my jaw, I wondered if I should make stroganoff again soon or think of something else to fit into the menu. At the end of it all, I discovered that I now display a gaping hole in the space where Tooth Number Seven used to comfortably (or not-so-comfortably) protrude reside. My gums and jaw are a bit tender, but my lip rejoices in its delicious freedom of movement, delighting in the soft friend it's found in the space the tooth left behind.

I must confess, I almost like going to the dentist. This is probably because the people in the office we now patronize are kind and have an excellent rapport, both among themselves, but also with their patients. It's a clean, homey place, and the radio station piped into the treatment rooms is versatile and kept at a low volume. What's not to love? Besides that, they are compassionate, never once uttering phrases which used to ramp up my anxiety--things like, "Boy, do you ever brush your teeth?" (Of course I do.) And, "Haven't you ever thought of braces?" (Daily, since I was ten.) And, "Why don't you come to the dentist more often?" (Um, because you people make me feel sad and inadequate.)

My present dentist and his assistant (who really should be called something more like Guardian Angel, for Pete's sake) are fabulous. They get on so well together, have a delightful banter with each other, and have treated me with compassion and dignity, which I so greatly appreciate. It's terribly important, because I've been spending a lot of time there since my first appointment in July. I've had two root canals (done at another office, but the complements extend to them as well), two temporary crowns, with the second permanent scheduled to be placed next Tuesday, lots of fillings, with a few more scheduled in a couple of weeks, a cleaning, and when the vacancy left by Tooth Number Seven heals, I will be having a partial done which will cover five teeth and make me have a nice, pretty, straight smile.

I have also found that the long appointments afford an excellent time for interior prayer. With your mouth open and capable hands working therein, what else can you really do? There are only so many ceiling tiles to be counted, only so many times you can look for the hidden deer in the wildlife art, and since you already know the settings on the x-ray machine, you might as well throw in a bit of prayer here and there. I've offered Rosaries, prayed to my dentist's (and his assistant's) guardian angel, prayed for those who cannot afford dental care (which really counts me, but my Mother-In-Law is an angel herself!), for those who need far more dental work than I do, and so on. It's wonderful.

When was the last time you were blessed by a trip to the dentist?

Monday, September 28, 2009

....And that one goes in the "keep" file.

It's blustery. Like that cute song that Winnie-the-Pooh sings in the classic movie, "It looks like a rather blustery day to-day." Even though it's not Wednesday, it was definitely a Winds-day here.

The Frog had her first Confirmation class last night. There were about 20 kids there, all on fire in their hearts in love with Our Lord, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. The not-so-beautiful part was the onset of this front. There we were, kneeling in the darkened nave, the scent of incense hanging in the air from the morning's Mass. The silence was such a treasure--no squawking babies to be taken out into the Narthex, no shuffling of hymnals. We moms waited together for our kids to come join us, and together we prayed the Litany of the Holy Spirit.

We were deep in reverent prayer, our voices melding together praising Our Lord. It was beautiful. And then the wind came.

Oh my goodness. The church shuddered. Hail pounded against the ancient stained glass windows, as if to crash in on top of us. I was certain that we were doomed to rise directly into the heavens, for Pete's sake. (I do not like wind. At all. Ever. Not even to fly a kite. Perhaps to ruffle the curtains at my kitchen window, or sift through my baby's hair, but that's it.)

The wind carried through to today. All day, it howled outside, truly bringing down the leaves and dropping the temperature like a stone. The prelude to this front has taken the better part of a week, and has left me and the Frog with mega-headaches. She was adjusted this morning and this afternoon, and it still persists.

I shall gladly shoulder my suffering and pray for an end to hers.

This cold, blustery weather called for soup.

Ah, soup! That comfort of all foods, capable of warming a home, a body and a spirit all in one fell-swoop! I relish the preparation, I delight in the simmering, and I just plain lurve to eat the stuff.

Today's soup was potato. I've been craving it for a few days now, and have been mulling over a recipe in my mind. I checked a cookbook for the basic make-up, but then flew on my own from the bland concoction listed by Better Homes and Gardens, who insist that water, chicken stock, milk, butter, potatoes, salt and pepper make a good soup. Perhaps a good base, but to call such simplicity soup??!! I think not.

So here's what I did.

Roughly 3 quarts chicken stock
Roughly 1 cup whole milk (I would have used cream, but wouldn't have had enough for my morning coffee, which is a requirement, for Pete's sake!)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp Blessed salt
1 tsp freshly ground sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 cups red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1/2 pound fresh breakfast sausage, cooked and drained
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

I combined the stock, milk, butter, salt and pepper. I let it heat to a boil while I prepared the potatoes, and then plopped them into the pot, along with the sausage. The garlic, onion and carrots were sauteed in the olive oil, until the onions were translucent and the carrots were tender. It was lovely. All the while, I kept an eye on the simmering pot. I admit, it did boil over once, but it was while I feverishly chopped carrots. And the worst I said was, "Rats!" I promise.

After they were cooked, I added the veggies to the soup and let the whole thing mingle about while the Frog made those delicious crescent rolls that are so cheating! but soooooooooo good....especially when baked on a stone and dipped into homemade soup.

This recipe goes directly into the "keep" file.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The New Element

Now that I look at that title, I realize it makes this post sound very scientific: "Attention everyone, your author has discovered a new element. Prepare to modify your Periodic Tables."

No, really, I am so not science savvy. It's just a new element here on my humble WebHome.

Scroll to the bottom to see it.

All the way. To the bottom of the page.

It's cute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Herald

The Lord saw fit to herald in the first day of Fall--according to the calendar--with a steady, gentle rain. Though the forecast called for a high of near 80, the mercury has yet to reach 60 degrees.

The smell of brownies warms the air this afternoon, and the Frog, the Pickle and the Reepicheep are settled on the living room floor with the Scrabble board. The Pudgy Bug snoozes on the couch.

I've just come from the bedroom, where the Monkey sleeps on his daddy's pillow. I couldn't help but just stare at him and reflect on the beauty of my little son.

His brow is smooth, but damp and warm with sleep. The delicate veins which cover his eyelids like lacework hint at the vibrant life flowing through them. His ears are so intricate, so perfect. I wondered to myself, could I draw this? Could I ever get it right? Would I be able to shade it, to color it properly, so that it looked even close, for Pete's sake? Of course not. Only the Lord could do something such as this.

His right hand settles around his favorite Bunny, the first two fingers barely resting against his lip. His left hand is curled gently, completely relaxed.

My heart pondered: My Lord, You were once this small. Your Mama kissed your brow, your cheeks as you slept and marveled at your beauty. Your hands were soft and clutched her skirt as she kept Your home a place of serenity, holiness, warmth.

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What an inspiring way to begin a new season....

Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm growing each year to appreciate the fall more and more. Driving on the country road, I pass corn, soybeans, and winter wheat. The corn has begun to wither on the stalks, fading to a sandy brown. The soybeans meld from green to gold, the mottled colors running together like a watercolor painting. The winter wheat is the only thing which does not change.

We have a huge honey locust tree in the back yard. All summer long, its leaves give shade and cover to the east side of the yard. The leaves are tiny, grouped on stems together. They are smaller than the petals of my sunflowers. In the fall, the leaves turn a brilliant yellow, and flutter to the grass, flitting on their way down. The shadows cast through my kitchen windows and onto the bamboo wood floors each morning are enchanting.

As the air cools and dries, the windows stay open all day. In the summertime, they are open only in the mornings and evenings, and closed to the humid heat through the afternoon. But today, the fresh air wafted through the house all day long, bringing the bird song in with it.

I rearranged the kitchen this afternoon. Since the washer and dryer made their way upstairs into the new laundry room, and the walls of the old were torn apart to access the plumbing, the kitchen had become something of a catch-all (as though I needed another one of those, thankyouverymuch), and was starting to make me a little nuts. Not only that, but the old laundry room is now far larger, thanks to My Darling flooring over the old basement stairs (since we now have the new basement stairs) and taking out the walls which enclosed it. It's 81 square feet, for Pete's sake. Eventually the wall separating that room and the kitchen will come down...but that's not exactly on the top of the priority list. I've been trying to figure out a way to make it a little more welcoming, since it's the first room one enters when coming in through the back door. I moved a large shelving unit from the kitchen into the Room-Formerly-Known-As-The-Laundry-Room (and now I have no idea what to call it, for Pete's sake!). It holds a gigantic plant and all of my food storage containers, canning supplies, and stock pots. My kitchen now looks humongous. I mean, it really looks like we could have a much bigger table and have five or six more kids sitting around it.

Just sayin'.

Good thing we have five more seats in the van.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harkening

A post over at Fr. Z's blog has a discussion about baptismal rites in the com box. I had to mention my Little Pudgy Bug's baptism, and remembered that I longed to share photos back then.

Perhaps it's time to try again.

The water is poured:
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Receive the Light of Christ:
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We all posed afterward:
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And then she talked with Monsignor! (I love the expression on his face...)
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My original post tells the better story.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Little Girl

My friend is going through something that has broken her heart. I can't take this burden on for her, but I can give her small words of hope and encouragement as I find them. My spiritual reading lately has brought me back to Bishop Sheen. I found a wonderful book of his quotes (at a second hand store--for 99 cents!) which has become more and more worn as I page through it each night. I have been blessed to pray for my friend and the cross she finds herself carrying while I meditate on these truths.

And then there's this.

I've always found it far easier to relate to others through music, and this situation is no different....so this post is for you, H.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Crescat Poll

The Crescat has a poll running. Since I don't generally post things political, I'll just direct my faithful readers over there. Go vote!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Allergy Season

The annual crop of ragweed has been spewing it's pollen into the late summer air, and my sinuses have been greedily ingesting all they can.

It's allergy season in the Midwest, big time.

Every afternoon, all year long, we have Quiet Time in this house. The Frog, the Pickle, and the Reepicheep are all expected to find something which will occupy their time until the little ones finish their snoozes. They can color, write, read, paint, knit, make collages, play with legos--whatever--as long as it does not involve conversation. I do permit the use of their MP3 players (the little $10 versions which store music, and do not do anything fancy like take pictures or show videos...), and if it's kept to a volume which cannot be heard past a closed door, I allow the Frog to listen to the local Christian radio station.

Last Thursday during Quiet Time, I really needed to snooze with the Monkey and the Bug. I'd been to the dentist in the morning and had a choir rehearsal in the evening, and I was feeling a bit under the weather. Following lunch, the big kids chose their afternoon activities (we had just hit the library, so there wasn't too much else they wanted to do besides grab one of their new books anyway), and the Bug, the Monkey and I settled into the Big Bed to snuggle and snooze.

I slept like a rock. That doesn't happen a lot. Ever since becoming a Mama, there have been fewer than a dozen times when my head has hit the pillow and I've slept so soundly that I am completely unaware of the goings on of the household. Usually, I am in a perpetual state of awakeness. If a feather floats to the floor, I know about it. If a mouse drops a crumb, I sense it. If one of my children blinks, I hear their eyelashes brush their cheeks. Thursday, though, was one of those days when I was so completely unconscious that I didn't even hear My Darling come home from work.

When I woke up from my nap, someone had already come and plucked my happily cooing Pudgy Bug from her little nest beside me. The Monkey was downstairs messing around with blocks. And my head pretty nearly burst from the pressure therein.

Good grief. Holy cats and marbles. I was so plugged up I could hear virtually nothing, and though I could breathe through my nose just fine, there was enough pressure in my sinuses to burst a fire hose. I could actually see the swelling in my face. My eyes watered enough to fill a rain barrel.

It's very interesting to sing in a choir rehearsal when you cannot hear those around you. I can feel in my voice whether or not I am in tune if I'm singing alone. To be able to blend and tune to others, though, generally requires a careful ear. Rats. The ladies on either side of me said I sounded fine. I trust their honesty, because even if I had sounded like an alley cat, I would have been entirely unaware.

Saturday morning, I peeked at the clock at a little past six. I thought, surely I can sleep in a little. I closed my eyes and drifted back into another sound sleep, only to reawaken at 10:30! Good gravy! I slogged downstairs, where My Darling took one look at me and said, "Oh for Pete's sake, you look absolutely miserable. Get back to bed." Sometimes, I have absolutely no trouble at all with obedience. ;)

My fever hovered around 101.5 all day. I tried to read a few times, but each page I managed to turn felt as though it weighed as much as a Mack truck. My eyes felt heavy and sticky. My lids pulled toward my cheeks with every word I tried to comprehend. I pretty much slept the day away.

Sunday, I was to cantor at Mass. I did, too. There are times when I stand behind the ambo and hear something come from my mouth, not knowing at all how it got there. The Holy Spirit uses my voice to proclaim the Psalms, and many times I am greatly surprised by what I hear. On Sunday, I sniffed my way through the Mass, and was so stuffed up I could barely hear myself pray through the petitions. But when I opened up to sing, there was the Holy Spirit, carrying my voice. I love that He does that. It's another reminder that I can do nothing at all without My Lord.

I am beginning to recover this week. I think. I'm less stuffed up than I was over the weekend. Now if this pesky cough would just go away...