Here I am again, trying to hit the highlights of the months I have been absent from the blog/journal. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Lent began relatively early this year. Which means, of course, that Fat Tuesday was right at the beginning of February. We celebrated with a box of Paczki (filled pastries) that we inherited from a sweet lady at church who had purchased a few too many:) They reminded me of beignets, and they each weighed about a pound…So we split them into fourths.
As you can see, everyone enjoyed them a great deal!
The next day was Ash Wednesday, and the kids had helped me make several additions to the decor that would help us to keep the season of prayer and penance a holy one. They helped me paint these letters which reminded us constantly of the works we were to undertake during Lent.
But even amidst the works of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, there’s always time for a little recreational reading. I came into the living room to find my sweet boy in the rocking chair with his book in hand, humming a tune. I could eat him up.I could also eat this guy up, or at least his pancakes, which he made into the shape of hearts (thanks to the cookie cutter from my mom in her Valentine’s Day care package). We were visiting his folks that weekend because we were also dropping off our girls to stay so that we could go on a little vacation. More on that in a moment. Some people keep a very rigorous fast during all the days of Lent, but in our family, every Sunday is a mini-Easter, a celebration of the Resurrection. Any fasting we do (sweets!) during the other six days of the week, are loosened on Sundays. If you eat the week’s worth of sweets in one day, obviously that’s missing the point. I may be guilty of that on occasion. Grandma CC and Papa C prepared a beautiful table for our feast, and it was lovely.
And then bright and early the next morning, Christopher and the boy and I were on a plane to San Francisco. Chris had some business to do there, and last-minute surprised me with having someone to watch the farm, his parents to watch the girls, and a ticket he found at a great deal. I have to admit some initial hesitation because I don’t like surprises, but when we stepped off the plane to 70-degree weather and a rental car with a sunroof in February…well, I couldn’t really complain!Even though we had been up since 3 a.m. and Charles NEVER slept on the plane rides, we still wanted to make the most of our drive from the airport to where we needed to be. So we stopped for the afternoon in Napa. After a nice lunch on the river, we walked around the downtown area and stopped into a couple of tasting rooms. One of them was Dick Vermeil’s place. I’m sure everyone in the world (except for me) knows all about Dick Vermeil, but apparently he was the coach of my husbands most favorite football team at one point. Go, my favorite sport’s team!We stayed a couple of days in Chico, where Chris had a conference, and Chachi and I toured the area and did a lot of walking in the Bidwell park, which stretches all over the place and also encompasses a California State campus. The coolest part about that was that I had accidentally left my brown scapular in the bathroom at home the morning of our flight. I hate to be without it, and I was hoping to find a religious goods store to find a replacement. But there wasn’t such a store within a two-hour radius of where we were staying. But Cal State did have a Newman Center on campus, and I wanted to find out if they had daily Mass there. The nice receptionist told me where I could attend daily Mass, and even that they had daily Confession. I had already thanked her and was heading out when I remembered to ask about any religious articles they might sell there. She said there wasn’t any sort of shop there, but wanted to know what I was looking for. When I told her I needed a scapular, she said it seemed like they used to have some at some point, but she didn’t think they were around anymore. As I was walking away, she called to me, one dangling from her fingers. She had found ONE in a drawer in the office. God’s Providence is truly awesome.
A few days later, the weekend was upon us, and we were free to roam about the Golden State. We drove through the redwood forest (at night, in the middle of a serious storm!) and found a bed and breakfast right on the water. Since it was the middle of the night, we couldn’t see anything, but in the morning, we were up at dawn to take in the sights. It was breath-taking. We enjoyed a nice long hike, and when we were satisfied with lots of pictures and videos and sandy ocean breeze in our hair, we packed up and headed up the infamous (and oh-so-wind-y) Highway 1, in search of breakfast.
This is where we stayed:This is where we breakfasted. Plenty of homemade, organic, gluten-free goodness. Yummy!
We drove all day and arrived back in San Francisco, where we enjoyed a night in the downtown Hilton, thanks to accumulated points. The parking for the night was astronomical though, yiiiikes! We had some delicious Indian food, enjoyed (?) the city sights (and then promptly decided that one night was good enough, rather than the three we had originally planned for), and made a decision to enjoy ourselves in spite of how “country” we have become in the past few years.The next morning, I tasted God’s sweet Providence again, this time in the form of free breakfast. Anyone who knows me loves how much I enjoy free perks. I was prepared to go without eating when I saw the breakfast menu at the hotel. But as we walked downstairs to the main lobby to go in search of a quick something before leaving, there were two tickets for free breakfast sticking out of the screen of the lobby directory. They beckoned me with a Hallelujah chorus, and we feasted on fruit and muffins and free beverages. Glorious. Then we made a plan to cover the essentials of the city before heading to Inverness to spend the rest of the long weekend hiking.
We made it to the National Shrine of St. Francis for Mass, and here is my handsome boy standing at the steps of the Porziuncola. There were so many beautiful churches, all within blocks of each other. We were able to stop into a number of them as we headed down to the Bay area in search of some authentic seafood fare. We weren’t disappointed. We saw Alcatraz, looked out over the water and the fishing boats while we enjoyed clam chowder and crab sandwiches, and then walked back (through Chinatown) in the rain to retrieve our car. We drove a couple of hours back up the winding Highway to a quaint bed and breakfast right outside Point Reyes National Seashore. Two days of hiking, wine and cheese, tea in the afternoon, and delicious homemade breakfast served family style each morning. It was delightful. Sunday morning we headed to the airport, anxious to be reunited with the other 2/3 of our progeny.And who could blame us? When they are this cute, it doesn’t matter that we went from 70-degrees back to 17. But a nice little get-away was a wonderful way to round out the winter.