Tag Archives: cocktails

Kateri the American

Greetings readers!

Today is the feast day of St. Kateria Tekakwitha.  Kateria was canonized by the Catholic Church just five years ago.  When I was a child I knew her as “Blessed” Kateri.  I also remember that her name was spelled “Tekawitha” without the additional “k”.  I suppose along the road to sainthood people sometimes pick up an extra letter or two.

Kateri is an amazing woman.  A Mohawk maiden who lived in and around present-day Auriesville, NY (a suburb of Albany), Kateri was converted to the Catholic faith by Jesuit missionaries in the 17th century.  As I recall (and I’m too lazy to Google this in another tab) Kateri received the the grace of being hideously disfigured.  Stick with me.  You see, she was quite the looker with that sexy feathered headdress and was a style maven even Mr. Blackwell would approve of.  The moccasins completed the outfit with perfection. However, a smallpox outbreak when she was a child left terrible scars on her face.  I know the feeling.  I was on Accutane in my early 20’s.


Not my favorite statue of Kateri but my own picture nonetheless.  Santa Fe, NM

To refer to this as a “grace” is simply to say that the scarring actually may have helped young Kateri who, following her conversion, took a vow of perpetual virginity for the sake of the Kingdom.  Well, as if the unsightly nature of her mug weren’t enough to advance that cause, Kateri was shunned by many in her own tribe for her conversion.  She ultimately fled to Montreal to escape persecution and died at the age of 24.

The scars?  Miraculously they disappeared moments after her death.

Not only have I visited the shrine in Auriesville but I have visited the gravesite of Kateri on land claimed by First Nations’ Peoples* outside Montreal.

I happen to know at least ten people who have named their daughter’s Kateri so the phenomena that is Kateri’s popularity isn’t simply a flash in the pan.

Her heroic virtue is duly noted and we as both Catholics and Americans are proud to count her among our own.  And how fortuitous for us that her feast day falls on the eve of the day we celebrate New Jersey’s independence from Great Britain!


My last attempt at 7/4 cocktails.  Clearly my guests were not enthralled.

Kateri is but one of a growing number of Catholic saints and blesseds who hail from these shores.  Many of that list are typical of the American experience, having been born elsewhere (like Mother Cabrini and Mother Marianne Cope).  Many were natives of the land like Kateri and the three other natives whom we venerate.  And at least one, Mother Seton, was born on these shores prior to the colony of New York’s Brexit.

Why should you care about any of this?

I’m making cocktails for the Fourth of July!  Red, white, and blue Jell-o shots to be exact.  As I layer the components I will think of great Americans like Kateri and pray that I do not disfigure myself boiling water for the Jell-o.



Choosing Wisely on a Diet

I think the salad cancels out the drink.

Or it would have if I had eaten the salad.

Connecting With An Old Friend

Tonight I had an opportunity to spend some time with a friend of mine.

Truth be told, he’s not an “old” friend.  In fact he’s younger than me and we haven’t known each other more than a year and a half.

But tonight we had a chance to get together.  And I’m so thankful we did.  We hung out and enjoyed a few cocktails while catching each other up on the bizarre goings-on in our lives.

At the end of the night we joked that this is how men say they love each other.

“Hey, you wanna’ drink tonight?”

“Um, yeah, I guess.  I was gonna’ get online and game with my brother but I guess I could have a drink or two.”

And that’s it.  We took advantage of the goodness in God’s creation (i. e., distilled spirits) to cut loose and chat.  That’s how we do it.  No penned-in date on a calendar, no agenda.  No, just two guys and some alcohol on a patio talking about our lives.

Since I know he’s reading this, thanks for the conversation and thanks for the booze!  If you’re wondering whether I enjoyed my time, don’t think twice about it.  We should definitely do this more often.

Good times.

That's how us men-folk do it.

That’s how us men-folk do it.

In Sickness and in Health

So our evening on the beautiful Riverwalk in San Antonio served one purpose — to remind me how much I love my wife!  It also reminded me how wonderful she is to me, especially as I struggle with this affliction of a busted spinal cord.

Remember this place?

Remember this place?

We arrived in the Alamo City, toured around a bit, and experienced the joy of San Antonio traffic all in the span of an hour.  As we exited I-37 heading for the Alamo (trying to make it before this shrine to Texas liberty closed for the evening) we immediately noticed that something was off.  The ramp was backed up for a half-mile.  So we went to the next exit.  Same deal.  Mrs. Harvey dropped us off in front of the Alamo and vowed to drive around the block.  Let’s just say that 45 minutes later she had made it a few hundred yards.  Turns out that the Texas Music Educator’s Convention was in town.  Band kids were everywhere.  I imagined there would be lots of nerdy relations taking place that evening.

Looked and felt great before we headed out.  How quickly things turned.

Looked and felt great before we headed out. How quickly things turned.

Oh well, we saw the Alamo (I’d seen it many times but Matt had not and he’s a big history buff).  We checked into our hotel and head out to dinner.  The Riverwalk is an amazing place and truly one of my favorite places on earth.  But for some reason, this time I just wasn’t feeling it.  It was packed.  My leg had been bothering me very much.  Anticipating an evening drink or two, I had stopped taking my pain meds earlier in the day.  And herein lies the problem (I think).  You see, I have read that this particular painkiller has some powerful withdrawal symptoms.  I had not experienced any of these before.  Then again, I haven’t really taken this one in many years.  After a grueling walk up and down flights of stairs and navigating through throngs of tourists and waiting at a bar for an hour for our table (all on my feet with the use of my cane) I finally sat down only to feel the onset of a horrible headache.

When my food finally arrived I knew something was wrong.  I took one bite, lifted the fork to my lips, and promptly set it back down on the plate.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  By the time everyone else had finished their meals, my wife, looking on me with pity, inquired if I was feeling OK.  She reached over to feel my forehead.  “Let me get you back to the hotel,” she said.  I felt awful at ruining everyone’s night but I knew she was right.  We got up and started back on our way.  The night air had started to chill…

By the time we made the three block trek, I was in full blown “ready to hurl” mode.  I made it to the room before all hell broke loose.  I don’t remember much else other than crawling into the most uncomfortable bed and sleeping the next ten hours.  I think my wife headed back out for another drink with our friends as well she should have.  There was nothing that could be done for me.  But in my mind she kept vigil by my side all night long, taking my temperature and dosing me with painkillers and anti-nausea drugs while singing sweet lullabies to calm my jittered body.  Either way, I know that she loves me and I cannot imagine being sick with anybody else.

Take A Picture and Catch Up Already!

In danger of falling behind…

Today my beautiful wife, our two Virginia friends, and I drove from our home in North Texas to San Antonio.  What a fun trip!  Sometimes the journey is better than the destination.  That being said, it took us nine hours to reach a place that should take even an unskilled motorist about four and a half.

Along the way we hit West, TX (a favorite stop of ours for years); Austin; and an outlet mall in San Marcos.


Never Put Off ’til Tomorrow…

Our topic tonight?  Oh boy, oh boy!  It’s another beaut’.  Gee, this one is swell, just swell.  Wanna’ hear it?  I bet you do.  I bet you wanna’ hear this, you silly kittens.  Here it is.

“What’s the most important thing you’re putting off? And why haven’t you done it yet? What do you need to make it happen?”

I went back and read some of my posts from the past few days.  First, I want to thank each and every one of you who have stumbled upon these pages recently.  Much as I dislike admitting it, the PostADay2011 challenge has definitely been a good thing for me.  I have really enjoyed writing something every day.  Actually, I always enjoyed writing every day but this sort of forces me to do it.  I don’t love the topics and would love to be able to suggest some myself to see how others handle them.  I have also really enjoyed starting to follow all of you.  I really feel a kinship with a larger community of writers now.  I’ve also noticed that (thanks to my increased use of Twitter to push my blogs out there — sorry if I’ve been mentioning people a bit too much) my counter has gone up dramatically and stayed consistent.  OK, so where was I?  Oh yes, I was going over some of the latest posts.  Wow, because of the topics (yes, we’ll blame the topics again) I’ve been focused on answering the cue to the detriment of my usual humorous musings on life.  I’ve tried to bring in some elements of all that but I’ll admit it’s been hard.  So, rather than complain about it, I’m going to NOT put off until tomorrow what I can do right this moment and that is to write about something lighthearted and fun.  OK, lame, I know; but go with me on this one.  Oh, and I’m going to try to work in the topic a little too.

Let’s see… I haven’t traveled anywhere recently.  My travels are always a great source of material.  Oh, that reminds me… Micro-road trip coming up tomorrow!  OK, so we can’t discuss travel.  I’d love to talk about my kids and how obnoxiously beautiful they are but I feel as though I need to write about something else tonight.  Ah, to hell with it.  Let’s just ride this train around the West Side rail yards and see where it leads us.  That was a test.  The West Side rail yards don’t lead anywhere.  It’s a RAIL YARD.  How about booze?  Yes, let’s go with that…

A few nights ago a friend of ours came over for a visit.  We had a great dinner as a family and then played some games.  It was lots of fun.  That evening it had started snowing.  It was light at first.  In fact, it never really picked up much but it was one of those snowfalls that told me, nay, it whispered in my ear that it would be enough to cause at least a delay in the morning.  The joys of teaching!  At this point I thought of those words “joy of teaching” and immediately my mind took me to that 1970’s painting show The Joy of Painting and host Bob Ross.  “Happy little trees…”  Good Lord, that man was so fried.  Anyway, our friend and I stayed up watching TV.  A few closings and delays but not the one I wanted to hear yet.  I set the alarm for 5AM.  That’s when my district makes “the call”.  Alarm went off.  Oh, my alarm is a crowing cock, a rooster.  I just actually wanted to use the word cock.  I got up and flipped on the TV.  Montgomery County Schools Closed.  Awesome.  Unfortunately, our friend, who had stayed over thinking the morning commute to her job wouldn’t be that bad, was now facing an icy drive.  My dad would have been proud of me — for once.  I remembered that I was “the man” of the house and that we had a friend who needed her car scraped.  I threw on my slippers and coat, walked out into the frigid early morning, and started scraping.  Once the task was complete I poured our friend a travel mug of coffee, wished her luck on her drive, and said good bye.  I stood in the doorway and watched as she cautiously slid to her car.  She got in but must have been waiting for the car to completely warm up.  I felt good about myself.  I had done a manly thing — scraping the ice off a friend’s car in the icy air.  I was well on my way to a great day heading the household with strength and stoic grace.  All was right in my little corner of the world.  As I stared into the dark twilight I was happy with myself.  I was about to close the door and go back to sleep when I heard the familiar sound of a Volkswagen popping into gear.  “Oh” I thought.  “She must be pulling away from the curb.  Then, just like a scene from a bad cartoon, the car instantly lurched forward and crashed straight into my trash cans, still sitting at the curb from the night before.

I laughed my spleen off.  How could I not?

Looks like I forgot the rock salt.  Oh well, a man’s job is never done.  After another ten minutes of salting, scraping, and pushing we got her off and heading to work.  An hour later she texted that she had made it.  I was never able to go back to sleep.

Why, just the night before she and I were looking through the liquor closet (which is also our food pantry, my priorities are straight) looking to see what ingredients I had for a unique wintery cocktail.  “Hmm…  Looks like we could mix brandy, creme de cacao, sour apple mix, dry vermouth, and, oh here’s an old weight loss shake from Costco!”  For the record, we didn’t mix any of that stuff together.  But if we had I would have had the perfect name for it by morning…  Next time you mix up something strange, get snowed in with a good family friend, and witness the carnage wrought by frozen water and asphalt, think about it.  You could have had a Sour Apple Coco Brandy Shit®!


Like the old times?


Strange Lines, Bad Timing, and Chocolate


When am I gonna’ get tits!?


Driving north on US 15 through farmland just to the east of Gettysburg, PA I looked around the car to notice that, as is customary, I was the sole waking occupant of the car.  Me.  The frieking driver.  Noooooo, that’s not cliche.  And so I turned on the radio.  Nothing here, nothing there…  In fact, all of my pre-sets were boring me.  “Wait…  There’s a Broadway channel” I thought to myself.  At the precise moment I hit the button at the end of the fifth row of pre-sets the aforementioned line from one of my favorite shows, A Chorus Line, spewed forth from the speakers like it was nobody’s business.  For the record, the song — titled “Hello 12, Hello 13, Hello Love ” —   arrives at a moment in the show when the dancers in the chorus line are all recalling their teenage years.  I looked at my surroundings and thought: “How providential that a half-million men gave their lives on this spot or we’d never get the chance to express ourselves as a people in quite such terms.  Oh, and about my knowledge of musical theater…  I’m convinced Sean — who is of late filling the role of foil with ease (certainly better than his efforts for Keith Fimian paid out) will have something to say of a snide nature.  Let’s just say it’s all in keeping it well-rounded.  That last line was definitely not a play on the first line of this story.

Man, I wish I had more time to write.

Last evening (two nights ago as I write this) Karla and I attended a gala to benefit a charity we like to support.  Could I be more vague?  We took full advantage of the fact that both Bridget and Karla’s mom, Wilma, were at home to watch the kids.  We also got into the VIP reception before the main event.  No real VIP’s here unless you count the Virginia Attorney General.  OK, so the whole thing was to benefit a clinic that provides neonatal care to women who cannot afford it.  However, if the “uninitiated” had wandered upon the ballroom of the Dulles Hilton it would have looked quite strange, what with the myriad of priests and pregnant women present.  Whatever.  We drank and had a good time.  We even ran into our old parochial vicar.  Karla told him: “Oh my God!  We totally miss you at the parish!  We loved your homilies!”  At this point the thought flashed across my mind: “No, we didn’t.  They were obscenely long.”  Karla, knowing my thoughts, slapped our priest on the shoulder with a loud thud and said: “But for real, Father?  They were WAYYYY too long.”  His reaction startled me more than anything.  He laughed very heartily.  We’ve invited him for dinner.  Let’s see if he remembers any of it.

Does anyone know what’s at the other end of US 15 from us?  If you answered Harrisburg then you get a gold star!  But since I do not have any star stickers you’ll have to settle for a framed needlepoint of two kittens in Puritan garb stitching a recreation of the Bayeaux Tapestry on the head of a pin.  Wow.  That was strange.  Anyway, it was time to bring Bridget home for a while.  Wilma, hasn’t been to Hershey in a while.  Wouldn’t you know that on the ride up (all the way in the back of our Accadia, God bless her) she had her prayer book out and was just consumed, at least to my reckoning in the rear view mirror, with contemplating God’s beauty in creation and communing with her Lord in prayer.  Then she dozed off for a bit.  Then she woke up to “Tits!”  I do believe her head went right back into that prayer book for the next forty-five minutes.  We visited with Mary Ann and family.  Then we went to Hershey’s Chocolate World.  I love this place more each time I visit.  This time we took Ben on the mock up of the factory tour.  He’s been on it before but he really seemed to appreciate it this time.  “Cows!” he shouted as the car took off down the motorized track.  “Yes, Ben, cows.”  It was so cool to see his eyes get wider and to hear his expression of joy and wonder.  I am so glad we took him on this ride.  A few minutes later we were in the car and I posed the following question: “Why can I not lose weight these days?  It used to be so easy.  No, I’m actually gaining week over week now.  What’s up with that?”  “Um, honey?” my wife interjected.  “Yes, dear?”  “You just dropped a piece of that Heath Bar fudge you’re eating.”  “Oh, thanks.  Don’t want that to go to waste.”

On our ride home (after a lovely dinner, thank you Mary Ann) Wilma attempted to ask me a question from the back.  “Uh, Tom, honey, how much longer do you think until we’re home?”  “Not long.”  Long pause.  “Did you just call me ‘Tom’?”  “I think I did.”  “OK, Velma…”  I have a feeling this will become a new “thing” for us.

What a day!