Gus + Zirk + Chicken Butchering + Independence

So this was the weekend Gus’s name was drawn to take home Zirk, the Cosmic Chicken.

Gus wasted no time in introducing Zirk to the finer things in life, including Pokemon and taekwondo.


But of course, as fate would have it, it was also the weekend we had scheduled for chicken butchering. I was amused by this. Jackie was not. Zirk was scarred.


Well, after putting Zirk through that, we needed to do something fun to mark his visit. So, it was decided to take the kids to the second best city in Kansas: Independence! While living in Ark City, Jackie and I had gone with wee little Jude and Gus. It was time to show them all the things we loved about this town. We started with a quick pilgrimage to St. Andrew’s parish, and then on the park, which features some outstanding playground equipment. (We have become quite the playground connoisseurs lately) There is also a free zoo, home to Monkey Island!!! Best of all, Fr. Chad drove from Coffeyville to meet us there. On the drive home, all the kids agreed that seeing Fr. Chad was the best part of the day, which is pretty impressive when you remember that they also saw MONKEY. ISLAND. (!!!)


When I was a kid, my dad, and Uncle Dave, and Uncle Rick took all of us cousins to Elk River Hiking Trail for a day. I have great memories of this trail-the closest thing to Colorado that Kansas has. When Jackie and I visited 8 years ago, it wasn’t how I remembered it at. all. Luckily, Fr. Chad had gone scouting and located the less-known trail entrance that our dads had brought us to as kids. It was even better than I remembered it. Gorgeous October day. If you’ve read this blog at all, you know how few things in life make me happier than being able to pass on experiences of joy and beauty from one generation to the next.


My favorite memories of the weekend:
5. Jude and Gus’ laughs of wonder and disbelief zooming down the huge slide at the park.
4. Building a bridge with Fr. Chad so we could cross the stream. A recent flood had dislodged the fallen tree people previously used. But now they will use our bridge.
3. The kids were amazing helpers on Saturday, helping us make record time. In hour 2: We butchered 33 or 36-I lost track during the last few minutes. Xavier, the fearless chicken catcher, deserves to be singled out.
2. Zelie scouting out her own path that led us to a cool outlook.
1. Fr. Chad giving us a blessing on the trail.


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What You Need to Know if You Don’t Want to Vote for a Lizard

From Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

+So you’re thinking about voting third party? Good for you!
+So here’s your options. I called the Secretary of State’s office to get the information. On Nov. 8, when you go to vote, there will be 4 options listed for President: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Independent Jill Stein (Green Party has not been recognized in Kansas, so she’s listed as Independent.) These candidates have ballot access in 2016.
+Don’t like any of those choices? That’s where I am too! Then this is important! 34 states* have laws that in order for your write-in vote to be tabulated, that candidate must have completed an affidavit of write-in candidacy. This is called write-in access.*  Kansas is one of those states, and the deadline for the affidavit is Oct. 24. If they have not completed that affidavit, it doesn’t matter if you write them in, your vote will literally not be counted.*
+I have contacted the campaigns of Evan McMullin and Mike Maturen to see if they have completed the affidavit- no word yet. The Secratary of State’s office said that on Oct. 24 I could call to get the complete list. I’ll post it here.
+It is so important to vote for good candidates in down ticket races. The biggest damage our Republican nominee might do is in handing a Democrat controlled Senate over to Ms. Clinton as a White House-warming present. Here in Kansas, we also have a very important decision in whether or not to retain our Kansas Supreme Court judges. For more information on this issue, please click here or here.

Now let’s take care of those asterisks!
*Nine states do not allow write-in votes, and 7 states don’t require the affidavit for write-in votes to be tabulated.
*There have been politicians in the news saying they will write in leaders they admire. John McCain has said he might write in Lindsey Graham. Graham has doubtfully filed an affidavit in Arizona, so that vote would be discarded. Same thing for Colin Powell, who Illinois senator Mark Kirk has said he will write in. So when you hear politicians saying this, beware! They might not really understand their own state’s voting laws! (Sen. Kelly Ayote could write-in Mike Pence, since New Hampshire doesn’t require the affidavit for write-in candidacy. But Sen. Cory Gardner, you shouldn’t write in the vp, because Colorado does require the affidavit.)
*Maybe it doesn’t matter to you that your vote is counted. But I like the idea of my vote being recorded. I like that I can see that in 2012, there were 186 other people who went with the Constitution Party. I would love to be part of a record third party voter turn-out in this election, so that history will testify that there were some Americans who refused to vote for a lizard.


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The Finder Lady

Just a quick post tonight. And the topic is a mom’s ability to find lost items. I am curious how other moms feel this mantle of responsibility placed upon your shoulders?



It drives Jackie crazy when the kids and I ask her where things are, but it just seems such an inefficient use of my time to look for it myself, when I know scientifically that Jackie will be able to tell me in 10 seconds where it is.

Another big reason we all know to ask Mom where things are is because frequently, she was the last one to actually touch it. I will leave something in a specific location. I come back to location and item is no longer there. There is a 90 percent chance that the item was not in a location that Jackie approved of, and so she moved it somewhere else. Should I try to guess where she moved it, or should I just ask her?

Is there a way to not make Jackie insane, but still utilize her superior finder skills?

And, to finish things off…a long overdue picture of Packy.


Mom? Do you know where my thumb is? I can’t find it.


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My Girls on the Feast of St. Therese

It was a night to remember, a night of fun surprises, little splurges.
We went to Costco, and while Jackie got all the items on her list, the kids and I were very sneaky and got her a present for her name day. Usually, I give her roses or chocolate to celebrate St. Therese’s feast day, but this year, I knew what she really wanted.
As we left Costco to go next door: “Dad, where are we going?”
“To the liquor store.”
“Dad! Mom doesn’t want that!”
“I know what makes Mom happy.”
Then we hid her present in the van before rendezvousing with her at the check-out line. The kids could barely hold the secret in while we ate dinner together. Costco’s menu is super good. A pizza, 2 hot dogs, a chicken bake (chicken bakes are awesome), and 2 churros to bribe the children for their silence, all for under $20 bucks. I handed Jackie a churro and said, “Happy Name Day, my love.” Xavier laughed and said, “Dad, that’s funny because that’s not really her present.” We finally made it to the van, and started unloading all the groceries. The kids chorused, “Mom! Look in the front seat first! No reason!”

Next up, Zelie and I got dropped off at Bradley Fair for a long overdue date together. When Zelie was just a wee babe, Jackie and I took her with us to Cocoa Dolce for her first feast of St. Therese. We had such a nice time, we said we should make it our special tradition to take her. And then somehow, six years flew by. But tonight we finally returned! We had a nice walk by the pond, listened to some live music, and then Zelie was mesmerized by the chocolates. I wish I had taken a video of her reaction to ganache. “Oh! Dad! There’s something really good inside this chocolate!” She got a brochure with all their varieties, and put check marks by the ones she picked.

And so, I sit here, back at home, sipping a smooth gin and tonic, listening to Regina Spektor’s new album, and am very thankful to St. Therese for the roses she has sent me.


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Top 10 Con Artist Movies

Well, here we are wrapping up Round 1 of the Catholic Culture Cinema Society. Our last selection is The Hustler. I saw this movie a few years ago, and it didn’t leave much of an impression. But I was willing to give it another go, hoping I had missed something. After all, the ingredients are excellent. Paul Newman is one of my favorite actors. The guy is coolness distilled. And I LOVE con artist movies. It is my most dependable genre. You show me a con artist movie, and I am probably going to enjoy it. As a distraction, I made this list of…

My 10 Favorite Con Artist Movies
Honorable Mention: Opportunity Knocks (with Dana Carvey) and For Love or Money (with Michael J. Fox)-two 90s movies I really liked as a kid, but are probably terrible
Sneakers-I can’t remember if this is a con artist movie or just a hacker movie, but I remember enjoying it
The Italian Job-I love this movie, but I don’t remember much con to it, just a great heist
Inception-this is an incredible film, but I don’t really think of it as a con artist movie
Maverick-It has been too long since I’ve seen this movie to rank it fairly. That should be remedied soon. And…I’ve ordered it from the library.
10. Duplicity
9. The Lady Eve
8. Paper Moon-It’s been ten years since I’ve seen a lot of these movies, it’s time for revisiting them.
7. American Hustle
6. Catch Me If You Can-sometimes I go to YouTube and just search for the opening credits sequence to this movie
5. Bowfinger-this is one of those movies I love and everyone else who has seen it says, “You liked that?” But it cracks me up.
4. Oceans 11
3. Matchstick Men-gosh, I really, really, want to rewatch a lot of these, like right now.
2. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And…I’ve ordered this one from the library too
1. The Sting

While “researching” that list, I came across several other movies that I am now intrigued by, because I friggin’ love con artist movies. Anybody seen Focus, The Brothers Bloom, Confidence, or Trouble in Paradise?

But did you notice what movie isn’t in that Top 10? The Hustler. For 1961, it must have been pretty scandalous. And when it is not busy being scandalous, it is fairly depressing. There isn’t really much of a con to it, either. I like my con artist movies to have a few good twists, and rapidfire repartee is always a plus. That is NOT The Hustler. There is some intense acting, and some sharp black and white cinematography. But if you want Paul Newman in a great con artist movie, do yourself a favor and watch The Sting.

hustlerBest Shot: The shadows are overtaking Eddie Felson. In a two-faced scene, liquor and a cold heart cause him to lash out and abandon his long-time business partner while his new girlfriend watches, seeing her future before her.


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