Monday, August 29, 2011

Seven Quick Takes:

  1. The eldest five children begin school the day after tomorrow.  Mr. Flavius and I are sicker than dogs.  I am feeling a little out matched with all there is to do before I shuffle them out the door into a new routine.  Spending most of the mornings stuffed into bed coughing and feeling miserable doesn't help.
  2. My sister-in-law is making the journey to visit us.  This will be our first guest.  In 12 years of homeownership, we've only had 2 overnight stays.  We have four sets of guest between now and Christmas (that I know about).  I am very much looking forward to her visit, but I am on a strict all work and no play schedule between now and her visit in a week and a half.
  3. House blessing.  Still working on making a path so that Fr. Nick can bless and sprinkle away with abandon without breaking his neck.
  4. On Friday, the kids and I went garage saling.  Johnstown has great sales.  I guess this is one of the secret upsides to a greying community.  We found several good pen knives, a very good pair of Korean War era binoculars from Japan, some fabulous costume jewelry, and some beautiful perfume bottles that I did not buy, but wanted to very much.  Driving through the twists and turns we came upon a huge Chicken of the Woods mushroom growing on a maple tree along side a driveway.  The man very generously gave us the behemoth and many pears.  It's going in an omelet first chance I get.
  5. Mr. Flavius began classes today.  No one died.  I think that I will be okay while he is away.  I've had my doubts, but really it will be fine.
  6. I am scouting jars for putting up strawberry and violet leaves for healing herbal teas for this winter.  Also, we have been offered as many Concord grapes as we can pick.  I cannot decide if I should put up juice or make jelly or what all I could possibly do with such a generous gift.  I'm sure the children will assist me in the endeavor.  Also, these are the last few weeks for local tomatoes and cucumbers and it really is time to start the sauerkraut too....  So much to do!
  7. I am coming up with my Autumnal List of things to break up the monotony of everyday homemaking.  So far soap making, sausage making, crocheting, and canning autumn fruits figure high on the list.  We hope to add a fence, a coop, and a bee hive to the yard by next Spring.  Lots to do and keep busy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Joyous Feast!

From the Forefeast of the Dormition of the Theotokos:
Dance with joy, O peoples!
Clap your hands with gladness!
Gather today with fervor and jubilation;
Sing with exultation.
The Mother of God is about to rise in glory,
Ascending from earth to heaven.
We ceaselessly praise her in song as truly Theotokos.
Today the universe dances with joy at your glorious memorial,
And cries out to you, O Mother of God:
"Rejoice, O Virgin, pride of Christians!"

The Real Reason We Are Here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Jottings

I cannot speak for the rest of the blog, but this cracked me up.  From

earthquake on the east coast

it’s funny to us how the east coast folks responded to a magnitude 5.8 earthquake the other day, since us californians probably wouldn’t even notice such a temblor while going about our daily lives. but some east coast folks got a little ticked that we are making fun of them and one of them responded with this:

The State of Customer Service

The state of customer service varies in Johnstown in much the same way that it does everywhere based on the business, gender, age, etc. of the person you are dealing with.  It can be as individual as the individual you are dealing with.  So thus far, I have been pleasantly pleased by my day-to-day dealings with Yankees.

That said, there is always the exception that proves the rule.  You see, we have no official parking at our new house.  I have been hoping to remedy this situation sooner than later, but I am not having a lot of luck.  We have been trying to get an estimate for a carport from one contractor in particular since June.  As it is now August and I still do not have an estimate for what I've asked for, you might understand why I am a bit frustrated.  Today, the contractor's secretary and I had a conversation during which I began to hope that I might just stroke out rather than continue.  Needless to say, I am still looking for a contractor for my "simple" job.  Pray for me and anyone else that might cross my path, please.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Had An Earthquake.

SO, Mr. Flavius has a favorite story he likes to tell about me.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away the Motherworks-Flavius household visited the Southern Flavius's.  A riotously good time was had by all and everyone played until they were very tired and prone to being naughty.

All of the grownups in the land were also tired and to avoid being too grumpy sent the children away to their chambers for some peace and quiet.  Only the children were very naughty and and very noisy.  They stomped and the shouted and they dropped heavy things from high places until the whole house shook with their calamitous racket.
Mr. Flavius, knowing the sensitive disposition of the the Southern Flavius's (having never actually having raised any children themselves) hurried and hushed the children until all was peaceful again.  But only a short time later, a new sound like an angry, fire breathing monster filled the entire house.  So loud was the sound of this infernal respiration that it seemed to come from everywhere at once.

Unfortunately, I was stuck nursing a new baby and could not go see what was the matter.  So I raised my voice to make certain that all the noisy children could here me over this new and terrible sound and I said in my loudest mothering tone I could muster, "CHILDREN!  WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING?  IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A DRAGON UP THERE!"

And that is when Mrs. Southern Flavius said, "It's me.  I'm ironing."

The alternative title for this little vignette is, "How We Know Mommy Does Not Iron."

SO, today we were leaving the house to go run some errands, when Mr. Flavius came running out the door.

"What are the children doing?  It shook the whole house!"

"Nothing.  What?  Why?"

"the whole house shook."

Apparently, we had an earthquake.  Only I hadn't eaten since this morning and I was feeling pretty shaky already so I missed our great adventure.  Anyway, as our neighbor said, if it's not in the news just check Facebook first.  Sure enough status updates across the Mid Atlantic and lower New England reported the unexpected terremoto from Virginia.  

Always something new happening here in Johnstown.  Never a dull moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Salvo Magazine- Salvo 13

AMAZING article. 
How Pornography Drugs & Changes Your Brain
by Donald L. Hilton, Jr.
While some have avoided using the term “addiction” in the context of natural compulsions such as uncontrolled sexuality, overeating, or gambling, let us consider current scientific evidence regarding the brain and addiction.
This article will seek to answer two questions: (1) Biologically, is the brain affected by pornography and other sexual addictions? (2) If so, and if such addictions are widespread, can they have a societal effect as well?

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Difference A Year Makes

August 2010
August 2011
August 2010
August 2011

Mere Comments from Touchstone Magazine

Mere Comments from Touchstone Magazine consistently produces relevant Christian commentary on popular culture.  Give them a read if you haven't already.  
When I broke my ankle, I spent too much of my time watching all five seasons of The Wire.  It is not the holiest of activities.  The series centers in on one gang in a drug infested neighborhood Baltimore and the police charged with trying to stop them.  The lines blur more often than not, with the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' swapping places.  Over the course of the five seasons, the story focused on all perspectives from the gang and detectives to the children and schools, the politicians and the media.  Lots of violence and debauchery.  Frankly, it was more depressing than I can even talk about.  At the heart of all the corruption, was the family or rather the total absence of the family.  Without the presence of the family, the vacuum left behind begged for something that none of the willing contenders could measure up to.  The family is a working unit of love and cooperation.  Anything short of that is just that too little to fill the void and ultimately doomed to fail.  It isn't simply some cute little coincidence that the family is the best metaphor for the Trinity, it is the truth.  What this world needs is more families, more children in those families,  more people in the pews, and more religious and clergy. Let's get busy, folks, and make it happen.  Otherwise, what are we hoping for when Christ returns?    

Rise Up, O Men of God
by William Murchison

From The New York Times, August 16,  2011:
     "The number of Americans with children who live together without marrying has increased twelvefold since 1970, according to a report released Tuesday.  The report states that children now are more llikely to have unmarried parents than divorced ones."
      Time for the Church to clear its collective head and find its collective voice, wouldn't one say?
      I, for one, would.
      The religious doctrine of marriage -- never mind the civil one -- has beeen kicked down the stairs by a culture intent on enshrining personal choice as the essential element in all relationships. Choice, of course, is an element in romantic love, but in Christian marriage it comes with strings attached, chiefly those pledges of fidelity and commitment.   The idea that in marriage one hands over personal desire to the custody and keeping of another is profoundly un-modern.
      Expatiation on the disastrous consequences of  uprooting commitment and fidelity from the marriage undertaking isn't the present point.  The need I would advertise is for the churches to rise from the bottom of the cultural staircase, where they have too long lain, and resume teaching a full-throated, ontological doctrine of  marriage and family, derivable from what was once understood as the sovereign will and purpose of God.
      "God"?  What a concept with which to belabor the 21st century!   Which is a big chunk of the problem, isn't it?   A modern Church squeamish when it comes to faithful representation of its Master's unmodern wishes gets the expected payback.  So do the rest of us, alas.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration

You were transfigured on the Mount, 
Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, 
insofar as they could comprehend. 
Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, 
through the intercessions of the Theotokos. 
 Giver of light, glory to You.

You were transfigured upon the mount, 
O Christ our God, and Your disciples, 
insofar as they could bear, beheld Your glory. 
Thus, when they see You crucified, 
they may understand Your voluntary passion, 
and proclaim to the world that 
You are truly the effulgence of the Father.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fasting Old Calendar Style

We here in Johnstown are on the Old Calendar.  So our Dormition Fast just began this week.  That said, we, Orthodox fast about 250 days out of the year, so another recipe won't hurt.  This soup is completely fastworthy, delicious, and hearty enough to make a nice supper on a cool night with some bread.   All of my children, including picky D., ate everything.  Its taste profile is similar to my all time favorite soup, Mulligatawny.  It a great way to use up that garden abundance that seems to be coming on strong right now.

"Cream" of Garden Vegetable Soup

some chopped zucchini
some squash
a few tomatoes
one chopped onion
two grated carrots
leftover pinto beans pureed or mashed potatoes
a hunk of Earth Balance
a quart of water 
a dash of salt
a few twists of pepper
some fresh nutmeg
a pinch clove
toasted and ground yellow mustard seed
a splash of apple cider vinegar
steamed rice

Sweat the onions and squashes together in the Earth Balance.  Add the tomatoes and the grated carrots and saute everything until it softens.  Puree in a blender.  Add water and beans or potatoes.  Add seasoning, apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Serve topped with steamed rice.

So you know how it is, part ii

When you post things in the middle of the night after a really long day you are liable to leave out a few important details.  Like, but did you ever get the milk?  Did you indeed have to walk to a filling station?  Did you ever get out of the wilderness or are you currently writing this from inside the belly of a black bear?

About that...

The thing about mountain roads in Pennsylvania is the tend to be narrow, twisty, and have crazy switch backs, turn offs and random signs like these:

To be honest, depending on the time of day, these signs freak me the freak out.  Between the children in the back doing their rowdy thing and the Roads That Demand Your Full Attention, I do not need anything crazy to leap out at me, thankyouverymuch.  

The craziest drivers of all on these treacherous tiny roads are FedEx drivers.  They drive well over the speed limit on every road, especially if it's raining, tailgating the whole way just so you can see their superior handling while you crawl across the mountain in your ice cream truck come people mover.

Once I realized that I was incapable of interpreting mountain man directions (go to the T and go through it, the when you get to the top turn right... the road might curve, I don't quite remember, but you'll know what to do when you get there...  it sounds so simple, but if all the roads curve, none of them really ever 'tee' either...), I just want off the damn mountain.  By now, Good Mommy is gone and Bat Poop Crazy Mommy is at the wheel.  The children, sensing my weakness, launch themselves out of their seat belts once and begin playing the screaming game.  You know, the one where if you and your little sister both scream loud enough and at the same pitch you can achieve some sort of bizarre sonic resonance that can break the sanity of any nearby adult?  Yeah, that.  The other game they were playing was to see if they could make the van shake.  While we were driving.  On a mountain.  In the rain.  If you ever doubt the ability of two people you love more than your own life to take your nerves and shred them like so many incriminating Arthur Anderson files you don't have  4 and 6 year old girls.

That's when I discover that No Signal only applies to the phone and not the Map.  Seeing a road just behind my blinking location, I decide, "to hell with this," it's time to practice our three-point turns in blind curves while driving the largest passenger vehicle made by Chevrolet.  Why not?  I've got a back-up camera.  For those of you needing a refresher course, here is how PennDOT recommends making a three-point turn:

To make a three-point turn:

  1. Signal with your right directional, then pull over to the right and stop. Signal with your left directional, then check carefully for approaching traffic.
  2. Three point turnTurn left, cross the road so you come to a stop while facing the left curb or edge of the road.
  3. Check again for traffic. Turn your steering wheel as far to the right as possible, then back up to the right curb or edge of the road.
  4. Stop, check again for other traffic, then pull away from the curb.

About half the side roads in Westmoreland County, run down hill at a grade that most roller coaster engineers would likely consider unsafe.  So in real life this is how you make a three-point turn:

  1. In a hairpin turn, find Hidden Driveway and using your Advanced Driver Training, apply brakes while simultaneously signaling and making a hard right turn.  Come to a skidding halt.  Signal with your left directional.  You are now tail up, back-up camera to the treetops, looking down a slope that makes base jumping look safe.  Using only your totally inadequate side mirrors: check for traffic, while revving your engine in Reverse.
  2. Floor it.  Cross the road, slamming on the brakes, so that your life flashes before your eyes, as you narrowly avoid going off the mountain.
  3. Saying your prayers and crying a little, check for traffic again.  Rapidly, turn your steering wheel as far to the right as possible, reverse over the edge of the road onto the non-existant shoulder inches away from a sheer drop off.
  4. Tell those kids that they had better buckle up, throw it into Drive and tear away from the road like a pack of demons are on your tail.
And that is how you do it.  To really have an authentic experience, you should do your best to almost get teed by one of the completely insane FedEx truck drivers traipsing the mountains in one of their Oh-So-Superior Dodge Sprinters between step 2 and step 3.  If you do it right, your kids have no idea why all the hair on your head is standing on end and they will think you are "way totally overreacting Mommy" to their continued lack of tethering to the vehicle because you know, you are still alive.  [If you are praying for me right now, thank you.  As prayers are outside of time, I really needed them back there.  Thanks for helping get through it.  As far as, the future is concerned?  I still covet them.]

The whole time I am doing this, I have this crazy thing Mr. Flavius said stuck in my head.  I keep hearing it over and over again:  You know what is a bad idea?  [he sings] Jesus, take the wheel...  you know, Jesus didn't drive.  You probably don't want him to take the wheel without at least Driver's Ed course...

These were almost my last thoughts, folks.  Ayeyiyi.

I was looking for Willpen Road.  Willpen is a township somewhere down the mountain near the Last Gas Station You'll Ever See in This Wilderness, but for whatever reason I could not see the turn for the road.  There are plenty of reasons for this, like it isn't actually there or I was too crazed with adrenaline to have attention to details like other roads, but whatever the case, the first road I came upon (a telling thin gray line on the map) seemed to connect.  When you are about out of gas and there is no one to hear your screams when the zombies emerge from the woods to eat your brains, you will make this turn:

Compared to my last adventure, Hamil School Road was a cake walk.  Thankfully, the road deposits you within sight of The Only Filling Station.  Much whooping and hollering and joyous sounds were made upon seeing this little Jerusalem in the Boonies.  We celebrated with $40 worth of junk food from Sheetz.  Filling up, I noticed that Cash for Clunkers did not seem to make much of an impact in Westmoreland County as our car was the newest model by 25 years or so.   

After filling up the tank and then topping off like crazy, just to be safe, I was more commited than ever to finding this store.  The store owner had called me back during my wild journey, but I had not received it.

His voice message begins: "Hi, there.  It seems we have gotten disconnected.  If so, you are now driving around the wilderness and I wish you luck on getting back down here to [civilization].  When you get to town, go three-quarters around the square to W. Main Street.  We're on the left.  Call me back when you get this."

I hit redial.  No answer.  I probably called him 10 times, but no one ever answered.  When I got to town, I followed his directions, but there was no Delightful Raw Milk and Whole Food Emporium on W. Main Street.  For 20 minutes I crawed up the street one way and then the other, examining every shop and address.  I went up side streets and down alleys.  Finally, I gave up and went into Agway.  

"Well, darlin' you got your directions wrong.  That place is on E. Main Street."

Sure, okay.  Maybe I heard it wrong?  Nope.  I played that message 4 times.  WEST MAIN.

Everyone makes mistakes, that's fine.  

Once we had the correct address and correct street name, finding the Delightful Raw Milk and Whole Food Emporium was no big deal.  And they were still open.  And they had milk.  And they were very nice.  They gave all the children pints of raw milk for the road (I know, I know, what smells better than tumpt out pints of raw milk in your Van de Excitement?  Nothing, that's what.  But, hey, it's the thought that counts and I was very grateful, all the same.)

I said, "I just wanted to let you know, in your directions, you said West Main Street."


"Well, this is East Main Street."

"Oh, yeah?"


"Oh, that's interesting."

I'll say.

Look, they are very, very nice people, but let's just say they are about like I would be or maybe even a little worse than me if I ran a business (but only because I would know where my shop was).  The second visit I made was much less exciting and only took 28 minutes to arrive (as opposed to the 2¼ hours it took the first time), but even then it was not uneventful as my damnit-I-know-there's-money-in-there debit card was declined and they sent me home with everything.  All I can say is that, their computer must have been having issues because thankfully the ATM recognized the card as valid, working, and with plenty of mulla.

Since then I have finally located a store in Johnstown that sells real milk.  Of course, they have no listed number, because what fun would that be?

I hope you are having a great week.  I'll keep you posted on our adventures.

You know, so long as I survive.

Monday, August 15, 2011

So you know how it is

With children everyday is a new exciting adventure.  There you are just trying to hold the line and adventure shows up on your doorstep.  In Johnstown, new experiences and excitement are around every corner.  Every single corner.  Everyday.  All day long.  Something new and exciting just waiting to get you.

Pennsylvania is full of trees.  Hence the name: Penn's Woods.  It is a great thing about Western PA.  Also, the mountains.  I am really enjoying the mountains.  Sometimes a too much of a great thing can just be too damn much.

The first time I tried to find a store that sold raw milk, I set out early enough with enough gas and fairly easy directions:  turn right, drive 19 miles, turn left, arrive at destination.  Three-quarters of the way there I double check my directions.  Well, what do you know?  I am 21 miles off course.


This is looking down not straight.
Wrong turns in Pennsylvania have seriously bad consequences.  My first surprise, there are roads on GPS that a) are single lane; b) made of dirt and gravel; c) go straight down a mountain. Straight down is usually the wrong way down.  What followed was sheer insanity.  Do not attempt to drive down a freshly rained on gravel road in a two-wheel drive, 15 passenger van.  Why?  Because your children might turn into idiots and decide to go row hopping, while you, in the grip of hysteria, drive down said road.  And while they are jumping for joy in the back seat as you slide and shimmy over every single turn and bump in the road, your heart will threaten you with the worst thing you can imagine in that moment:  the phone call to your husband when you are stuck, but not dead or injured enough to make him just glad y'all are okay.

Did I mention that when I left I had a little more than a quarter tank of gas?  As it turns out, that is not enough gas in a place that takes 24 minutes to travel 7 miles.

I did make it down the mountain into a valley where I found the beginning of a paved road.  It is the most sweet smelling place I have ever been.  The only sound besides the song birds, was a breeze high up in the tree tops.  Wow.  It's enough to make you want to make you want to go Off Grid.

Now add 20 years and lose a few teeth
 and you get the picture.
So here's the thing about using Google Maps.  Usually it's pretty good.  There is one feature that allows the user to more accurately pin point one's address by actually placing a pin on the map and calling that address whatever you want to call it.  Then the whole wide web will know this is where X really is.  Except in this case, X turned out not to be the only whole food health store this side of Pittsburgh.  X turned out to be some guy's house out in the wilderness of Westmoreland County (whose residents are comprised mainly of extras from the movie Road House).

I dropped my phone and damaged the antennae a while back so if mobile phone coverage is spotty at best then I have nothing at best.  I called the number listed and discovered another great thing about Western PA.  The people love to talk.  These are some really friendly folk.  But again, too much a great thing and your are up a creek.  In this case, the man my life depended on was a real story teller.  He starts out:  "there are 7 turns that you need to make to get here.  It's so funny you calling me from Pendleton Road that's where my farm is. . ."  The ellipsis in this case is a 6 minute story about the three other poor souls that called him from the same spot.  Meanwhile I am under an eighth of a tank of gas and still driving.  During our 12 minute phone call, he got through step 2 of the 7 before the phone cut out and said 'No Signal.'

I kept driving.  I have not passed a single person in miles, I have not seen a gas station since I checked my directions and discovered how off course I had become.  I am now strongly considering what it is going to be like walking, in flip flops, on mountain roads with an infant, a toddler, a four year old, and six year old, all of whom follow directions like people their age follow directions.  Somewhere along the way, I figured out that even if the phone does not have signal the Map can locate your position.  I did at one point talk to two guys, who informed me that the only gas station was 7 miles away and I was headed in the wrong direction.  Their directions were more concise, but equally confusing.  Another fun fact, it really is true that if you don't bathe long enough other people can smell you in your car from their car on the other side of the road.  Up until that moment, I thought that was simply something I made up to scare my boys into taking bathes.  I was wrong.

Anyway, either people cannot give good directions in Westmoreland County or I cannot follow them for the life of me.  It was after that I discovered that I was the purple blinky dot on the Map on my phone where upon for the second time that day, I drove straight down the mountain, with kids cackling with giddy hysteria, while I gripped the steering wheel and prayed and cursed under my breathe the whole way.  Making a 30 minute journey to the gas station fewer than 10.  What's the fastest way down the mountain?  Straight down . . .

Poor Mr. Flavius, seeing the above picture on Facebook with the caption,  "What the hell, GPS?" started a prayer circle, that ended with thanks be to God and suggestions all around to tie up that wife of his upon my return . . . and that was just a trip to get milk.  Now imagine if I was trying to do something really wild?  Like go looking for one of these:

Next time on A Sears Catalog Life:
Chicken of the Woods

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It Did Not Hit Me Until Today. . .

Me:  Hi, I looked everywhere, but I don't see any tortillas.  Do you sell tortillas?

Grocery Store Clerk:  Uh, yeah, you mean like those shell things?  They're in the refrigerator case next to the milk.

Apparently, I moved to Pennsylvania, where Tex-Mex goes to die.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ohdeedoh, I Curse You!

That's right-- fie on Thee, cute, DIY, decorating website with your trendsetting ideas and crafty tutorials- fie on Thee.

Take one family with an overdeveloped sense of ability and an underdeveloped sense of  actual DIY-ity, add one old house owned by a different, middling DIY-er and crazy will ensue.

N. is our AAA, #1, dog walker extraordinaire, but then we sent him to camp.  So our poor pooch became forlorn and lonely while his favorite boy was away.  Mr. Flavius took over the dog walking duties and Ajax seemed to be doing okay, but with a little extra mope in his giddy up.  Little did we know, while we were sleeping he was sneaking upstairs to the Boy Sanctuary and doing his business in their room.  Imagine my surprise ( shock, horror, disgust, insert adjective here) when the boys came home  and announced that their room had become less than sanitary (they left it clean, so there was no reason for this mama to make the great trek arriba).  

N. and D. went to work oxycleaning to the max, but to no avail.  Really, how awful?  Could their be a worse homecoming?  Considering all the unpacking we did all week, this was a blow to Progress.

So yesterday after church, Mr Flavius and I tackled the yuckiest room ever and removed all the carpet.  The thing is, we chose this house because it was move-in ready.  Id est: I do not need another talent in my wheelhouse to make this place habitable and presentable, or at least not this week.  Should a rolled up carpet full of tacks and staples go scraping down the hall wallpaper, that could change my skill set considerably.  That's when we decided there was another option:  defenestration.

So there we were, Mr. Flavius hanging onto a rolled swath of old, icky carpet leaning farther than could possibly be safe out the third story window, while I alternately laughed hysterically and covered my eyes (have I told you about my inappropriate laughter?).  Then I thought better of it and tried find purchase on him in the event of an untimely, rapid exit out said window.  Then, my hero, pitched the carpet He-Man style out and over the porch roof.  

Helloooo, neighbors!  We're from Texas and we're crazy. . .

I really do have to wonder what my neighbors made of the scene when large rolls of rose followed by thread bare and stained grey carpet was being flung out the third floor windows.  Then there was a thing, which  I did not know existed, but am positive I know exactly what the mystery pad under the second layer of carpet.  It is a horsehair carpet pad.  An ancient, dusty and disintegrating, horsehair pad at that.  Gross, gross, gross.

There were dust plumes that made my skin crawl.  Despite my mega runny nose, I refused to wipe it for fear of what this involuntary fount might be protecting me from.  Mr. Flavius commented that I had managed to trick him into two days of heavy labor (Saturday night, I casually suggested we move some boxes of books, which turned into a box moving extravaganza).  Needless to say, we struggled on for four hours, but we prevailed.  Staple and tacks removed, floors scrubbed of any and all gook, dust, and dirt, a rug laid, furniture arranged, and beds made.

And it all started with this picture:

How cute is this?  Dangit.  They got me again.