It's Still Better This Than Purgatory (or Worse!), part 7
Thomas A. Droleskey
Water. Most of us take it granted even though it composes three-quarters of our physical bodies and is a necessity for sustaining them lest we die of dehydration. Water is necessary for the physical life of all living things, although some living things can live with less water than others. Some are able to store water for use at a later time. Human beings need water.
Water is necessary for human survival. It is, however, also the most destructive physical force on the face of this earth, yes, more destructive than fire. Indeed, water extinguishes fire (unless one is referring to the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, which caught fire on the day of my graduation from Oyster Bay High School, June 22, 1969, because of pollutants). Water is an important source of generating electricity. Water's force is such that its swirling currents can drown us in but a moment or flood land and waterways and roadways as it pours down from the skies.
Range wars were fought in the "old West" over access to watering rights for cattle and other livestock. The cities of Phoenix, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California, among so many others in the southwestern part of the United States of America, simply could not and would not be in existence were it not for the ability to transport into those areas that which is not indigenously available: water. Many a battle has been fought within and among states in the United States of America over access to and the use of water.
The importance of water was a lesson impressed upon me in my adolescence as my family lived on two plus lovely wooded acres in the oasis known as Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, New York, a place from which I never wanted to leave and to which I wish I could, humanly speaking, return. I knew that when my parents decided to leave there at the end of 1972 as I was graduating from Saint John's University in Jamaica, Queens, New York, that it would be most unlikely that I would return to a home that my parents purchased for $52,000 on July 21, 1965, sold for $72,000 on February 2, 1973, and then was re-sold in 1998 by the family that had purchased it from my parents for $750,000! Ah, but the adventures we had in that wonderful house on 234 (now renumbered 36) Laurel Cove Road, which had been built in 1958 and in which we were the second residents (as we had been in our house in Great Neck, New York, previously).
One of the most interesting of our adventures at 234 Laurel Cove Road occurred on my fifteenth birthday, Thursday, November 24, 1966, which was also the national Masonic Day commemorating the "glories" of religious indifferentism and religious "liberty" that year. It was while I was making pizza for myself (deciding to want nothing of the turkey and trimmings) that we ran out of water. Mind you, we would lose water now and again in Oyster Bay Cove when the electricity went out, which happened every time a relatively stiff wind came along and blew down the overhead electrical wires. Our fresh water well on the property in Oyster Bay Cove was electrically "primed," meaning that we would lose water whenever the electricity went out. We lost it for substantial periods in November of 1968 and August of 1971 when major "nor'easter" storms blew through the New York City/Long Island metropolitan area. We lost water on November 24, 1966, because our well had run dry, as in kaput. No mater water. Drysville, if you will.
My family was without running water for several days before a neighbor, who really disliked us because of our two barking beagles, Laddie and Lady Luck (my brother named Lady Luck, thank you, not me), did us a huge favor by running a hose from his own property to ours to provide us with running water for a few weeks as Mr. Edward Backstatter of Backstatter Plumbing and Heating, in Bayville, New York, had to search for the best place on our property to dig a new well, which wound up costing, believe it or not, over six thousand dollars (as I recall it). That was a lot of money back then. It's a lot of money to me now, believe me! It took about three weeks or so before the well was dug and became operational.
My experiences living without running water in Oyster Bay Cove were merely preparatory to doing without it now and again in the motor home. Indeed, there are hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri and Kansas and Nebraska and Illinois without electricity and running water in their homes at present because of the ice storm that devastated their states and is now making its way across the Midwest into the Northeastern states for a little visit in our neck of the woods in a day or so. Although some of the Romans in ancient Rome had running water, it was not until relatively recently that homes had indoor plumbing and running water. Our motor home, that great instrument of penance on wheels that puts the late, non-lamented "Penance the Stroller" to shame, has had various periods in which we have been without running water.
Our motor home, which is manufactured by Forest River of Goshen, Indiana, is a piece of junk, one of the low-end types of motor homes. We are grateful to Saint Joseph for making it possible to have our piece of junk. However, it is a piece of junk. As the excellent repairman who works for Tag Motors in Medford, New York, Doug, told us a few years ago, Forest River motor homes are designed by people who never use them. This lack of concern for the user friendliness and vehicle reliability causes the coach and engine batteries to be placed under the steps inside of the motor home that are situated at the main entrance in the middle of the right side of the coach. The batteries (and the many other electrical connections and fuses that are situated in the exact same place) are thus exposed on a constant, unremitting basis to water and soot and salt and other debris from roadways. We have to replace the batteries several times a year, having to replace also a major fuse box that controls our "slides" (which extend our living room and bedroom by about eighteen inches or so once we are parked) and other things.
Moreover, the fresh water tank itself is situated immediately above the propane tank underneath the floorboard of the main part of the coach. The tank is so poorly designed and situated that it spills out all of our fresh water as we are driving. This has been the case from the very first moment we purchased the motor home on Thursday, July 12, 2001, at the now defunct Travel Land R.V. Center on Menaul Boulevard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I was lecturing in three different venues between May 14, 2001, and July 14, 2001. A freshly filled fresh water tank will spill out its contents in a matter of minutes or hours, depending upon the terrain over which we happen to be driving at any given moment. The water spills out fastest when we are driving on hilly or very curvy roadways. A "F" reading on our fresh water gauge inside of the motor home can turn quite quickly into an "E" reading. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
There have been times also when our water pump, which is connected to the fresh water tank, has malfunctioned, requiring a replacement, and when connections to that water pump have gone awry, as happened at a campground west of Des Moines, Iowa, in August of 2003. A flood or two has been caused by the cracking of the glass water filter in the motor home's bathroom, leaving us without water for a while (as happened when traveling to different speaking venues at the end of May and the beginning of June of 2002). And there have been times when the fresh water tank itself has simply cracked, requiring a replacement. There is no way to know all of this when one first purchases a motor home unless one knows someone who has been through all of this himself. We did not. As I tell people, "We served as 'quality control' on the motor home after we bought it."
Mind you, I understand very fully that homeowners of actual land homes that stay in the odd position known as one place (except for those homes built on hillsides in southern California that have the tendency to slide down now and again during mudslides) have their own problems with plumbing (frozen or clogged pipes) or heating or septic equipment. This is, after all, the vale of tears. We are expected to do penance for our own sins and those of the whole world, offering up our daily penances and mortifications and humiliations to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The whole purpose of these travelogues is to help readers see that their own particular problems of daily living are fairly universal and that one should not think that living in a motor home makes one free of such problems.
One of the reasons that we explored the possibility of living in Florida when the suggestion was made to us five months ago was that it would be easier to live in our motor home year-round, especially in the winter months, there than in Connecticut, which is where we had wanted to put Lucy into school in September of this year. We knew that living in Connecticut in the motor home would be very difficult, especially since I am turned down consistently for academic and other employment positions and thus must depend upon the donations that we receive from our readers to pay our bills, making it impossible to rent a home no less to consider purchasing one (which is simply out of the question unless we win Powerball or Mega Millions or one of my books is meant in God's Holy Providence to sell hundreds of thousands of copies). We returned to Connecticut in October knowing of the difficulties. Given how well Lucy is doing in school, despite things that she needs to apply her very strong will to work on, we know that these difficulties are worth experiencing and dealing with on a daily basis.
The week we had last week, beginning on Monday, December 3, 2007, was, as my dear wife Sharon, who loves penances, said, "One that was rough even by Droleskey standards." And most of the difficulties of the past week were caused by the lack of the availability of water.
As regular readers will recall, our fresh water tank, which does operate in below freezing weather as long as the temperatures do not sink below zero degrees Fahrenheit, was damaged in February as we drove up and down a roadway that was being re-graded by the City of Lafayette, Louisiana, to have money taken out of our pockets by a Masonic repair garage that was supposed to fix the motor home's front suspension problems, which were not caused by the kingpins that were replaced initially but by a bent steering wheel shaft that had to be replaced, but have actually worsened some of those suspension problems quite nicely, thank you. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls." A new fresh water tank was ordered on Monday, June 4, 2007, but did not get into Tag Motors in Medford, Long Island, New York, until the middle of August, by which time we were in Florida and not expecting to be back in the northeast again anytime soon. God knew otherwise, obviously.
By the time we got back to the northeast in the middle of October, however, we had to wait to get an appointment for the installation of the motor home. As said installation takes most of a full work day, I had to arrange for a day whereupon we could go down to Long Island as a family and then spend the day together after dropping the motor home off at Tag Motors. This is what we did on Friday, November 23, 2007, the Feast of Pope Saint Clement I, as was recounted in
It's Still Better This Than Purgatory (or Worse), part 6, only to discover that Forest River, the manufacturer of the motor home, had ordered the wrong water tank from the company that produces such tanks and then shipped the wrong one off to Tag Motors, where it sat for three months before we could discover Forest River's monstrous, penance-imposing error. The new fresh water tank was ordered on Monday, November 26, 2007, but was not shipped, we found out just this morning, Tuesday, December 11, 2007, until yesterday, Monday, December 10, 2007, the Feast of Pope Saint Melchiades and the Commemoration of Our Lady of Loreto. It's anyone guess as to when the new fresh water tank will arrive.
Without a fresh water tank, you see, we must operate on what is called a "city water" connection, one that provides water from a hydrant or a faucet directly into the motor home, bypassing the water pump and providing us water inside of the motor home when we turn our own faucets on and off. This works all right as long as temperatures are above freezing. When temperatures drop substantially below freezing and stay there for long periods of time, however, we must do without running water, as happened to us on Sunday, December 2, 2007, the First Sunday of Advent.
We awoke to find that day to find out that we were without running water. This necessitated boiling some water from our fresh water bottles in order to make ourselves somewhat hygienic. The Holy Family did not have running water. Most of the saints did not have running water. We were in very good company. Long term, however, another solution had to be found. We could not do on a daily basis what we had done on Monday morning, December 3, 2007, after I moved our boxes of books into a storage facility in Monroe, Connecticut, when I hooked up the motor home's water hose to a hydrant at a rest area at Exist 2 on Interstate 84 eastbound west of Danbury in order to get some running water to shower as Lucy was in school. We had to find something a bit more permanent than that.
Things came to a head on Monday night, December 3, 2007, when we recognized that we would have to leave the property on which we had been parked for eight weeks so as to get running water once again. There were a few other factors involved at the same time. Suffice it to say, however, that we had to find some way to get running water and to dump our waste water while keeping Lucy in school in Connecticut. Believe me, I was half-tempted to pack things up and head on down to a more southerly climate, such as Lafayette, Louisiana, where the truly good people at Father Francis Miller's Christ the King Church had received us so warmly and attended my Sunday lectures there for five weeks earlier this year so faithfully. We had to make a go of things in Connecticut.
We spent most of the day on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, the Feast of Saint Peter Chrysologus and the Commemoration of Saint Barbara, in the parking lot of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, running our generator to keep the electricity going. The coach battery still dies whenever we are not plugged into an electrical socket or the generator is not running. The death of the coach battery is a most annoying thing as we have to get a jump start to re-start the thing again. Given its relatively inaccessible location, positioning another vehicle close enough to the coach battery so that jumper cables can reach it is usually quite a problem. Tracing electrical problems can be difficult. In God's Holy Providence, however, the generator worked well and did not cause the carbon monoxide detector to go off once. It appears that the problem of exhaust fumes leaking into the motor home itself really was solved by "Doctor Muffler" in Spokane, Washington, on Friday, May 11, 2007. Deo gratias.
It was indeed in God's Holy Providence (all things are, I know, I know) that we had to pull up stakes on Tuesday, December 4, 2007. The extension cord that connected our own thirty amperage electrical cord (with a 110-adapater plug) to the external socket on the property where we had been staying was smoking rather badly when I unplugged our own cord that morning. Smoke was coming out of the socket of the extension cord. Not good. I had to purchase a replacement for the good people who were so kind to host us on their property. We just had to figure out where to go to spend the night and where it was that we were going to live.
There was a rental house about three miles from Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. To move into the house, however, would have taken a considerable amount of "up front" money that we did not have. Lines sent out to possible benefactors came back without any "fish" at the end of them. There was a "for rent" sign on a house right next to the chapel. However, that facility was a multiple-dwelling unit from which I had heard horrible "rock" music blaring at different times of the day, something that I did not want Lucy exposed to whatsoever. It's bad enough that we have to experience such "music" blaring out of speakers when I pump gasoline (we do not take Lucy into supermarkets where it is played and we not patronize restaurants when such rot is played). To be around it full time? No, thank you.
This meant that we had to find an open campground at which to park. The nearest one is in East Lyme, Connecticut, some seventy miles away from Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, carrying with it the added disadvantage of requiring us to drive with traffic on Interstate 95, the Connecticut Turnpike, during both the morning and afternoon rush hour commutes. That drive could easily take up to two hours, if not more, meaning that we would have to leave around 5:00 a.m. to make it in time for 7:00 a.m. morning Mass and not get back until around 5:30 p.m., not leaving a lot of time for various odds and ends. We would have to take the motor home there and back both ways as not to do would have meant that Sharon and I would have had to make the commute twice in one day. Why? Well, where were we going to spend the seven hours between the time we drop Lucy off at school after Holy Mass and then pick her up again? Sitting around in a public library?
The other option was little better, carrying with it the singular advantage that we would be driving against traffic both ways, making the commute, although difficult, a little less stressful and more predictable than would have been the case from East Lyme, Connecticut. I decided, therefore, to return to our old stomping grounds of Black Bear Campground in Florida, New York, some eighty-seven miles from Monroe, Connecticut. We did this on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, after I hooked up the Trail Blazer to the motor home. Lucy was able to do her homework as we drove, and the drive was completed in about an hour and forty minutes.
It was while en route to Black Bear Campground that I spoke to the owners to confirm that they had space, which they did. Their rates had gone up considerably since the last time we had stayed there, providing a bit of "sticker shock," shall we say. "I'm giving you a great deal," said one of the owners. "You'll only have to pay $228.00 for the week." What a deal, huh? What a deal. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls. I am keenly aware of how my many sins require penance to be accepted with equanimity. Such a price was penitential, believe me.
Backing into the space at Black Bear was a little challenging. Our space was a sheet of sheer ice. I had detached the Trail Blazer from the motor home at the entrance to the campground, letting Sharon drive the car to our space. Once at the space, however, I had to position the motor home with her help in order to find a way to get over the ice. The motor home got wedged several times (yes, we do need those new tires, I suppose, sooner rather than later) before I was able to back in successfully and to get settled. It was nice to take advantage of the running water while I had the hose connected (I had to disconnect the hose after Lucy and Sharon had gone to sleep and before I commenced my writing for the evening) and to enjoy the benefits of the "thirty amp" hookup once again, which permitted Sharon to use a toaster-oven and a microwave that simply can't be run when we are running electricity by means of a regular extension cord. It was nice also to have access to the septic dump as the last time we had been able to use such a thing was at Battle Row Campground in Old Bethpage, New York, on Sunday, November 25, 2007.
The really difficult part of the three days we arose each morning at 4:30 a.m. to get ourselves and the motor home ready for the commute was the fact that I got so little sleep. Although our donations from those who have the financial means to support us are few, I am very, very grateful to the few who do donate to us, wanting to provide them with their "money's worth" insofar as a quotient of work is concerned. And I want to provide those readers who do not have such means to donate but who seem to profit from the articles some fresh material every other day while at the same time taking care first and foremost of my own interior life and the spiritual and temporal needs of my wife and daughter with whom I have been so richly blessed by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Most Blessed Mother. Things got a little "stretched" last week as I tried to keep up with the writing while enduring the physical torture of the brutal drive.
To put things mildly, you see, I was "shaky tired" by the time I arose on Thursday, December 6, 2007, the Feast of Saint Nicholas, after having made three trips (one to Monroe, two from Monroe) and spending all day Wednesday, December 5, 2007, once again in the parking lot of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel with our generator going strong. "This is killing me," I told Sharon. "I can't keep this up. We have to find some way to get that rental house. My father had a ten mile commute when he was fifty-six in 1975, not an eighty-seven mile commute. And I haven't had the two heart attacks he had had by that point!" I was close to sheer physical collapse.
Oh, Lucy was getting plenty of sleep, was warm, well-fed and bathed. She was having the time of her life. She is a road warrior! She loves being on the road and seeing the sights. She even knows which turns I am supposed to take (in the event that I forget). She's been paying close attention to directions since she was a baby. After all, the girl has been in all but two of the contiguous forty-eight states of the United States of America (Vermont and Maine have been the two we have not traversed in the motor home thus far).
Lucy may have been enjoying the daily rides. I was beat, forced to take a three-hour nap on Thursday morning, December 6, 2007, after we walked back to the motor home following say goodbye to Lucy as she started her school day. All manner of options were considered about where we could park on a long term basis without having to pay the exorbitant rent we had to pay at Black Bear Campground. None of those options was good. Each involved a commute of at least sixty to seventy miles from the property of different friends. Oh, there are people I've know for over two decades who live relatively nearby Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. Such are the consequences of the ecclesiastical divide that old friendships become strained, something that is perfectly understandable and must be accepted with gratitude for the years of friendship, which is, after all, a free gift that is neither earned nor owed in the slightest, in the past and with prayers for a happy and blessed reunion in the Church Triumphant in Heaven.
It was thus back to Black Bear Campground on Thursday afternoon, December 6, 2007, and back again the following morning to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel on the Feast of Saint Ambrose and the Vigil of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. Most of Friday, December 7, 2007, was spent trying to deal with the poor wireless connections extant on the grounds of the chapel as I tried to write Pure, Unadulterated Americanism, which took well into Friday night and early Saturday morning to complete (before it was "tweaked" several times on Saturday and Sunday). That article was not completed, however, until we had encountered a truly amazing--and most unexpected--adventure during a snowstorm that just popped out of nowhere and made driving a nightmare in the Town of Monroe, Connecticut.
The snows that day, Friday, started to fall around 2:30 p.m. I had not seen any reports on the internet of such a snowfall. The snow began to stick and to accumulate rather quickly. I told Sharon that it might just be better for us to stay in the parking lot with the generator going. We had not had any problems with carbon monoxide leakage up to that point. Perhaps we'd be all right until the following morning. Sharon, however, reminded me that I had promised to give the generator a "rest" by going back to Black Bear Campground and plugging in the electrical cord for two and one-half days. Although it was against my better judgment, I agreed to return to Florida, New York, in Orange County (not far from where our old post office box was located in Pine Island, New York), attaching the Trail Blazer, which we used for errands while the motor home was parked in the chapel's parking lot, to the motor home yet again.
Lucy played in the snow with her schoolmates before we took off out of the parking lot. Connecticut-25 was terrible. Not a thing had been done to plow the accumulating snow. No salt or sand or other chemical mixture had been spread by Town of Monroe or Connecticut Department of Transportation dump trucks to improve vehicle traction on the icy surface of the roadway. It took us a full thirty minutes to go but two and one-half miles, whereupon I found the motor home sliding very badly down a steep hill near Botsford Hill Road. We had to go back. We were not going to make it to Black Bear Campground, not without getting stuck somewhere and not without having us sliding into some other vehicle or some other vehicle sliding into us. There is a 960 foot peak on Interstate 84 in Dutchess County, New York. Such a climb in the midst of heavy traffic would be nightmarish. And getting back into our space at Black Bear? The prospect just did not seem like a good one. We had to turn around and spend the night on the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, receiving permission to do so.
After getting Sharon and Lucy a small salmon fillet to cook up in the motor home for their dinner once we got back to the chapel parking lot, we left the Stop and Shop parking lot, heading southbound on Connecticut-25, which had become a scene out of a war zone. Cars were strewn everywhere. Some were sideways one way, others were sideways the other way. Some had spun around a full 180 degrees. It was a mess. Not a plow or a salter/sander in sight. Not one. The motor home slid considerably, sometimes sideways, as we tried to drive up a steep hill. The unit did get us up an 11,000 foot peak near Aspen, Colorado, during the wee morning hours of Thursday, March 14, 2001, as we were driving from Orange, California, to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to await the birth of our child, who we did not know at that point would be John Jacob Marie Droleskey or Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey. Tractor-trailer trucks were stopped along the side of the road during that particular climb. I just kept the motor home going up and up and up and up, sometimes as slow as ten miles per hour. It was pure white-knuckle driving. Lots and lots of Rosaries were prayed as I reached the peak.
With that experience (and similar ones) in mind, therefore, I thought we could make it back a mere three miles to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel without too many problems. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Although we were making "forward progress" southbound on Connecticut-25 that late-afternoon/early evening of Friday, December 7, 2005, the motor home was sliding sideways on occasion. "Steer in the direction of the skid," the old driving instruction manuals tell you. "Steer in the direction of the skid." Doing that, however, would have meant a major disaster for a car that had stopped on the side of the southbound lane of Connecticut-25, apparently stuck in the ice that lay below the snow-covered surface. The Trail Blazer would have taken out that care for sure if I tried to pass it as we were skidding and sliding along. The motor home came to a stop behind that Trail Blazer, which had jack-knifed as the motor home stuck out in the southbound lane and blocked traffic almost, although not quite, entirely. My first task was to detach the Trail Blazer from the motor home.
Upon getting out of the motor home, however, the driver of the car that caused me to stop the motor home, yelled out, "Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Why car no go? Why car no go?" She was from the Far East, unable to come to the conclusion that her car would not go because it was stuck in the ice. I promised to help her after I got the Trail Blazer detached from the motor home. Sure, I realized she didn't understand a word I was saying. However, I had to attend to our problem first and then to see if I could help her. She kept yelling, "Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Car no go!" Sharon found out that her name was "Lulu," giving her a Green Scapular while I detached the Trail Blazer from the motor home.
It is sometimes the case that the tow bar becomes a means of great penance when I try to detach the car. Even if I use WD-40 on the bolts that are locked into place on the arms of the Blue Ox tow bar there are times when the bolts just won't budge after I have unlocked them and unlocked the two arms of the tow bars themselves (the things I had to learn just a few months before I turned fifty back in 2001!). The bolts came out relatively easy in the midst of the snow and cold and inclement conditions.
Sharon was busying herself inside of the motor home by taking photographs, one of which documents, although in a blurry manner, an automobile that nearly skidded into the motor home as it tried to pass our jack-knifed home. Cars were stopped everywhere on both sides of the road. It was an amazing site for an early-December day. So much for global warming, Al Gore, huh?
My first goal after detaching the Trail Blazer and throwing the tow bar and electrical connections into the passenger seat was to get the thing off of the road so that I could back up the motor home and then proceed southbound on Connecticut-25. The Trail Blazer was a little stuck in the ice. With a little bit of maneuvering (no, I did not put it into four-wheel drive mode as I should have), I was able to drive up onto the snow-covered lawn of some cement company and park the thing in that company's parking lot. It was then time to deal with Lulu's car.
Lulu was still yelling quite rapidly, "Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Why car no go? Why car no go?" I tried to explain to her that her car was stuck in the ice. The language barrier prevented that message from being comprehended successfully. "Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Why car no go?" She kept yelling quite frantically over and over and over and over again. (No, I am not making this up.)
I managed to get Lulu's car parked next to the Trail Blazer in the parking lot of the cement company. Lulu was most pleased. "Car go? Car go? Car go?" she asked. Yes, I assured her that the car would go. I did not assure her, however, how far the car would go. She wouldn't have understood me if I tried to tell her that she might get stuck again. Some other driver may heard her say later on, "Car no go! Car no go! Car no go! Why car no go?" in rapid-fire manner.
With Lulu amazed that her car could "go" and Sharon and Lucy safely in the Trail Blazer, I started off again in the motor home up the huge hill away from Botsford Hill Road on Connecticut-25. Things did not "go" well for me, however. The motor home starting skidding sideways again. I tried to negotiate the thirty-one foot vehicle in such a way as to avoid hitting a small black foreign car that was as stranded as Lulu's had been a few moments before. The motor home was just about to clear that stranded car's front end when I heard a crunching sound and saw debris in my right sideview mirror that had been knocked off of that stranded car. As I would discover later from the lack of any damage done to the motor home, the end of the tow bars had clipped the left front fender and bumper of the other car. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! It was shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 2007.
Moving the motor home over to the side of the road once again, I tried to exit the motor home from the main cabin door, managing only to wedge the door open against a huge embankment that did not give me any room from which to exit the motor home. I then heard a banging sound on the driver's door, finding it to be, as I expected, the driver of the stranded vehicle. Apologizing for what had happened, I gave him my driver's license and told him to wait for a moment as I retrieved my insurance card. "Retrieving" my insurance card, a copy of which could not be found immediately, involved firing up this notebook computer that was purchased eleven months ago after a most generous reader donated the funds for that purpose. I had to go online to retrieve a copy of the insurance card, an electronic version of which is stored in a communications system that Sharon has had for many years. The printed had to be set up after that in order to print out the cards.
Jumping down from the driver's side exit onto the ice and snow covered roadway, I walked over, albeit very gingerly, to the man whose car was hit by the motor home and gave him my information. Cars were proceeding carefully up the hill. Some, however, were stuck all over the place. I then sort of skated over to the Trail Blazer to tell Sharon what had happened. The Trail Blazer was off to the side of the road. It was still vulnerable to being hit by skidding cars that were attempting to climb the hill on Connecticut-25. I thus had Sharon and Lucy get out of the car in order to stay in the Trail Blazer until a police officer came to take a report about the accident. Getting them into the motor home was a bit of a problem. The main cabin door was open. It was, however, inaccessible being of the height of the embankment, which simply could not be scaled from the roadway without a pole vault.
Resorting to the old reliable method of getting the family into the motor home during times when the cabin door's lock has malfunctioned, I lifted Lucy up into the motor home, telling her to grab onto the steering wheel and climb into the driver's "captain" chair as I held her aloft. Sharon asked me if I was going to lift her up. I looked at her without responding a la Oliver Hardy. She got up into the motor home, making it my turn to try to not lose my footing on the icy roadway below as I lifted myself up. I have lost about thirty-five pounds in the past nine weeks. I am still much heavier than I should be. It's nice as easy to lift myself up into the driver's seat as it was when we first purchased the motor home in 2001. I did, however, get up into the seat and closed the door.
Sharon was concerned that the main cabin door had been damaged, asking me to back up the motor home a bit to see if the door would "give" enough so that she could try to close it. I was reluctant as I did not want to damage the door more and I did not want to skid on ice going in reverse, striking the man in the stranded car that had been hit already yet another time! I did, however, give it a try. It worked. The door was freed, although Sharon had difficulty trying to close it. "We'll deal with that," I said, "after we get back to the chapel's parking lot--if we ever get back there tonight, that is. Just keep the thing shut for now. I'll go in and out by the driver's door here."
Well, a police officer from the Town of Monroe came to take an official police report. He said that the roads were a mess throughout Monroe, that nothing had been done to make them drivable. I explained how the accident occurred. No tickets were issued. He only took a report because the other driver insisted that one be made, which was fine with me. It was clear what had happened. None of us were going anywhere anytime soon. The officer was good enough to call for a tow truck for us to get us out of the ice that we had gotten stuck in after I stopped following the accident. There was a bit of delay in the officer's filling out his report. He could not get into his patrol car. He had locked himself out of it.
The office came over to us, asking us for a coat hanger, not telling us what we knew already: that he had to use it to get himself back into his patrol car. Sharon gave him a sturdy one. It took the officer several minutes to break into his own patrol car. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls. I telephoned Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel to inform Sister Mary Imelda what was happening. She told us that His Excellency Bishop McKenna had given us permission to park by the garage near the Sisters' convent, which is where we had parked in January, February and June earlier this year. The motor home's generator would get a rest after all!
It was clear by the time that the police officer had handed me the report that the temperatures had risen considerably. Trucks had been by to plow the roadway as salt and sand were had been put on its surface, making me think that we could get out of this mess on our own power without needing a tow. With that thought in mind, therefore, I jumped out of the motor home once again to retrieve the Trail Blazer so that I could drive ahead of the motor home and let Sharon drive it back to the chapel's parking lot. As I walked to where the Trail Blazer was parked along the side of the road, I stopped once again to express my apologies to the man whose car had been damaged by the motor home's tow bar. He was most kind and understanding. No one expected to have encountered these conditions on this particular day. God knew. He had fashioned this Cross for each of us from all eternity. We had to give it back to His Most Sacred Heart through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother.
I was able to get the motor home back on the road shortly after 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 2007. Sharon pulled ahead in the Trail Blazer. Lucy stayed behind in the motor home so as to avoid yet another exit from the driver's door. Sharon noticed what the mileage on the trip odometer read as she pulled out onto Connecticut-25 in front of the motor home: "66.6." The adversary left his calling card, didn't he? That is sort of reassuring, folks. I mean, I have done the devil's bidding far, far too much in my life by means of my sins, for which I am truly sorry, each and every one of them. The devil knows, however, that I am not his friend despite my having done his bidding many times without number. He does not want the message of the Social Reign of Christ the King to be proclaimed, thus trying to throw everything possible in our paths to stop us permanently or to discourage us from continuing.
It is on occasions such as these that it is good to pray not only the long and the short versions of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer but to pray the August Queen of Heaven Prayer, which we pray every day, especially when these sorts of things occur:
August Queen of Heaven, Sovereign Mistress of the Angels,
Thou who from the beginning hast received the power to crush the head of Satan,
We humbly beseech thee to send thy holy Legions so that under thy command and by thy power they may drive the devils away, everywhere fight them, subduing their boldness and thrust them down into the abyss.
Who is like unto God?
O good and tender Mother thou willst be our love and our hope.
O Divine Mother, send thy holy Angels and Archangels to defend me and to drive far away from me the cruel enemy.
Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us. (This prayer should be committed to memory. We did nearly four years ago.)
We got back at the chapel parking lot a little after 6:15 p.m., grateful that the accident was not worse than it was, grateful that we got struck where we did and that we did not get stranded far from the chapel, grateful to His Excellency for letting us stay in the parking lot although every bit of space is needed for parking on Holy Days of Obligation and on Sundays. What a day, one that had begun at 4:30 a.m., and would not end for me until around 12:30 a.m. on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as I continued to work on Pure, Unadulterated Americanism late into the evening on Friday night until past Midnight Saturday, December 8, 2007. What a day. It is better this than Purgatory--or worse!
We had a most lovely day on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Holy Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel was beautiful. And we had a pleasant time visiting with our friends the Colgans. Spencer Colgan, my former student from twenty-two years ago, told me that he had viewed a 1986 lecture that I had given at Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville, New York on May 12 of that year, just before I was nominated to run for lieutenant governor on the Right to Life Party line. I was surprised that the VHS tape was still viewable after twenty-one years. Oh, yes, I referred favorably to Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, thinking that he was a friend of the cause of the Catholicization of the world, which he was not, as I began to realize with the passage of years. What Spencer found interesting was that I looked in that presentation the way that he remembered me from my teaching days at Saint Francis College (hirsute, both with a red beard and relatively thick hair on the top of my head, quite thin).
The years do make a difference in one's appearance--and in one's outlook if one is open to receiving the direction others have to offer him and then open to cooperating with the Heavenly grace sent to accept that direction. Many people, including some present in the audience on May 12, 1986, thought that I would never "get it" insofar as the state of apostasy was concerned. These people were remonstrating with me, thinking that I was a "hopeless" case. I listened, though. I wasn't willing to accept what they had to say at the time. It took me nearly two decades to say, "Oops! Those folks were right all along!"
Our Lady provided us a nice little temporal treat on her glorious feast day. We had learned a few weeks on Tuesday, November 13, 2007, that a Mitchell's Fish Market would be opening in Stamford, Connecticut, on the Feast of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. This brought a tear to my eye as to think of the tenderness of Our Lord's great mercy to us, that He attends to the little details of even our temporal lives, granting us little consolations in things that would mean absolutely nothing to anyone else but else. That is how personally He loves us. His Excellency Bishop Daniel L. Dolan put it this way in a very touching note:
Now, the French would call that exquisite "delicatesse" on our Lord's
part, which is thoughtfulness, plus. Sort of like the time poor St.
John of the Cross was fleeing from some shady Shod Carmelites, and
perishing from very hunger. What should appear on a rock, but his
very favorite dish in all the world, asparagus? Our Lord is like
that, probably one of the very many charming human traits He
inherited from His Blessed Mother.
The Colgans, who had joined us at Mitchell's in West Chester, Ohio, on August 4 and 5, 2007, and then in Tampa, Florida, on August 17, 2007, joined us in Stamford for the opening day of the new Mitchell's. Although I passed on the most delectable seven-layer carrot cake available anywhere, I did break my diet just wee bit on the great feast day of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception to have two or three pieces of fried calamari, suffering no ill effects on the bathroom scale the next morning. One of the staff present that first day was a hostess who had recognized us from Tampa. What a small world. We were very grateful for such a nice treat on such a glorious feast day after such a truly trying, penitential week.
Our week, however, was not quite over. Bishop McKenna was kind enough to extend our stay on the grounds of the chapel until after school on Monday, December 10, 2007, something that relieved me greatly. I was not looking forward to driving back to Orange County, New York, on Saturday afternoon and then returning for Mass on Sunday morning. Deo gratias.
The cross was lifted after Mass on the Second Sunday of Advent as quickly as it had been handed to us seven days before.
The generous people on whose property we had been parked for eight weeks approached us after Mass, explaining that a way had been arranged for us to have running water after all. They invited us back to the property. We accepted with great joy and gratitude! What a week. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! All has worked out well in the past few days as running water is plentiful and a ten-gauge extension cord has provided us with a more stable means of electrical current for the motor home. It's nice not to have to drive as far as we had been driving.
As noted earlier, each cross that comes our way is perfectly fitted for us. As Father James Dunphy, a LaSalette Father who gave a retreat for families in the early-1970s that we listened to recently, noted, "Our Guardian Angels sees us as Laurel and Hardy, lovable, bumbling idiots." We bumbled our way through the cross we were given during the week of December 10, 2007, that's for sure. As Sharon noted after the week had drawn to an end, "What were we doing thinking about getting a rental home? We just gave away all of our furniture to the Sisters for their tag sale. How could we have furnished such a place?" We couldn't have. Lovable, bumbling idiots, indeed. That's what we are, us weak vessels of clay.
Well, it is back to work on my reflection on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Suffice it to note at this juncture on the eve of this great feast that we must be serious about planting the seeds for the conversion of the Americas, including the United States of America, to the Catholic Faith and hence to the Social Kingship of Christ the King and of Mary our Immaculate Queen. Each cross that we carry can help to do this as long as we remember that the Cross of the Divine Redeemer, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is the only path to Heavenly glory and that we must give each cross in our own lives back to His Most Sacred Heart through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother, praying as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit.
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Andrew the Apostle, pray for us.
Saint Barbara, pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.
Saint Peter Chrysologus, pray for us.
Saint Bibiana, pray for us.
Saint Sabbas, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, pray for us.
Saint Ambrose, pray for us.
Pope Saint Melchiades, pray for us.
Pope Saint Damasus, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Saint Sylvester the Abbot, pray for us.
Saint Gertrude the Great, pray for us.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us.
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Ferrer, pray for us.
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Hyacinth, pray for us.
Saint Peter Nolasco, pray for us.
Saint John Matha, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.
Saint John of God, pray for us.
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us.
Saint Francis Solano, pray for us.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Brendan the Navigator, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Anthony of Padua, pray for us.
Saint Peregrine, pray for us.
Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, pray for us.
Saint John Fisher, pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, pray for us.
Saint Peter Canisius, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Saint Francis Borgia, pray for us.
Saint John Francis Regis, pray for us.
Saint Genevieve, pray for us.
Saint Casimir, pray for us.
Saint Hedwig, pray for us.
Saint Louis IX, King of France, pray for us.
Saint Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Brigid of Kildare, pray for us.
Saint Patrick, pray for us.
Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us.
Pope Saint Leo the Great, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory VII, pray for us.
Saint Boniface, pray for us.
Saint Meinrad, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
Saint Bernardine of Siena, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Cupertino, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Calasanctius, pray for us.
Saint John Damascene, pray for us.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.
Saints Isidore the Farmer and Maria de Cappella, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.
Pope Saint Damasus I, pray for us.
Saint Jerome, pray for us.
Saint Basil the Great, pray for us.
Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
Saint Louise de Marillac, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us.
Saint Antony of the Desert, pray for us.
Saint Bonaventure, pray for us.
Saint Turibius, pray for us.
Saint Isaac Jogues, pray for us.
Saint Rene Goupil, pray for us.
Saint John Lalonde, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel Lalemont, pray for us.
Saint Noel Chabanel, pray for us.
Saint Charles Garnier, pray for us.
Saint Anthony Daniel, pray for us.
Saint John DeBrebeuf, pray for us.
Saint Irenaeus, pray for us.
Saint Polycarp, pray for us.
Blessed Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.
Saint Rita, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.
Saint Bonaventure, pray for us.
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us.
Saint Peter Damian, pray for us.
Saint Peter of Alcantara, pray for us.
Saint Stanislaus, pray for us.
Saint Stanislaus Kostka, pray for us.
Saint Dominic Savio, pray for us.
Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, pray for us.
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us.
Saint Adalbert, pray for us.
Saint Norbert, pray for us.
Saint John Chrysostom, pray for us.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria, pray for us.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for us.
Saints Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Saints Gervase and Protase, pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, pray for us.
Pope Saint Clement I, pray for us.
Saint Tarcisius, pray for us.
Saints Fabian Sebastian, pray for us.
Saint Lawrence the Deacon, pray for us.
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.
Saint Eustachius and Companions, pray for us.
Saints Pontian and Hippolytus, pray for us.
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, pray for us.
Saints Perpetua and Felicity, pray for us.
Saint Rose of Lima, pray for us.
Saint Scholastica, pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Scotland, pray for us.
Saint Peter Lombard, pray for us.
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Monica, pray for us.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, pray for us.
Saint Anselm, pray for us.
Saint Canute, pray for us.
Saint Clotilde, pray for us.
Saint Brendan the Navigator, pray for us.
Saint Coleman, pray for us.
Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.
Blessed Father Vincent Pallotti, pray for us.
Saint Josaphat, pray for us.
Saint Anthony Mary Claret, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, pray for us.
Blessed Edmund Campion, pray for us.
Saint Saturninus, pray for us.
Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.
Venerable Juan Diego, pray for us.
Venerable Junipero Serra, pray for us.
Venerable Miguel Augustin Pro, pray for us.
Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, pray for us.
Jacinta Marto, pray for us.
Francisco Marto, pray for us.
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
The Christmas Novena, begun today, the Feast of Saint Andrew (said fifteen times daily until Christmas Day)
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
The Longer Version of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer, composed by Pope Leo XIII, 1888
O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
Verse: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
Response: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
Verse: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
Response: As we have hoped in Thee.
Verse: O Lord hear my prayer.
Response: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Verse: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls.