Shew. It's been a whirlwind of activity since returning from Alpena. Mostly, garden stuff, but also work and family. Michael (#4) returned from a two-week mission trip to Mexico City, where he visited Our Lady of Guadalupe daily and played soccer with kids at the city dump (where they live with their families, sifting through the garbage, looking for anything of value that they can sell). I think he had a deep experience of some sort. He came back a changed person . . . and the person who left was a pretty decent fellow.
Radical change at the produce site: I'm going Back to Eden, which, for me, basically means: Dump thick piles of wood chips everywhere. A friend of mine owns a tree-cutting business and has ties to other cutters. He put the word out, and they've dumped about ten loads of wood chips at the site. The kids and I have been slowly carrying them, dumping them 6-8 inches thick in the problem areas (e.g., along the hose runs, where I can't flame the weeds away) and along the edges of the site, creating a frame-effect. The immediate goal is to stop grass from invading from the edges, stop weed seeds from blowing in, and stop the lawn mower from blowing blades into the produce area. As a micro-experiment, I've set up three smallish beds for fall plantings and surrounded them with wood chips. We'll see if the invasive grass and weeds subside, though I'm not sure late summer is the best time to experiment. The mid-term goal is to cut down the size of the cultivable area, so I have less to maintain next year (with two graduations, a confirmation, and a wedding next spring, time is going to be at a premium). The long-term plan is for the wood chips to break down, creating a field of great planting medium.
So, McCarrick steps down. While reading about it, I clicked through other stories and learned that he was quite visible in the dark days of the abuse scandal: "McCarrick was a leading voice in the Church's 2002 response to the sexual-abuse crisis in the United States, and an architect of the USCCB's Dallas Charter of the same year, the credibility of that response has also, for some, come into question." That 2002 charter gave us the ridiculous Virtus training requirement: "We know the laity didn't commit the abuse, but we're going to require all of you to take Virtus training in order to be around young kids." I remember when I first heard about Virtus. I was outraged. "A group of homosexuals are sodomizing teenage boys, they get caught, and now I'm the one that has to go to the training?!?! Is this some sort of sick joke?" I now feel partially vindicated, albeit sixteen years later, and a handful of declinations from me to get involved in youth activities solely because of the strictures of Virtus (Parish: "No, Eric, you can't meet with a teenage group to talk theology, unless another adult is there . . . and it can't be your wife." Eric: "Okay. I'll be at the bar instead.")