Thinking Cap Date

A priest friend recently sent us a couple of logic puzzles he’d devised for our amusement.
In preparation for using them, I cobbled together a couple of “thinking caps”
out of brown paper & masking tape to set the atmosphere
(chuckling to myself that I ought to make “feeling caps” out of something warm & fuzzy
for occasions when emotions aren’t so obvious ;))

My prince chose the puzzle about mushrooms–
trying to pick out a pair based on a series of clues.
Armed with popcorn with our thinking caps on, we dug in,

and after a process of elimination we came down to two pairs.
We couldn’t eliminate either of them.
So…my prince started over with a different method.
We got the same answer.
Finally we checked the “real” answer
and realized we’d been misinterpreting one of the clues.
And that was that for the night.

The next day my prince came home with a sleeve of flowers–
maybe I’d have more success arranging those.

I did :).

How sweet!

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Rubber Ball Marble-Go-Down Date

My creativity was on a low ebb this week. It’d been another rough weekend & I wasn’t sure what would go over well, so I kept things basic. We’d found super balls (party favors) at a dollar store that are actually small enough to fit our marble-go-down (once I propped up the top track a little with a piece of toothpick), so we gave those their “maiden voyage” (with our usual popcorn on the side) after a meal of meatballs.

I liked the colors.

My prince liked the lack of clatter!

The kitties liked the novelty.

Mostly we used the time to talk about our early years & what had worked then to enrich our relationship. My prince lamented our meager social life–which is saying a lot for an introvert! It was God’s timing that not long after a couple we know invited us to stop over at their place for lunch after Mass!

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Cube Date

Yes, I married a mathematician!
As I was putting the finishing touches on supper, I received the following email invitation:

Let’s have a (date)^3!

For tonight, we’ll talk and dine on the cubic theme… cubic meat (meatloaf, perhaps), cubic potatoes (if any are left), etc… and talk of cubic things (based on the mood cubes).

Be there, or be cubed!

🙂 Love you, Sweetie!

Love always,
Your Prince

Ok, time to raid the freezer! The meal I’d made would be fine for his lunch the next day. Yes, we did have meatloaf…and yellow squash that I’d cubed before freezing.
Cube some potatoes for raw fries & we’re in business (good thing my prince has an hour commute!).

My prince had a few things to look up before we started our date proper,
so I worked on my filet crochet (not quite cubes, but squares, anyway!).

I need 5 yards of this stuff (at about an inch an hour),
so I’m trying to make the most of every spare moment!

Then we got out the conversation cubes.

The pink ones complete the phrase “I feel” & the green ones, “I need.”
My prince picked a cube at random & we talked about what would cause that feeling or need & just what we meant by it. At one point my price specifically picked the cube indicating “I need space” & asked why I’d even made it–when would it ever be true? He regularly feels the need for space, but it seems like I never do (as a childless homemaker, I tend to get more space than I really want). I admitted it was rare, & talked about the few circumstances where I have felt the need to get away.

In the midst of this I remembered that the plenary indulgence for praying at a cemetery was still available (every day from Nov 1-8, with the usual conditions) & asked if my prince wanted to take advantage of it. He did, so we bundled out into the night and drove to the nearest cemetery, hoping nobody would mind that we were there after dark (it gets dark so early this time of year!).
We made every one of the 8 days this year.
Rest in peace, dear Holy Souls :).

By the time we got back my prince was ready for an early bedtime, so we called it a night.

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All Hallow’s Eve Date

Silly me–I was racking my brain for a date idea, completely oblivious to the fact that it was All Hallow’s Eve! I’ve always loved dressing up! And I love the idea of celebrating All Hallow’s Eve as the vigil of All Saints’ Day (and All Soul’s Day, since the two go together)–the All Saints’ Day equivalent of Christmas Eve. I’d collected a bunch of ideas years ago, so I went to my stash & sent my prince an email at school (work):

Hi Precious :),

Since our date falls on All Hallow’s Eve, let’s take our own advice &
reclaim the night :). I’d like to pray for the holy souls in a cemetery if
we can manage while one is still open (preferably before dark–
maybe old St. Hedwig’s?).

Please dress as a saint (your cassock should give you plenty of options ;))
& be prepared to tell your story so I can guess who you are!
We’ll go from there :).

Love you!

God bless 🙂

Your Princess|

I then cobbled together some “soul cakes” (normally these are donuts but we can’t have those, so I made some donut-shaped oat shortbread),

put together a quick costume & composed the following clue:

I must pass through the door of the dead tonight
all bedecked in my finery best
so to keep sacred tryst in the forest
with a saint and his brotherhood blest.

I was dressed in my best, holding a palm (it’d been folded into a cross) in one hand and pebbles in the other.

As soon as my date arrived, we headed for the cemetery (some close at nightfall) & on the way I recited my clue. He knew right away that I was St. Clare (my favorite saint!). On Palm Sunday morning, Clare had remained behind in her pew when everyone else processed forward to receive a palm. The bishop had personally come to her & handed her one (hence my palm). It’s thought that this was his sign of approval for the plan she & St. Francis had worked out for that night. Then, when everyone else was asleep, she’d dressed in her best & passed through the door of the dead, the door of an Italian home which was only used when carrying out corpses–once you passed through that door you never returned (it had the added advantage of being unguarded, but since it was so rarely used it became a sort of storeroom, with all sorts of stuff piled in front of it–people later said Clare must’ve had supernatural strength to have gotten enough stuff out of the way to have opened it at all!). She met up with a chaperon in the street, and hurried to meet St. Francis and his friars, who were awaiting her with lighted torches in the forest. They led her to the Portiuncula, where St. Francis cut her long golden hair, received her vows as the first Poor Clare nun (they were called the Poor Ladies at the time), gave her a rough habit to wear and took her to the local Benedictine convent for her novitiate (the story goes on from there). The pebbles I carried represented the fact that as a child, St. Clare would count her Pater Nosters (Our Fathers) on pebbles (the rosary as we know it hadn’t been developed yet).

So…that was my costume and my story.

When we arrived at the cemetery, we walked in a little way and named a little litany of the people we’ve known or heard of who’ve died over the past year or so: my prince’s principal, a friend’s father, fellow parishioners, priests, students’ parents…a longer list than I’m used to! We prayed the traditional

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
by the mercy of God, rest in peace

and my prince recited the de Profundis (Psalm 130–I knew a slightly different translation & joined in falteringly).

I love the fact that, as a Catholic, cemeteries are friendly places, not scary ones. This is holy ground, specially blessed as a resting place for those who’ve gone before us.

Once we returned, my prince changed into his cassock & surplice and posed with a crucifix, saying that he kept his eyes downcast, the better to see the things of Heaven.

I’d sort of figured he’d dress up as St. Aloysius Gonzaga (one of his favorite saints)!

We ate by candlelight (atmosphere :)) made popcorn (like the clouds of Heaven?) and then went right into a saint scavenger hunt. I had a long list of saint symbols & wanted to see how many of them we could find around the house.

I got pictures of some of them:

Agatha: tongs

Peter, Zita, Genevieve: keys

Martin de Porres: broom

Brigid of Kildare, Perpetua & Felicity: cow (loose next to the road on our way to & from the cemetery!)

Rose of Lima, Therese of Lisieux: rose (on the garland in the doorway & on the mini rose plant my prince got me a while back)

Vigilius of Trent: shoes

Teresa of Avila, Anne, Anthony of Padua, Augustine of Hippo, Boniface, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Alexandria, Ignatius of Loyola, Isidore of Seville, Jerome, John the Evangelist, Lawrence of Rome, Luke, Mark, Oda of Scotland, Paul the Apostle, Ursicinus: book

Urban of Langres: grapes
Alfred the Great, Catherine of Alexandria, Catherine of Ricci, Dymphna, Elizabeth of Portugal, Gertrude of Nivelles, Helena, Louis IX of France, Oda of Scotland, Sebastian: crown

Agnes: lamb

Mark, Daniel, Ignatius of Antioch, Jerome, Vitus: Lion

Philip Neri: cat

Blaise, Genevieve: candle

Peter, Vitus: rooster

Elizabeth of Hungary: pitcher

John the Evangelist: kettle

Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, David of Wales, Gregory the Great, John Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, Zachary: dove

Augustine of Hippo, James, son of Zebedee: shell

Bartholomew the Apostle: knife

My prince tired of the game before I did,
so moved on to pray the Dies Irae (his choice of translations) & talk a bit about Heaven.

I trust the Holy Souls in Purgatory benefited :).

I did :).

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Smiley Ball Date

We had a socially exhausting weekend…my prince just wanted a quiet night at home to sit & talk, so we planned a typical “roll the ball across the floor & talk” evening.

To spruce it up a little, I asked if he could bring home the smiley nerf ball
I’d seen in his room at school (I think it was from some morale-booster project).

Note the little ears behind the green blanket!

Of course, any time we bring in something new, the kitties are interested.

They provided the entertainment for the evening!

That was good, as the conversation was on the heavy side. My prince had some serious discernment in progress & needed to think out loud with me.

We ended the evening by swapping back rubs, which did us both good!

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Bonkers For You Date

My prince planned this date. At school, he created & sent me this invitation:

Unfortunately, the internet seems to have eaten it–he had to resend it (I think it was on his private internet account) after he got home! (He wondered why I hadn’t mentioned it…) That’s ok :). I got the message later than he planned, but I still got it!

He was referring, of course, to our special date-night version of the board game “Bonkers” (down loadable, editable copies of our Bonkers cards can be found here: Bonkers).

We had to be a little more creative than usual in setup because I have a couple of craft projects all over the coffee table (oops!). My prince pressed an ottoman into service, we added a TV tray (and, of course, our usual bowls of popcorn!) & were in business.

What we hadn’t quite expected was that this new setup would attract kitty involvement! Mittens was looking for attention. We’ve called her “bonky Mitts” for quite some time because of her characteristic head-butt (bonk) version of affection, but I’d never quite put the play on words together before! And she was in one of her freaky moods, rolling on the floor & meowing. Bonkers Kitty! I was too slow with the camera to catch that, but when my prince tossed her a die, she was happy to play.

The trouble was, she didn’t stop there!

She lurked…

When we were busy doing what the cards said, she was helping herself to the “toys” on the board! There was a swipe at the dice. My prince’s playing piece disappeared (to be found on the floor after a brief search). Then she helped herself to a taste of one of the cards…

Crazy cat ;)! (like I should talk! ;))

In the meantime, the exchange of hugs, smiles & various forms of touch was lovely :). There were lots of back scritches “in the cards” for my prince:

I seemed to get more head stroking (purr like a kitty! ;)).

I landed on “lose,” which in the standard form of the game is a real downer (you lose a point & a turn), but with this version it just mean that the game lasted longer & that my prince got to treat me to caresses while I waited for my turn to come back.
Maybe I shouldn’t avoid that part of the board so assiduously after all ;)!

The night was still young when we finished (my prince got too many points too fast! ;)),
so we continued the cuddles as we retired for the night. No complaints on that either!

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“Let’s Start a Fire” Date (and a Reprise)

As my prince & I have been talking about possibilities for dates this past year, it came up that I love (controlled!) fire. And since we don’t have a fireplace & my prince doesn’t like camping, my experience of larger fires is limited to the Easter Vigil fire (Thanks to our new priest :)) and those rare occasions when someone invites us over for a fire (maybe once a year?).

Ever since, we’ve kept an eye open for ways to make a fire possible in our own backyard, and when my prince found a firebowl on sale (cheaper than we could build a firepit & more portable!), he brought one home.

It’s been sitting in the basement for months.

First it was too cold (snow on the ground!), then too wet, then too mosquitoey, then too cold again…finally, everything lined up for a perfect night out. My prince had suggested a walk. I asked if we could have a fire when it got too dark for walking. He thought the fire could serve as the entire date. Works for me :)!

I again sent the invitation via email:

Anybody else planning to do this would probably have lots of fun food options (like cooking over the fire!). I did what I could with the limitations we have. My prince’s menu was Smoky Cheeseburgers (without the cheese–used to be one of his favorite meals until dairy became a problem), potato salad and homemade kosher dill pickles. Even without the cheese, my prince said the burgers are still one of his favorite ways to have ground beef (need to file that one!).

Then we got down to the business of putting the firebowl together.

Moses “helped” (on top of my prince’s back–he’s a little camouflaged). And no, I didn’t put him there! That’s a trick he came up with all by himself–my prince has to be careful whenever he bends over, lest he get locked in that position by a reclining cat!

Finally we headed outside. We were pleased to discover that the firestarters we made a couple months ago worked really well 🙂 (you can see one in the center, under the wood). The one we used was still burning when the rest of the fire was well underway).

The ground was too wet to sit on directly (it rained most of the week), so I dug out a lounge that’s been in the basement for time out of mind (I’m not even sure where it came from…). Something a little wider would be nice, but we made do :).

(We managed to settle in a little more comfortably when we had more than ten seconds between hitting the camera timer & getting into position!)

It was a lovely evening :). Mostly we just rested in each others’ arms & watched the fire, but we did sing a little. I started with what I remember of “Let the Flame Burn Brighter” and “Holy Fire” & my prince chimed in with “Healer of My Soul,” while I sang harmony (I love singing harmony with him!!).

The dancing flames took me back to the Easter fire, and to the invocation to the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts with the fire of divine Love. I reflected that the fire of hell is out of order–a wildfire, as it were–while the flames of Heaven are a blaze of love that lights and warms the mind and heart in the perfect order which is the will of God.

My prince noted that he’s always loved the embers and their vivid color.

People speak of embers as if the fire’s dying, but they’re really the heart of a mature fire, keeping the rest of the flame burning, as the contemplative life under-girds the active life and makes it possible. We compared spiritual emotional highs (conferences, retreats, “mountaintop experiences”, etc.) with lighting a ball of crumpled newspaper. You get lots of excitement and action, but without the more the substantial fuel of spiritual reading and study, doctrine, persistence in prayer, etc., the fire will quickly die out.

The evening was restful, connective, intimate. I’m gaining a new appreciation for why fireplaces are popular!

The fire was ebbing as our bedtime neared, so we just let it burn out on its own.

The following week (this week), since the warm weather held out, we decided to have another fire–mostly, “play it again, Sam!” except that this time we didn’t have to put the fire bowl together first! I traded the lounge for a blanket & foam cushion. It wasn’t so cramped & it was dry enough that we could get away with it!

This time I started the conversation by commenting on a writing exercise I’d found recently, of writing a letter to yourself as if from your eight-year-old self. My prince asked what life was like when I was eight & told stories from his childhood. It wasn’t as uplifting as the conversation around the previous fire–I don’t much like thinking of my childhood–but it was still restful “together time”.

Thank You, God, for this St. Martin’s summer :).

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