I'm joining up with Jen and the gang at Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes with the hope of getting some bits and pieces of things up and out of my list of draft posts.
 I went to Holy Hour this evening before mass, and just as I got there it sounded like all the fire engines and ambulances in town were racing to what must have been a giant emergency. About 10 minutes before mass started, they came racing back the other way, horns and sirens blaring. A minute later ALL the bomberos (volunteer fire department), including the junior group of bombero trainees and the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) people, marched into the church. What was going on? They sat down around me and remained through the end of Holy Hour.
When the mass started, Padre welcomed them all and announced that they were there to give thanks to God and the mass was dedicated to honoring their service in the community. I was trying to imagine all the members of the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department, of which my son Matt is one, going to church together to give thanks to God and have the pastor bless them - NOT going to happen in our lifetime! At the end of the mass Padre went outside with them where their vehicles were parked and blessed the whole group. And of course, I didn't have my camera with me because you don't need a camera in church...RIIIGHT! (I'll try not to make THAT mistake again).
 Last week I did a series of posts about a trip we made to mainland Mexico. Our priest had invited us to come stay with him and his family (mom, brothers & sisters, and MANY nephews) while he was on vacation, and we were delighted and honored, so off we went. However, I forgot to do a post of the day we spent exploring Padre's home city of Leon (BAD FAIL!). Leon is the leather capital of Mexico, and I've never seen so many shoe stores! Whole shopping malls of stores selling only leather goods, entire mercados with hundreds of tiendas filled with purses, streets with shoe stores on all four corners. However, as this link describes, that's not what the people of Leon are most proud of (it's a great story!)
We went to the cathedral and I fell in love with this statue of Mary, holding her Son's crown of thorns. Unfortunately I didn't get a clear enough photo, so I guess I'll just have to go back to take another one!
 Something else that really impressed me was an altar in the cathedral museum. It was made by a famous Mexican artisan for Pope Benedict to use when he visited Leon last year. The entire thing is silver, and it was made as an act of love, not because the Pope asked for it (I can't even imagine that humble man asking for anything!) So now that it's in a museum we all get to enjoy the amazing craftsmanship of this piece.
 I was praying the rosary recently and when I got to Jesus being crowned with a crown of thorns God showed me something I had never seen before. Jesus is the King, so it is right that he was crowned. If the people who crowned him did it to mock him, that doesn't affect the fact that the King should have a crown. It's not the intent of the giver that matters; it's the significance in God's eyes that counts. Even though the soldiers put a crown on Jesus to shame him, his dignity in suffering showed that he was worthy to wear it. Here's an image from the Cristo Rey monument we visited, in which a huge crown of thorns encircles the entire interior of the church.
 Back at home, we've been working on our "outside house" - a huge palapa-covered patio (a palapa is a roof of palm leaves) - to make it more usable, since the hot weather has finally arrived and it's actually cooler under the palapa than in the house. The outdoor kitchen and dining areas needed work. Two of the four chairs in our dining area had been wrecked by being out in the rain - the woven esparto grass seats had fallen apart - so I painted them and wove new seats using colored strapping tape. Here's a pic of what the chairs looked like before (with the woven grass seats) and what they look like now.
 As a birthday present (my birthday is Sunday), David made me a cabinet for our outdoor kitchen because I had nowhere to put pots, pans, plates, etc. I made a mosaic top from tiles left over from our guest suite construction, and today I grouted it.
 Well, I can't top Jen's scorpions (although we have them down here, but apparently nowhere near as many) but here is an interesting bug that just showed up on our living room floor. It's not poisonous, just big with VERY long antennas.
With that great ending (?) I'm sure you'll want to find better images to fill your mind, so fly on over to Jen's and see what else is there - a plethora of options, I assure you.