Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Last Picture

I know that I said that my previous post would be my last, but Joe took a picture that we think should be here. It is the Grotto at night. Everything is finished, the grass has been mowed, the straw removed and the lighting shows the beautiful Grotto. Hope you enjoy! Balisha

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dedication Ceremony

This is a picture of Joe shaking hands with the Bishop Elect for Lafayette, Indiana. He was our Priest a few years ago and brought me into the Catholic Church. Our current Priest, Father Nnaso is looking on. This is how the Grotto looked yesterday. All finished with the garden all around.

This is a picture of... from the left, Father Camacho, Father Nnaso, Bishop Doherty, Joe and Father Plesa. Fr. Camacho was the Priest who officiated at Joe's first wife's funeral Mass, our Priest is next, then Bishop Doherty who brought me into the Church, then Joe, and finally Father Plesa, who married Joe and I ....7 yrs. ago tomorrow.

The front two rows of our Church were reserved for family and friends. A row across the aisle was reserved for visiting Priests. The Mass was meaningful and beautiful. Sitting there in the pew, Joe and I were looking ahead at the stained glass windows..to see the sun shining through. The predicted rains never came. Our prayers were answered. When the Mass was over the packed Church made their way to the Grotto... on the hot sticky day. Cameras were snapping pictures and people milling around and trying to get a view of the ceremony. The blessing of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Memorial Grotto, was so special. There were tears in many people's eyes. After the blessing, we all moved around the grounds talking to each other. Everyone was so appreciative and kind in their comments.
We made our way back to the Church and down to the hall in the basement. The huge room was filled with guests. The kitchen was full of busy women getting the food prepared and on the tables. The tables were laden with food of all kinds. Father Nnaso said the blessing and people started to form a long line. The tables looked so fresh with all the fruits and vegetables. Very few drank coffee...so the lemonade cooler was a busy spot. After we were finished, Father Nnaso read a few comments from Joe. He thanked all who had worked on the Grotto and the dedication ceremony and the women who served the food. He said that he hoped that a lot of people would use the Grotto for a place to bring their joys and burdens. Churches today are locked during the night, but this Grotto is open 24 hours a day.
This will be my last entry on this blog. I appreciate everyone who has read it and followed along with me on this journey. It has been something that I'll never forget.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yesterday...the preparations...

Yesterday I found myself helping out in the kitchen at Church. We wanted to provide the dessert for the celebration...so I offered. When I heard that they needed help, I offered that too. Now, I know that these ladies work hard getting food prepared, but I never realized how hard and how many steps they take when they offer their services. We started by putting table cloths on all the tables. There is a funeral this morning at our Church, so that meant that we had to set up tables in another smaller room. Big bouquets of mini carnations were taken apart and put into individual bud vases. Silver was put at each place inside a folded napkin. Salt and peppers were put on all the tables. The many tables were done and now on to the food. Here are the hard working gals who do all the food prep for the many events at our Church....minus me. When I walked into the kitchen, I saw mountains of fresh fruits and veggies. They all needed to be washed, cut up, arranged decoratively, saran wrapped and stored in the huge frig. We did musk melon, honey dew, watermelon, berries of all kinds, kiwi, pineapple, then trays of hand rolled ham, beef, turkey, cheeses cut into cubes, bags and bags of chips and snack foods, bowls and bowls of dips, bruschetta. hummus, rolls and then last...cookies candy and nuts.

Here is our fearless leader. I think that she's going through everything in her mind at this point. When the Church thinks of food....Barb is always there. She does all the shopping for food too. She is so organized ....a wonder in the kitchen.

What a colorful platter! One of many in our now stuffed refrigerator. Remember all these melons had to be peeled. Barb kept rolling watermelons out of the frig...until we joked about it. Someone would say, "Hey Barb...got any more watermelons?" Very talented ladies...this bunch...adding parsley, berries, cherry tomatoes...to brighten up the trays.

This is one of the trays of the cookies that I made. Seven different kinds, 25 dozen in all. We also have bowls of nuts and candies. These will be a hit with the kids. We needed to make lemonade and get things ready for the coffee tomorrow.

This morning will find this small committee working on a funeral in the morning and then back again, in the evening, to work in the kitchen during the dedication. The funeral lunch will be served in another room down the hall. It will mean many more steps for these ladies. They personalize the meals for the grieving families. They ask what the individual families want for the meal...did he have a favorite meat, what is your favorite dish? Today, a little package of hot dogs is in the frig...just waiting for the little grandchildren (who requested hot dogs or pizza) Today's events will be just perfect, in part, because of the hard work of a few women in our Church. I was only there for a day...but now, when I see them standing in the doorway of the kitchen and running to get someone a cup of coffee, I will appreciate them more. Thanks for making this event more special...ladies.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Dedication is Near

The weekend that we have waited for is upon us. The Grotto will be dedicated tomorrow evening after Mass. Who would have thought that late last fall, Joe was sitting at the table trying to draw an idea that was in his head. He was trying to draw a Grotto. I do some art work and he asked me to help him. I told him that this was his project and that I couldn't visualize it the way he could. So, he sat there struggling with his paper, pencil, and ruler...trying to capture it on paper. After hours of working on it, he finally got it and the rest is history. The picture above is the very first day...when they marked the lawn where it would be built. Now it is finished and we are just hours before the dedication. Yesterday, found me weeding and deadheading the flowers at the Grotto. They came to mow the new grass, later in the day. I stopped at our Mary's Garden and did some deadheading there too. Everything looked perfect. I'm going over to Church this morning to help with the food. We are doing everything we can today and not leave it until the last minute. Let me tell you about this group of dedicated women, who help with (I call it the food ministry).... they are there whenever food is needed, be it a funeral meal, pot luck, special dinners, and receptions like the one we are having tomorrow. What would we do without women in our Catholic Church? They are the nurturers and caretakers. Bless them. Flowers have been ordered for the Altar and I will check on those tomorrow morning. The Priest who brought me into the Church will be coming. He is the new Bishop elect for Lafayette, Indiana and he's taking the time out of his busy schedule to be here. The Priest who officiated at Sonja's funeral (an old family friend) as is the Priest who married Joe and I...seven years ago will both be there. Our Priest, Father Nnaso, will do the dedication. It will be a night to remember.....if only Mother Nature would cooperate.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Getting Ready for the Celebration

I have been busy making cookies for the Grotto dedication on June 12th. On Sunday, I had a little helper. Audra, a little next door neighbor girl, who came to help me. Here she is dusting the tops of the Pizzelles with powdered sugar.. It was a job just meant for little hands. I made the cookies, one kind at a time, through all the hot weather...and put them in the freezer. 25 dozen in all. We hope to have a big crowd... filled with family, friends, and people from our Parish. So far, the weather looks iffy. We know that it will be hot, but we will stay outside for just a short time. Everyone is invited to gather in the Church hall for refreshments afterward. Although it was Joe's vision...many hands made this Grotto celebration possible...even little ones like Audra.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Morning...A Novena

It's been a few days since I posted anything here. There really wasn't any news to post. The building and grounds committee will be planting some evergreens and perennials at the Grotto before the dedication on Sat. the 12th of June. I'll put pictures here when I get them.

Our Church is praying a novena for this new Grotto. a novena is a devotion consisting of a prayer repeated on nine successive days, asking to obtain special graces. This should have been put here a couple of days ago. If you would like to be a part of this......here is the prayer.

The Novena to the Sacred Heart

1. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...(name your request)
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be to the Father...
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

2. O my Jesus, you have said: truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you," Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of (name your request)
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be to the Father...
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

3. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of...(name your request)
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be to the Father...
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.
Hail, Holy Queen
St, Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

6:30 AM On Sunday

It seems like only yesterday that we were planting flowers at the Grotto. Since that day, I have put in a few more. Watering twice a day, in this heat, and deadheading has kept me busy. We were up and at Church early this morning...to water before people started coming to Mass. A warm, quiet and peaceful morning. Early morning walkers going by....a quiet "Good Morning." Just the sound of the water coming out of the hose and some birds singing. We sat there, on the benches, for a while. Looking at the statue of Jesus glistening in the early morning sun. What a nice way to start the day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Couple More Night Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures that Joe wanted included...taken at night when the lights were working. The color blue is more realistic in these pictures. Click on them to make them bigger. Joe just noticed that it looks like a halo is over Jesus' head.
I went to the Grotto last night to plant a few more things and to water. The key that we use to turn the water on was missing, so I had to wait till this morning. I had been trying to coordinate with our Mary's Garden in colors used, but yesterday...I decided to make this garden different. I planted some lantana and some more petunias. I'll show these tomorrow. We wanted this to be colorful and by planting these two varieties we will accomplish that. I watered ...Joe went and bought me a key of my own, so I wouldn't have a problem with the missing key. The rose bushes are beautiful right now...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All the Lights Are On...May 26, 2010

Tonight all the lights were on for the first time. We were there at 9:15 to take pictures. This first one is taken behind Joe. He's getting just the right shot. Here it is with all the lights on. So pretty at night. Joe officially gave it to the Church today. It's hard to believe that just a short time ago, Joe was sitting at our table, trying to draw his vision on a piece of paper. It has turned out pretty much the way the first pictures looked. He's been there every step of the way. Balisha

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Hot Day for the Engraver to Work

When I arrived, there was the engraver working hard in the 90° temp. He was covered from head to foot with a hood like thing over his head. The statue of Jesus had to be covered to protect it from flying debris. Here he is with his son. His son explained to me that he goes with his Dad to help and to keep people from going up behind him and scaring him...so that he might jump and make an error. He said that they do a lot of work in cemeteries and he could be startled in a quiet place like that. He is particularly busy right now with Memorial Day coming up.
A stencil was used in this process. It is made with a rubbery material. It was taped down and with a steady hand...he operates the cutter attached to a compressor. You need a steady hand for work like this...it's truly an art.

After everything is cleaned up....this process makes a lot of white sandy dust, the names are painted black. These pavers hold the names of our Priest's family. They are in the center of the floor.

This is how the pavers look when finished. People from our Church will be able to order them and have loved ones names engraved. My Mom and Dad and late husband were engraved in one section. Joe and I even put our beloved pets, Laddie and Maggie on a couple of pavers.

The benches were engraved too. One for Joe's Dad and one for his Grandma as you can see in the pictures below.

Well, it is finished. We both have learned so much from this undertaking.....from the stamping of the rocks to the engraving. Joe's meticulous attention has kept things on an even keel and his being there each day... helped to figure out ways to avoid mistakes. The gardens are starting to perk up...we found someone to water the grass...and now we look forward to the dedication. I hope that it will be a nice day.

In The Shade of the Old Oak Tree

7:30 AM on a hot morning someone is at the Grotto...watering. There he sits under the old oak tree tending the garden. A closeup shows that it is Joe waiting for the engraver to come and engrave the pavers. I went over to walk the long distance to the Church to turn the water on for him. His back is hurting. Tomorrow he has an appointment to get an epidural. Hopefully this will help him.
I'll go over later and then post some pictures of the engraver doing his thing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Very Famous Grotto

I just found this vintage photo of a very famous Grotto. Thought you might like to see it. Click on the picture to see some of the detail. Lourdes is in southwestern France, and is famous for the 15 apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes that are reported to have occurred in 1858 to 14 year old Bernadette Soubiros.

Saturday Morning Thoughts

I thought you might like to see another garden at St. Mary's in Byron. This is our Mary's Garden a couple of years ago. The statue has been taken down for repair...we are anxiously waiting her return. This garden is just west of the Grotto.
We are planning a reception for after the Grotto dedication. Finger foods will be served in our Church hall afterwards. I'm planning on making all kinds of Italian cookies, Pizzelles, two kinds of Biscotti, Italian butter cookies, and a Salisbury family favorite (my family) mini choc. chips. I thought these cookies would be appropriate for Joe's family.

The weather has been great since I planted flowers at the Grotto. The grass seed should do well too. The weather ahead... 90's they say, will be a challenge, but with lots of watering the plantings should be OK. The lights should be ready and operating by the first of next week. Today Joe and I are going to buy some stepping stones to place behind the Grotto. That way we won't have to walk on the mulched area as much. The stones will be round, 18 in. and made with an aggregate finish. After a wasted trip to Rockford, we found them at an Ace Hardware in a nearby town. So, that's about it on this misty morning in May. Have a great day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Morning....

The rose bushes are full of buds. I hope that they are blooming when we have the dedication.

We went over to the Grotto last night, to take pictures with all the lights on, but they still aren't working. I think they had to order a bulb. Maybe they should order a few extra for back up.
The area behind the benches was seeded yesterday. Joe and I were under the impression that the Church was providing some shrubbery for that spot and that the building and grounds would plant and maintain them. Joe talked to Father about this and we will see what happens. I think that shrubbery would soften the area...just so they don't get too big and hide the Grotto. It's a rainy day today, but that won't keep us home tonight...we will go see if the lights are fixed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Lights Are Turned On

We made a trip to St. Mary's last night about 8:15. We were going to be there when the electrician turned on the lights for the first time. The rope lights around the statue worked perfectly and gave the effect that Joe wanted. The blue color is so beautiful and accents the bronze statue.

Here is a close up of the niche with the statue. As you can tell the light on the right side didn't work. We were disappointed, but a new light will be put in this week. It's going to be perfect. Father Nnaso, Joe and I sat on the benches and talked about the building of this piece of art. Hopefully, a lot of people will use it. We've seen people sitting there and one little girl had her picture taken, in her white gown, before her first communion. It's a place for everyone to use...not just the members of our Church.
This morning (Wed.) I went over early and planted the flowers. We want the flowers to get a good start before the June 12th dedication ceremony. Check out my post this morning if you want to see pictures of what I planted...http://balisha-neverenoughtime.blogspot.com/ It's so peaceful there...you can't help but say a prayer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Should go Behind the Benches?

These are the choices for planting behind the benches at the Grotto. We are still in discussion about this planting. Here's Spirea. Here's Dusty Miller.
Here's Victoria Blue Salvia.

Here are pink petunias.

Panoramic view of Grotto showing the planting area in discussion. Just behind the benches .

Here's a picture that Joe took yesterday. It shows the whole thing....the Grotto, the trees and the Church behind. We are discussing what should be planted behind the benches. The building and grounds committee wants to put some spirea bushes across this area. You have to be careful what variety Spirea they plant. Some get too tall, they can get woody like a lilac bush etc. They are planted all over our downtown area...a popular bush. My idea is to plant a shrub on each point on the corner. Then plant a row of dusty miller, then a row of blue victoria salvia, then pink wave petunias in front. In the fall these plants could be removed and replaced with mums. In the Spring...daffodils and other Spring bulbs. I bought the plants yesterday, just waiting for the go ahead. Iwould like to plant these flowers now, so that they perk up in time for the dedication on June 12th.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Grotto is Finished

The day was finally here. The Grotto is finished. After many hours of planning and building...this project is done. I went to get flowers for Mary's Garden this morning and when I got home, they were in the garage getting the statue of Jesus to take over to the Church. I followed in my car and arrived just in time to see them lift the heavy statue into the niche. Many adjustments had to be made. It seemed that this was the hardest part of the whole project. After lifting Jesus up and down and a little prayer from me...they got it right.
It fit perfectly. The blue surrounding him represents the sky. It will be beautiful at night with the lights on.
I got very emotional at this moment. Joe wanted to put the crucifix on himself. His back is killing him, but he climbed the ladder and put it on the keystone. He has worked so hard for months. No one knows, but me...what he has gone through. The guys stood back and stopped working while Joe had his moment.

One last adjustment and the crucifix is attached.

After putting the statue and the crucifix on, they sprayed the whole Grotto with a sealer. It is a finish that gives it a soft sheen. It dries quickly and the men were scrambling to get it spread around with their brushes. I even pitched in and grabbed a brush and worked fast with the workers. No picture of me, however.

Here's another view of the fast brushing.

Everyone working to get it covered. It is a windy day, and the sealer dries fast.

Here's the crew of guys that worked on the Grotto. I told them that they should be proud of themselves for this beautiful work of art. They all took pictures for themselves. It is a one of a kind piece of art...they probably will never work on anything like this again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Landscaping in The Cold...

Here is is almost the middle of May and brrrrrr! Temps in the 40's. I am dressed like Nanook of the North..two sweatshirts (one with a hood) a winter jacket and wrapped in a blanket. We need seat warmers on those concrete benches. Today the landscaping begins. Now I'll see how the plants and textures and colors come together. A full crew of men were here to unload the trailer and to put the plants in the ground.
I love the blue in the spruces combined with the green and burgundy of the roses. Then the chartreuse hostas set things off.

The guys ask me where I want them planted. With some help from them...I decide. I decided to incorporate the pear tree within the flower garden.

We will leave the back empty. Hopefully the Church and the building and grounds committee will plant this. I hate leaving it empty...When I do a job...I like to finish it.

Here they are positioning the pear tree. We want it the same on each side...so a lot of measuring is done. These guys dug the holes by hand. The ground was soft, because of the rain...so it was a little easier.

Here is Joe...sitting on the bench overseeing the work this morning.

They are smoothing out the back of the Grotto. It was suggested that we plant it with a medium tall clumps of grasses. We need to be careful of electrical lines, water lines and the access door.

Here they are smoothing out the topsoil. We will have to wait for the building and grounds committee to mulch it. It will really look more finished with this application.

Here is the way it looks now. Hopefully it will be colorful when the rose bushes bloom, the hostas take hold and grow, and the mulch is down. The landscaper will come back to use a little round-up...to kill the grass around the plants. It was another exciting day at the Grotto. You know, you can envision these things in your head, but when it all comes together just as you hoped...it's so wonderful. I headed for home, when they were done. I came in the house and cranked the heat up. My legs are just thawing out and hour later.