MamaT: December 2004 Archives

I can't think of a better thing....

| leave as my last official post of 2004, than the intercessory prayer that I found in my Magnificat Evening Prayer for tonight:

In Thanksgiving for the time that has been, in hope for the time that is to come, let us pray through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God:

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

For the years, the centuries, the millennia through which the world has lived since the birth of Christ:

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

For the gifts and burdens of the year that is past:

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

For the promise of the year that lies before us:

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

For the achievement of your reign of peace and justice in the new era upon which we embark in hope:

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

And I'd like to add my own intentions: That our sweetest SpecialK will receive the desires of her heart and her special intention. That our spunky and feisty Smockmomma will carry our newest baby to full term (or at least 'til late June!) and deliver safely. That those of you who read us regularly will grow in the love and fullness of Christ. And me? That I be blessed with patience, perseverance and the ability to love others as I am so amply loved.

We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.


A recap of the books of 2004

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I decided to make a list of the books I read in 2004--but I'll put it in the extended entry, so it won't take up much room. I've also given out the MamaT awards to books on the list.

I can so relate!


This is an excellent article. Please go read it!

PapaC and I were talking about New Year's Resolutions yesterday as we were running errands. He said he thought a good resolution for us would be: "No new storage containers. No new shelves. No new places to PUT stuff." I looked at him as if he had lost his mind. But his reasoning was perfect: Nothing comes into the house that we do not have room for and a place for. If we don't have room, then something else we already own must leave to make room. Over the course of the year, we should aim to reducing the amount of "storage" we have already and decide whether we really need the things we have stored away now. He's right.

We have a ton of stuff in the garage to go to Goodwill right now (and it will go this afternoon so that we can get the tax deduction slip!) and a ton of stuff to just trash. Now that we're BOTH on the anti-packrat path, maybe 2005 will finally be the year we get down to what we actually love and use.

Here's mine:

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Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Oh, and P.S.: Zteen was watching over my shoulder and said, "If you answer honestly, you'll be Hermione." Hmmmmm.

New Year's Resolutions

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I know there is a substantial body of you folks out there who do not do the resolution thing. And I appreciate the fact that our lives are in constant need of amendment, not just in late December/early January. But I find the process useful. Maybe I just need the outside stimulus to get serious about making some changes.

The great joke is how many resolutions made on Jan 1 will be history by Jan 15. Probably most of them. But I can look back at some of the resolutions I have made and see some success. Several years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would ALWAYS smile at the grocery checker and chat pleasantly to him/her. And I would always put my grocery cart back in the cart roundup place, even if it were cold or rainy or windy. It seemed like a small thing, but it really has led me to being more considerate of those who work at the jobs that make my life so much easier than it could be. It spread to other service workers as well. It was contagious. I am glad.

I also made a resolution to try to tell the folks I loved that I loved them IN WORDS. I've been fairly successful with that one--and it was harder than I imagined. Why that should be so, I don't know. But I hope that if I love you, you've heard me say it.

I was successful at the less TV, more reading resolution. Forty-nine books this year is a testament to that. (Sorry, TSO, don't think I'll make it to 50!) Well, maybe the less than stellarly clean house is also a testament to that, but I prefer not to focus on that!

I'm still working on, and praying about, the changes that I need to make for 2005. Preliminarily, they look like this:

1. Be more regular in my prayer life. I want to do morning prayer with a friend on the days that the McKid goes to preschool. The other mornings I want to be sure I get my Magnificat in. And I'd like to add evening prayer in as well--on more than a hit or miss basis. This is a carryover from last year. Some months I was successful, others I was a hideous failure.

2. Exercise! 'Nuff said.

3. Continue the move away from TV and toward books. Not that I won't watch any TV, but I do want to watch it more as a condiment to my life, not as any sort of main course.

4. Have people over for dinner more often. I am aiming for 2x a month to start, but would eventually like to move to 1x a week. Not a fancy dinner--just family supper. I would also like to have a real dinner party at least once this year. I'm 48, and I've never had one!

5. Flylady it all year.

6. Be more organized in the performance of my volunteer activities, and quit using my volunteer status as an excuse for being late with our parish's reports to the diocese. #5 above will help with that.

7. Work on making our home a place of refuge for us and for our friends. A place of peace and contentment. A place where people feel free to stop by for a diet coke and a chat at a moment's notice.

So, that's what I'm thinking. What think you?

A development worth watching

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Via Michelle Malkin, a little something from the Sunday London Times:

The Inland Revenue is considering recognising polygamy for some religious groups for tax purposes. Officials have agreed to examine “family friendly” representations from Muslims who take up to four wives under sharia, the laws derived from the Koran. Existing rules allow only one wife for inheritance tax purposes. The Revenue has been asked to relax this so that a husband’s estate can be divided tax-free between several wives. The move is bound to create controversy if it leads to a change in the rules. It is seen as a breakthrough by Muslim leaders who have been campaigning to incorporate sharia into British domestic law.

This is dangerous precedent, in my view. What part of sharia will be implemented next?

Awww, this makes me sad

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Jerry Orbach died this morning, age 69, of prostate cancer. I loved his work. Who else do you know who could be the hard-boiled Lennie Briscoe (Law and Order) AND Lumiere the French Candlestick (Beauty and the Beast)?

R.I.P., Mr. Orbach. I will miss you.

49th Book of 2004 Finished!

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We're on a bit of a vacation around here, so I put my feet up yesterday afternoon and finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It is a selection for our book club next year, but I had read so much hype about it that I couldn't wait until the appropriate month to read it.

The book is "sort of" a murder mystery. A murder of a dog. Investigated by a 15 year old boy. Who just happens to be autistic. Who then writes this book as he goes along, giving us a look into the mind of the autistic person. But the book is really about the disintegration of a family, the difficulty of raising a child with this problem, the difficulty of BEING the kid with the problem and a whole lot more.

I've read a lot of the reviews on Amazon, searching for response from either autistic readers (there were several) or parents of autistic children. The reviews I read were generally extremely favorable about how well Mr. Haddon captured the "autistic mind."

Now, I'm not naive enough to assume that this is a textbook example of what it is like to be autistic. No book can do that, nor capture every autistic child's experience. Like my pet peeve, books that claim to capture "what women think", it is impossible to put in ONE book the experience of ALL of anybody. But I think the book is a valuable look into "differentness" and its trials.

Christopher is a savant in some areas--math and science in particular. He is fairly highly functioning--he assumes he will go to University and get a degree in math. But he is really an alien in our world--unable to relate to the simplest emotional issues other than on a strictly rote basis. It highlighted for me, as a parent, how difficult it would be to deal with this on a routine basis. And how much we take for granted in our daily life.

One of the things that struck me was the paradox of Christopher. He is completely unable to tune into the complexities of human interaction--emotion, subtext, etc. But he is hyper tuned in to the complexity of actual physical things--which then overwhelm him. He cannot simply see a field with 4 brown cows. He sees a field, higher at the southeast and northeast corners, folding down to the middle. With four cows, 3 facing north, one facing south. All with different patterns on their hides, which must be seen and cataloged. Two of which are eating grass, two of which are not........... You get the drift. It is no wonder he turns to (to us) weird coping mechanisms to shut out the overabundance of information to process. There's simply no filter--no ranking--nothing that can be ignored. The only option is not to process it at all. Christopher groans or taps or counts or does math problems in his head to shut out the world.

Here's a quote:

And when I am in a new place, because I see everything, it is like when a computer is doing too many things at the same time and the central processor unit is blocked up and there isn't any space left to think about other things. And when I am in a new place and there are lots of people there it is even harder because people are not like cows and flowers and grass and they can talk to you and do things that you don't expect, so you have to notice everything that is in the place, and also you have to notice things that might happen as well. And sometimes when I am in a new place and there are lots of people there it is like a computer crashing and I have to close my eyes and put my hands over my ears and groan, which is like pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL and shutting down programs and turning the computer off and rebooting so that I can remember what I am doing and where I am meant to be going.

It's a book worth reading. I recommend it.

I know, I know......

| is TSO who does "Spanning the Globe" posts. But I just had to point ya'll to the post by the wonderful Domenico Bettinelli over at Bettnet (link to the right) about pet "children." It was a snort the diet Coke up your nose moment for sure:

And if I ever see another picture of Paris Hilton toting around that creepy rat-dog in a bag that costs more than my computer, it will be too soon. Actually, seeing any photo of Paris Hilton would be annoying, so bad example. Go about your business.

Shoe Alert!


Guys, you can skip this one. Smock, go over to Jeanetta's and look at the shoes she got for Christmas. You will want them. BADLY!!!!!

Some folks have asked...

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.....about the image we used for our Christmas Day entry. It is a painting by Margaret W. Tarrant, a British artist. Here is a page of her biography, with some examples of her work, one of which is the picture we used: Women Children's Book Illustrators--Margaret W. Tarrant (1888-1959)

I love her religious work, and gave a series of vintage postcards of her stuff to the Women at the Well group Smock runs and to my reading group, The Inkblots.

Here is another one of her postcards:


48th Book of 2004 finished


Just finished Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather last night before I turned out the light. I don't know where I got this book, or really even why I bought it--although I adored My Antonia and Death Comes For the Archbishop. It looks new, so I probably didn't buy it in one of my trips to Half Price Books.

Anyway, it is a (an?) historical novel--the story of Quebec in 1697/1698--told as a year in the life of a 12/13 year old girl. Not much plot here, but a gentle evocation of a place and time--and how hard it always is for those who go to the frontier--trying to be someplace new yet hang on to those things which made the old life charming and comfortable. Cecile Auclair is the daughter of the pharmacist, who came to Quebec when his patron, Count Frontenac, was sent by the King of France. There has always been the assumption that he would eventually go "home"--back to France. When it appears that this will happen, Cecile becomes depressed. For her, Quebec has become home, and France is simply something talked about it stories. It captures that division that must have occurred everywhere the frontier was settled, between those who knew what they had left behind and those for whom that frontier was all they knew. Very thought provoking, in that sense.

Not nearly as good as the other two of Cather's works I had read, I still think it would be an awesome addition to a homeschooling history curriculum studying North American history.

This has been making the rounds...

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......on the internet, but I can't help but post it. Oddly enough, it was sent to me by a retired priest!

Holiday Eating Rules:

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table clearly knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rumballs.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that there's 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy -- it does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under NO circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin -- but always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Remember this motto to live by: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, margarita in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Christmas Blessings

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Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With th’angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Merry Christmas from all the Summa Mamas, and may God's blessings rest upon you and yours now and always!

The thing about cooking all day....

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womancooking.jpg that it makes my feet hurt! Even wearing my good tennis shoes. I've been a dervish in the kitchen this morning. (And PapaC has helped, thank goodness!)

So far I've made 3 recipes of sausage balls (1/2 for tomorrow's breakfast, 1/2 to take to the reception we have after midnight mass), 1 recipe of baked ziti, 1 recipe of monkey bread (to go with the sausage balls for tomorrow's breakfast), 1 pan of brownies, 1 pan of pecan bars (which I think are a little overdone), and a pot of pepperoni torttolini (sp?) soup.

Still to come, starting the chicken parmigiana, so that tomorrow I can just make sauce and bake. If I have time I make make a recipe of shortbread--but that is looking iffy. PapaC is busy washing dishes so we can even THINK about the next round.

I'll make more cookies next week--we really celebrate the 12 days of Christmas around here. I'll make my very favorite cookie recipe for New Year's Eve. Mmmmmmmm.

But my feet hurt!!!!!!!!!


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The Summa Mamas discuss childrearing and the weather

Whoooo! It's cold here. Now, I know all you folks who live in the great white north are used to this, but my weather bug on my computer says it is 16 degrees outside right now. Honey, for me that's COLD. Fortunately, no major precipitation.

It always chaps me when people make fun of the way Texans drive on ice. Hey! Get over it! We don't have any experience at it! If you want to deal with people who can drive on ice, move back to Michigan!

Anyway, I'm off to run a 1000 errands in the freezing cold. It'll take hot cocoa to defrost when I get back, I'm sure.


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''Be assured that we shall obtain more grace and merit in
one day by suffering patiently the afflictions that come to us
from God or from our neighbor than we would acquire in ten
years by mortifications and other exercises that are of our
own choice."

St. Francis de Sales

PapaC is home on vacation....

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....and I thought that no one would be happier about that than I am. But I was wrong.

No, no. I'm THRILLED that PapaC is home. He's been working out of town for the past three months, and only been in on the weekends, so I've missed him a LOT.

But the MCKID is over the moon happy that he is home. McKid has a single mom, and longs for the daddy-type figure that PapaC provides. She is busy following him around like a sheepdog, nipping at the heels of a slow-moving sheep. She talks to him continually, providing a running commentary on everything. Now she is sitting next to him at the breakfast table. He's trying to read the sports section, she is singing to him--Happy Birthday to You, for some unknown reason.

She lives for the time when he will wrestle with her--"The Claw" coming to get her head or tummy results in shrieks of laughter. She bucks up when he tells her to. He is much sterner with her than I am, and it matters not a bit. I would think her feelings would be hurt by some of his correction. And they are--but only very temporarily. She also knows he is good for a quick trip over to the church garden across the street.

The funniest thing is to see them playing Madden football on the XBox together. He doesn't hook her controller up, but she doesn't know that. They sit on the end of Zteen's bed and play and she is oh, so serious.

So, take that you feminists who don't think daddies (or daddy figures, in this case) are important. You can't replace them with a mom. It's just too different.


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Well, the tree is up, lighted and decorated (though the lights won't burn until Christmas Eve). My snowman collection is out and arranged. The creche stands ready for the appearance of Baby Jesus after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Now it's time to start making the grocery list, baking cookies, doing laundry and cleaning house. Oh, yeah, and attending a couple of get togethers, decorating the church, and paying bills.

If I seem a little breathless as the week goes on, you'll understand. Right?

Today's great hymn:

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People Look East!

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

4. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Something to mull over

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Frightening News
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.

Thought courtesy of the Bruderhof's Daily Dig email.

A poem for today:


Advent Summons

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Sr. Mary Francis, P.C.

Interesting factoid

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According to a study by Lands End, nearly 50% of men think shopping is more stressful than being dumped by their girlfriend, losing their job or having to move back home with mom and dad.

Sometimes it is to laugh!

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Watching Zteen and McKid together is a riot some days. Yesterday I was making cookies, and I had measured out M&Ms to go on the top of the cookies. Zteen had been snitching them out of the measuring cup and I told him that he and McKid could have the leftovers, but to leave alone the measured out ones.

McKid had been busy watching and "helping" me cook. She was sitting on her stool by the counter, and when I turned my back, she filched an M&M out of the measuring cup.

Ever one for justice, Zteen swooped in on her. "Mak! Where'd you get that M&M?" (Said in a disapproving tone.)

McKid sweetly turned to him, with a giant chocolate ring around her mouth, and yelled, "TARGET!"

Zteen and I dissolved into laughter. A fitting end to a busy day!

I had jury duty Tuesday. All day. Fortunately, I took Richard Russo's Straight Man with me to read--and I finished it over supper Tuesday night. It comes in at book #47 on my 2004 reading list.

What a wonderful book! If you've not read anything by Richard Russo, take yourself on over to one of MamaT's favorite places in the world, Half Price Books, and get one, or a bunch, of his books. We read Empire Falls in my reading group, and I was so impressed with that that I immediately bought (but hadn't yet read) Straight Man, Risk Pool, and Nobody's Fool. I later received his collection of short stories, The Whore's Child as a gift.

Straight Man made me embarrass myself at the courthouse. I was sitting in the hallway of Criminal District Court #1, reading away. I got so tickled over a passage in the book that first I SNORTED, then I laughed out loud! I am quite sure that the other jurors were looking at me (OK, I KNOW they were looking at me) and thinking, "What is wrong with that woman? I hope I don't have to sit next to her in the court room." Oh, well, too bad for them. If they had, I might have read out loud to them from this funny, funny book.

It is a story of academia--but SO MUCH BETTER than Jane Smiley. The main character is Hank Devereaux, the interim chair of the English Dept at a small college in the middle of nowhere. A college facing budget cuts. Hank is a rogue, a mischievous troublemaker, who can't take all the political infighting seriously, so he just stirs up everyone. You just have to read it to get the absolute hilarity of a man with fake nose and glasses on, holding a goose by the neck, threatening to kill a goose a day (from the campus pond) until he gets his annual budget. And the next day, the animal rights protesters come out with "Stop the Slaughter" signs and put a little neck brace on the goose!

A comic novel, but one with serious thought underlying it. It is quite bawdy in parts. But read it. It comes with my highest recommendation.

The Inkblots List for 2005

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Well, we settled it last night and it's now official. If'n you want to read along, here's what you need to read:

January: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
February: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
March: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Hadden
April: The Color of Water by James McBride
May: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
June: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
July: Sister of My Heart by Chita Divakaruni
August: The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton
September: Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
October: City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge
November: Deafening: A Novel by Frances Itani
December: (two things) A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas AND A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

On my personal list for this year, but not on the "official" list:

The Next Step in the Dance and The Clearing both by Tim Gatreaux
Poland by James Michener
The Endless Knot by William L. Biersach
Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
Risk Pool by Richard Russo
Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke

What my book club has read

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If you're interested, here's what the Inkblots have read over the past several years. There are actually a few more than this, but I can't remember them. Like dummies, when we started we didn't keep a list. I think we didn't ever think we'd be heading into our FIFTH year!

I'll put them in extended entry, so they won't goober up the main page!

Book Suggestion update

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Thanks to everyone who made suggestions to me for books to add to my reading group's list for 2005.

Picking books for a reading group is much harder than picking books for yourself. There are a lot more considerations. Although I read some SF or fantasy myself (especially what has been recommended to me through this blog!), it is a genre that has held absolutely NO appeal for the other women in my group--no matter how good I tell them it is! (I tried hard to sell Ender's Game but it was a no go.)

Also, because of time constraints, we try to keep the books to a "reasonable length." While I read A Fine Balance this year, and so did the other maniacal reader in the group, we would never have gotten to it in group. Doesn't mean it's not worthy, it just means that at least for now, most of us are too busy to read that long a book to a specific deadline.

Some books don't make the book club list, but are passed through the grapevine and read by almost everyone over the course of the year. This year those books were The Secret Life of Bees, My Sister's Keeper and Our Lady of the Lost and Found. Part of every meeting is taken up with the "Great Book Swap" where we trade around non-group books that we have read and enjoyed during the month.

A few personal comments:

Julie: See above--we LOVED My Sister's Keeper!

Jamie: Loved Perelandra--we read it two years ago and were so impressed that I went on to read the second book. The third still awaits me on my "To Read" list.

Roz: I read all four #1 Ladies Detective Agency books this year. Those four books are currently making the circle of the group in the book swap.

Kashi: I put Jonathan Strange.... on my personal list. I read the reviews over at Amazon, and it sounds like something I would like.

Polish Prince: I've a whole shelf of deWohl, but we can't read him in book club. Most of us have already read his stuff!

Erik: All of the Don Camillo books are treasures. I reread The Little World every year. It makes me smile every time. I wish they were better known! And we read Russo's Empire Falls last year--and gave it a big thumbs up. My next post will be about Straight Man which I finished yesterday!

So, my list of suggestions will be (drumroll, please):

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
The Endless Knot by William L. Biersach
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Hadden
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
Rose by Martin Cruz Smith
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
Sister of the Heart by Chitra Divakaruni
Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
Deafening: A Novel by Frances Itani

Other people will bring their selections as well, and we will hash them out over cheese and broccoli soup. I'll post the final list when we have it.

One thing I should do is post the list of books we've read over the whole course of the club. It's an interesting list.

Wednesday night....

| | Comments (13) my monthly book club meeting. It is also the meeting where we set the book club reading list for next year.

Help, help, help! I need some suggestions! What have you read good this year? What would you recommend?

Today's great hymn:

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Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by the great Charles Wesley. Sung in our parish to the tune Stuttgart--which I think suits advent better than the more ornate settings.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Good editorial on abstinence education....


..... coming from a little bit different angle: Warren Throckmorton: Hey Kids! Want Good Sex? Try Abstinence.

Christmas Friday Ten

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Courtesy of our buddies, Two Sleepy Mommies (link to the right):

1. Egg nog - yum or yuck?
2. Stay up until midnight on New Years?
3. Prefer white or colored lights?
4. Favorite holiday song?
5. What is your tackiest holiday decoration?
6. Do your kids have too much and you wonder just WHY you are getting more??
7. If you celebrate Christmas, when does your tree go up and come down?
8. Christmas again - open presents on Christmas eve, morning, or other?
9. Favorite holiday tradition?
10. What do YOU want for Christmas?

I'll answer in the comments box!

Sugar and salt

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John Huntley's comments below are well worth reading. And it made me start thinking about what advice I'd give men about women, and what advice I'd give women about men.

First, there is the advice I'd give BOTH: Come to terms with the fact that in many ways, you and your significant other are RADICALLY different. And IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY. Each of you has gifts that the other can use. You're going to spend the next 50 years being amazed at what the other thinks, feels, and says. And that's a good thing! I've been sad, I've been mad, I've been thrilled, I've been happy, but I ain't ever been bored with PapaC in 25 years.

What I'd tell men?

1. It doesn't take a big thing to "take care of Sugar." Too many men pass up the small tokens of affection and go for the ONE BIG FREAKIN' DEAL. They'll pass up the $3.99 boquest of daisies from the grocery store, putting off flowers until they can get the $50 bouquet of roses. Just DO IT NOW! They'll pass up the trip to Braum's for the ice cream cone and think, "I should plan a weekend away." Hey! Buy us the ice cream!!!!!

2. Regularity is key. That's tied in to doing smaller things--unless you're richer than PapaC and I are! Don't make it clockwork--who wants to think, "Oh, here it is Friday, time for the funny card." But if it's been 2 weeks, and you can't think of a single sweet thing you've done--IT'S TIME, BUBBA!

3. MAKE her take care of herself. MAKE her go out for "girls' time" with her friends. Keep the kids away from the bathroom door and let her do that "girly maintenance stuff" in peace. It's common for mommies to put themselves way, way last--behind the kids, behind you, behind the house, behind her parents, behind her church, blah, blah, blah, blah..... Part of your job is to put her first.

4. Call her briefly during the day. If the McKid is screaming, sometimes all I need to hear is PapaC's voice on the phone. It's calming. It's reassuring. It means someone is thinking of ME.

5. Pray for her. Every day. Every time you think of it.

6. Forgive her.

What I'd tell women?

1. Earnin' the salt, is a BIG, BIG, BIG deal. For those of us who are SAHMs, it's perhaps the biggest way that our men tell us they love us. NEVER FORGET THAT. PapaC has gotten up and gone to work for clients from hell and in places that I'd rather be shot than go to. To be ungrateful for that would be the most unloving thing I can do.

2. Yeah, your day was hard. SO WAS HIS. I don't care if the dog tracked in mud, the baby threw up, and your dishwasher broke. That doesn't mean that you are Joan of Arc, fixin' to be burned at the stake. Drop the martyr act, and go on about your business. And I promise you this: If you'll make a resolution to meet him at the door with a hug and a smooch every time he comes home, you'll be a happier woman for it.

3. Let him have his hobbies! If he hunts, let him hunt. If he fishes, let him fish. (The only MamaT rule here? You catch it, you clean it!) If he watches football, let him watch! If he listens to opera, let him listen. If he reads, let him read. Give him some SPACE!!!! Don't think you have to do every single thing together.

4. Give up those mean and ugly jokes about men. It's not nice. Speak only well of him to other people. And if you can't do THAT, then be quiet.

5. Pray for him. Every day. Every time you think of it.

6. Forgive him.

And that's MamaT's Dr. Phil moment for today. Ta Da!

Just a little advice, men:

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From a friend of mine:

Trouble in marriage often starts when a man gets so busy earnin' his salt, that he forgets his sugar.

Think about it!

Traveling with McKid.....


......leads to amusing talks in the car.

We were running errands today, and we passed a place that sells those wrought-iron lighted pieces that you put in your front yard for Christmas. There was a whole lighted up nativity, and I was running through the standard questions: Who is the Baby? "Baby Jesus!" Who is the woman? "Mother Mary!" Who is the man? "Joseph!" Who are the other three guys (on camels, no less)? "COWBOYS!!!!"

Yee Haw, ya'll. Merry Christmas from Texas!

Some headlines......


......just make you smile!

I have news set as part of my home page (I don't know why, it was just the least silly of my choices). Today when I logged on, I was confronted with this headline:

Australian camel population explodes.

Exploding camels, huh?

Yeah, yeah, I know what they meant. But I'll carry around pictures in my head all day of camels just randomly exploding all through Australia. Sort of like GameBoy games.

Woo hoo, Miss Luse!!!!

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Look what I found! Bernadette Luse (daughter of our very own Mr. Luse of Apologia fame) got her LPGA card! I've been checking on her progress every week or so, and this was posted on the Futures Tour website today!

Here's a snippet:

Luse played her final three rounds at five-under par to move into a share of 10th place. "It's just a huge relief to get my LPGA card and this is a real turning point for me right now," she said. "I started playing golf late at age 15, and I guess I'm a late bloomer, but playing with the FUTURES was a great way for me to learn my game."

Yee haw! What a GREAT Christmas present!!!!!! Way to go Bernadette!

Good for you, Mervyns!


Mervyn's reverses ban on kettles / Salvation Army's bell ringers to return

Here's the first paragraph:

Bells will be ringing at Mervyn's department stores this holiday season after all, store officials announced Thursday in a sudden reversal of a ban on Salvation Army collection kettles.

Target, are you listening?????

A quick thought


I'm going over my Bible study for this morning. We're reading chapters 15 and 16 of St. Luke.

Chapter 15 is perhaps my favorite chapter in all of Luke: the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.

It hit me, though. How often have I thought while reading these stories, "Well, it shows that I must be more joyous when the lost are brought back into the fold, or welcomed back into the family." Do you see what I've done? I've made myself part of the righteous. It has taken a long time for me to realize that it is I who am the lost sheep, carried by on the shoulder of the shepherd. It is I who am the prodigal son, not the older brother. It's time for me to quit assuming my own righteousness and to start confronting my "lostness."

I won third place!

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Tonight was the 5th annual SMV Chili Cookoff. And I won 3rd place for my chili! Woo hoo! I've never won for the actual chili before. We've won every year we've competed in the "presentation" award--just because PapaC, Zteen and I team up with my SisterM and her family. We're all such hams that we go all out on presentation, leaving the chili cooking to G. He's won before, and he won first prize again tonight.

But I won my little medal, and I'm hanging it in the kitchen. And I'll have to find another recipe to try for next year!

Here's the recipe I used, courtesy of Taste of Home

Bold Bean and Pork Chili

1 pork shoulder or butt roast (4-5 pounds), trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 2/3 cup chili powder (I used closer to the 1/2)
3 tablespoons dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons ground cumin (I used 3)
4-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained

In a Dutch oven, saute pork in oil until no longer pink; drain. Add onions; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Ad garlic,; cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in the broth, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring several times. Skim fat; stir in beans. Simmer 30 minutes longer or until chili reaches desired thickness.

Yield: 15 servings

I thought it was yummy, and I'll definitely make it again.

Marvin Olasky: The most influential philosopher alive

A column on Peter Singer of Princeton. Just a little quote to make you read the article:

Question: What about parents conceiving and giving birth to a child specifically to kill him, take his organs and transplant them into their ill older children? Singer: "It's difficult to warm to parents who can take such a detached view, (but) they're not doing something really wrong in itself." Is anything wrong with a society in which children are bred for spare parts on a massive scale? "No."

Well, there you go. - News - Church Group Can't March In Holiday Parade

.......but then, it's still early, and I could become more frustrated later.....

Didn't YOU think that "diversity" meant that you could have church floats right next to Hanukkah floats, right next to Kwanzaa floats or whatever else you wanted to do? That's what I thought.

This makes me SICK.

Book #46 of 2004 Finished

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Book #46 was Welding With Children by Tim Gatreaux. It's our December book for book club. A collection of short stories by a Louisiana writer, it has some real gems. I read (and reported on) his second collection of stories, Same Place, Same Things, earlier this year.

The title story is about a grandfather who comes to the realization that he is going to have to take responsibility for his grandchildren, born out of wedlock to his four daughters. It is touching without being gooshy. He realizes that the work he failed to do with his own daughters is part of the reason he is stuck babysitting with all these kids now.

He knows Louisiana--how can he not with a name like Gatreaux--and what he writes probably seems over the top to folks from the Yankee north, but some of the characters are very like real people I know. There is one scene of old people sitting around a kitchen table playing bourree that could be taken right out of my aunt's house, if you substitute dominoes for bourree.

Anyhow, he's worth a read. And apparently he is far more conservative than many writers, because on some of the review sites I read he is vilified--not for his writing, which the critic admitted was good, but for his political beliefs. The reviewer went so far as to say, "Read him, by all means. But check the book out of the library, so that not another dollar will accrue to the pig." Well, well.



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