November 2005 Archives

Mystery of the universe #6,894,223

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Why can't I EVER get the number of cookies in a recipe that is listed in the yield???

I am always and forever short.


Word to the wise.....

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.....Don't be standing in the parish secretary's office when you are discussing with the Smock via cellphone whether or not Joaquin Phoenix is the latest "Hottie McHot".

It's really embarrassing when the priest walks in.



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The last of the leftovers went into this. Good, good, good!

Turkey Tetrazzini

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2-3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 small onion, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into quarters
8 oz linguine, cooked as label directs
12 ounces cooked turkey, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 2 qt saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook 3 minutes. With wire whisk, whisk in broth, wine, thyme, and nutmeg until smooth. Heat to boiling, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking frequently, 5 minutes. Stir in cream; set sauce aside.

2. In 10-inch skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes longer.

3. In 2 to 2-1/2 quart shallow casserole, combine cooked linguine, mushroom mixture, and turkey. Stir in sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

My only changes? I used more thyme than that and I cut the mushrooms smaller.

Thumbs up all around the table. Would work just as well, of course, with chicken.

From The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

P.S. How do you make the little degree symbol when you're typing????

wanna drive the smock insane?

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yes, it's the season of advent, but i've already started shopping for christmas. big mistake. as you may know, rubik's cube
is celebrating its 25th anniversary, so i just had to get one ... for duncan. it didn't last five minutes in the house before i had to rip it out of the box. of course, i didn't want anyone to actually touch it. "once we start messin with it, it'll be ruined," i warned. but the family didn't care. no, they insisted on jackin' it all up. which means that i have to figure it out if i want to have any hope of a perfect cube again, save buying a new one.

25 years ago, during the original craze, i could actually get two sides complete with a fair amount of a third side down, but that was 25 years ago and i can't for the life of me figure it out again. it's driving me nuts. but when i sat down to share my frustration with blogdom, something equally freaky struck me. it's been twenty-five years since the cube was launched into total fad-dom, winning "toy of the year" in 1980. 1980 was 25 years ago, my friends.

this means that we're 25 years older than when we first lost our minds trying to get all of the colors on that blasted cube correctly aligned. twenty five years seems like such a blasted long time. i mean, my toys are having anniversaries. that's insane. and don't try to pretend you didn't have one, too. it's estimated that over 100 million cubes were sold by the end of 1982 and almost every home in America had one, so i'll lay dollars to doughnuts you had one driving you insane, too. of course, if your house was anything like mine, your cube ended up in little bits.

still, i haven't given in to the temptation to rip the cube apart ... yet. mostly for fear i won't remember how i got the cube back together 25 years ago. i'm also a little paranoid that they've made it impossible to put back together. who "they" are i've no idea -- some anti-cheat toy police i suppose. i just can't bare the thought of having the family come home one day to find me jabbering incoherently on the kitchen floor and surrounded by multi-colored cube bits.

a true southern fried love story

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three words for walk the line. fab·you·lust.

okay, phoenix is unquestionably eye candy, so how in the world did he BECOME "hello. i'm johnny cash" onscreen? i don't know, but he did. witherspoon is beautiful too, maybe a tad too beautiful as june carter cash, but her spitfire was believable. together they made a jim-dandy duo that was actually interesting and exciting to watch. they so embodied their characters, made them so believable, i actually cared, and even cried a tear or two, for them. it's a love story all the way, but there is not an ounce of saccharine in this sweet tea it's all pure cane.

by the by, phoenix and witherspoon did all of their own singing. hello? incredible. this movie lives up to all the hype iffin you ask me. and the fact that TEXAS was represented made it all the more enjoyable for the texaphilic smockmomma.

jerry lee lewis: we're all goin to hell for the songs we sing. every one in this car's goin to hell.
june: and what about me, jerry lee, am i goin to hell?
jerry lee lewis: naw, june, you're beautiful.

and in a word, that was the film: beautiful. so what if the two main characters were a little too purty when they were true.

UPDATE: i bought the soundtrack to walk the line and it's really good. i could do without the tracks by "lewis" and "elvis" -- and it's missing one of my favorite songs sung by witherspoon and phoenix in the film -- but phoenix's version of "ring of fire" is almost a near occassion of sin for me, so i already told mamaT that she might get my copy of the soundtrack. if you're stronger than me you can listen to clips of the songs here. remember, these are sung by the actors and they're goooooooooood.

i LOVE this man, i really do! in a recent interview with "inside the vatican" cardinal arinze gives a fabulous snap response:

ITV: Recently, an issue that has been given a lot of attention are the moral obligations of Catholics during election times. Is it a duty of them to vote for pro-life politicians, and should those Catholic pro-choice politicians be given communion?

CARDINAL FANCIS ARINZE: You are asking me if a politician says, "I vote for abortion, and I will continue to ask for abortion." Then you ask should he be given holy communion. So, you are really saying, this politician says, "I vote for the killing of unborn children." Because we call things by their names. And he calls that pro-choice.

Suppose somebody voted for the killing of all the members of the House of Representatives, "for all of you being killed. I call that pro-choice. Moreover, I am going to receive Holy Communion next Sunday." Then you ask me, should he be given communion. My reply, "Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that question?" Can a child having made his First Communion not answer that question? Is it really so complicated? The child will give the correct answer immediately, unless he is conditioned by political correctness. It is a pity, cardinals have to be asked such questions.

If a person has a way of life which is against the major Commandments, and makes a boast of it, then the person is in a state which is publicly sinful. It is he who has disqualified himself, not the priest or the bishop. He should not go to communion, until his life should be in line with the Gospel.

[click here to read the article in full.]

First Sunday of Advent


Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ: he is Emmanuel, God with us, the hope of the peoples. He is the wisdom that teaches and guides us. He is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Prayer from Fr. Pat's Place

.....I think about why on earth I didn't wash the dogs BEFORE the long weekend. Oh, well. It spices up the usually faintly mournful Sunday night.

I'll tell you one thing. Three dogs is one dog too many. We have 3 adopta-dogs, two from the pound and one from a friend who had Nyx left in her back yard. We could handle 2 dogs. But the third has caused untold misery. Only thing is, we love her now, and we can do nothing about the situation. Plus, she is the McKid's biggest fan (and the McKid is hers). McKid called me this weekend just to remind me, "MamaT, Nyx is MY DOG!" Right, baby.

All of our dogs are weird--a product of their hard beginnings I suppose. LuckyDog is afraid of much, but a loud barker. She is also the author of all those clouds of white dog hair that coat the surfaces of my house. If she spent 1/2 the time she spends growing hair (so that it can fall out on my floor) on growing some body fat, workmen who come to my house would not greet me with suspicion: "Lady, that's the skinniest dog I've ever seen. Do you feed her?" Yeah, we do, and yeah she's the Twiggy of dog-dom.

Maggie is some terrier mix--part Schnauzer and all bark and need. She is truly the neediest dog I've ever met. Zteen locks her out of his room while he is playing his video games, because she spends all her time trying to climb into his lap. Once he tried to pet her continually until she got tired of it and walked away. ONE SOLID HOUR LATER, he gave in, took her outside and shut his door. No amount of love is too much for her. Really no amount is even ENOUGH for her.

And then there's Nyx. The abandoned. The "probably bred for dog-fighting but way too scaredy to fight, so dropped off in a random backyard" dog. She cannot stand to be without the other two. If one of them is in the yard, Nyx stands in the house and cries until they come back. She needs her posse, or she can't be happy. Oh, and she's a chewer on top of that. She's been the most expensive dog we've ever owned. One chair, one set of curtains and several dogbeds later, we're doing better. The logical thing to do would be to give her away, but the heart doesn't know logic. This is the dog that will stand between the McKid and anyone else in the world if she thinks they are being mean to McK. She loves who she loves. And she loves them always.

Part of me thinks I should do the sensible thing and cut down the number of dogs around here. But love isn't about being sensible, is it? It'd be different if we weren't able to take care of them, or if our child was allergic to them. Believe me, I don't treat our dogs like children. They're dogs. But at the same time, they are lovely God-given companions on this journey. For me, there is no therapy that can match a dog head on the knee or a dog wrapped across my feet as I type.

So we soldier on at Casa S, putting up with inconvenience and trouble, and hoping that somewhere, sometime, someone will do the same for us.....

Movie review from Mama T et al

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Watched this lovely little documentary. In NYC, there is a program that teaches ballroom dancing to 4th and 5th graders as part of their p.e. classes. This film follows three teams from the very first day they walk into the class through the competition held at the end of 10 weeks of training. While there is a lot of focus on dance itself, there is plenty of talk with the kids--some of it funny (intentionally and unintentionally), some of it ineffably sad. The most amusing (and refreshing) part is how uncomfortable the boys and girls are together at the beginning. In this age of hyper-sexualization of the culture, it is nice to see kids who are still, oh I don't know, wary of the other sex. And during the competition scenes, when a couple is finished dancing, they run back to their groups and the girls all jump up and down together and the boys high-five one another.

Not as meaty as Spellbound, it's still a worthy way to spend an evenings. Five of us were watching, 9 thumbs up from our clan.

overheard at the smockmaison

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my eyes started leaking while i was fixing duncan's hair because it dawned on me that we have less time with him than the time we've already had. i explained to duncan that "we only have about eight more years and then you'll be off to college."
"yeah! i'm gonna get my doctor's degree."
"you'll get your doctorate."
"mom! i'm not a girl. i'll be a doctor, not a doctor-ette!"


Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

It is to weep.....


An article from Lifesite, about a Swiss doctor who committed suicide after finding out that the patient he euthanized did NOT have a terminal illness.

The final paragraph of the article is what is truly chilling:

Minelli told the UK's Telegraph last year that Dignitas would gladly assist anyone to die, "irrespective of medical condition. It does not matter what people are suffering from, we do not refuse anyone."

The patient was suffering from depression. But was treatment of depression recommended? Oh, no. One doctor falsified her records so she could get "sick pay" from work. She used those falsified records to have herself killed.

Is Dignitas (the euthanasia organization) sorry about the mistake? Nope.

Slugs. Creeps. Monsters.

Sorry, my charity fails at the moment. Before long I'll try to pray for these deluded souls.

I hope.

The Grinch is back with a vengeance

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Read about it in this great article from Agape Press.

Here's a snippet:

The Grinch is back, but this time he's not working alone. Macy's, Target, and many other huge retailers have joined him in efforts to steal the true meaning of the Christmas season and replace it with a secularized, paganized, non-religious holiday. They have to be very careful. In doing so they don't want to lose the massive profits they make by selling Christmas gifts. They want to deny Christ without denying the cash. These efforts add new meaning to the word "hypocrisy."

Few people are more understanding, loving, and tolerant than my wife. She works for one of the world's largest retailers where "PC" (politically correct) policies and tolerance for one and all are standard. One day a few years ago she was called to a meeting. On the agenda for that meeting was the task of coming up with a name for their Christmas party other than the "Christmas party." Why? "We don't want to offend anyone." The definition of the word "anyone" is any human being who is not a Christian. It's okay to offend Christians. This is why I think Christians are at their tolerance point and are ready to stand up and fight back.

During this meeting, the banter evoked several different ideas. One person suggested calling the Christmas party "The Holiday Party." Another suggested the "Winter Solstice Celebration." Finally, my wife reached her limit. She rebuked the entire group by saying, "Christmas is my holiday, and you are hijacking it. You are so worried about offending someone. Well, I am a Christian -- and you have offended me!" You go, girl!

"They want to deny Christ without denying the cash." Oh, how I wish I had written that sentence!

Amen, brother, amen.

i confess...that i have absolutely no patience with stupid people.
i confess...that, like mamaT, i think a pint of ice cream should be labeled as a single serving. and on that note, a box of girl scout cookies should be labeled as two servings tops.
i confess...that i love going to confession. strike that; i love leaving confession.
i confess...that i really like desperate housewives and i don't get people who don't get it. if hollywood jesus gets it, so should you.
i confess...a healthy dose of admiration for "good ol' boys."
i confess...that i think my children are cuter than yours. i can't help it. i'm the mom.
i confess...that i have to make an earnest effort to control my temper and my language.
i confess...that i've deleted the beginnings of many blogs because they weren't very charitable or were too controversial and i didn't want mamaT to face the backlash.
i confess...that i like really dark and heavy movies. at least two of which i know have even been denounced by the vatican.
i confess...that at this point in my life, my idea of heaven is being able to leave the house solo at will.
i confess...that i could go on and on and on.

i confess. . .that i'd like to see TSO's list next.

I think it is hilarious....


.....that on the "similar libraries" doohickey on Library Thing, the two that are on the top of my list are TSO from Video Meliora (link to the right) and Steven from Flos Carmeli (link also to the right)!


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I'm very interested in the Loyola Classics series that Loyola Press is issuing.

Loyola Press introduces Loyola Classics, a series of reprint editions of literary and popular Catholic fiction. Combining a high degree of literary merit with enduring popular appeal, Loyola Classics will attract modern readers interested in the timeless themes of religious fiction.

Eight books will be added to the series each year. Each book includes a new introduction by a contemporary writer, as well as discussion questions designed to help deepen the reading experience for both individuals and reading groups.

I have very much liked their list of books so far, and when I went out to the website tonight I found that they are issuing a book from one of my very favorite authors: North of Hope by Jon Hassler.

Jon Hassler is the only living writer I have ever written a fan letter to. AND I got a reply. He is absolutely wonderful. I always recommend Staggerford first, but my second favorite of his books is The Love Hunter. He's genius. Try him and see!

MamaT's "confession"

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.....tagged by Ellyn at Oblique House (link to the right, of course!), it's time to confess.....

I confess.....that I really, really like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box.

I confess.....that often I still feel like the gawky teenager who was too shy to talk to people she didn't know.

I confess.....that I wake up every Sunday and the thought crosses my mind "Gee, maybe I'll just stay in bed this week."

I confess.....that I read People magazine and the Star every week at my mother's house.

I a certain fascination with the home shopping channel QVC. I've never bought anything from them, but I like to watch their shows with jewelry. It's like window-shopping without actually having to walk.

I confess.....that I think those little tubs of ice cream (pints?) are single servings, even though the boxes swear they are not.

I confess.....that I like to read true-crime books, and I've read my share of horror as well.

I confess.....that my secret internet vice is the Manolo shoe blog. It makes me laugh out loud!

I confess.....that I always say yes, then 1/2 the time spend hours kicking myself and trying to figure out a way to get out of what I agreed to do.

I confess.....that I lie to telemarketers when they ask for Mrs. S when they call my house. I have pretended to be the babysitter, the grandmother and a real-estate agent. And yes, I've confessed that sacramentally!

Your turn, Smock!

Movie reviews from the weekend

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I got to sit with my sweetest niece and most handsome nephew Sunday night, so it was an opportunity to chow down on pizza and Skittles and watch some movies!

First we watched Robots by the same folks who brought you Ice Age (which I had found quite enjoyable).


Now, this movie is no Finding Nemo or Monsters, Inc. or The Incredibles (three of my favorite animated features), but it was still a wonderful little surprise. The story takes place in a robot world, where the big corporation has moved from a philosophy of "You can shine whatever you're made of" to "Why be YOU when you can be NEW?" Parts for older robots will no longer be made. They'll either have to upgrade or be sent to the chop shop to be ground up. In steps the young robot, Rodney Copperbottom, voiced by Ewan McGregor, who makes it to the robot equivalent of NYC only to find that his kind are no longer wanted. He starts fixing the old robots (he's a tinkerer and inventor) and runs afoul of the new power structure. What happens next is predictable but still fun.

The visuals are complex and amusing. It is a very "retro" future--everything looks like it was made out of 1950's toasters and ovens. There are way too many attempts at low humor (fart jokes and the like), but that aside, it was a mild mannered movie.

I wouldn't mind adding this one to our collection.

We also watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the odd, but talented, Johnny Depp.


I think it's a generational thing. While there were many things to like in this newest version, I just didn't like it as much as I did the old version. However, the 2 kiddos liked this version much, MUCH better than the old one. They didn't find the Oompa Loompas as menacing as the bigger ones in the Gene Wilder version.

I very much liked the ending of the new film, though. The importance of family was so sweetly demonstrated. And the kid playing Charlie Bucket? GREAT!

So a mixed review of this one: The kids said Yay! And I said OK.

Great read from the Washington Post


What's Wrong with This Outfit, Mom? Written by a clinical psychologist.

Here's a snippet:

Another even bigger problem I see is indecision: Parents lack confidence in their instincts and in their judgment. Previous generations had no trouble making hard and fast rules. Parents in those days looked like and conducted themselves as adults and role models; kids and teenagers wanted to grow up and get the perks of adult life as soon as possible. Therapists see the inverse today. There are lots of parents who are uncomfortable with their grownup role and want to be young again; their kids don't want to grow up, or wish to postpone it as long as possible.

There are definitely cases I see in which girls imitate their mothers' sexy style of dress, with their mothers' blessing. (Although there was one high school girl who confided that she was glad she didn't have a mother who looked like Goldie Hawn -- too tough an act to follow!) But the majority of mothers want their daughters to dress more conservatively but are afraid to take their daughters on. Fathers, too.

They make the mistake of thinking that a good relationship is largely conflict-free. One mother said to me, "I hate to rock the boat when she's a teenager; we got along so well when she was little." They don't want a child who complains about them to her friends and the rest of the world on her blog.

I've polled a number of therapist colleagues, and virtually everyone agreed: We almost never see autocratic, dictatorial parents today; it is far more common to see parents who have relinquished power, and kids who have assumed it. Which makes for very unhappy young people. They are petulant and angry; they lack respect for their parents because their parents haven't inspired respect through real leadership.

Without that leadership, kids have trouble recognizing lines of propriety. Boys don't know where the line is and where to stop; and girls -- or gurrrrrrrrls, as the new terminology puts it -- who have become accustomed to their deliberately outre styles of dress, are displaying increasingly aggressive sexual behavior.

Hat tip to the ladies over at Inkwell, the blog of the Independent Women's Forum.

The Feast of Christ the King

Saint Mary Magdalene Church, Windmill Hill, Enfield, Middlesex

the word mischievous comes to mind

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smocktwins, davis and donovan

Got this recipe in an e-mail, and it is exactly the kind of thing I would have tried with the boys during our Scouting years.

Ziploc Omelettes

Good for when all your family is together and no one has to wait for their special omelette.

Have family members or guests write their name on a quart-size ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker. Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large)into the bag (not more than 2); shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shakes it. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelettes in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water. Open the bags and the omelette will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed!

Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.

Food for thought

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"Right gladly would He free them from their misery, but He knows only one way: He will teach them to be like Himself, meek and lowly, bearing with gladness the yoke of His Father's will. This is the one, the only right, the only possible way of freeing them from their sin, the cause of their unrest."

-----------George MacDonald

"A Kingdom of noise"

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A Kingdom of Noise: A Screwtape Letter for the Media Age is worth the read and the thought.

A little snippet:

Good news! The latest commendations have arrived from the Council of the Pit. You impress the lower-downs, my zealous Wormwood. They have heard of your schemes on the Noise Proliferation Committee (NPC). Indeed, places of solitude and moments of silence grow ever more scarce in the Enemy's vast and vulgar dominion. Oh, what euphoria to see his insufferable creatures rush to fill the dead air with a cacophony of cell phones and muzac, leaf blowers and manipulated car exhaust pipes, 24-hour news and I-Pods. Those nauseating humans cannot escape their self-made dungeon of din!

My pride bubbles like brimstone, Wormwood.

It is down-wrong delicious that you are able to entice your assignments into believing that quiet and solitude are a waste of time, even harmful to their pursuits. We must be the demon in the whirlwind, invading their private space, cluttering their innermost being with commotion.

Make them feel empty without a Blackberry on their hip or a television blaring in the background. Tune their alarm clock to a raucous station with bombastic DJs. Call their cell phone on their way to work or during a meal. Put TV screens in banks and hotel lobbies, gas stations and airplanes - anywhere humans might have time to reflect. Offer deals to Walt Disney World and casinos, and make a weekend in the Catskills appear unexciting or at least unaffordable.

Over time the humans will grow unaware of the high-pitched ringing in their ears.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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When do you feel impatient?

How many times in your life have you had a broken heart?

Name a book you would like to see made into a movie.

Main Course
If you could thank one teacher for what they taught you, who would it be and what would you thank them for?

What is your favorite kind of pie?

I'll answer in the comments boxes with you!



smockdaddy and i went to see derailed last night. what i really want to see is walk the line, but it doesn't open until friday and like so many other things, my movie choices are limited to the twins' nursing schedule. but i digress. . .

i really wan't expecting anything at all out of this movie, so as it turned out, i was pretty impressed. it's very hard to watch though, so i wouldn't recommend it to any of our readers who are delicate moviegoers. let's just say it has an R rating for a reason. violence and implied violence abound in this psychological thriller. it is very hitchcockian (is that a word?). not because it is particularly well-done but because of its theme -- two would-be adulterers get brutally attacked and then blackmailed by thugs -- and its outcome -- which i will not give away. it's frustrating, surprising, violent, and surprising again. i'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you won't see it coming.

if slightly flat acting doesn't bother you as long as the story is compelling, this one is worth the price of admission.

overheard in the smockmaison


after almost nine years and three daughters, smockdaddy chose a harried monday morning to finally learn how to put a ponytail holder (also known as one of those hair things) into the girls' hair. after several attempts the other morning, grace begged her dad to let me fix her hair instead.

smockdaddy: but, i'm trying to learn how to fix your hair.
grace: i don't care about learning, daddy, i want to go to school!


You Are a Boxer Puppy
Energetic, playful and good with kids. You've also got a wild spirit that can't be trained or tamed.

This simply could not be more wrong:

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You Are a Chihuahua Puppy
Small, high strung, and loyal. You do best in the city with a adults - young kids could crush you!

Hear me, people. I AM NOT A RAT ON A ROPE!!!!!

I've been reading the discussion about giving to the poor that is being held in several places on St. Blogs, including Smock's post below.

One thing I want to say up front. On one of the sites (and sorry I can't remember which one at this point!), someone responded in the comments box and said that it was good to have the discussion about "whether or not we help the poor." I hope this was just a comments box shortening of what the commenter meant to say. That is, it is impossible, in my opinion, for us EVER, as Christians, to debate whether or not we help the poor. We are called to help the poor. "Even as ye have done it to one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me." I know that I'm not interested in facing Christ after my death and having to explain why I thought it was more important for me to have my luxuries than it was to do what was in my power to make sure that others had the bare necessities.

Now what we CAN have is a discussion of the BEST ways to help the poor. I must consider very seriously the words of those who are working with the poor on a daily basis who tell me--"Don't give to panhandlers. Put your money where it will truly be a help." I have to consider that in coming up with the way I have to handle the situation when I am confronted with it.

Another factor that goes into my thinking are the thoughts of our parish secretary, who is faced time and again with the same people coming to ask for money--who are obviously coming up with a story that they think will touch the heartstrings and open up the pursestrings for the next $20, $30, $100. She fears she is becoming too cynical. That she has lost the assumption of need. Or the assumption of innocence. When resources are limited (and they are at every parish, no matter how much they might be), is it WRONG to try to discern where TRUE need is? Do we truly do a service to the poor if the brash and conniving take the allotted money every month, leaving the meek and retiring poor to get nothing? The meek may inherit the earth, but that's not keeping their electricity turned on.

We tried, in the parish office, to make up "care packages" that we could give to those asking for help. We don't want our secretary to have money around when she is there all alone. The packages went to waste, for no one, not even those who needed "money for food" wanted the sacks we had so lovingly fixed. And that's the truth. How does my knowledge of that affect my ability to give to those bold enough to ask?

It's a hard question. So I decided long ago to respond based on my best "gut instinct" and hope that that instinct is led by the Holy Spirit. I almost always give something, if I have something in my pocket. I have followed people from the church to 7-11 (right down the street from the church and on a busy street--not a dangerous place)and filled up their gas tanks with gas, if they needed it to get somewhere. I have handed out McD's coupons (I have, in the past, stocked up at Christmas and kept them in my glove compartment). None of these feels perfect. But in case of error, I have decided to err on the side of giving rather than of not giving.

We've been told to be as gentle as doves and as wise as serpents. Well, I'm not very good at being either. But I don't want to miss Christ in the guise of the woman with bad teeth who needs a cup of coffee. I just don't.

Books #54 and 55 of 2005 finished.....


....or, you gotta do something while you're lying on the couch coughing your lungs out.

#54: Deafening by Frances Itani. This is our book club book for this month. The story of a young woman, Grania O'Neill, who becomes deaf at age 5 after a bout with scarlet fever. Her grandmother fights to get her educated, while her mother, consumed with guilt prays for a miracle. Grania is sent to a school for the deaf, where she is educated and finally meets Jim, a hearing man with whom she falls in love. He goes off to work as a stretcher bearer in France and Belgium during World War I. The book is a study in contrasts between her quiet world of wait and worry, and his noisy world of fear and pain. The key to everything is language--and its power to connect us.

#55: Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo. Lent to me by a friend from church, this is an interesting look at Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN. Love her or hate her (and I fall squarely on the love side of that equation), what she has done is amazing. I wasn't aware of the severity of her medical problems. I would love to quote you some passages from this book, but I can't. I had to give it back. But something that Mother said is rolling around in my head (and this is at best a paraphrase): "When you step out and try the ridiculous, He'll step out and do the miraculous."

Next book up: J.R. Powers' book Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

A quick apology...

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...for the infrequent updates over the past coupla weeks. Both Summas were sick last week, and our creativity dried up with the increase in cough and cold medicine ingested. (Well, for me, anyway. The Smock is probably doing that suffering mother thing and toughing it out so that the babies don't get drugs via breastmilk!)

Anyway, we're better. I don't vouch for the QUALITY of our writing going up, but I think the QUANTITY will be greater.

brother, kin ya spare a dime?

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proverb 28.27 "he who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."

i have been criticized for giving money to obvious drunkards begging for spare change and i've even been called "plain stupid" for giving money to strangers on the street, but i've never really agreed with putting stipulations on giving to the poor. it's my understanding that we're called to give to those in need, not to micromanage where our alms are going to end up. of course, this smacks of cloying piety so let me stress that this is not my aim; it's just that after reading the end of mr. luse's brief update and the comments about cons, drunks, and giving that it brings to mind the fact that i've never given money to someone who asked without being blessed. i know it sounds crazy, but it's the truth and, at the risk of sounding like a total religious flake, i've even been nudged by the Spirit to give to those who didn't ask me personally, only to be later blessed.

granted, i've never actually worked per se with people who are on the breadline. i spent exactly four hours working in a homeless shelter one Christmas ten years ago. so you could say that i'm a "giver" as opposed to being a "doer" -- which may explain a lot to those who've actually served the poor.

that said, i still think turning away someone in need, even if that need be for alcohol or just a pack of smokes, is akin to putting the old kibosh on a potential blessing.

Interesting article.....


....from Christianity Today about Harry Potter and his books can be found HERE. The author is Alan Jacobs a professor of English at Wheaton College. He is the author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, just published by HarperSanFrancisco.

He's caught a lot of heat for defending the Harry Potter books. This is an insight into the why of his support.

.....can be silent in the face of this:

(AgapePress) - An embryo donation advocate says Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, is treading on dangerous ethical ground with a new clinical trial it is starting. A fertility clinic at BCM -- which is not affiliated with Baylor University -- has been given the go-ahead by the college's ethics committee to conduct a study into the effects of allowing couples to select the gender of their babies.

Dr. Jeffrey Keenan of the National Embryo Donation Center says Baylor College of Medicine is using a technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. "They are actually going through in vitro fertilization, creating embryos and then testing these very tiny human beings for the desired sex," he explains, "and then using those embryos of the desired sex to implant into the uterus of the mother."

Sex selection abortions are, by a very large majority, selection of males, destruction of females. Will they stand ready to throw away their future possible constituents? Of course they will.

My pro-life bumper sticker aims at just these people: SHE'S A CHILD, NOT A CHOICE.

oh happy day!

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davis and i are as sick as dogs, but i dragged my miserable butt out yesterday to in TEXAS we were being asked to vote on proposition 2 which is "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

things got really ugly too because supporters of the oxymoronic "gay marriage" were calling people and telling them that if they didn't vote against prop 2, because of some improper wording in the ammendment, all marriages would be illegal. they also had callers telling people that if you were conservative you should vote against prop 2.

i just knew that if i didn't vote "I DO" for prop 2 all would be lost. no chance. this is TEXAS after all. prop 2 passed by 75%.

Don't you love it.....

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....when God leaves you a message on a reader board outside a church? Driving home from the vet this morning, I passed the Methodist church around the corner from my house and was hit by just what I needed to remember this morning:

The job of God
already taken!

Douglas Gresham on C. S. Lewis


A guy approached Jack on the street one day and asked him if he could spare a few shillings. And Jack immediately dove into his pocket and brought out all his change and handed it over to this beggar. And the chap he was with—I think it was Tolkien—said, "Jack, you shouldn't have given that fellow all that money, he'll just spend it on drink." Jack said, "Well if I had kept it, I would have only spent it on drink."

Jack would give to anyone who asked him. He was sufficiently conscious of the need for good stewardship to be a little careful in some areas, but if he found out that someone was in need, he would give. He was a man who had been brought up to fear going into poverty. All his life he had this almost pathological fear of penury, and yet he gave away about two-thirds of his earnings.

In case you hadn't read....

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(AgapePress) - Pro-family leaders are disturbed and incensed over Wednesday's decision by an appellate court panel in San Francisco, which held that parents have "no fundamental right" to control their kids' upbringing by introducing them to sexual information "in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs." Nor, according to the panel, do mothers and fathers have the right to prevent their kids' exposure to sexual information whenever and however the school chooses.

Read the article here.

This is the same court/judge who decided against the Pledge of Allegiance in the Newdow case, fwiw.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

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What was the last game you purchased?

Name something in which you don't believe.

If you could choose a television personality to be your boss, who would you pick?

Main Course
What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.

I'll answer in the comment box with ya'll!

Book #53 of 2005 finished!

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.....and boy, was Julie D. right about this one!!!

Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger is an old-fashioned book, in the very best sense of the word. It's an epic, a tear-jerker, a romance, a swashbuckler and a complete enjoyment. On top of that, it is one of the most effective stories about the ability of the good, the true and the beautiful to convert men from worldly goals to eternal values. It makes good look brave, masculine and worthy. Yee Haw!

What more can you ask from a book? If you like historical fiction AT ALL, go get the book and settle in for a fine read. I'm sorry mine was a library book. It was hard to give it back.

And another hymn for today....

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Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
raise the glad strain,
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
virtues, archangels, angels' choirs,

Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Alleluia! alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
more glorious than the seraphim,
lead their praises,
Thou bearer of the eternal Word,
most gracious, magnify the Lord,


Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
all saints triumphant, raise the song,


O friends, in gladness let us sing,
supernal anthems echoing,
To God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Spirit, Three in One,


Sung to the tune "Lasst Uns Erfreuen" at SMV. It's at cyberhymnal as well....

Great hymn for today

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For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sung at SMV to "Sine Nomine" by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Head over to if you need an update on the tune!

All Saints' Day


Almighty God, who by thy Holy Spirit hast made us one with thy saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to thy power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.



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