June 2006 Archives

fine art friday

| | Comments (1)

this is one of my favorite "secular" dali's; it's entitled person at a window.
having spent my summers at my grandparent's beach house on tiki island in galveston as i was growing up, as soon as i see this picture i can smell the salt in the breeze, hear the seagulls crying overhead, and feel the rhythm of the waves lapping below the window. the picture conjures very fond memories, but the feelings are strongly bittersweet as these days are long gone and never to return.

Fine Art Friday

| | Comments (4)
Virgin Annunciate
Antonello da Messina
c. 1465

This is my entry for today's art show. I was totally taken by this image of the Blessed Virgin when I was reading about an exhibit at the Metropolitan in New York.

Friday Feast, ya'll

| | Comments (6)

I'm stealing the feast from Donna, 'cause I didn't like today's feast on their website:

Name 3 things that you think are beautiful.

What was the last concert you attended?

What is one thing that frightens you about getting older?

Main Course
Tell us about one of your funny quirks or habits.

If you could extend one month to 50 days (instead of the normal 28, 29, 30, or 31), which month would you want to lengthen?

I'll answer in the comments with ya'll.

Books 18-25 of 2006, or......

| | Comments (2)

.....boy, it's been a long time since I did this!

#18: Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America (whew!) by Myrna Blyth. Blyth was editor in chief of Ladies Home Journal for 20 years, and takes the reader on a tour of what the big women's magazines sell to women: impossible thinness, something to fear, stress, and a very liberal political agenda. Conversational in tone, its an insiders dish on the magazine world. I'll admit, I have a number of subscriptions to women's magazines--I buy 'em for the recipes (is that like a man saying he buys Playboy for the articles????). Since reading this book, I've been more attentive to the contents of each magazine, and it's hilarious how they really do dovetail with her thesis.

#19: A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols. In 1968, 9 men set out, each alone, to circumnavigate the world in a sailboat alone. WITHOUT STOPPING ANYWHERE for food, repairs or supplies. And this was LONG before global satellite positioning equipment. An interesting look at what it takes to achieve such a feat and what failure means when it comes. It surely didn't make ME want to try anything any remotely like it!

#20: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers. LORD Peter Wimsey solves a convoluted mystery about a body found in another person's grave. Bells and the art of change-ringing are a big part of the mystery. And who knew LORD Peter was so multi-talented? (Edited to correct the title given--after correction by Klaus. Thanks Klaus!)

#21: Viper's Tangle by Francois Mauriac. This was our June book club selection. We had previously read Mauriac's Woman of the Pharisees. Louis, the central figure and narrator of the book, is a man consumed by greed, by hatred and by a need for revenge on all those around him. A lonely and unattractive child, spoiled by his mother, he finds love as a young man. But that love is ruined by a chance remark by his young wife, leading to years of misery for them both. Grace vies to the very end with the evil that is so readily apparent. Brings to light the importance God places on every, single soul--and that no one is beyond God's caring. Excellent book, and instigated more discussion than anything we had read in a long time.

#22: Thinks by David Lodge. Ralph Messenger, a professor at Gloucester University is director of the Center for Cognitive Science. He is the ultimate materialist, and an unrepentant womanizer. He meets Helen Reed, a recently widowed writer in residence at the college. She refuses him on moral grounds, only to give in when she becomes convinced "everyone else is doing it" after a nasty revelation about her late husband. At the same time, Messenger is changed by having to deal with a health crisis and looking his own mortality in the face. He learns that perhaps his wife and life are a little more important that he thought.

#23: Making Sense of Movies: Filmmaking in the Hollywood Style by Robert Henry Stanley. The Zman's college textbook for his Film Appreciation class. Interesting look at the history of the movie industry, different techniques of movie making, genres, and the like. 'Nuff said.

#24: The Last Good Woman by William Luse. Yes, that William Luse. This made me realize that there are those of us who can TYPE (me) and those who can WRITE (him). I mean, I knew it was true when I read all the books I talk about, but to clarify it by reading something so fine by someone I know. Well, it just brought it home.
The book is the story of a young man and his fiancee (later his wife) and what it takes to get him to actually grow up and start the process of becoming a man instead of a spoiled adolescent-like male. It rings so true to the experiences of PapaC and I that it was almost too painful to read at times. Excellent, excellent, excellent. I want to read it again when my heart quits hurting from the first go 'round.

#25: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith. The sixth book in the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Precious Ramotswe is still just that. In fact, I think this book was better than a couple of the previous ones. I have not tired of the series yet, and that is saying something.

UPDATE TO SUMMER READING CHALLENGE: The above list takes 3 books off that challenge list. I am starting The Rise of Silas Lapham next, alternated with finishing off Tim Gatreaux's The Clearing.


| | Comments (2)

There were many such stories, and he understood just how important they were, and listened with patience and respect. A life without stories would be no life at all. And stories bound us, did they not, one to another, the living to the dead, people to animals, people to the land?

Alexander McCall Smith
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

So, the story of last week.......

| | Comments (8)

......was not a particularly happy one, to say the least. Have we told you around here that 2006 wasn't being a very GOOD year to us? We thought so.

Last week brought another bonk on the head. One of the things that I have done over the past several years is help to take care of an elderly lady in our parish. Fran, by name.

Fran was a character. She was born rich--lived in a big house over in Fort Worth. Went to Hockaday--a school over in Dallas for the rich girls. True now, even truer then.

She married Don, after a whirlwind 4 weeks courship. (She told me once that the boys always liked her because she would kiss on the first date!) He was an up and comer in the insurance business, and kept her in the style to which she was accustomed. Fran buried two babies, one about 8 weeks old, one about a year old. She had three other children, two girls and a boy. Things seemed swell. They had lots of friends, did what they wanted. She told me once that she went to the beauty shop every day to have her hair combed out.

But the idyllic life didn't last. Her oldest daughter died unexpectedly in about 1987 or so. Later that same year, her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer and died within a couple of months. Imagine that. Bury your daughter and your husband in one year.

Fran wasn't a business woman. Someone who was going to "help" her with the insurance agency somehow ended up owning it. And so she was left with little or nothing to get by on.

Fran always said that the Cursillo movement within the Episcopal Church saved her life. It gave her a meaning and a purpose. And it cemented friendships that lasted the rest of her life. She worked for various priests, and worked in the refugee resettlement movement. She was a member of St. Mary's before they converted to Catholicism, and was a happy convert. Her only puzzlement was why it was taking everyone ELSE so long to see the light.

I met Fran when we first came into the Church. She struck me as an odd sort of old woman. She wore clothes that didn't match, drank coffee or iced tea by the bucketsful, had not one shred of vanity, loved bingo, and never, ever, that I could tell, brushed her hair.

But she was a talker. And she was funny.

The parish began helping her about 6 years ago. We moved her into subsidized housing. We began watching over her money. We took her to doctors' appointments. Her son is a good son, but he works for the State department, and is always stationed overseas. Her daughter loves her, but has two boys and a husband who is often out of town. So we gradually did more and more for Fran as time passed.

Fran was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. February 20th to be exact. And I know that--me who never remembers a date--because after sitting in a doctor's office and hearing that Fran had lung cancer in the morning, I dealt with my mother breaking her hip that very night! Needless to say, a day that will live in infamy around here.

Fran, against all belief, decided to try chemotherapy. At 80. With 37% lung function due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So, for the past several months, I've been taking Fran to chemotherapy. And she seemed to be doing pretty well.

Until last week. Sunday she complained of pain, and we got some pain killers. Monday I found her collapsed on the floor at her apartment, and called the ambulance. We spent the day in the ER, hoping things would get better.

They didn't. Her condition worsened. By Wednesday morning, with her son rushing from Kiev to get to his mom's side, her daughter and I had to tell the doctors to not put her on a respirator. Yeah, things went that bad, that fast. Both the priests she loved came and prayed over her. And I wept my usual big ole buckets of tears, all the while praying that there could be some slight turnaround, all the while knowing that it was not to be.

Fran died Wednesday night at 11 p.m., before her son could get to the hospital. She died with her daughter holding one hand and me holding the other. PapaC was at the foot of the bed. And just like that, between one heartbeat and the next, she was gone.

Her funeral was Saturday, and it was beautiful. Just like she would have wanted. No black vestments--all white. All the smells and bells. "Terry, I want the fanciest funeral a lay person can have." And she got everything we could do.

Fran was sometimes a burden. But most often she was a blessing. She had such a simple outlook on life. She just assumed that we WANTED to take care of her, and in the end, she was right. We did. She was a junk food junkie, and we despaired of her nutrition. But she did live 'til she was 80! She was the least vain person I've ever met, and she and I had long discussions over her clothing when I wanted to get rid of ratty old things. "They cover me up! What more do I need?" I swear, Mother Teresa cared more about what she looked like than Fran did.

But Fran lived in grace. Her life didn't turn out the way she expected, but she rolled with it. I never heard her complain about her circumstances or situation. She never complained about her health, either, taking everything in stride. She shed not ONE, NOT ONE, tear over her own diagnosis.

Someone said after the funeral, "May I be found even one half as faithful as Fran at my own death." And that's the truth.

Rest in peace, Fran. We miss you so much.


i've liked mary cassatt's mother's kiss since the first time i saw it way back in college in an aesthetics class. but the older i get the more this picture moves me on a deeply emotional level. it wasn't until i was a mother myself that i realized how true the picture is -- see how the baby with it's rolly polly belly looks like it just wants to get away? i love that! it hurts my heart because i know how the mother feels, but i hafta smile because i know it is all too true.
i'll never forget the day my firstborn, now ten, had to be cajoled into giving me a kiss:

give mommom a kiss.
we can have ice cream.
okay. but just a little kiss.

i think i shall go and kiss the wee ones now. and cry because they're growing way too quickly.

I'm going to surprise everyone who knows me with the pick for this week, because it is a piece from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, a place that I have roundly bashed right here on this blog. But for all the trash that the building contains, there are a few (and I will say a VERY few) things there that delight my soul. Here is one of them:

Book with Wings
Anselm Kiefer

This is actually a fairly terrible picture of the sculpture, and I'll look to see if I can find a better one. It is startlingly haunting when you come upon it in the center of one of the spaces in the museum.

Anyway, I like it because it captures EXACTLY how I feel about books and reading.....


You simply must see this! It made me laugh out loud!


You can see more of this HERE.

Friday Feast, ya'll!

| | Comments (7)

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you like your job?

When was the last time you think you were lied to?

Share some lyrics from own of your favorite songs.

Main Course
What do you do/take when you are in pain?

Fill in the blanks: My __________ is very __________.

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

Oh, my!

| | Comments (2)

From that smart Elisabeth Elliot:

Certain aspects of the job the Lord has given me to do are very easy to postpone. I make excuses, find other things that take precedence, and, when I finally get down to business to do it, it is not always with much grace. A new perspective has helped me recently:

The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. The discipline of this job is, in fact, the chisel God has chosen to shape me with--into the image of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for the work You have assigned me. I take it as your gift; I offer it back to you. With your help I will do it gladly, faithfully, and I will trust You to make me holy.

.....a review on Michael Dirda's Book by Book in Books and Culture.

A paragraph I liked:

Dirda encourages us not to read authors just so we can cross them off a list, but to read what actually stimulates us. Adults should heed this advice not only when it comes to themselves but also for their children—especially today, when video games consume more and more of many a child's free time. In a chapter on encouraging children to read, Dirda urges parents to foster any reading interest their child has, no matter how silly or uninspiring the topic might be. (This reviewer remembers her parents, including a mother who worked in a children's bookstore, along with many parents at the time, tolerantly cringing all the way through the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High series phases.) "The child who reads The Hardy Boys will read Agatha Christie tomorrow and Crime and Punishment a few years after… The worst thing you can do is ignore or denigrate a child's taste," Dirda writes.

This strikes me as true. We've let Zman read what he likes, and we shuddered through the Goosebumps series. And it really DID turn into Sherlock Holmes and then into Father Brown....

.....by leaving these crumbs of wisdom in my email inbox?

From the brilliant Elisabeth Elliot, in A Lamp for My Feet:

Learning to pray is learning to trust the wisdom, the power, and the love of our Heavenly Father, always so far beyond our dreams. He knows our need and knows ways to meet it that have never entered our heads. Things we feel sure we need for happiness may often lead to our ruin. Things we think will ruin us (the chariots of Egypt, the waters of the sea, or the little waves in Belmar!), if we believe what the Father tells us and surrender ourselves into His strong arms, bring us deliverance and joy.

The only escape from self-love is self-surrender. "Whoever loses his life for Me will find it" (Matthew 16:25, NIV). "Dwell in my love. If you heed my commands, you will dwell in my love, as I have heeded my Father's commands and dwell in His love. I have spoken thus to you, so that my joy may be in you, and your joy complete" (John 15:9-11, NEB). My father knew far better than his small, fearful, stubborn son what would give him joy. So does our Heavenly Father. Whenever I have resisted Him, I have cheated myself, as my little brother did. Whenever I have yielded, I have found joy.

Quote for today

| | Comments (1)

....from the daily devotional site of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Oh, dear, this hit me where I am!

"And Peter . . . walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid." Matthew 14:29-30

The wind was actually boisterous, the waves were actually high, but Peter did not see them at first. He did not reckon with them, he simply recognized his Lord and stepped out in recognition of Him, and walked on the water. Then he began to reckon with the actual things, and down he went instantly. Why could not our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves as well as on the top of them? Neither could be done saving by recognition of the Lord Jesus.

We step right out on God over some things, then self-consideration enters in and down we go. If you are recognizing your Lord, you have no business with where He engineers your circumstances. The actual things are, but immediately you look at them you are overwhelmed, you cannot recognize Jesus, and the rebuke comes: "Wherefore didst thou doubt?" Let actual circumstances be what they may, keep recognizing Jesus, maintain complete reliance on Him.

If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say - "Well, I wonder if He did speak?" Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.

Cleaning iced tea off my monitor....


....because I received an email from someone with a name I didn't recognize, but with the title Neo-Scholasticism.

Well, that one I opened, because, well, who wouldn't open an email with that title????

Only to find out that it was yet another spam email for one of those, um, "enhancement" drugs.

It made me laugh out loud. It's one thing to misspell words or oddly space them to get past a spam filter. And I know that they sometimes use random word generators to title spam mails so that filters don't catch 'em. But how unlikely is it for me to get a word that would actually make me want to open it? Unlike, say, something like "cymbal playing monkeys."

Now, how could I have missed this?

| | Comments (2)

....Oh, yeah. I was otherwise involved!!!

Anyway, Miz Booshay over at Quiet Life has a link on her sidebar for Summer Reading Challenge 2006. A blog-friend of hers decided to run a challenge--for people to either read a certain number of books, or books of a certain genre, or, or, or.....just whatever--the challenge is open to the challengee!

I'm too late to register for the challenge, but I'm stealing a button and making my list anyway! How could I possibly ignore a book challenge? Besides, I'm claiming a hardship exemption from the rules!

So, drumroll please, here is:

MamaT's Summer Reading Challenge List

First, I want to finish some books that I have in-process, but that have been sitting for a long time:

The Clearing by Tim Gatreaux
Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
Making Sense of Movies by Robert Henry Stanley

Second, I have two books to read for the Inkblots, my book club:

The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor

Third, the book I am most looking forward to:

The Last Good Woman by William Luse (yep, the one you're thinking of!)

Fourth, all the others:

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells

Please note: All these books are off my shelf. I hereby vow not to enter Half Price Books for the remainder of the summer. I have realized, to my utter dismay, that I could read for the next several years simply off my own shelves......

Fine Art Friday

| | Comments (2)

Miz Booshay over at Quiet Life (and if you don't read her blog you are missing something special!) wants to add Fine Art Friday to the Friday Feast--add a piece of art that you like to your website every Friday.

Wouldn't that be cool? There would be so much to see, and it should be interesting to see what everyone is drawn to.

So, here's our first entry in Fine Art Friday:

The Calling of Saint Matthew

If you go here, you can read a little bit about the painting--and how its different parts fit together.

But this painting is special to me because I spent many years (before being a stay at home homeschooling mom) as an accountant--very concerned with the ways of the world. With money, counting it, accounting for it, making it, spending it. So the thought that Christ can call even the most worldly of us--and that we can leave it and follow him--is vitally important to me. I have felt exactly like Matthew in this picture: a hand pointed to my chest saying "Me? You want ME?"

I saw this painting while I was on pilgrimage in Rome. It was a high point.

Friday Feast, ya'll

| | Comments (7)

(Boy, we haven't done this for a long time, huh?)

What is a word that you use that would not be considered common?

What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?

What is the age span of the children in your family...and the children in the family you grew up in?

Main Course
Do you care about fashion? What do you especially like to shop for?

What is the last beverage you drank?

My answers are in the comments box.....

Now just how cool is this?


You can publish your own book, for about $30. Go to Blurb and check it out.

I think this would be a GREAT way to do my family cookbook thing. You get a nice 8x10 hardback book for your money. They have templates for baby books, photo books, vacation books, etc.

Cool idea.

Got the link from another cool site, People of the Book. You might check this guy out, too.

You know.....


.....there are days when I shouldn't read the paper. Living in blissful ignorance would probably be better for my blood pressure.

Look, the Summa Mamas rarely comment on world news or politics or things of that sort, believing that our strengths lie in what we deal with every day--the more mundane issues of wife-ing, mom-ing, and how our faith relates to those issues. We talk about the things we love: kids, families, God, books, movies, television (yes, even television). It's not that we don't KNOW about things other than those, but we're not into the whole argument thing.

But yesterday I opened the paper to headlines blaring out the scandal of "FEMA payments made to people who didn't qualify or deserve them. Big ones! Oh, the agony!" Well, not exactly, but that was the impression given.

If you lived anywhere where large numbers of refugees from the disaster were moved, you've heard a LOT about FEMA and its handling of the disaster. And I'M NOT TRYING TO DEFEND FEMA IN PARTICULAR! THEY WERE WOEFULLY UNPREPARED FOR HANDLING SUCH A MASSIVE DISASTER.

There. So in what I say next, please remember the sentence above.

It strikes me, however, almost laughably two-faced of our media now to be shocked, absolutely shocked, that payments by FEMA went to "people who were not residents of the disaster area." And "FEMA did not adequately ascertain the residences of the people to whom they gave compensation."

This is the same media who were incensed during disaster relief that FEMA at first actually tried to tie down peoples' addresses before giving them the aid that they needed. When relief aid first started, our newspaper huffed that "how could those heartless aid workers compel people to show some identification proving their legal addresses? Don't they understand that these people left wearing simply what was on their backs? They didn't bring drivers licenses or birth certificates! They didn't know they would need them."

The push THEN was to hand out the money, hand out the money, hand out the money.

So, kick FEMA then for handing out the money too slowly.

And now, kick FEMA for handing out the money too quickly.

A discussion is in order, certainly. HOW, in the midst of a disaster the size of Katrina and Rita, DO you help people who are in need? In all the article yesterday on the topic, not one sentence was aimed at figuring that out, or talking to anyone who was interested in that.

I'm glad I don't work for FEMA. Nothing they can do is right. If they try to verify, they are cold-hearted and people are suffering. If they don't try to verify, they are wastrels with the public's money and gave it to people who didn't qualify. If I were them, I'd feel like a mole in a Whack-a-Mole game.

Little shards of sunshine....


....and boy, do I appreciate them!!!

It is hard to feel sad when a 3 year old cutie comes in with all her mardi gras beads on and a feather duster in her hand. "Mama, I'm not putting this feather duster in the dogs' eyes. Oh, no. Because that would make them run away to a big city. They would have to ride an elevator up to a room to find a new family. And what would WE do then?"

What, indeed.

OK, so here's what's up.....

| | Comments (10)

It's been a long, hard 2006 so far, and we're not even half done. So far we've dealt with the death of my sisterfriend's mom, Katie. Then our dearest Fran, the lady we help take care of, was diagnosed with lung cancer (which means I'm spending a LOT of time in doctor's offices and infusion rooms). McKid had a violent round of illness, that was finally diagnosed as cyclic vomiting--a migraine variant. My mother fell, broke her hip, had surgery and rehabbed, and now is seeing the orthopedic doctor for additional back pain caused by old issues stirred up by the fall. Our priest had a bout of illness. My friend S has worries about a "maybe autistic" granddaughter.

Things took a turn to the upside for a bit--Zman had an excellent first semester in college (4.0 GPA, thank you very much) and is heavily into like, maybe even love, with a sweet young thing from our parish. A good girl who looks at him like he's a bowl of ice cream on a hot day.

But I told you before that I was thinking that the uptick was simply the ticking of the roller coaster while it was heading for the next drop.

Unfortunately, I was right.

My adopted sister--the sister of my heart--went on a fundraiser walk for cancer a few weeks ago. When she woke up the next morning, she was "tingly" and numb, from the tip of her left ear to the tip of her left toes. Entire left side completely weird feeling. She assumed she had done something to pinch a nerve or something. Took some aspirin and waited to get better.

Didn't get better. Went to the doctor on Monday, when she still felt weird. She has had some numbness issues in years past--but nothing on this scale. Mostly confined to her left hand or foot. Always went away fairly quickly. The doctor had an immediate appointment made for her to have an MRI. Had the MRI on the Tuesday before Memorial Day. Had to wait an ENTIRE WEEK for results.

But we got the results. The MRI is "consistent with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis." There is a very tiny chance that it is a weird side effect of lupus, but most likely not. She is being sent to a neurologist in Fort Worth who treats MS patients and has expertise beyond that of the small town doctor...

Sisterfriend is 6 years younger than I and has a 10 year old son and an 8 year old daughter--my beloved niece and nephew. She is dealing with continual achiness and extreme fatigue. And looking at a world that is so radically different than what it seemed to be 6 weeks ago.

She's being all brave and noble. Me? I'm just pissed. Sorry, but true. Not losing my faith--not by a long shot. But I'm telling God just EXACTLY what I think about this whole thing every single time I talk to him. Which is A LOT. I'm sure by now, every time I pipe up he thinks, "Oh, no. Not again."

So, there you go. If you have a spare prayer or two, I'd love to have them for my sisterfriend. I love to have 'em for me.

And I'd really, really like for things to get a little better around here.


Well, you know times are tough.....


.....when it's been so long since you posted that your blog is nothing but its sidebar!




About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2006 is the previous archive.

July 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.