January 2007 Archives

Why is it?

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Why is it that when I am at the kid clothes resale shop (I started to type "kid resale shop", but that looked like I wanted to sell the McKid, which, some days I might, but most days I don't.) looking for a new pair of blue jeans for the McKid, quarter-sized holes having appeared in the knee after the last wash, that she can hone in and pick up absolutely the most EXPENSIVE item in her size to want so bad, so bad, so bad she can taste it?

There I am down on the floor, comparing blue jean cuts and styles, and there she is looking at the spring skirts. Now, I know that now really is the time to start looking for spring and summer clothes at the resales, because when it actually gets to spring and summer all the cute things will be gone. So, I'm not anti looking at some cute things we might buy.

But the skirt she picked out--a cotton tiered shockingly lime green one--is not used, it is one of the new things that this store also sells. And it is TWENTY dollars. For a shockingly lime green cotton tiered skirt. TWENTY DOLLARS!

And NO other skirt would do. No other dress would do. So we left with exactly what we went for, a $6 pair of jeans.

And one unhappy 4-year-old diva baby.

.....based partly on the entry below.

I don't know why it is, that no matter how inexpensive I think the week's groceries will turn out to be, I actually end up spending about the same amount of money each week.

Well, take that back. I do know, at least in part, why. When I spy a 50% off sale on ground meat (as I did today), it is necessary, at least in my mind, to buy a few packages to throw into the freezer. And the weeks that I have to buy both batteries and laundry detergent are never going to figure into "cheap weeks" at the grocery store.

We're lucky. We no longer have to watch our food budget as closely as we once did. When Zman was small, it was a WAY different story. And even today, the food budget is the one place in our household expenses that seems to spring leaks or something. When there's no money left at the end of the "half" (we budget for each 1/2 month, since that's they way we get paid), a quick review of expenditures almost always finds trouble in food-world. Too many unbudgeted trips to eat out. Too many "extras" at the grocery store.

But do you know what has been the best trick to lowering my grocery bill? And, really, ALL my bills? A little piece of advice that I learned from a frugal living book I read a zillion years ago. Here it is. Wisdom for today.


Don't laugh. It's true. The more often I walk into a store, the more I spend. I am, apparently, congenitally incapable of simply buying the one thing I walked in for. If I go for milk, I end up with milk, a crate of clementines, and a bagel. Nope, I'm not as bad as the people in the Costco article below, but I get it. Oh, yeah, I get it.

I grocery shop (to a list, with an eye to the meat bargains as extras) ONE TIME A WEEK. Then, if I run out of something, I call PapaC at work and tell him: Stop at the store and bring me xyz. He walks into store, buys xyz and walks out. Hobby-shopping is not part of his nature.

It's the same reason I often shop for Christmas on the internet and through catalogs. Even though I have to pay shipping costs, it is often cheaper for me because I don't see all the little extras that I could also throw in. I buy what I'm getting, and that's it. Plus I don't buy myself a little lunch at the mall or whatever. It's a bargain.

I've been doing this for years now, and it helps. I know there are people who can shop and look and enjoy it and not buy it. The only person I can do that with is my sisterfriend M. We can go and laugh and have a good time. By myself? I get either freaked out that there is so much stuff around me or I get depressed that I can't get a new pair of $150 jeans, which, until I got there, I didn't even know that I wanted. (Sanity returns in the car--whew! Saved from the $150 jeans!)

I'm not a good shopper. I do better when I don't. I think the stores are doing exactly what they're set up to do: entice people to buy. Why wouldn't they be? And I think the study of marketing is fascinating.

But I can't shop.

Oh, yeah, baby......

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.....and it's why I don't shop at Costco or Sam's or the like. Here's a snippet from the latest World Congress of Families email newsletter, from a report in the NY Times:

Family Quote of the Week: Costco Effect

"Shopping at Costco often goes something like this: Customer comes to buy bulk necessities like toilet paper and dish detergent. Customer buys those items, as well as a pack of giant muffins, three cashmere sweaters and a power tool.

It's more than impulse buying. It is a calculated part of the company's business plan. Call it the Costco effect.

'We always come out with too much,' said Linda Curtis Schneider, who lives in Nashville. 'It's hard to get out of there for under $200.'

...Psychological factors can strongly influence buying behavior, according to Pamela N. Danziger, author of 'Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience' (2006). Shoppers can experience an emotional thrill when they spot a deep discount, or find a particular item before it disappears from the shelves, she said, and creating those kinds of feelings has helped Costco. 'Shopping is recreational there,' she said. 'People seek out this psychological reward.'"

(Source: Julie Bick, "24 Rolls of Toilet Paper, a Tub of Salsa and a Plasma TV," The New York Times, January 28, 2007; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/business/yourmoney/28costco.html .)

Yesterday's hymns


Introit was this one (maybe the perfect introit?):

Blessed Jesus, at thy word
we are gathered all to hear thee;
let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear thee,
by thy teachings, sweet and holy,
drawn from earth to love thee solely.

All our knowledge, sense, and sight
lie in deepest darkness shrouded
till thy Spirit breaks our night
with the beams of truth unclouded.
thou alone to God canst win us;
thou must work all good within us.

Glorious Lord, thyself impart,
Light of Light, from God proceeding;
open thou our ears and heart,
help us by thy Spirit's pleading;
hear the cry thy people raises,
hear and bless our prayers and praises.

Sung to Liebster Jesu.

Offertory was Lord Christ, when first thou cames't to men, but it is still under copyright, so I can't post the words.

Communion hymn was Father we thank Thee, who hast planted, but it is under copyright as well, so I can't post this one either!

Post communion hymn was this one:

Thou art the Way: to Thee alone
From sin and death we flee;
And he who would the Father seek
Must seek Him, Lord, by Thee.

Thou art the Truth: Thy Word alone
True wisdom can impart;
Thou only canst inform the mind,
And purify the heart.

Thou art the Life: the rending tomb
Proclaims Thy conquering arm,
And those who put their trust in Thee
Nor death nor hell shall harm.

Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life;
Grant us that Way to know,
That Truth to keep, that Life to win,
Whose joys eternal flow.

We sant it to St. James, but there are several other tunes that work.

dying is a very dull, dreary affair. and my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it. ~ w. somerset maugham

my dad died last saturday. his death was the first one i've actually ever watched. practically speaking, it was a good death. the kind most of us probably pray for. he knew he was dying. he’d made his peace with God. he was at home when he finally decided to give up the ghost, and everyone he loved most was present. but i have to tell you, it wasn't pretty.

i'm not really sure what i was expecting. i think relief is what i thought i would most feel. he had his prostate removed about 15 years ago to get rid of the cancer and then was diagnosed with diabetes about ten years ago, but he kept it under control with his diet and pills. then a few years ago he fell while carrying one of my daughters on his shoulders (by the by, i don't recommend carrying small children on your shoulders when you're 70+). a few days later he fell in the shower and hurt his back badly enough to necessitate surgery. looking back, this is the point I can look at and declare this was the beginning of the end. while in the hospital, his electrolytes got all shot to hell and he was disoriented and confused. he had a hard time with his rehab and his kidneys started giving him fits. then he was finally diagnosed with senile dementia. . .a diagnosis that was actually long overdue according to my mom, but with all these delightful HIPAA laws, the senile and the demented are allowed to be so until they actually hurt somebody, but that's another blog. . .and given more pills. these were the pills he refused to take because the bottle read “alzheimer’s” and he didn’t have alzheimer’s, g*ddammit.

watching my dad the past few years was like watching a balloon slowly deflate. it happened slowly enough that there was time to almost adequately adjust, but quickly enough that it was frightening to witness. about six months ago, dad finally started dialysis, which he despised with a passion, and i kept wondering how much the doctors could put him through before they finally admitted that there is no cure for Old.

when did we decide that we absolutely have to keep our loved ones, or ourselves even, alive at any and all costs? i don’t understand it. is it that if we can keep the body alive, we must? is it science? is it an ego trip for medicine? is it fear of dying? is it selfishness? is it just to see how long the insurance holds out? i do not understand it, but i know i do not agree with it. and i pray to God that when it is my time, i will be able to go gentle – not clawing tooth and nail for a few more misery laden hours or days or weeks.

my dad had two massive heart attacks before Christmas. the doctors went into his body to see what they could do and came right back out, telling my mom that to operate on his heart would be like putting gasoline in a car without an engine. finally! i thought. a voice of reason. but then they admitted that he probably wouldn’t survive open heart-surgery, so they sent him home to die. but two weeks later, the home healthcare nurse discovered he had pneumonia and sent him back to the hospital where they pumped him full of more drugs. for some reason they did an MRI and found a brain aneurism. when they told my mom she asked, so? what do you plan to do? you said he wouldn’t survive open-heart surgery, you want to perform brain surgery? i was so proud of her.

God forgive me, at the end, i was fervently praying for my father’s death. i begged, yes begged, Mama Mary to take him into her arms. i couldn’t imagine that anything but relief would wash over me when he took his last breath, but i was wrong. wretchedly wrong. no matter what your head may tell you, your heart won’t give a crap. the protestant in me said, he’s finally at peace. this is the ultimate cure. he’s no longer suffering. and the catholic said, even purgatory has to be better than this. he deserves heaven after all this suffering, maybe he is already there … but my heart said, who cares? i don’t give a damn. this sucks. it sucks bad. it hurts. it hurts like hell. one misery has just been replaced by another. and I don’t care what anybody says, no matter how you slice it, death has one hell of a sting. i wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the pain.

now that a whole week has passed the pain is numbing. the sadness is like a tide. it comes and goes. when it’s far enough away, i can talk about my dad without the sadness and can even joke about him and laugh out loud. when it comes back in, and it always seems to choose very bizarre moments to make an appearance, if it’s low tide, it washes over me slowly and i can keep it in check; but when it’s high tide, it threatens to carry me away and i can hardly breathe. but here’s the rub, the worst part is worrying about my mom. if i feel this miserable when dad wasn’t even a part of my every day-to-dayness for the past 24 years, what unspeakable, horrible emptiness must she be dealing with?

and now, to speak of death makes me feel isolated. i don’t want to talk about it, so i keep it inside. perhaps this is why grief is so private. people want to tell me how great things are for my dad now, how i should rejoice and know things will get better for the living and, blah, blah, blah. i love them for their love, but hate them for not understanding. and so, i keep it in. and my mom, as the protective mother, keeps her grief inside, too. and so it is. and so we are. and life goes on.

Fine Art Friday

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I liked the last experiment (different views of anemones) so much that I've decided to do it again for this week's edition of Fine Art Friday. With February looming, romance is in the air. So, I decided to put "Kiss" in the search box at art.com. Well, it is interesting, to say the least. And I wouldn't really advise it, unless you want to search through about a billion pictures of the band KISS (which I didn't), and a lot of, well, shall we say, inappropriate pictures with that in the title. Enough said.

So here are today's entries, all with the theme "kiss."

First, there was the picture I expected to pop up first, and sure enough it did:

The Kiss
Gustav Klimt

Next, a beautiful sculpture of a kiss:

The Kiss
Auguste Rodin

Less traditional? Maybe you'll like this one better:

Kiss V, 1964
Roy Lichtenstein

Then there's probably the most photographed kiss in the world (and yes, I do think photography can be fine art!):

Kissing the War Goodbye

Next we have the most infamous kiss of all time:

The Kiss of Judas
Fra Angelico

Following, we have the very romantic version:

The Stolen Kiss
Jean-Honore Fragonard

One of my favorite kissers:

Sticky, Wet, Romantic Kiss on the Love Boat
Tom Everhart

If all of the above has been too literal an interpretation of kisses, then here's something more abstract:

The Passionate Kiss
Tim Sorsdahl

And finally (finally!), the most famous movie kiss of all time!

La Bella Notte
Walt Disney Studios

Smooch from the Mamas!

I love it!

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And you can make yours if'n you go here!

An essay very worth a read


....from Books and Culture can be found here.

A snippet:

It seems to me that this politics of long joy is the one thing needful for the Christian cultural critic, as for a warring angel like Abdiel or a poetic polemicist like Milton. Perhaps the chief problem with the "culture wars" paradigm that governs so much Christian action and reflection, in the North American context anyway, is that it encourages us to think in terms of trophies rather than testimonies. It tempts us to think too much about whether we're winning or losing, and too little about the only thing we ultimately control, which is the firmness of our own resolve. If the culture warrior would prefer not to be governed by Stanley Fish, or even by John Milton, maybe Koheleth provides an acceptable model: "In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good" (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

It seems to me that the careful dance, the difficult balance, of Christian cultural criticism is to be endlessly attentive to the form and the details of the world around us, while simultaneously practicing the "politics of long joy"—and in this way avoiding an unhealthy obsession with "trophies," and avoiding also being conformed to the ways of this world. It's a tough walk to walk, because one of the peculiarities of fallen human nature is that we find it difficult, over the long haul anyway, to remember that there is a world of difference between "I have no control over this" and "this isn't very important." We tend, against all reason, to diminish the importance of everything we cannot shape or direct. But our joy will be short if it is grounded in circumstances and events, because circumstances and events always change: if they please us now, they will displease us later. And then what will we do?

Oh, how I love St. Francis de Sales!


Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way- according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer or some other virtue. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we were to wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God.

If you have not read his Introduction to the Devout Life, do yourself a favor and do so. It's not for nothing he's a Doctor of the Universal Church!

Book #2 of 2007 finished

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Only in January, but I think it may be hard to top this one. It is a hard read--and it made me cry more than once. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for anyone who is the least bit squeamish. But it had the same powerful effect on me that A Fine Balance did--and it opened my eyes to a completely different world than my own.

This is a story of modern Afghanistan--told through the lives of two boys. Amir is the son of a wealthy and powerful man. Hassan is the son of a servant. Amir is educated. Hassan is illiterate. Amir is handsome. Hassan has a cleft lip. But Amir is afraid and needy. Hassan is brave and generous. Growing up together, they share many things, including the joy of kite-fighting and kite running. But on one day, everything changes, with a terrible event that changes everything forever.

Through the eyes of Amir, the narrator, we see Kabul before the Russian invasion. We see the effects of that Russian attempt at takeover. And then we learn about what happened when the Taliban took over. It is a thought-provoking look at a people subjected to years of warfare--and its effects on the children.

But it's not a political book. That's just the background. The story is about love recognized too late, betrayal and redemption. "There's still time to be good." While a few of the plot twists are really far too neat (especially one about a high-ranking Taliban executioner), I didn't realize it at the time I was reading it. The story just pulled you along by your heart.

Hard to imagine it was Hosseini's first novel. I think it's fabulous.

Recommended highly, if (and only if!) you have a pretty strong stomach.

Here's a snippet, in fact, the first paragraph of the book:

I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it's wrong what they say about the past, I learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.

Nest book(s) up: Possession: A Romance which I need to finish to pass on to someone else in my book club, and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym, because I needed something far away from Afghanistan.

This was yummy....


.....and came from the Kraft Foods website (which, by the way, has some pretty decent recipes when you're in a hurry). It's been chilly around here, so we've been eating a lot of soup and stews. I wanted something to do with a pound of chicken. I had to double the recipe so that we'd have leftovers for my lunch for a day or two!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Serves 4)

6 corn tortillas (6-inch), divided
1-1/2 tsp oil, divided
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 of the tortillas into strips; toss with 1/2 tsp of the oil. Spread in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until crisp, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, finely chop remaining 4 tortillas. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add chopped tortillas, broth, salsa and corn. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

Ladle into serving bowls; top with cheese and tortilla strips.

Note from MamaT: Making this a second time, I would cut my chicken pieces smaller than I did--my pieces were too large. Cut smaller than you think--or even cook the chicken and shred before adding everything else. Whatever. Both my guys LOVED this soup, and it immediately went into the "make it again" book. And it is speedy, something we can all use some days.

Housewifery thought.....

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.....You know you may have set your heat too low in the house (we keep ours around 65 degrees in the winter), when you leave your butter out on the counter and you still can't spread it on your morning bread to make toast in the oven!

Fine Art Friday (a few days late!)

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One thing I think is interesting is to go out to a site like art.com and put in a phrase and see how different artists have interpreted the same thing. I saw a beautiful bouquet of anemones this weekend (not mine, alas), so I used "anemone" as a search term.

Look at these:

Vase d'Anemones
Raoul Dufy
Henri Matisse

I think the Renoir is the most beautiful, but I want the Dufy, and the Matisse might be the most interesting. What do you think?

Yesterday's hymns


Yesterday's introit was "Christ, when for us thou were baptized", but I can't find the lyrics on line at the moment. You'll just have to wonder.

Offertory was this one:

Thou, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight;
hear us, we humbly pray,
and, where the Gospel day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light!

Thou who didst come to bring
on thy redeeming wing
healing and sight,
heal to the sick in mind,
sight to the in-ly blind,
now to all humankind,
let there be light!

Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving holy Dove,
speed forth thy flight!
Move on the waters' face
bearing the gifts of grace,
and, in earth's darkest place,
let there be light!

Holy and blessèd Three,
glorious Trinity,
Wisdom, Love, Might;
boundless as ocean's tide,
rolling in fullest pride,
through the world far and wide,
let there be light!

Sung to Moscow.

Communion hymn was:

O God, unseen yet ever near,
thy presence may we feel;
and thus inspired with holy fear,
before thine altar kneel.

Here may thy faithful people know
the blessings of thy love,
the streams that through the desert flow,
the manna from above.

We come, obedient to thy word,
to feast on heavenly food;
our meat the body of the Lord,
our drink his precious blood.

Thus may we all thy Word obey,
for we, O God, are thine;
and go rejoicing on our way,
renewed with strength divine.

Sung to St. Flavian.

Post-communion hymn was:

Jesus shall reign where e'er the sun
doth his successive journeys run;
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head;
his Name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song;
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his Name.

Blessings abound where e'er he reigns:
the prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all the sons of want are blest.

Let every creature rise and bring
peculiar honors to our King;
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud Amen.

Sung to Duke Street.

This is kinda cool


You can get a Bible verse that corresponds to your birthday.

Here's mine:

1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.


I love you, PapaC! Here's to a great birthday, and may we share many, many more!

And finally,

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...go here and Draw a Pig. It's also a personality test, and funny. Go ahead, you know you want to do it!

The art sites have been courtesy of Randy Salas and his Bookmark This! column in the Jewish World Review daily newsletter.

Thanks for the fun afternoon, Randy!

Or, you could go here and


.....try to be M.C. Escher! Zman and I have been playing with this one. Move the pen size to small and pick an iteration pattern. Then try writing your name (without picking up the pen) and see what happens. Too fun!

Wanna be an artist?


Go here and you can Be Jackson Pollock. This is too fun! McKid and I are having a ball with this. It starts immediately when you pull it up. Swirl with the mouse and you get lines dripped. Let it sit for a minute and you get blobs. Left click changes color.

Go play!

tso of video meliora recently posted a link to this article at touchstone against cremation. hmmm...

i am terribly claustrophobic and the thought of being locked in a dark box six feet under makes my heart race, my palms sweat, and if i imagine it for too long, i actually hyperventilate. of course, if i was dead, my heart wouldn't be beating and my body wouldn't be sweating or hyperventilating. regardless, the thought makes me ill, so why put myself through it? i've always actually been comforted by the thought that i'll be cremated.

it wasn't even an issue until shortly after i joined the catholic church, and an elderly lady told me that catholics couldn't be cremated as cremation is a grave sin. i was totally shocked. in my naïveté, i couldn't believe that the church would have anything at all to say about how one was buried. so, i quickly did a little research. finding that pagans and "freethinkers" would have their bodies cremated as a sort of "thumb in your eye" to the idea of a resurrected body and the church's horror at such a notice made sense to me. but, then i found that according to the catechism of the catholic church, “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.” and i breathed a very heavy sigh of relief. if the catechism gives me the green light, then i'm good to go. besides, thinking too hard about an emotional subject hurts my brain; so at the time, that was enough for me.

the only time i ever actually argued with anyone about the subject was when my stepbrother died. he wanted to be cremated, but my biological father refused to do it. i was completely appalled that anyone could be so selfish and insensitive. when i went to the funeral and there was my brother's body on display, i confronted my dad for not honoring my brother's final wishes.

dad, how could you not honor his final wishes to be cremated?
because i don't want to burn in this life or the next.
are you kidding me? this isn't about you.
i'm not gonna burn my son. and i won't burn you either.

i walked away essentially hoping that he would die first so that he couldn't cause a fuss. and later, staring at my brother's sunken, waxy body in his casket, knowing that was not what he wanted, made me physically ill. i firmed my resolve to be cremated and actually made sure that everyone close to me knew full-well my wishes to be cremated. it was easy in fact because my mom, my step-father, my husband and i all want to be cremated. and more likely than not, we'll be the ones making arrangements.

but now there's a wrench. my step-father is gravely ill and he still wants to be cremated. some of his family (in-laws, no less) are kicking about it. in fact, one of them told my mom, death is for the living. to my mom's credit she didn't slap the woman, but said, this isn't any of your business. the woman in question argued that, it is our business. we're all family and we should all have a say.

okay, this sort of thinking is totally alien to me. where is this woman coming from? yes, i agree that a wake or a memorial service is for the living -- closure and all that. but the burial itself? i don't think so.

Look at this!

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A Catholic Mom gave me a tip in the comments about this: St. Martin's Episcopal's new church building with its beautiful stained glass windows. Go and look at its website, and look at the beautiful building they have built. Be sure to click on the pages for their stained glass windows. Truly glorious, in my opinion, and really too bad that our Catholic churches, at least in the main, are not anywhere near so wonderful. (Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston is an example of new construction done well, I think. Unfortunately, around here, they are the exception, not the rule.)

Being the "I like the old churches" person that I am, though, I wonder if it would be possible to build a modern church that is not simply a copy of the past, but a modern building done beautifully--with beautiful statues, windows, etc. So many of the modern building fall into "modernism" by using ugly statues in particular. One of the Catholic parishes in our diocese (to remain nameless, since I'm dogging them) built a new sanctuary. It looks like a theater in the round. Even if you could make that work some way, they have filled niches in the outside arc wall with the ugliest statues you can imagine. I was told that the building comittee was going to put in NO statues at all, but one of the big donors was insistent that the Catholic tradition entailed having statues of saints and that he would withdraw his money if there weren't some statues--no sterile "worship space" for him. When the statues were purchased, they were in the "primitive" style--which does not, in fact, match the building itself. If I were that donor, I would have seen it as a slap in the face (which, I think, it was intended to be).

Building a church must be the hardest thing in the world. How do you do something new (and even I realize that new does not necessarily equal bad) without being trendy and stupid? There are a zillion church structures (of all stripes) built in the 60's, 70's and 80's that now look silly because they were trying to look "modern" then.

I'd love for someone to give our church enough money for a new building.

But I'd hate to be on the committee that decided what that building should be.

Fine Art Friday

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A Stained Glass Window of an Angel
Tiffany Studios

Of course, this would be more beautiful in person, because glass art needs the light it was meant for to be its best. But it's still very beautiful, no?

further proof of the feminization of america?

according to an article entitled "How Women Pick Mates vs. Flings" over at yahoo, women judge potential mates by how masculine their features are. well, duh! what alexandre dumas shelled out the big bucks for that research?

what surprizes me most however (aside from the fact that the digitally altered photo at left just looks plain creepy and i cannot imagine anyone choosing him to father anything), is the finding that women [in this survey] felt more comfortable "settling down" with men with more feminine features. ewwwwww.

Overwhelmingly, participants said those with more masculine features were likely to be risky and competitive and also more apt to fight, challenge bosses, cheat on spouses and put less effort into parenting. Those with more feminine faces were seen as good parents and husbands, hard workers and emotionally supportive mates.

so what if a man is competitive? i don't understand why competition is viewed as a vice in this country. i want my man to be competitive, especially when it comes to caring for his cubs. so what if i have to suffer through countless challenges of various games i find mind-numbing? and, i really must confess that the idea of what might pass as an "emotionally supportive" man just gives me the icks.

the idea for this posting was lifted shamelessly from sonja at the kids are all right.

New McKid-ism

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.....or how to know you've been watching too much FoodTV:

McKid's mom has decided to let McKid's hair grow out. McKid has really nice hair, and I'm sure it'll look fab long, but we're in the "I want a ponytail that lays down" but without enough hair to make it lay down phase.

So, every morning before preschool, we go into the bathroom, and MamaT, for whom hairstyling is a supreme challenge, attempts to get a decent looking ponytail into McKid's hair.

Yesterday in the midst of the combing, scraping, tugging and pulling, McKid was playing with the giant "Tub o' Elastics" we have. She was picking them up and sprinkling them back into the bowl.

"Mama, look! Don't I look like Rachael Ray sprinkling this stuff?"

Time to turn off the TV.

The coolest new yarn!

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The afghan that I'm crocheting now is made of cotton yarn. Cool colored cotton yarn, but cotton none the less. I hate crocheting with cotton!!!! There is no "give" in the yarn, and it makes my hands tired to work it. If I crochet for long, my palm of my left hand (which holds the yarn for me to hook into) gets achy. So I can't see the end of this afghan soon enough!

So, I decided to treat myself to some cool new yarn to give me an incentive to push through this afghan and start the next. And here's the cool new yarn I found at JoAnn's:


It's called Baby Bubbles. You can't see so well from the picture, but it is standard baby yarn for a base with largish tufts or tabs of different colors sticking out of it. Because of the tufts, you have to use a much larger hook than you would expect--at least an I hook, which I thought was crazy 'til I did a test sample.

I think I'll just do a baby granny, but all one color. This yarn makes it hard to count stitches, so the easier the pattern the better, I think. Don't know, I'll just have to try and see.

Book #1 of 2007 finished!


Well, that was hard to type. 2007? How can it be that it goes so fast?

Anyway, the busy-ness of the holidays have really slowed down my reading. Well, that and an afghan that I am trying to finish, mostly because I'm tired of it sitting around. So I am pouring lots of time into that.

#1: Cheerfulness Breaks In by Angela Thirkell. Another in Thirkell's Barsetshire series--this time set in the early years of the second World War. While it still has its humor (should I type humour?), and a lot of it, it is a poignant look at what the ramp up to the war would have been like in England. Refugee children moved out of the cities to the country, young men signing up for war, women at home taking on nursing or making blankets or whatever, blackout curtains being installed, rationing beginning to hit. A totally different feel, I would expect, than what it was like here. And through it all a very stiff upper lip, done in the best British way.

Not one of her best--she has too many characters in this one all milling about to give them really enough time--but a very good read if you're a Thirkell fan. Now I have to hunt down another in the series; I've finished all of mine.

The other question for the day is

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......how deep is the mourning at TSO's house this morning after the absolutely hideous performance by the Buckeyes in last night's game? They didn't even look like they belonged on the field with Florida.

Poor guys.

.....that just as our weight loss resolutions get off the ground, the cute little girls from down the street come by to sell us Girl Scout cookies?

Oh, and Smock, are your girls selling them? I have a need for additional boxes for the freezer!

The MamaT Book Awards, 2006 version


Best Book of 2006 (Bookclub category): In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

Best Book of 2006 (Non-bookclub category): The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

Most Discussed Book of 2006: Viper's Tangle by Francois Mauriac. Because we all need to learn that however bad we are, God is seeking us.

Best Find of 2006: Georgette Heyer. Good enough that she actually made me walk into the romance section of our library. And that takes some doing.

Funniest Book of 2006: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Because sometimes you just need to laugh, you know?

Worst Book of 2006: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Just rent the DVD and forget the book.

Best Nonfiction of 2006: Salt of the Earth by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Made me love our new pope even more.

Wish I Could Do That Award, 2006: The Last Good Woman by William Luse

Looking back over the list (which I have put, in full, in the extended entry), it doesn't seem like as meaty a list as some previous years. But then I remember the amount of time I spent in hospital rooms, rehab rooms and chemo infusion rooms this year and I think, "Good enough. Yep. Good enough." On to 2007!

Catching up: Books #54-57 of 2006


The final entries on my 2006 reading list:

#54: The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. Probably the best book of the year, though I'll have to review the whole list before I can say that definitively. This is a gentle story of love, honor, loyalty and betrayal. A beautiful portrayal of steadfastness--not by perfect people, for they are sinners all, but in the face of great odds and great calamity. Very much worth your read--and I would give you a few quotes to entice you, but my sisterfriend has the book so I can't!

#55: Memento Mori by Muriel Spark. I like the way Muriel Spark writes. No excess. No fluff. This is a short novel about old people who begin receiving anonymous phone calls from someone who simply says, "Remember, you must die." It then observes the ways that all these people at the end of their lives react to this reminder. A study of our attitudes toward death: how we try to ignore it, catalog and study it, or accept it. The people most successful at dealing with life were those who "did their dying a little at a time; a little every day." It was worth thinking about. I saw a little of myself in each of the characters.

#56: Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos. This was our December book club book and what a depressing one it was! It is a slow moving tale about Edward Ives--his life, his marriage, his children, and how they are all affected when his son is killed a few days before Christmas. He is a wonderful character, and you feel for him, but it was the exact wrong time of the year to read this. Hijuelos won a Pulitzer for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. I think I'll try that one this year and see if I like it better.

And finally,

#57: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I got this book free when I ordered some other books for Christmas presents for my dad. This book surprised me: I completely expected to hate it, and I didn't! The story is a fable--a tale about Eddie, head of maintenance at an amusement park called Ruby Pier. He is killed on his birthday (his 83rd birthday!) when something goes wrong with a ride. He dies trying to save a little girl in harm's way. When he goes to heaven, he meets five people (some he knows and some he doesn't) who have five lessons to teach him before he can move on. Interesting in the fact that it is a very purgatorial look at the first step in eternal life--whether Mr. Albom realizes it or not. Plus he echoes some of the same themes that Peter Kreeft sounds in his books on dying and heaven: that the getting to fully know ourselves and others will be part of the work (and joy) of Heaven. The book is very short. I read it in an afternoon. But I'd say it was the biggest surprise of 2006--not the best book, but the one I expected the least from and got way more than I expected.

Happy Epiphany, ya'll!


Three great kings on a cold winter night
Found the Baby Jesus, guided by a light.
The first king said, "We've come so far."
The second king said, "We followed a star."
The third king said, "Great gifts we bring."
All together they said, "Great praises to the King!"
So they came and they knelt and they bowed their heads,
And they worshipped Baby Jesus, in His manger bed.

-----from the McKid's preschool

A Charming Quote


“I fish because I love to. Because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly. Because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape. Because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing what they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion. Because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility, and endless patience. Because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time and I for one don’t want to waste the trip. Because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters. Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness. Because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there. Because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid. And finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant — and not nearly so much fun.”

----------------John Voelker

Fine Art Friday


Murnau, the Garden II, 1910

Wassily Kandinsky

I love this, and I love all the things that Kandinsky did like this. If you could see my house, you would understand that I am drawn to strong and forceful colors. This would look perfect on my bright yellow living room walls.

I also like the things like these, which are what I normally think of when I think of this artist. But in a way, these seem cold--almost too "technical" or "industrial". All those perfect circles with lines and arcs. The ones with brighter colors are better, but none of them are something I would buy, even if I had the money. Admire them on a wall somewhere else, yes. Hang them in my own space, no.

Im Blau, 1925

If you want to know something more about this artist, you can go HERE for his Wikipedia entry.

The sweetest Christmas gift

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Generally, PapaC and I do not exchange Christmas gifts. By the time we have gifted everyone else on our lists, there isn't enough money left to buy for one another. After the "year of the heart attack and surgeries", believe me we know that the true gift is that we have one another. I don't believe we will ever forget that!

Because I am also the Treasurer and Altar Guild Directress of my parish, Christmas is a busy time for me. When you add on a cookie exchange with a group of women I really like, the Christmas meeting of book group (with the attendant picking of books), and numerous other small things, sometimes our own Christmas preparation gets put aside, and we don't do the things we should do for ourselves.

This year was kind of like that. Oh, the tree was up and the snowman collection out, but no cards were done (and they never were!). Christmas Day dinner was in hand, but not many of the "treats" that we like to have.

One of those treats for me is a cookie recipe that my Aunt Sissie made all the years of my growing up. Orange slice cookies. They are my favorite. If I knew I were going to die soon and had to pick a last meal, they would be part of it. That's how favorite they are.

But they are a pain to make. The dough is thick, heavy and hard to mix. (And we don't own a stand mixer.) You have to cut up those candy orange slices into little pieces to add to the dough, and no matter what you do (and believe me, I've tried everything!) they stick to the scissors. The food chopper doesn't work. They gum together into a giant orange lump.

Let's just say this. PapaC groans when I talk about them. He hates making them that much.

I came home from a meeting the week before Christmas. Opened the fridge to get a glass of cold water. And what do you think was sitting there? Logs of cookie dough, wrapped in foil, chilling to slice and bake.

He had left my mom and dad's house early, come home and made up the cookie recipe, just so I could have the cookies I love.

The sweetest Christmas gift.

Oh, and on top of that? He also gave me this--he says he didn't--that Santa brought it--but I know the truth!

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, RIP

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I read on the First Things site this morning about the death of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. I first learned about her when I read her 1995 book, Feminism is Not the Story of My Life. She was an academic, and author, and, importantly to me, a convert to Catholicism. She was on the editorial board of First Things and occasionally wrote pieces for them. Here's a snippet from her conversion story, as quoted by Joseph Bottum:

“A decisive moment in my journey in faith came when, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, the thought pierced me that Jesus had died for my sins. And, immediately on its heels, came the devastating recognition that I am not worth his sacrifice. Only gradually have I come truly to understand that the determination of worth belongs not to me but to him. God’s love for us forever exceeds our control and challenges our understanding. Like faith, it is His gift, and our task is to do our best to receive it.”


“The knowledge, even when partial and imperfect, that He loves us also opens us to new responsibilities and obligations. For if He loves us all, He also loves each of us. And recognition of that love imposes on us the obligation to love one another, asking no other reason than God’s injunction to do so. As fallen human creatures, we are nonetheless likely to continue to search for human reasons that justify our loving service to those in whom we find little or no obvious redeeming value. And the best human reason may be found in the faith that God has freely given us: our nonjudgmental love of the other remains the condition of God’s love for us. For, knowing how little we merit His love, our best opening to the faith that He does lies not in the hope of being better than others, but in the security that His love encompasses even the least deserving among us.”

Book club reading list for 2007

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So much has happened since I wrote anything substantial on the Mamas, I guess I'll just have to kind of back up and start where I left off.

We had our December meeting of the Inkblots, my book club, the week before Christmas. December is an important meeting for us, because we set the calendar and selections for the next year. Everyone came with some suggestions, and so I think we have a nice mixed bag of things to read for next year:

January: Mother Angelica by Raymond Arroyo. I've already read this one, but no one else had. It's definitely worth the read, but now I can't find my copy (surely I didn't check it out of the library, did I?) and have to buy a new one.

February: Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt. This one was my suggestion. It has been on so many "must read" lists that I've lost count. I worry that that means that I will hate it, being the contrarian that I am. One less book to buy, as I already own this one.

March: The Cave by Jose Saramago. Picked by our "retired English teacher" member. It will either be great or terrible. Her choices have always left us either blown away or scratching our heads.

April: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. Recommended by a member of the group who said, "I hated it when this book ended." A memoir with recipes.

May: The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin. We wanted to read a couple of selections from the Loyola Classics imprint; this is one of our choices for the year. All of us have seen (and loved) the movie. We hope that the book will be even better. But we may all watch the movie again at the May meeting.

June: Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. Nazis and a dwarf. Another selection by our retired teacher. I got a copy for Christmas. Now it'll sit in the "to read" pile for a couple of months. This was an Oprah book club selection, so us picking it violated one of the founding rules of the group: "No Oprah books". Ah, well, Oprah also picked A Fine Balance which is one of the finest books I've read in the past few years, so she has an OK track record by me.

July: The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer. A short book, by an author I really like, because of what we're reading in August!

August: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. I have mixed feelings about Merton, and I read this several years ago. I'll have to re-read this one, it's been too long.

September: Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. I read this years ago, upon recommendation of my priest. It was good, but another I'll have to re-read. I also have to re-buy, since I apparently gave my copy away. I'm bad about that.

October: Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden. This one is being reissued by the Loyola Classics folks. We loved In This House of Brede so much that we couldn't wait to put this one on the list.

November: The Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien. A book just out, set in Ireland. We're waiting until the end of the year, hoping it'll come out in paperback, or at least get enough used copies to make it affordable through Alibris or the Amazon used book sellers.

December: The Saintmaker's Christmas Eve by Paul Horgan. We read Things As They Are by this author in 2006. While he won Pulitzers for his history writing, he is also pretty darn good at fiction. Plus we wanted something "Christmas-y" in December.

There you have it. Any of you read any of these?

Hi All! Happy 2007!

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Today is the last day of PapaC's vacation, so it'll be tomorrow before I start posting again. We're having a fun time just chillin'--watching TV (lots of football, lots of HGTV premieres), lots of videos (Little Miss Sunshine and, heaven help us, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) and finishing up our last heavenly bites of unhealthy food before beginning the annual "We Gotta Lose Weight" attempt. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, this year we really have to do it.

Ah, well. It's all good. Tomorrow I'll start writing about books and hymns and the McKid.

Bless you all!



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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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