January 2008 Archives

hey, i'm not proud


some of you have written asking why the smock is MIA. well, to make a long story short, i'm a'trainin' for the avon walk for breast cancer. uh-yup that raht. believe it or no, on april 12 - 13, i'll spend the weekend walking, along with bunches of other people, in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. lord willin' i'll make the entire walk (a marathon and a half at 39 miles). of course, iffin i hurl up my lungs afor it's all said and done, that's okay, too. regardless, i will be walking in honor of my sister, charlene, who is herself a breast cancer survivor.


and, hey, I'm not proud, i'll kiss your rosy red American cyber butts iffin you'll support my upcoming walk. click here to view my personal page & make a donation today, y'all.

Interesting short article....

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.....in Touchstone, by Christopher Hall, a Lutheran Pastor, called "Baby Pew Sitters". Here are a few quotes:

We don't, and will never, offer children's church in the church I pastor, because the alternative--"adult church"?--is not just for adults. Worship is not simply a rational intellectual exercise appealing to the hearing and understanding of adults. Nor is it a postmodern, emotional, narrative experience, that, well, also appeals to adults.

It is an encounter with the Triune God, which does not depend upon our own mental faculties (or lack thereof) or upon our emotional backgrounds, baggage, or preferences. The Word of God works, despite our sin, despite our cognitive ability, despite our age and experience.


God is no respecter of persons. Babies are welcome in my sanctuary even as they are welcome in Jesus' arms. He loves them. It's that simple.


....the shrieks of a toddler, the clunk of toys hitting the floor, the incessant scratching of pencils coloring in the bulletins--these are the beautiful noises of a family, of the Body of Christ. All of us who have been mystically united with Christ are given faith, the gift of the Spirit, the active, powerful Word.

God serves us with his supernatural gifts, and they do not depend on our age, intelligence, or capacities. God does not show favoritism toward those who can speak or those who are developed enough to pay attention for fifteen-minute or fifty-minute sermons. For we all enter the Body, becoming members of the Body the same way: through the gracious action of our God, despite our works, our abilities, and our sins.

The next time you are distracted by a baby (and hey, how about offering a hand to that struggling young mother?) or a toddler, just think of this:

When PapaC and I first moved back to the Metroplex, we were members of the Disciples of Christ. Every Disciples church is different--each calls its own minister and sets its own tone--so one church may be quite conservative, another really liberal. You have to visit each one to see if you can find one where you belong. We went first to a big downtown church close to where I had worked. A beautiful old building, with loads of space and lots of classrooms and meeting rooms and a refectory/kitchen that was fabulous.


The congragation was tiny. Many had moved out to suburban churches. Many had left this relatively liberal congregation for other places more suitable to them. When we visited, with Zack just a toddler, every member of that congregation came up to us, fawned over Zachary, wanted us to join.


"My dear, it's been so LONG since we had young'uns. We'd love to hear the laughter of a child."

Or, I suspect, the crying.

So, the next time you're in church, hearing the beautiful noise of FAMILY, think of that sweet white-haired lady's words. If you've got a lot of kids, your parish isn't dying. It's living.

And that, sweet reader, is a good thing.

Booking Through Thursday

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An interesting question, and one that I don't have an answer to right off the bat:

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

I would think Agatha McGee, from Jon Hassler's work, would strike some as an "eccentric" character. I love her, and she has come to be part of our "family language." Agatha is a retired school teacher and sees many new things as the coming of the Dark Ages. Since I often agree with her, my sister and I call each other, saying, "I'm having an Agatha Moment!" and then go on to relate some thing that makes us shake our heads.

I'll try to think of other eccentric characters and update later. I suppose I'd say weirdness for the sake of weirdness or shock irritates me. As a part of a fully developed character, I like it.

Whatcha Reading? Wednesday

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I am currently in the midst of our book group's selection for February: The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Probably not written as such, but it is a very pro-life book. Beginning in the early 60's, it is the story of a doctor/father who is forced to deliver his own child(ren) during a snowstorm that keeps the young couple from making it to the hospital. What was assumed to be one child turns out to be twins. But the second baby has a problem--she is a Down's Syndrome baby. He makes the radical decision not to "burden" his wife with this ongoing issue, and gives the baby to the nurse to commit to an institution. Then he tells his wife there was another baby, but she died. All that happens in the first chapter, so I'm not spoiling anything for you. The rest of the book deals with the fallout from that on all three remaining members of the family--father, mother and "surviving" twin son.

I've also dipped into Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I liked his Into Thin Air, which I read a couple of years ago. This one is the basis for the movie that was released last year--about a young man who hiked into Alaska, thinking to be "one with nature" or some such, and ended up starving to death in the wilderness. Not too far in, yet, so I have no opinion formed.

Hope you're reading something good!

this is what happens when a two year old decides to make himself a "little something" after everyone else has gone to bed.

Update on the decluttering process

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You know how I told you I had to start with my books? Well, that part (at least the books on the shelves) is done. I haven't tackled the books in boxes yet. Those are mostly kid books and I'll see to them in the next few weeks. They are in for the same heavy culling that the others were.

We've also had a little moving around here. Zman has moved in with his grandparents, and a lovely young woman, hereafter known as TBC, has moved IN with us. This meant going through all of Zman's stuff--piece by piece--and clearing out huge amounts of it. He sold some books at 1/2 Price Books. We sent about 10 bags of "stuff" on to Goodwill. He's lighter than he was.

But now the whole REST of the house is in a mess. Things have been stacked up here, there and yon, waiting to be put SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE. Every room in this house is going to be ruthlessly attacked at some point over the next few weeks.

But I still wonder, as I bag up stuff that I paid good money for, only to be giving it away later.

How do I keep this from happening again?

It's really making me feel humble--and more than a little stupid--that I've been so, so, so INEFFICIENT with my money.

I suppose that's what fresh starts are for. I don't want any new stuff until some of my old stuff is worn out or used up or too big (hallelujah!) or SOMETHING. My grandparents knew this. I guess they learned it during the depression, and held onto it the rest of their lives.

Me on the other hand? Wasteful. Truly wasteful.

It's not pretty, ya'll.

Love means loving the unlovable - or it is no virtue at all.

----------------G. K. Chesteron

Pretty Shoe Tuesday!

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Well, maybe if I had all the money IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD I might look at something like this. I like 'em, but come on! They're more than I spent on CLOTHES last year! Yikes!


Matthew 6:27:

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

That's My Answer! Monday


Which food would you rank first on your list of least favorite foods?

Any weirdo meat that they use on the original Iron Chef. Erik may like it, but I'm not eatin' stuff like intestines or brains or stuff like that. Sorry. It could taste divine, and I'd never know, 'cause I'm never, ever, ever trying it. Well, unless I'm starving. And it'd take a LONG time for me to get there......

Yesterday's hymns:


The people that in darkness sat
a glorious light have seen;
the Light has shined on them who long
in shades of death have been.

To hail thee, Sun of Righteousness,
the gathering nations come,
their joy when the reapers bear
their harvest treasures home.

For thou their burden dost remove,
and break the tyrant's rod,
as in the day when Midian fell
before the sword of God.

For unto us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and on his shoulder ever rests
all power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace
the everlasting Lord,
the Wonderful, the Counselor,
the God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
shall over all extend;
on judgment and on justice based,
his reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
and make us thine alone,
who with the Father ever art
and Holy Spirit One.

Sung to Dundee at SMV, though it fits with many others.

Offertory was this one, written by John Greenleaf Whittier. My favorite line is Re-clothe us in our rightful mind, a powerful reminder of what we are supposed to be, but are not.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love!
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.

Sung to Repton.

Offertory was this:

My God, and is thy table spread,
and doth thy cup with love o'erflow?
Thither be all thy children led,
and let them thy sweetness know.

Hail, sacred feast, which Jesus makes,
rich banquet of his Flesh and Blood!
Thrice happy he who here partakes
that sacred stream, that heavenly food.

Why are its bounties all in vain
before unwilling hearts displayed?
Was not for them the Victim slain?
Are they forbid the children's bread?

O let thy table honored be,
and furnished well with joyful guests;
and may each soul salvation see
that here its sacred pledges tastes

Sung to the tune Rockingham.

Post-communion hymn was They Cast Their Nets in Galilee, but it is still under copyright, so I can't post it!

So, now, everyone pick one and sing!

This week's FAF entry is done in honor of Smockmomma. Without her, I never would have looked any further into this artist's work, and would have told you that I liked NOTHING that he painted. Well, that's just not true for me any longer.

This week we'll look at work by Salvador Dali.

When you think of Dali, if you're like me, you think of this painting. I don't much care for it, and it's what I judged all his work by.


Persistence of Memory

Or, maybe, you think of this one, which I like much better than the one above, but still......


Rose Meditative

But then Smock showed me this picture, and it's a whole different thing:


Person at the Window

And then there's this beautiful image:


Muchacha de Espalda

But it is his religiously themed works that I am really drawn to, even when I don't exactly understand his sybolism. Take this one:

Madonna of Port Lligat

And there is this one, which I have posted before. I love this. It is, of course, a "reminiscence" of the famous Millet painting "The Angelus". I simply gasped when I saw it the first time.

Reminiscence Archelogique

And then there are his crucifixion images. This one I love the juxtaposition of the traditional Mary at the foot of the cross with the modern cubic cross:

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)

And then this one, which, to me, speaks of the loneliness of the cross:

Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Finally, here is the image that started all my looking at Dali. The image that hangs in Smock's house, and I have to stand and look at everytime I go over:


The Sacrament of the Last Supper

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Booking Through Thursday

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Today's question:

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

Hmmmm. I'll have to think about this. Off the bat, I'd say Staggerford or The Love Hunter by Jon Hassler.

Second thought would be Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Everyone's heard of Lewis, but not many have read what I consider to be one of his best works.

Miz Booshay's Love/Hate Meme


Since my projects drag on (and on, and on, and on), I'm taking a break to post something mindless. Well, not exactly mindless, but there aren't any numbers in it! Yee haw!

I love to eat: popcorn with butter, grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm high class, ya'll!
I hate to eat: asparagus or green peas. For asparagus it's a smell thing. For peas, a texture thing.

I love to go: to Half-Price Books or the library. What did you think I would say?
I hate to go: to the dentist or to diocesan meetings. Make that meetings of any kind.

I love it when: McKid and Zman are laughing and running through the house.
I hate it when: it is gray and cloudy but refuses to actually DO anything other than be depressingly gray and cloudy.

I love to see: incense rising toward the ceiling at church.
I hate to see: baby diapers left on the parking lot at Target.

I love to hear: Zman and his dad watching football and "discussing" the referees.
I hate to hear: someone writing with a mechanical pencil on paper.

Anyone else?

Whatcha Reading? Wednesday


Let's see. I finished These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. And about that last: While I was interested in the first two sections (Eat (of course) and Pray), the book fell apart in the final third for me. The author goes off to Bali to find "balance" in her life (oh, would that we could all jet off to foreign destinations when we're "out of balance"). But in the end it turns out that she falls in love with a Brazilian ex-pat and the story devolves into a paean about the glories of sex with this guy. Um. OK.

Now I am in the midst of another one of those books that everyone seemed to like at the time it came out. I'm late to the party on this one: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. So far I'm not terribly impressed, though I know it was almost universally well reviewed when it came out.

I also picked up Hillaire Belloc's Essays of a Catholic to read, but I'm only on the first essay.

Pretty Shoes Tuesday

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Until I can get back, here's something pretty to look at:


Anne Klein "Foxie"

OOOOOOOOH, just yummy! Pink and orange patent. Not a bad price either. I have nothing to wear with them but I wish I did. Maybe a black dress? Then these yummy shoes? Screaming!

Note that they come in other cool colors, too: the black and white is especially nice. Mmmmmmm.

Working hard on a couple of projects.....


......and posting will continue to be light!

That's My Answer! Monday


When was the last time you threw a major fit and what was it about?

I, my dear, do NOT throw fits. We Southern ladies do not throw Donald Duck fits. Though we want to. All the time.

You can tell the McKid's from TEXAS


We had pudding this past weekend, and she was eating with us.

"Who wants pudding?"

"I do, I do!"

"Here's your pudding baby."

"Hey, can I have some whup cream on it?"


"Whup cream. I want whup cream."

Oh, my.

Fine Art Friday - The Letter C

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Which, of course, will stand for my beloved Caravaggio!

I first learned to love him looking at this painting over at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth. It was this secular image that drew me in:


The Cardsharps

Then, during a Lenten series held at our parish, an art professor brought slides of many of Caravaggio's paintings and did a talk on him and his vision as expressed in his art. I was simply in love. So, here are a few of my beloveds. I am not including my favorite, The Calling of Saint Matthew because I have run it several times before.


Adoration of the Shepherds

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Saint Francis in Meditation


Saint Jerome

Note: that last is a true favorite, because our homeschool was called Saint Jerome Academy. A copy of this was posted on our bulletin board.

i hate school projects. what the hell are they for anyway? i'm trying very hard to be cool about this; but we have so many projects going on right now that i'm in major need of some serious ice cream therapy or i'm going to sell all of my smocklings to the gypsies. one of the younguns walked in and handed me a five page piece of crap.

what's this?
my project.
when was this assigned?
a week ago.
when did you start working on it?
[painful pause]
are you proud of this?
[pained but silent expression]
this is crap. you know that, right?
i don't think it's crap. . .exactly.

prayers are appreciated.

Booking Through Thursday


Good question(s) this week:

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

I was going to say that reviews don't really affect me, but that's not strictly true. Reviews in my daily newspaper don't affect me at all. I rarely read them. And while I read through the reviews of books in People magazine or in my other beloved women's mags, I still never rush out and read a book because of them.

That said, though, articles in Touchstone, First Things and the late Crisis have led me to finding authors like John Hassler and to reanimating my desire to read Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy.

I will say that a bad review has never kept me from reading a book that I wanted to read.

Summa Shoes!

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These are so cute! I think we each need a pair, Smock. Unfortunately, the $311 pricetag will probably keep us from having them, but I can dream!

Whatcha Reading? Wednesday

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I continue to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book group this month. Here's another little excerpt:

I am so surprised sometimes to notice that my sister is a wife and a mother, and I am not. somehow I always thought it would be the opposite. I thought it would be me who would end up with a houseful of muddy boots and hollering kids, while Catherine would be living by herself, a solo act, reading alone at night in her bed. we grew up into different adults than anyone might have foretold when we were children. It's better this way, though, I think. Against all predictions, we've each created lives that tally with us. Her solitary nature means she needs a family to keep her from loneliness; my gregarious nature means I will never have to worry about being alone, even when I am single.

This is another one of those paragraphs that struck me as true for me. I look around my life, with the whirl of activities, people and sheer "things to do" and think, "How did a loner get so involved in all this stuff?"

But then I have to admit that God's plans are better than mine would have been. (Why I am always surprised about this is another question!) He has given me the things that have made me happy, and they are not what I would have ever considered doing/being/having when I was so wise (ahem) at 18 or 20 or 25.

I'm finding a lot that's interesting in Eat, Pray, Love. More than I thought I would when I picked up the book. Do I agree with her spiritual path? Oh, no. She's one of those "we all believe the same, deep down" folks. And I think that is manifestly untrue. BUT, her questions, her seeking, her drive for a relationship with God? THAT I can empathize with and see myself in. I don't think it's always necessary for us to agree with an author to get something out of the book.

I'm not necessarily recommending the book. But I am saying it's not being a bad read.


I'm also reading These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. It's fab, as always.

And I'm fixing to start (that's a Texas colloquialism, ya know) a biography of Padre Pio for my spiritual reading.

Hope you're reading something good!

That other awful word!

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What word? Obedience, that's what word.

God is pounding hard on me right now. Mostly, I think, because I'm whining and he is telling me what to do to fix what I'm whining about. And he's making me start with the hardest thing first. Not my natural inclination.

Let me back up a bit. I go to adoration every Friday. Have done for years. Wouldn't miss it. It's the still center point of my week.


Sometimes I learn things that I would rather not learn. Ain't that always the way?

One time, Smock asked me, "Doncha just HATE it when God whaps you upside the head in the grocery store?"

Yeah, but mostly he does his whapping on me during adoration.

Over the years I have done many things at adoration. I've prayed the rosary. I've fallen asleep (and no, I'm not ashamed of that). I've read spiritual books. I've just sat in the presence of God and been still. Once I took my budget in--during a particularly hard time several years ago, when we had mounting medical bills and a not equally mounting salary--and let God look at it. (Hey, Mother Angelica did the same thing with EWTN's bills. I'm in good company!)

Last Friday I finished the biography of the Cure of Ars that I had been reading. I wept myself silly at the end of the book, comparing his holiness with my worldliness. Not a pretty picture. As I gradully controlled myself, I began telling God, "I need more space in my life. I need more physical space. I need more mental space. I need more space in time. Help me find space."

And sure as anything, words came to me. And I know they're not MY words, 'cause they are absolutely the last words I would have chosen to say to myself.

Start with your books.


Start with your books. Get rid of a lot. You don't have to own everything you've read.

Can't I start with something else? Give me a break here.

Start with your books. Do the hardest thing first. You want space. MAKE space.

So, I went home, shaken to the core. Stood in front of my shelves.


How 'bout I start with my closets?

Start with your books.

So, what good does it do me to ask, if I won't do what I'm told?

So, I'm starting with the books. My library will be substantially smaller. I'm keeping only those books I adore. Those books I can see myself opening again. It surprised me, once I got the guts to start, how many books I was keeping that I thought were just OK. Or books that I liked, but that I KNOW I'll never touch again. Why was I hanging on to those?

Now, my unread shelves of books are WAY more numerous than my "read and keeping" pile. I still have years of reading to get through what I've bought. But I know that many of those will be read, enjoyed and passed on, not kept.

It's hard. It's really, really hard. But my heart is lifting. Losing those books has made me feel a thousand times lighter. And this time? I know I'm not going back to my old ways. How do I know it? Not sure. Couldn't tell you exactly. But I know it in a way that is certain.

The going away pile has way more than 100 books in it right now. Roughly 20% of the books in the house. And PapaC is taking it all to Half Price Books tonight. Because I can't trust myself to have them hang around while friends come to look through them. I'm in danger of putting them right back where they were. And where they're not supposed to be.

It's a lesson to me.

Don't ask, if you don't want to hear.

Don't ask, if you don't want to do.

I'm just sayin'.....

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....There's not much cuter than PapaC and the McKid bunny-hopping through the living room, with PapaC providing the music.

From This Weekend's Reading


Letting go, of course, is a scary enterprise for those of us who believe that the world revolves only because it has a handle on the top of it which we personally turn, and that if we were to drop this handle for even a moment, well--that would be the end of the universe. But try dropping it. This is the message I'm getting. Sit quietly for now and cease your relentless participation. Watch what happens. The birds do not crash dead out of the sky in mid-flight, after all. The trees do not wither and die, the rivers do not run red with blood. Life continues to go on.......Why are you so sure that your micromanagement of every mooment in this whole world is so essential? Why don't you let it be?

---------------------Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

That D Word!

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....Discipline, you know. The self version of which I am sorely lacking. And something that I always, but always need to work on.

The holidays were fun, but way more spendy than we had intended. You know, a case of "Oh, I need to get a little something for XYZ. That'd be cute!" And another bit of $$ on the card or out of the account.

So, over those same holidays, after the feasting and such had abated, PapaC and I began to discuss how we might approach our spending in the new year. The fact that Lent hits so early this year made it easy for us to tie right into what we wanted to do during Lent anyway.

So, we made the decision to try to buy NOTHING that was not NECESSARY for the first three months of 2008. We're trying to buy gas and groceries, and whatever few other things must be purchased. But no new clothes, no eating out, no movies (unless we're using our Christmas gift certificates), no nada.

We've got a few birthdays during that time, so there will be a few fun purchases. But it's limited to those specifically intended occasions. Even in the grocery store I'm trying to buy the minimum of what will keep us happy (and away from the restaurants and fast food joints) while using up what's already in the freezer.

Let me tell you something. This isn't easy! I am used to dropping a few bucks here and a few bucks there, without even thinking about it. And though I've never considered myself a real frugal genius (though I was, back in the day when I had to be), I didn't realize just how much money sort of leaked away.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Fine Art Friday - The Letter B Edition


Today's images are all by artist Jay Bonifield. His website is here. And he's from Lawton, Oklahoma. Not quite as good as Texas, but it is our next door neighbor!


Real World




It Is Good


His Love

Booking Through Thursday

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Such good questions today!

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

One of my favorite authors, as anyone who has read this blog long knows, is Jon Hassler. I read an article about him years ago in either Crisis or Touchstone, I can't remember which. The article was a review of his work that was so positive that it glowed. So, I took the suggestion to book club, and we picked his book Staggerford as part of our reading list.

We were, one and all, simply blown away by the book. One of the finest books I'd read in a long time. The love was immediate. I then started collecting his other books, a couple of which I've still not read, simply because I like knowing there is something fabulous to read on my shelves if I get stuck.

Oddly enough, Hassler led me to two other good writers, simply because they had blurbs on the back of Hassler's books saying how great he was. I thought if they shared my taste in him, then I might like their works. That's how I started reading Richard Russo and Howard Frank Mosher. Three good authors. All from one magazine article.

Whatcha Reading? Wednesday


I'm still reading Trollope, but I had to put it aside for a bit to read my book group January selection, so that I can pass it on if I need to. So, I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

This was funny last night:

I'm bad (or, rather, lazy) at researching a place before I travel, tending to show up and see what happens. when you travel this way, what typically "happens" is that you end up spending a lot of time standing in the middle of the train station feeling confused, or dropping way too much money on hotels because you don't know better. My shaky sense of direction and geography means I have explored six continents in my life with only the vaguest idea of where I am at any given time. Aside from my cockeyed internal compass, I also have a shortage of personal coolness, which can be a liability in travel. I have never learned how to arrange my face into that blank expression of competent invisibility that is so useful when traveling in dangerous, foreign places. You know--that super-relaxed, totally-in-charge expression which makes you look like you belong there, anywhere, everywhere, even in the middle of a riot in Jakarta. Oh, no. when I don't know what I'm doing, I look like I don't know what I'm doing. When I'm excited or nervous, I look excited or nervous. And when I am lost, which is frequently, I look lost. My face is a transparent transmitter of my every thought. As Daniel once put it, "You have the opposite of poker face. You have, like . . . miniature golf face."

And that's exactly ME. When I went to Rome, I set out one afternoon, misjudging how late it was and how far I had to walk, to go to Santa Maria in Trastevere. By the time I got there, it was too dark to really see anything, though it wasn't very late. In those narrow, winding streets, it gets dusky FAST. Then when I left, I got turned around and ended up walking through all these little streets, getting what seemed like further and further from anything I'd ever seen befrore. I was doing the whole "look confident" thing, but I'm sure it wasn't working.

I've never been so relieved to hit a major street in my life. Of course, I'm also map challenged, so it took me a big cup of tea and a long time poring over my folded and refolded map until I figured out that I was sitting at a cafe on THE BIGGEST STREET MARKED ON THE MAP!


I made it back to the convent without having to try to converse with an Italian policeman. And I never admitted that I got so lost.

I pretended that I looked confident. But I'm sure every old Italian lady I passed in those neighborhoods thought, "What is that crazy American woman doing walking along here?"


This has the most wonderful smell when you hold the steaming cup in your hands. And the taste, with just a touch of honey (or, in my case, Splenda) is yummy! I assume it will NOT be in the stores much longer, so I'm going to go find any that remains to have the rest of the winter.

that's the smock's nano, but not her hand.

did i mention that for christmas i finally received an ipod nano? remember when mamaT was so excited last year because she finally got an mp3 player? well, i was an even later bloomer than she! anyway, now that i have an itunes account, i'm trying to fill the pod. any suggestions?


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An antique purse. I think it is beautiful. LOVE the design on the leather and the little tag hanging off it. My mom has had this for years.



Happy Epiphany, ya'll! When you have a 5 year old helping with your nativity scene, this is what it looks like after you put the 3 kings out.

"Look, Mama! They can all see Baby Jesus!"

And you know that it really did look more like this than the artfully arranged version, with everyone facing out, that I usually set up!


i hate to admit it, but i absolutely love this crap. it appeals to the retro-lover in me. of course, it's not a new phenomenon, but it is gaining popularity. i'm sure you've seen them at barnes and noble and other cushy book stores: these artsy retro pics with pulp quotes. i used to have to go to chronicle books for such delightful trash, but now it's everywhere. and it even has a name: retro humor. i swear there were at least three calendars sporting retro-suburban vitriol that i wanted to buy this year, but didn't want to have to explain to the smocklings. i did get a fab address book that sports some good ones.




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This is not a good picture at all, but I love the subject. This will be the first year that I actually have to wash the tree skirt. Lucky Dog has decided that her favorite place to sleep is under the Christmas tree. More favorite even than the Zman's room. We don't know what will happen when we take the tree down tomorrow. She is at least 11 years old, and this is the first year she has decided to do this. She also likes to stand up under the tree, and scratch her back on the branches. This leads to falling ornaments, so we have had to move breakable ones higher up. And we thought children were the danger to the tree!

From yesterday's reading:


Ars was not artistic. Even Croce or impeccable Ruskin would admit there is no record of anyone getting to heaven on the merits of good taste, and it seems that the world's holiest shrines can be the world's tawdriest. Shrines, after all, are the Church's kitchens, not her dining rooms.

-----------The Cure of Ars Today by Fr. Rutler

Fine Art Friday - The Letter A


I've decided to focus my FAF entries a little--I'm going to find an example I like by an artist whose name begins with consecutive letters for the next, um, 26 weeks. That is, if there is something I like by an artist whose name starts with a Q!

Anyway, today's artist is James Audubon. And the first picture should be an obvious choice if you know me at all:


American Flamingo

I couldn't leave you with a picture of just one ridiculous bird, now could I? So I found a picture of another completely silly bird, again captured by Audubon:

Roseate Spoonbill


Rooster and Shadow

I like this picture, because it is cool looking, even though it's a mistake. It's wasn't done with sepia tone stuff or black and white selected on my camera. It's just a weird quirk of light. Anyway, just goes to show that even mistakes can be pretty sometimes!

smockpicks for flicks of 2007

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as you know, i devour films like mamaT devours books. since smockdaddy and i insist on having date nights at least two or three times a month, we see a lot of movies. here are my thoughts on the flicks i've seen in 2007. i'm pretty sure that this list is exhaustive -- if i've missed anything surely it is because it was excruciatingly unremarkable.

there are several 2007 films that i still want to see that either (a) have yet to be released in my area, namely there will be blood, before the devil knows you're dead, margot at the wedding, the savages, and the diving bell and the butterfly, or (b) i just haven't made time to see, namelly into the wild and the great debaters.

movies in bold are my top picks. movies in italics are either already on my DVD shelves or they will be.

(The Number) 23 - An interesting flick that ran off the rails. Sadly predictable. DVD worthy iffin you're a Carrey fan.

28 Weeks Later - Proof that sequels can be better than an already incredible original. Dare I say that this is a horror flick with heart? Robert Carlyle is in rare form. smockwarning: Ubergory but remarkable! If the horror genre holds any appeal whatsoever for you, you must see this movie.

30 Days of Night - Proof that ubergore can be uberirritating and uberstupid. Possibly the absolute worst horror flick of our time.

300 - Incredible eye candy in every possible sense of the word.

3.10 to Yuma - Sexy and moral. What a combination! Proof that Christian Bale is one of my top 10 actors with good reason.

Alvin and the Chipmunks - Cuter and less annoying than expected.

American Gangster – Denzel being Denzel as a gangster. DVD worthy iffin you’re a Washington fan.

Beowulf – The definitive “Please don’t judge a book by it’s movie” flick. Sucked on so many levels I don’t know where to begin…

Blades of Glory – Laugh-out-loud guilty pleasure.

Bourne Ultimatum – A great guy flick. Further proof that sequels can surpass originals.

The Brave One – A deep and beautiful moral dilemma. Super intense.

Breach - For a film that is based on a true story, this was surprisingly powerful.

Bridge to Terabithia – Smockdaddy wept. Need I say more?

Bug – This year’s most underrated nail-biter. Very moving and heartbreaking, not to mention terribly disconcerting.

Charlie Wilson's War – Hilarious! Who cares about historical accuracy when you have Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and Philip Seymore Hoffman on the same screen? Southern-fried and very tasty.

Dan in Real Life – I love Steve Carrell, but … yawn.

Disturbia – I loved this movie – but only as Rear Window.

Enchanted – Delightful fun for the wee ones.

Fracture – Even the smock missed this plot twist, which is saying much. Superb acting, but if you really want to see Ryan Gosling give the performance of his career, see him in Lars and the Real Girl.

Evan Almighty – Endearing little flick. Another sequel that works.

Hairspray – Better, cuter and funnier than the original. A ton of fun (pun intended) and clever. John Waters on happy pills.

I Am Legend – I already treasured this movie as the Charlton Heston B-movie, Omega Man, so I was biased going in to the movie. I do not care for how “un-human” the zombies are in this version, but Will Smith gives a superior performance.

Juno – I laughed through tears almost the entire time. My #3 pick of 2007. The wit in this movie is outstanding. Accidentally moral, yet intellectually honest. (smockspoiler: smockdaddy saw it coming from a mile away while smockmomma was in total denial. Jason Bateman fans beware!)

The Kingdom – Three words: intense, intense, intense. Not for the faint of heart. Bateman steals this movie.

Knocked Up – The “grown-up” version of Juno but far less intelligent and much more crass. Wait, maybe it’s more like a fraternity version of Juno. Another guilty pleasure.

Lars and the Real Girl – Hands down the #1 movie of 2007. No, of the new millennium. And, yes, it is that fabulous. This screenplay is nothing short of genius and the acting is gi-normously moving. Ryan Gosling received a Golden Globe nod for his poignant performance, but I suspect that the Academy would never advertise a movie this catholic in nature. Tender and marvelous on so many levels, words fail.

Live Free or Die Hard – smockdaddy fell asleep, but as far as testosterone flicks go, it kept me awake.

The Lives of Others - Stasi spy becomes voyeur becomes human. One of the best foreign flicks I've seen in a very long time. smockwarning: mature content.

Love in the Time of Cholera – A beautiful love story that is almost as long as the book. I’m just grateful that I saw Javier Bardem as the lover in this film before I saw him as the eerily believable psychopathic killer in No Country. I wouldn’t have been able to stomach it otherwise.

Meet the Robinsons – I fell asleep but the kids enjoyed it.

Michael Clayton -- Wonderful. Tom Wilkinson remains one of my all time favorites. Tilda Swindon at her chilliest. Morality tale extraordinaire.

Mr. Brooks – What the hell happened here?

No Country for Old Men – My #2 choice of 2007. A very nihilistic snapshot of life in America – probably McCarthy’s [their screenplay is based on his book] – regardless, the Coen brother’s are back to their roots with this one (think Blood Simple, not O Brother Where Art Thou?). For a couple of Yankee boys they sure have Southern down pat. Tommy Lee Jones is brilliant as always. Javier Bardem portrays his character so well; he played a recurring role in my nightmares for almost a week. A very visceral and exceptionally intelligent film. Kudos to the boys for not succumbing to a typical Hollywood ending. Smockwarning: Even more graphic than Sweeney Todd. Shiver.

Ratatouille – Not bad. Overrated, but not bad.

Rescue Dawn – This movie didn’t have the backing it deserved. Shockingly a-political for a Vietnam bio-pic. Yet again, our Christian Bale is grossly underrated as an actor. His performance in Dawn is second only to his tour de force, The Machinist.

Shrek the Third – Um, no. Even the kids lost interest in this one.

Simpson's Movie – HA! HA!

Stardust - Heavy sigh. There’s an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back.

Surf's Up – Kids enjoyed it.

Sweeney Todd – Three words: Fab. You. Lust. Very bloody, but a real toe-tapper, nonetheless. Tim Burton is brilliant. He takes great pains to make his blood palatable [read, it's not really blood-red blood; it actually looks fake -- on purpose i'm guessing -- it was less painful to watch than the bodies dropping down to the boiler room]. Burton and his cast deserve Oscar nods at the very least. Try the priest.

Underdog - Silly. Fun for kids.

Waitress – Hmmm … I remember thinking that I liked this picture when I saw it, but it’s sadly forgettable. The curmudgeon at the diner is the only character of note.

Inkblots reading list for 2008!

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We figure that the Inkblots, my reading group, has been reading together for more than 7 years now. That seems impossible. But now we are starting to get the idea of how groups stay in business for 25 years or more. You just keep coming.

Our December meeting is about exchanging gifts and picking the new books for next year. I love it, but that's because I'm bossy and I love making lists. So, we chose our twelve books. And now it's up to me to order them in some way, mixing in the sad with the funny, fiction with nonfiction, etc. That's harder than you might think.

Anyway, here in no certain order, is the list for my group for 2008:

Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Final Payments by Mary Gordon
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Cosmas, or The Love of God by Pierre de Calan
My Life in France by Julia Child
Nineteen Minutes by Jodie Picoult
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

I think it looks like a good year. A little of everything: memoirs, short stories, Catholic, non-Catholic, popular, classic. Now it's off to figure out our calendar.

I wish you could all come!

Booking Through Thursday


What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

I never keep up with what is going to come out new during any year. So I can't say that I'm looking forward to any given book in that sense.

But what I always, always look forward to is the list of books that my book group has picked for the year. And that will be the subject of the next entry!



These look like Christmas balls, but they are not. They sit in a bowl of potpourri on my mother's living room coffee table. I think they're pretty, and they've been an endless source of temptation for McKid and others as they have grown up!

Whatcha Reading? Wednesday


I'm reading Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers. I'm not far into it, but it was good enough that it really tested my resolve to turn out the lights to get my desired # of hours of sleep!

Here's a snippet of what I read last night:

The baby really was delightful; he took his food with a will, stuck out his toes merrily when his legs were uncovered, and did not have fits. These are supposed to be the strongest points of baby perfection, and in all these our baby excelled.

Now, that's just funny!



This is a bush outside my mom's house. I like the look of this, focused on the bush, but seeing the neighborhood behind.....

That New Year's Resolution Thing

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I know, I know. It has become all so popular: "I just don't make New Year's Resolutions. Silly custom. None of them ever got kept."

Well, bah humbug.

I still make 'em. Some of 'em I made years ago I am still keeping. I still smile at the people who are checking out my groceries or my stuff at Walgreen's. I am (almost) always pleasant to those service workers (is that a politically correct term, or what?) who are making my latte, getting my dry cleaning or ringing up my purchase. That was a New Year's resolution from years ago.

I also always take back my grocery cart to the place where you're supposed to drop 'em off. Hey, I'm paying a gym to go walk on a treadmill, but I can't take the cart a few steps back to the right place? What's up with that.

I try to write, or email, one quick note a month to someone who has done something nice for me.

I try very hard to SAY OUT LOUD the words "I love you" to those people I love. Even when it surprises them.

All those things make the world nicer. All those things were resolutions at one time. Practiced, worked on. They changed me. And they changed me for the better.

So, yeah, I believe in the resolution. The fact that they aren't always successful doesn't, in my opinion, give us the luxury to quit making them. Sometimes, we just might succeed.

There are levels upon levels of resolutions. I make low level resolutions:

1. I will keep my food diary.
2. I will go to the gym 3 times per week.
3. I will make myself go to bed and TURN OUT THE LIGHT at a time that will let me get 7 hours of sleep of night.

These kinds of resolutions are good habits I want to put into place for my physical well-being. I've lost 30 pounds or so in the last months. I feel better. I want to continue the process. But I'm past the point, at soon-to-be-52, of telling myself how much weight I want to lose this year, or what size I want to be. I want to be healthy. I want to feel good. The rest will follow, or not, as it will.

Then I make a sort of "mid-level" resolution. I make a resolution about how I want to act toward people. And I try very hard to make this something practical to do--not some high-flying all-holy idea about how I want to be (I'll make those resolutions in a minute!). So, for this year, my mid-level resolution is:

I want to extend the hospitality of my home and table to others 2 times a month. I want to invite people over for supper, or for games and snacks, or for a movie and popcorn, a couple of times a month. We are so fragmented. Most people don't entertain at home. My home is not big, and it's certainly not fancy. But I want it to be warm, welcoming, homey to those who need a place like that. But it won't be, unless I make a goal, to begin with, of getting out of my rut and getting people in the door and around the table.

And then, of course, I always make those "high-level" resolutions:

Lord, make me holy. Or at least, Lord make me want to be holy. Lord, make me quick to forgive and pardon, because it's the least I can do, when I've been forgiven so much. Let me not dwell on people's worst traits, often the ones easiest for me to see, given the cynic and wretch I am. Let me see them as you see them, and cherish that which is good. And please, oh please, let me do the work you have put in front of me to do. With grace. With joy. Without fear.

Happy New Year, ya'll!



I'm gonna try that whole Project 365 photo thing again. I tried last year, but then my camera went wonky (or maybe I went wonky). I got a new Sony Cybershot this Christmas. Much nicer than the old camera I was using. Still not Donna-quality, but that's OK, 'cause I'm not a Donna-quality photographer!

Anyway, here's the first entry. I like this picture not because it is good, but because of the subject matter. PapaC, MamaT and the Zman all sitting on the couch at Mam-mom's house. We don't often just get to all sit down together. So it was worth memorializing!

Feet, feet, feet!



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