August 2008 Archives

but apparently it's TRUE. according to fox news, the "miss sister 2008" contest will start in september on a blog run by the rev. antonio rungi and will give nuns from around the world a chance to showcase their work and their image.

Italian Priest Organizes Beauty Contest for Nuns

good lord, deliver us.

a worthy cause


please check this out and sign if you please. this guy is on a timeline, so make it snappy. thanks!

google is making me stoopid

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okay, maybe i shouldn't blame google because i could just as well be blaming for my very poor spelling habits. is it just me, or does everyone have to look up the same things over and over again these days? am i not retaining the information because (a) i'm no longer a spring chicken and my brain cells are aging, (b) i have a husband and six children to look after and if i try to retain even just one more piece of information, i'll lose something really important like my address or my first name, or (c) my lazy brain just assumes i can readily and easily retrieve the same information again tomorrow?

this topic may seem silly, but it taps into a really touchy subject for me. you see, as a person who is surrounded by a lot of really smart people -- not brainiacs, exactly, but definitely cerebral types* - it is very easy for me to feel, shall we say -- ah heck, let's face it, intellectually impotent. and because, when i'm on a roll, i happen to have a pretty darn good vocabulary - though you wouldn't know it from reading my blog entries, wouldya? - people tend to assume that i'm pretty smart, too. thing is, i always feel like an imposter. like, one of these days someone is going to figure out that i'm just a intellectual poseur and demand my mensa card be revoked.

i don't think i try to put on airs or anything** but it's the whole "birds of a feather" thing. because i occassionally sound smart and i'm often seen in the company of pretty smart people, others naturally assume i'm right up there with 'em. of course, they say that people tend to become more and more like the company they keep, so you should surround yourself with the type of people that you want to be more like. so it makes sense that i would fancy surrounding myself with smart wealthy people right? well, as soon as i find a lot of well-heeled people, i'll start hobnobbing with them, but for now I'll just be hangin' out with really clever people and keep googling on the sly.

* okay, okay, in point of fact i do know several brainiacs; but i don't hang out with them much because the feelings of inadequacy are just far too heavy to handle for longer than, say, a really delightful meal. these scenes are okay, cuz iffin i don't know the proper response or at least have some charming bon mot to share, i just shove an extra helping of sirloin into my face and chew until the subject moves on to simpler topics.
** you can bet your bottom dollar i googled that phrase.

When someone you know tells you that they are getting married, and your delighted first response is: "Oh, lovely! I wish you happy!"

I suppose it could have been worse. I could have said, "Let me felicitate you!"


Whatcha Reading? Wednesday

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Currently I'm in the midst of the latest of the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. Charming as always, the kindness of these books radiates.

The sweetest moment so far is just a small scene between Mma Makutsi, she of the 97% at Botswana Secretarial College and big glasses, and her fiance, Phuti Radiphuti, stutterer and owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Store. They are contemplating their wedding:

My wedding. My wedding guests. Chairs. it was a long way from those days of penury as a student at the Botswana Secretarial College, of rationing herself in what she ate; of making do with just one of anything, if that. Well, those days were over now.

And Phuti Radiphuti, for his part, thought, My days of loneliness are finished. My days of being laughed at because of the way I speak and because no woman would look at me--those are over now. Those are over.

He reached out a took Mma Makutsi's hand. She smiled at him, "I am very lucky to have found you," he said.

"No, I am the lucky one. I am the one."

He thought that unlikely, but he was moved very deeply that somebody should consider herself lucky to have him, of all people. The previously unloved may find it hard to believe that they are now loved; that is such a miracle, they feel; such a miracle.


Am also finishing a book that I just found on the bottom a stack of stuff (how embarrassing!): Because God Is Real: 16 Questions, One Answer by Peter Kreeft. Here's part of what he says about families:

Families are our schools of love, our first lesson in overcoming our natural egotism. Each of us is created as an individual, with our own will. With that will, we make millions of choices throughout our lives. This makes each life a drama, and the most important theme of the drama is the choice between good and evil, between unselfish love and selfish lovelessness, between centering our lives on ourselves and centering our lives on others, between treating ourselves as God, as the center of the world, and loving others as God loves them. The family is our great weapon in the battle.

Don't know what's next up. Finishing Peggy Noonan's book about JPII, I suspect. Then maybe another Heyer (only 1 left in my stash--time to buy more!) or perhaps a history book. I have several on my shelves........

Not that I don't have several of lots of things!

If you have boys....

| might want to check out this website:

Set up by Jon Scieszka, of Time Warp Trio and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs fame, it's an effort to start addressing the problems of "why boys don't read."

This is a subject dear to my heart, because it might be the bedrock reason for why we homeschooled all those years. I could not bear to raise a son who was not a reader. And I saw boy after boy lost in those middle grade years in school.

Many of the suggestions on the GuysRead site track what we did with the Zman. The foremost suggestion being: Let them read GUY stuff. I firmly believe that Tintin, Time Warp Trio, and a funny series of books called Horrible Histories made my son a reader. Later on the Hatchet series of books and the Ender trilogy kept him reading. Now I have a son who reads Moby Dick for fun.

Were they Little House on the Prairie, Jane Austen or all those other "required" texts? Nope. But they fostered a love of reading in Zman that still exists to this day. His only gripe about college is that it takes up so much time that he has no time to read for pleasure.

I'm glad to hear that he misses it.

Where MamaT learns a hard truth

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.....that when things go bad, they go really bad. We've just found out that a dear, dear, dear friend has inoperable, untreatable cancer. Cancer that's going to kill her in 6-8 weeks. Cancer that probably just started a few months ago, and is so virulent that we got here before we realized that anything was happening.

This woman is my mom's age, and has been, for years, my image of faithful servanthood. You know how most people take on a volunteer job and give it up after a year or two? Telling you that they've "done their time" and now they can lay that aside? Not my sweet friend. She persevered in her volunteer work right up to the day of her diagnosis--when she was too exhausted to move out of her chair--and called me to apologize that she'd have to give up caring for the altar linens as she has done for years now. Oh, and I'd need to find someone to take her spot on Altar Guild. And she would miss it.

Oh, no, Miss Betty. It is I who will miss you. But I am grateful beyond belief to have spent these years as your friend.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now, and in the hour of our death.

Big Doin's at the Summas!

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Keep watching this space, we have an exciting announcement to be made regarding the Summas. And it'll be coming SOON!

Testing, testing


We're trying to make some changes around here, and I need to see if I can make things move around.

I'm a hopeless techno-phobe.

smock's new bumper sticker



this is the new bumper sticker that i had made. the idea to make it began with my complaint that obama-nation is spreading like a cult in my neck of the woods, and that barack is enjoying, not just celebrity cult status, but freaky jim-jones jell-o shot status. and in a reliably red state like texas, too. i am heartsick because i personally know many -- as in too many to admit -- well-intentioned people who will actually vote for the man. God help us all. tired of talking myself blue in the face, i thought, heck, i'll just make a bumper sticker and let it speak to all of these wack-job so-called catholics who think it's okay to support an abortion monger like obama.

anyway, i put it on my car yesterday -- not knowing exactly how timely its message would turn out to be -- and i ended up giving away 3 today. i only ordered 5 because the process is rather pricey, but i'm consdering making more. of course, i'll have to edit them to read: never trust a prophet who supports infanticide.

you read that correctly. barack obama supports infanticide. obama voted against the illinois state legislation that required medical providers to give normal life-supporting medical care to infants born alive during an abortion. The bill was created because the doctors at Christ Hospital and elsewhere threw live infants away with no oversight at all. read more here.

recently i was fined "international fees" for placing an order online. i disputed the charge with bank of america because i had no idea the company -- which was based in the united states -- outsourced. while bank of america kindly explained to this ignoramous their delightful fee practices, i did some research on my own. bummer. ignorance should not be so costly. my final reply to bank of america, emailed today, is as follows:

I discovered that, while the company is in the United States, they outsource some printing to Canada, so technically the orders I made were international. I had no idea there was a charge for using PayPal "internationally" and I think this just might be another case of "Sneaky Bank Fees." I would certainly appreciate a "Sorry you were so ignorant about all of our fine-print fees, Dummy" credit of the charges. And, I'll be sure to note where all of my orders are being shipped from in future.

it would have been much longer. but, they only allow us ten lines of angst. pthh...

overheard at the smockmaison

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last week was the first week of school for the four oldest smocklings. gabby, who is five, is notorious for being a difficult riser. i said, "the longer you stay under the covers, the more difficult it is to get out of bed. c'mon gab, just hop up." to which, she replied... "i don't hop in the morning."

From the McKid


Mama, you know when you go to first grade, like me, your science is more sciency than it was last year.

Fine Art Friday

| taking a week off. My life is in a whirl right now, and I've no energy to even look at art.

School starts next week for the McKid, and my life will be changing again, this time back to a schedule that I can at least put on a calendar. That'll be an improvement.

Grief stinks. I'll just let you know that.

My house looks like the inside of my head--simply chaotic and a complete disaster. It's time to start fixing that.

Thanks for your understanding, folks. Next week I should put us back to our regularly scheduled stuff!

Let's hope.

That smart Elisabeth Elliot!


There are dry, fruitless, lonely places in each of our lives, where we seem to travel alone, sometimes feeling as though we must surely have lost the way. What am I doing here? How did this happen? Lord, get me out of this!

He does not get us out. Not when we ask for it, at any rate, because it was He all along who brought us to this place. He has been here before--it is no wilderness to Him, and He walks with us. There are things to be seen and learned in these apparent wastelands which cannot be seen and learned in the "city"--in places of comfort, convenience, and company.

Hmmmmm. Not what I wanted to hear, but probably what I needed to hear.

Henry Poole is Here

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Henry Poole is Here, starring Luke Wilson, George Lopez, and Adrian Barraza, is about a young man (Luke Wilson) who abandons friends and work to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. The discovery of a "miracle" by a nosy neighbor ruptures his solitude and restores his faith in life.

The movie has the support of The Catholic Association, Knights of Columbus, National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association, Catholic Campus Ministry Association, Theology on Tap, National Catholic Student Coalition, and Life Teen. The movie opens on August 15th, which is the Feast of the Assumption.

haven't offered one of these in a long while and thought i'd tried to resurrect it just for fun. my stream of conscience smock5 questions and answers for the week are:

1. if you're only as old as you feel, how old are you?
after an evening of sleeping on the couch last night, i'll say about seventy-five.

2. speaking of age . . . do you still make wishes on your birthday cake?

3. do you still hold hands when you're out with your spice?

4. do you still serenade your spice?
i would, but he begs me not to sing in his presence.

5. speaking of . . . which jingle will you never, ever, ever forget, heaven help you?
though the times herald went out of business decades ago, i can still hear the jingle: 7-4-8-1-4-1-4, 7-4-8-1-4-1-4! call the dallas times herald classifieds, get results like you've never seen before.



What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.

---------------------------Willa Cather



Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint.

------------------Georgia O'Keeffe

OK, seriously people, did you have any doubt that these Texas based Mamas, steeped in the beauty of the desert (because you have been out to far west Texas haven't you? No? Why not?) would choose Georgia O'Keeffe as the artist for the letter O edition of FAF?

Here's a link to the Wikipedia article on O'Keeffe. And here's what says about her:

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887 - 1986) was a groundbreaking Modernist painter who digressed from realism to express her own visionary style. Raised in rural Wisconsin, which gave her a love of nature and formed the basis for her revolutionary artwork, O'Keefe is best known for flower paintings which made up a significant percentage of her work. Expressing what she felt, rather than what she had been taught, O'Keeffe painted enormous close-ups of flowers, transforming their contours into fascinating abstractions, and highlighting their importance in a manner that commanded attention. One of the most influential and innovative artists of the 20th century, O'Keeffe was the first woman to have her own exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Here's what we think of most when we think of Georgia O'Keeffe. Beautiful, sensual, color to swim in:



Then there is this image. Dali-esque? For the Smock. Or is Dali "O'Keeffee-esque"? You be the judge.


Ram's Head and Hollyhock

But the landscapes are my favorites of all her work. Here are three that speak to my heart:


Dead Pinon Tree


Lake George Autumn


The Red Hills, Grey Sky

And then here are the surprise entries for this week. I had never seen these before, and I was actually quite taken by them, although I never would have guessed who painted them if I had seen them without attribution.


Radiator Building


New York Night

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Booking Through Thursday

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Interesting question today:

Are there any particular worlds in books where you'd like to live?

Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?

What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

I'll have to give this some thought. I suppose, in general, there is nowhere I would rather live than this world/time, simply because I think it was chosen for me. I take Gandalf's words to Frodo seriously, when Frodo complains about the time he has to live in.

And while it might be "romantical" to live in Heyer's Regency England--that would only be if I could be one of the higher ups in Society--not, as would be more likely, if I were the head maid or something.

It's just like those people who do that whackadoodle "past life regression" stuff. Ever notice how no one is ever a chambermaid and everyone is always an "Egyptian princess, lusted after by all"?

Yeah, right.

And to answer the other question, I'd want Flannery O'Connor to write my life. Then maybe I'd have some clarity on it.


You know I love Kate Spade shoes. Not that I actually OWN any, but a girl can dream. Here are some of the new shoes on Zappos that fit the Summa bill:





But really, when it's 107 in the afternoon, NONE of us are wearin' shoes. We're walking around the house barefoot, fannin' ourselves, and drinking iced tea. And wishin' we were somewhere cooler. At least temporarily.

Happy Tuesday, ya'll!

Sunday's hymns, a day late


Introit was this one. I like the words, but the tune we use is hard to sing, at least for the congregation:

Come, let us with our Lord arise,
our Lord who made both earth and skies,
who died to save the world he made
and rose triumphant from the dead;
he rose, the prince of life and peace,
and stamped the day for ever his.

This is the day the Lord hath made
that all may see his love displayed,
may feel his resurrection's power
and rise again to fall no more,
in perfect righteousness renewed
and filled with all the life of God.

Then let us render him his own,
with solemn prayer approach the throne,
with meekness hear the gospel word,
with thanks his dying love record;
our joyful hearts and voices raise
and fill his courts with songs of praise.

I can't find the tune that we used Sunday, but it can be sung to Old 113th, which you can hear by clicking on the link.

Offertory was this one:

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.

Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

Sung to, not surprisingly, Bread of Life.

Communion hymn was this one:

Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord,
and drink the holy Blood for you outpoured.

Saved by that Body and that precious Blood,
with souls refreshed, we render thanks to God.

Salvation's Giver, Christ, the only Son,
by his dear Cross and Blood the victory won.

Offered was he for greatest and for least,
himself the Victim, and himself the Priest.

Victims were offered by the law of old,
which in a type this heavenly mystery foretold.

He, Ransomer, from death, and Light from shade,
now gives his holy grace his saints to aid;

approach ye then with faithful hearts sincere,
and take the safeguard of salvation here.

He that in this world rules his saints and shields,
to all believers life eternal yields.

With heavenly bread makes them that hunger whole,
gives living waters to the thirsting soul.

Alpha and Omega, to whom shall bow
all nations at the Doom, is with us now.

Sung to Song 46 at SMV, but it can be sung to a myriad of others.

Then we ended with this lovely hymn:

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
on the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
spring form eternal love,
well supply thy sons and daughters
and all fear of want remove.
Who can faint, when such a river
ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver,
never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
see the cloud and fire appear
for a glory and a covering,
showing that the Lord is near.
Thus they march, their pillar leading,
light by night, and shade by day;
daily on the manna feeding
which he gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
washed in the Redeemer's blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
makes them kings and priests to God.
'Tis his love his people raises
over self to reign as kings:
and as priests, his solemn praises
each for a thank-offering brings.

Savior, if of Zion's city,
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy Name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
all his boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasure
none but Zion's children know.

Sung to Abbot's Leigh.

It was really hard to come up with a subject for today's Fine Art Friday. It doesn't seem like there are many "N" artists whose work resonates with me much. Here's the best I can do for this Friday: Barnett Newman.

Here's what has to say about him:

Barnett Newman (1905 - 1970) was an Abstract Expressionist whose artworks made profound statements and challenged artistic norms through minimal colors and shapes. Newman, a New York native, was known for enormous works filled with vast, color-saturated fields bisected by vertical lines he called "zips." With artistic luminaries Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, he co-founded an art school in New York. Newman's radical works, which were symbolic and spiritual, pushed Abstraction far beyond established norms, and initially provoked anger and confusion. Later, he was deeply respected, and strongly influenced the color-field painters of the 1960s.


Canto VII


The Name I


Mitternacht Blau

Happy Friday, ya'll!



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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