Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Y'All

Two days before Christmas Eve, and I'm still fighting the upper respiratory infection that nearly silenced me for our Messiah performance. Oh, I'm better... I'm just not well yet.

I'll be singing for two servcies at St. Timothy's on Saturday, Christmas Eve. The music Patricia chooses is always so lovely. Then I hope to be at home at St. Tony's for a Mass on Christmas Day.

I notice a lot of the same friends come in several times a day to check this little bit of my life, and for that loyalty and constancy, I thank you. I keep thinking I ought to be posting more to justify your visits... perhaps when I get well I'll be able to do more. In the meantime, please know that during this coming week-end you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I'll be making a Holy Hour during the week-end and remembering the intentions of my dear friends. That is you.

God bless and keep you as we celebrate the Birth of our Savior this week-end.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A good Review

Here's a very good review we received for our performance on Sunday. I'm so grateful and proud to have been part of it. (Oh -- and Al is the best!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


You're sitting in your seat in a lovely, modern auditorium. The house lights dim, the stage lights go up... the conductor steps onto the podium and lifts his baton... a small orchestra plays a lovely and rousing overture, then after a pause, the strings pick up a gentle introduction,the tenor steps forward and tenderly sings

"Comfort ye -- comfort ye, my people."

It's almost startling, even after I've heard it a dozen or so times. We expect a story about the Messiah to begin with the Incarnation, the Nativity -- but instead we're shown why we need a Redeemer: we are out of step with God, our lives are marked by sin and confusion; we need help, we need... comfort.

But this prophetic beginning also warns us of a coming Judgment. "The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed..." "for He is like a refiner's fire" "and He shall purify..."

And how shall this work be accomplished? "Behold, a virgin shall conceive..."

Then, after more vocal prophecy about the Coming One, how He will bring light to the Gentiles and Light to the ends of the earth...

there is an interlude, a "pastoral symphony," which seems musically to mark the passing of generations from the utterance of the promises to their fulfillment.

The voices return with the wonderful narrative of Luke's Gospel: "There were shepherds abiding in the field...."

How can you not be caught up in the story? The Savior is born! "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion, for behold! thy King cometh unto thee!" And during his lifetime, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd," so we must "Come unto him, take His yoke upon you and learn of Him --" "For His yoke is easy and His burden is light!"

And by now, after all those weeks of intense labor, the melismas dance over the tongue and the burden of them is light... and somehow all the music is pouring out of my heart even more than from my lips, and this oratorio is an offering of praise and thanksgiving to Christ.

Even after the intermission, when we abruptly turn from joy to sorrow -- "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world" -- and instead of light and joyous singing we are following Him to the Cross and His passion -- we lift our voices to dramatize that Passion -- we paint pictures with our voices of the One Who, without blame or iniquity of His own, took on our own and bore it for us. We become the angry mob condemning Him with scorn and derision. We mock, we sneer, we flout... we stand back in awe, for "He did not leave His soul in hell, nor suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption."

We watch as the powers of darkness rail and try to deny the Power of God... in vain of course, for "Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! And He shall reign forever and ever!"

And we look ahead to the coming Judgment, and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, where we all shall sing -- can it possibly be more glorious music in Heaven than this? Can my heart bear it that it is? -- "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain... to receive power and wisdom and riches and strength, and honor and glory and blessing... forever and ever -- Amen!"

And somehow through this music we are given a glimpse into that Final Day when we all shall be prostrate at His pierced feet, honoring Him for Who He is -- seeing Him clearly and without mortal hindrance for the first time for all eternity....

Wouldn't you know it, two days before our performance of Handel's Messiah, I started developing an upper respiratory infection? By Sunday, I was whispering and lip-syncing, not singing. Still, I think I would have fought my way out of far worse to stand on that stage at Meymandi Hall with these people who have become my dear friends -- many of whom are fellow brothers and sisters in Faith -- to worship Our Lord in this glorious music.

"Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. Amen."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Messiah Mediations, continued

You'll enjoy reading these commentary notes on Messiah.

As for myself, I can hardly believe there's only a dress rehearsal and then the performance this week-end. We've been so busy preparing for the Holiday Pops concert with the NC Symphony, and that was a fun performance opportunity throughout Thanksgiving week-end, and only two full rehearsals since then devoted to this cantata, which is our main concert offering for this semester.

Messiah is a wonderful piece of music. We tend to think of it as a Christmas offering, but it was originally performed in 1742 as an Easter cantata. The cantata is divided into three parts: Part One celebrates the Incarnation of the Promised One of Israel, Part Two is devoted to the Passion, and Part Three is a reflection on the nature of our salvation and a looking ahead to the Last Judgment. It could very fittingly be performed at any time of the year, and in fact some of its arias are featured as solos in churches throughout the year: "He Shall Feed His Flock," "I Know that my Redeemer Liveth."

It has been a worshipful experience for me to work on this cantata, even at the breakneck speed at which we've approached it this semester. Al's sensitivity to the spiritual content of the work, merged with his musical expertise, have brought out elements of worship and awe unlike any prior performance or recording I've ever heard. I've mentioned the light-heartedness of the melismas in a number of pieces (you've no idea how much HARD WORK it takes to make some music sound and feel light and airy) -- lightness of joy and confidence in the Gift of God. And Awe -- that's the overriding theme I've encountered these past few months: Awe of the Incarnation, Awe of the immediate presence of God, Awe of His mercy, Awe of Who He Is. Combined, every time we rehearse this cantata, it is an experience almost of being placed in front of a peep-hole into Heaven.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A most interesting contrast!

I just got this from my buddy Bill -- don't know whether it's authentic, but I've never heard kicking and screaming from the folks up north... so I'll assume it's true in spirit if nothing else (and I hope the mugwumps down in Louisiana are paying attention):

(For those of you who are not aware, North Dakota and southwestern Montana got hit with their first blizzard of the season a couple of weeks ago)

This text is from county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota state after the storm.



Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic event --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 24" inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

George Bush did not come....
FEMA staged nothing....
No one howled for the government...
No one even uttered an expletive on TV...
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.....
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House....
No news anchors moved in.

We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps and put on an extra layer of clothes.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early...we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.

Everybody is fine.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It's so nice to be loved --

even when the love is from a poor little stray cat. The Ghost is still here; I don't have the heart to take him to the county animal shelter. He's under my feet all day long, and on my lap when I sit down. Last night friends stopped by, and he was even friendly toward them! I'm putting the word out around town, maybe someone will want to adopt him and he won't have to go to any of our shelters, even the no-kill ones.
Here's a very thrilling article about the "reversion" of novelist Anne Rice.

Monday, November 28, 2005

and the Curt Jester provided another perspective on Advent on November 27. Good job, Jeff!

Cool new forum

Congrats to my buddy Bill (a.k.a. "Bad Hat") for this new and entertaining forum. It promises to be a good one! I hope lots of people go and register and participate!

The Beauty of Advent

(I originally wrote this article for the parish newsletter at Sacred Heart Church in Pinehurst, NC, 2003)

Happy New Year!

With the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent on November 27, we enter a new liturgical year, in which the Church will again present the history and unchanging mysteries of our salvation, from Creation to the Second Coming, together with the entire life of our Savior.

Advent is a particularly lovely season. For all its solemnity, it is a particularly exciting time as we again contemplate and anticipate the Coming of the Savior -- incarnate in history, as we celebrate at Christmas; "in Glory, to judge the living and the dead" as we proclaim in the Creed; and in grace, in the Eucharist and in the Word of God proclaimed.

Our initial focus during the first two weeks of Advent is on Christ's second coming. Again and again the scriptures remind us of our need to be ready, to be disposed, for His coming and His judgment; thus, Advent begins on a penitential note.

Then on the third Sunday of Advent, our focus lifts. Gaudete Sunday receives its name from the first word of our Opening Antiphon and of our Reading: Rejoice! The deep purple of penance is replaced today with the rose of joy. We begin our liturgical anticipation of Christmas.

While preparation for Christmas is an important part of Advent, this is also a season for us to discover a renewed vision of our lives as Christians. In the interval between the Incarnation and the Second Coming, we find our deepest meaning as human beings. Because of the great love God has for us, "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave... He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death" (Phil. 2:7,8). As C.S. Lewis once said, this gives dignity to the lowliest of beggars, and humility to the most exalted of princes; how much more it gives meaning and substance to ordinary folk like you and me!

Even more wondrous is the Coming of Christ to human hearts. That the Creator of the cosmos chooses to intimately dwell with us, through the indwelling Holy Spirit and through Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist, is a mystery about which we simply cannot afford to be come complacent.

We have a particular date to celebrate Christ's birth; we are not given a day or an hour to anticipate His Coming Again. When we face God in the Final Judgment, we will have to give an accounting: "Do you love me?" Our Lord asked this of Peter; He will ask no less of us.

Advent becomes, therefore, a time to reflect on these Truths and to renew our commitment to Christ, to resolve to live this new liturgical year more faithfully than ever before.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Aiplane by side of the Road!

You just don't expect to see airplanes parked along the side of the highway, but this is what I passed on my way to Raleigh on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Sound of Music

What an amazing treat -- last night, as the result of the great generosity of one of our Chorale members, my roommate Barb and I had box seats at Meymandi Hall for a concert of the North Carolina Symphony.

Guest performer with the Symphony was pianist Leon Fleisher. Fleisher lost use of his right hand nearly forty years ago due to a neurological condition called focal dystonia. Recent development of new treatments has allowed him to recover the full use of his right hand, an amazing, even awe-inspiring event. He and the Symphony performed the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K. 414. The piano was turned so that we could not see his hands -- a treat I would have greatly enjoyed -- but even being able to observe the rapt concentration in his countenance as he bent over the keyboard was inspiring.

The Fleisher performance was a pure gift. WCPE has been featuring a number of pieces from Fleisher's recently-released "Two Hands" CD. Somehow, however, it had not registered with me that he was going to play with the Symphony this week-end. It was a duel gift to be able to attend one of Fleisher's concert performances.

This week-end was important for Barb and me because Our Guys, the men's section of the NC Master Chorale, were singing with the symphony's performance of Liszt's Faust Symphony. They have been working hard since the beginning of the new season, and since Barb, as Chorale Manager, knows all of them, and since I have made several wonderful friends among them, we really wanted to hear them perform.

There's something powerfully virile about male voices, and "our guys" did not disappoint. As part of the Mephistophiles "portrait" of the third movement of the symphony, the men added depth and color to the symphony performance. We were so proud to see them sitting their in their tuxedos, singing vigorously what was really a difficult piece for them -- the tenors reaching a high "C" during the performance. They sounded just as they looked: HOT!

Next week-end we sing with the Symphony for the Holiday Pops concert. After hearing our men singing last night, I'm left in awe once again at what a privilege I'm enjoying, singing with this wonderful group.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

On Southern Accents

I found out a local radio announcer is a North Carolina native, so after we had talked briefly by phone, recently, I made bold to email him with the question: Do people ever comment about your missing Tar Heel accent?

Yeah, he responded. He gave credit (or perhaps blame, depending on your perspective) on his mother, an English teacher. "You?" he asked.

Well, of course! I began to discard my accent, to pronounce words more fully, with more open vowel sounds, as a result of my middle and high school chorus teacher, who was a stickler for enunciation. Over the years, the more I've sung, the more distanced I've become from my southern accent.

No, I'm not ashamed of the way we sound down here. Some people think it's charming -- and it certainly can be evocative of magnolia blossoms and mint juleps. My family, though, is sufficiently removed from its alleged English landed gentry ancestry that when I joke about my redneck roots I'm not exaggerating by much. Our people, the rural southerners, sound more as if they might have a pinch of snuff tucked between teeth and jowl. Our vowels come out flat, able to stretch what is supposed to be a single syllable into two and sometimes three: Ca-yat, pro-nou-yance. Our voices carry more than a hint of a challenge to the listener -- or perhaps a threat of potential danger.

And let me be honest, we do laugh at people with other accents, and we hold our own stereotypes of certain accents, just as people hold stereotypes of ours. For instance, New Yorkers (from NYC or Rochester, it doesn't particularly matter) come to the South as determined to take over and rebuild us in their image as Sherman in his march to the sea. We hold these Yankees in about as much esteem as we did Sherman, too -- although we can be quite pleased to take their money when the mood strikes. And with the golf and tourism industries ruling the roost around here, the mood rarely departs.

It's funny -- a friend from California says my southern accent is charming, folks from Louisiana thought I sounded Yankee, while my cousin down the road complains that I don't have any accent left at all, that I'm gettin' above my raisin'.

Can't win for losing, sometimes.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Prayer Request updates

Two new prayer requests for you, please:

Jenn is the daughter-in-law of my dear friend Donna. Jenn had a lot of hormone-related heart trouble during her first pregnancy, and now she's early in the first trimester with her second pregnancy, and has begun having the same symptoms again. She has also lost one of a set of twins, Donna tells me; the other baby seems to be doing well so far.

Steve is Donna's daughter's boss. He has just recently been diagnosed with cancer -- his kidney is affected, and he only has the one kidney.

I've taken off a couple of people for whom I've been unable to get updates; I'm assuming that, after so many weeks, the crisis has passed. And I'm glad to be able to report that right now it looks as if Elwood may not have to undergo further treatment for the skin cancer he had removed a couple weeks ago.

Thanks, as always, for your prayers for these people.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

'tis the (unhappy) season

... of tossing out dogs and cats in our rural community.

We expect -- and find -- several discarded dogs, hunting breeds, late in the deer season and for a couple weeks after it ends. We know they're throw-aways because their collars and ID have been removed; a good dog always has a sturdy collar and ownership tags.

Less commonly seen are the cats. Oh, they're there, but cats are wiley, independent and generally distrustful creatures who quickly revert to a feral nature. I know we have these wild cats -- my cousin feeds them along with the family barn and yard cats, some becoming, eventually, almost tame and certainly tolerant of their human hosts, and I occasionally see one ducking around the corner of the tobacco barn.

What I haven't experienced, until now, is the adoption by a cat. Bubba and the stranger woke me up in the wee hours of the night, Thursday morning, arguing with one another not far enough away from my bedroom window. I went outside and fussed at them; they relocated, but again, not far enough away. I didn't see The Ghost then -- the glare of the security light in my back yard was too bright.

Thursday night I was loading the car to go up to Raleigh for an early Friday appointment, and there on the back deck was a startlingly white cat. The first detail one notices about him is a very puffy tail. He miaowed at me and came within three feet of me as I stood and admired him, looking into my face and holding that lovely tail like a proud flag. Then Bubba followed me out the back door, and this little ghost of a cat serenely retreated to the shed. I left no food out, thinking he'd migrate on down the road soon enough if left alone.

Last night, shortly after I got home from Raleigh, while both Bubba and Precious were curled on the floor near my feet, I heard the high-pitched miaowing just outside the back door. I went to look, and the white cat was there. I had to feel sorry for him; I put some cat food in a plastic bowl and laid it down for him, and he rubbed against my ankles before he deigned to eat, even stretched his almost-glowing white head up to be scratched. Of course, I had to comply with his request as if I had no will of my own to resist him (and I didn't want to, really).

A little later, the miaows came again, so insistently, that I decided to allow him in if he wished. I needed something from the shed, so I left the back door open while I went to fetch it; sure enough, he must have walked in immediately; when I returned to the house Precious was standing at the back door, looking back toward my bedroom with a certain indignant expression and threatening low growls in the back of her throat. "It's going to be below freezing here tonight! I can't just make him stay out in this cold!" I told her. When he heard my voice, he came immediately to me, and Precious turned her back on us both and returned to the living room, stealthily, turning every few paces and walking crab-style while she fussed at us.

He's a simply beautiful cat -- white, pale blue eyes (and a disarming way of looking directly at one) and pink ear tips and nose. His body is too skinny right now to be obviously be long-haired; the tail gives it away. He has stretched up to prop his front paws against my knee as dogs do, talked to me most earnestly, meekly submitted to having his ears cleaned with hydrogen peroxide (he appears to have ear mites), climbed in my lap while I try to work, investigated my coffee cup, slept on my notebook, followed me like a dog when I go from the living room to any other room in the house... and even now is attempting to be my muse (mews?) as I write this.

In short, someone has loved and petted and spoiled this cat with a lot of human attention, making him happy to come close to strangers and eager to be loved again. He seems to have decided I am his for keeps. Already, Bubba ignores him unless he comes too close, and even Precious, the grande Dame of the household, tolerates him far more sweetly than she has ever done Bubba.

Problem is, my life circumstances are such that I cannot take on more pets right now. I'm going to be talking to my next-door neighbor this week-end about taking Bubba to be a barn cat for her horses; I'm getting ready to return to Raleigh. Someone has chosen to dump a cat out on the side of a country road instead of taking responsibility to find him a new home or even take him to the pound. It breaks my heart to think of the number of animals euthenised each week at our shelter; still, it would be kinder to put a pet down than to leave it at the risk of illness or serious injury, left to die alone, in pain and untended, possibly spreading disease and causing injury to other domestic pets. And it is I -- a stranger who did not ask for this responsibility -- who is left to exercise the choice.

I'm calling this little baby "the ghost" -- and I hope he can find a home soon. Right now he's lying across my left knee, dozing. He'll make someone an affectionate pet.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Warm Congratulations, Deacon Alex Jones!

Former Pentecostal pastor Alex Jones was ordained to the permanent diaconate on October 7.

Alex spoke at the Ignited by Truth conference in Raleigh, NC, in 2004, where I got to meet him and share some of the joy of being a convert. His testimony is awesome -- in promising his Pentecostal congregation in Detroit a "real New Testament worship service," he embarked on a study of the real apostolic church that ultimately led to his conversion to Catholicism -- bringing more than 50 of his former congregation along with him.

Detroit is very blessed to have such a passionately dedicated man among its ordained ministers!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Would this guy look good in a tux?

Sitting around the table last night after Chorale rehearsal, we began talking about the men's upcoming performance of Liszt's Faust (with the NC Symphony, next week, in several venues)... and somehow the subject of chorale attire came up, particularly men's attire, the good ol' standby tux...

And someone observed that all men look darn good in a tux. Even the plainest, oldest, baldest, fattest, most cross-eyed, or geekiest, gawkiest, ugliest man on the planet would look HOT in a tux! And I certainly agreed!

But then I had to think of... Larry the Cable Guy (see photo above). Somehow I just can't make the transition.... Do you suppose he'd try to wear that ball cap with... oh, now my head hurts!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

just a quick greeting --

I'm supposed to blog every day, according to the friend who started me on this adventure.

Well, that's hard. When the cat is sitting in the sill of a fully open window (wish I hadn't lost my camera -- it would be a lovely, serene photo) and the leaves outside are beginning to turn, and the dogwoods look as if they were on fire with their blood-red berries and redding leaves and the silver maple has hit that tobacco-gold perfection... who wants to sit in front of a computer screen and come up with something to write about?

It's a glorious Indian Summer day, highs expected to approach 80. They are supposed to drop back to the 30s again in a day or two, bringing a lot more frost and chill... not many more glorious days like this to enjoy.

See y'all later!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A most splendid and glorious Anniversary

I just realized -- three years ago today, November 3, 2002, I was Confirmed into Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I posted my conversion story near the very beginnings of this blog, if you'll go back and look at the archives beginning in April. It's called "Prelude and Fugue in Faith."

Deo Gratias!
Did you go back to find and read the second part of Christianity Today's interview with Doug Gresham? Because if you didn't, here it is.

Gotta go see that movie!

Uh, photo?

Where's the pic? Where's the pic?

Well, as I understand it (and I may not understand it at all), the file containing my former photo on this blog was deleted, or cleaned out or something... and the photo was lost.

So why haven't I replaced it already?

BECAUSE IT SEEMS MY CAMERA HAS BEEN STOLEN. Sheesh. I took it with me to Raleigh last week and after several stops I discovered my passenger side door was unlocked... and my camera is nowhere to be found. I seem to have been mistaken in the assumption that burying it under a pile of music (which was not removed) was "secure."

Just hold on -- I'll get someone to take one for me and email it. After all, you've GOT to see the hot new haircut, right?

Monday, October 31, 2005

I'm pretty surprised about this --

You are Psalms
You are Psalms.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'd have thought I'd be a James or something.
I think you'll enjoy this Christianity Today interview with Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis.

The Music of Angels

Saturday, October 29, 2005. Sacred Heart Cathedral, Raleigh, North Carolina.

I attended the Vigil Mass at the Cathedral, my first time there. Msgr. Hadden was the celebrant, and he actually sang portions of the Mass in a lovely tenor voice -- wish he'd sung the whole thing. But the congregational music, the psalm, hymns, responses, were badly overseen by a Romantic-style piano-player who doesn't understand chant and who took everything at a sleepy tempo. In addition, there was the ubiquitous dreaded Haugen-Haas presence that I find not only distracting but downright profane.

Two hours later, those same walls echoed with the glorious music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina -- music fit for the angels -- as the NC Master Chorale Chamber Choir performed a selection of sacred works in the Cathedral.

The program began with the exquisite Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass), followed by Henryk Gorecki's "Totus Tuus," and a very modern but surprisingly gorgeous setting of three poems of e.e. cummings by Eric Whitacre.

I sat near the piano, in the present-day choir section (the lovely choir loft being nearly abandoned) and gazed across the Sanctuary to the Tabernacle where the Lord in the Eucharist lay reposed: "You have to suffer so much ugliness from week to week... isn't it lovely You can be celebrated with such music here tonight?"

I like to think He was very pleased indeed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

From the "Uh-huh, and What Did I Tell You?" Files

Exxon has reported record earnings for the third quarter of this year.

Well, DUH! Our gas prices have doubled in recent months and show no signs whatsoever of returning to a reasonable rate in the foreseeable future. My little economy car is now costing me the whopping sum of $40 per week to operate, with my two requisite trips to Raleigh; formerly I could do two trips and a little local driving on $25.

They've got us over the proverbial barrel -- the oil barrel, that is. What can ordinary citizens do that the Government won't?

I mean, I love President Bush -- I voted for the man, and I fully support him on the war on terror; he told us September 11, 2001, exactly what we'd be facing, and he was right. But his economic policies are killing me -- !

Yes, it's my birthday --

Forty-Eight today. As my ex-brother-in-law Al would say, "I'm forty-eight years old, I'll soon be fifty!" Thanks, Linda! for the birthday wishes. I don't have any expectations for today, but I have plans for tomorrow. I'm ushering for a Chamber Choir concert tomorrow and going out for dinner and laughter with friends before and after. And yesterday I treated myself to a makeover at one of our local department stores. Yum!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


One Hundred Posts. I never imagined, when Randy got me doing this in late April, just a scant six months ago, that I'd last for a whole ONE HUNDRED posts. I sure as shootin' never dreamed that anyone other than a few close and ridiculously loyal friends would ever bother reading my blog.

Y'all are fantastic. I don't have a guest book -- how about dropping a comment in lieu of signing the traditional guest book?

I've got WCPE playing in the background -- wine and hors d'ouvres on the table. Make yourself at home.

And God bless you all!

Chorale News and Reflections

I just got off the phone from ordering my chorale outfit; it's starting to get more and more real to me that I'm actually singing with this phenomenally wonderful group.

Tuesday night we recorded a demo of a new composition entitled "Here Stands in Honored Glory," by Donald B. Miller. This is a very nice choral piece based on the inscription of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetary, and it is going to be marketed, I understand, to be performed at funerals and patriotic events for servicemen, veterans, and others; proceeds from the sale of the sheet music and the CD are going to benefit the widows and orphans of those courageous men and women who have given their lives in the war against terrorism. I'm proud to have been part of this project.

Don and his wife were present Tuesday evening for the recording session, a lovely couple, so warm and gracious. I arrived at our rehearsal venue at the same time they did, so we struck up a conversation before I found out why they were there. Don autographed my copy of the score, and I'll be framing it ... probably next week.

The recording was a lot of fun. We were squeezed like sardines in the sanctuary of the church where we rehearse, and I had the great thrill of sitting right beside the tenor section. Tenors were pouring out of the choir pews and sitting on the floor, right by my feet -- ah, bliss! And when we sang, I found it was actually easier for me to hit my pitches with the other voice part beside me. hmmm... I'll have to think on that one a bit.

The really cool thing was, after each take, the sound man, after a moment of silence, could be heard saying "Wow." We had a small brass ensemble playing with us, you see, and a tympani -- and after the first take he actually had to ask the chorale to back off a bit, we were overpowering the brass! Oh, what a good laugh we all had over that. And the First Trumpet stood up and said, "Impossible!" as if he were truly indignant -- but of course he was joking with us. It was a lovely experience.

I'll be posting info about how to order the CD single as soon as it's available -- and I'll try to figure out how to post a sound file here on the blog, even a short excerpt. Don't hold your breath, though.

Messiah rehearsals continue apace. The hardest thing for me, so far, is that Al wants to lighten up the melismas a bit by varying the emphasis on certain notes. Ordinarily, 16th notes are counted in a very rigid ONE-ee-And-a-TWO-ee-And-a... But Al wants us ... well, to scat the runs! Like a jazz arrangement, almost -- YA-da-da-YA-da-da-YA-da... It actually works! The emphasis falls according to the movement of pitch instead of a rigid four-count, and the effect (when we get it right! -- you'd be amazed how hard a habit it is to develop, those alternate rhythms!) is to lighten the long runs considerably, making them dance rather than plod.

I'm having a blast! I only wish you could all come and join us!

Okay -- This is post #99, I'm going to go now and post my obligatory 100-post party.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Gotta Love this Woman!

Can there really have been a time, even when I was an evangelical, when I didn't love Mother Angelica? Even weakened after a debilitating stroke, she's still strong-minded, feisty and -- God bless her! -- passionate for the Truth of the Magisterium --

even when it means offending a certain American Cardinal...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Anne Rice finds God?

I've never, ever read a work by Anne Rice. As someone prone to "moods" (read: depression), I am far too suggestable to read certain genres of literature. I've made a serious point of avoiding the work of Rice, Stephen King, and other wildly popular writers whose characters fall into the demonic or the psychotic.

So it was with great shock and delight I found a news link that says Anne Rice is about to publish her first religious novel. Out of Egypt is a fictionalized/speculative account of the life of Christ as a young boy, and it is said to reflect Rice's return to the Catholic Church.

According to MSNBC, a series of deep personal crises -- including the death of her husband of more than 40 years and her own serious illnesses -- has led Rice to rediscover a deeply-rooted Catholic faith of her childhood. She expects an outpouring of outrage from her long-time fans of the vampire and "soft-core S&M" novels she's written for decades --

I, for one, applaud the change and eagerly await the opportunity to read my first novel by Anne Rice. May God bless her and direct all her steps!


If you love classical music, WCPE is a fantastic listener-supported radio station that offers full internet streaming in a variety of formats. Fortunately, I live near two of their translators, so I can listen just about everywhere I go! -- In fact, my car radio is preset: 1: Raleigh 2: Aberdeen 3: Foxfire Village. As I migrate from one signal area to another, I just push buttons.

This week they're observing the Fall Fund-Raiser, but they're still playing a lot of great music.

And on Sunday mornings they have several hours of glorious sacred music. It really helps support my mindset as I prepare for Mass.


Oh, I'm getting old(er)!

Turning 48 in less than a week -- which isn't so bad. After all, I'm enjoying my forties a heckuva lot, a WHOLE heckuva lot more than I ever enjoyed my twenties.

But sometimes I pick up on little clues that things aren't working quite like they once did. I've picked up an old hobby, needlework, and suddenly I discover I have to use a little... extra help... seeing. I'm in bifocals as it is, and now I've found I have to use an additional magnifier in order to see -- to thread my needle, to even find the little holes in the fabric!

It's a nice little magnifier, hangs on a cord around my neck and props on my chest (okay, on "the shelf") so I can enjoy its benefits hands-free and constantly. It makes both pattern and fabric (oh! and the eye of the needle!) much easier to find. But I'm rather distressed because I have a sneaking feeling it won't be long before I'm needing the silly thing to even read!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Flannel Sheets and Christmas Music

It's FALL -- temps dipping into the 40s and 30s at night, highs only in the 50s in the day. Time to indulge in one of the great sensual pleasures of life -- FLANNEL SHEETS! and my great personal favorite, a red flannel popover from the Vermont Country Store. The Vermont Country Store is the place to find flannel sheets, too.

And with chilly weather, out comes the Christmas Music. I've been listening to Messiah for a while, but now I can really indulge. I've been listening today to Manheim Steamroller.

Add a cup of Earl Grey tea and a bowl of homemade veg soup... Ahhhhh, bliss!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Y'all have GOT to go see the new Wallace and Gromit movie. Imperative! I don't know how long it's been since I've laughed so hard and at so long a stretch. Peter Sellis (known as Norman Clegg in BBC's longest-running comedy, "Last of the Summer Wine") provides the delightful voice for Wallace and the transformed rabbit, and Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes show a completely delicious comic twist to their talents as the voices of Lady Campanula Tottington and Victor Quartermaine. Fans of "Are You Being Served?" will immediately recognize Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold - "Old Jug Ears") as the voice of the vicar.

The claymation is clever, the characterizations are brilliant, the plot is cheesy (giggle, for those already familiar with Wallace and Gromit) and the humor is so subtle and sophisticated... note the wording on the box in which Wallace is clothed at the end of the movie.

You won't regret going, honest!

Shiny sink!

Blame Linda for this one; she thinks it's funny.

I posted about flying with FlyLady.Net a couple weeks ago (and here's the logo. I've emailed a request for permission to post, and not gotten a reply; if they tell me "no" I'll come back and delete the thing) -- well... got a call last night, a friend's coming through from out of town this afternoon and taking me out to lunch -- and all I had to do to get the house ready was to run the vacuum (Bubba left me the feathery remains of a bird scattered all over the living room this morning) and swipe down the front bathroom. My kitchen sink is EMPTY, the drain is tucked up under the counter, and all the surfaces are shined! I even took the trash out and set it in my can to await transport to the dump on Tuesday!

I'm so proud of me! Now I'm going to go do some needlework while I wait!

Now -- where's the smelling salts for those of you who've known me for a while? Hmmm?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Update on prayer requests

I thought you might like to know what's going on with the people in my prayer request list, to the right, there.

I've taken Bill off -- he's still uncomfortable, but he's weaning himself off the heavy-duty pain meds, walking -- very excited about the Astros making it to the World Series. I'm sure he'd be glad for continuing prayers, but I think the worst of the crunch has passed.

Ed's mending, still having to be very cautious and treat that knee with lots of TLC. Last word I got from him, he's hobbling about with a walker; the cane allows too much weight and stress on it.

Mary Ann hasn't sent me a more recent update since her trip to Duke, but she's got a long fight ahead of her. The chemo wasn't as effective as it should have been, and the medicine she was taking to counteract the sickness from the chemo wasn't working at all. Still she's up early every morning, sending her email friends wonderful meditations. Let me know if you'd like me to forward some to you.

Then there is Elwood, who is dad of my buddy Steve; Elwood is having a growth removed on Monday, and having formerly had cancer this is kind of distressing for him and for his family.

Baby Abi is the most recent addition to my prayer list. She's a newborn, and some of her tests from the heel-sticking medical people do to new babies came back abnormal. Her Gran emails me to tell me it turns out she's got thyroid problems, the sort that can be treated with medication, which is a huge relief to the family. Her big sister is also going to have to be tested, just to play it safe.

See what your prayers can accomplish? Again, HUGE thanks to Randy for adding these to the blog template. And thank YOU ALL for your participation in this ministry!
Happy Birthday to my beautiful younger daugher, Sarah, who was born at about 7:19 p.m., Monday, October 20, 1981.

My existence is justified when I think of you.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

hmmm... that wasn't so bad...

I popped in the System Recover disks about midnight last night, and this morning everything looks just plumb hunkey-dorey! It has been disheartening to start at the beginning, spending more than an hour re-installing my internet stuff and trying to decide just what I need on here to be really happy... but it works! I can SEE! Even my laptop screen looks pretty decent!

Ahhh... I was afraid of missing this for days and days, and it seems I won't have to.

YEA!!! (doin' the "Happy Dance!")

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I seem to be fading FAST

Okay -- I'm getting a message that my problem is an error with my display driver. It's getting harder and harder to do what I need to do on the computer -- in fact, tonight I had to connect the monitor from my pc (which is in the shop with a hardware problem) because I can't get any image to show up on my laptop screen.

This is terribly frustrating, because I'm very dependent on my computer, with one down and the other acting as if it's on its last leg... PLUS... on the recommendation of a friend who wanted, at the time, to be able to webcam and Skype with me from the Funny Farm as we had grown accustomed to doing from Raleigh, I recently got connected with a DSL server and I HATE to pay for service I can't use and if I cancel the DSL I have to pay a $100 penalty on TOP of the $200 or so I had to pay for equipment just a couple months ago... (and we never DID webcam or Skype... go figure! Ya spend the big bucks to make the fellers happy, and what do they do but change their minds! Sheesh!)

So here I am... trying to use Yahoo Instant Messenger tonight and all I could see on my end was cybernetic salad, funny lines in the typing screen --

So I'm going to try running my System Restore disk now on the recommendation of another friend.. Fingers crossed!
Weird, weird, weird. And exceedingly frustrating!

not gone YET

The computer is still booting me up in Safe Mode. I'm going to pull out the System Restore CD later today and see if that works... Worst case scenario? I'll be looking for TWO computer hard drives, one for the pc, one for the notebook. What a bummer!

Thanks for sticking with me

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An unwanted vacation

More computer trouble! My pc is in the shop with a hard drive problem, and now my poor little laptop is not wanting to crank up, either. She's operating in "Safe Mode" (which might well be a good lesson for a great many of us "bear-ish" people) and I don't know what to expect from this. If I don't post for a while -- don't forget me, do please pray for me! and I'll post whenever and wherever I can...if I have to visit the public library in order to do it!

God bless you!

Monday, October 17, 2005

A profound prayer

I'd give this an attribution if I could trace it. Thanks to Linda for the forward!

(Non-Catholics, this is a litany, which means certain response lines, like "Lord, Jesus, free me!" are repeated after every line, even if they're not repeated in print -- i.e., "... loved ..... Lord Jesus, free me!")


Jesus, meek and humble of heart! Hear me!
From the desire of being:
esteemed..... Lord, Jesus, free me!

From the fear of being:
humbled..... Lord, Jesus, free me!

From resenting that my opinion is not followed,.....
Lord, Jesus, free me!

That others:
will be loved more than I,..... Lord Jesus make this my prayer!
will be more esteemed than I.....
will increase in the opinion of the world while I diminish.....
will be chosen while I am set aside.....
will be praised while I am overlooked.....
will be preferred to me in everything.....

Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, though you were God, you humbled yourself to the extreme of dying on a cross, to set an enduring example to the shame of my arrogance and vanity. Help me to learn your example and put it into practice so that, by humbling myself in accordance with my lowliness here on earth, you can lift me up to rejoice in you forever in heaven.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Nuclear deja vu!

Oh, gosh. When I was a kid, this sort of information was disseminated broadly, and I spent literally hours looking at it, imagining what it would be like to have to live in our basement in case the Russians blasted us. Now we're in danger from radical Islamic groups, and the information is a little modernized, but it's essentially still the same. Look here.

So... I crashed. Now what?

Back in the summer I started an intensely personal little work called "Part Two" which was intended for an audience of one. It was actually a love letter, and now it will never be finished.

I began the work: It's frightening, loving someone, falling in love. I really believed I was done with the whole business, as penance and perhaps earthly purgatory for past sins and utter stupidity. I was blissfully travelling down my perceived straight life-road when it dipped to reveal S-curves and hairpins so suddenly at my feet I had no time to brake to check my speed. Can I navigate this stretch of road? or will I crash?

Well, I crashed, and it has been a pretty bad smash-up. A very ugly sight, in fact. The details aren't important; the point is, I'm going to recover. It hurts like oral surgery without benefit of anesthesia (polite way of saying hurts like bloody hell!), but... I'm tough, I can take it!

Yeah, right, and donkeys fly. The past two weeks I've been in a right state, grieving and holding tightly to the hands of friends who love us both, afraid to let go for fear the ground is going to swallow me up alive, wailing "WHY???...."

So, if I'm not going to entertain you with all the gruesome details, why am I blogging about it at all?

So I can publicly affirm my hope in the goodness of God.

I learned during my first divorce that there is nothing that can happen to us that God won't use for our greater good and for His greater glory. I believe it with all my heart, I believe I'm going to see that good coming out of this disapointment. I believe the time is going to come sooner than later when I can thank Him for everything about the situation.

In fact, I already have a lot to be grateful for: my circle of friends has grown through him (I hope they will continue to be my friends!), and my sense of my own worth is ever so much greater than it was before he came into my life. All in all, I wouldn't have missed the adventure for all the world. I wish it had been handled differently -- but even that will be turned into a blessing, somehow.

God's blessings and His redemptive mercy -- both for him and for me.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The real serenity prayer

We all know the Serenity Prayer, right? If you've ever been to an AA or AlAnon meeting, you are introduced to this right off.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

No -- not yet, "amen." Reinhold Niebuhr began his prayer with those lines, and here is the rest. Enjoy meditating on this, the unknown portion of this wonderful prayer:

...Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
the sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

from the Redneck Snigger and Snort file:

I found myself behind a Cadillac Escalade this morning between the funny farm and Pinehurst. Somehow the idea of the epitome of big, expensive luxury cars does not reconcile with trucks. I mean, honestly, can you imagine this scenario (written in dialect)?

(Scene: a cow pasture, complete with grazing Whiteface cattle, cow pies visible in the foreground. It is mid-day, and two hot, sweaty, filthy dirty men are standing by a stand of wire fencing, wiping their faces with red bandana handkerchiefs.)
Man 1: "Hey, Diddy, whadya wont me t' do with this-here leftover roll of wire?"
Man 2: "Aw, well, Junior, we gotta go get a load o'manure before we go home -- yer mama's been after me t'fertilize her roses. Just throw all that stuff on t' the back o' the Caddy, there."

How much do you reckon Cadillac would pay me to work their ad campaign?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How many cooking knives does one woman need???

I've long joked that I have one outstanding domestic quality: I live in a house. I've never been very tidy or organized, or in fact even known what needs to be done when where or how -- the result of growing up in a household that is the stuff of news items. Literally -- there was a path through the living room from the door to the hall to the couch to the television; the rest of the floor was covered in old newspapers and magazines, paper coffee cups, books, empty kleenex boxes... junk. Often the clutter had to be moved from the chair so we could sit down (it just got set on the floor on top of the other clutter). I don't remember my mother ever cleaning up our home or running the vacuum ... I have a faint memory of seeing her at the ironing board.

I always swore! I was going to be a better housekeeper than my mother. I've been successful, too -- of course, it doesn't take much to meet that standard! But I've long felt, too, that there had to be more... if only I could find out how to go about knowing what that "more" actually was.

Well, I'm happy to tell the entire world that my house is shaping up wonderfully thanks to Marla and the Crew at FLYlady. I've Boogied over 200 pounds of CLUTTER from my house in the past month, giving away to neighbors and Goodwill and hauling what isn't good enough to share to the dump. My laundry is caught up, supper is in the crockpot, and if someone knocked on my front door right now, the only thing I'd have to shift in order to have a fully grand living room is my sweater (which I'm about to put back on anyway -- it's chilly today!)

This week's Zone is the Kitchen. Today I pulled out a silverware drawer that has needed attention for a long time -- and discovered I own 1 chef's knife, 3 butcher knives, 5 knives that I think are for filleting (I got them at a box in my sister-in-law's yard sale), 6 paring knives, a bread knife, another serrated knife, and some half-dozen steak knives I never use. I have put all but one of each style in a box to go to a friend who often butchers his own meat.

This is kinda fun, ya know?

and another favorite poem...

...discovered during the same period of my life is Tennyson's "Ulysses." This is based, of course, as you can discern from the title, on Homer's Odyssey, in which the hero-king, Odysseus, goes to fight in the Trojan wars and by the whims of the gods is delayed for some 20 years from returning to his home. I discovered this poem while I was a student at Guilford College -- five wonderful years of self-discovery and awakening to the wide world -- it's no wonder this poem felt for me very much like a banner, a battle-flag.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Millay favorite

Back in the late 80s I found at a Friends of the Library sale a thin little volume -- autographed! -- of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Sadly, it is one of the treasures I parted with before the divorce, when his drinking was out of control, when money was tight and treasures were imagined expendable. Online today I found one of my favorite poems, which meant a great deal to me in those days when I was recovering from my first divorce -- and means even more today (I particularly like the imagery of Friendship better than bread):

To A Friend Estranged From Me

Now goes under, and I watch go under, the sun
That will not rise again.
Today has seen the setting, in your eyes, cold and senseless as the sea,
Of friendship better than bread, and of bright charity
That lifts man a little above the beasts that run.
That this could be!
That I should live to see
Most vulgar Pride, that stale obstreperous clown,
So fitted out with purple robe and crown
To stand among his betters! Face to face
With outraged me in this once holy place,
Where Wisdom was a favoured guest and hunted
Truth was harbored out of danger,
He bulks enthroned, a lewd, an insupportable stranger!

I would have sworn, indeed I swore it:
The hills may shift, the waters may decline,
Winter may twist the stem from the twig that bore it,
But never your love from me, your hand from mine.

Now goes under the sun, and I watch it go under,
Farewell, sweet light, great wonder!
You, too, farewell, -- but fare not well enough to dream
You have done wisely to invite the night before the darkness came.


and every other literary and artistic representation of pigs, currently being held hostage by Muslims in the Western World (see here)

Look, folks, if you find offense in the cultural and literary icons of a nation... STAY HOME. (And I hope with all my heart that Mahbubur Rahman is thoroughly beaten in his next election bid.)

See Lost Budgie and Relapsed Catholic for more information.

WHOA! GREAT Catholic Media Portal

Gotta look at this! Good work, Joao! and thanks for the link!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The "Conversion Handbook" and lectio divina

The "Handbook" is, of course, the Bible.

I cheered when I saw recently that the Holy Father has issued a statement urging Catholics to devote themselves to the private reading of the Scriptures. There's long been a myth that the Church actively discourages and even prohibits such reading. What the Church refutes is private interpretation of the Scriptures -- not the reading of them!

In fact, in recommending the Bible to the Faithful, Benedict referred to a very ancient practice of meditating upon the Scriptures called lectio divina. In monastic communities since ancient times, the readings of sacred works -- the Scriptures usually, but also other religious writings, like the Church Fathers -- are observed during mealtimes. A lector is appointed to read aloud to the community. After the reading, there is a period of silence where the reading is meditated upon... mentally digested, if you'll pardon the obvious and bad pun.

Look here for some wonderful resources on this rich way of discovering the Scriptures.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm a BEAR!

You Are A: Bear Cub!

bear cubBears are strong and independent creatures who roam in the forest in search of food. Bears are usually gentle, but anger one and be prepared for their full fury! You won't back down from a fight -- a classic attribute of bears. Intelligent and resourceful, though lazy at times, you are a fascinating creature of the wild.

You were almost a: Pony or a Puppy
You are least like a: Duckling or a ParakeetWhat Cute Animal Are You?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The necessity of true conversion

Most people immediately recognize the vows associated with religious life: poverty, chastity and obedience. It's surprising to discover that the vows of the Benedictine order (and orders derived from the Rule of Benedict, such as the Cistercians) are different. The first vow a Benedictine takes is of obedience, but the other two are startling: one is to the stability of the community, the other is of conversio -- translated loosely as "conversion of manners" or "conversion of one's behavior."

As a Protestant, I thought of conversion as a beginning and an end all at once. One accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, experiencing the New Birth; the rest would follow without need of deliberation or effort on my part, as a baby naturally and without deliberate choice progresses through stages of infancy to creeping about on all fours to standing, walking, running, learning to climb....

That's a good starting point, but it's not enough. We aren't talking about simple physical maturation in the religious life, but of this other, abstract dimension of emotion and spirit, and those are matters that we have to choose to bring into submission to Christ.

A man might be in the habit of loose and careless sexual behavior prior to his accepting Christ. When he comes to Christ, he knows that sex outside marriage is wrong, so he resolves to follow Christ in a chaste life. But that decision is not enough. He is habituated to certain pleasures and behaviors, perhaps to the point that they have become compulsions. He craves the intimacy and the pleasure he derived from his relationships. It becomes an obsessive craving for him -- not unlike, I suppose, the cravings I've been told a recovering alcoholic faces. What is he to do? Simply give up and give in, trusting "grace" to force God to turn a blind eye to what he himself knows is sin and offensive to God?

If I am long accustomed to thinking I know it all, and feeling arrogant pride in my quick mind, or in my various abilities, then when I come against a superior at work who wants a task approached in a way that is contrary to my own perception in the matter... If I have become habituated in any sin -- pride and self-sufficiency, a too-long indulged quick and violent temper, sloth, love of luxury and carnal (not necessarily sexual) gratification, love of idleness, inordinate desire for things beyond my reasonable reach... -- then am I allowed to continue to wallow in these sins?

St. Paul said absolutely not! We are not to "sin, so that grace may abound." That is the way to death and damnation. Instead, we are to pursue the life of holiness.

St. Paul used a compelling metaphor to describe this process, of the athlete training for a competition, then running his race. An athlete doesn't get a gold medal for stepping out onto the track, and we don't win the Kingdom of Heaven simply because we become Christians on some semi-intellectual level. The athlete -- and the Christian -- make a life commitment to disciplines and habits that go utterly against our basic human nature, in order to achieve a goal. The athlete adopts a lifestyle that goes against every assumption non-athletes consider "normal," a lifestyle we would consider unnatural in order to fully prepare his body and his mind for achieving his ambition of winning the prizes associated with his chosen sport.

So the Christian is compelled, if indeed we are Christians, to re-order our lives in unnatural ways to train for Heaven. We get up early to pray before undertaking the day's labors, when it would be quite natural to sleep in. We plan our meals based on principles of stewardship rather than the natural considerations of pleasure and status. We deal with even the most difficult people in our lives in the principles taught by Christ to His disciples, with Charity as our focal rule, when the natural tendency would be impatience, criticism, and temper. We unnaturally deprive ourselves of superficial gratification in order to devote ourselves to reaching the level of excellence we are called -- and as bold and brash as it still seems to me, I'll say it:

We are called to be Saints.

And a saint is not merely a camp follower or a "groupie" of a church or a pastor or even of Christ Himself; a saint is someone who has achieved a high degree of holiness, of Christlikeness in his or her life. The Scriptures distinguish between believers and saints. Believers are on the track: saints have demonstrably won the prize. Not everyone competitor wins the prize, Paul reminds us.

That's why it appeals so strongly to me, after some 48 years of self-indulgent living that has brought only frustration and failure, to look at an Order that acknowledges openly that the "natural" life is diametrically opposed to the victorious Christian life. I need to be converted -- changed over from my old ways of thinking and living to ways that are fully consistent and reflective of God's.

The Rule of Benedict, Chapter 4

The Instruments of Good Works

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength...
(2) Then, one's neighbor as one's self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).
(3) Then, not to kill...
(4) Not to commit adultery...
(5) Not to steal...
(6) Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).
(7) Not to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20).
(8) To honor all men (cf 1 Pt 2:17).
(9) And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).
(10) To deny one's self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).
(11) To chastise the body (cf 1 Cor 9:27).
(12) Not to seek after pleasures.
(13) To love fasting.
(14) To relieve the poor.
(15) To clothe the naked...
(16) To visit the sick (cf Mt 25:36).
(17) To bury the dead.
(18) To help in trouble.
(19) To console the sorrowing.
(20) To hold one's self aloof from worldly ways.
(21) To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
(22) Not to give way to anger.
(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.
(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
(25) Not to make a false peace.
(26) Not to forsake charity.
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.
(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).
(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.
(31) To love one's enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).
(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.
(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).
(34) Not to be proud...
(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).
(36) Not to be a great eater.
(37) Not to be drowsy.
(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).
(39) Not to be a murmurer.
(40) Not to be a detractor.
(41) To put one's trust in God.
(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.
(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.
(44) To fear the day of judgment.
(45) To be in dread of hell.
(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
(47) To keep death before one's eyes daily.
(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.
(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.
(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one's heart.
(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.
(52) To guard one's tongue against bad and wicked speech.
(53) Not to love much speaking.
(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
(55) Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.
(57) To apply one's self often to prayer.
(58) To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.
(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).
(60) To hate one's own will.
(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: "What they say, do ye; what they do, do ye not" (Mt 23:3).
(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.
(63) To fulfil daily the commandments of God by works.
(64) To love chastity.
(65) To hate no one.
(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.
(67) Not to love strife.
(68) Not to love pride.
(69) To honor the aged.
(70) To love the younger.
(71) To pray for one's enemies in the love of Christ.
(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.
(73) And never to despair of God's mercy.

Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward which He hath promised: "The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1 Cor 2:9). But the workshop in which we perform all these works with diligence is the enclosure of the monastery, and stability in the community.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Contemplating Religious Life

The religious life traditionally is used to describe the life of a religious (in this case a noun, not an adjective), a monk or a nun or sister, a "professional," if you will. After a bitter disapointment recently, I started thinking, I ought to just join a convent! I've always had an immense admiration for women who consecrate their lives to God, foregoing the comforts of marriage and family life to life fully for Him. Their lives run a widely diverse range of service, from the active service of rescue work Mother Teresa of Calcutta made famous, or to teaching and nursing, to the cloistered (fully separated from the world) and devoted to prayer.

So I started looking at the internet at religious orders. Most have an age limit of 35... I passed that a LONG time ago! LOL -- I'll be 48 in three weeks! -- but several very appealing orders have age restrictions as high as 60. This is in both active and contemplative orders.

But the more I think about uprooting completely, disposing of my home and furnishings, relocating to another part of the country (if not the world!)... starting as a complete and total novice at the age of near-50 (and likely would be past my fiftieth by the time I could be admitted)... I feel rather strongly dissuaded from even trying.

Fortunately, there are options, it's not strictly a matter of all or nothing, convent or fully secular life. There are opportunities for lay men and women to affiliate with religious orders as laypeople, take certain limited vows, and to remain in the world as a lay member of the order. The Franciscans and the Carmelites have what they call Third Order affiliations; the Benedictines have a program called oblation.

The word oblate comes from the Latin, meaning "offering," and that is just what we are called to do: to offer ourselves fully to God, to live as His called people, in His service, in the world.

The vows a Third Order or oblate takes are of daily prayer, acts of Christian piety, and participation in an affiliate group, in addition to specific emphases of the particular order. There's a Third Order Carmelite group up in Raleigh, and a Benedictine Abbey which has a strong oblate program over in Charlotte. I think this is going to be the best avenue I have of achieving what I want in my Christian life.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gentle Rains

Tropical Storm Tammy is blessing our region with some wonderful and much-needed rain today. Bubba woke me up again this morning, this time about quarter til four, and I heard the rain on the roof and realized I'd left the garden shed (also my writing shed) standing wide open. I went out and shut the doors during a lovely break in the early sporadic showers that were just starting to move into the area.

It reminds me that early and late rains feature heavily in the prophecies surrounding the outpouring of God's spirit before and during the terrible Chastisements that fall upon the land during the Last Days. I got a bellyfull of bad eschatology (Last Days theology) during my years as an evangelical, and I have to admit that I haven't even attempted to second-guess the Church as regards the end of time as we know it, beyond knowing that the Church has major doctines on the Four Last Things, which are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.

I think we need to be reading the signs and realizing that God is standing at the threshold of administering a great Judgment. Natural and man-made disasters are besetting us at an alarming rate, and like the sign of the woman taken by birth pangs, these incidents are increasing in frequency and intensity. Our nation is taken up in the Culture of Death, we are being fed immorality and being desensitized to sin and carnality that decent people of even a generation ago could recognize and be duly shocked by. We're seeing the day prophesied by Isaiah, in which black has become white and white, black, in the popular lexicon.

Our Lord gave us the signs and warnings of the end of the age so that we could be duly alert and diligent when the time came. Of course, it's true that any one of us could be facing Him in our own final judgment before the sun rises again tomorrow, finding unexpected Death in any number of ways. But more than likely, the vast majority of us will live for more than just tonight, and we owe it to ourselves, to God, and to our fellow men who are floundering in sin and darkness, to be about our business of rescuing souls from ultimate perishing.

A new feature

If you'll kindly look to the right-hand side of this page to the sidebar there, you'll notice that, under my photo and the Contributors list, there's a new little section for prayer requests. I am always so surprised by the number of people who look in on this blog, and the amazing range of locations you all originate from, I thought you could help me pray for some people I care about who are in need of a bit extra support just now.

Bill and Ed are both recovering from their respective surgeries. I've talked with both, and they are mending despite physical discomfort; however, that physical discomfort can be extreme.

Mary Ann has an appointment at Duke coming up. She is on her second round of chemo -- sooner than she was supposed to have been because the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. The chemo has made her very ill, and the medication that is supposed to counter the illness has not been effective... all in all, her local doctor is at the limits of his expertise and is sending her to Duke.

Thanks to Randy for setting this up for me, thanks to you all for your prayers for my friends. If you would like for me to post a need, you are welcome to email me at; please put "Blog" somewhere in your subject bar.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Simple Living -- when people you know make a difference

I know where I'll be at 6:00 this evening -- watching NC Public Television and a new evening show they're airing, called "Simple Living." The co-creators of this program are Wanda Urbanska and her husband, Frank Levering, of Levering Orchard near Ararat, Virginia.

I knew Frank's parents, a lovely, deep, wise couple named Sam and Miriam Levering, back in the days when I was a Quaker. Sam and Miriam were architects of the Law of the Seas Treaty and my first intelligent introduction to political activism.

Now, I am, and always have been an unapologetic one-issue voter, and that one issue is the right to life, opposing abortion and euthenasia in all its forms and guises. Some of my friends think my approach is terribly narrow and naive, but it seems to me that the other issues -- the socioeconomic issues -- really are the other side of the same coin, and that when we can acknowledge that human life is more valuable than any bird or beast on the Endangered Species list, and only when that occurs, then we will as a matter of natural consequence become more sensitive to the necessity of work with dignity and decent wages and of the protection of the environmental resources upon which we are all so desparately dependent. But for many years, the other issues didn't register much interest with me at all. It was through my acquaintance with Sam and Miriam that I saw that all these issues are part of a fabric of responsible, reverent living.

So, now Wanda has her own television show, and I'm enjoying perusing her website, and I recommend both to you, as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Praying for --

those affected by the wildfires in southern California. Randy lives quite close to that area, and he's posted some photos and video on his website that I find alarming.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

i love my cat

Dateline: The Farm. 3:45 a.m., September 27, 2005

I am sleeping deeply, enjoying a very pleasant dream (can't remember now what it was about), when it happens. First the heavy weight going across my back. From the way my body feels as I wake up, I know I am in need of a chiropractic adjustment I don't have the money for right now. Never mind -- try to go back to sleep.

Sleep, however, is impossible. A soft paw pats my face. "Meow," says the one cat on the planet bold enough to wake me up in the middle of the night. Bubba-Thor wants something. He can wait; I roll over. He follows me, walking back across my back and patting my face on the other exposed cheek. I raise my arm to cover my face. He persists.

Now, what he wants is food. The cat food bag is standing on the floor, wide open -- all he has to do is stick his nose in the bag and he can eat all he could ever want in one sitting. There is even a saucer on the floor with bits of fat from the ribeye steak I ate for supper last night. This is also a cat that easily will top the scales at more than 20 lbs. Bubba could very well wait... two and a half hours for breakfast. But, oh, no, what this cat wants is for me to get up and fill his bowl. Now. No excuses, no delays.

If I ever want to be allowed to sleep again in this lifetime... I get up, go fill the stupid bowl, stop by the lgr (little girls' room) and go back to bed... where I lie in bed, tossing and turning, wide awake. Boogers!

And that is why I am posting to my blog at 4:30 a.m. Maybe, with a little luck, I can get about another hours' sleep before I have to be at work?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

And today marks the Autumnal Equinox -- so Happy First Day of Fall to everyone!

We ought to be seeing the end of these 90+ degree days soon, yes?

His Yoke is Easy

Another of the choruses in Messiah is "His Yoke is Easy," taken from Mt. 11:30. It follows immediately on the heels of the wonderful Alto and Soprano Airs, "He Shall Feed His Flock" (which I sang for my audition, anyone's interested) and "Come Unto Him." The airs are a gentle, serene legato (smooth and connected); the chorus completes the passage with a light, airy series of melismas -- a single syllable sung over multiple notes (think how the word "Gloria" is expanded over many notes in "Angels We Have Heard on High") -- "His yoke is easy, and his burthen is light."

The joke is, the piece isn't easy! In fact, my section leader sent us the notes on this chorus in an email entitled "His Yoke Is Easy -- but this piece isn't!" It's hard work perfecting those 16th-note melismas so they sound light-hearted and airy and even playful, rather than heavy, thumping and downright pedestrian.

It occurs to me, practicing at the piano last week and this, that this chorus is a great metaphor for being a Christian. His yoke is easy, His burden is light... but to train ourselves to take it up and joyfully to fling ourselves into His life of grace is a hard lesson to achieve. But look! I spend minutes each day at the piano, working out these runs in very slow and plodding steps so that, when December 11 rolls around and we're performing this cantata before an audience, I'll be able to trip those 16th notes as lightly as a feather floating through the air, or a child skipping a rope in unself-conscious joy. I practice similar exercises in prayer, spiritual discipline and attempted obedience so that in the really crucial hours of need I can lightly, gracefully perform that service for which God is preparing me.

It's all about preparation, practice.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Reflections on a Mission

I began this blog in April with the intention of sharing pithy reflections and insights on the Christian life but it quickly deteriorated to the general sort of "oh look isn't this cute" sort of outlet. Well, I needed the practice and the warm-up, I suppose; I certainly wasn't experiencing the pithy sorts of thoughts and insights I had wanted!

I think the direction of this blog is about to change -- I hope for the better. My parish, St. Anthony of Padua, had a Mission this week. For my non-Catholic friends, Mission is kind of the Catholic equivalent of Revival services, with a very important twist: it seems that in the evangelical circles where I hung out for more than 20 years, revival was a strong emotional stirring-up. It took my introduction to Keith Green's Last Days Ministries to introduce me to the revival literature of the 19th century, particularly that of Charles G. Finney to point me to a direction of the deepest meanings of revival. The Catholic Mission goes even deeper than that.

The first Mission I attended was at this same parish, back in '97, given by the Redemptorist Fathers. One of the Fathers with us that week -- when I was very much drawn to the Church but not ready to dive headlong into converting -- gave a homily (sermon) on the Crucifixion that was the most powerful I had ever heard. I'd been told the Catholics don't get preaching like that. They most certainly do! And some of us are blessed to be able to get high-quality preaching every day.

Well, this Mission was also an answer to prayer for me. Fr. David Wilton of the Fathers of Mercy was our Mission speaker. Over the course of five days and six talks, he led those of us in attendance into a deeper union with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ -- beginning with the promise that "God has a plan" to the effects of sin and the importance of Confession, the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of Faith, morality and love, and finally "The Importance of Prayer."

I didn't feel my emotions stirred up and manipulated. There was no hollering or dancing about on the altar or raising of hands or any of the outward and superficial signs of religious fervor -- but everywhere around me, I felt people bending their heads forward and saying "yes" to a deeper life of faith and fidelity to Christ.

I certainly said "Yes" several times over this week. I went to Confession on Wednesday night and laid before my spiritual director and friend, God's representative to me, my most grievous and recurring sins, found forgiveness and the strenght to begin anew... again (for the umpteenth time).

I hope that from this point on my blog will be both a celebration of Faith and an encouragement in Faith. I'll probably be posting more about things that resonate with my own needs as I strive to be "remade in the image of Christ" -- about being "born again," Confession, the Eucharist, vocation, exploring a possible call to religious life... The most intimate details of our lives are also the most universal, so I can only hope that my thoughts and reflections will have some effect of helping me and my new friends grow closer to the One Who calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From the "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???" files

Did the Raleigh, NC, city officials who enacted the below-referenced law think people would deliberately plant and cultivate... poison ivy? Look here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Messiah rehearsals begin

Okay, for those of you who haven't been able to view the entire page of Randy's website (and I can't on this laptop) -- what I was trying to send you to was his charming and touchingly loyal announcement that I have been accepted to sing in the North Carolina Master Chorale during this new season.

Rehearsals began a week ago, and we've begun the season by taking a flying (and I do mean flying! dizzying! overpowering!) overview of Handel's Messiah, which will be our Christmas concert on December 11.

Messiah is an amazing work. If you're not familiar with it you're missing a right treat. Georg Frideric Handel was a German-born composer who settled in London. In 1741, he undertook to write an oratorio on the life of Christ; tradition holds that he completed the entire oratorio -- some 53 chorases, arias and recitatives -- in exactly one month. Of course, he was using the text of Scripture as his libretto (words), and I suppose music just doesn't have a better starting place!

Even our rehearsals are proving to be a religious experience -- and I'm saying that based on two very fast-paced fly-throughs. I'm sure it will become far more intense as we address the choruses in intricate detail in coming weeks.

Last night we looked at the dramatic chorus, No. 28, "He Trusted in God." Since the very nature of an oratorio is to present a dramatic work through music alone, without the aid of actors or scenery (which would make the production an opera, which was prohibited during Lent in those days), the choruses have to carry the audience forward in imagining the drama represented by the music. "He Trusted in God" is the mob scene at Jesus' trial, and it starts out with one angry voice, the baritone section: "He trusted in God that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, if he delight in him." The tenor picks up the theme, then the altos, finally the sopranos -- one voice, one section, a riot ensues. Over and over, round and round, the mob scene intensifies; only the one sentence is repeated over and over without interruption by other ideas: He trusted in God that he would deliver him; let him deliver him if he delight in him!

We, the chorus, momentarily become the angry mob demanding the crucifixion of the Lord who was utterly and completely without Guilt. By our voices, we rage in utter contempt of Him who was blameless, demanding His Blood.

It's a passionate chorus, and for a moment I feel a little too much identification with the rabble; it will be better in a few minutes when we become the Voice of the Psalmist, lightly invoking "Lift up your heads, o ye gates... that the King of Glory may come in!"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

An ancient lesson for Modern Ears

Once upon a time, there was a fellow named, of all things, Amnon. I say, "of all things," because, ironically, Amnon means "faithful." hmmm... Well, Amnon had a half-sister, and her name was Tamar (Tamar means "palm tree," but this has no bearing on my story). Amnon got it into his head that Tamar was the only woman in all the wide world for him. His longing for her was so bad, he couldn't eat, he just lay around mooning over Tamar. And a friend of his (with friends like this, who needs enemies?) helped Amnon lay a trap. He called for his sister Tamar to come bring him some supper and to feed him... and when she came to help him in his hour of need, he grabbed her and... he raped her.

And the Bible says, in 2 Samuel 13:15 -- because this is a Bible story, in case you didn't recognize our cast of characters -- that after he had his way with Tamar, after he had used her to gratify his own selfish impulses, "Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her."

Do you know anyone who ever wanted anything so badly that they just couldn't think of anything else, except how to get that very particular thing? Think of kids, how they get fixated on a toy they just "gotta have!"... and they save their money and they whine and fuss and pitch temper tantrums until they get that toy... and two days later you're walking through the living room and there sits that super-fantastic-terrific-totally-awesome-gottahave toy... abandoned. Forgotten. Nope! it wasn't what the build-up made it out to be; time to move on to newer, brighter, bigger, better, more in-fashion, more explicitly guaranteed to make us happy, popular, cool...

What's worse is that even adults can treat one another as Amnon treated Tamar. We can cozy up to someone, win their trust, their affection, then exploit them and abandon them in a fit of self-righteous contempt.

"The hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her." There's a lesson in that for a lot of us, I think.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

You won't hear about this from Sharpton or Jackson

Cheers and God's blessings on the Catholic people of Louisiana and Texas!

It is being reported that the dioceses hit by Katrina have been adopted by other dioceses in the region: the Archdiocese of New Orleans has moved to Baton Rouge, where the Archbishop is opening a chancery (offices) in an unused school. The Diocese of Jackson has adopted the Diocese of Biloxi; and the Diocese of Lafayette the Diocese of Homa-Thibodaux.

Schools in these dioceses have been warned to expect double enrollment next week as area Catholics provide refugee centers and take families into their own homes.

A Vietnamese Catholic convent in Houston, Texas, has also opened its doors to refugees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Sister Hang Pham teased, “But don’t worry, we are not asking [the non-Catholics] to convert!”

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Lament for NOLA

New Orleans has been in my prayers all week long, and so have been some of the outlying communities, especially those in St. Charles Parish, where I lived for a few months in 2001. I see on the internet tonight that St. Charles has no power but little flooding and property damage and are letting residents return with the caveat that there are no stores open and little fuel.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, the federal government and particularly President Bush have taken some hard hits by loud-mouthed incompetents who are not up to thinking clearly or owning responsibility for their own mess. The fact is that NOLA administration has been revealed for the incompetent and corrupt mess I've often heard it locally joked about. Local law enforcement have walked off the job en masse this past week, some have participated in looting and been incredibly rude to locals trying to get help to leave the city or for sick family members. These shameful things have been abundantly reported by every major and minor news source I've looked at this week.

Moreover, the NOLA mayor and the state's governor, unlike their Mississippi counterparts, delayed turning over management of the city until situation was out of hand. Louisiana National Guard troops were not requested in a timely manner, and many of the NG -- now replaced by military units -- have made statements that they were either not given clear orders as to what their responsibility was supposed to be, or that they were given instructions limiting their involvement to search and rescue in the City, effectively having their hands tied behind their backs and actively hindered from helping to bring about law and order so desparately needed.

Even more infuriating is the new upchucking rhetoric, led by the ubiquitous team of Sharpton and Jackson, that NOLA is being neglected by Washington (read: President Bush) because it is a city with an extremely large black population. They've conveniently ignored the fact that Mayor Nagin has been calling the shots that has led to this fiasco, and he is black! How many of you have seen the photos of NOLA school buses partially submerged in water in school parking lots? Why didn't Nagin order those buses used to evac the city over last week-end? He could have saved lives and the city the money it's going to cost to replace or repair those water-logged school buses. Instead of being pro-active and responsible, he's letting Jackson and Sharpton set the tone of blaming the Bush administration for not bailing him out of his humiliation sooner.

President Bush is going to be blamed for everything in this one -- from not sending federal troops in before they were asked for, for those troops applying force if necessary to restore order to the city, even for the fact that Katrina existed if the rhetoric can be made palpable enough. He needs our ongoing prayers, along with the residents of the city of New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What a guy!

I have a hard time tootin' my own horn, and Randy did such a delightful job of doing it for me, I'm sending everyone I know here for the announcement --

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A recommendation

of a hysterically funny web site: The Curt Jester!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Great News from my friend, Catalinni!

She give me permission to share her email with everyone:

As you know I had my last chemo treatment at the end of June. Today I was given a clean bill of health from the oncologist. The cat scan I had last week shows that everything is back to normal. All the blood counts are normal too. He said “see you in 3 months”.

I am over the moon.

It doesn’t necessarily mean those sneaky little shmoos aren’t lurking around inside somewhere, it just means they are sleeping for now. Hopefully they will sleep for a long, long time.

It seems if it isn’t one end it’s the other. They get me comin’ and goin’! Tomorrow I am having two molars surgically removed, to the tune of $800 bucks. Highway robbery! A few days of pain and fasting, and then I will be as good as new. After what I have been through in the past 5 years, this should be a walk in the park.

On September 9th at 4: pm I will be travelling East with my niece for her brother’s wedding in Toronto. Livi can only stay ten days, but I got a one-way ticket. That way I can stay and visit til they get tired of me, or I get tired of them, whichever comes first.

I plan to move around and visit with different families and friends. And there are lots of them. So I don’t want to tie myself to a deadline.

When I’ve done all I want to do I will come home. Might even sneak a weekend in New York City if I can get travel insurance. If you’re over 70 and have a pre-existing condition it is next to impossible.

That was my short term goal – to get to Toronto. My long term goal is to be here for the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver.

Isn't she something else!