Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Prayer Needs NOW

Chris, my co-contributor (read: technical assistant) is in hospital right now. She is in for an aneurysm.

Nora, dear friend from my choir, is in hospital, having undergone surgery for cancer this week.

Please pray for these two precious dear and wonderful women and their speedy recovery.
Yikes! Has it been SO LONG since I posted?
So much has happened, are you SURE I have been so long away???

Okay - There's a new photo, as soon as Chris is up to replacing the old one.

I started to post a few weeks ago (honest!) in celebration of the anniversary of a very special friendship. After only a couple of sentences, though, I shut down this window and went to Word, where my idea very quickly became an article, which has been accepted for publication by Catholic Match Magazine. "In Celebration of Holy Friendship" is due to appear in the January edition of the online magazine. I'll post a link here when it comes out.

The Advent and Christmas seasons are upon us. I had four concerts, two funerals and a regular Mass in three days over Thanksgiving weekend. I'm still recovering, in fact! Our Joy of the Season concert is coming up on Saturday. We're being recorded for broadcast over our state PBS affiliate, WUNC-TV (Channel 4, Chapel Hill) and a DVD will be available for sale, too. I'll post info on that as soon as I'm able.

I have a new email address for anyone who would care to contact me:

I've got more stuff bubbling on the back burner. See you soon!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Blessed Thanksgiving to you all!

It's such a trite saying: have an "attitude of gratitude."
Still, it's a lot to consider. We really do have a choice to be happy or miserable. Being happy largely begins with gratitude.

There's so much to be thankful for. I've got two cats curled up by my back, one on either side of me. It's warm in my house. The terrible storm of the past two days is past and the sun came out a little while ago with a vengeance, as if to more than make up for the nor'easter that nearly flooded our area.

Drowning Creek didn't come up to the road, thanks to the hard work done several years ago by the Corps of Engineers; it is stretched out almost a quarter mile in either direction of the bridge, though, I noticed on my way to Mass this morning.

It's Thanksgiving weekend. I'll be singing this weekend with the NC Symphony in their wonderful Holiday Pops concert. This year Grant Llewellyn is directing - a joy in itself.

I have been blessed with some of the most delightful and wonderful friends a woman ever had.

this is just the beginning of my list...

God bless and keep you all!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guess the Christmas Carols!

1. Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief.
2. Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.
3. Nocturnal timespan of unbroken quietness.
4. An emotion excited by they acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere.
5. Embellish the interior passageways.
6. Exalted heavenly beings to whom harkened
7. Twelve o’clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival
8. The Christmas preceding all others
9. Small municipality in Judea southeast of Jerusalem.
10. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionist cylinders.
11. Omnipotent supreme being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males.
12. Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere
13. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.
14. Expectation of arrival to populated area by mythical, masculine, perennial gift-giver.
15. Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me.
16. In awe of the nocturnal timespan characterized by religiosity.
17. Geographic state of fantasy during the season of Mother Nature‘s dormancy.
18. The first person nominative plural of a triumvirate of far eastern heads of state.
19. In a distant location the existence of an improvised unit of newborn children‘s slumber furniture.
20. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted metallic resonant cups.
21. Proceed forth declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation.
22. Jovial yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural by us.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Prayer Request

I'm asking you to pass the word along -- prayers requested for my dear friend Nora, who is facing surgery for cancer in the next week or two. She goes up to Chapel Hill this week for a consult with an oncology surgeon.

Monday, November 06, 2006


I've hit 200 posts! Wheeeeee!

on Holy Friendship

Have you ever had a particular friend of the opposite sex who just blessed your socks off? Who was a friend of the right hand, of the soul? Who enriched your life in surprising ways?

Drop me an email and let me know about it, will you? I'm writing an article on the subject, and want to use more than just my own experience to illustrate...


Saturday, November 04, 2006


We arrived at the Presbyterian church as we normally do, but instead of going into the large fellowship hall, we made our way to the sanctuary. Imagine 170 men and women crammed into a choir loft and pulpit area designed for less than a quarter so many people! Sopranos and baritones on the left, altos and tenors on the right (as you look from the back of the church)... we're squeezed as tightly as we can into the choir pews, on steps, on the floor... I cannot resist quipping how lovely it is to see men strewn on the floor about my feet.
Trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani, all warming up, then tuning with the organ...
Al steps to the box in the middle of the main aisle and raises his baton -- The trumpets begin an introduction built around "Taps"...

"Here rests in honored glory...." we sing a tribute to fallen soldiers of America's wars.

I am very very proud to announce the release of the CD, "Here Rests in Honored Glory," from The Don and Mary Miller Foundation. The song, recorded by the North Carolina Master Chorale in October, 2005, was written by Don Miller, a well-known jazz musician and composer. Sales of the CD (which I am shamelessly promoting here!) will go to benefit TAPS - the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors - a charity to serve the families of men and women who have died for America.

Please visit the website and order one of these CDs. It's a worthy cause, good music -- and if I may be so brash, we do sound GOOD. Out of the purchase cost, Mary Miller informs me that $5 goes directly to TAPS. That's a mighty good deal.

Hey - let 'em know I sent you, will you? I'd like to know how effective my marketing efforts are - wink.


Things I love about being Catholic:

Jesus in the Eucharist
The Poetry and Drama of the Holy Liturgy
The dignity of our worship
Jesus in the Eucharist
Being in a Church that has existed since the Upper Room
The kinship of Faith with Believers around the world
Truly, "The Communion of Saints" -
making friends with people who have lived for Jesus through the ages
Gregorian Chant
Holy Hours
The Rosary
The Aquinas hymns
Jesus in the Eucharist
Stations of the Cross
Knowing Mary better as my "adopted Mother"
The Litany of the Saints
Jesus in the Eucharist...
Pope John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI

Oh, I do love being Catholic! Thank you, dear Heavenly Father, that four years ago, I was allowed to stand in Your holy Sanctuary and to state those powerful words, "I do believe and profess all the Catholic Church teaches, preaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." I do believe, dear Lord! Help my life to be more fully conformed to what my head and heart believe.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I really am still here!

I've started to post twice now, and realized I wanted to develop those particular ideas as possible magazine articles.

See what bloggind does? Primes the pump! Makes me think more of myself than perhaps I warrant?

I'll talk with you tonight or tomorrow, okay?

Welcome to many visitors -- pray for me, as I have said prayers for you.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another wonderful anniversary

Friday, November 3, marks the fourth anniversary of my reception into Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I'm utterly amazed and awe-filled at God's grace and mercy in calling me to be Catholic.

But that wasn't the end of things. It seems to have been only the beginning.

One year ago November 8, I made friends with a wonderful Catholic from Chorale. He was marking his score when I plopped down beside him to chat. We'd already met, he's one of the crowd who goes out after rehearsal for food and drinks, but we'd not become acqainted. I struck up an idle conversation, but something he said prompted me to ask him where he goes to church. When he told me, it took a second to realize that he had named one of the parishes in the diocese of Raleigh.

"You're... Catholic?" I think I stammered. His face took on a certain set that told me he'd already (having only lived in NC a few months) taken a heavy hit of southern anti-Catholicism. He affirmed quietly, and with great dignity, that he is indeed Catholic. I nearly jumped off my chair. "I'm a convert! I just celebrated the third anniversary of my Confirmation!" and my brand-new friend's face lit up like Christmas morning and he grabbed my hand and shook it clean up to the shoulder.

After chorale we sat side by side at the restaurant and talked and talked and talked. It was quickly evident that this is a man who is a joyful, intelligent Catholic (I have since learned that he is quite devout - that is to say, he's wonderfully serious about his Faith). He was also nice! I don't know when I've had such a delightful, stimulating evening.

During the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he is a student of John Paull II'd Theology of the Body. I'd heard of it through COL, but I'd never done any reading on the subject. He immediately offered me the loan of some tapes he thought he had in his car (he did).

Wow. Heavy. "like being hit by a freight train," my friend recently said. Uh, yeah - right slam into the solar plexus. Painful but the best sort of painful. At times I was literally unable to catch my breath from its impact. You mean, Lord, that's what it's all about??? Being male and female, reflecting in our particular Part the Totality of Your image and likeness, being a living metaphor for the union between Christ and His Church?

My life will never be the same, thanks be to God, because of a remark, carelessly and spontaneously made, but a brand new friend.

Sometimes it's not enough for us to know the "Thou Shalt NOT's" of sin -- sometimes we need to know the rest of the sentence -- "So that thou SHALT delight in the fulfillment of God's BEST PLAN for your life as a man or a woman."

Saturday, October 28, 2006



Hello, Everyone, Yep! today is the old warhorse's Birthday. (Thanks, Chris!) I'm what some might call "45.95 plus shipping and handling." (49, okay?)



Next Friday, November 3, is the Fourth Anniversary of My ReceptionInto The Church.

So -- in celebration of these two awesome events, I'm throwing a party that can be celebrated round the world -- and indeed, I am sending it to friends throughout the U.S. and Canada, England, The Netherlands,Italy, and Australia.

Here's how it is supposed to work:

First, between now and Friday, please make a Holy Hour (or half-hour or whatever you do) -- I ask that you remember three very particular intentions for me:

A) My growing work in the Church (Music Director, Adult Faith
Formation leader) is stretching me more than I thought I could be
stretched. I love it - but pray that God would lead, direct, sustain,

B) Reconciliation with my daughters.

C) The conversion of souls and reconciliation of those who have left the Church.

After you have made your Holy Hour (in lieu of which, if you simply cannot make it to the Church for a Holy Hour, will you offer a Rosary for me?) I want you to get your favorite dessert, and your favorite beverage - and enjoy!

If you're on a diet, you are temporarily exempt to indulge, so far as health issues will permit (I know a diabetic can't eat my aunt's pound cake -- okay, SHOULD NOT) for the one brief occasion.

On Friday, let's all gather in your favorite internet forums and tell stories, especially stories of faith and answered prayers, of love, family, and friends -- and just generally enjoy one another's company.

Or through the week, post said comments HERE.

How does that sound?

Happy Birthday Laura!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Great game!

There are 30 books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing the banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving the puzzle so involving she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Hummana humbly puts it, "the books are all right there in plain view hidden from sight." Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A parent's prayer

Heavenly Mother, keep us always in mind of your Son's great mercy and understanding as we pray for our children. They are grown-up now and have left us and are living their lives according to their own ideas. We feel anxious and worried because they do not seem to feel the need of Christ, to understand the wisdom of his ways, or to be fully at ease with us or themselves.
Intervene, dearest Mother, in their lives at the moment you know to be right and help them to understand the things that lead to their peace. Help them to see their need of Christ and to experience the greatness of his love, so that we may all proclaim as you did, that his mercy truly is from generation unto generation.


(thanks, Angela)

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I've got tears rolling down my cheeks. No -- I'm fine. It's from laughing so hard. I saw that all of a sudden my little blog had been SLAMMED by tons (okay, 30) views since I looked last night -- all referred by a place called TIM BLAIR.NET

When you get to how mad Tim is, I'm the next-to-last "Very" -- or was at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight time this afternoon.

Y'all have fun! Come back and see us again some times -- the latchstring is always out to the good people of Australia!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Banning VEGEMITE???

Okay. Now we know the federal government has taken leave of its senses. THIS is the OTHER SIDE OF STUPID.

Update: Monday, October 23: the link seems flawed. I couldn't re-open it from my original source, either. So sorry! The point was, because Vegemite contains more than the miniscule amount of folic acid (vitamin B-9, I think it is) allowed by U.S. law, the food has been banned from the U.S.

Yeah. Folic acid. The stuff the FDA has been urging pregnant women to get more of... the stuff we all need more of than that "prescribed by law" minute bit we get in our multivitamin.

Really dangerous, that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The tyranny of emotionalism

I've been watching with some interest the ... um... dialogue (?) between a friend of mine and a woman from California, on a popular Catholic web site.

It started out as a friendly banter; I almost would have thought she was flirting with him: "You're going to Mass?" she wrote him, "Give my love to my sweet Jesus for me!"

Now it's deteriorated into something ugly. My friend has become "mean." "Disgusting" is one of the nicer words she's used.

What in the world -- !

Well, the thing is, my friend is a deliberate Catholic. That is, he's done a lot of reading over the years, and he knows the Church's teachings on many subjects (not least of all, abortion, euthenasia, capital punishment and other life issues), and he's made the deliberate choice to yield his opinion, emotion, and intellect to the wisdom of the Church. And he's doing an extraordinarily good job of presenting the Church's teachings and requirements to a woman who is -- on the basis of her own emotions -- determined to find offense in his steadfast presentation of the Church's teachings.

War is a horrible thing, the Church acknowledges, but sometimes it is not only just, it is necessary. Capital punishment is a horrible thing, also, but sometimes it is just and necessary. Abortion, however, is never ever ever right, and it is the moral and religious duty of every Christian to oppose the diabolical slaughter of millions of unborn annually, to oppose it with might and main -- and with vote.

She resents this. She wants to demonize the Bush administration and the Republican party as a whole for the loss of visible lives through capital punishment and the war in Iraq, establishing her outrage as a higher priority than the far greater wrong - greater morally and numerically - of the invisible losses of abortion and euthenasia.

And now she's demonized my friend (who has presented fact and principle with far more gentleness and kindness than I might have been able to do under similar circumstances) for refusing to honor her fine feelings as a greater authority than the teachings of the Church.

A woman's emotions are a powerful thing. I don't think I overstate the case when I suggest that, often, our emotions are our reality. We are swayed by them, governed by them; our energies are at the mercy of them more often than not.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. They can be our great strength. Our hearts make us keepers of hearth and home, for instance, cause us to be passionate champions for not only our families and loved ones but also, through the centuries, for causes of morality and justice. It was Pilate's wife who, because of her sensitive feelings, begged her husband not to have anything to do with the controversy that was the conviction and crucifixion of Our Lord.

But our emotions are also our weakness. Without the development of will and intellect, of strong moral conscience, a woman's emotions will lead her into unholy alliances - carnal relationships with unworthy men, or to become proponents of terrible wrongs (like abortion or euthenasia or sometimes even justice and morality in more general terms) solely by the influence of sentiment.

I was raised in word to follow what is right, but in practice to follow what felt best to me at any one moment. Of course, how I have felt has been at the mercy of everything from what I did or didn't eat for breakfast, how others have behaved, and not least, hormonal (horror-mones) influences. I know too well, too painfully, the sad consequences of a life lived in obedience to emotion.

I've also been immensely blessed to have received a good education, at Guilford College that, despite its extreme liberalism, did much to develop my mind. It's largely been an exercise in self-education, but I am learning to recognize my feelings for what they are; I try to test my intuition wherever I have the opportunity, and I try to recognize the pull of emotion and to base my decisions on more reliable factors.

This is a constant struggle, and I am distressed by the lack of stronger moral training for women in this morally relativistic -- this increasingly morally atheistic -- culture in which we live.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you should see..

... my younger daughter, Sarah, tell her I love her and am praying especially for her on her 25th birthday.

She was born on October 20, 1991, a week before my 24th birthday, and as I held her in my arms after a long, hard, arduous labor, all I could think was how untenable was Dan's and my plans to stop with only two children. holding that newborn in my arms was a joy and a contentment that I couldn't just tell God I wouldn't do any more.

He had other plans. I never had more children, one of my great sorrows. But Christy and Sarah have more than made up for the disappointment.

Whenever I am tempted to think I would like to go back in time and change my decision to marry their dad, I think of them, and I'd gladly do it all again. They make it all worthwhile.

Their existence justifies mine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two wonderful books

Browsing in the local library a couple of months ago, I found a wonderful book, A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit. Wendy writes about her discovery of an old-fashioned religiously-based modesty and the consequences of immodesty on our culture -- and particularly on women.

It's a book I recommend most enthusiastically. I am also happy to report that pre-publication sales are underway for Wendy's new book: Girls Gone Mild: Young Girls Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to be Good

You'll also enjoy checking out Wendy's blog.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Can an earnest Catholic woman FLIRT?

Okay, I'm not so sure I've ever really done a lot of flirting. My parents' voices personalize my superego, and a very efficient job it has done of keeping me meek and restrained over the years. But it took me aback when, back in May, a friend asked me just who I was flirting with these days. Or maybe it was "how many?" he asked.

Did I say "taken aback"? My dears, my friend is a 6' tall good-looking Catholic gentleman... it embarrassed the everliving daylights out of me!

So... I began to do some heavy evaluating.

Actually, this predates the query posed by my friend. For a little less than a year now, I've been in the midst of a major paradigm shift (more on that some other time). I have been holding past relationships up to the Light of the holiest of Christian ideals, ideals explained and illuminated in John Paul II's Theology of the Body and been grieved by the compromises I've been willing to make over the years.

I've also found myself brought back to myself, to my right mind, after years of carelessness and compromise of long-ago ideals. Consequently, I've been motivated to evaluate and modify my behavior so that my future life might be of a different, superior quality than the past.

Simultaneously with the attitude change, I've found myself being shown, through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, memories of conversations that had brought about or contributed to those compromised relationships. Grievously painful, that.

My conclusions are still in process of being fully formed, but here's what I've got so far:

*I have come to believe that flirting is not about friendship or about the cultivation of wholesome comraderie, but is, rather, about sex. It addresses, seeks to appeal to, that more carnal base of operations whereby men and women are superficially attracted to one another.

*If my friend and brother takes himself to "the BOX" (i.e., Confession) and one of the things he has to bring before God is the sin of carnal thoughts...
and if those carnal thoughts found their point of entry into his mind through some immodest or suggestive comment I've made -- or if he is not Catholic but still sins, knowingly or not, in consequence of my provocation --
... then I'm guilty of sinning against my brother, to whom I ought to be devoted to help attain Heaven.

*I also have bought into a worldly view of relationships, particularly dating and courtship relationships, or of attracting and inviting relationships, that I'm no longer complacent cannot be in violation of what I believe as a Christian.

So, for the time being:

I renounce flirting. I'm going to do some more evaluating of the topic and general, and my habits in particular.

Let me know what you think, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Counting blessings...

There are times when I feel like a salmon trying to get upstream, pushing against vigorous, if not overwhelming, currents of emotion and circumstance that seem determined to leave me stranded and dying where I sit. It's too easy to look at the negatives and to become entrapped in hopelessness and despair, or at least despondancy.

Counting blessings may seem like Pollyanna's game, but it is a decent antidote. I know it from experience.

One of my journals, a couple of years ago, I began with the sole intention of recording daily blessings. It was a bad patch, my nerves were raw... I felt about to go under for the third time. Then I watched through my bedroom window as a bluebird lighted on the ground outside. The sunlight catching the blue and rose of his breast and face gave me a momentary sense of being transported beyond myself --

I felt as if God were sending me a brief message of cheer and hope.

I realized that there are many such moments in each day, certainly each week, that I owed Him to pay attention to. I began jotting them down:

The bluebird. A small herd of deer in my yard when I returned from choir practice. The cloud arrangements. The smell of fresh-plowed earth; the smell of same earth with raindrops penetrating it. The butterflies flocking around the buddleia. The quail I watched for over an hour from the kitchen window - positioned under the front-yard dogwood, thrusting his little chest and chin out as he called "Bob-WHITE!" The Canadian geese honking overhead as they approached Hawthorne's pond. The hawk circling the field. A hug from a friend. The fragrance of incense during Mass...

So many ways God tells us He loves us and has not abandoned us!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

and Life AFTER

Discovering your husband or ex-husband is gay really isn't the end of the world. It only feels that way for a substantial period of time.

We all deal with it in our own way (some ways healthier than others). I remarried after eleven years, an event I wish I could delete from my history as much for its brevity as for its horrific wrongness. But at least he was straight! (which is one of two reasons I got involved with him in the first place, the other being that he really enjoyed talking to me)

I've had relationships with men that were far from healthy, but thankfully, with only one exception, an integrity was maintained throughout that allows us to still be friends in varying degrees.

I learned something in that process -- no I learned a lot of things, beginning with

1) I really like being a woman, and I'm glad God made me one.
2) I really like being me!
3) Mom was right: I didn't amount to a hill of beans. I amounted, am amounting, to a great deal more.
4) Dan was right: I am a "trophy."
5) My own instincts are most of the time spot on, worth paying attention to -- at the very least investigating.
6) God brings dignity and beauty to each of our lives - and if we keep an inner ear tuned to learn His voice, we will see His gifts to us.
7) Before we can be honest with others, we have to have the courage to be fundamentally honest with ourselves.
8) Anger is part of the process. It's not the defining part, or the terminal part. It just sometimes feels that way.
9) Soul companionship is more memorable, more re-live-able, than the most mind-blowing sex.
10) I'm just getting started.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Let it be known...

I got an email a little while ago from a friend down under -- that's Australia, by the way -- urging me to be gentler in my treatment of Dan. He may not have had the choice, she said...

I believe the beautiful boy I used to love was denied his choice by age 14 when the selfish bastard seduced him. Maybe there was even a selfish bastard before the one I knew about.

Just what culpability Dan faces for his homosexuality is known only to God, Who is a just God as well as a merciful One, Who alone has the true and full knowledge and perfect understanding of all the factors that cause us to do the things we do.

I don't believe Dan will get off scott free simply because of some verbal assent of Who Jesus Is; salvation requires more of us in return to His sacrifice. But I trust God to be fair -- to Dan, and to me.

I do blame Dan for what has happened since. Maybe that's uncharitable, maybe it's unfair. But it's the way I see it, and it's the way I'm calling it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hey, Dan -- an open letter to the Ex-

Dear Dan,
Since Beth has so graciously published me in the Greensboring blog (where do people hang out, if they think Greensboro is boring? They ought to move further south!) I have some hopes that you might recognize and check this blog out. If you do --

I am ready to file for the ecclesiastical nullity procedure in the Church. I was Confirmed in November, 2002 -- my conversion story is very early in the archives of this blog. You and I discussed this nullity idea several years ago, when I first began exploring converting, I think you'll remember, and you offered no objections at that time. I need a current address for you, so the Tribunal can contact you and offer you the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

I assume you likely will prefer not to participate; however, if you tell the tribunal rep that, yes, you're gay, you're out, and it's not something we discussed before we were married, then that's the end of it, I'm free in the eyes of the Church to date, marry, get on with my life. If you choose not to participate or to cooperate with the tribunal rep, then they'll come back to me asking for witnesses: family, friends, anyone who can give a statement about our marriage, our lives now, etc. I'd have to name your parents, your siblings, others... and I'd rather not -- not so much to protect you as to protect them. I know Richard and Lila are elderly and have been plagued with poor health in recent years. Remembering Lila, I dare say it would upset her terribly, and she'd come back and harp at you about it.

I hope you'll be willing to cooperate. I really, really want this.

Our older daughter told me next to last time I saw her that you're living with a partner now. I hope the life you have chosen for yourself is everything you were promised it would be. My life is quiet and I am happy, really, in just about every way imaginable.

Give the girls my love. Remember to keep a generous portion for yourself. I get angry, resentful (I am adept at understatement, you see)... but I do remember, don't forget, the boy I used to love... who was my hero in defending me against Mother... who held me and cried with me when I had the miscarriage... who held me and shared the awe (despite the brutal nausea) of my being pregnant... who helped me get through difficult and frightening labors... who helped me first to know the Lord and so paved the way for the Faith I now find such joy in... my friend.

There are some people, friends, from the old days you might want updates on if you want to contact me.

You know how to reach me -- the email address Judy had for you is now closed, of course (as I suspect you know) -- I still am at the same address and phone number I've been at for 12+ years now. Email is the most consistent way to reach me, though. Judy can give that to you, of course. I have no contact with Deann and won't use her as an intermediary.

Take care.

Hey, Beth --

Thanks for the heads-up in the Greensboro gay blog. Now I might be able to track Dan and let him know I need him for the nullity process -- either him, personally, or a bunch of family and friends witnesses. I don't think he wants that.

I miss the charming, lovely, affable boy I used to know. The fellow who used to be such a wonderful and companionable friend. If you know what happened to him along the way, I hope you'll pop in and tell me where I can find him. The snide, snarky, deceitful, selfrighteous contemptuous buzzard I knew in later years is no fun at all.

Oh, and while you're so busy being so pleased with yourself for joining the Fairy Prince in blaming me for everything (do queens bear no responsibility for their choices and the hurt subsequent and consequent to thosse choices?), perhaps it will interest you that I continued with my therapy- until Dan cashed the insurance check instead of turning it over to the therapist like he was supposed to do. He, on the other hand, told one therapist, "I know a marriage takes a lot of work, I just don't want to be bothered," and the other he just quit coming, always had something "better" and "more important" to do.

Both counselors (both women, by the way -- how come you haven't commented on the idea that homosexuality is fundamentally misogynistic at its core?) still remember him. Less than fondly.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Yet grace abounds...

I began the questionaire for the nullity petition for the Diocese of Raleigh before I was hired at OLA, and the questions brought about such an intense re-living of the experiences, the loneliness, the memories of Dan's hostilities, that I hadn't finished the petition in four years.

But I want to celebrate the many ways God demonstrated grace to me and helped me along.

First was my church. I wasn't Catholic in those days, didn't even dream I ever would become one. I was a fervent evangelical, member of evangelical churches, and those churches, and the people in them, were great support to me even while they didn't know I was experiencing all the other, ugly stuff.

I realize now that even in the 70s, when Dan made his first announcement to me that things were more complicated and painful than he'd let me know before, I could have gone to our pastor, a lovely man named Dale Brister, who would have been fully supportive and helped me see my way through the crisis. There were men and women in subsequent churches, too. But everybody loved Dan, and it was such a horrible thing to accuse him of... and there was that horrible burden of being wholly unable to talk about some things, back in those days.

But the emotional and spiritual support was there, and the grace.

The man who'd very much wanted to have an affair with me was, in a strange and convoluted way, another gift of grace. There was something comforting about being found desirable, adorable, by a man, even a man not my husband. And Bernard was responsible for re-awakening my love of reading and a hunger for reading things far more substantial than I'd known up until meeting him. He was really responsible for getting me to read C.S. Lewis' meatier works, and Watchman Nee, and excerpts from other theologians. Bernard was enchanted by my mind, when Dan thought I was stupid.

Then I got to go to Guilford College. It was my first academic success, and I was discovering abilities and loves I'd not dreamed myself possible of. I was encouraged and applauded by brilliant men and women whose credentials I couldn't dismiss as I had been able to minimalize Bernard's admiration. One professor, the one I was accused of having the affair with, who had something of a reputation for being impossible to get along with, told one of his colleagues, and it got back to me, that I was "one of the most brilliant students to come down the pike in (his) entire career."

That one remark did more to awaken me to my own value and merit than anything else I had encountered. It was easy not to take the commendations of other professors quite so seriously; they were warm, affirming men and women, "nice" people, which made their enthusiasm for my developing abilities easy to dismiss from serious consideration.

Still, had it not been for those men and women -- Beth and Mel, Joe and Ellen, Carol and John, Becky, Ann, Jeff... -- I don't think I could have finished college, no matter how startling Rudy's praise had been. They were my community, my family, my support as my marriage to Dan was falling apart and as I was going through the nightmare of discovering he is gay.

More recently, other friends have come onto the scene as instruments of mercy, healing and grace. There was Jim, my former boss, who discussed intellectual and spiritual issues with me between legal cases, and who inadvertently started the ball rolling toward my falling in love with the Church. There have been other teachers, colleagues, bosses, who have brought about degrees of healing and restoration over the years.

And now, there is the Church, the Sacraments, to hold on to, giving me literally Jesus Our Lord, Himself, in tangible and concrete ways.

I have to say that the real test of God's goodness to me is that I can say with all earnestness, I wouldn't wish what I've been through on my worst enemy... but I also wouldn't take a million dollars for it. I like this woman I'm becoming. Right now I'm in the midst of a major paradigm shift (more on that later?) and I am excited about my present and my future as I've never been before.

Such beauty on the horizon!
It's not just gay men who make terrible husbands; other men with serious psychological issues are nightmares, too. And not only gay men are misogynists. But homosexuality is a particular sort of misogyny -- dispising the feminine on such a deep level that the man has only contempt for a woman's body as well as her mind and soul.

Dan and I were part of the same circle of friends throughout high school. Then, during our senior year, Dan was hired by the same variety store I worked at, so we were spending even more time together. After we graduated, we'd go out, sometimes with a couple of friends, sometimes just the two of us, after work, hang out together until almost 11:00 (my weeknight curfew)... it was late August, immediately after one of our friend's wedding, that we had the great revelation that we were wanting to spend all our time together, had become immensely important to one another.

While we were dating, Dan was companionable, good-humored, loads of fun. He was always the life and heart of our gang, anyway, and I basked in his intelligence and sense of fun and adventure. He never pushed about sex, and, since I'd been wracked with guilt about a prior, unchaste relationship, I thought Dan was noble, self-disciplined. After all, he'd been instrumental in the formation of my Christian discipleship for more than two years; he'd been an exemplary (if sometimes overzealous) Christian youth.

We'd sit and talk for hours, building our dream castles, yes, but also grounded in various realities in our lives. He was a staunch defender against my mother, who could be so cruelly critical.

Actually, we both had issues we were running away from. I loved my parents and wanted to be close to them, but they had made it clear that if I ever left home without their approval, I'd be cutting myself off. I had to get out, my mother was mentally ill (I didn't know it then, but she wasn't in the hospital for headaches - Daddy felt it was in my best interests to "protect" me from knowing too much).

I didn't know it then, but Dan had issues and fears he was running away from, too. He'd been seduced, at age 14, by the adult relative of another of our friends; it had left him scarred, afraid of his own sexual inclinations. It wasn't self-control that had kept him from trying to score with me.

Then, after we were married, he immediately became distant, uncommunicative, unaffectionate. I'm an affectionate woman, and even the most casual of one-armed hugs, or a hand resting on his arm or shoulder, would bring about a violent reaction: he'd jerk away from me as if scalded, make a snorting noise, and say, "Don't! You know that annoys me!"

After we moved to Greensboro in '82, he began working at the YMCA, where he met whole new groups of people. Some of them became his friends. He began, every couple of months, announcing that he was feeling restless and that he was going to go visit some of his friends. They never called the house, never were named, never were met. I had no friends that he didn't know -- most were from Church -- and even the good people we knew from our church, he became unreasonably critical of. He even seemed hostile toward some of them.

I became desparately lonely. A therapist from Focus on the Family, whom I had written in near-desparation, called me on the telephone, and as I described my situation, he warned me that he was concerned, advised me to seek out local counselling. "You're at extremely high, frighteningly high, risk for an affair," he warned me.

I had the opportunity. We had a friend from church who thought I was beautiful, witty, intelligent, and very desirable. I wasn't interested. I wholly believed that, if I'd just follow the rules and be faithful, God would give me a miracle. It didn't come the way I wanted it to.

It has to have been horrible for Dan. Son and grandson of Baptist preachers, highly idealistic... He had a lot to risk if his worst fears were grounded in reality. I believe he thought that getting married, functioning sexually with a woman, perhaps fathering children, would be all the barometer he'd need to assure himself of his "normalcy."

I think that's the way it was, anyway. He won't discuss it with me now. Or wouldn't, last time I talked with him about it. This was more than ten years ago -- he'd come out to our daughters, and according to them, to his parents and siblings. I asked him, how do you reconcile the contradictions between your strong Christian commitment and this lifestyle you've adopted? His answer was distressing, even in those days before I ever attended my first Catholic Mass: so long as he believed and acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his personal savior, his salvation was assured.

He was already attending the Metropolitan Community Church.

If only he'd been straightforward with me, said something along the lines of, "Laura, I'm so sorry, I've really tried, but..." and owned some degree of responsibility, even attempted some empathy for the agony I was going through, it might have made the present more bearable. But he never has been, and has only lied, deceived, and manipulated. Whatever his choices have been, they are all my fault.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Now that I have your attention...

Okay. I've just "outed" myself as the ex-wife of a queen, and already I've gotten an email from a woman who saw the post and wanted to let me know I'm not alone -- she has a friend going through a divorce after some 20 years of marriage and three children... same issue.

That's probably why I decided to go ahead and lance this latest emotional absess in public -- to try to offer, however limited my ability might be, some support for other women who are discovering themselves to be caught in this nasty trap of ultimate misogyny. One summer, when I was working for a lawyer, a little more than ten years ago, we had no less than four women clients who had discovered their husbands' treacheries. I suspect the problem is far more widespread than most people have ever considered.

We need a support group. There are support groups for every other wacko disorder coming down the pike -- why can't there be a support group for women recovering from emotional and spiritual exploitation and abandonment by men who prefer other men?

We all have frightening similarities. One of my friends pointed out that gay men who marry tend to pick "trophy wives" for themselves. At first I snorted in disbelief; I've always thought of myself as very plain and ordinary. But then I went back into the box of mementos and dug out my high school senior photo -- and saw a really lovely girl smiling out of that picture -- clear green eyes, long hair, sweet smile... (Thanks, Pal -- for seeing me with fresh eyes and shocking me into seeing myself anew.)

We also were idealistic, trusting, perhaps gullible. All five of us were very religious; we had picked me with strong religious ideals, also. We had married with great hopes and expectations only to be confronted during our honeymoons with strangers who did not enjoy intimacy with us, who began to withhold affection and attention and conversation from us, who always had a plausible excuse for same... We all suffered unbearable loneliness and a downright neurotic response of trying to be perfect so we could be worthy of the love of men who so obviously despised us. Most of us had become humiliated by the necessity of always initiating sex (and most of us, being loving and passionate women, were attempting to initiate often).

We gave up lives of our own, in most cases -- interests, hobbies, friends -- because our husbands demonstrated resentment of anything that distracted us from them. Also, we were hopelessly optimistic that someday, somehow, our husbands would come out of their trance and want our company, our affection... and we wanted to be on hand when the moment finally arrived.

For me, the breaking point was my success in college. After years, first from my mother and then from Dan, of being told I was dumb and that I'd never amount to anything, that I was only tolerated out of pity, I was discovering my intelligence, my love of learning, the value of my intuitions, at Guilford College. I made Dean's List -- something no one would have believed possible before I enrolled there. I was the happiest I'd ever been, and I think it drove Dan crazy that I could be appreciated, supported, validated by anyone who discredited his contemptuous opinions of me. It was the first day of Finals Week, Fall Semester of my third year at Guilford, when he announced that he was leaving me.

Oh, he was magnanimous, as always -- it wasn't me he intended to leave, only our "dump" of an apartment (cinder blocks on a concrete slab, built in the late 40s); I could come with him or not, as I chose. Basically -- he put it in such a way that, if I chose not to leave college, not to come with him, the divorce became solely my fault. But I knew that if I ever moved from that apartment (which rented for $90 a month in a day when the going rate for 2-bedroom apartments was closer to $500) I'd have to give up school, success... and myself. I let him move on his own.

Of course, I wouldn't know about his gay friends and the double life he'd been leading for several more months, but the pathology of our relationship was beginning to lose its grip on my soul.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

I can't find Dan, my first husband. I have the paperwork ready to file for my nullity petition with the Diocese of Charlotte, and when I tried to call and let him know he's going to be contacted about it, the old number I had for him has been disconnected, and I've since learned he's no longer with the employer I last knew of. We had promised one another, long ago, that for our daughters' sake we would always be able to stay in touch with one another. Evidently he has changed his mind and forgotten to tell me about it?

This is not the first time he's made a major change and "forgotten" to tell me. Some five months after we separated, he had oral surgery. This was the first time he'd had any kind of medical need in the entire time I'd known him (more than fifteen years, at that point), and since we were supposed to be working on reconciling, it seemed only right to me that I should be with him for this crisis. But, no, he had already arranged another friend to take him to the oral surgeon's and to be with him as he recovered: his friend Randy. I was welcome to stop by his apartment after I got off work, of course, and when I did, and when I met Randy and saw him and my handsome husband together, all the other problems we had had over the years suddenly made sickening sense to me: they were in love with each other.

Dan had tried to tell me of his homosexuality a couple of years after we were married. We'd been having trouble since the honeymoon -- arguments over lack of communication, Dan's sudden intolerance for physical affection and companionship. He'd cracked a joke after our honeymoon, that after we'd consummated our marriage his only thought was, That's what all the fuss is about? We'd not been intimate before, and I'd admired his self-control; it turned out he just wasn't interested.

Then after one particularly ugly quarrel, in which I'd pointedly asked him if he wanted a divorce since he obviously did not like being married, he broke down and began to weep. He told me a story he now vehemently denies: of being seduced by the older relative of one of our friends, at the age of 14. It was a mutual masturbation scenario, as he told me of it then, but it had left him strongly marked. "I've always been afraid, if you hadn't fallen in love with me and married me, that's where I would have ended up," he said.

This was the mid- to late-'70s, when nice people still didn't discuss some things. There was no one I could trust with the burden placed upon me, and it was terrifying. I was physically sick for three days, then I pushed the conversation and all its attending risks and revelations back into the depths of my memories... until meeting Randy popped the cork and let it all come spewing, spurting, geysering out.

A couple of my friends have been wanting me to blog about this for a while, and it's not something that can be done once for all. Discovering that one's most intimate life partner is gay is a devastating experience, but for me there was also a mercy: for years, Dan had tried to turn everything into being MY FAULT, and because Dan was wonderful, smart, likeable, and my parents' favorite, he had to be right; now I knew that if I'd been perfect it would not have been good enough.

What I don't understand is how he has been able to face our daughters all these years and tell them, repeatedly, that his homosexuality had NOTHING to do with our divorce, continuing the theme of "It's all your mother's fault." He even invented an adulterous relationship for me (greatly exaggerating a very benign "mutual admiration society" with one of my professors to fit his needs for self-justification)... and my daughers believe him.

This one is going to develop over a while. There are too many of us in the world, women who have been betrayed by this ultimate misogyny, this rejection of ourselves for our very womanhood, to remain silent any longer. I've been paying for this man's deceits for thirty years. It's time I found my voice, and this blog is where I'm going to sing.


Tune in to your computer, at -- click on "Listen Online" and stream the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, featuring the North Carolina Master Chorale, performing Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection." I've written about this elsewhere.

Oh, do, please listen in!

8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The concert will be re-broadcast later in the month, but I forget that schedule right now. You will see it on WCPE's web page.

oh! and do please let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Today would have been my mother's 78th birthday, had smoking-related lung cancer not taken her life fifteen years ago, on March 7, 1991. She went into respiratory failure; for three weeks the doctor told us she could go "any minute now" as she struggled and fought for each attempted breath. In the end, when I, weeping, told her there was no more help for her suffering, she waited until we were all out of the room, then she simply let go.

Her final illness was something of a Purgatory for her. All my life, she was suspicious, critical, isolated, unable to fully love or accept the love I her daughter and several of her extended family and friends had tried for years to give her; in those final days, she was amazed at how lovely and kind everyone was; she, who had such an aversion to public displays of emotion, patted my arm to comfort me as I wept at the sight of her struggles for air, of her body swollen and splitting from fluids building in her tissues, in her skin, when her kidneys began to fail.

My mother was able to make choices regarding her own health care in her final months, and she faced death with a greater dignity, courage, and peace than I had seen her facing life. Her doctor said -- and you must know that my mother was not an easy patient -- that he'd seldom seen such courage and dignity in the face of the decisions my mother had made when she received the diagnosis that she had cancer.

Unfortunately, too few people are allowed to make the decisions my mother was able to make -- that is, to leave matters of life and death in the hands of the God Who gives us life. My mother, for all her eccentricities, peculiarities, and (what we politely call) "problems," did believe in God, and she was willing to let Him do what He wanted with her life, including ending it on His terms, in His time.

Most people aren't alowed these choices. Instead, they are the victims of another sort of "choice" -- the choice of therapeutic abortion. A child is conceived through the choices of its parents, to engage in sexual intimacy; the child, an inconvenient reminder of perhaps an undesired responsibility that comes with intimacy, becomes disposable. An appointment at a clinic, some ten minutes in stirrups, a surgical procedure or a vacuum extraction rips apart the preborn's limbs and little torso, and the matter is over and done with.

Or is it? The women I have known over the years who have had abortions -- and some of them have actually had more than one -- suffer for their "choice." Something happens in the mind and soul of a woman who denies the most profound aspect of our sexuality: our ability to bear children. She becomes either severely depressed in grief for the wrong of her choice -- and these are the lucky ones; the others, who deny that they have done anything wrong, or that the procedure has had any consequence in their lives, seem to be operating in an emotional 2-dimensional world. This is hard to describe, but perhaps you have known women who have gone from one bad relationship to another, who have denied responsibility for other choices, who seem always to be searching for some elusive something that they can never quite identify, much less attain... searching for some peace and serenity that is never to be found where they are searching.

Abortion is murder, yes. But let us not forget the surviving victims of this action: the women and men who live with the reality of a child dead by their own choosing.

Abortionists will never tell the whole story of abortion. It's bad for business. Abortion as an industry represents maximum financial gain for minimum investment of time, energy, or interest. It is in the best economic interests of abortionists to try to persuade the general public that abortion is simple, easy, "safe." It is the latter claim that is the biggest lie. When a living soul is killed, a procedure is not safe at all -- and emotionally, spiritually, it is a death sentence for all who seek, obtain, and aid the procurement of said services.

Only a Righteous Judge -- appealed through by most sincere repentence -- has the power and the authority to commute that sentence.

Let us pray today for all who are harmed by the deceitful and demonic rhetoric of abortion "rights" -- the unborn, yes - but also mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends... nurses, doctors and all whose hands are bloodied by this atrocity.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Two more days...

don't forget to tune in --
Monday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time...

A baby in trouble

I've been approved by the county, despite my not being a fully certified teacher, because of the critical shortage, to tutor homebound students. My first, I have listed in the margin, right, in my prayer requests. "C" is a cute girl, 17, recently emancipated. Her baby was not due until October, but was born prematurely in July. The baby has been home, but has begun having seizures and has been admitted to one of the large teaching hospitals in this State.

"C" is proving herself a self-sacrificing mother, agreeing to breastfeed her baby for the baby's sake (most teen moms bottle-feed). She came by the school to pick up her work yesterday, and we met for the first time. She looks so thin and rather haggard. My heart aches for her, and I wonder about her relationship with her parents and about other issues that shouldn't even be on the page when we are talking about a girl so young.

Please pray for "C," her boyfriend, and their little baby girl, who is so thin and frail to have to put up such a fight right now. And please pray for me as I work with "C" to help her complete high school this fall; she's up for graduation in Decmeber.

I greatly appreciate it.
I think I've seen more pregnant students at our high school this fall and last year than during the previous ten years combined.

Strange how attitudes have shifted in a single generation. When I was in high school, back in the 70s, the idea was becoming accepted that if you really really loved someone and were in a committed relationship with him, it was okay to sleep together. That was hte polite euphemism for having sex, of course.

Nowadays, virginity is regarded as a shameful burden to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. And in some elements of the culture (I'm sadly speaking of some pockets of the black community), boys aren't men until they've fathered children, and girls aren't regarded as "real women" until they've become pregnant.

I'm also disheartened by how irreverently and casually I sometimes overhear girls talking about sex, even oral sex. I was so backwards through my adolescence, I thought oral sex was the same thing as French kissing!

Dear God in Heaven! Where is the innocence of childhood anymore? Our children are losing out on so much that is precious! And how can we recover it without a lot of aggressive work?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fair Warning -- !

Just over a week, now -- October 2, 2006. Raleigh's own WCPE, a.k.a. THE CLASSICAL STATION will be broadcasting the North Carolina Symphony's performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection" Symphony. Performing with them is -- TA DA!!! -- the North Carolina Master Chorale.

Go to the link I've provided and fiddle about with the Listen Online Feature. Check the exact time of the broadcast, too -- so you'll not miss a single minute of this wonderful (if I do say so myself!) performance.

Oh! and, uh, pass the word along, will ya? To other bloggers? Forums? Wherever?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hey, Who Are Y'All?

I check the site meter from time to time, and I'm startled by the people who check this blog -- Y'all come from all over the place! I recognize some of the visitors -- monarch is Angela Messenger, for instance -- but some of you, I'm baffled to know who you are.

How about logging in a "Howdy" here? Let me know who you are?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ReDecorating the Blog

Thanks to Chris who is taking some time to help me jazz up the appearance of the ol' blog, here. I have no idea how to do the techie stuff, and she's a great help.

The painting in my header is The Annunciation by Henry Tanner. A friend of mine posted a photo of it in a website I sometimes visit, and I fell in love with it. I love the way Tanner doesn't try to anthropomorphize the Angel, but lets him stand as a being of brilliant Light. And Mary looks so young, so baffled by this amazing and unexpected event. Even the rumpled rug appeals to my imagination.

Watch in coming weeks for more redecorating advances.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Oh, yeah, Muslims are peace-loving, rational...


HERE is the text of the highly controversial -- uh, let's put that in quotes, shall we? "CONTROVERSIAL" speech by Benedict XVI that has Muslims world-wide writhing with their knickers in knots, murdering nuns and setting churches afire... and Here is the text of the alleged apology offered by His Holiness, our beloved German Shepherd. Scroll down to see the English translation of the text of the apology.

Yeah, it's a real peaceful people who go on rampages killing nuns and burning churches in response to a speech that has only quoted a Medieval writer and asked some earnest questions.

When are the PC crowd going to wake up and smell the coffee, here? Is it going to take another 9/11-type attack on the U.S., on our home turf, before people realize we are at war with some violent, demon-possessed people, here???

Yeah, I pray for the conversion of Israel, and of the entire Islamic world. We've got a lot of people over there headed to hell faster than you can say "dozens of virgins in Paradise? Bilge!" and the thing is, they're trying their darnedest to take us with them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In Memoriam

September 11, 2001

Five years later, we're all remembering where we were that day, what we were doing, how we heard the news that our beloved Nation had been attacked by terrorists. I was at home in the back end of the house and Rusty was in the living room watching Good Morning America. He hollered to me that something was happening in New York, and I came in and saw the tape replay, and watched and watched...

It felt like perhaps the prelude to Armageddon. This sort of thing was not supposed to be happening in our country, it was so horrific.

I still think the President was wrong about one thing -- he repeatedly calls terrorists "cowardly." I don't think they're cowardly. It takes a particular kind of courage, or at least carelessness, to blow oneself up for a principle. No, what the terrorists are, is evil, an evil we are not accustomed to facing here, to even acknowledging exists.

So here we are. Several of my friends' sons have been overseas, a couple of friends' husbands... one of my old schoolmates flies choppers for the National Guard and has been in Afghanistan.

Back home, I go into convenience stores up in Raleigh ... operated by Arabs. I remember the days when I was travelling with Rusty; I stopped between NC and Louisiana several trips at several different hotels over the year and a half, and they were operated by Arabs. One of them had a fundraiser jar on the counter for a charity to benefit orphans and other needy children -- the same sort of fundraiser we heard after 9/11 was being used as a front in order to raise money for the terrorists' activites. I was glad I had told the desk clerk that I support work for the poor through my own church.

I know there are Christian Arabs. I know that being an Arab is not an automatic link to terrorism. But I'm afraid. The men who commandeered the airplanes on 9/11/01 might have been students with me at Guilford, or clerks at the convenience store where I bought my gas, or at the hotel where Rusty and I stopped over on our wedding trip. I am afraid now of people who have a different ethnic base than my own; it feels as if they are infiltrating the country, and that some day soon, on a given signal, they will all rise up in a frenzied jihad and our American streets will begin to run with blood.

Meantime, there is that outrageous faction of American culture that embraces death, that deconstructs history and proclaims from our college and university campuses, and even from our high schools, that it is our own fault the Muslim extremists hate us so violently. We have become the "evil empire" even within our own borders, to our own citizens.

We are at war; but how can we fight such a war as this? The war of misinformation and deceit? The war of Me First and Self-Esteem over responsibility? The war in which the Evil One presents sin as heroic and virtue as neurosis and disorder? The war of demonic proportions that seems bent toward the sacrifice of our own god-fearing culture?

I feel helpless at times. I will do my best to be faithful where I am, but it isn't enough. We are trying to do too much in solitude, in isolation; we do not have enough of a sense of unity from within our own ranks, because these are things we cannot freely talk about. This is not a war about two nations opposing one another, but of two philosophical paradigms -- one out to destroy the other, the other sometimes frighteningly slow to demonstrate its determination to thrive and to contain the other in its own small geographic confines.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The demi-god of self-esteem

My friend Matt said it best: self esteem is a condition more to be feared in the U.S. these days than mortal sin. '

Had a parent conference at the high school today. The student in question, an almost-sixteen year old, is a mainstreamed "Special needs" or "exceptional" child who blew up and went on a rampage in my classroom on Friday.

This is a kid who, despite his "exceptional" status, has an extremely high IQ (part of the profile of his particular designation). He's been mainstreamed because most self-contained EC classes are for the nearly-retarded, or those kids so behaviorally disturbed that even if their IQ is normal, they are rendered incapable of learning.

So this kid is mainstreamed because the law says it is his "right." But the rights of the other 33 kids in that particular class, of having their lesson without the distraction and disruption of this boy -- whom, truly, I have grown quite fond of! -- talking and misbehaving throughout the class, and of being safe from such explosions as he occasionally demonstrates, are totally disregarded.

Why isn't he assigned a "tech," or a "wraparound," an adult aid who can help corral his enthusiasm and excessive social energy into work, or who can see a problem bubbling beneath the surface and remove him from the class before he come roaring through like a dirvish, throwing his book bag onto the floor and ripping the telephone out of the wall?

Because the humiliation of having such an assistant might damage this poor boy's already-low self-esteem.

The psychologists have conveniently, sentimentally forgotten that self-esteem is just another word for self-respect, and self-respect is gained through self-control and accomplishment -- the very things this poor kid is being deprived of because the "experts" have decided that self-esteem is about having one's own way, about being treated as part of a herd rather than as an individual, rather than about merit.

And people wonder why it's taking me so long to commit to school to get my certification requirements... It's because of the politically-charged policies of classroom management and behavioral guidelines our full-time teachers have to put up with on a daily basis.

The ONLY way a sensible change can be effected is if a sufficient number of parents of the other kids in that class call the school administration and express concern and outrage that a regularly violent boy -- a boy who evidently has a reduced sensation of pain, so when he punches his fist through a wall, he doesn't feel the pain -- is allowed to dominate their child's classroom. And I can't recommend it, and too many of the parents aren't going to do anything because, like me, they wonder what the use is.

So -- if you're a parent, become an activist, please. Demand reasonable rules and limits in your child's classroom -- from your child's classmates, and from your child. Don't get suckered into the "self-esteem" vacuum.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Where in the world did I go???

Back again. Don't know how long. I seem to go through these spells of enjoying writing, then hating it, finding it burdensome. Well, not so much the writing itself as the horrible suspicion that I have absolutely nothing to say that someone else hasn't said previously, and better.

For starters, though, I want to toot my own horn. Back in... I guess it was July, because July 1 is the first day I record in my journal, I woke up bright and early with one conscious thought: IT'S TIME. Didn't have to think twice to know what that was all about.

I started that day walking once around my neighbor's field. Took me a little more than twenty minutes. For several weeks, I walked around that field once every single day, except some rare evenings when we were under severe thunderstorms.

After several weeks, I drove the field and discovered that my route was taking me, from back door and home again, roughly 3/4 mile. I also discovered that the "U" of the field, from the driveway nearest my house, around the back and up to the road on the south end, was just a smidgen under 1/2 mile. So I started going around the "U" of the field and home again, a wee bit more than a mile.

That's where I am stuck for the time being, and I'm quite contented with that for now. A mile a day -- and I'm doing that whole mile in what used to take me to walk the 3/4 mile loop -- is a darn good clip for a big ol' heifer like me.

Since July 1, I've dropped from a size 28 to a 24. I've lost more than fifteen inches (I didn't think to measure until I'd been walking almost a month) I got on the scales of the school health room on Thursday, and from my highest KNOWN weight (I didn't weigh for a couple of years, and I know I gained weight in that interval, because that's when I wound up in the size 28) -- I have lost at least forty pounds. My friend Rachel says it has to be at least 50.

Insert image of big, cheesy grin HERE.

What am I doing besides walking? Well, one thing I am NOT doing is "dieting." Too lazy, too skeptical to follow a diet, count calories, fat grams, etc. Bugger all that mess.

I am eating fewer and fewer refined foods and more and more whole foods -- whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta when I eat pasta at all. I've also made the transition from sweetened to unsweetened tea, so my sugar consumption is down by more than one-half. (Still have to have a little sugar in my morning coffee, I'm afraid).

I'm a happy camper! Stay tuned for further updates.

Insert another image of big cheesy grin NOW.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A couple more photos of OLA

And here are two more photos -- another of the Sanctuary, but to the right you can see the statue of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, in a beautifully painted niche (the border of the niche is trompe l'oeille, by the way, not real molding). The chasuble Father Ricardo is holding for a guest to see was a gift from a parishioner; it was hand-embroidered by cloistered nuns, "Carmelitas," from Mexico. I was present when it was given to him, and when I held it up for him to see fully, I caught a faint perfume of incense clinging to the fabric. Looks and even smells holy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Altar and the Tabernacle

These are the angels that keep vigil on either side of the Tabernacle.

The Altar

The altar at OLA is really beautiful. If you look closely, you may be able to see the red vein in the marble that cuts through the middle of Our Lord's face. It's very dramatic, startling.

During the Dedication, relics of St. Augustine were embedded in the altar.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rhythm is NOT NFP!

It never ceases to amaze me how persistent some "scientific" people can be in promoting error as truth.

I wrote a reply, which may or may not make the cut for publication, so I will post it here for you to consider. Maybe you can submit your own reply to the article?

My letter:
This is an interesting hypothesis, but the author has lost me in the second paragraph by saying that "rhythm" is the only method approved by the Catholic Church. Whether Bovins has confused rhythm with NFP or presumed the two methods are one and the same, it is an inexcusable error in a scientific report.
Rhythm is using a calendar, assuming the "standard" 28-day cycle, to guesstimate when ovulation occurs. It is highly fallible, most obviously because very few women actually experience the "textbook" 28-day model for the menstrual cycle promoted as part of the rhythm method.
Natural Family Planning, or NFP, on the other hand, depends on recognizing certain physical symptoms of fertility and approaching ovulation -- changes in quantity and quality of cervical mucus discharge, the shape, placement and consistency of the cervix itself, and a few more complicated techniques like basal body temperature. It can be used to try to achieve or avoid pregnancy.
NFP is approved by the Church for use in extraordinary circumstances (couple abstain from intercourse during the time a woman is fertile) because it does not interfere with a woman's natural cycles, because it is consistent with a respect for life, and (this is very important!) because it shows respect for the nature of the marital sexual union as an analogy of the mystical union between Christ and His Church. (People think the Church is anti-sex.... ahhhh, if only they knew!)
NFP is proven to be more than 98% effective, more effective than any other contraceptive measure. Of course, it involves the inconvenience of paying attention to fertility symptoms and of a degree of self-denial, but it is extremely effective. Moreover, every couple I know who have practiced NFP are enthusiastic advocates of it -- yes, that includes the men, who say that periods of abstinence enrich their elationships with their wives and make the times of intimacy more gratifying.
Oh -- some studies indicate that NFP couples actually engage in sexual intercourse more times per month than non-NFP couples.
Finally, I am not comfortable with the promotion of "assumptions" without a presentation of the basis from which said assumptions occur. One can easily dismiss the premise that rhythm leads to more deaths in consequence: embryonic deaths can occur from flaws resulting from unhealthy ovum or sperm (ostensibly because of "old" sperm left in the fallopian tube to fertilize the ovum), but they can also occur because of biochemical hostilities brought about by mechanical and/or chemical impositions of artificial birth control methods. However, the thing Catholic consider is that embryonic deaths due to lack of viability is not the result of a hostile act against life in general or the specific conception. This is of paramount importance.
I recommend Bovens and anyone else interested in the subject read Kippley and Kippley, The Art of Natural Family Planning, and the Papal Encyclicals: Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae and John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae: John Paul II's work on Theology of the Body (synthesized for easier mental consumption by Christopher West) is also seminal.

Our Lady of the Americas

And here are two shots -- an exterior at dusk and an interior of the Sanctuary immediately after the Dedication -- of Our Lady of the Americas Catholic Church. Beautiful, eh?

Laura and the Bishop

Bishop Peter Jugis, Diocese of Charlotte, is a man I can love - a good, holy and orthodox pastor of the flock. One of the great thrills of our Dedication was the opportunity to meet this man. (Yes, I kissed the ring.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Oh, all right --

Gee, thanks! To Angela Messenger for tagging me with this:

Accent: sorta Southern, y'all
Butter or Margarine: butter!
Chore I Hate: folding and putting away laundry
Dog or Cat: cat!
Essential Electronics: computer!
Favorite Cologne(s): Crabtree & Evelyn's Wisteria or Summer Hill
Gold or Silver: gold
Hometown: Aberdeen, NC
Insomnia: Once in a while
Job Title: Music Director! (that's one that has my mother's ashes whirling around in her urn)
Kids: 2 grown and "launched" (and sorely missed)
Living arrangements: with two cats
Most admirable trait: Do I have any admirable traits?
Nicknames: just plain ol' Laura
Overnight hospital stays: when I had my kids
Phobias: heights
Quote: "More! More! is the cry of the mistaken man; less than All will never satisfy" (William Blake)
Religion: CATHOLIC! (Thanks be to God!)
Siblings: one sister
Time I wake up: between 7 and 7:30 if I can "sleep in"
Unusual talent or skill: Do I have any unusual talent or skill?
Vegetable I refuse to eat: I think I like them all
Worst habit: brooding over things that bug me until I exhaust myself over it
X-rays: dental, knee and upper spine
Yummy stuff I cook: EVERYTHING I cook is yummy!
Zaniest thing I did: Never in a million years will I publish that in a public forum! But my second zaniest thing is that last summer, for the first time in my life (and I'm 48) I sunbathed in the nude and went skinny-dipping... er, "chunkydunking"

I guess I'll pass this on to Randy, since he's the only other blogger I know personally.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Apologies, again, for being derelict in posting.

I have some photos of the new church where I've been hired as Music Director -- and as soon as I have some time to play with the new camera and download the pics, I'll post some to this site.

I'm enjoying my work in the Church, which is helping me hold steady during this phase of Depression Season. I have some built-in time before the Blessed Sacrament several times a week, and it makes a difference.

Off to make copies for choir practice...

God bless you!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cajun "Rosary"

Too funny! Thanks, Linda, for sharing this!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Depression season arrives again

I was driving home from Raleigh after Tuesday's Lord of the Rings rehearsal (yep! We're singing it this summer with the NC Symphony -- check out this site! -- and I wasn't feeling my usual euphoria after a rehearsal.

Then it hit me: depression season. It always gets me this time of year, don't know why, some anniversaries in more than a month, but can't put my finger on why it starts in mid-May.

The body knows what the mind chooses to forget, and when we haven't allowed ourselves to adequately grieve, or address a sorrow, the body repeats it for us until we've done.

Now until mid-July, though, with the anniversary of my dad's death on July 10, I'm in the dumps.

I was diagnosed in '91, not many weeks after Dad died (only four months after Mother). Mom's old doctor knew the family history well enough that, when I went to see him for vague infection-type symptoms, he knew the questions to ask; he answered the riddle of years' worth of suffering for me. He gave me a prescription for a fairly popular antidepressant.

I hated taking the pills. It was nice to be able to get out of the morning and to get through the day without wanting to retreat back to my bed at every opportunity, but I also felt rather flat and incomplete. Things I had enjoyed before were meaningless to me while under the influence of the meds. I felt as if I'd lost the emotional equivalent of depth perception.

It's odd to think of depression carrying gifts and graces with it, but it does. A mockingbird's song is exquisitely beautiful any spring, but even more so when it becomes God's voice in cheer and encouragement during dark days. Colors of the sunset have more vividness, greater brilliance during the bad times. Poetry is wiser, deeper -- music more eternal.

I stay out of bed, days, taking nutritional therapies. It's not perfect, but it gets me through the hard times without robbing me of important, valued parts of myself.

This year I'm going to make a more concerted effort to develop some of my "melancholy" gifts and abilities during this season. Be prepared to have some of my attempts at poetry inflicted upon you -- and maybe more prose essays and short stories.

Ya just never know what I'm going to come up with, around here.

Thanks for the prayers.

What CAN we do with a drunken sailor?

Make him sing Samuel Adler's "Rogues and Lovers"?

Okay, I am relieved none of my fellow choristers read this blog, because I'm about to make an embarrassing confession:


Mostly. It would have been more fun if some of our sopranos didn't sing so much like white women or divas (Imagine a heavy soprano vibrato singing "Limbo, Limbo, Limbo Limbooooo") and if there hadn't been so much bitching and moaning among the ranks... but by and large, it was just good fun.

This is a piece that really showcased the North Carolina Wind Orchestra, but it offered some stretch for the imagination for the chorale, also. It begins with some wild percussion work (yeah, even wind ensembles use percussion) -- then we joined in a rolicking rendition of "Drunken Sailor," followed by the English folk ballad, "He's Gone Away," "Limbo," Banuwa," "Valencienita" and finally "Gypsum Davy" -- all folks songs about loves or rogues.

It was a little schizophrenic-feeling at times, but what the hey -- so is life.

I also enjoyed the Holiday Pops concert pieces with the NC Symphony, last November. Music doesn't have to always be stodgy and highbrow in order to be fun to sing. Boogers! to the naysayers and whiners.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Man, am I TIRED!

It's been a glorious but grueling two weeks. On Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13, the North Carolina Master Chorale performed with the NC Symphony in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection" Symphony. There were two nights of rehearsals with the symphony prior to the performances, and a nearly 200-mile round-trip drive for me for each... although I shouldn't whine because I skipped the second symphony rehearsal so I wouldn't have to drive, and another soprano very kindly offered me hospitality on Friday night, so I only made two trips in all.

You can read a lovely but incomplete review here.

What I mean by "incomplete" is that I wish he'd had more to say about our performance. I've written to him c/o the website with these comments:
I think it needs to be said that Grant Llewellyn is a joy for a
vocalist to work with. He knew exactly what he wanted from us for the
Mahler, and he knew how to ask us for it. He was easy to follow in his
direction, and the transition of working with two different conductors
(Al for rehearsals, Grant for performance) was as nearly seamless as I
suppose it is possible to achieve.

I think, based on Mr. Rossman's praise of our performance, that the
joy we felt in performing this work had to have been transmitted to
the audience. By the time our final phrase -- "zu Gott, zu Gott wird
es dich tragen!" -- dissolved into echoes, I think if I had stepped
off the loft railing, gravity would have had no power over me.

Rossman also didn't mention that both nights, before Llewellyn could even drop his baton after the final chord, the packed house was on its feet cheering. He and the soloists were called back to the stage no less than four times, and each time he lifted his hand toward the loft to acknowledge us, the cheering only swelled louder. I've never experienced anything so exhilerating, and I'm told by people who've all but lived in that auditorium that they'd never seen anything to equal it.

The concert will be broadcast on WCPE on October 2 as part of their North Carolina Symphony Concert Series. Their signal can be streamed over the internet, and I'm sure I'll be putting reminders in regularly between now and then so you won't be likely to miss it, come October.

Then this past Saturday night was the Master Chorale's own subscription concert, reviewed here. We met on Saturday morning for our dress rehearsal with the North Carolina Wind Ensemble, then had our performance that night.

I like Ken Hoover, who also hosts WCPE's wonderful sacred music broadcast on Sunday mornings. But, again, he missed some things I want the world to know. We sang the religious selections of this concert in mixed octets rather than straight voice part arrangements. I was between a baritone and a bass, which I liked quite well; I find it easier by far to blend my voice against the tembre of another voice part than against another soprano. Of course, one feels rather naked hitting high A's and B-flats without another soprano standing by one's side. I have had nightmares since Saturday of being off-key ever so slightly or blasting my gentleman friends' ears with those high notes.

Standing in mixed groups as we did gives the piece a stereophonic quality that can't be achieved when voice parts are standing together. It really is a lovely effect for those listening from the audience.

The "Kyrie," the opening movement of the Mass, begins with the women singing in four-part harmonies, a capella, a theme repeated by the men. It is tender and sorrowful, but it swells to a grand sweeping chord -- a chord that echoed and re-echoed off the walls, waves of sound pouring back upon us after for glorious seconds after we had broken our sound. There is supposed to be only a very brief pause after this "Elieson" to take a solid breath before continuing; Al had to sustain the pause until the echoes had died away. It was splendid from the choir loft; I wonder how it sounded from the balconies and the orchestra level.

I had not sung the Gloria nor the Credo in Latin before this piece, so I had copied my English translation over the Latin words in my score. I was able to "pray" the piece as well as perform it. Bruckner does a wonderful job in translating the religious themes to a musical setting. The "Et ascendit in caeli" is even whimsical, traversing a C major scale, graced by a little sixteenth note "bounce" to "in caeli" ("He ascended into Heaven"). At "et mortuos" ("He will come again in Glory to judge the Living... and the dead") we suddenly drop in volume to what feels like an over-the-shoulder-glancing sort of caution.

The Gloria had a fugal "amen" that is the most complicated part of the entire Mass, so far as I am concerned. I struggled and struggled with it in rehearsal - it's not hard at all when you're sitting at home alone at the piano! but combined with other voice parts and instrumentation, it can be a right booger! -- then, as a gift of grace, during the performance I just sailed right through it as if I'd been born singing it.

My favorite part of the entire Mass -- in the liturgy as well as in the concert piece -- is the "Agnus Dei," "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world". This piece was tender, and awe-filled, and beautiful. It begins in unison then divides -- the second sopranos actually sing above the first sopranos for part of this, and it's required of us to hit high G's softly -- a very difficult task. Yet it works.

The Bruckner was over so quickly! It seems a shame that something so beautiful, that we worked so diligently over, should only receive one performance to a very small audience.

I'll save my comments on the Samuel Adler "Rogues and Lovers" for tomorrow or Friday.

Sweet dreams, everyone, and God bless you.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

In Search of Femininity

I recently raised the question on one of the forums I participate on, "What is Femininity?" and I got some very interesting answers.

Please understand, I asked this question because I've not been quite sure what it is, myself. It certainly is not something I grew up with, having a mother who suffered frequent debilitating migraines, spent her days with a nose in a book and was dead in spirit before she turned forty. I needed an answer!

Well, as might be expected, the men and the women saw femininity in very different ways. Without exception, the women were focused on "girly" things like perfume, clothing, make-up, jewelry, and so on. They were concerned with what made them feel "pretty" and womanly.

The men, on the other hand, were concerned with moral and emotional differences in the sexes. Domesticity played a large part in the answers I received -- particularly cooking (I wish it were so simple! I love to cook!)Men associate femininity with those qualities of moral virtue, kindness, gentleness, and a sense of sanctuary from a difficult world.

Thoughts? Post 'em here, please.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Master Chorale ROCKS!

Friday and Saturday the NC Master Chorale performed with the NC Symphony in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "The Resurrection." This is a strong complex work with three fully symphonic movements, a fourth movement featuring a contralto soloist, and a fifth movement featuring soprano and contralto soloists and a full chorus.

We've worked and worked on this piece -- and I've worked particularly hard because it's the first time I've done anything in German before. Those German vowel sounds bear no relation whatsoever to vowels as I've known them all my life! "Hor" is pronounced like "Her" and there's this "u" that fits somewhere in the palate between "You" and "yih" and "Yeah!"

Working with Grant Llewellen and the NC Symphony was a huge charge of energy. He's a wonderful conductor, and unlike most instrumental conductors (band or symphony) he understands and appreciates vocalists (he's formerly from the Handel and Hayden Society). His directions were sensible, coherent, and do-able.

Meymandi Hall in Raleigh was quite full for both performances, even the Friday night one. And both nights, almost before Grant could lower his baton after the final, great, thunderous chord, the crowd was on its feet, cheering. Four calls back to the stage each night -- thunderous applause that only swelled louder when the Master Chorale was acknowledged...

It's hard to return to the real world after something like that.

You can hear this performance in October, when the Symphony Concert series aired on WCPE is broadcast. It's scheduled for October 2. You can stream WCPE through your computer, so I hope you'll tune in.

UPDATE: 5:00 p.m., 5/15 -- and here's a review you might enjoy reading.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why can't a man...

... be more like a man?

If there's anything the world does not need more of, it's sensitive New Age guys, men who want to abdicate their leadership roles in home and society to women, who've become more like women than women themselves.

I just sat in on a conference with the father of one of my students who has been suspended because of disruptive behavior. When she copped a haughty, defiant attitude, her dad tried to sweet-talk her into being nice.

Now, if that had been me with my dad... let's just say there would have been no question whatsoever who was the boss in that situation -- and it must be said that Daddy wouldn't have had to have raised a hand to me, either. He would simply have been in my face, letting me know in no uncertain terms, that I WOULD behave with respect toward my elders and my betters, OR ELSE... and he wouldn't have been the least concerned who was looking on to the display.

And you know what? My dad would have been absolutely right in doing it. It's not the administrator's job to correct that sort of behavior, although the two I was with certainly would. But it should be the parent, who has been raising the child and has to have the child go home with him at the end of the day. If the parents, especially fathers, abdicate their leadership roles with their children, then who can possibly compensate?

No one can. The child loses.