Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To Work and Back Home Again

When I first saw this rainbow on the way to work this morning, I could only see about 10 degrees of the arc. As I drove down the road, it kept getting longer and longer, and I kept drifting closer and closer to the ditch on the side of the road, but thankfully by the time it looked like this, I had found some place to park. It really did look like this with the rays beaming from the rainbow to ground. 

When I got home from work, I found we had some new visitors who had come to eat the grass. I wish that they would eat some more. This is really unusual. It's only the second time we have had goat visitors. 

Here's a picture of the first visit. It was nice that she wanted to be so friendly and everything but when it looked like she was about to put her hooves on the window in the front door, I told her that she had worn out her welcome.

I was looking at the stats for the blog this afternoon and I can't tell you how much it thrills me to know that people who google the phrase, "what do bed bug eggs look like," are led to my blog. I don't recall actually writing anything about bed bug eggs or even bed bugs, but I guess the word vermin is close enough.


Gertrud von le Fort

You alone have sought my soul!
     Who shall belittle the right of your fidelity?
My soul was like a child
     that has been secretly exposed and left to die.
She was an orphan at all the banquets of life
     and a widow in the arms of her lover.
My brothers have despised her
     and my sisters have treated her like a stranger.
Those whom the world held wise have betrayed her.
When she thirsted they told her: "All things are passing!"
     And when she was in anguish they said: "But you are
They sent her to my heart
     as though she were a drop of its blood.
They sent her to my intellect
     as though she were but a thought.
She was like a wild beast in a forest of dark drives
     and like a frightened bird in a dead universe.
She was like a woman who spends her life dying.
But you prayed for her and this was her salvation.
You have sacrificed for her and this has been her food.
You have mourned for her as for a lost jewel,
     and for this she shouts out your name with joy.
You have raised her up as a queen
     and for this she lies at your feet.
Who Shall belittle her the right of your fidelity?...
I found this poem in Shirt of Flame by Heather King. I can't find its name, but that's okay. Otherwise, I don't think there's much that needs to be said about it.

Update~See Craig's review of The Way at All Manner of Thing which is a very excellent blog. If you haven't read it, you ought to give it a try. He writes very thorough, interesting posts about things that you might or might not have ever been interested in before, but after you read what he has to say, you are interested. He also has the most delightful, subtle sense of humor of anyone I've ever read.


Monday, July 30, 2012

The Reign in Spain, Part I

We have watched at least three movies that take place in Spain lately. This wasn't something that was planned. I didn't even realize that it had happened until we were watching the last one. While the three movies are very different, there are some similarities: two take place during the Spanish Civil War, two tell the story of fathers and sons who are estranged, all of them are informed by grace.

One was There Be Dragons, which I've had lying next to the TV for a long time--months. I got the movie from Netflix because I thought I ought, and although I've been disappointed in so many "Catholic" movies. I kept waiting to be in the right frame of mind to watch it, and then I read some really bad reviews, well, I guess what I really read were people talking about really bad reviews, and so I put it off even longer, but when my youngest daughter was home last month, and she said it was pretty good, I decided to give it a try. What I expected was hagiography and found very little of that, mostly because it wasn't so much a biography of Josemaria Escrivá as it was a portrayal of the culture of Life versus the culture of Death.

It begins from the point of view of Robert Torres, a journalist who is writing a book about Escrivá, and who has returned to Spain to visit his estranged father, Manolo, who grew up in the same village as Escrivá. Soon, we are hearing the story in Manolo's voice. Manolo and Josemaria were friends when they were boys. Manolo was the son of a wealthy man, and Josemaria's father owned a chocolate factory, but thankfully was nothing like Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp. The friendship ends when Josemaria's father loses the factory, and from there the boys follow two rapidly diverging paths: one which leads to a selfishly misguided love, war, and death, and the other to the selfless love that always brings life.

I don't know how accurate the portrayal of Josemaria Escrivá is, because I really don't know much about him except that he founded Opus Dei. I liked him better than I thought I would. I read a bit of The Way, and found it joyless, but maybe I haven't read enough of his writing to make a fair judgement. If anything, the movie has made me want to read more. The one thing I know about Opus Dei is that the one person I know who is a member is absolutely delightful.

And speaking of The Way, another movie that we watched was this chronicle of the pilgrimage of Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) on the Camino de Santiago. Like Manolo, Tom is estranged from his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez). The breach occurred when Daniel decided to abandon his studies for his Masters degree in Archaeology? Anthropology?, something like that, and go out to really experience the countries he had been studying. As the movie begins, Tom receives a call from France saying that Daniel has died in the Pyrenees at the beginning of his pilgrimage on the Camino. Tom goes to collect the body, and instead ends up making the pilgrimage for Daniel, carrying Daniel's ashes in a box and leaving them along the way. 

Along the way, Tom meets a young Danish man, Yoost, who ostensibly is walking the Camino in order to lose weight before a wedding. Yoost is like a large, tactless puppy dog who, much to Tom's dismay, attaches himself firmly to Tom for the rest of the pilgrimage. Further on they meet Sarah, a woman who is carrying a heavy burden of her own, and Jack, a travel writer who is writing a book about the Camino. As the movie progresses, we learn more about them, and the rest of their story, while engaging and well-presented, moves on to a fairly predictable end.

But the real star of this movie is the Camino de Santiago. It seemed that way to me, and when I was looking on Wikipedia to make sure of the characters' names, I saw that this was true. In a way, it's documentary or travelogue dressed like a movie, but it's done so professionally and so well that the viewer is rarely aware of the fact. There are a couple of times when it's obvious, for instance when the Captain who is returning Daniel's belongings to Tom displays the pilgrim's passport and explains it in detail, but usually this is not the case. The viewer travels along the Camino through mountains and fields, across lovely little bridges. He learns about aubergues and sees the towns along the way. My one objection is that the movie doesn't really give one an idea of the physical difficulty of the pilgrimage, and I think that this might be a disservice to those who are lured to the Camino by the beauty of the film.

There is not a great deal of talk about faith or grace in the movie but there is enough, I think, and it is evident in the struggles of the characters. And, of course, there is the arrival at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where none of the four companions are left unmoved, and it must be very moving to put your hand into the deep handprint left by thousands and thousands of pilgrims over hundreds of years or to watch this.

I was very moved by the whole movie. I think I cried my way through most of it, but that just might have to do with its connection to my own current sense that I am on some sort of pilgrimage. I'm afraid that in saying that the movie is really a travelogue, it sounds like I am somehow demeaning it, but I'm not. I would recommend this movie to anyone.

I was going to include the third movie here, but I think this post is long enough, and it might take me a while to write the next part, so I thought I'd go ahead and post this much today.


Sunday, July 29, 2012


I really have been writing something that isn't silly for the past two days, but it's just not finished yet. It will be soon. In the meantime, I know that you are probably all familiar with the "nun bun," the danish that looks like Mother Teresa. And there's always some article or another about Mary appearing in the window of a bank building in Clearwater, FL, or somebody seeing Jesus in their screen door. but at our house, this is what we get.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

St.Thérèse, Obviously a Shirker

When I say mortified, this is not to make you believe that I was always doing penances. Alas! I never did a single one . . . . My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, which was always ready to impose itself; in holding my tongue instead of answering back; in doing little things for others without hoping to get anything in return; in not slumping back when I was sitting down; etc., etc.
~The Story of a Soul, St. St.Thérèse  of Lisieux

Oh yeah. I remember when I broke my will. That was really easy stuff. And holding my tongue, well, any of you who know me in person know that I'm a master of discretion. Of course, I do actually succeed at holding my tongue occasionally, I just don't know what to do about the rest of my face.

As I've previously mentioned, I'm currently reading Saint Teresa of Avila's Autobiography in the morning during my prayer time and Heather King's book about her thoughts on Story of a Soul, later in the day just for reading. It's a very interesting contrast. Teresa has this very detailed description of what happens at each stage of prayer. Thérèse is just the opposite. She says:
I wouldn't know how to recite [all the beautiful prayers in books]. Not knowing which one to choose, I do as children do who don't know how to read: I very simply tell God what I want to tell Him, without making beautiful phrases, and He always understands me.
Ms. King says, "The goal in prayer, isn't to do anything 'right,' to acquire a technique, Thérèse seemed to be saying. The goal is surrender." Of course, when you do surrender, sometimes the results are pretty much exactly the stages that Teresa of Avila delineates. 

The prayers of these two saints yielded very different results, too--at least different temporal results. St.Thérèse suffered from a long period of aridity before her death and even before that seldom received any consolations. She said that receiving no consolation was her consolation. St. Teresa, although she endured some aridity, was often flooded with consolation. In the end, though, it all comes to the same thing, or the same Person. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Fowl Day

When I left for the eye doctor this morning, the girls from next door had come over for breakfast. They think we have the best ticks in town--or, I guess, out of town. 

I was pleased to see that they had brought a couple of chicks with them. I'm sorry it's so blurry, but if I had gotten close enough to get a clear picture, they would have flapped away squawking at the tops of their voices and, believe me, that is very loud. 

Everyone should get the chance to spend some time watching guinea hens. They are hysterical, and hysteria is their defining mood. They are like a bunch of gabbling old biddies, and the slightest disturbance sending them waddling behind the nearest bush or tree, and screeching like they're being chased by demons. If one gets separated from the rest, she gets hysterical and runs back and forth crying, and looking for the rest. She's in agony trying to choose between the horror that she's trying to escape (me!), and the misery of being alone.

I got to the eye doctor's office early and there was no one in the parking lot except for me and these guys. No undignified running around for them. They gave way to the car, but only as far as they absolutely had to, and there wasn't so much as a ruffled feather among them. They look very disciplined, don't they? They kind of remind me of Nazis. 

So, I had an entertaining morning, which was good since it made up for the fact that my appointment is next week.


This morning I went to the eye doctor and Golden Girls was playing on the TV in the waiting room. I realized that now I am older than all those women were when they did the show. How strange.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Feast Continued

Well, we had a nice evening and the Coquilles St. Jacques were good, although I have a couple of ideas about how they could be better next year. Of course, my husband cooks, so it's easy for me to have ideas. I was wishing I had some of those little plates that are shaped like shells, but when I got my good dishes down to wash them, this is what was on the back.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feast of St. James the Greater

Tonight is the vigil of the feast of St. James the Greater. Tomorrow, we are going to celebrate his feast by having Coquilles St. Jacques, and hopefully I will be able to get to Mass tomorrow on my lunch hour. We've never cooked this particular meal before and as the scallops are quite expensive, I hope that it turns out. Anyway, it will be an adventure.

When we had been married about ten years, maybe 1981, we were walking on the beach at Yorktown, VA and found this petrified scallop shell. At the time, it was encrusted with all sorts of other shells. Bill took it to the museum where he worked and they said it was probably about 45,000 (correction--now  I'm told million) years old. When my daughter was in the fourth grade, she cleaned it and used it in her science project, and she and Bill made a box for it that looked a lot like this. That one fell apart, but about 7 years ago when we started praying about walking the Camino, Bill got someone to make a new frame and this one has been hanging in our living room ever since.

About the same time, I started looking for a statue of St. James. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a statue that I could bear to look in the face. This isn't exactly what I wanted, but it's different from anything else I had seen for sale, and I like it because I found it at the gift shop at the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, which was the first shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother in the United States. He usually sits up high on a bookcase, but I've moved him, along with the shell, to a more prominent place for the feast, and probably for some time to come.

We've talked here lately about the Pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and while most of you probably know why there is a cathedral there, maybe I ought to explain in brief. The cathedral stands in the place where, according to legend, a 9th century hermit named Pelayo found the remains of St. James, which had somehow been miraculously translated to this location some time after James was killed by Herod Agrippa I. A star marked the place, thus the name Compostela, field of stars. There is a ton of discussion and speculation about this story out there if you care to spend some time with Google, or even, gasp, in the library, but these are the basic facts that I've heard before and which concur with the information found here.

I've been thinking a lot about St. James today while I was planning to write this post, and I realized that my thoughts are so compartmentalized that when I think of Santiago de Compostela, I only think of St. James in this relation. I've been conscious that he was an apostle, of course, but today it really dawned on me, "Oh! This is the guy that was at the Transfiguration. He was one of the Sons of Thunder. He was the brother of the Beloved Disciple."  I also found that he is the patron of many people and things including arthritis sufferers, and pharmacists (Have you any idea how many pharmacists I've had to do with lately?), so he'll be especially good to have around. He is also the patron saint of rides, which is nice to know in case I should ever be so insane as to get on the back of a horse again. I am not in charge and the horse always knows that I am not in charge, so maybe St. James could help me out.

May you all have a blessed feastday!


I've been away from home since yesterday morning except when I was asleep, so I haven't time to write, and things are really getting busy at work as we approach the deadline for the Fall semester. (The deadline basically means the day when people decide they should start sending things in.) I've started working on something and hope to finish tonight.

In the meantime:

I noticed this room when I was having my second eye surgery and was really grateful that they don't expect the patients to participate in this activity. I would have liked to stand at the door and watch, though. I guess with all the stress that hospital personal are under they need a little exercise to help them wind down.

I'm wondering about the braille on the sign, as I always do wonder about it. How do blind people know it's there. It seems like someone would have to tell them and then I wonder why they don't just tell them what the sign says. I'm not being totally flippant. I really do wonder about this.


Sunday, July 22, 2012


Night before last on the way home, there were two huge white thunderheads to the northeast of us. They were filled with lightning. One would flash and then the other. It was as though they were having some huge celestial conversation. When we got home it was dark and Bill took this picture. I don't think it's the same clouds we were looking at on the drive. This is less than half of the picture and I decided to go ahead and let it run over the edge so you can see more of the detail. Still, it's not as impressive as the original. Another piece of the picture is below.


Let's look at that top one again.


Saturday, July 21, 2012


The Portico of the Glory in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Jenaro Perez Villamil
I first saw this painting at an exhibit called The Heart of Spain in Alexandria, LA, in 2003. Even before I saw the painting, I had been wanting to see the real thing. I am posting it today to commemorate the arrival at the Cathedral of a commenter who has been known variously as Grumphy, Grumpy, Grumpy in Muncillas de los Mucas, Grumpy in Burgos with tendonitis but hoping to move out tomorrow, and various other names. In case you haven't figured out what she has been doing, she has been spending the last month walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, praying a lot of rosaries, and occasionally commenting here. She prayed for me when I was having trouble with my eyes, for which I am very grateful. And I'm very happy for her today.


By the way, the link I posted was to a Wikipedia article because the others that came up seem to be selling tours, but I'm sure there are better websites if you look around.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Here Grumphy, This One's for You

When you've been walking the Camino for the past 30 days (or is it 31?), and getting your blisters pierced by needles which deposit threads in the middle of them, you might just need some serious foot care when you get home. So, here you go.

I love the last bullet point: Finally giving women the beauty of wearing open toe shoes without shame. Well now, I know that's something that I lie awake in bed worrying about, and I'm sure that all you women out there do too.

This reminds me of a story. Shortly after my son told me that he was going to get married, I noticed that I had this little black dot underneath the left side of my right toe nail.  I didn't worry too much about it, and figured I must have dropped something on it since my life is just one long, painful battle with gravity. But about a week later, I noticed I had an identical black dot underneath the right side of my left toe nail. I thought this might call for a visit to the dermatologist.

Well, the dermatologist looked at it, and he called his partner in, and she looked at it, and said that it might be melanoma, and I could go have a biopsy, or I could wait a month and see what happened. I chose the former. So, I sat on the edge of the examining table with my feet dangling and the doctor rolled up on a stool that was really close to the ground and looked pretty uncomfortable for a guy that was over 6' tall. He had a sort of basset houndish face, and after he examined my toes, he rolled back a bit, folded his hands between his knees, bowed his head and assumed a lugubrious expression. He observed a moment of silence.

Uh-oh, I thought, this doesn't look too good. I said, "You don't look very happy," and he said, "Well, it's not a happy thing." Oh dear. After a bit he continued, "These spots could be melanoma, but it's pretty rare and I've never seen that before, but the only way to be sure is to remove part of your toenails, and they won't ever look right again." Ha, I was thinking that I was going to have to attend my son's wedding posthumously. and he was worried that I might not be able to wear open-toed shoes! I told him that I really wasn't all that concerned with having perfect toenails, and he said, "Yes, but you don't want to look like a monster."

Sometimes I sit and try to imagine what someone would have to do to your toenails to make you look like a monster--something so dreadful that it couldn't be hidden by a pair of Keds. Well, whatever that might be, it didn't happen to me and as far as I can see, once the nails grew out they looked just about like they did before--not especially lovely, but a far cry from monstrous. And it wasn't melanoma either, which was a nice bonus.

I never really had any intention of attending Michael's wedding in open-toed shoes, by the way. I had some heels for the wedding, and some flats to change into for the reception. For driving to the reception, I brought some black, canvas Keds flats with a gros grain bow on the toes held on by big black buttons, and I forgot to take them off when I got there. I think I remembered while Michael and I were having our mother/son dance, and after that I figured why change and be uncomfortable. It's a good thing my dress was long.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When I was a girl, probably between 10 and 12 years old, I would sometimes lie in bed at night and try to quiet my mind. The goal was complete silence. Whenever I actually achieved something close to silence, I realized that there was another voice in the background narrating what was going on, or not going on as the case may have been. It was a busy little voice, "Okay, it's really quiet now. That's it. Wait. What am I hearing now?" It became clear to me that there was more than one voice in there, and there might be as many as three. I'm not talking about some sort of mental aberration, and it didn't bother me at all. It was just like so many things that you notice in childhood. "Well, so that's that way that is," we think, "isn't that interesting,"

I didn't have a lot of time to think about thinking at night because I was spending a lot of time thinking about nuclear war, and how foolish my parents were not to build a fallout shelter, and who I would have room for in the fallout shelter if it was big enough for five, or ten, or twenty people. And then I got to be a teenager and there were boys, and then marriage and children. My mind was so full of stuff that twenty voices wouldn't have been enough to straighten it all out, so the fact that there were three voices pretty much disappeared from my conscious thought.

Then about 6 years ago I read something by St. Teresa of Avila. It might have been her autobiography which I am reading now, or it might have been something else, but she wrote quite thoroughly about the faculties of the soul, and what part each of these plays in the different stages of prayer. Specifically, she is speaking about will, intellect and memory.

All that the soul has to do at these times of quiet [the second stage of prayer] is merely to be calm and make no noise. By noise I mean working with the intellect to find great numbers of words and reflections with which to thank God for this blessing,...Then the commotion starts, the intellect works and the memory seethes. Indeed these faculties sometimes tire me out, for though I have very little memory I cannot keep it under control....let [the will] speak any words of love that suggest themselves, in the firm and sure knowledge that what is says is the truth. But let it pay no attention to the intellect, which is merely being tiresome.
If the will wishes to inform the intellect of the nature of its joy, or strives to bring it into recollection, it will not succeed. It will often happen in this quiet and union of the will that the intellect will be in great disorder.
And later:
The soul will lose a great deal if it is not careful about this, especially when the intellect is a lively one. Once it begins to compose speeches and draw up arguments, especially if these are clever, it will soon imagine that it is doing important work.
I love this last part. My intellect is very good at imagining that it is doing important work, and since I have been writing this blog, it has become difficult to read any scripture or spiritual writing without that little voice buzzing in the background about what I'm going to write about it. I also recognize it as the little voice that wants me to worry in troubled times. When I had a tumor in my thyroid about 25 years ago, I was very peaceful, but I can remember that it seemed like there was something buzzing around my head trying to explain to me why I should be more concerned. 

St. Teresa goes on to explain how the intellect and memory are "captured" in the next two stages of prayer. That will be quite a relief if I ever get there. This book, The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself," is the book that Edith Stein read in one evening that convinced her that the Catholic faith was the truth. I can't read more than about three pages a day, and then sometimes I have to go back and read them again the next day. This may explain why every time I try to read the book I have that was written by St. Teresa Benedicta, I read about ten pages and put it down.


Monday, July 16, 2012


I really don't like change, so I wasn't surprised when some people were unhappy when it was announced that Pope John Paul II was adding the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary. A good friend of mine, a religious sister, said that at first all she could think was something like, "Oh, now the Rosary too? Can't they leave anything alone?" They did seem to disturb a pattern that made sense and that we were comfortable with. Gone is the analogy of the Rosary as the lay person's breviary with the 150 Hail Marys echoing the 150 Psalms. Gone is the familiar rhythm of Joyous on Mondays and Thursdays. But then she came to see what a gift the new mysteries were.

Despite my aversion to change, I never had any resistance to the Luminous Mysteries because they seemed to fill an empty space that needed to be filled between the Joyous and Sorrowful Mysteries. They give us a chance to meditate on many of the Sacraments, and they include some of the more public events in the life of Jesus. Then the other day while I was praying the rosary on my way to work, I realized that all of the Luminous Mysteries are about change.

Jesus did not need to be changed by Baptism, but His Baptism effected a change. The Fathers tell us that when he stepped into the Jordan to be Baptized, He sanctified the waters of the whole world. 

And what brings about a bigger change in a person's life than Marriage? Two become one, and then maybe three and four and on and on. This, of course, brings another kind of change to the whole world.

The third mystery is the great change of conversion. Jesus asks us to become poor in spirit, meek, merciful. He expects that should hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that this will result in persecution. For most of us it takes a lot of long, slow change to get ready for that.

In the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John see Jesus change, not into who He will become but who He really is. They see for a moment all the shadows of this world stripped away.

And finally, there is the institution of the Eucharist. The change that makes our life of faith possible. The only change that can sustain us. I was troubled at Mass this Sunday because I had been thinking about some horrible things. They weren't things that had anything to do with me, really, except in that sense that everyone's sin weighs on us all, and I was feeling that weight. But when the priest consecrated the Precious Blood, it really came home to me that this really is the remedy, that all of those things that were worrying me could be drowned in that ocean of mercy. It's so hard to convey to anyone else what one learns at moments like this, but after that, I was peaceful.

It is fitting that the Luminous Mysteries are the mysteries of change because light is always the agent of change. Everything we see is changed by way the light strikes a wall in the morning, or plays across the grass in the late afternoon, or reveals everything at midday. Everyday we can see something that we've never seen before when the light reaches some heretofore hidden corner.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lily of the Mohawks

Today is last day that the Church will observe the Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. She was beatified in 1980 when John Paul II waived the requirement for a first miracle (or so says Huffington Post, I know that when she died her smallpox scars disappeared, but maybe things like that don't count). The second miracle required for canonization was the healing of Jake Fishbonner from skin-eating bacteria in 2006 (Warning: There are some pretty unpleasant pictures on this page). 

Kateri will be canonized on October 21, 2012, so, when July 14, 2013 rolls around, we will be celebrating the feastday of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. This makes me very happy. I've loved her since I was a little girl, and my oldest daughter chose Kateri for her Confimation name. I'm sure all the Native American Catholics, and probably other Native Americans will be happy too, not to mention people with skin-eating bacteria. I'm afraid we are going to see a lot more of that and it will be comforting to have someone to have a patron for those who are suffering from it.


Friday, July 13, 2012

On the Way Home

About the last third of our trip home from work winds along little two-lane country roads. My favorite part of the ride is where it runs for about a mile through the swamp above. The road has a very narrow shoulder and there is no place to park for some way, so my husband had to drop me off and drive down the road a bit while I took pictures with my phone and then come back for me.

It's been pretty dry this year, although we've had a lot of rain the last several days. When we have a really rainy year, you can't see all that vegetation, well, you can't see the road either. Last year, it got so dry that you could have walked through it dry shod. I didn't like that at all.

I love this tree. I wish I had had a better camera so you could see this better, but I've enlarged the picture as much as I could without making it too blurry.  If you look closely you will see white egrets: one flying on the left, three in the tree and three near the right side of the picture. This morning, the tree was full of vultures. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Wish This Were a Parable

Maybe why they call our house the
witch house, but it might be me.
A hundred years ago, there was an orchard on our property and this pear tree is the only tree that is still living. The inside of the tree is completely hollow. A few years ago, it quit bearing and we thought it would soon die, but last year there were hundreds of pears, and this year there were even more. I counted ten on one branch. The little face was there when we bought the house. I kind of like it.

You can't see it in this picture but our mailbox is right next to the tree. Friday night when Bill got home, someone had knocked the mailbox over--or deliberately pulled it up. It was set in a lot of concrete. There is really no reason for anyone but the mailman to be in our driveway. We are at the end of a country road, and even if someone had to pull in the driveway to turn around, they wouldn't get as far in as the mailbox.

Then Monday, I noticed that there were no pears on the tree--not on the ground--not anywhere. I can't help but think that it's somehow connected with the mailbox, but what it really reminds me of is St. Augustine.
There was a pear tree close to our own vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was not tempting either for its color or for its flavor. Late one night -- having prolonged our games in the streets until then, as our bad habit was -- a group of young scoundrels, and I among them, went to shake and rob this tree. We carried off a huge load of pears, not to eat ourselves, but to dump out to the hogs, after barely tasting some of them ourselves. Doing this pleased us all the more because it was forbidden.                                        
St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II, Chapter 4
So who knows? Maybe we have a potential St. Augustine in the neighborhood. I guess I will ask the saint to intercede for him--or her I suppose--or more likely, them. 

That isn't our only produce mystery lately. About a week and a half ago, we came home and found a bag full of vegetables hanging on our doorknob. Enormous yellow squash, huge zuchinni, very long cucumbers and tomatoes that made me think that if there was something like this on earth, heaven must be very wonderful indeed. I assumed that they had come from our friends who grow enormous vegetables--their daughter won a prize for growing a cabbage the size of small elephant head--and who were leaving town for the week, but when they got home, they said they hadn't left them. Bill asked the man down the street, the great grandson of the man who built our house, whose garden is absolutely perfect in every way, and who had brought us vegetable in the past, but they weren't his either. He did, however, give us a big sack of tomatoes. So, I guess in the fruit and vegetable department we are about even--lost some and gained some, and I'd much rather have the tomatoes than the pears because the pears aren't tempting for either their color or their flavor.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mystery Deferred

Well, I have spent my whole evening looking for some pictures, one of which is this one. This is a pear tree and it is the center of the mysterious happening. This is a very small copy of the original that I reduced for an art class project. I can't find the original anywhere, so this will have to do. 

Now, it's past my bedtime and I absolutely have to go to bed, so I can't write the rest. It is my intention to write it tomorrow--without the other pictures, I guess--but we will see how that goes.

It's even more mysterious to me now than it was this morning.


Oh, and by the way, when I was looking for a picture of my house to show how compared to a dogtrot cabin, I saw the original of this one about 3 times. Tonight, I found several pictures of the front of my house.
Something rather mysterious happened at out house this weekend, and I would have posted about it at lunch except that I need pictures that are at home, so I will write this evening.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, I've been busy at home and busy at work and now I'm on my way to the doctor. I hope to have some time to write something soon.


Monday, July 9, 2012

I can't believe that nobody has picked up on that Flannery O'Connor quote yet.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

One of My Favorite Books (or Two)

Then there was no end to the rage and disappointment of Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca. 

Well, and so would you be full of rage and disappointment if the nice, juicy ham that you were about to feast on turned out to be nothing but plaster. Here they are trying to burn the fake fish in the "red-hot crinkly paper fire" but unfortunately that won't work either. I'm sure we've all had days like this.

Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca are the eponymous anti-heroes in The Tale of Two Bad Mice  by Beatrix Potter. My daughter reminded me of the book today when she told me that her and her husband's favorite line in the book is the one quoted above. Maybe it was the way they felt recently when they had to spend their vacation money on getting their gas line fixed. Well, at least they don't have to depend on a red-hot crinkly paper fire to cook their dinner.

I don't remember my parents reading me any books, although I know that my mother read to me when I was too small to remember. All my favorite children's books were ones that I found at the library or even later when I had children of my own. So, I love it when my children are excited about reading the books I read to them to their children.

This is a book that Captain Kangaroo read to me. To tell you the truth, I don't know why I love this book so much, but I do love it. I loved it when the Captain read it to me, and I loved reading it to my children, and I loved it when Lavar Burton read it on Reading Rainbow. Maybe it just suits my sense of justice when the peddler tricks the monkeys into throwing down their hats. Maybe, being a person who is desperately challenged by gravity, I really admire a man that can balance all those caps on the top of his head: first his own checked cap, then the gray caps, then the blue caps, and then the red caps. I can't even keep one cap on my head. Or maybe I just like the idea of getting a cap for 50 cents. All those caps for $6.50!

My friend Toby posted a link to this picture of Mary Flannery O'Connor on Facebook today.

I wish I knew what that book was. I have flipped the picture on its side and and enlarged it a lot, but its still pretty blurred. I think I'll recognize it, though, if I ever come across it. She's probably thinking, "It's interesting that all the folks that are buying it don't know they are reading a children's book."


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Only Hope

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
          Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre--
          To be redeemed from fire by fire.

   Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
          We only live, only suspire
          Consumed by either fire or fire.

                                       ~T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I am about to start rereading Shirt of Flame, the last of a trio of memoirs by Heather King, the first two being Parched, and Redeemed. I wrote more about the books here and here. I never really read through Shirt of Flame, but just read bit and snatches here and there throughout the book, so now I'm reading it cover to cover. The passage from Eliot is in the front of the book and contains the reference to the title. I'm beginning to think that reading just about this much of Four Quartets once a week might be more profitable than sitting down trying to swallow it whole.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting It All Together

Anyone who has ever spent much time sitting in a room with me and discussing almost anything has probably heard me drone on interminably about the sad division of body and soul. These two elements of humanity should be so intrinsically intertwined that they function as a single entity and yet since the Fall, we stumble around like some kind of metaphysical conjoined twins, always having to strike some sort of compromise and rarely both satisfied at the same time. Our goal, of course, is to so lose ourselves in the love of Christ that we attain the unity that He possessed in His humanity.

This is the dilemma that I think about the most~the disintegration of the human person. And yet, I live as a functional gnostic. I'm very concerned about taking care of my soul, but aside from the most basic needs, I really only think about my body when it nags me. And I've been thinking for a while now that I have to do something about this, or shut up about the body/soul business. I don't mean just eating better and exercising, and all that sort of thing which, of course, is important. I mean recognizing my body as a participant in my quest for God. Jesus didn't just save us with His prayers; He used His body.

Having said all that, I'm not talking about offering bodily suffering for others--I get that. I'm comfortable with that. I think that what I'm seeing is that that's not necessarily what God wants for us all the time. Before Jesus died on the cross for us, He walked around using His body to teach and feed and heal us. I know that sounds pretty simple, but somehow there's a connection there that I don't make in my daily life.

So, those are pretty raw, unprocessed, stumbling-around-in-the-dark thoughts. I'm curious to see where  they lead.

Well, well well, I see that 19 Ukranian robots stopped by to read the post about my roach adventures. So, welcome to the blog and if you decide to visit regularly, I may write a post on Ukranian Hissing Nanites to make you feel at home.

I just wish I could figure out what they are doing.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some People Have Been Through the Desert on a Horse with No Name

This horse has a name.

It's George Dickel.

You can almost see it here, but sometime or other somebody used it to advertise a business and painted over it, which I consider a grave disservice. I wish I could see him move, although he may have gotten a little too tipsy to parade around. He resides on Highway 51 in Coldwater, Mississippi. You must have noticed that my husband is a really good sport because whenever I say, "Oh there's a weird thing, let's take a picture, he gets out of the car and helps me take a picture. You can also tell that we didn't take this picture today, because if anyone had worn that jacket outside today, they would be dead, and he's not that much of a good sport.

A bit further north on Highway 51, you can find this fire department. 

I've been trying to decide if the name denotes the kind of fires they extinguish or the way in which they extinguish them. You need a little extra, loving kindness when your house or business is on fire, I guess. Or maybe they just want to set the world on fire with love, love, love.

This last picture was taken in the same retreat house, Casa Maria, as the one in the picture at the top of the blog. I love to catch strange light effects and it seemed to be a good weekend for it. For instance, the archway that appears so yellow above is really the same color as the wall behind it.

This was the view down the hallway from my room to the lobby. You see that square of white light? There's nothing there. After I took the picture, I walked down the hall and looked all around to see what could have caused it, but I didn't see anything.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Couple of Things

St. Teresa of Avila on Janet Cupo

Presumably we also gave up all thought of our own importance when we began to lead a spiritual life and to pursue perfection. Yet the moment our self-importance is wounded we forget that we have given ouselves to God. We want to snatch it up and tear it out of His very hands, as they say, even after we have, to all appearances, made Him lord over our will.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You see, the gift our lord intends for us may be by far the best, but if it is not what we wanted we are quite capable of flinging it back in his face.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Fourth of July

It's sort of a bittersweet day. I find myself longing for the 50s and John Philip Sousa. Or maybe I just want to be eight years old and not really know what's going on.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Today is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. I wrote about Thomas in an earlier post, and how I think it's a bit sad that on his feast day we remember him for his weakest moment instead of his best (hence the title of the post), but this quote from St. Gregory the Great brings the reason for the Church's choice of scriptures into focus.

Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events? Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God’s providence. In a marvellous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection. 

So, what St. Gregory is saying here is not what we often hear, that Thomas is a sort of example to us, or that those of us who have doubts can be healed by a participation in the suffering of Christ. All of this is true, but there is a subtle difference here. What he is saying is that it is the action of St. Thomas that heals us. It's reminiscent of Charles Williams theory of coinherence, and if you don't know what that means, well, I'm thinking that I should write about Williams in a couple of days.

St. Gregory goes on to say that the conversion of Thomas was more than just a movement from disbelief to belief in the Resurrection.

When Thomas saw and touched, why was he told: You have believed because you have seen me? Because what he saw and what he believed were different things. God cannot be seen by mortal man. Thomas saw a human being, whom he acknowledged to be God, and said: My Lord and my God. Seeing, he believed; looking at one who was true man, he cried out that this was God, the God he could not see.

I've been praying the Office of Readings for over 20 years, and yet I'd never seen this homily before.  The reason is that I always finish the readings for the day before I realize that there is a saint for that day. Since I started having trouble with my vision, I've been reading the Office here, because I can make the text as big as it needs to be. Since they always have the readings for the saints, I'm finding a lot of things I haven't read before.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Nice to Know I'm Not Crazy

One Sunday afternoon when I was in college in the late 60s, I was spending some time with friends at Overton Park in Memphis. As we sat there, a Rolls Royce pulled up and stopped near us. The driver got out and opened the door for his passenger who emerged wearing a three-piece, navy blue, pin-striped suit and carrying a soccer ball under his arm. I thought it was rather peculiar that he would wear a three-piece suit to play soccer in the park. It was also rather peculiar that he was barefoot, but maybe not so much since he was a chimpanzee. 

Well, some people gathered around them for a bit, but we just sat and watched. The chimp and his chauffeur kicked the ball around for a while, and then they got back in the Rolls and left. That was the last I saw of them that day.

Over the next couple of years I saw them a few times driving around town. Once I saw them driving through the shopping center that was near my home. I never saw them get out of the car again, though. I would always mention them to people when they appeared and sometimes others had seen them, sometimes not. 

I hadn't thought about them for a long time, but recently they came to mind and I started asking around. "Do you remember that chimp in the three-piece suit that used to ride around in a Rolls Royce?" Blank stares. Most of my friends have moved to Memphis from someplace else, or are too young to remember the 60s, but even when I've asked my sister and people I've know since high school, they look at me like I'm crazy.

So, finally the vision in the Rolls came to mind when I was at the computer and I googled "chimpanzee rolls royce memphis" and got several hits, the first of which was this one. (Be warned, it's rather unedifying in places.) And, of course, who else in Memphis would have owned a chimpanzee with a three-piece suite in a Rolls Royce. Meet Scatter.

You know, I like Elvis all right, but I'm not really a fan. I've been sort of amazed at the number of times I've written about him in the past couple of weeks and it was my intention not to mention him again, but then he just insisted.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Last Seen in the Dining Room

Obviously the cat is not doing her job.

Well, I suppose that one more reason to be grateful that my vision is better now is that I saw this visitor in time to keep from stepping on him. Someone, who is not me, grabbed my phone to take its picture and I went to get a cup to catch it in. When I got back with the cup, Someone was looking at the picture on the back of the phone and the frog was no where to be seen. Still hasn't been seen. I don't really mind frogs, but I don't want them hopping on me while I sleep. This all occurred on Friday. Still no trace of the varmint.