Monday, December 31, 2012

A Few Things

I went to a friend's wedding at this church, St. Louis, on Saturday. It has recently been renovated. This is the church where I got married, but it looks completely different. There's been an interim renovation which you can see here, but I can't find what it looked like 41 years ago. I think it's a great improvement. I took the picture on the left through one of windows in the hall outside the church.

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We had the alternate readings for the Feast of the Holy Family in our parish yesterday. I was really struck by the story of Hannah and Samuel. I've read and heard this many times, but I've never really thought about before except as a precursor to Mary. We don't know how long Hannah had been waiting for a child, but she waited a long time, and prayed fervently that the Lord would send her one. Then, after Samuel is born, as soon as she is weaned, she takes him to the temple and leaves him there. How hard that must have been for her. I can't imagine. I wonder if she ever got to see him or talk to him.
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We went walking through the field again today, and this time we turned back through another path that leads through some woods. I love to go down this path because there's an old house there. I tried to get the chimney in the shot, but it's hiding behind a tree on the left.

Here's a shot through the front door, and out a back window. You can see the steps and that they are a few feet in front of the house. I looks like there may have been a porch in between.

There's still a window shade hanging on a window in a partially collapsed wall. It's still amazingly white.

And there was some kind of outbuilding across the path.

I love to look at buildings like this and think about the people who lived there and what their lives must have been like. I'm pretty sure that the family that owns the land now is the same family that owned this house. They live in a newer house (obviously newer) across the street. 

And finally, here is some sumac because I like sumac.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter Walk

We took a walk this afternoon for the first time since last Saturday. I'm sure that I will know about it tomorrow. These pictures were taken in the field that's across the street from the end of our road, and on our street on the way home. Before I had a job, I used to walk in this field all the time, and I've been wanting to get back out there. Today was the first chance I've had. Unfortunately, it was too muddy (in the middle of the horrible drought) to get far, but it was pleasant while it lasted. This field was planted in cotton in the summer and the first picture shows the place where the great, big, truck-sized bale of cotton sat before they hauled it off.

I liked the pattern in the ice in this puddle. When I looked at the picture, I noticed it has a rather ghostly shape.

There were quite a few of these big, yellow berries (if they are berries) around. I don't know what they are, but they go well with Bill's hat.

As you can see, most everything is gray and brown--I like it that way--but there's still some color here and there.

Nice and Christmas-y

Evidence of conifers for Craig.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Well, I just noticed that the thousandth comment was posted on this blog this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was the one who posted it, so I will keep the prize for myself.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Under the Tree

Here is a very blurry, too big picture of the bottom of my Christmas tree. The reason I have posted it is down at the bottom of the picture. See that little angel barely hanging onto the tip of a branch? I remember when my kids were young, I would have the whole tree looking just the way I wanted and I'd come in the room and find most of the ornaments from the middle of the tree hanging off the bottom branches. I found it a bit annoying, but mostly funny at the time. Now I love looking at that angel because it's a sure sign that there's been a little one in the house.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I wanted to call this entry An Unexpected Pleasure but I googled that term and saw that several others had thought of it before I did. I was really very pleasantly surprised by the movie and would recommend it to anyone except the very pickiest of the picky. Now, I am a card-carrying member of the pickiest of the picky, and I really like the movie anyway. There were a few puerile scenes and few things one could complain about, but too few to mention when for the most part it was so enjoyable. The scenery was, of course, wonderful, and Martin Freeman was great as Bilbo Baggins. I was a bit unhappy, though, when I realized that the reason I think he really looks the part is because he so closely resembles the character in the dreadful 1977 animated movie. What he doesn't very much resemble is the picture on the left. 

I had almost decided not to see the film, but then it occurred to me that The Hobbit isn't like Lord of the Rings or The Narnia Chronicles. It doesn't have a lot of underlying meaning for a director to mess up, and it's not something to which I'm deeply emotionally attached. It's just a great story. So, I knew that unless Peter Jackson just changed the story in a way that made it completely unrecognizable, I wouldn't hate it, and as far as I can tell, he didn't change much, although he probably changed enough to irk the aforementioned pickers. Of course, it's been many years since I read The Hobbit, so maybe I would have been more irked. I don't think so, though. 

So, go see it! I'll be interested to hear what you have to say.


Update: I meant to say this last night, but forgot. My biggest complaint about Lord of the Rings, and I had many, was the way that Aragorn was portrayed. It was almost like that false, post Vatican II image of Jesus that you come across--unaware of Who He was, self-doubting, weak.  After watching The Hobbit, one of the things I left thinking was that if Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield, had played Aragorn, I might not dislike Lord of the Rings so much--of course, he doesn't look like a dwarf.

The End of the Road

On Saturday, December 22, we reached our parish church and finished the Pilgrimage~this part of it anyway.

Welcome to the big city. You can see how densely populated it is.

First sign of civilization.

Finally, the business district!

A considerately placed restroom

Northwest Mississippi Community College Administration Building

Strayhorn! The street where my church lives

Across the street from the stop sign we find the water tower. It says "SENATOBIA *FIVE STAR CITY*"  I haven't been able to find out why it's the Five Star City or when or how it got that name, but in searching for the information, I found on Wikipedia that two movies that were partially filmed in Senatobia have been nominated for Academy Awards: The Client and The People vs. Larry Flynt.

I thought that when I got to this last half-mile stretch, I would be so excited that I would fly down the street. Well, I was wrong. I felt so exhausted that I told Bill that if it had been a day that wasn't the last day, I would have sat down in the middle of the sidewalk and told him to go get the car. And there were all these terrible obstacles like stairs on the sidewalks. Whoever thought of such a horrible thing? And if you look down the street, you can see that mountain rising up in the distance. 

St. Gregory the Great! Hurrah! You can see Mary off on the left.

Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and wise men and ox and ass and camel and sheep and angels (there were three) were waiting for us--and Jesus.

It's so convenient to have a key to the door of the church.

And Jesus was waiting for us! 

So that's it for now. Sometime soon we will head for Holy Spirit church in Hernando. 


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A very Blessed Christmas to you all. Thank you for reading this blog. My daughter and her boyfriend are staying with us and soon many children and grandchildren will arrive, so I don't have time to write anything. Here are a couple of Christmas carols from Maddy Prior and the Carnival band. I can't find a video of The Sans Day Carol, which is the one I want, but I really like these, too.

On second thought, I'm going to add a video of The Sans Day Carol by someone else, because I think this choir is such a hoot. They seem to be enjoying themselves.

Here is my tree. This picture looks like it was taken in 1942. The notable thing about the tree is that it's the first one I've had in about 5 years. For some reason, this year I really wanted one. Also, it's the first year in a while that we could afford to buy presents for anyone but the grandkids, so that has been fun, too.

We all had wine last night. Looks the angel did too.

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

O Emmanuel, 
Our King and Lawgiver,
The Awaited of the peoples and their Saviour --
Come to save us, O Lord, our God.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Saturday, December 22, 2012

O Rex Gentium
O King of Nations
And their desired one,
Cornerstone who binds two into one --
Come, and save man
Whom You fashioned from the slime of the earth.

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I'm busy getting ready for company today, so I thought I'd just give you a little music to listen to. I love this Patty Griffin song, which, despite what it says on the YouTube video, is called Kite Song. Once again, thanks to Maclin Horton for suggesting I listen to the album, Impossible Dream.

Let's have this one, too.

Okay, back to the dust! I'm sure that dust is a sign from God that we are a sinful people and deserve harsh punishment. On the other hand, all this dust is sign that I have a house and stuff to dust, so I'm sure I will be grateful once it's done.


Friday, December 21, 2012


O Oriens
O Rising Dawn
Radiance of eternal lightAnd Sun of Justice--
Come, enlighten those sitting in darkness
And in the shadow of death.

This is my favorite of the O Antiphons. I don't know why people don't want to be called Oriental because to me, it's a word full of mystery and beauty and Asian just sounds like a blob on a map.

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Today's gospel was the Visitation, "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"

The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God,
comes down the road:
if only you'll shelter her.

Christmas Refrain, St. John of the Cross


Thursday, December 20, 2012


O Clavis David
O Key of David
And Scepter of the house of Israel
You open and no man dares shut,
You shut and no man dares open--
Come, deliver from the chains of prison him who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This morning's reading at Mass was the Annunciation. The angel appears to Mary, blessed, favored, full of grace, and tell her that she will be the mother of the Savior of the world. 
And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.                         Luke 1:34-35
And then the angel comes to us, you see us over there on the left side of the picture, and he tells us that we will bear the Son of God and we are agonized, "How can this be," we say, "for we have known man. We have known him in all of his degradation, and we have cooperated with him in his degradation? And the angel tells us that nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus says to us, "Take and eat," and we say, "Amen, so be it, fiat," and the Holy Ghost comes upon us and the power of the Most High overshadows us, and the Savior of the world is born in us again. 

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Say but the word and my soul shall be healed.

Photo: Dawn Likens

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almost There

O Root of Jesse
A standard to the peoples
Before whom kings are mute,
To whom all nations shall 
Come to deliver us; delay, please, no longer.
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I've posted pictures of the swamp that we drive through on the way to work, but there is another one that we pass on a two-lane highway on the way to church that is very, very beautiful in the spring and summer. A few years ago, work began to add another two lanes to the highway, and they filled in part of the swamp and built a huge berm between the highway and the swamp for the two new lanes. This really should be a good thing eventually because this road ends up under water--about 3 or 4 feet of water--every few years, but in the meantime I haven't seen the swamp for a long, long time. So, when we got to this part of the pilgrimage, I wanted to see if we couldn't walk on top of the berm, which would be safer than walking on the road and it would give us a view of the swamp. 

Well, it worked and we had a very pleasant walk. These pictures don't do it justice. The poor swamp is almost dry even after some recent rain storms. I imagine that during the late summer it was completely dry like most everything else.

The first bridge. I had been worried that the bridges might not be completed to the point where we could walk over them, but they were.

A beaver dam--you can see they've been busy felling trees.

I wish you could tell how big this tree is. Bill says it's about 100' tall.

Bill had parked the car at mid-point, so he had to leave me to move it to the end of the walk. I felt kind of bereft when he left.

This is a picture of the current highway. You can tell how much higher the new one will be. You can also see how low the water is, especially when you think that when it floods, it's 3 or 4 feet over the road. This ought to be a pretty view, but it looks pretty icky.

Near the end of the walk, we came to this post. It must be some sort of omen. 

Well, that's it. We walked 2.1 miles and it is exactly 2.1 miles from the place where we stopped to the church door. We hope to finish this weekend. Next up--the big city--Walmart and everything. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Few Things

O Adonai
O Lord of Lords
And Leader of the house of Israel,
Who appeared to Moses in the bush's    flaming fire
And gave to him the Law on Sinai --
Come to redeem us with outstretched arms.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Dream

I dreamt of a cat,
   A moon-colored cat,
      That ran through the fields.

It ran down the path
   Through the tall, tawny grass
And the cat had a boy that was almost a man
   And the boy had coat,
       A coat that was blue like the Prince with the fox.

And they ran down the path through the tall, tawny grass,
   The path to my grandmother's yard
      Where the peonies grew,
         White with a touch of blood at their hearts,
             Smelling like the Holy Ghost,
                Waiting to be picked to grace
                   The altar of the Mother of God.

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While I was writing my post yesterday, I was thinking about a happier Advent, and that was the year that my son, my only son, Michael, was born on December 16. I can remember walking around the house singing, "For unto us a son it born ...," and being filled with delight. Another Advent, about four or five years later, Michael was walking around the house singing the Messiah, too. He had mistaken some of the words and instead of singing, "Every valley shall be exalted," he was singing, "Everybody will be exhausted."  I guess he was hearing what he was experiencing. I still think he's pretty delightful.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Lord is Close at Hand; Come Let Us Worship Him

O Wisdom, 
Who issued from the mouth of the Most High 
Reaching from beginning to end 
Ordering all things mightily yet tenderly-- 
Come to teach us the way of prudence.

When I was younger, it used to be very important to me to make Christmas perfect. We never had much money, but I made ornaments and stockings and decorated and did all sorts of Advent activities, and all of this was great. But one Christmas about 30 years ago something happened that changed the whole way I looked at Christmas.

One day in the week before Christmas, I was at my mother's house assembling a dollhouse, and I got a call. It's odd, but although I don't remember who called, I remember that I was surprised that this particular person was calling with the news. My best friend's 18 year old son had been killed in a motorcycle accident along with a friend of his. And I can remember that what struck me immediately was that there was going to be no way to make this Christmas perfect.

Over the next several days, I began to understand in a way I never had before how much we need Christmas, not the tree, and the carols, and presents, but the Nativity, baby Jesus in the manger. I learned how  underneath all the trappings, we yearn for a Saviour, we yearn to be saved from a world that is at times unbearable. And I learned somehow in that darkness that He really was there. Now I think of that as one of the best Christmases of my life. This quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa was in the section of the Catechism that we read today.
Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?   
And so, this is what I've been thinking about during the last few days. I haven't written anything about the shootings in Connecticut and I won't. I've barely discussed them with anyone. I don't really think there's much profitable that one can say. I know, though, that because this happened, it won't be exactly the Christmas we wanted, but I know that Christmas is just what we need.


Great post by Sally here.