Monday, April 29, 2013

Pilgrimage III, continued

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.

You may have noticed that I can't pass a water tower.

Scout headquarters

We finally reached the corner of Commerce and Highway 51, which is where we turn north.

There was a Farmer's Market going on on the square, not to mention an Earth Day celebration, and traffic was horrendous for those who were unlucky enough to be driving. Strangely enough, I seem to have taken both of these pictures at a time when the street was empty. This did not happen often.

Ah! Now the best part of the day.

I knew we had come to the right place when we she gave us our juice.

Pellegrino is Italian for pilgrim.

My husband and the baker with whom he did much business. 

This, although it may be the worst picture of my granddaughter that I've ever seen is a really fascinating trick with mirrors.

What you see on the right is a reflection in a mirror hanging on the wall, beyond which is an alcove. Tessa was sitting on the near side of the alcove, hidden by the wall. I was taking a picture of her reflection in the mirror on the far wall. The door on the left is the real door. The one on the right is a reflection in the mirror hanging on the wall next to me (see the roses on the table reflected?) of the door. If you look at the mat, you can see that it is backwards from the one on the left. I had no idea it was going to come out this way.

We ate out in the courtyard. The weather was perfect and the food was yummy.

Then we had to leave, but we took some bread home with us, and I'm sure we will return.

This is the walkway between the bakery and the library where we had parked earlier in the day. 

This really is a nice, little town square and sometimes we come here just to walk. It's very nice in the early evening, too.

Well, that was last Saturday, April 20, and since then we've walked north a couple of times, and hope to do so later today. It's been a very cool spring, which is a great relief since last year we went from the 40s to the 90s in about fifteen minutes, skipping the nice days altogether. I'm hoping to get to the next church before it gets to hot to walk in the evening, but I don't know if that is possible.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pilgrimage, Part III: Hernando to Southaven

Taking up where this left off.

I'm sure that those of you who read this blog frequently have always wondered where the meat market formerly known as The Red Square is. Well, here it is--right past the church.

I keep thinking this say, "Muther Shop," but no.

Kind of speaks for itself.

These tracks mark the delineation between the newer and older parts of the town. They are the same tracks that we crossed here. I don't think that the building on the right was really the old depot,but I think it's where it was.

Okay, I said it was the old part of the town--obviously really old. I know you all wonder what happened to Fred and Betty after their TV show was cancelled, well I think they moved to Mississippi and started their own business. I was hoping to interview them, but it was Saturday and no one was there.

I know you've heard of the summer White House, well this is the southern White House--really far southern.

See more old stuff.

Really valuable old stuff.

Now, I wouldn't want to say that anybody had stolen this street sign from a street by this name in Memphis, but . . .

Can't get very far away from this guy around here.

One thing I like about this area is that it's very eclectic. You can see these really nice, ante-bellum homes cheek-by-jowl with just about anything.

This is an old dogtrot cabin that they moved into town to serve as part of the county museum. It's pretty much what my house would have looked like when it was first built. I tried to get a shot through the dogtrot, but it didn't come out. One thing I found out about these houses that I thought was interesting is that you can find them all over the United States built with whatever building materials were handy there.

By the time we got here, this place looked pretty tempting, but again--Saturday.


Oh, now I see.

Well, I think that's about all for today. I'll post the rest of this walk and the really delightful ending tomorrow.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Sludge, Wallowing, and What We're Doing Here

Yesterday on my Facebook newsfeed, there were two links to articles dealing with the depressing state of our culture and our world. One was A Nation of Sludge by Anthony Esolen, and the other, Ten Things to Do Instead of Wallowing by Simcha Fisher. I thought both worth reading, and perhaps Mr. Esolen could benefit a bit from reading what Simcha has to say. She probably knows what he has to say, as do we all, and she offers a bit of practical advice for those times when we feel like the world is really so much more with us than we can bear.

Mr. Esolen, seemingly overwhelmed by the sludge by which we are increasingly surrounded, begins by quoting The Lake Isle of Innisfree, and Luke 15:18, and goes on to catalog many of the distressing ills that surround us. After a short reflection on the better world in which many of us grew, he concludes:
The poet Yeats wanted to retreat from the hardness of the city and the strife of politics, to that peaceful island, where he would build his cabin and grow his beans. It has been a century since he daydreamed about Innisfree. There is no such island to turn to. All the possible roads back to sanity have been closed off. We cannot arise and go anywhere. Innisfree is as sick as Illinois.
Then in closing he says that we should do as the prodigal son did and arise and go to our Father's house--our only haven.

What I would like to add to what these articles have to say is this. Our Father in Heaven, when He created each of us knew that we would be living in the midst of this sludge. This is our appointed time and place. This is the hour for which each of us was born.  We have a purpose and a call. I don't know what yours is--heck, I barely know what mine is--but I know it's there. We live in times that call for heroic sanctity. BE heroically saintly. 

Pray more. Receive the sacraments more frequently. Read Hebrews 12 and, "Consider how [Jesus] endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart," and "...strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees." Read the whole chapter. Think about how Paul in 1 Thessalonians says to rejoice always, always, in all circumstances. Those words aren't just some kind of nice platitude; they are serious and difficult marching orders. 

Do I do all this? Well, sometimes. Do I fail. Every day, every day. But that really doesn't matter. Don't look at that. Look at Jesus. He's calling you to something. Find out what it is.

And remember your Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.


Thursday, April 25, 2013


I must say that word a hundred times a day: over and over again in the Rosary, whenever I make the sign of the cross, after every prayer, and when I receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I hardly ever think about what it means. If I do, it's almost always during the reception of the Eucharist, but otherwise it's just the way we end our prayers.

It was surprising, then, to find that at the end of the explanation of the Creed in the Catechism there is a whole section on the word "amen." You'll find it in numbers 1061 through 1065. "In Hebrew," the Catechism tells us, "amen comes from the same root as the word 'believe.' This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why 'Amen' may express both God's faithfulness towards us and our trust in him."

I had always heard that "amen" means "so be it," that it is our "yes" to what has gone before, but this definition enlarges the content of our response. A bit further on we read, "Thus the Creed's final 'Amen' repeats and confirms its first words: 'I believe.' Our profession of the truths of our Faith is enclosed within our profession of belief.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The End and the Beginning

Saturday, we finished the second leg of our pilgrimage, and began the third. I was going to post pictures from the entire morning's walk, but I don't have much time today, so I'll just show you the first part. On Friday, we  reached the Walgreen's in Hernando, which is just half a mile away from the church, so that's where we started on Saturday morning. This wasn't exactly the most exciting stretch of the pilgrimage.

Of course, we could have taken this picture anywhere. There must be at least 50 buildings that look exactly like this within a fairly small radius around us.

Then we headed down the main street in Hernando, which is called Commerce. It begins in the newer commercial area which has the ubiquitous Walmart, and several banks and fast food restaurants, and ends at the old town square. Holy Spirit Catholic Church is just under halfway to the square. 

First we had to walk under I-55. You can see that our granddaughter is with us, and that she has much less hair than she did during the famous snake incident.

The thrilling underbelly of the expressway.

Holy Spirit from the street. You can see the spire of the old church on the left, and the much larger new church on the right. The old church is very small. It probably doesn't hold more than about 150 people. It's not particularly beautiful, but it has a very nice, peaceful atmosphere. I used to go there a long time ago when the pastor would say Mass sometimes for our prayer group, and then later my dear, dear, best spiritual director ever was the pastor, and I would drive down (about 45 mins. from my old house) once a month to see him.

Then the parish outgrew the church and they had to have Mass in the gym while they were raising money and building the new church. The drawback to Mass in the gym was that it was in the gym, but that couldn't be avoided since they could have filled the old church four times over. Now they have the big church and it's a big, new church. 

So, we arrived. We wanted to go in and say a prayer, but we weren't sure we could get in on a Saturday.


As luck would have it, we got there while some florists were decorating for a wedding--see the flowers on the doors--so we got to go in. The florist weren't quite sure we should be there, but we were quiet and sat in the back pew, so they let us carry on.

After leaving, we walked on to the town square to celebrate. Since this would be the first part of the walk to the next church, we will consider that we are on our way. I'll post pictures from the rest of our walk later or tomorrow. They are more interesting.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Now is the Acceptable Time

As I mentioned in October, my husband and I have been reading the Catechism on the way to work. We are way behind the internet group that we started reading with, but we persist--slowly. Yesterday, we read this.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Hell, #1033
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. (Emphasis mine.) To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."
What struck me was that right there between hatred and the results of dying in mortal sin, we have this warning against failing to meet the serious needs of the poor. This is a really sobering thought. I, and I think many or most people, tend to think of mortal sins as sexual sins, sins of violence, or pride. But here in the paragraph about Hell, we have a very quiet sin of neglect. Something that's easy to overlook. Those other sins aren't even mentioned.

As we move on to the next section, The Last Judgement, we find the same admonition.
Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
We know, of course, that the goats are those that saw the hungry, and the thirsty, and the outcasts, and the naked, and did nothing to help them.

The passage continues with this quote from St. Augustine, emphasizing for the third time the importance of caring for the least of our brethren.
All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence.". . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence."*
 "...I placed them on earth for you...."  I don't know about you, but when I see a person in need, that isn't my first thought, or at least it hasn't been until recently. And they are appointed to be our stewards? This triple emphasis on charity, and the results of our lack of charity is startling to me, and should be a wake up call for us all. 

In the last paragraph of the section on The Last Judgement we read:
The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation." It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God.
"Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation."
                                                                                     2 Corinthians 6:3


The entire passage from the Catechism can be found here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Fourth Day of July

Maybe I should wait to post this, but July is too far away.

The other day, I was listening to an album by the Be Good Tanyas while I was doing some sort of repetitive work. I've heard it before but didn't realize that one of the songs, The Coo Coo Bird is one that I really like on Hem's album Rabbit Songs, although they call it, The Cuckoo. Hem's version sounds like a traditional folk song, which it is, but the Tanyas' version is darker, and looser, feels like it sung by the bayou, and has a great fiddle in the background. I wanted to link to both recordings, but unfortunately I can't find a video of Hem; however, I found recordings by several different, really different, performers. As with any good folk song, the lyrics are constantly changing. I'm not sure that they are the same in any two of these videos. Here's the Be Good Tanyas.

Richard Thompson. He probably sounds more like the person that wrote this song than any of the others.

Combining the two, folk music and 60s rock, is gonna knock ya, rock ya, and sock it to ya now--although up until about the fourth minute her only contribution is marakas.

A great interview with Clarence Ashley before the song..


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cypress Swamp

The cabin where I spent my retreat is in French Camp, MS, which is along the Natchez Trace Parkway. If you aren't familiar with the trace, it roughly follows the route of the Old Natchez Trace which was developed under Thomas Jefferson and connects Nashville, TN with Natchez, MS, a distance of 444 miles. It's a beautiful, quiet, well-maintained road with hardly any traffic, and it's a great place to drive for a while--if you aren't in any hurry. There are several places along the way where you can stop and walk part of the original trace, or take nature walks. My favorite of these is this cedar swamp. 

This is the bridge that takes you into the swamp. I'm not sure that any camera, especially not the one on my phone, could capture the atmosphere of this swamp. For one thing it is very green. The water is a kind of lucent green and the air shimmers with greenness. It's almost like being under an emerald sea. As you can see, this doesn't show up in the pictures at all. Also, it is as still as can be. Except for a few snowy days at my home in the middle of nowhere, I've never experienced such silence. No one else was there that day. It was lovely.

I love cypress knees. This bunch makes me think of a tribe of Native Americans on a journey.

Nothing much to say about this one. It's just beautiful.

This little group of cypress knees looked like a nativity scene. 

After a while, I came to a sign--why didn't I take a picture--which told about the alligators in the swamp. They mostly just float around and are small and only eat a few fish a week, but we ought not to feed them because they might get aggressive. This made me a bit nervous because I know for sure that some jerk has been down there feeding them, and I don't know how aggressive they may have become to date. So, I saw this in the distance. For some reason, it looked a lot more like an alligator than you can tell in the picture.

Then there was this sign.

Bobcat. Really. After they tell you that, they bar the way out, but I managed to sneak through.

Then the little gathering of peoples came to tell me good-bye.


If you click on the pictures, you can see them enlarged.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bird Songs

We had some real birdsong, and now we shall have songs about birds. About a year or so I was looking at the songs I had downloaded and realized that there were a lot about birds, and here they are. I'm not going to say much about them, but I love them all for different reasons. Some are happy and some are sad and some are funny.

Emmylou-If I had a bird, little bird, I would teach that bird to sing your name. 

Go away little bluebird, you're too darn happy for me and my broken heart.

Hard to be sad when you listen to this one.

Although, I don't really believe that the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs. Of course, a hummingbird may be singing some lovely melody that we can't hear, but I don't think that counts.

Hard to sit still when you listen to this one.

Hard to keep from laughing when you listen to this one. I think about the way the lyrics to this song would be received today and it cracks me up.

No more birds. I don't own this one yet. I wish I did.

And if you want to read something seriously good about bird song, you should go here--but do it when you have some time. It's the best.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Time War and the Other Tax Block

This was my plan. As soon as I got all my tax documentation, I was going to sit down and do my taxes. Really. Mid-February at the latest. Now usually it's my fault that I put it off to the last minute, but while I did miss a couple of opportunities to sit down and compute, for the most part, I was blameless. A daughter visited; I had an operation (Good excuse, right? Say it's a good excuse.); my grandson spent the weekend; I went out of town; I had to make things for my PRE class; I had to clean the house for Easter; there was Easter; and, finally, my grandson came again. And there you go. All my time disappeared into the vortex. 

Yesterday (I wrote this on the 15th), just in the nick of time as usual, I finished figuring out how big a check I was going to have to send the government. I wish I could say that it was all over, but since, for the second time in two years, I did not get a form from the Social Security Administration, I had to file for an extension. So, I ordered the form and I still have to finish filling out my 1040 when it arrives, but at least I have written and mailed the stomach-turning check, so the worst is over.

Lately, I have found it almost impossible to write anything, and I realized yesterday it's been because of the taxes. The dread of doing what is really a pretty simple job, has so filled my consciousness that nothing else could manage to squeeze past it. Now, all that has gone away, and this is the third blog post I've written today. I have to admit that neither of the other two (one of them is scheduled to appear later) required much writing, still, they both had more words than none, which has been my average lately.

Part of my problem, too, is daylight savings time. Yes, I know that everyone else has done all their grumbling, and had a miserable sleepy week over a month ago, but I never have adjusted to it. Since I usually get up almost three hours before I have to leave for work, it was easy just to sleep late for a few days. I was going to get up 10 minutes earlier every day and make a slow transition. But, then I was off work for my operation and then I took two weeks off for vacation, and now I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and start getting up.

Okay, I'm finished grumbling now.

I have many pictures that I want to post from my retreat and from the pilgrimage and the tractor show. Probably many more than you want to see. But, as it is getting close to my bedtime, I will only show you two. Last Sunday when we were walking, I came to a field and I thought that it would be interesting to take a picture of it from the same place every Saturday for a year because now it is practically barren, and before long something will be growing in it and it will change frequently. So, I took this picture on April 6.

Then just four days later, the rains came down and floods came up and when we passed the field on the way to work, it looked like this.

It's not the same position because we were in a hurry and we had to stop in the middle of the road and roll down the window to get this one, but you get the picture--instant lake. I knew the field would change quite a bit over the year, but I didn't expect this much change this fast.


By the way, if you don't live in the US, this is the other other tax Block.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Morning So Far

Here is the room from which I was just rescued. Please excuse the blurry picture. I'm still a bit shaky.

Here is the culprit.

Locks nowadays being made from cheap metal, the tread sheared off the lock and so I couldn't get the door open. Now, this is a really well-built, older building and the walls are very thick-and I'm claustrophobic. I had to really yell to get anyone to hear me, and then they thought I was stuck in the elevator, so they were all outside the elevator door trying to get it open. It was funny once I knew somebody knew I was stuck in there. I think half the staff was in the ante-room before it was all over.

I'm not a person who carries her cellphone around all the time, but I think I could become one. 

Okay. Back to work! I guess the rest of the day will be dull.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on NPR

I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but I thought some of you might be interested.

UPDATE: Okay, that was a great interview. Listen if you have any interest at all.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Few Spring Things and Some Other Things

For some reason, actually many reasons, I just could not get to work on time this morning. A few things happened to slow me down, and then when I was about 20 minutes down the road, I started wondering if I'd remembered to take my blood pressure medication. I couldn't remember taking it. Then I had to debate with myself about whether or not I was going to go all the way home to take it, and eventually I did. I was really glad when I got there because it was the time of the birds. I'm not sure exactly what time that might be, but this was definitely it. I couldn't see very many, but I could hear them, and for once, I remembered to record them. And so, ladies and gentlemen, here they are:


About twenty seconds in, you can hear an owl, and then there's something cawing in the distance. It was very difficult to drag myself away from all this just to work all day.

Spring is proceding apace. Lots of these showed up this morning.

And a few of these

Although I'm afraid half of my azaleas are dead.

And there was this.

Since we have neither a body of water, nor fishermen, it's a bit enigmatic.

The cow egrets returned to dine with their friends.

I really need a better camera.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And the other things. On the way to work this morning, I would have sworn that there were mountains in the distance if I didn't know that there aren't.

It was really much more pronounced in person.

Poor man's Magritte

Ceci n'est pas une porte.

Came across this while driving around on my retreat, about which more later.

Just when I was wanting fish guts

At the rest stop

Behind the security shack at the rest stop

But goats, goats are okay.

And I almost forgot to add this comment which was left for the very short post from yesterday in which I requested someone to hold hot coals to my feet to make me write. It was too good to languish unseen.
Thanks so much for this. I'm a writer out of Creil, Netherlands and what I just read here on blogger couldn't be written any better.Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roomie, Burton. He persistently kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this material to him. Pretty sure he will have a good time reading this. I am grateful to you you for revealing this. It's made me remember the reason why I loved this blog so much.Thanks for keeping it going, I'm gonna start checking back more frequently. How often do you update your blog.Feel free to surf to my site.
Obviously, some people can read a lot into a blog post. I'm not sure I would want to have a roomie who persistently preaches about burning feet with hot coals.