Feminism’s Folly Tuesday, Oct 19 2010 

This is a must read.  Rebecca Walker, daughter of Alice Walker of The Color Purple book, exposes what life was like with a feminazi mother.  It will curl your hair to realize just how radical and anti-family the feminist movement really is.  We can only hope that reason will prevail and women will once again realize what a gift motherhood truly is and how important good mothering is to the entire society.


Ireland Saturday, Feb 13 2010 

We made it to Ireland despite my fears of flying in this dangerous world, and we are so glad we did.  It isn’t often a couple celebrates 40 years, so we decided to do it up big.  Fifty years aren’t guaranteed to anybody, so we are marking the milestones in 5-year increments!

The first thing we realized when we got to Dublin was that we were going to have to take it easy.  No rushing, no hurry anywhere.  That is because except for the motorways, traveling is very slow—-around 35 miles per hour.  The roads are lined with rock walls which I was sure we would hit at any minute; they are winding; and they are narrow.  Frankly, I was glad for the slowdown in pace.  Larry did a fine job driving on the left and I managed to navigate him through the hundreds of roundabouts we encountered in the course of a week.  Roundabouts are more common than intersections with traffic lights and you have to be alert to stay the course.  And due to snow and ice storms the week before we arrived, the roads are full of potholes, making driving more difficult than usual.

The landscape begs you to take it all in slowly.  I couldn’t get enough of those Irish hills mapped out with rock walls everywhere.  There were roadside shrines to stop and see, and breathtaking views of steep cliffs dropping right into the sea.   There were lovely beaches, and of course, there were the lovely little villages which begged you to stop for a walk and a visit to the local church.

Perhaps because of the dreary weather, the Irish use a lot of bright colors to decorate their churches and homes, inside  and out.  One of the B&Bs we stayed in had an orange living room.  I think hot pink was used in every breakfast room and elsewhere the colors were equally as bold.  It was delightful to go from room to room because we never knew what color would greet us.

And the people lived up to the reputation the Irish have for friendliness.  More so in Galway than in Killarney, but most of the people everywhere were cordial and helpful.  Their pace is more relaxed than in the States, and we didn’t encounter many people in a hurry or racing down the road in their cars.

I loved it all,  but perhaps most of all, I was overwhelmed by the kinship I felt with the early Christians who inhabited Ireland from the very  early days of Christianity.   Visiting beehive “houses” and seeing the rocky points of Skellig Michael in the distance made me so proud of the lasting heritage of Catholic Christianity in Ireland.  Those people put up with Viking invasions, hostile weather, conflicts with pagans and then the forces of Cromwell who was determined to wipe out the Church.  He didn’t succeed but the ruins are everywhere and I have continued to ponder the lives of those determined people.

A few pictures will illustrate what I have described:

My New Year’s Computer Saga Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

I have spent the better part of the evening dealing with computer connection issues.  I have gotten “this page is not available” messages, “no connection to the internet” messages, etc.  I have booted and re-booted my computer, had Mike get me connected only to lose the connection when he leaves the room.  I have even opined that computers are a big waste of time.

Then reality hits and I consider everything I do on the computer.  I write and re-write study guides, I connect with my family and friends through email and facebook,  I shop, I pay my bills and check my account balances, I upload pictures to share with others, and I get much of my news, both secular and Catholic, from the internet.  When I am at a loss for what to prepare for dinner,  I google Cooks.com for ideas instead of opening up my cabinet which is full of cookbooks.  What would I do without my 5-year-old Sony VAIO?

I would write letters that nobody would answer, I would spend hours at the library doing research, I would write checks for my bills and stand in line to buy stamps to mail them.  I would have to take my camera to the photo shop to have the pictures downloaded for printing, I would have to shop in person for everything, and I might even have to buy an occasional newspaper or magazine to get the news.  On second thought, I simply wouldn’t do that!  (Buy a newspaper)

At any rate, you get the picture.  The computer is part of my personal modus operandi.  So connection frustrations aside, I simply can’t imagine life without my laptop, even though I acknowledge that things could get so bad that I would have to change.

We are planning an anniversary trip and I had just decided to purchase a small netbook to take along rather than risk losing my precious VAIO which also weighs quite a bit more than the mini.  After referring to an article my oldest son has recently sent about choosing laptops, I chose an ASUS and found one available locally.  Then, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP……a message popped up on my screen saying my hard drive is crashing and I better back it up NOW!!!

Is my VAIO jealous that I am considering getting it a little sister for the trip?  Is it telling me that I am being disloyal in some way?  I have reassured it that the bulk of my work will not be done on the mini, and just to keep the VAIO running, in all this activity, I have ordered a brand new-upgraded hard drive.

Kirking the Tartans Wednesday, Sep 16 2009 

The Long’s Peak Scottish Highland Festival is a weekend of celebration of Scottish/Irish culture.  There are athletic events, dance competitions, music, free-flowing Guinness and scotch, pipe bands, a parade, clan booths and everywhere there are men and women in kilts.  The variety of woven fabric seen on the kilts is dazzling.  Each fabric is unique to a particular clan, and people-in-the-know are pretty good at identifying the clan of others by the kilt.

The tartan, as the woven fabric is called, has played a significant role the dress codes of the Highlanders as well as in their battle dress.  In earlier times, it was central to the identity of the family, or clan, and was worn proudly by the men.  The tartan consists of yards and yards of fabric which is pleated into the kilt.  In the 1700s, the clans would wear their kilts to battle, following their band of pipes and would be a formidable foe not only to other Scots, but to the English as well.

Following attempts by the Duke of Cumberland to put down all Jacobite resistance among the highlanders, The Act of Proscription of 1746 was passed.  This was an attempt to assimilate the Scots into the English fold and to destroy their Scottish identity.

By this Act, “Any persons within Scotland, whether man or boy (excepting officers and soldiers in his majesty’s service), who should wear the plaid, philibeg, trews, shoulder belts, or any part of the Highland garb, or should use for great coats, tartans, or parti-coloured plaid, or stuffs, should, without the alternative of a fine, be imprisoned for the first conviction for six months, without bail, and on the second conviction be transported for seven years”.

The use of the bagpipes was also forbidden in the proscription.

This onerous law was repealed in 1782 and read:

 “Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.”

The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans was conceived by Dr. Peter Marshall, who was the first Chaplain of the US Senate as a commemoration of these events of the 1700s.  It is still held at Washington, D.C.’s historic National Cathedral; with its sermon being delivered by the Presiding, or Senior Minister of the Washington, D.C. Catholic Archdiocese; or by a special guest speaker, primarily one of Scottish and/or Scottish-American background.

The Kirkin (churching or blessing) of the tartans is a moving ceremony.  It celebrates the end of proscription and the freedom to “show the colors” of the clan tartans.  This particular kirking was held outside.  Led by bagpipers, the knights of The Imperial Constantinian Military Order of Saint George, clad in white capes, processed onto the field followed by the clans, with their tartan flags held down at their sides.  After a rousing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, the national anthems of the various countries represented were played.  Then, a brief history of the proscription was read, and as the name of each clan was called, the clan flag was quietly raised.  When all the flags were raised, they were blessed by the chaplain with the following prayer:

On behalf of all Scots away from Scotland, and in the name of all the Scottish Clansfolk that are here represented, we present these Tartans before Almighty God in appreciation of our Heritage; and we ask His Blessings upon these, His humble servants.

O Lord, Thou hast promised that in all places where Thou recordest Thine Holy Name, Thou wilt meet with Thy servants, and bless them; fulfill now Thy Promise, and make us joyful in our prayer, so that our Worship, being offered in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and by the guidance of Thy Holy Spirit, may be acceptable unto You, and profitable unto ourselves.

Bless, we pray, these Tartans — that they may be unto us and unto all people a token of the faith of our Fathers; and a sign of our service unto You.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The priest who offered the benediction ended by saying “Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.”

After the blessing, all the flags were raised and there was a loud cheer.  More music, and then the final prayer was read.  The clans and knights were led off the field by the pipers as they had entered.

The Kirking was solemn, dignified, and full of meaning.  It was a good reminder to us all, that freedom should never be taken for granted.  At all times in history, people have been oppressed, and just as the Jews celebrate their freedom annually during the Seder, and as Americans celebrate their freedom every 4th of July, the American Scots celebrate the freedom of their ancestors with the Kirking of the Tartan.

Kirking the Tartan 2

Larry and Fran

An alarming night Saturday, May 23 2009 

The other night the air was very still and hot.  I couldn’t sleep so I got up and went to a different room so as not to disturb my husband with my rustlings about.  I opened the window but since there was no breeze, I couldn’t escape the heat.  So I laid down on top of the bed and tried to doze.  Then it started.  Chirp.  I listened for more and there wasn’t any, so I began to doze again.  Then it was Chirp Chirp.  So I got up and started looking for the source, but it was sporadic and I couldn’t trace it.  Then the Chirp Chirp  became a beep.  Some moments later is was a beep beep.  By then, it was 11:30 p.m. and my husband was up and we were both trying to find the source.  We just couldn’t get to it at the time it was beeping and with the new codes, there are fire alarms all over the house.  We finally found the offender and changed the battery.  Ah, the quiet.  So we went back to bed and then, you guessed it, chirp.  Same alarm.  By this time, we were very frustrated so my husband fiddled and fiddled till he managed to disconnect the alarm from the ceiling.Smoke alarm connection


Mission accomplished we went back to our tossing and turning till we finally fell asleep.  Then, around 4:00 a.m.  it happened…..chirp, chirp.  This time, it was coming from a different direction.  So the quest began again.  This time it was the CO alarm in the basement.  Having had a real emergency before with CO, my husband didn’t ignore this one.  He went in and woke up our son to make sure he was OK, and assuring that he was fine, he took the alarm out of the wall, removed the battery, and went back to bed.

What a night.  Lesson learned?  Change the batteries when you change the clocks in the fall. Smoke alarm

Question:  Isn’t it strange that two alarms would go off on the very same night?  And why did the first alarm continue to chirp after the battery was replaced?

Garden Party Sunday, May 3 2009 

If you are ever invited to a garden party at our house, don’t come in a dress with a pretty bonnet.  Instead, put on your jeans, get a sun hat and bring a rake!  Here are some shots of our garden party, Black Forst style.  Everybody participated, down to the four-year-old.


First, we fortified them with cinnamon rolls and sunscreen


The man with the plan gave instructions…


Most of the strawberries were dug up to make space for other plants


Even the youngest found a job


Andrew dug weeds


The plastic had to be removed from the walls


Thomas watched patiently


Ahh! Nice and clean


Meanwhile, the guys did the heavy work of putting up a chain link fence


 The fence was heavy, but somebody had to hold it up


Preparing for the additional fencing to fool the deer


Maria was just happy to be outside


It was a productive day which was topped off with hamburgers on the grill, a hail storm and peach cobbler–in that order!

God is good!

Tribute to a wonderful mother-in-law Friday, Feb 13 2009 

My mother-in-law Marie was a wonderful woman. She had many gifts and used them for the good of her family and the Church. She had a heart of gold. She was good to me and welcomed me into the family as one of her own.  She loved God and didn’t care who knew it.  I used to be amazed at how she could strike up a conversation with a total stranger and end up talking about God. 

One of the gifts which Marie had and used generously, was her ability as a seamstress.  Not only did she make clothes for countless people, but she also made countless altar linens, tabernacle veils, banners (when they were the new church decoration), albs, amices, etc.  Anything the local Catholic Church needed, she provided.  After Vatican II when the altars were no longer arranged as they had been and the priests stopped wearing amices, etc., she rescued many of those items before they were thrown into the trash.   I ended up with a very heavy bag of altar linens and have tried over the years to find a church that could use them.  I had no luck until recently.

We have an FSSP parish in our town, and finally these beautiful linens are once again being used.  In this picture, the frontal on the altar was hand crocheted with thread in a cross and grape motiff.  The crochet was done by my husband’s grandmother, and his mother put the lace onto the linen.  The work is exquisite, and was lovingly done.  There was so much beautiful handwork on the various pieces I found in that bag, all done by my mother-in-law.  I know she is smiling if she can see these things being used after over 40 years in a plastic bag.

Of Babies and Old Friends Sunday, Feb 8 2009 

proud-grandparents-and-old-friendsToday was a special day. We witnessed a Baptism in the Tridentine Rite. There are numerous prayers and rituals associated with the Rite that I had either neither seen, or had just forgotten. There was the “Churching” or bringing into the Church of the mother and child after the Baptism. There was the dedication of the child to our Blessed Mother, done by the father of the child. It was all very rich. What made it even more special, was the fact that the baby is the grandchild of some friends from our past–the early ’70s to be exact. Even neater is that their grandchild, Thomas, is only 11 hours younger than our latest grandchild, Thomas. To top off the celebration, Pat and Armond were celebrating 40 years of wedded bliss. We catch up with them next January!

Technology conquered! Monday, Jan 26 2009 

nana-and-thomasHere he is


Catholic Culture and homeschooling Wednesday, Jan 7 2009 

I am fascinated with Catholic Culture.  As the years have gone by,  I have tried to instill it in my children and bathe our family life in it.  Homeschooling affords us the time to teach Catholic Culture, but it doesn’t have to be done in an academic way.  It is more effectively taught if it is lived.  I didn’t realize how much Catholic Culture has been lost in the last 40 years until I started attending a Tridentine parish recently.  So much of what I grew up with is lost to all but a few.  Some examples:

My mother never let anybody leave the house without her vaya con Dios blessing, and when we would talk about something planned for another time, she always said con el favor de Dios.  It was just part of who she was to put things in God’s hands and to ask His blessing on our comings and goings.  We never went to bed without her blessing, even as adults.  We prayed for the Pope every time we entered a Catholic church for the first time, we avoided meat on Friday, we wore scapulars, prayed the rosary, looked to the bishops’ rating in choosing movies,  we fasted, we abstained, etc.  We were Catholic, and yes, our practices were different than those of most of our neighbors. 

A friend recently asked me to teach a class about Catholic culture.  She is a convert and did not receive any teaching on the culture of Catholicism.  She had not heard the word sacramental or many other terms that are part of Catholicism.  She truly wants to learn to live a Catholic life, but what does that mean?  How do people learn about it?

I don’t feel called to go out and teach a class on Catholic culture, and there are many people who are far better qualified than I to do so, but I can share what I know and point people to sources of information.  I humbly submit to you that there is far more that I don’t know than I know.

So where do we begin?  How about with a definition of sacramental?  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

a sacramental is a sacred sign which bears a resemblance to the sacraments.  It signifies effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church.   Sacramentals always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water.  (1667, 16680)

Since we are in the liturgical season of Epiphany, I will begin with one of the sacramentals of Epiphany.  In my Epiphany post I explained what Epiphany is and when it is celebrated.  One of the sacramentals associated with Epiphany is blessed salt.  There are special prayers which the priest says to bless salt for individual use.  Fr. Hampsch has a wonderful explanation here of the importance of salt in our religious history and its use today as a sacramental.  No point my trying to summarize his words, because his explanation is complete and fascinating.  After Mass last night, we were given blessed salt to have in our homes.   We do not look at this wonderful sacramental as something magical.  The salt points us to the saving, healing power of Christ, as do all sacramentals.  Grace does not flow from sacramentals as it does from the sacraments, but the sacramentals help prepare us to receive grace.  Isn’t our Church wonderful in giving us so much to help us on our earthly journey?

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