27 April 2008

Separated at birth

Axl Rose and his sharp bandana...........my daughter and her Spiderman pull-ups

Yes, that is a diaper on her head. Just try to take it from her.

Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns N' Roses

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

26 April 2008

Chesterton Conference

The 27th Annual G. K. Chesterton Conference - Orthodoxy Centennial

Just got my flier in the mail today. I know Ray has already posted on this, but I'm pretty jazzed about the conference this year since there will be two lectures I certainly don't want to miss (Pascal and Austen) and many lectures that I would hate to miss :) We are fortunate to have this FREE conference here each year. But, I'm wondering who gave Chesterton the afro.

From the Chesterton website (and flier):

June 12-14, 2008
O'Shaughnessy Education Center
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minnesota

A Chapter-by-Chapter Look at Chesterton’s masterpiece, Orthodoxy Plus Chesterton and Shakespeare, Chesterton and Pascal, Chesterton and Jane Austen!


Thursday, June 12
4:00–6:00 pm: Registration, Room Check-In
6:00 pm: Dinner

7:00 pm: Welcome

7:15 pm: Dale Ahlquist (President of the American Chesterton Society) “Introduction in Defense of Everything Else”

8:30 pm: David Zach
(Professional Futurist who has worked with over 1200 associations, corporations and colleges) “The Eternal Revolution: A Question of Progress”

Friday, June 13
8:00 am: Breakfast

9:00 am: Tom Martin (Professor of Philosophy at University of Nebraska-Kearney and Editor of The Examined Life) “The Maniac: Especially, Nietzsche”

10:30 am: Sean Dailey (Editor-in-Chief of Gilbert Magazine) “The Suicide of Thought: Intellectual Helplessness”

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm: Jennifer Overkamp (Doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Instructor at Saint Gregory the Great Seminary, Seward, Nebraska) “The Ethics of Elfland: Fairy Tale Philosophy in a Gift Universe”

2:30 pm: Ross Arnold (President of Ross Arnold and Associates
and Teacher at University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, Washington) “The Paradoxes of Christianity: The Danger of Not Paying Attention”

4:00 pm: James Woodruff (Teacher of Mathematics at Worcester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts) “Chesterton and Pascal: Not All Mathematicians Go Mad”

6:00 pm Dinner

7:00 pm: Joseph Pearce (Author of biographies of Chesterton, Belloc, Tolkien, Solzhenitsyn, Wilde and the newly released The Quest for Shakespeare) “The Orthodoxy of Shakespeare”

8:30 pm: Dwight Longenecker (Chaplain of St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Greenville, South Carolina, and author of 10 books, including Adventures in Orthodoxy) “The Romance of Orthodoxy: Why Heresy is Dull and Deadly”

Saturday, June 14
8:00 am Breakfast

9:00 am: Geir Hasnes (Bibliographer Extraordinaire and Norway’s Official Ambassador to Chestertondom) “The Flag of the World: Loyalty to Life”

10:30 am: William Oddie (Former Editor of England’s Catholic Herald and author of the forthcoming The Making of GKC: Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy, 1874-1908to be published in November by Oxford University Press)“Authority and the Adventurer: Landmarks on the Road to Orthodoxy”

12:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm: Sara Bowen (Columnist for Gilbert Magazine, and former board member of the American Chesterton Society and the Jane Austen Society of North America) “Sense and Orthodoxy: Jane Austen and Chesterton”

2:30 pm Small Group Seminars and Discussion

4:00 pm: Scott Richert (Executive Editor of Chronicles: The Magazine of American Culture) “It Is Not Good for God to Be Alone: Orthodoxy vs. Islam”

5:30 pm Mass

7:00 pm Closing Banquet

8:00 pm Traditions: Jokes, Toasts, Readings, Clerihews

This Schedule is subject to change, but so is everything else.

This conference is presented by The American Chesterton Society and the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Category: Potpourri

Who is the French Jewish scholar who maintained a life-long interest in and devotion to the Catholic Church, although she never converted?

St. Alex says, you know what to do, place your answer in the form of a question in the combox and say a Hail Mary until the solution is revealed.

25 April 2008

The Pope's challenge to conservatives

I've been doing a little reading lately on some philosphers, namely Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Comte, Hegel, etc. Most people know the link between all these fellows...they didn't believe in God. I just wish the stuff I read would stick in my head beyond me setting the book down. Anyway, there is a pretty interesting article in the American Thinker that talks about the Pope's response to some of the German thinking in this area. Kind of alarming that Germany doesn't allow homeschooling and the UN is increasingly trying to dictate law in this country.

By Christopher Chantrill

The mainstream media seem to think that the pope's visit to the United States was all about the delicious priestly sex-abuse scandal and liberal agenda issues like abortion and women priests. Even some conservatives wonder about Benedict XVI. Last week Catholic convert David Allen Tate worried to host Hugh Hewitt about Benedict's background in German philosophy.

Conservatives are right to be worried by the Germans. Over the years they have managed to tie our liberal friends up in knots. On the one hand our liberal friends like to call the German pope a Nazi and conservative Americans "fascists," and this is considered the very height of sophisticated fun by advanced liberal humorists like Bill Maher. On the other hand our liberal friends take many of their ideas straight from the German tradition of Marx and Nietzsche, not to mention the Nazi sympathizer Martin Heidegger, father of existentialism and postmodernism.

At least Josef Ratzinger has an excuse. As a youngster in wartime Germany he was forced into the Hitler Youth and drafted into the German Army.

If only, conservatives seem to wish, someone had stood astride history after the happy year of 1787 when our remarkable Constitution was ratified in Philadelphia. But nobody did. In 1789 George Washington was inaugurated President of the United States and the sensible people. In the same year the French birthed the modern Left with their Revolution of the silly people. A smart Anglo-Saxon like Edmund Burke could immediately understand and predict where that would all end up.

Less than ten years previously the author of relativism, Immanuel Kant, had published his Critique of Pure Reason, and it was just coming into public notice in Germany through articles published by Karl Reinhold in 1786.

In 1790 a practical politician like Burke had nothing to say about Kant. Nor did anyone else. But 160 years later Russell Kirk still couldn't detect any response to Kant in The Conservative Mind.

Conservatives might hope to ignore Kant's relativism, but we cannot ignore relativity. Kant's notion that we cannot know "things-in-themselves" but only appearances leads directly to a physics of relativity and quantum mechanics.

If relativity is here to stay, then so too is relativism. And ideas have consequences. The relativist narrative of creativity and godlessness and its enticing apology for political power are the chief components in the "belief system" of our modern educated progressive class. Unless that belief system is engaged and challenged in its own terms its naive adepts will continue to believe that all opposition to its ideas and to its power is bitter-end bigotry.

The German pope answered this challenge. He had to. Josef Ratzinger is a German who came to manhood exactly at the moment, in 1945, when the proud German ideology of creativity and state power had crumbled to dust and humiliation and the most advanced country in the world lay at the feet of four foreign armies.

All the world now knows Ratzinger's personal response to the German national cataclysm.

It was his warning about a "dictatorship of relativism... which only leaves the ‘I' and its whims as the ultimate measure" before the Conclave that propelled him to the papacy.

But how should we oppose the dictators? His answer is simple and timeless. He proposes Christian love, as discussed in his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," and Christian hope, the subject of his second encyclical, "Spe Salvi." If you read the encyclicals you will find that they are not just "about" Christian love and hope but utterly drenched in them.

Our progressive friends have been wrong about a lot of things over the years. One of them is the idea that Christianity is a severe "patriarchal" religion. The fact is that Christianity has always had a special appeal to women. There were women at the foot of the Cross. And today in the Christian growth areas of South America and China it is estimated that two-thirds of adherents are women. Why is that?

Lord Byron gives us a clue in "Don Juan:"

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,
'Tis woman's whole existence.

Christianity is the religion of love. God loves you; you love God. God loves you so much he forgives everything and sacrifices His Son for you.

Our progressive friends try every way they can to entice women out of an existence of love. They teach them to scorn marriage, to coarsen their loving relations with "a sexual life," to replace loving service with a selfish "career," to abandon their circles of care and take jobs in hierarchical government welfare bureaucracies. One fine day even liberal women will discover just how deeply this progressive culture scorns them and denies them everything that matters.

Pope Benedict XVI is a role model for conservatives. He shows that you can engage with the German tradition and not just survive but come out drenched in Christian love and faith.

He's not the only conservative to have engaged German relativism. British conservative Roger Scruton, author of a book on Kant, has also dared to engage the German philosophers and lived to tell the tale. Jewish conservative Jonah Goldberg had to study the German canon to be able to annoy liberals with his Liberal Fascism.

What are the rest of us waiting for?

The Bronze Age

My 19th wedding anniversary is coming up in about a week. Very hard to believe that I've been married that long. Holy cats!!! And I didn't know how I'd make it through the first year.

And, yes, I was a child bride.

I was looking to find a gift for my husband and found that the gift for the 19th anniversary, while having no traditional gift associated for this year, it does have a modern gift -- bronze. How romantic.

Bronze is a copper and tin alloy that is believed to possess healing powers. With its positive effects on the bones and blood, wearing bronze close to the body is said to promote inner healing rhythms. Therefore, bronze jewelry is a symbolic and beautiful gift harboring properties of health and mystical beliefs.

I think I'll skip the bronze this year and tell hubby to save his money until next year since it will be our 20th and I can really hit him up for a gift then!

Hopefully, Father Ince, who was at St. Agnes at the time, is doing well. He came to our reception wearing a pin that said, "Stay single." During our pre-marriage consultations, he and my husband-to-be talked more about Boeing and aircraft than about how compatible we were. He also instructed us to make things look "schmaltzy" during the ceremony. Whatever that means :)

24 April 2008

CBF - Bible Study

The next year's bible study has been decided on. We will be studying the Book of Revelation.

The day starts with a meditation and a decade of the rosary then we listen will listen to the DVD of Father Kauth speaking. After that, we break into our small groups and discuss the study questions from Catholic Scripture Studies.

Just a note about the children's program. There are two sections, one class for the 2-3 year olds and another class for the 4-5 year olds. Moms with younger children and nursing infants are in their own "Mom's group," which is their small group for discussion.

From what I understand, the last five lectures deal solely with the notion of the "rapture."

The cost of the study is $60 and the children's program is an additional $30 per family, not per child.

For questions about the children's program, contact Michelle at 651.484.8206
Any other questions, you can contact Joan at 651.426.8201 or e-mail calledbyfaith@comcast.net

23 April 2008

My life in pictures

Last weekend, while we were at our cabin to attend my husband's grandmother's funeral, we got the cabin opened up -- heat and electricity turned on and the water heater filled. Before we closed the place up last fall, we got a big bunk bed set up for the kids. Despite my considering it pure folly, my husband thought that my daughter was old enough to leave her crib behind and take on the big girl bed, while my son was big enough to handle the top bunk. I knew better but indulged him.

Here's what I woke to in the morning...

Today I met some other homeschool moms at an Eagan park and we let our kids run wild. The place was full of pea gravel and I didn't know this was a problem until we got home and I took my daughter's shoe off...just one...part way.

Funny thing is my daughter didn't even complain or act like she had a shoe FULL of rocks.

Inflation or recession?

I just spent a little time searching online for Father Hardon's Catholic Prayer Book to give to my kids' three bible study teachers on the day of their last class (which is in two weeks). If I had thought of it sooner, I could've added them to my recent order with Adoremus, since they just had a 20% off coupon with free shipping I took advantage of.

I ran through several online Catholic booksellers and couldn't even find Father Hardon's book at some!! I know I could run down to my local Catholic bookseller (Leaflet) and pick it up, but thought I could manage all this from the comfort of my desk and was hoping to find a deal with an online seller (my grandfather was a horse trader extraordinaire so it's in my blood). I then searched the big name places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but they only had it through second-hand dealers, so that means no discounts and no free shipping.

I then looked at Alibris and was astonished to find that my copy of Father Hardon's Prayer Book has greatly appreciated in value.

I can get the book BRAND NEW through Alibris (who would get the book from Adoremus):

Father Hardon's Catholic Prayer Book: With Meditations
by John A. Hardon
price: $13.95
Ships within 2 to 3 days
Binding: Hardcover Publisher: Eternal Life, Incorporated
ISBN-13: 9780967298900 ISBN: 0967298903
Description: New. 100% Brand New! -Excellent Customer Service!
Name: Adoremus Books, NE, USA

Or, I can get it USED from two other dealers...the same book that was only published a few years ago in 1999.

Father Hardon's Catholic Prayer Book: With Meditations
by John A. Hardon
price: $277.40
Ships within 2 to 3 days
Binding: Hardcover Publisher: Eternal Life, Incorporated
ISBN-13: 9780967298900 ISBN: 0967298903
Description: Used - Very good Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Name: More Books, FL, USA

Or, a used copy in even better shape...

Father Hardon's Catholic Prayer Book: With Meditations
by John A. Hardon
price: $320.86
Ships within 2 to 3 days
Binding: Hardcover Publisher: Eternal Life, Incorporated
ISBN-13: 9780967298900 ISBN: 0967298903
Description: used - Fine New or Like new condition. Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Name: More Books, FL, USA

At $277.40, I could buy nearly 20 copies of the book new, and at $320.86, I could buy 23 copies. Maybe I should sell my pricey used copy to Alibris (or More Books in FL), then take my profit and order from Adoremus and still have money left over :)

This makes no sense...

And I have a small collection of old books.

Things that go bump

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
Go to sleep, everything is all right.

I had a weird dream months ago that has stuck with me. While it was scary enough, it wasn't terrifying. I would describe it as more profound, just because I still think about it. No, I don't think that within my dream there is some hidden message that needs to be discerned. It is what it is, a dream.

It was a nice spring day, sun shining and warm. I stopped by St. Peter's Catholic Church in North St. Paul. Why? I don't know. I haven't been to this church in years, the last time was for the funeral of my uncle's mother. Other than that, I don't know why the dream took place at this location.

The parish was having some sort of "educational event" in their newly remodeled church (which hasn't been remodeled in real life as far as I know), with some seminars and lectures, primarily for women. One older lady was very welcoming to me and encouraged to me check out their lectures and to stay for Mass, which was going to be starting in just a few minutes.

I was handed some fliers and she led me into the church, which was really just a hall with chairs scattered throughout, kind of arranged in concentric circles. As I came in the door, there was a portable bar (the kind you see at weddings) covered in white linen. I quickly realized this was the altar. On the altar was a small bowl filled with tortilla chips, which I understood were to be consecrated as the hosts for Mass. The woman who was escorting me offered me a can of pop from a large vat filled with ice and also some chips that weren't "hosts," but would tide me over until Communion.

I couldn't believe it. I began telling the woman (and citing a variety of documents, even though I couldn't do this is real life!) just how wrong this was. I was incredulous. She was offended that I would question their practices. I then demanded to know where the priest was that would perform such a Mass. She motioned to a group of men sitting off to the side of the "altar." I asked the plain-clothed "priest" how he could allow this to happen and again stated how wrong it was. He just shrugged his shoulders. I was making a scene and everyone was looking at me like I was nuts. I then told the priest that I was staying and would keep my eye on him.

With my chips and pop in hand, I found a seat not too far back from the "altar." But, before Mass started, the priest was suddenly standing right in front of me, now adorned in his vestments. This time, however, his face was terrifying, green and leathery. He was very angry that I was interfering and how dare I question him. I was ruining the Mass. He was hurling accusations at me, some not even being coherent. I immediately began to pray out loud, "In the name of the Precious Blood of Jesus I demand that you leave me alone." Which I kept repeating over and over because I knew if I stopped something bad was going to happen. Then his face turned white, like ice and was flaky and cold. I kept up with my prayer and knew it was time to take my leave. I stood and brushed past this "priest" on my way out the door, still praying out loud as I left.

Then I woke up.

And, no, I don't recall what I had for dinner that night, nor have I seen the Exorcist!

So, how have your dreams been? Have you attended the same parish I did?

22 April 2008

Deployment update

My brother has been activated for 400 days for his second deployment and is heading out to Germany in mid-May. Then it's on to Kuwait in mid-June for awhile before going to Iraq. From what I understand, he will not be in Baghdad and his job will not require him to be out and about much. However, I will not be visiting them this May as planned as it is just too hectic.

Now with Father Echert on his way to Germany, I wonder if there isn't something going on behind the scenes here ;} Although the chances they will run into each other are very remote, it would be cool if their paths crossed and Father was able to talk some sense into my brother. Please keep my brother, his family, Father Echert, and all our soldiers, in your prayers.

For a nice article on Father Echert that was on the front page of the St. Paul paper (with ten great pics), check out:

* Home and abroad, a uniformed ministry. Preparing for his fourth deployment as a military chaplain, the Rev. John Paul Echert III combines two lifelong passions.

21 April 2008

The funeral

It was a cold, wet and muddy day that reminded me of Seattle. The feeling at the cemetery was somber, but also awkward. I'm a little bit out of sorts about the whole thing, disillusioned and angry. A therapist undoubtedly would tell me to not trouble myself about the entire situation since the only person I can change is myself. This is something I've learned first-hand since I grew up in a family that has seen a great deal of suffering and death. I know that people don't always make good choices, they do crazy things when confronted by tough circumstances, but there is a point when pragmatism comes right up against human decency and sensibility.

As I stood graveside I had a smattering of different feelings.

There were less than 15 people at graveside for the service, including the pastor and the funeral home representatives. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by the pastor who was dressed in a black suit and priest's collar. I knew he wasn't a priest and had reminded myself repeatedly of that. I don't think I've ever addressed a "man of the cloth" before that hasn't been a priest. But, as I shook his hand, I just instinctively said, "Nice to meet you, Fath...." I didn't correct myself, figuring that would just draw more attention to the slip.

As we stood in the slight rain, the pastor started the short service, which began, "In the name of the Father..." Of course, I instinctively blessed myself, as did my husband and son, which caused everyone else to follow suit and they blessed themselves too. I think it jarred the pastor because, as my husband told me years ago and also reminded me shortly after the service, Lutherans (along with most other Protestant groups) do not make the sign of the cross. It was amusing that my husband's family has become so secular that they didn't even know this wasn't a Lutheran thing to do.

As the pastor did the readings and his homily, my mind was wondering why he was standing there graveside. I have a difficult time understanding how a person who has read the bible can be Protestant, especially an educated pastor or minister. Scales on their eyes. As the pastor began his short homily, I found myself disagreeing with so much of what he said. According to him, God, upon her baptism, had claimed my husband's grandmother as His own and He would never leave her, implying that if you are baptized you cannot lose your salvation. Absolutely true about God's fidelity, but only partially complete. The entire Old Testament tells how God repeatedly gave the Israelites another chance and made covenants with them. God was always faithful to the covenants, it was the Israelites that broke the covenants and turned their back on God. Then he went on to say that my husband's grandmother was in Heaven. Not just maybe, or probably, but that she was seeing God face-to-face. Why do we even need the New Testament if Jesus' death, resulting in our subsequent salvation, is the period at the end of the sentence? What more could we possibly add to that?

Martin Luther has given people a way to rationalize bad behavior. Gone are the charitable acts of mercy, like visiting the sick and home bound. Instead, you can bring flowers to the grave and wipe your hands of it. Stand graveside and cry, but never have given the person a second thought when they were alive. My nephews and sister-in-law didn't even attend the service. They had tennis and hockey, to which my mother-in-law replied that she understood. What did she understand? The secular notion that gives people a pass to be self-absorbed? Even if you neglect acts of human kindness you're still going to Heaven, so why trouble yourself.

Hopefully, I will make it to Purgatory one day. I also hope Martin Luther is there just so I can smack him upside the head. The additional time spent in Purgatory would be well worth it. Heck, I might even kick him in the shins too.

18 April 2008

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Category: Authors

Aside from being well-known authors, what do:

Charles Dickens
Edgar Allen Poe
Mark Twain
Louisa May Alcott
James A. Michener
Leo Tolstoy

have in common?

St. Alexander says to place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, say a decade of the rosary and wait for the answer.

NB: We are going to be gone this weekend for my husband's grandmother's funeral, so I don't know what computer access I'll have before Sunday night. Say a few rosaries while you wait :)

17 April 2008

The city

not big on sharing or caring

Sharing and Caring Hands needs our support. Mary Jo Copeland, our Twin Cities version of Mother Teresa, has been recognized for her work by the White House and the Vatican, but the city wants her facility closed so folks on their way to the new Twins ballpark don't have to be bothered with the kind of folks Mary Jo helps every day.

Those of us in the Twin Cities need to let Minneapolis know how wrong this is. Please call the major's office and let him know your thoughts.
Contact Mayor R.T. Rybak’s policy aide, Erica Prosser at 612-673-2133 or email her at erica.prosser@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

Check out the local bloggers posts on the topic:

Stella Borealis
Abbey Roads

Star Tribune


I received this from my homeschool group. Absolutely disgusting. Proceed with caution.

* For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

Martine Powers, Staff Reporter
Published Thursday, April 17, 2008

Art major Aliza Shvarts '08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts' project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock . saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for "shock value."

"I hope it inspires some sort of discourse," Shvarts said. "Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it's not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone."

The "fabricators," or donors, of the sperm were not paid for their services, but Shvarts required them to periodically take tests for sexually transmitted diseases. She said she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages.

Shvarts declined to specify the number of sperm donors she used, as well as the number of times she inseminated herself.

Art major Juan Castillo '08 said that although he was intrigued by the creativity and beauty of her senior project, not everyone was as thrilled as he was by the concept and the means by which she attained the result.

"I really loved the idea of this project, but a lot other people didn't," Castillo said. "I think that most people were very resistant to thinking about what the project was really about. [The senior-art-project forum] stopped being a conversation on the work itself."

Although Shvarts said she does not remember the class being quite as hostile as Castillo described, she said she believes it is the nature of her piece to "provoke inquiry."

"I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity," Shvarts said. "I think that I'm creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be."

The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

School of Art lecturer Pia Lindman, Schvarts' senior-project advisor, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Few people outside of Yale's undergraduate art department have heard about Shvarts' exhibition. Members of two campus abortion-activist groups . Choose Life at Yale, a pro-life group, and the Reproductive Rights Action League of Yale, a pro-choice group . said they were not previously aware of Schvarts' project.

Alice Buttrick '10, an officer of RALY, said the group was in no way involved with the art exhibition and had no official opinion on the matter.

Sara Rahman '09 said, in her opinion, Shvarts is abusing her constitutional right to do what she chooses with her body.

"[Shvarts' exhibit] turns what is a serious decision for women into an absurdism," Rahman said. "It discounts the gravity of the situation that is abortion."

CLAY member Jonathan Serrato '09 said he does not think CLAY has an official response to Schvarts' exhibition. But personally, Serrato said he found the concept of the senior art project "surprising" and unethical.

"I feel that she's manipulating life for the benefit of her art, and I definitely don't support it," Serrato said. "I think it's morally wrong."

Shvarts emphasized that she is not ashamed of her exhibition, and she has become increasingly comfortable discussing her miscarriage experiences with her peers.

"It was a private and personal endeavor, but also a transparent one for the most part," Shvarts said. "This isn't something I've been hiding."

The official reception for the Undergraduate Senior Art Show will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 25. The exhibition will be on public display from April 22 to May 1. The art exhibition is set to premiere alongside the projects of other art seniors this Tuesday, April 22 at the gallery of Holcombe T. Green Jr. Hall on Chapel Street.

Adventures down under

This is the wombat I made for my husband shortly after we first got married. We had just moved to Seattle and he was working for Boeing. A project took him to Australia to work with Quantas Airlines and I tagged along. We visited an animal sanctuary and the wombats were my favorite animal there, so I made him a wombat for his desk at work to keep him company. Now, the company he works for is being split in two and the wombat has to come home while they move into another building. Wouldn't want the wombat to get lost in the shuffle as happened in the rest of my story.

For the trip to Australia, we flew separately, since work was paying for him to fly business class because it was an international trip while I had to find a cheap way to get there since we were very poor newlyweds with lots of school loans to pay off. (We were so poor that for dinner I would make celery casserole...diced celery, cream-of-something soup and bread crumbs. Tasty.)

My flight on Hawaiian Airlines had a layover in Hawaii, which wasn't a bad deal since I hadn't ever been there before. Then I was to take a Canadian Air flight to Sydney. When I checked in with Canadian Air in Hawaii, I was told they would be more than happy to coordinate my bags from Hawaiian Airlines and have them sent onto Sydney. I was hesitant and said several times I would just go get my bags and check them myself. But, they assured me I was needlessly worrying and getting my bags from one airline to the other was something they did all day long. Naive I was, on my first international flight.

In Hawaii, I bought a few small items for friends and family. One item being a plant root that I made certain was something I wouldn't have a problem bringing into Australia because of customs regulations. Oh no, the plant was fine...here were stickers all over it saying it was approved for import and export. I would later dutifully declare it on my customs form.

After a 12 hour layover in Hawaii, I boarded my non-stop flight to Sydney. Except, as we are taking off the flight attendant announces Canadian Air's non-stop service to Nadi. What????!!!! I start saying, repeatedly, out-loud, "What? I'm going to Sydney. Where the he** is Nadi?" I was in a state of panic. The woman sitting next to me calmly tells me that Nadi is the capital of Fiji, where she is a professor. After we land in Fiji for a layover, the flight was then going on to Sydney. Ok, my tickets said non-stop and made no mention of Fiji. And, oh, did I feel like an ignorant American to not know where Nadi was!! The rest of the long flight to Fiji was a little tense because I knew I had offended the poor woman.

Landing in Sydney was a bit scary. The runway is out in a bay, so as you're landing all you see out the window is water. A bit unnerving considering I had now been flying for about two days without sleep (recap - 5 hour flight to Hawaii and then a 12 hour layover then flight to Nadi and layover and then flight to Sydney). However, more interesting times were in store when I started through customs in Australia.

First, I couldn't find my bags. No where to be found. But, in order to get to the area to report lost bags, I first have to go through customs. I report all the chocolate covered macadamia nuts and other typical Hawaiian purchases. At this time in Australia, for every category you were claiming something in you were required to go through a different line. I had spent a good deal of the time at the baggage carousel only to conclude the airlines most certainly had lost my bags then dejectedly headed to one customs line after another. I was carrying a very large video camera my husband needed for work, so that caused some questioning because I claimed it as a "business" item, even though I had nothing to do with it. The interrogation ensued about what my intentions for entering the country were.

After clearing all but one of the customs lines, I was quite haggard. I headed to the last line, thinking that this one would be quick since nothing could be worse than the scorching questioning I had already endured. Naive girl.

The last line was for organic plant-like materials and I had claimed the little plant root that was hermetically sealed in a officially stamped bag. The customs officer in this line grabbed my root, turned and unceremoniously dropped it into a bin to be destroyed. Truly, he seemed to take great pleasure in confiscating my root. Gleefully he told me that the approval on the root indicated it was approved for import into the US, not into Australia, and there was NO way they were going to let this thing into their country. I was some sort of eco-terrorist.

I lost it, completely. I started crying and blubbering incoherently about all the things that had gone wrong starting with my lost bags, then Nadi, then customs and the root. Another customs official, who was about my age, took pity on me and told me that they could quarantine the root. Through my tears, I filled out a stack of paperwork to save my root from incineration, the root I had only paid about two dollars for.

Then the nice customs guy takes me through the rest of the customs process and walks me over to the lost baggage area. By now, I am the only passenger around in the big airport. The lady at this counter slaps a picture card with all sorts of photos of luggage on it and tells me to pick the one that most looks like my bag. I fill out more paperwork. She takes my forms, stamps them and then tells me they can give me $50. I tell her that I don't want the $50, I want my luggage. She looks at me and says, "You don't want the $50?" I repeat that I don't want the money. She goes and gets a co-worker and points to me and tells him that she can't believe it, but I don't want the $50. He tells me it's not a payment in lieu of returning my bags, but a payment for the inconvenience of having had my bags lost. They would still do all they could to locate my bags. Well, why didn't you say so, lady?! Give me the $50, because it's a drop in the bucket recompense for what I have already gone through.

I find a shuttle to the hotel. At least the hotel Boeing had told my husband they had arranged for him (he was arriving the next day). It was a VERY nice hotel (think it was the Ritz) and I walk in wearing the shorts and a tee-shirt that I have had on for some time now. The people at the front desk look askance at me. I tell them that my husband had a reservation there for the following day and I would like to check in a day early. No sir, no reservation there. By now, I am a whipped pup and can't take any more. I begin babbling again incoherently, no tears this time since I'm just too tired to cry. The concierge takes pity on me and I begin to relay the story about how my husband is supposed to have a reservation there the next day since he was coming to help Quantas Airlines. He then tells the hotel manager. I repeat the story and they check with the Ritz hotel in downtown Sydney (I was at the Ritz near the airport) and sure enough, the reservation is there. I could take the shuttle there, but know for certain that my husband planned to be at the hotel near the airport so he was close to Quantas. They say they can move the reservation. Great. We're making progress. I proceed to deal with the concierge to get things in order. The hotel manager then reappears and tells me she called Boeing and they said I was on my own for any hotel arrangements. AHHHHH!!! Why would you call Boeing? My husband hadn't even been working there a year and now she was rocking the boat. I knew I had to pay for my extra day myself, I was just trying to coordinate things!! So, instead of letting me add on to his reservation and pay when we checked out, she insisted I pay up front. Sweet lady. Good thing I had the $50 for the lost baggage, because I forked it and the remaining cash I had, over to the concierge. Got my room key and headed up to get some sleep.

Even though I was incredibly tired, I couldn't sleep. My husband's flight was due in early the next morning. So, since I wasn't getting any sleep, I headed down to the lobby to get a cab to the airport. Didn't know how to use their pay phones, didn't know what company to call for the area I was in, etc., so asked the night time desk guy if he could call me a cab to take me to the airport. No problem.

The cabbie arrives promptly, but as I get in the cab, he queries me about why I want to go to the airport at this hour (which was like 4am), seeing as the airport was closed at night. Huh? The airport closes at night? You MUST be joking. I thought I could get some breakfast (seeing as I was not allowed in the hotel dining room because I was not properly attired!) and check on the status of my bags. The cabbie was very kind. He was certain the airport wasn't open, but he would drive me over there to make sure (essentially just a mile or two across the highway from the hotel). He told me he would bring me back to the hotel and pick me up again in a few hours, but only charge me for the one trip. Finally, a kind stranger!! I was so grateful I almost hugged him.

When I got back to the hotel I asked the front desk guy why he didn't happen to mention that the airport was closed. Blank stare.

A few hours later, the cabbie was back and I was on my way, once again, to the airport. Of course, hubby's flight was delayed and my bags were still no where to be found, but I was told I had to keep inquiring so they knew I was still interested in finding them...how stupid.

During the week, hubby is busy working and I take the hotel shuttle into downtown Sydney during the day. Since we had no money to buy me anything presentable and I still didn't have my bags, I remained forbidden from the hotel dining room and, to be honest, they didn't even want me in the lobby. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

But, I did become a thorn in the side of the concierge and the lost baggage department at the airport. I called them incessantly asking about the status of my bags (as I was instructed). Finally, the day before we were about to leave, my bags were located. The airport was sending them over to the hotel on the next shuttle. Alleluia! Alleluia!

The concierge tells me he will call me the moment the shuttle arrives with my bags.

A short while later, I'm informed that my bags are in the lobby and I can come down and pick them up. I scurry down, relieved that I would finally have a change of clothes. I check in at the desk and the concierge looks in the room they have for bags for my newly arrived set.

My bags are NOT there. They aren't anywhere. My bags are gone.

At this point, the hotel manager gets involved. The shuttle records show the bags were sent over and signed for by the driver and they were signed in at the hotel. But, in the time it took for the concierge to tell me my bags had arrived and for me to run down to the lobby, they had lost them AGAIN!!!

Now the hotel manager is not happy because I have been a pain in her backside for a week, and at this moment, she is the one with egg on her face. What does she do being the subtle soul that she is? Enlists all the hotel employees to STRIP SEARCH THE ENTIRE HOTEL. Every room, every nook and cranny. As soon as a large tour group cleared out of the lobby, the place was under lock down all because of my stupid bags.

But, search and search as they may for hours, no bags.

I don't even know what to say. I was just tired of the whole ordeal. I began filling out more paperwork because now the lost bags where the hotel's responsibility.

Early in the morning, a few days later, before my husband was to leave for home, the phone rang. It was the concierge. They had located my bags. Instead of being in the hotel, or even in Sydney for that matter, my bags had journeyed to Adelaide. Seems the tour director whose group was leaving as my bags were dropped off the first time, saw the bags in the lobby, and thinking they were the bags of someone in his group, loaded them on his bus. They would scramble as quick as they could to arrange for my bags to be sent to the hotel.

The bags didn't arrive in time for my husband to take them back with him, so we only had a little time before I was due to leave.

Amazingly, the bags did arrive just as I was checking out and I was sooooo glad to be away from the hotel and am certain they felt the same.

But, I still had to go back through customs and complete more paperwork to get my root out of the clink.

In the end, I got the root home but before I gave it to the friend I bought it for, it rotted.

15 April 2008

They say it's your birthday....

We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a party party....

My kids are invited to the Pope's birthday party...at a friend's house. My son asked why we couldn't go to the Pope's house for his birthday. Now that would be a cool party.

Then, after racing home from all that revelry, it's girls' night out. And, boy do I need it!

Take your hand out of my pocket

and put it in your own...

George Will has a piece on the research of Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, who published "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."

The conclusion: liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.

Members of my family, who will remain nameless, want the government to take care of them and are put out of they have to lift a finger to help themselves or, worse yet, ensure that there is a pot there to take care of others in need.

Some of the findings:

• Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household.

• Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

• Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

• Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

• In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

• People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

Brooks demonstrates a correlation between charitable behavior and "the values that lie beneath" liberal and conservative labels. Two influences on charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of government.

The single biggest predictor of someone's altruism, Willett says, is religion. It increasingly correlates with conservative political affiliations because, as Brooks' book says, "the percentage of self-described Democrats who say they have 'no religion' has more than quadrupled since the early 1970s." America is largely divided between religious givers and secular nongivers, and the former are disproportionately conservative. One demonstration that religion is a strong determinant of charitable behavior is that the least charitable cohort is a relatively small one -- secular conservatives.

Liberal 'charity'

Seeing Jesus

I was raised by a father with stoic German leanings. He had a great sense of humor, but with his early years shaped by surviving the depression and considering his family's pragmatic and sensible northern German heritage, there was nothing that made him misty. He was a strong ex-military man who, although he was quick to praise, had high standards and had no time for complaining or giving less than your all in every circumstance.

Growing up, my mother had cancer for many years. It came and went, with chemo and/or radiation treatments each time followed by a brief period of health then relapse. As a child, it was an incredibly challenging emotional roller coaster and most of the household responsibilities fell on me. There was too much to be done to sit around moping.

As an adult in my profession, I often times was the only woman. Many times, I was decades younger than most of my male counter parts. Considering that many of these co-workers were themselves ex-military, I was at home with this very business-like mentality and used to keeping my emotions in check.

I'm no longer in that environment. Instead, I'm surrounded by kids who pull at my emotions every day. I've realized that my outward expressions of emotion had become slightly dampened and I've been trying to change it. I've been trying to see Jesus in others and let them see Jesus in me.

Last night as I was driving to a homeschool meeting, I passed an elderly man sitting out in a chair on the sidewalk in front of his house. I had never seen him before. He was wearing cover-alls, a black and red plaid coat and a grey and white plaid hat with the flappy ears. As I got closer to him, he seemed sad. The thought flashed through my head to smile and wave and try to brighten up his day. Waving isn't something I would have done in the past.

At the stop sign in front of his house, I turned to look at him, fully prepared to wave. When I glanced over at him, he was already smiling and waving at me! I smiled as big of a smile as I could and waved at him.

I hope I made his day as much as me made mine.

14 April 2008

Only three days left

The Cannonball awards are about to wrap up. I am running a strong (and distant) fourth. Still, I'm SHOCKED I have that many votes since I seem to have scared everyone away with my latest round of Jeopardy.

A few months back, Sister Mary Martha was the messenger who told me my confirmation saint (St. Avia) was fictitious. Now, she is conveniently staying a vote or two ahead of me in third place. I think there is a conspiracy brewing for who takes third and it all has to do with the good sister.

What do we really know about Sister anyway? Maybe she bribed everyone with promises of hot dish for their votes. I should've thought of that. Drat.

Anyway. Thanks everyone for your votes! I can't believe I did so well (although Hallowed Ground is totally kicking my hiney). It's very satisfying to get 25 votes!! But, it would be even more satisfying to get two more votes and be able to stand on the podium, arm-in-arm with the good sister.

Vote at thecrescat.blogspot.com for St. Monica's Kneeler in the Best Underappreciated Blog category.

13 April 2008

Every Sunday


Nope. Novus Ordo in Latin at St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN.

However, the bulletin today says that St. Agnes is moving forward with plans for the Tridentine. I was going to post on it, but Chris has already done a great job of it. Head over to her blog and check out all the photos and story.

[Photo courtesy of Chris]

12 April 2008

Kneeler Jeopardy - weekend version

Update: Grandma's funeral was postponed because of the blizzard we were supposed to get but didn't. Now it's next Saturday.

Thought that I'd do another round that, hopefully, is the Goldilocks round -- not too hard, not too easy, but just right. This may be the easiest one yet, but it's hard to gage. Sorry, I'm exhibiting signs of Jeopardy addiction. I must go read Adrienne's posts on the topic.

Category: Catholic writers

Who sought, in his writings, to turn water into wine, as the teachings of Christ were as wine and the teachings of secular authors were as water.

A rewrite for clarity and for Adrienne: This Catholic writer described his task (his writings) in terms of making wine. He described the teachings of Christ as wine and the wisdom of the secular writers as water. Instead of watering down the Gospel, he sought to imitate Christ and turn the water into wine.

Clue 1: This man was a member of a religious order
Clue 2: Faith and reason are complimentary, not contradictory
Clue 3: Influenced Dante and Chesterton

As always, St. Alexander says to place your answer in the form of a question in the com box, and continue to pray some Hail Marys until the answer is revealed.

11 April 2008

Things that make you go boom

What is it with the military lately? My brother, who is in the Army, is on his way to Iraq; Father Echert, Air Force, just got called up and is on his way to Germany; and, now my husband has to do a project for the Navy.

Not just any ol' project. He's supposed to design a robot that assembles the bombs on the aircraft carriers for the F/A-18s (believe that's the plane).

He's completely jazzed about it, being the geeky engineer that he is. I was eager to hear one thing...how are they going to test his robot to make sure it works? They're dealing with bombs, after all!

I guess I shouldn't worry about my husband since he just designs the robot to assemble things. From what he tells me, there is a guy who then takes the assembled bombs, places them all on a big cart, wheels them over to the planes, and loads them.

And here I thought THAT's what the Navy wanted a robot for...not just the assembly, but the handling of the ordinance from the time it's built until the time it gets loaded on the plane. I'm way too practical for the military...they'd throw me over.

Or give me bomb duty.

My father served on an aircraft carrier in WWII and his ship was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf from a bomb dropped by a Kamakazi. War is hell. God bless our troops.

10 April 2008

Kneeler Jeopardy redeux

Category: The Ancient World

This "great" has a statue erected in his honor in a recent Olympic host city and influenced more modern leaders such as Thomas Jefferson. He has been mentioned in two significant religious works, by name in one work and a figure in the other work is believed to be him.

Clue 1: The "significant religious works" are the Bible and the Qur'an.
Clue 2: Sydney is the Olympic city

Again, St. Alexander says to place your answer in the form of a question in the com box, and continue to pray some Hail Marys until the answer is revealed.

NB: Contestants are responsible for any taxes from winning the Grand Prize -- having the satisfaction that they are a brainiac or at least they know how to use the internet sufficiently well to find the answer.

(Thanks Vincenzo, for the great graphic! Please let this stump you for at least a minute or two!!)

Kneeler Jeopardy

In the category of Catholicism (what else!) for $800, the clue is:

This bishop and martyr (stabbed after an attempt to burn him at the stake failed) was a convert who is reputed to have been a disciple of St. John. Critics call him "unoriginal" for his simple style. Met with the Pope about the proper date to celebrate a particular "holiday."

St. Alexander says to place your answer in the form of a question in the com box, and continue to pray some Hail Marys until the answer is revealed.

NB: Winners are responsible for any taxes from winning the Grand Prize -- having the satisfaction that they are a brainiac or at least they know how to use the internet sufficiently well to find the answer.

Another milestone - mommy post ahead

We took my son to the dentist for the first time yesterday.

There were no tears and no anxiety, at least on his part. I've been running a lot this week and didn't even remember about the appointment until yesterday morning. Thought I should prepare my son a little for the visit, so told him he was going to the dentist and very briefly explained about what they would do to clean his teeth.

My son was fearless. Way more concerned about all the super cool tools the dentist had and he required the hygienist and dentist to fully explain their equipment and procedures before doing anything in his mouth. He had a great time...it was a world of wonder to him. Plus, they gave him a new toothbrush and floss, so now they are his new best friends.

I wonder if this is the result of being the progeny of two engineers? Poor kid.

[Photo from Dr. Kevorkian's office]

09 April 2008

Can you hear me now?

Can we have some spring already?????

It's been a rough and busy week so far with my brother on his way to Iraq and the passing of my husband's grandmother, but we've made it to hump day!

Thought it was time for a Minnesota joke, just to lighten things up a bit.


After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, California scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the California newspapers read: " California archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."

One week later, "The Aitkin Age", a local newspaper in Aitkin, Minnesota reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat fields just north of Palisade, Ole Johnson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing (he had help digging from his buddy Sven). Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Minnesota had already gone wireless.


The irony...
My husband's family used to live in South Dakota, but great-grandpa heard about some great land in north central Minnesota in Aitkin. Sight unseen they bought 40 acres. The family packed up everything from SD, took a ferry boat up the Mississippi, then got verbal directions to their land, which was something like walk two miles down the country road until you come to a stump (or some other natural marker) then proceed a few miles into the woods until you come to a big tree, then go west a certain distance until you come to your land.

Amazingly with these crude directions, they found their land, which was basically in a swamp, and homesteaded there. It wasn't until recently that the county came along and told them that the house they built was actually two feet over the property line and on the county's land. They never had electricity, running water, phone or heat. Great-grandma canned things like beaver. The family lived like this until fairly recently. Great-grandpa died in 1951, great-grandma in 1969, and an uncle who never married and stayed on the property, died in 1999. (Hubby's grandmother who just died wasn't from this line...this is grandpa's family).

The home in the 1950s

08 April 2008

Having coffee

The funeral for my husband's grandmother is Friday. Well, it isn't really a funeral, but a graveside service.

I've been Catholic all my life. I hold the Catholic beliefs on death and dying, the communion of saints and Purgatory. Although I've been part of hubby's Protestant family for over 20 years, there are still some times I am a fish out of water and where my Catholic perspective is so different that I fumble for words and am visibly uncomfortable. This funeral is a case and point.

My family, on both my mother's side and my father's, are Catholic. Or at least they were when I was a child. Someone was always dying. Someone was always getting married and someone was always having a baby. These were life events that happened with frequency and regularity. It is all one big continuum from the Church Triumphant down to the Church Militant.

But, my husband's family isn't Catholic. The family is very small and this is only the third funeral of theirs I've been to. Yesterday, with the passing of my husband's grandmother, I was at a loss to comfort anyone because their beliefs are so different. In talking with my husband's aunt, she was mentioning how Grandma was now in Heaven having coffee with the brother she didn't know she had and her son who died when he was an infant. While all these ideas were very consoling to her, I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say that I was praying for Grandma because in their minds she is already in Heaven. I certainly couldn't expound on the coffee thoughts and make light of the situation, but it also wasn't a time to bring up Purgatory. I did the best I could and talked about my memories of Grandma, but the awareness that I had to watch what I said made me sad. Despite what they think, there is a big difference in our faiths.

Since my husband is a convert, I've asked him many times about the Protestant belief that everyone who believes in God or claims Jesus is their Savior or is born again, goes to Heaven. It is a waste of time to mention to hubby's family that this is an unbiblical belief since they don't read the bible and they don't go to church. Everything to them is personal belief, emotional belief. Since they have no foundation, it is impossible to discuss religion. Martin Luther's reformation has been distilled down to everyone having their own beliefs. God isn't an unchanging absolute, but whatever they envision Him to be, even if family members maintain conflicting and diametrically opposed ideas. You're OK, I'm OK.

While I'm a big believer in God's mercy, we will always receive God's justice. I don't believe you can live your life without giving God a second thought, disregard His commandments and then think you're going to high-tail it into Heaven without Him batting an eye. What happened to Paul telling us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling?

To me, the comforting thought isn't that Grandma is sitting around drinking coffee, but that God gave her a long life, possibly to provide her time to turn her heart back to Him. It is my hope in His mercy that somewhere in the clouds of Alzheimer's she had a conversion and is now in Purgatory full of hope in the knowledge that she will one day see God face to face. And, if He likes coffee, that would be a bonus.

07 April 2008

Believe it or not

The Minnesota History Center will display the Splendors of the Vatican this fall!!

Only one of three cities to host the exhibit - with St. Petersburg, FL and Cleveland, OH

About the Vatican Splendors Exhibit

Experience 2,000 years of Vatican art and history
Michelangelo items and works by Bernini, Giotto, and others. Artwork dating back to the third century. From the venerated relics (bone fragments) of Saint Peter to items from the election of Pope Benedict XVI, this exhibit comprises one of the largest Vatican collections ever to tour North America. Many items have never before been on public view. From culture to history to art, explore how the Papacy has impacted-and been impacted-by the world throughout the centuries.

Exhibition Gallery Layout and Artistic Highlights

Vatican Splendors from Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Swiss Guard features approximately 200 works of art and historically significant objects, many of which have never left the Vatican.

The exhibition is organized into four thematic sections that illustrate the evolution of the Church and its papacy beginning with Saint Peter through the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, with special emphasis on the founding 500 years ago of the Renaissance (current) Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Papal Swiss Guard and the Vatican Museums. The objects are presented in galleries and recreated environments that enhance the visitor's understanding of their historical and artistic significance.

Exhibition designers want visitors to feel transported to the Vatican, from the underground catacombs where the remains of Saint Peter were discovered to the magnificent papal chambers found above ground. From the sights and sounds of the grand Basilica to a touchable cast of John Paul II’s hand, the exhibition is a multi-sensory experience.


The Vatican Splendors exhibition will be on display at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minnesota beginning September 27, 2008. To be notified when advance tickets go on sale, go to www.mnhs.org/vatican, or watch for more information on this web site.

Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55102

[Denim jumper twitch to the knowledgable homeschool moms.]


I guess I can watch Dancing with the Stars tonight, because my brackets are toast. I went with some bold picks this year and learned my lesson. According to my basketball wisdom, tonight's game would be between UNC and Texas with UNC winning by a score of 68-57. Too bad the teams playing tonight are Kansas and Memphis.

On a positive note, at least I'm not working and getting buried in trash talk. The shame would be unbearable!

Round 1 23/32 (72%) 46 out of 64 pts.
Round 2 11/16 (69%) 44 out of 64 pts.
Round 3 5/8 (62%) 40 out of 64 pts.
Round 4 2/4 (50%) 32 out of 64 pts.
Round 5 0/2 (0%) 0 out of 64 pts.
Round 6 0/0 (0%) 0 out of 0 pts.

Overall 41/62 (66%) 162 out of 320 pts.

Next year I WILL NOT PICK GONZAGA. Repeat, I WILL NOT PICK GONZAGA. One more time, I WILL NOT PICK GONZAGA. I should just swear off Jesuit schools altogether.

Prayers please

We just learned that my husband's grandmother passed away this morning. She was 91 and suffered for the last half dozen years with Alzheimers.

She was a fallen away Catholic and that's what breaks my heart. She and my husband's grandfather were both Catholic and left the Church. It was all over something that happened decades ago.

Their young son pulled a pot of scalding liquid off the stove and was severely burned. Although his injuries were quite serious, the doctor told them that he would recover. A priest was called to administer Last Rites. However, it is my understanding that back then priests only provided the sacrament if death was imminent. Since he was in no danger of dying, the priest told the family there was no need for him to come to the house. Unfortunately, their son died. Their grief, guilt and tide of other feelings were taken out on the priest and the family left the Church because of it.

Eventually, my husband's grandparents divorced. Grandma then attended a Lutheran church for the rest of her life.

When she was originally placed in a care facility in rural Wisconsin, we scrambled to find a priest to provide her Last Rites. With my husband's family not being religious, it was a fine line to walk to get the priest out there.

It was even more difficult to find a priest that would visit her.

We called the priest in the nearby parish and explained the situation, asking him to visit her and provide her the sacraments if she was willing. The priest informed us that he was going hunting for the better part of the week and weekend and we were not to disturb him because he didn't want to inconvenience his hunting party with having to provide him transportation out of the woods. Callous. Cold. Glad I don't have to stand before God and explain that one.

After a lot of calling around, another elderly retired priest was found. When he received our call, he immediately turned off the football game he was watching and headed over to her side. Unfortunately, he only talked to her. I don't know why that's all he did, if that was the appropriate course of action for someone not in control of their faculties. It was very disappointing.

However, when he visited her and told her he was a priest, she began to cry. I pray that was an indication she wanted to be reunited with the Church.

It is very sad that there is only one priest for such a large geographical area.

Please pray for her since she has no one else, aside from my husband and me, to remember her with prayers.

May God have mercy on her and grant her eternal rest.

Rest in peace, Grandma. I will miss you.

06 April 2008

Lest I should forget....

I live in a DFL state.

Awhile back, I completed the Mini Med school at the U of M. Of course, they added me to their e-mail distribution list. This was fine until more recently when the embryonic stem cell bill was making its way through the legislature. They sent me some e-mails about the ways I could help the U of M with their research by calling my congressman and reps, you name it, to help get the bill passed (which, unfortunately, it did). I told them to cease and desist from sending me any further correspondence.

But, it seems they have passed my e-mail along to another department and I just received this:

The fourth annual School of Public Health and Minnesota Public Health
Associations' film festival in celebration of National Public Health Week.
This exciting festival promises to bring together diverse audiences who
share a common interest in public health themes and issues. The festival
begins on Monday, April 7 and concludes on Friday, April 11.

Monday: A Crude Awaking: The Oil Crash. The documentary examines how our civilization's addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology.

Winners of the school's second annual "It's Global" Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest will be screened.

Tuesday: ¡Salud!. The film examines how the cash-strapped country of Cuba has become "one of the world's best health systems."

Wednesday: Unnatural Causes. This seven-part PBS documentary examines America's racial and socio-economic inequities in health. Two segments will
be screened.

: Sex Ed and the State. This documentary will examine Minnesota's state legislature and the fate of a comprehensive sexuality education bill. Vintage sex ed films will also be screened.

The film festival is free and open to the public.


The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

05 April 2008

The Black Madonna

Our Lady of Einsiedeln Shrine - Switzerland

In the 9th century, the monk St. Meinrad, of the family of the Counts of Hohenzollern, left one of the local monasteries to built a hermitage in the wilderness of today's Einsiedeln. He took with him a miracle-working statue of the Virgin Mary given to him by the Abbess Hildegarde of Zürich. He soon became well-known in the local village for his kindness and holiness, and received many visitors and gifts.

On January 21, 861, two thieves murdered Meinrad for the treasure in his hermitage. According to legend, the murderers were apprehended after two ravens followed them into town and drew attention to them with loud squawking.

In 940, a few Benedictine monks turned Meinrad's little hermitage into the "Lady Chapel." The chapel is said to have been consecrated by Christ himself on September 14, 948.

The bishop who was to consecrate the new site had a vision in which the church was filled with a brilliant light as Christ approached the altar; the next day, when he went to perform the ceremony, he heard a voice saying the chapel had already been divinely consecrated. The miracle was confirmed by Pope Leo VIII 16 years later in a papal bull.

St. Meinrad had the Black Madonna statue (its dark color caused by years of candle smoke) as part of his altarpiece; it was placed in the Lady Chapel for veneration after his death. Many miracles were attributed to the intercession of "Our Lady of Einsiedeln," and pilgrimages to Einsiedeln began shortly after 1000 AD.

[Source - Sacred Destinations]

Show and tell

Here is one of my Kindergarten curriculum purchases.

It's called the Art Memo game. I wanted to find something to do with art and had planned to get the book with the tear out art cards called Mommy, It's a Renoir, which I think is now called Childhood Masterpieces, but decided against it because this art game pretty much covers the same ground but there are more pieces for less money than purchasing several of the books (got it 20% off with free shipping from Adoremus). Plus, I liked the art selections in the game better than the Childhood Masterpieces (CM). I believe both the game and CM are recommended by Laura Berquist and used in the Mother of Divine Grace homeschool curriculum...the game not being used until quite a bit later. My one criticism is that the information that comes with the set that lists the name of the work and the artist is limited to just that...not even the dates that the artist lived or mention of the style. Easy enough to find out, just would be nice to have on the info sheet.

My son loves his Disney Memory game, which is basically commercialized Concentration. But, when I got the Art Memo game, he turned his nose up at it because it didn't have any Disney characters...until I took an interest in the game and then it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! Maybe his Disney game will get stashed high up on a shelf and forgotten ;}

The Art Memo game is recommended for older children, but exposing my son to art is what I was looking for at this stage. We (yes, mom needs to learn some of the pieces, styles and artists too!) can learn the names of the works as we go along. I really like art and am looking forward to learning more along side my son.

How cool is that?!!

03 April 2008

Tickling the dragon's tail

First, someone took the DVD burner that belonged to the Called by Faith (my bible study) group at St. Augustine's. Reportedly, it wasn't just laying around anywhere feeling lonely -- it was hidden in the sacristy UNDER Father Echert's vestments.

Now, CBF's large screen flat panel TV that was locked in a room in the basement just went AWOL.

Our CBF bible study group prays each week for intentions. We added the folks who "borrowed" the equipment to our prayer list. Is it wrong to pray that God will smack them upside the head?

I think I would fear Father Echert more than God in this case.


Los Alamos 1940s - Nuclear testing

The test assembly for "tickling the dragon's tail", an experimental determination of the critical mass of the uranium bomb. A small uranium hydride slug was dropped through this almost critical assembly of slugs. For a fraction of a second, the assembly "went critical".

A Catch-22?

or is it a pickle...
or a conundrum...

I was nominated for a Cannonball award in the category of:
Best Underappreciated Catholic Blog

This is all fine and well and it's quite an honor to be nominated (by Cathy), but it's a hard category to figure -- it's a poser. If I were to win this category with the most votes, does that mean I'm not really all that underappreciated? If I get the least amount of votes, will I be awarded the prize?

I just checked my stats (5:30pm on Thursday) and I have a steller showing at 15 votes. Holy cats, Batman! I didn't know that many people even read my blog! Considering that, aside from my husband and about two other people, no friends and family know I blog, I can't rally any troops to vote for me, so I'm SHOCKED that I have 15 votes. Thank you to whomever has voted for me!

If you haven't voted, head to the Crescat and check out the nominees.

And remember to vote early and often for St. Monica's Kneeler.

Thanks Vincenzo for the graphics!

This shameless message was approved by SMK.

Seven deadly tidbits meme

Mairin at Child of Mary tagged me for this meme. I am having trouble coming up with seven things.

Here goes nothin'

These are the rules:
1. When tagged place the name and URL on your blog.
2. Post rules on your blog.
3. Write 7 non-important things/habit/quirks about yourself.
4. Name 7 of your favorite blogs.
5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged.

1. I frequently mix metaphors. It's my weird sense of humor and I would include some of them in my blog posts, but know how well they go over in the real world, so I delete 98.9% before they ever get posted.

2. My favorite late night talk show host is: Craig Ferguson. I hated him on the Drew Carey show as the evil boss, Mr. Wick, but love him at night...except he can be offensive. I rarely get to see his show, so maybe that helps ;}

3. And, speaking of Scotsmen, when my husband and I rented a car in Glasgow, the sweet Scottish laddie at the counter rambled off stuff in that foreign language known as Scottish and I couldn't understand a single word of what he said. I was so floored that we supposedly were speaking the same language that I lost all sense of my manners and instead of saying, "Excuse me?", I blurted out, "SAY WHAT?!!!!!!!!" He had to talk to my husband because it was completely incoherent to me.

4. And, the same holds true of the Irish...and I've taken some Gaelic lessons so it makes it even worse. When we were in Ireland, I called some very distant relations to get directions to their home. I could NOT understand a word of what was said. NOTHING. Nada. It was completely embarrassing. Again, hubby had to translate like a Babelfish from Irish to English. Do not visit distant relations in Ireland or Great Britain if you cannot understand their version of English. You will not make friends or further international relations this way.

5. I cannot shop at Walmart because the layout of the store drives me nuts. On what planet is it logical to place a display of Twinkies in the garden section? Or DVDs in the women's underwear aisle? It is a nightmare of random consumerism. I like order and discipline, do not surprise me with impulse buys in the shoe department!

6. I think I have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies (OCD). The clothes in my closet are hung by color according to the Roy G. Biv scale (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). I have my husband's shirts hung by short-sleeves and long, but not color. My son's clothes are ordered short sleeves, collared short sleeves, collared long sleeves, long sleeves, turtlenecks and then dress shirts, also not by color. My daughter's clothes are hung by season and then by color on the Roy G. Biv scale. It eliminates the need for Garanimals. And here you thought I was kinda almost normal.

7. I love to Sudoku.

Ahhhhh, done.

Oh, and item 7b. would be that I don't follow rules very well, so I tag those who ate a chocolate bunny for Easter.

02 April 2008

Cathy's Mulier Meme

Cathy tagged me for this, so I better do it cuz I don't want to make her any more cranky than usual. Plus, it's a busy week around here and I don't have much time to blog...and hubby has been hogging the computer for some crazy paper he has to do for school (at least it's on Design of Experiments instead of the DaVinci Code!). I miss school, but then there's that "careful what you wish for" thing.

Here goes, for what it's worth:

What I was doing 10 years ago:
Working at Boeing in Research and Development. Best.job.ever.

5 Snacks I enjoy:
*Brownies, which would be my last request for a meal if I'm about to be executed
*Baby Ruth's before they *improved* the recipe
*Just about any bar my aunts bake, sans carmel of course
*Toll house cookies, also a last meal request
*Italian gelato

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
*Pay off my house and maybe buy a different one...or two
*Make some large charitable donations, like fund pro-life clinics that are right next to abortion mills and support the fledgling Chesterton Academy
*Go back to school for something fun, like Catholic Studies and history
*Spread the wealth around to family and friends

Five jobs that I have had (where I managed to not commit hari-kari):
*burger flipper
*garnish girl - don't even get me started on this one
*bank teller
*accounts payable
*cash office
*housing redevelopment authority
*financial analyst of international grants/contracts

Three of my bad habits:

Five places I have lived:
*White Bear Lake, MN
*St. Paul, MN
*brief stint in Hudson, WI
*Beaverton, OR
*Seattle (Everett), WA

I'd tag people, but bet they've already been tagged. If I'm wrong and you haven't been tagged, then I tag you. That's almost circular logic :)

01 April 2008

Stepping over the threshold

The Kindergarten curriculum for my son is beginning to gel. I'm excited and eager to start, but know that it will be hard work. It will require persistence on my part and a lot of prayer. There are so many neat things to learn, numerous interesting topics, oodles of packaged curriculums and heaps of resources. I feel like a kid in a candy store and hope to pass along this interest to my kids.

Then the other shoe drops. The proverbial wet blanket gets thrown in my face and I have to exert some of my time and energy just to push back the naysayers.

Honestly, a great deal of the resistance to my choice to homeschool is mired in ignorance. A portion is arrogance and another chunk is a sinister element that is more out in the world than lurking within my friends and family.

The ignorant crowd is understandable. They have no knowledge of homeschooling any more than they understood what I did all day as a chemical engineer. Most members of our families don't know anyone who has homeschooled or has been homeschooled. They don't know the hows or whys of it. They think I'm brave to undertake this, but also consider me to be a bit odd and contrarian. Some of them, despite their initial skepticism, are willing to take the journey with us and support us as best they can.

Then there are the teachers in my family. There are lots of them. I'm not going to bash teachers in general, because I've had some really great teachers. My calculus professor was everything you would hope for: passionate, intelligent, tough and loved his job. My high school chemistry teacher provided the kick-start to my interest in chemistry and engineering. Because of his enthusiasm and instruction, I pursued a career in a mighty tough subject.

The teachers I'm talking about are the ones who think they, or God forbid, the State, are the only ones qualified to teach my children or any children. You MUST be joking.

To paraphrase, the diatribe on what's wrong with public education is well beyond the scope of this rant. But, still I'm supposed to throw my kids into a system these folks themselves consider broken and HOPE for the best? Even Schrödinger wouldn't be allowed to put his cat in the black box (sorry, engineering analogy) without being cited for animal cruelty, but I'm supposed to place my children in a similar black box (how apropos) where the outcome can't even be determined or my children stand less than the 50-50 odds that the cat does?

I just looked at several universities and their requirements for a teaching degree in both elementary and secondary education. In my case, I have had more math courses than a high school math teacher is required to have. In chemistry and physics, I have well beyond the requirements. I also have a liberal arts degree, so my course work in is completely on par with what a high school teacher needs to teach.

But, I'm only endeavoring to teach Kindergarten.

I've built commercial aircraft that many have flown in and helped manufacture chips that may be in a device that saves your life. But you don't trust me to teach my own children?

Take a step back. This entire idea of public education is relatively new. How do you think many of the great leaders learned? At their mother's knee. Others taught themselves.

Most of the homeschooling mothers I know provide their children with an OUTSTANDING education regardless of their level of education or experience. They utilize a multitude of resources and find instructors for their children if the subject is beyond their realm of knowledge. Some use already established curriculums and course work by well-known providers. In Minnesota, the State requires testing using the same tests that the schools use and report cards are necessary if neither one of the parents has a undergrad degree. Homeschooling is not done in a vacuum.

I'm allowed to make the decision to have a baby, to determine what medical care it receives and make hundreds of other decisions about the child's welfare, but when it comes to educating my children at home, that's a deal breaker. No one knows my child as well as I do and like Dr. Ray says, no one is going to teach them the lessons they need to learn about life as gently and with as much understanding as I will.

How long will it be before those deciding whether or not I can homeschool will be deciding whether or not I'm even qualified to have children in the first place?

I'm just sayin'.........