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Friday, August 31, 2007

St. Frances of Rome

Every so often I pray to the Unknown Saints...and every time I do, a Saint I didn't know about or one who has not been canonized comes to my attention.

Tonight, from a simple typo called to my attention in my previous post also brought dear St. Frances (not St. Francis) to my attention. This Saint has quite a story to tell!

Here is her prayer:

Saint Frances of Rome, help us to see the difference between what we want to do and what God wants us to do. Help us to discern what comes from our will and what comes from God's desire. Amen

Intrigued? Read her whole story at

Frances started a lay order of women attached to the Benedictines called the Oblates of Mary. The women lived in the world but pledged to offer themselves to God and serve the poor. Eventually they bought a house where the widowed members could live in community.

Frances nursed Lorenzo until he died. His last words to her were, "I feel as if my whole life has been one beautiful dream of purest happiness. God has given me so much in your love." After his death, Frances moved into the house with the other Oblates and was made superior. At 52 she had the life she dreamed of when she was eleven. She had been right in discerning her original vocation -- she just had the timing wrong. God had had other plans for her in between

Follow the link and read her entire story. I now feel a whole lot better about my own Vocational discernment; God has a plan, I am truly trying to follow it, and I have absolute faith that even if I totally mess things up, God will use my mistakes as stepping stones en route to His goals for me. God cannot be taken by surprise.

My Vocation has been much on my mind of late as I had quit my job, am going to work for the Church directly, have begun graduate studies in theology...and for what? What am I doing? Why? What am I SUPPOSED to be doing? Am I not too old for such confusion? How did I go from wanting to be a cop to being a Church Lady? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Am I supposed to get married? Remain Single? Eventually enter a religious order?

God will answer when the time comes. For now, I know that I am where God wants me to be, I'm flying by the seat of my pants, and truly praying that I do well in my new employment; my ability to do my job directly impacts many of God's children.

But St. Frances dealt with being thrust into a situation she didn't understand, didn't want to live...and lived it anyway. And the Lord placed allies with her, strengthening her to live the first Vocation to which she was called, as preparation for the second.

I only pray I may also accept my own circumstances with the same joy with which she accepted hers.

St. Frances of Rome, pray for us!


I hate spiders. Hate them. Fear them. They are vile, nasty creatures that encroach on my comfort and safety. Yeah, they eat flies...and I will tolerate them as long as they stay out of sight.

Unfortunately, though, I was in for a surprise when I moved into my my new home. The Snowflake bushes outside my front door play host to an especially terrifying species of vile creature; funnel-weavers.

Yup. Not to be mistaken with the deadly Australian and desert funnel-weaving spiders, these things are common to Minnesota and are likely grass spiders. And they are as creepy as all get-out.

Did you see the article today or yesterday about the sheet-web spiders that grouped together in Texas to do their utomst to creep out Texans and tourists? I think they may have recently watched "Arachnophobia" and decided to copy the idea. They are taking over the world now.

Entymologists are fascinated. Note to self: never marry an entymologist.

Anyway, I've always loathed spiders. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but when I was little my brother used to throw Daddy-long-legs at me. Wasn't he sweet? And I'd scream and scream...and get in trouble for screaming while my brother looked up at an angry and irritated Mom with a perfectly angelic expression and explain he had NO IDEA why I was screaming, but I wouldn't stop and he was getting irritated, too.

Yup. Thanks to my brother, I became known as a "screamer" and instead of anyone ever coming to my aid, they assumed I was screaming for no reason. Because, of course, my brother would remove the spiders from the vicinity if they could still be seen, in order to make sure all the evidence had been taken away.

Yeah, Mom did finally figure out what my wonderful big brother was doing...but the damage was already done.

Fast forward to my new townhome. For the first couple years, I lived in holy terror of the bushes. They were COVERED in funnel webs and sheet webs, spiders entered my house through microscopic cracks and I considered purchasing a S&W .45 semi-auto and staking out the doorway in order to blow every creeping spider into oblivion. Or purchase a blow-torch. Or Aqua-Net and a lighter.

Every morning as I stepped outside with the dogs, I feared walking into a web that covered the doorway. As it was, they covered the doorbell and made the bushes look like a horror-movie version of cotton-candy. Vanilla flavored. I idly wondered if I sprayed the bushes with food coloring, could I SELL the webs as a fair treat?

Spiders on a stick.


One morning I came home with the dogs and had to tie up the German Shepherd as it was somewhat muddy out and I needed to wipe off her paws before I brought her in. So I completed this act and as I brought her in, I saw that a piece of mud clung to my docker's. As I reached down to brush it moved.

I screamed, jumped, shook my pant leg, and finally the monster spider let go and began to crawl away.

I think there's a Bible verse in Deuteronomy that discusses this? "Never suffer a spider to live." (If it's not there, it should be. Where were you on THAT edit job, Martin Luther and John Calvin? I mean, if you're going to edit to take out references to praying for the souls of the dead, and changing the language to enforce your own man-made doctrine of Sola Scriptura, why not advocate killing spiders? At least that change would have been useful!)

So I stomped on the monster spider several times before it finally died, all the while chanting, "DIE! DIE! DIE! WHY WON'T YOU DIE!?"

That's when I realized I had a problem. There was a need for a twelve-step program to handle this spider problem.

Yup. You guessed it. I went to Home Depot and bought Ortho-X, Maximum strength, and I spray the bushes every month, even in the winter. 12 months. That way I'm sure to prevent even the hatchlings from settling in such unwelcome territory.

Last summer was the first time I tried the stuff. It works as a barrier, actually repelling spiders. I spray around the window frames, both inside and out, the door threshold, and other areas likely to be inhabited or used as an entrance to my house. The bushes themselves, as super-host to these things, also gets sprayed.

And last summer, one evening as I sat at my computer, I heard a strange noise. I cocked my head, trying to remember what that sound represented. Finally it came to me: CRICKETS!

I had crickets in the bushes!

Some people are annoyed by crickets, but not me. Ever since I learned about them in an Ecology class in a summer program through my elementary school, I have liked crickets. And for the first time, I realized that I'd NEVER heard a cricket near my townhome before...because of the predators that had inhabited the bush, set to ensnare any creature that came along.

To me, the sound of crickets was like music, ensuring me that the spiders were no longer in abundance, and no longer waited for my appearance, the better to spring upon me to terrify me as demons straight from hell.

I'm certain that spiders are Satan's minions. Scorpions, too...ask Jennifer F. about that.

So now I use the stuff every year, and the appearance of even ONE of these things causes me to pull it out again. The container says that once-yearly is necessary, but I've decided that sometimes the rain washes the barrier away. So I spray again and again if there is evidence.

Ironically, I don't so much mind the Daddy-long-legs that appear on my screens, because they're not actually spiders, nor are they poisonous, contrary to popular mythology. I still can't stand them, but I'll at least let them live...most of the time, and as long as they remain outdoors. I think they used to be prey to the grass spiders, too, so there is a sense of solidarity with them.

A couple years ago I was speaking to one of our priests in the sacristy as he took his chausable off after Mass. There was a box-elder-bug crawling on him, and I told him. He couldn't find it so I reached out and plucked the little bug from his sleeve. He commented, "St. Francis would be proud of you."

Yeah, sure...but if that had been a spider I would have been OUT OF THERE so quick Father would not have seen me leave, and I'd be 6 blocks away before he realized I was gone.

St. Frances proud of me? Not so much.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I have several neighbors who love animals, and they have often seen me walking my dogs and have commented on them. My greyhound especially garnered much attention as they are relatively rare (being a misunderstood breed - people incorrectly think them to be hyper so discount them as potential pets).

Several of my neighbors have asked about him, where he is, and what happened. When I still had him, as I took him out to do his business one afternoon, one of my neighbors was just coming home from work and asked me if he injured himself? I explained he had bone cancer and nothing could be done. She was very sympathetic and spoke about what a nice dog he was.

Slowly, now, these same people are recognizing that Fire isn't around anymore. As I set out on our morning walk yesterday, one of my neighbors, not having realized that Fire had been sick, stopped and inquired as to where he was. I explained that I had to put him to sleep at the end of July; he had cancer. She offered her condolences, we had a short chat, and she had to head off to work.

This morning, as my German Shepherd and I set out for our walk, there was an envelope under the door - a sympathy card, from that very neighbor.

God knows the pain you feel...At the loss of your pet.

God has set aside in heaven a place without regret, with only cherished memories of loving moments with your special pet.

God be with you in your sorrow.

What a sweet card! I handle grief strangely, and yet, normally, because there is no real "normal" when it comes to grief. But I have, of late, been very tearful, have been missing my boy, looking to the kennel, looking for his pillow, picking up his favorite toys...and remembering him. My German Shepherd is back to using the kennel again, and the other day I reached inside to pet her, remembering the last time I petted Fire as he snoozed in the kennel. And I have a sense that even though my GSD likes being an only dog, she misses him, too.

I miss sitting on the couch with a good book, only to have Fire climb up and stretch out so that his head was on my lap, long legs hanging over the edge. I'll never forget the night a couple years ago when I came home from work in the midst of a terrible storm, thrilled to be home, and both dogs huddled against me. The Shepherd on my right, sitting up straight, leaning on my shoulder, and Fire, completely in my lap. This huge, 77-lb Greyhound not content to just have his head and front legs pinning me down, but needed his full weight against me. He was NOT interested in dinner, or going outside, or moving.

I remember how he had an uncanny ability to wake me from bad dreams. It seemed that every time I had a really terrible nightmare, he would wake me with his unearthly cries as he dreamed himself, or growled in his sleep, or just in general. Once I heard of a mystic stating that German Shepherd Dogs have the ability to see the devil, but more often than not, it was my Greyhound who terrified me when he stared into dark corners, growling, as I gasped into consciousness, fighting off my nightmares. I think it was the Greyhound who, when it came to the mystical realms, had the greater ability to detect evil.

I miss my greyhound. I miss his happy, klutzy, velcro-dog presence. I miss his big brown eyes, his languid stretches, his "handshakes." I miss his head in my lap as I sat reading or watching TV. I miss his twitching paws as he slept, dreaming of chasing rabbits and racing around the track. I miss his soft coat, his upright ears as he stared at the squirrels outside, poised to fly after them. I miss his tearing around in figure-eights a the end of the leash when he got the "zooms" and needed to expend some energy. I miss him standing at my right elbow, forcing his needle-nose underneath, forcing me to push the keyboard under the desk so he could place his head in my lap and sigh contentedly as I scratched behind his ears.

I miss sitting on the floor and hugging him as he stood in front of me, curling to show his pleasure and better accept my hug. I miss his own "greyhound hugs" where he would stand perpendicular to me and bend his head and neck into my chest, nose nearly to the ground so I could hug him close and stroke his sides and under his long neck. I miss him putting his head over my shoulder and bending around in another form of patented "Fire Hug".

I miss the click of his nails on the Pergot floors of my kitchen as he made his way to the water bowl.

I miss him, I still cry for him, and the best comfort I have is to know that God is with me in my grief and understands more than anyone else the canine friendship that has been lost.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

God Has a Plan

....and I, for one, am thrilled about that. Because none of us ever knows what's coming next.

This is amazing. I just got a conditional job offer...contingent upon my background check and references. It's unofficial, and they want to make a bulletin announcement and announce it to the staff first, which is as it should be, but they can't do any of that until the finishing touches have been completed.

The pay is about $11,000 annually less than what I was making in my last job, and there will be a couple months in the summer that I will need to find supplemental employment. So that's in God's hands completely. I don't know for certain if I can live on this, but I will try and with God's grace, all will be well. And I may be able to work part time for some people I know for a little supplemental income.

Maybe God will send me a roommate now and solve this problem.

Anyway, a little tidbit about my interview last night, including a bit of irony:

One of my biggest fears in going into any interview is the fear I will make an idiot of myself in some way. Don't laugh; I've done so before. My guess is that we've all had bad interviews at some point or another.

Well, so last night I went in and was introduced to the hiring committee. As I went to pull out the chair (which I for some reason expected to roll), it began to tip backwards. Realizing my dilemma I quickly set down my folder and quipped, "Do you mind if I tip the chair over first?"

Naturally the room, seeing what was happening, erupted into laughter and other jokes commenced to cover the moment. One person explained that it's a "trick chair". As I was finally (safely) seated, I said, "Well, let's just get this issue out of the way...I'm a klutz!"

Then the interview began. I'm not certain if my comedy routine had anything to do with the committee's impression of me, but it seems my moment of idiocy didn't hurt me, either.

It's always good to make people laugh, so to those of you who think such a technique may work for you...use it with care! Chair tipping to kick off an interviw should ONLY be attempted by a professional!

So, assuming all goes well (I don't see why it wouldn't), my first day at work should be next Tuesday. Please pray for me. I've never done this type of work, I've never worked in a church, and it's always scary to start something new. I also have to go do some serious shopping because my previous work wardrobe consisted of some company-provided polos. I get to dress better now since I won't be crawling around under cars and getting dirty.

I might get paper cuts, though. Or file cuts. Ouch.

At least I don't have to keep looking now, though. At least the search is it's a new kind of agony, one that happens to be a bit more pleasant.

A big THANK YOU to all my Saints....St. Monica, St. Augustine, St. Pius X, John Paul II, Fr. Ciszek, St. Joseph, St. Anthony, and our dearest Blessed Mother, esp. through the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

And thank you all for your prayers...but please keep praying! Since it's unofficial, and since it really doesn't pay enough...prayers are still needed.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I just got home from my interview. I have no idea how it really went or if I'll get called back for the second interview. I have no idea what God's will is in this. I'm not sure I can do this job effectively, but I did offer God my fiat: if they offer the job to me, and I can live on whatever they're paying, I will accept the position. As so many are involved in the process, I will quite literally take the outcome as God's will for me.

As I told my interviewers tonight: I know that I am being called to service in the Church, but I don't know what that means, whether informal as a catechist, or more formally as an employee of the Church.

I also acknowledged that we often don't know what we are supposed to do until we are *there* where God wants us, but it's important to stay open to His will at every step.

So...that's where I'm at. That's all I know.

But I really need a job.

Sunday, August 26, 2007



It's been an amazing weekend. Great people, a very diverse, but faithful group, and material that, through sheer volume, has turned my brain to mush. I was going to study tonight, or at least get a start, but I don't have it in me.

It doesn't help that this morning my automatic garage door mechanism was doing weird things and I am fearful that my car is now forever entrapped within it. It doesn't help that the last of my front door locks went kaput tonight. So, having bought the lock kit back in June when the first one went, I tried to replace them both. And realized I had no idea what I was doing. But my next-door neighbor who offered to help then, stepped forward tonight to give me the bad news about my garage door mechanism and changed my locks, even as his dinner cooked on his grill. Because, to him, it was more important that I be safe that it was for him to eat. God bless him. He also expressed to me that once he starts a job, he will finish it.

And I have to give credit to the Guardian Angels for their assistance. Because after about an hour and a half of his struggling with stubborn components, and although we were both begging Heaven for help, I went into the kitchen to have a heart-to-heart with the angels. I asked my Guardian Angel for help, and prayed to my neighbor's Guardian Angel...please help him with this lock! His family is calling him for dinner, he's been wonderful to help me, but I won't be able to sleep if I don't have a working deadbolt! I can't sleep with a hole in the door where the deadbolt is supposed to be, which would of course give anyone access to the thumblatch. one can sleep with that kind of security breech. Neither should anyone go without dinner with their family on a Sunday.

While I did not necessarily express anything but begging to the angels, the reasons were of course understoo. And lo and behold, as I returned to the livingroom where my neighbor worked so diligently, the parts had gone into their places and he was just finishing the job!

People, never fail to pray to your Guardian Angel. They are just WAITING to help us and can help with the simplest things in the simplest ways. Yes, they are big, fierce warriors, sent to help us all get to Heaven...but in the meantime when we aren't immediately beset by demons and temptation, they are thrilled to help with little jobs around the house if we but ask. (And you probably think I'm kidding).

Anyway, moving on from the trials of the day.....

My brain is mush. Is that what we are talking about? Oh, yes...freedom.


Our professor pointed out today that our society has a very poor "understanding" as to what "freedom" really is.

A common "expression" of what society refers to as "Freedom" is this:

I think I will smoke a cigarette...because I have the FREEDOM to do so! I think I will spend a bunch of money at the casino because I have the FREEDOM to do so.

Imagine that. If we go and have a cigarette, and then decide to have another...and another, because we have the "freedom" to do so, and make that free choice day after day, in a month, how free are we really to choose NOT to have the cigarette?

And if we go and blow some money at the casino, and win some, and then lose some...and because of the excitement, we decide to repeat the experience...over and over... Well, think about it. Over a period of time, especially if this behavior depletes ALL our reserves and the thrill of the gamble causes us to get into other types of gambling, higher stakes, perhaps to the degree we are losing the car and the that freedom? When we are that far in the hole, how free are we now NOT to "play"?

As our professor observed, what kind of freedom destroys itself by our choosing of it?

A friend of mine once observed that she wished she'd never given up her virginity; because after saying "yes" once, it was that much harder, every time, to say "no" to someone else.

What a definition of slavery.

What kind of "freedom" enslaves us to it?

Examine your life. Examine your conscience. If you are having a difficult time NOT choosing something, perhaps it's time to realize what binds you from a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. For as long as you are giving yourself to the master you have chosen from your concept of "freedom" you are not free to say "yes" to what God may be calling you to do.

Your passions and desires are supposed to be controlled by you...not the other way around.

So I echo the question presented in class to us today:

What kind of freedom is it, that if you act upon it, destroys itself and enslaves you to it?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What Have I Done?

End of day two.

We began our cohort class last night at 7 pm, and fled for home at 10, hoping to get some sleep. Last night I tossed and turned all night, heard strange noises...was uncomfortable. You know how it goes.

This morning we finished our Old Testament class with the beginning tools so we can take on the first assignments, which involve quite a bit of memorization and geography. But I am looking forward to reading the assigned scriptures and other texts, armed with the little knowledge we now have. A lot of time was spent talking about sources and such, all things which will be needed as we go through this class and into the next few years.

Our afternoon consisted of the first hours of Vatican II, our first assignments, due in four weeks, just as with the first class. And from experience, I know that from the Vatican II class, the questions are a LOT harder to answer than they appear at face value. The agony is already commencing.

And I have to pick topics for the final papers, because I will have to pay attention to the stuff that applies to them as we pass through the next few weeks.

Tomorrow, all day, we study the Fundamentals of Catholic Spirituality. Today, some alum that hosted a lunch for us advised us that the Spirituality class can't be beat....anywhere. Ever. It is a gift straight from God, like nothing else.

So even though I'm tired and my head hurts and I'm terrified, I'm still looking forward to tomorrow.

All would be well, but I also recieved a confirmation letter for my job interview on Monday, and I have to submit a writing sample "immediately" to be e-mailed. I got the mail late yesterday before I had to go to time to write it or even conider it last night. And today? Right.

And right now, the last thing I want to do is have my writing under the gun, because, of course, those parpagraphs have to be perfect because they are directly related to the position for which I'm applying.

I'm so tired. HELP!

Friday, August 24, 2007

It Starts Tonight!

Tonight is my first class; we'll be delving into the Old Testament until about 10 pm, and then returning to it tomorrow morning. I picked up a voice recorder that I plan to use to save my hand and prevent carpal tunnel, and then, if the reocrding is good I can burn it to a disk. Mobile reviews!

I'll come home tonight and fall into bed, now have to get disciplined again since I can't stay up late and still get up in the dark before dawn.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Little-a This, a Little-a That

This time of unemployment in the lull between the job I hated and the beginning of Grad school has provided me some time for contemplation. Are you ready for these deep thoughts? Good! I knew you would be.

A Haunting. Have you ever seen that show? It's interesting, talks about various hauntings, dramatizing the stories of people everywhere. Their stories are literally hair-raising, they all go through denial, and then realize something has to be done. And the expert they call invariable recommends that they call a priest. Whether they are religious or not, or Protestant or not...they call a priest. One family consisted of what they self-identified as "faithful Lutherans" (although I noted a strain of cafeteriaism there, too), and their Pastor came out to bless the house. But the told them that if that wasn't enough, they'd have to call a priest. And this story played out like this over and over a priest. An exorcism is needed. Even if the family was total relativistic new-age-whatever-comes-along. The New Agers even recommenended an exorcism by a priest, because all they could offer was "a cleansing".

That's amazing to me. How can someone recognize the authority of the priest to command demons, the authority of the Catholic Church...and not convert? How can a Protestant Pastor (God bless his humility) defer to another religion, recognizing the only authority to which a demon will respond? How can he remain a Pastor of another religion?

Just something to ponder. How can the world continue to persecute the Church as being the Whore of Babylon in one breath, but rush to kneel at the feet of the One True Church when they are beset by demons? But it happens, over and over again in movies and in these re-enactments? (Um...that's a broad comment meant to cover a lot in a small space).

Think about it. The World recognizes this authority...and yet, people look down on Catholics. Wow.

Moving on...

Little House on the Prairie: I grew up on this show. Michael Landon was a hero in my house, and even when I got older and read the books, "Pa" had the face of the actor I'd grown up loving as the father of Laura and Mary and Carrie.

And I've always hated Mrs. Olesen. What a gossipy bit of muslin she was! And her daughter Nellie...just fluff. All she was was another brat wearing fluff.

A secret...since my family grew up poor, that show helped me see what wealth did to people, and I met many "Nellies" in my days on this earth. Thankfully, MOST of them weren't as insufferable as she...but they always made me grateful for my poverty. Even though I didn't realize it at the time.

And all this rain, all this damp. While our neighbors to the south are still being drenched by the flood waters, I'm whiny and "priveliged" enough to complain about the dampness in my own house. I'm sick of the gloom. I'm sick of the clouds. I'm sick of the drizzle. There have only been only one or two days since I left my job that I could consider to be "good weather". The rest has been hot and humid or cool and rainy. I'll take the cool and rainy over the hot and humid any day, but that doesn't stop me from compaining.

Everything in my house in damp. Completely damp. I can feel the dampness in the carpet, the dampness in clothing washed and dried days ago, dampness in towels I'm using to dry my dishes, dampness in bathroom towels...and the stagnant air does nothing to help. NOTHING is drying out. I can almost sit and watch mold grow.

So today I gave in...I turned on the AC. Not because I was too hot (for ever since I had heat exhaustion, I can't tolerate heat very well); but because I can't take the damp anymore. Not when I can control it. I don't have a de-humidifier. But I DO have working AC.

It didn't take long for things to feel better, although the humidity is still in the air.

Yeah, I'm a whiny wimp, not much different than Nellie Olesen. The only thing I'm missing is pink muslin, hoop skirts, blonde curls, and huge pink bows over puffed sleeves.

For the record, though, I'm not blonde, I've never worn a hoop skirt (not even at prom...I never went to prom. Thank God. What a waste of time and money), and I don't have curles. Or bows in my hair. Not really my thing.

I think Terry's logorrhea is wearing off on me.

Note: Check out the link to "logorrhea", and be sure to read the ad. ROFL!

Now please excuse me. I got my hair cut today so now I'm going to go color it to refresh what's left of my highlights from last spring.

Comments please commence!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Fiction Blog

A long time ago, I started a second blog, a story I actually wrote when I was 12, and have re-written many times since.

I started it as a way to force myself to continue the story this time, perhaps finally to completion. I have many of the chapters written, many of the characters defined...but as any writer knows, all that is subject to change.

Today I posted chapter 2, 3, and 4; some of you may have already visited the prologue and chapter one, and your comments were favorable. I have now added another few chapters and hope to write more tonight and tomorrow.

I can't promise that this story will continue to anyone's satisfaction, but since I don't have a job, at least I can give myself to this work I began more years ago than I care to count!

The title is a working title only, and will actually change when the story further matures.

So to those of you who enjoy fiction...welcome to the great Catholic novel!

I may start yet another blog with some of my other works of fiction. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I TOTALLY Want One of These!

I found this article at

Saints handing out Vick chew toys at Tuesday night game.

Dogs around the Twin Cities will soon have a Michael Vick pig to chew on.

The St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team plans to hand out the chew toy to the first 1,500 fans at its home game tonight. It's the team mascot, a pig, in the Atlanta Falcons team colors and with Vick's name and number on it.

Saints promotion director Jack Weatherman says the team wanted to take a stand on the dogfighting charges against Vick. Weatherman says the public reaction has been totally one-sided, with many fans asking if they can buy the Vick chew toy -- and with absolutely no negative reaction.

Weatherman says the Atlanta Falcons have not contacted him, either.

Vick's lawyer announced yesterday that Vick plans to enter a guilty plea next week.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

The Communion of Saints, the Mercy of God...a Job?

I've really been in a slump, lately, as panic begins to set in. I will not be able to make my mortgage payment for September and I will have to contact those companies that charge my utility bills as well. I will need a payment plan of sorts.

This morning I spent some time looking for jobs that I can live on - nuthin'. Nearly despairing, I sat down to do some reading, and, giving in once again to the gloomy sky that so reflects my mood, I took a nap, falling asleep while talking to Jesus about how much my future really seems to suck.

And the one thing He keeps saying, over and over is "Trust Me."

That's the hardest thing in the world for me to do. And He knows it, and He knows exactly why. How many weeks into my self-imposed exile am I? And no end in sight. But the end of my money...I know where that is, and how long it can last, and if something doesn't happen soon...I know there are bills that won't be paid. That's not good.

I woke up from my nap, still wanting to sleep rather than face the dark and gloomy house. Looking up at my framed copy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I begged her for help...I can't get out of this on my own. I am adrift. I am lost. I am losing everything. Even she looked at me so serenely as she held her dear child, and she asked me to trust, too.

I got up and as I pulled back the curtain again to "brighten" the room (it didn't do much), I considered the Saints I have prayed to. St. Joseph...St. Anthony (his vigil candle is lit today), St. Monica, St. Piux X (Today is his feast day), St. Bernard...and others. I pray to my Guardian Angel to help me click on jobs I would not otherwise consider, to speed my applications along their way, to help me in whatever way he can.

I know the Saints, as they ae alive in Christ for eternity, hear and answer our please for assistance here on earth.

As I came downstairs, I told God I did not want to; I didn't want to look at the caller ID and see a blank face because no one had called. I didn't want to go to the mailbox for fear of finding a rejection letter.

But as I said this, the reply to my prayer was there; I had to accept the cross I had chosen...and trust.

So I went to the mailbox, and found nothing but a bag so I can donate stuff. That will come in handy, I thought, when I am preparing top put my house on the market and have to unload this sinking ship.

I came back inside, still sad, thinking I should make some coffee. I was trying to come out of my pitiful state, still somewhat sleepy, thinking the caffeine would help.

Wondering if I'd go to Mass tonight, or to another event at the same time, leaning towards Mass so I can appeal directly to God while in the presence of the Heavenly contingent.

And then the phone rang. I was terrified. What's that noise? I was afraid to look. Afraid of disappointment, yet again.

So I reached out and saw the name of a Saint on the caller ID.

I have an interview for a Faith Formation position next week! FINALLY! PRAISE GOD!

I am not really qualified for the job, however I have the skills needed even if not all the knowledge, and I can learn. And as I'm starting Grad School this weekend, I'll be in an active learning process, anyway. So it IS possible for me to get this job.

So my decision is made...tonight I MUST go to Mass, I MUST thank God for a small success, a little hope on a day I so desperately needed it, and I will socialize with people next month.

If I get this job there will be many Saints to thank...the one whose namesake is the parish, St. Monica, for I spoke to her very heart-to-heart last night, and, by the Monday, the day of my interview, is her feast day. Is her intercession always that obvious?

For now, all I have is an interview, and I thank God for that.

Now, though, I have another problem! The interview suit I wore 5 years ago doesn't fit! I need a new one, so tomorrow or Thursday I will go shopping, and perhaps finally get my hair cut. Believe me, I need it. The last thing I need right now is to be sloppy-looking.

So I guess my next prayer, other than to have other requests for to find a nice suit that doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Utah Miners

I found this on Orthometer.:

Want to help the mining families?

If you would like to help the families impacted by the Crandall Canyon Mine cave-ins, your best bet would be to send donations to the local Catholic parish. (A friend of mine is the pastor and will make sure that the donations are used appropriately.)

Send checks/money orders to:

Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish
160 North Carbon Ave.
Price, Utah 84501

(Specify that the donation is to help the mining families.)

~ Fr. Erik Richtsteig

This is yet another horrible tragedy which hasn't gotten as much press here due to our own I-35 W Bridge Collapse and now the Flooding in SE Minnesota that is an even greater natural disaster.

But even as we bury our dead and comfort our friends and neighbors, we can't forget those in Utah who are suffering so much for their losses. Please remember them in your prayers, and if you can, send monetary support.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Minnesota Disaster

Please pray, everyone, this time for a city and an area I consider one of my "homes" on this earth. I spent four years in Winona, and in my teens, it was a place I always wanted to live.

Yet another disaster has hit Minnesota, this one due to the rains that hit and are still hitting SE Minnesota. Towns along the Mississippi and along the rivers feeding her have flooded, washed out bridges, and closed roads. So far, four people have been killed in flash floods, some are missing, and hundreds, if not more, have lost their homes to raging waters. More have yet to be evacuated as the rivers have not yet crested and rains are not coming to an end any time soon.

My Alma Mater, St. Mary's University, is sheltering some of the evacuees in the fieldhouse.

Winona, Minnesota City, and Goodview, all cities flooded out, are nestled at the base of the bluffs of the Mississippi. It's a beautiful area there along highway 61, but it's not the only places that are affected.

I grew up in Faribault, so during my college years, whenver I returned to school, I drove through Rochester on Highway 14, taking me through the farmlands of SE Minnesota, and into the bluffs, and to the last waystation before reaching Winona, that being Stockton. The little town is situated at perhaps the lowest point in the bluff country as the road begins to climb again once out of town. Highway 14 has ALWAYS been of of my favorite scenic areas of Minnesota as it winds the 12 miles from Lewiston to Winona, past Whitewater State Park, through lowlands, on a serpentine highway that passes serenly through the bluffs in all seasons.

That road is no longer passable. I don't know where it's been washed out, but Stockton itself has been evacuated as it is completely flooded, and further down, Highway 14 is impassable.

For those of the Map-challenged persuasion, there are two roads to Winona from the North: Highway 61, a four-lane along the Mississippi, typically used by those coming from the Twin Cities, and Highway 14, a two-lane running through several counties, typically used by the rest of Minnesota. I-90 runs past Winona a bit to the south, and is the only major interstate to pass nearby. The city is still accessable via I-90 to Highway 61 Northbound.

Saint Mary's University is situated at the very base of the bluff country as it meets Winona, right on Highway 14 about a mile or so before it meets Highway 61.

Please pray for all those who have lost so much, and for the safety of those who yet remain in their homes, for the rescuers, the Red Cross, and for the University and its employees who are expanding their services to provide hospitality to those who have been so suddenly displaced. Not only was I a student at SMU; I was an employee after I graduated, so somewhat aware of the facilities available and how thinly the still-summer-staff are stretched right now. Please keep them in your prayers.

Winona is still "home" to me and to friends of mine. I'm glad to see my alma mater providing a "home" for others, but I suspect that Gilmore Creek is likely threatening some of SMU's own territory. It wouldn't be the first time, and it won't be the last.

Thank God the students haven't moved in yet.

And thank God for all those who have so far survived, pray for the four who are missing and those who have lost their lives in the unprecendented flash flooding.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recipes and Condiments and Grocery Stores - OH MY!

Have you ever stared into your refrigerator wondering if a particular mixture of condiments with flavors and spices from around the globe can come together and "pop" into a legitimate meal?

I decided that it can't, and who wants to waste perfectly good sauces and syrups and spices on an experiment that makes no sense?

It's a rainy day here in Minnesota (FINALLY! HOORAY!), and although that makes it a great day for napping, it's also wonderful for cooking and using the oven. Because this rain is also a cool rain so it inspires me to think of fall things like soups and dips and the like.

So I wondered what I would make:

Garlic Soup? Maybe
Roasted Red Pepper Soup? Hmm...maybe.
Beef Stroganoff? - Never did it before, but I'm craving it and feeling adventurous
Seafood dip with fresh French or Italian bread from the deli bakery? - Maybe. I need to use up some ingredients.
Angel Hair Pasta with Pesto, onions, and fresh tomatoes? Caprese?

So a-shoppin' I went. Normally I do my grocery shopping early on a Saturday, and this afternoon, was reminded as to WHY.

Because there was NO BREAD at EITHER of the grocery stores I went to. NONE. There was sliced Vienna bread. Not what I needed or wanted. There was Garlic Artesan bread. Too heavy for my needs. There were roll and a tiny baguette with poppy seeds. Nope.

So Garlic Soup is out. And so is the seafood dip. I guess the ingredients will have to pend for another day or so.

I turned my focus to my needs for Roasted Red Pepper soup. It's an easy soup, and Serrrano peppers were available, but the fresh red and yellow peppers were in DISMAL condition. I considered it, but that thing so so bruised and nicked, I could not in good conscience even make it into a soup...unless they'd be willing to give it to me for free. Fat chance.

So soup is out unless I want to scoop it from a can.

So that leaves either pasta which I have at home, but don't want, or beef stroganoff. I picked up some stew meat, I have lots of hamburger, so I got some fresh onions, some mushrooms, I have green onions, I picked up garlic, and I can make beef broth from a bullion. And I picked up sour cream and egg noodles.

Wish me luck. I'm not really much of a cook. It's not that I can't cook, it's just that I'm normally uninspired. Usually stuff turns out well, but there have been a few flops in the past. I pray this is not one of them. Can I still do this half in the pan and half in the crock, esp as I'm using stew meat? It's tougher than the sirloin that some recipes recommend, and I don't want to go the cheap route and use hamburger and cream of mushroom soup...although I may.

So we'll see what happens. If it works, I'll share the recipe. Stay tuned!


Adoro's Beef Stroganoff:

Cubed Stew Meat
Egg Noodles
1/2 - 1/3 C. Chopped Vidalia Onions
Chopped Green Onions
Sliced Mushrooms
Chopped Garlic
1 C. Sour Cream
1/4 C. Flour
1 Bay Leaf
1 1/2 C. beef broth
Garlic Powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
Various other spices - to taste and according to whatever's in the cupboard
Worcesteshire Sauce
White or red wine. (Note: NEVER cook with wine you would not actually serve)

In large frying pan,melt the butter or vegetable oil, brown the beef with the onions, mushrooms, and garlic.

Add beef broth and spices. Simmer 1 hour or until meat is tender.

Cook egg noodles according to directions and amount needed.

When beef mixture is ready, add sour creme and flour mixture, stir, and cook down. Add a little water if necessary.

Serve. Enjoy.

* Egg Noodle substitutes: Mashed potatoes, Gnocchi, other pasta or starchy edible material.

I would serve this meal to Jesus if He came to my house. Probably with egg noodles, but if he made a request I'd acquiesce.

It never ends

Guess who's taking a trip to the Vet NOW?

Yup. We're making a trip to the vet this morning. I took my German Shepherd to the dog park a couple times this week, and yesterday there were LOTS of dogs to play with. She did a great job, fell in love with a boxer and proceeded to "herd" him all over the park. She even got jealous when another dog started playing with the boxer and began vocalizing at him. A good time was had by all.

Last night, she was exhausted, and I think she's STILL tired this morning. And because we're (finally!) supposed to get some significant rain, I was going to take her out there to play again this morning, because it will be days before the mud about to be created dries out.

But we have a problem, so there will be no play time. And no long walk in the nice cool air.

This morning she was licking her paw and seemed to be pulling something off of it, as though she had stepped in gum or something. So I got a flashlight so I could take a closer look, and the large pad on both of her front paws is abraded, that entire outer layer of tough pad is worn away. On the other paw, it's flapping. She's not bleeding, but she is clearly in pain. And this is something that needs SOME KIND of attention, although I'm not sure what to do about it.

I searched the 'net trying to find a useful veterinary article, but they all address different types of injuries, involving cuts through the pad. Nothing like this. So I called the clinic, knowing that pad injuries can become serious quickly given the use they take by necessity. And as you all know...I can't afford an expensive infection. And quite honestly, I think if I just let this go it would get worse and then we would be dealing with a REAL problem. I guess I'd rather pay the fee to have her looked at than wait. If it does go all the way through the pad, a general anesthesia is typically needed to fix it and I don't WANT to know that cost!

So this morning in a couple hours, we're heading off to the vet. I don't want to go there, and really, she doesn't either. But we will do what's necessary. Because...well, it's necessary.

* sigh *

UPDATE: It was worth the cost of the vet visit, which was minimal. She cut the flapping piece of skin that could have torn had we left it untended. And for now, we just have to avoid pavement and other abrasive surfaces. So the dog park is out for now, which is fine, because now it's all muddy, and we're entering a rainy stretch of weather. But in any case the abrasion did not go all the way through and what she has left of her pad should heal with no problem.

I tried little fleece booties on her today. She walked funny, but after a short while didn't have a problem with them. So we'll be taking our walks with "protected" front paws for the next few days. And no, I don't care how dumb it looks. I'm more interested in avoiding other vet bills by ensuring the pad won't wear through to the flesh!

She's curled up on the dog bed near me right now. You've never seen such a cute Shepherd!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bad Christians?

Jennifer F. has a very thought-provoking post on generic "Christian Evangelization". (note: "generic" is my term). While I can't relate exactly to her experience, it did make me think of non-Catholic Christians I knew as a child.

We lived in a rural riverside neighborhood in Illinois, populated by mainly Protestants or non-religious nieghbors. I remember one day, near Christmas, when Mom had to work and had no one to watch us. I don't remember if my older brother was there, playing with their son Randy, or if he had something else to do. But in any case, I was packed up and dropped off at the neighbor's house, where I spent time in my regular pursuits.

I knew they were a Christian family; they talked about Jesus a lot, their house was decorated for Christmas, and as ours was, too, I saw no difference between what they believed and what we believed as Catholics. I knew their religion was different; but I was too young to understand what that meant.

Because I was always an artist, and I was a shy child, I spent my time that day drawing and coloring Christmas scenes. Really OBVIOUS Christmas scenes; Mary, Jesus, and Joseph in various Nativity poses. Jesus in the manger with cows and lambs, with Mary and Joseph kneeling behind him. Mary holding Jesus while Joseph stood watch. The Christmas Star high above, shining down upon the scene. Angels playing trumpets and singing. Oh, yes, I knew what Christmas was about. My pictures didn't have many Christmas was all about the birth of Christ. Mom did a good job.

And in normal shy-little-girl style, I showed the neighbor my various artistic offerings throughout the day, saying nothing, just "showing". I remember that her daughter asked me who the figures were, and when I didn't answer, she pointed to each character and named them. I agreed; she'd gotten it right. My drawings were never vague scribbles; I very painstakingly drew exactly what I wanted, and they resembled very specifically what they actually were. I speak to this very truly; there was no ambivalence in my work; my pictures were of the Nativity and the birth of Christ Jesus.

Somewhere near the end of the day, the neighbor stood at the sink, washing dishes while I showed her my drawings, which she admired appopriately and seemed to understnd what they were.

And then she threw me for a loop when she asked, "Do you know what Christmas is about?"

I was completely confused. Had I not been DISPLAYING to her ALL DAY LONG my understanding of Christmas? Was it not obvious?

I didn't know what to say, so I only stared at her. Her question made me second-guess myself. Was Christmas actually about something else? I'd been showing her the birth of Jesus all day. I'd been showing her angels proclaiming the birth of the Savior, I'd been showing her Mary and Joseph with little baby Jesus in the manger. As far as I knew, that was Christmas.

And she'd identified all the people in my drawings correctly. How could she ask me if I understood what Christmas was about...unless what I was drawing was a different holiday?

She was a very forceful woman, with a strong voice, a direct gaze, and was as fundamentalist as they come. Of course I didn't understand that was her belief or what it meant, but this Christian lady, upon recieving no response but mute surprise at her question began to belittle me for not knowing what Christmas was about.

"This kid don't know NUTHIN'!" She yelled out to her family. "She don't know who Je-sus is!"

Then she proceeded to tell me that Jesus was the Son of God, born to bring salvation to the world.

I looked at the drawings in my hands. That's what I'd been drawing all day. How could she not understand that I knew what Christmas was about?

Part of what inspired my drawings was the lack of Nativity scenes in her house. I had set out to help her with that poverty in her Christmas decorations, and instead, she had belittled my understanding of Christmas.

From that day on, I knew that there was a difference in what we as Catholics believe versus what "they" as Protestants believe, and I cannot help my knee-jerk reaction towards many Protestants I meet. To this day, I can still hear that woman crying out, "This kid don't know NUTHIN'!", that same thing being told to my embarassed mother, even as she looked through my drawings of the day, trying to protest that I did indeed know what Christmas was about and who Jesus was.

I will never understand why that woman did what she did. I will never understand how she could identify exactly what my pictures portrayed and still attack me by way of suggesting I did not know what it was about.

I do believe there was a bit of anti-Catholicism in her religion; she suffered from a belief that a Catholic child could only mimic but not understand. In truth, I think I could have taught her things had I had the voice to truly repeat all I had been taught by my Mother.

I've had other Christian faiths call my faith into question; likewise, I've met Protestants who have helped me to reinforce my Catholic faith and have a deep respect for our beliefs.

As an adult, more often than not I meet people of varying faiths, and we have a commmon understanding; we are all trying to reach God. We all agree there are people who don't know anything about the religion they profess. We all agree that we love the Lord, although we approach Him differently. We all agree we can be friends, we can talk about our agreements and disagreements, remembering we are on our own paths, we are all doing our best, and belittling others is NOT the way to win converts.

It can be necessary to speak harshly, to speak strongly, and to call ADULTS out on the carpet, for adults know how to speak for themselves. But we must be especially careful as to how we address and respond to children. And in reality, some adults are naught but spiritual children; they must be nutured.

God give us the grace and the wisdom to know the difference and respond properly, that we may build up the kingdome and fan the flames, rather than quench them from our own overly zealous righteousness. The former is to be desired...the latter is a sin we will answer for when we reach eternity.


Being that Fridays are penitential days, I wasn't going to laugh today. But then my friend sent me this information, and I felt it was important enough to desseminate it to all of you in case you are in danger:

There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand. This virus is called Weary-Overload-Recreational-Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT.

This virus will wipe out your private life completely. If you should come into contact with WORK, put your jacket on and take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work-Isolating-Neutralizer-Extract (WINE) or Bothersome-Employer-Elimination-Rebooter (BEER).

Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system. You should forward this warning to 5 friends. If you do not have 5 friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's Fun to be Catholic!

Some time ago, Catholic author Bill Kassel (Holy Innocents, This Side of Jordan) contacted me after having come across one of my blog posts in which I'd alluded to his books. I've been meaning to provide a formal review of his books for some time, and you know what? I STILL haven't done it. For a short review: read these books, they were great! (More later...)

Mr. Kassel has sent me a review copy of a radio show to debut on Ave Maria Radio in the upcoming weeks. Since it's crunch time, I was excited to get my copy today.

The "Prairie Home Companion"-esq Olde Tyme Radio variety show format of "It's Fun to be Catholic" includes original music sung by Bill Kassel himself. (And they give a humorous hat-tip to that popular NPR series and Garrison Keiller.) "It's Fun to be Catholic" was produced by Catholic composer and record producer Dan Adam, and features Tom Loewe, Sr. Sarah Burdick (co-hosts of "Notes from Above"), Kara Fay Coulter, Ken Castel, and Eden Simmons. It is highly endorsed by Ave Maria Radio CEO Al Kresta ("Kresta in the Afternoon").

I really enjoyed the show, which included some conversational dialogue discussing common Catholic topics such as "worshiping Mary", being "more Catholic than the Pope" (it's not what you think!), Vocations recruitment, modern technology and pop culture. The basic premise of the whole thing is that it is OK to be Catholic and have a sense of humor.

Most of us would wholeheartedly agree, but for some reason, all too often, we get caught up in the negativity of issues both in and outside our beloved Church, and forget that we have to keep perspective, and we have to maintain that joy that God has given us. Too often, we focus on the negative, and Catholic Radio tends more towards discussion and serious facts without the balance needed to give evidence of our deep happiness found within our faith. This show is an effort to reinforce the joy and instigate laughter on the radio waves.

Based on the information I was sent, the show can be heard on Saturday, September 1 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm; Sunday, September 2, at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm; and Monday, September 3 (Labor Day), at 2:00 pm.

Ave Maria Radio can be heard in the metro Detroit area at 990 - AM, or in SW Florida, 98.5 FM.

Online, it should be available to listeners at

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


This article and law firm just SMACKS of "recruitment":

Lawfirm denied access to bridge site for lawsuits

ST. PAUL (AP) - A federal judge has denied a law firm's request for access to the 35W bridge collapse site to gather information for possible wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Judge Patrick J. Schiltz says the government has "an urgent interest" in recovering victims, clearing the wreckage, reopening the river and rebuilding the bridge as sLawfirm denied access to bridge site for lawsuits oon as possible. The judge says those challenges are daunting enough without turning loose potentially dozens of lawyers, expert witnesses and investigators on the site.

The firm of Schwebel, Goetz and Seiben says it's representing three people severely injured in the collapse and the families of two people who died. It was trying to gain access to the site for two of its experts and some attorneys.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-15-07 1841EDT

As you know, I recently left my job with an insurance company. While I didn't handle injury claims - recently - part of my job was to handle bodily injury claims if it was proper to do so, and I've settled a good number of them in my time at that company. It's part of the insurance business, and some people specialize in handling these types of claims. Personally, I hated them, which is why I became a non-medical investigator.

Minnesota is a "No-Fault" state, which is a term often miused and misunderstood. What it means is that if you are involved in some kind of vehicle accident, you must go through your own vehicle insurance company to handle your medical bills, up to the policy limit (which is often only $20,000 but can be doubled with "stacking" insurance if you insure more than one vehicle on the same policy). However, "No Fault" has nothing to do with negligence; typically SOMEONE is at fault (negligent) when an accident occurrs. It can be both drivers, it can be a pedestrian, it can be a manufacture defect. And when negligence is determined, meaning that someone is majority at fault for the accident, then if the injured party does not bear the majority of negligence, that person may hav a bodily injury (BI) claim.

For example; if a semi truck rearrends a stopped Pinto at 50 mph if said Pinto is legally stopped, waiting for the light to change, said driver of the semi is negligent, and in all liklihood, the Pinto driver is injured, or dead. That person certainly has a Bodily Injury claim. Certain "thresholds" may apply as claim of an injury does not, in Minnesota, automatically entitle someone to a BI settlement. In MN, those thresholds are: treatment over $4,000 (not inluding diagnostic tests such as MRI's), serious injuries such as fractures and scarring, death or dismemberment, or permanent injury. Insurance companies are well aware of these thresholds and immediately prepare to handle them, which requires the cooperation of the injured party, that party's own insurance carrier, and, of course, any attorneys who may be involved.

So, many of the people on the bridge, especially those who were killed or were severely injured, have bodily injury (BI) claims. They are not at fault for the bridge collapse, but clearly, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE is liable. Attorneys and Insurance Companies have to determine WHO is responsible via their investigators, expert witnesses, and the findings of the Federal investigators and MNDOT investigators as all the details are sorted out. The attorneys will go after all the negligent parties, focusing, of course, on those with the deepest pockets.

That's what this article is about; the attorneys are working on gathering evidence for their cases, as will be the insurance companies. However, as those in the insurance industry know, access to such disasters isn't automatically granted. I was an investigator and often had to wait out "holds" before I could really start following threads. It's hard for everyone, but it's extremely important to let the authorities do their job and maintain the integrity of the scene.

That's part of why the attorneys are trying to gain access; they are looking to either breach the integrity of the scene, or prove that something has been breached, so as to weaken any defense that may be taken by the negligent parties. They are also making a play for publicity, as they know well that they would not be allowed access to the collapse scene just yet. Especially considering that not all of the deceased have been recovered and laid to rest. It's also a pre-emptive move that gives them a position of strength no matter what happens in court. Because they are using the courts to request access, and the courts have shut them down (for now), they will later be able to argue in court that the "rights" of their clients were quashed by this decision and they will do whatever they can to play upon the conspiracy theorists in the jury to be chosen at a later date. That makes the government look bad; it makes those working at the site to recover the remains of the still-missing people look like bad guys while the law firm gets to look like heroes to people that are gullible enough to fall for this public relations scam. And, of course, when this goes to court or to closed-door settlements, the real reason they were denied access to the scene and the fact that, if they were allowed to enter would have compromised the scene and would have been detrimental to recovery efforts will be completely ignored or glossed over.

And of course, the law firm gets their name out there, which brings in both related and unrelated business for them.

It is not surprising that a law firm is involved; this is expected. Given what I know, I would not be likely to get an attorney if I were injured in a vehicle accident, unless an insurance company was not doing their job. I know what their job is, so perhaps I'm in a good position to be able to ascertain when something is wrong. (Overall, insurance companies DO handle their injury claims well, but there are times when they don't, and then it's time to be represented.) Many peple think that claims are handled differently with attorney representation; this is complete fallacy. Typically, if someone told me they were going to get an attorney, I'd yawn and tell them that I looked forward to this event and that the attorney would be far more reasonable and professional that they would be. (That latter was saved for especially arrogent and threatening customers). I spoke truly, for there were some difficult customers we just PRAYED would get an attorney so that we could get the job done and it would be wonderful to deal with someone who knew what we needed and wouldn't wait for us to ask. Because when the customer gets paid...they get paid.

And pay...that's another reason I wouldn't want to get an attorney; they take 1/3 of the settlement, and in many cases, that means that the customer would actually be paid less (directly) than if they were unrepped. Additionally, an analysis of customer surveys revealed that of those people who were represented by attorneys and those who were not, those who were not represented were far more pleased with how their claim was handled than if they had gone through a law firm. This is VERY telling.

But none of that is why I'm disturbed about the above article. As I said, I would expect to have law firms involved in this, and if I were that seriously injured, or I'd lost a loved one, it would be easier to get the attorney as I'd be tied up with other things such as serious recovering or grief.

Here's what disturbs me:

The firm of Schwebel, Goetz and Seiben says it's representing three people severely injured in the collapse and the families of two people who died

The SAME firm is representing a high percentage of the people directly impacted in this incident. That defies statistcs and speaks of "recruitment". Perhaps that recruitment was one family to another. Or perhaps it's a class-action type of thing (I'm not sure what constitutes class action). If so, then no problem.

But typically, anyone injured in an accident. when that info is made public, they are INUNDATED with Personal Injury attorney spam. It's completely ridiculous. Even where injury is not indicated, these vulturs crowd in to convince them they are injured and some even suggest what to do in order to cross a treatment threshold if they don't qualify under any other category. That's one of the inherent flaws in the No Fault law; the abuse entailed. We spend a LOT more on bodily injury claims in Minnesota than do Tort states such as Wisconsin where, from the first dollar spent on an injury constitutes a bodily injury claim.

But something about this just rubs me the wrong way. It could be completely legitimate, but at the same time, the statistics that the same firm would represent so many (if not class action) indicates someone was "recruiting", which is a bit unethical.

Just my humble opinion. But then again, I'm not fond of PI law firms, and even as I would consider seeking employment with a law firm, they would be excluded from my consideration.

Feast of the Assumption

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.

Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Industrial Ruins

I had the weirdest dream last night...and this morning.

Trying to save money, I didn't have my AC on to try to keep the humidity out, so as such, my fan was blowing in the window, I was damp and uncomfortable all night, and that condition always leads to fretful sleep, and when sleep does finally occurr, vivid dreams.

Last night was a night of my own personal mini-series. It may actually lead to a short story, but first I have to figure out the subplot.

In the beginning, I was a with a group of friends reminiscent of my college buddies, a mixture of men and women. And they definitely had distinct personalities, unlike most canned dreams that just rehash things.

We were going to take an evening tour of the ruins of some type of factory, perhaps a steel mill. As we approached the darkened, forboding structure, I remember thinking, or maybe commenting, that the setting along the river would make a great horror story, perhaps along the lines of "Rose Red" by Stephen King.

As the light lessened, we spent time wandering the hallways and workfloors of the sheet-metal structure, having to avoid dangerous obstacles; of the type one finds in such urban decay; broken glass, bits of torn metal with deeply rusted edges, unstable floors, and obstacles in places that are absolutely against fire code.

But then again, this place, being a "ruin" of course defies all codes.

I'm not sure how it happened, exactly, but when we tried to leave, the gates had been locked and we had no way out. We were trapped in the ruins of this mill, and we were unprepared. We couldn't call for help; no one knew where we were, no one had a cell phone, and we had this idea that if we were caught there after hours, we'd be punished.

So we waited, watched, and explored, always trying to find a way out.

We were in luck; the next day, an elementary school came through on a tour. We didn't want to alarm anyone by our presence so we tried to stay out of the way in hopes we could follow them out. But it was not to be; we hid for too long, and once again found ourselves locked among the ruins.

We were getting desperate. What to do?
Throughout this dream, I continued to wake up, toss and turn, try to get comfortable, drink some water, and when I finally fell asleep again, I returned again to this weary dream world we could not seem to escape.

There was a room we'd commandeered as our base. Tempers were flaring; we were all uncomfortable, needed a shower, needed to get out of this hulk of metal that had ensnared us, and we were getting desperate. I remember looking around the small dark room with the light cast by my flashlight. There HAD to be an escape. We were against an outer wall...was there a vent?

I followed the ductwork and some other mysterious sheet-metal structure up the wall and saw what appeared to be a door. I talked one of the guys into reluctantly prying it, and indeed, it was a window to the outside world. The moon shone in the night-time sky...and the opening, if we could get to it, would help us all out onto the roof.

We didn't know where to go from there, so the most agile of us climbed the wall to scout it out. Indeed, this was an exit so one by one, we climbed through the rectangular opening.

In the meantime, there was a stove or a boiler of some sort in the room that was overreacting, so that added a sense of urgency. We had to get out of that room IMMEDIATELY!

I remember climbing the wall, crawling through the opening, the noise of the stove reaching a pitch I would not have though possible...and then I woke up to the relatively cool humidity of my bedroom, realizing that the fan in the window sounded suspiciously like the stove in my dream, but was inherently less threatening.

I drank some water, then went back to sleep.

And re-entered the dream. I thought we were out! That was the end! Why were we still there?

I was getting REALLY TIRED of this dream.

We ascertained that our situation was serious, and I tried to broach the topic; how did we get here? Hadn't we escaped? I tried to get everyone to climb out through the same "window". One of the guys snapped at me, "It's not a way out."

He didn't seem to remember his enthusiasm before I'd woken up. He'd been the one to break through, the first through, the first to tell us we could be free. What had happened?

I sensed a weird thing happening; the ruins were sucking people in. My friends no longer really seemed as though they wanted to escape. It was the Stockholm Syndrome; but instead of captors, it was the ruins that were creating the identity of the captor.

We had to get out!

The next morning, there was another school coming through. This time, one of my cohorts and I decided we had to approach an authority figure and ask for help; we could not seem to get out on our own. I had to stop to tie my shoe as my friend first approached a middle-aged teacher. She was completely rejected, and ran away from the teacher, shocked.

I knew it was up to me; for some reason, our male counterparts would not approach the humanity that had wandered into our territory. So I walked up to the teacher, pretending that it was "normal" to look as I did, to smell as I likely did, and explain as rationally as possible that we were captives of the ruins they now explored.

I introduced myself and offered my hand, smiling. She looked at me warily and began to walk away with her children. I did not address the children, none of whome seemed to really notice the oddity of someone such as myself emerging from the twisted metal and dingy shadows of the mummified factory.

As she walked away, I pleaded with her to help us, to send someone, to call the police...anything. She ignored us.

Somehow I gathered up my friends...those who could be found, and we followed the school out towards the main gate.

En route, in one of the metal corridors we found a door that had not been previously opened. It was shaped like a submarine door, and the interior was in complete darkness. I stepped inside, past the metal rivets, over the high threshold, and saw "FBI" on the sleeves of the men who stood guard. I withdrew, then realized it was too late, anyway as they glanced my way. My friends held back. I wanted to, but at this ponit, as the inquisitive one, I had no choice but to press forward.

I tentatively moved inward, and saw a couple more guys sitting in front of a laptop computer on a metal desk, reviewing some sort of incomprehensible data. They looked sligtly alarmed at my presence. I raised my hands to show I was unarmed, and began to tell our story. I repeated, "We aren't terrorists!"

They took great interest in what we had to say, and I knew, finally, we were saved. They weren't there to investigate US...they were there for another purpose.

Finally I woke up to the humid morning air and bright heat of the morning sun, tired of the constant feeling of "damp" in the house. The same rotting dampness in my dream, now enhanced as the last vestiges of the dream fell away...yet leaving the cool damp as the fan continued to blow in the window.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Crossing Borders - Part I - the Early Years

Tonight I was just "bloggin' around" and over at Transcental Musings , she mentioned wanting to learn Spanish.

I offered that languages really can't be learned solo; they require interaction.

The opportunity to learn Spanish was not presented to me until 9th Grade. At the end of eighth grade, I knew what my two 9th grade electives would be: Band (I played flute, and I rivaled 1st Chair), and Spanish. And then the plot thickened; Mr. Kane, the Art teacher pulled me aside one day to encourage me to take Art as my elective. He saw talent in my work, really thought I needed to continue on. I told him that I was taking Spanish, and I had to continue with music. He did not try to talk me out of music; after all, it is an art. He really pressured me to put off Spanish and take Art while I could. I turned him down, having made my decision. I was flattered that he was so insistent, yet there was no question in my mind that I needed to study Spanish. Had I had my way, I would have taken all 3 electives; but that was not an option. (And I think of some wasted time, such as in "reading comprehension, that I could have tested out of on day 1) * sigh *

So it was that my route to Mexico began in a Jr. High school in Southern Minnesota. I had no idea where it would lead; most who begin studying any given language don't last long. So it was. I think we did have a 2-year language requirement. As it was, my Spanish class Senior Year had only 11 survivors, and our teacher was a terrorist. That's why we loved him so much. He had a gruff exterior, he expected the best of us, and he will never be portrayed on TV because he was politically incorrect. He used sarcasm that sometimes crossed a line, but those who hung on saw his true intent. I remember agonizing each year...should I continue? Not only was he my Spanish teacher, but I'd been unlucky enough to be assigned to his homeroom!

But I continued, and even returned during college to speak to the Spanish classes about college, and about Mexico.

Ah...Mexico. One of the reasons I chose my college (now University) was the study abroad opportunities. I grew up in a very poor family...we were on welfare for most of my life. So quite literally, I'd never been ANYWHERE. Ok...once we visited the corn palace in South Dakota. And my grandparents in Escanaba, MI, where I fished off the pier with my Dad. While I wanted to go and hoped, I didn't think I'd be able to, and really had given up. But suddenly, something took hold of me, and "told" me I "HAD" to go to I applied, and I didn't even have to go through the process. The Prof. who happened to be the stateside contact for this trip, and the main advocate was also my academic advisor. I walked into his office. He grabbed my flie, but didn't even look at it. "You're going."

There was no interview necessary. This Prof. knew his students.

So it was that, me, a poverty-stricken girl from the midwest, found herself on a plane to Mexico City...having studied Spanish for 6 years.

My first 4 years consisted of the year of foundation, and then three years of Hell. The High School teacher (Mr. Engrav) was SUPERB and taught mainly in Spanish by the 4th year. But it fell off in college. I did not try to test out, on his recommendation, for his opinion of college Spanish was that it moved to quickly for most students and we'd be lost. His students who had tried to test out sometimes found themselves in over their heads. So I took his advice and just signed up for the recommend College Spanish for those of us who had had 4-5 years.

Unfortunately, both Profs at my college were really not up to Mr. Engrav's standards. One had studied in Chile for awhile, but I didn't have him as an instructor. The one I did happen to sit in front of was a highly intelligent man. He was from the Ukraine, spoke six languages, one of them was Spanish, and he'd never studied actively in a Spanish-speaking country. (That was my understanding. One of my readers may be able to correct this.) And he spoke Spanish with a Ukranian accent. None of that was really an issue. What WAS an issue was the canned Spanish provided. I had come from a high-school Spanish class that used real-world resources. Our teacher had a stack of Spanish-language newspapers and newspaper clips. We were given our lessons for the day, but once a week or so had to take an article from the paper of our choice, read it, and present it to the class. If a word was used that had not previously been used in class, we had first to define that word. That was a typical exercise. And our grammar had to be perfect, we had to have accents in the right place, etc etc.

So college was a shock; not because it was too hard; because it was too EASY. The first year was such cake I, and another student from another school who was likewise well prepared, never studied. We both realized we should have tested out...but we were stuck as the deadline had passed. So we didn't study; we didn't need to. We came to class, having glanced over the book that was used...and we answered each question as it came to us. Even the prof realized we hadn't done our homework. We did occassionally mess up, granted, but both of us took easy "A's". It is fair to say I actually didn't learn anything that year, because it was all elementary to me. That bred bad habits.

By 2nd year College Spanish...well, our learned laziness caught up. My friend and I had "unlearned" what we'd been taught by our high school teachers, and so our Spanish study skills were not really up to par that year. We did both begin studying again, and while it wasn't hard, we'd set a standard for ourselves, and when we did hit difficulties, we were called out for it. The first 2nd year spanish semester wasn't too really caught up 2nd semester of our Sophomore year.

So we were pulled aside a couple tmes. The book didn't always make sense, so at times, for all of us, the lesson was incomplete. We literally would go into class, sit down at a conference table, and by rote, go over the lessons in a book. There were no real lectures. And our professor often had to question the lessons in the book; they didn't make any sense to him, either, what was being asked.

I ask you...if the Professor doesn't know what's going can the students possibly learn anything?

So he would occasionally pull the two of us out of class, and give us the lecture he'd had to give (as an example) the first year, but now it was serious. "You have to do your work outside of class."

I always wanted to ask him, "Why? You don't. You don't know what the book is asking, either. How do we know if we're 'learning' anything correctly?" And truth be told, even 2nd year, if I looked over the lesson and it was obvious, I wouldn't waste time doing it, which did lead to some errors. But our Prof liked his star students...when we looked good, he looked good. That's the reality of education, for some Profs.

I have to say I learned very little from him by way of the actual Spanish language.

So by the time I left for Mexico, my Junior year of College, I'd had 6 years of Spanish...but really, only 4 of them constituted any real learning, and I'd actually backslid by way of taking College Spanish.

{ to be continued.... next stop....MEXICO! )

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Slander of Vatican II and the Tridentine Mass

I am constantly shaking my head over people who claim to be "Catholic" and embrace Vatican II...yet by their comments, they have clearly never bothered to read what the documents actually said. Nor do they have any idea what it means to be Catholic.

Pope John Paul II dedicated his pontificate to Vatican II, so time and time again TOLD PEOPLE TO READ THE DOCUMENTS!!! And yet, here we are, with ignorance being spewed, and now the Old Mass being slandered right along with Vatican II. If these people understood how foolish they are for speaking such nonsense, they might never speak again. I know I used to feel that way once I took the time to ask my questions...and was confronted with reality. It's embarassing to be caught with one's foot deeply inserted into one's mouth.

What is causing this tirade? Thanks for asking. Check out this article, of which I will post excerpts of special interest.

But the Latin Mass has stirred controversy — partly because its Good Friday liturgy includes an explicit prayer for the conversion of Jews and refers to their "blindness" and "darkness."

Actually, my understanding is that this is complete fallacy. While the original text specifically prayed for the conversion of the Jews, the current translation which is to be used has removed this language. Can someone verify this for me, and those for whom it is a concern?

As far as my own opinion goes (it's my blog; I get to share my opinions, shrinking violet that I am), I am happy to admit I do pray for the conversion of the Jews to the fullness of the faith, for the Messiah has come, and He came for them, too, if they but had eyes to see. If we are Catholic, then we SHOULD be praying for the conversion of the Jews, for don't we want them to have what we have? Aren't we praying for the conversion of the Baptists, the Evangelicals, the Muslims, the Atheists, the Agnostics, the Buddhists, the Hindus, etc etc? If we are praying for all religions EXCEPT those who embrace Judaism, doesn't that make us anti-semite???

Give me a break! It's our CALL to pray for the conversion of all those NOT CATHOLIC! Ecumenism is not about watering down our faith and making it palatable to those who disagree; rather, ecumenism is about sharing our faith and praying that others embrace it and come into the fullness of the Catholic Church.

Which, brings us to the next quote:

The more conciliatory post-Vatican II language calls the Jews "the first to hear the word of God" and prays for them to "arrive at the fullness of redemption."

Um, that post-Vatican II language is another way of saying "conversion". Thank you for making my point. Or rather, the Church's point.

But Kathleen Kennedy, a Catholic from Swatara Twp., said the old language troubles her. "I think the problem is that Christianity has such a poor track record of interacting with Jews and Judaism," she said

Hi, Kathleen. Maybe that's partly true, but have you ever heard of a small, little-known Pope by the name of John Paul II? Or what about "Hitler's Pope" who was anything but, and actually saved THOUSANDS of Jews during the Holocaust? Please study history...apart from the popular media, that is, because they never get it right...even current affairs.

Some Catholics are dismayed by the direction of the pope, who recently not only encouraged wider celebration of the Latin Mass but asserted that Protestant and Orthodox churches are defective.

That's not what Pope Benedict XVI said. Rather, if these "Catholics" had bothered to actually READ what was said, the actual words of the Pope and not what the Washington Times or The Journal of American Idiocy, or whatever News Rag they like to read reported he said, they would realize that the Pope simply reasserted Catholic teaching. And in fact, the Pope stated the Truth; that the Catholic Church is the fullness of the faith, and other Christian religions, while they have a portion of the Truth, do not have ALL of it. We, as Catholics, members of the Church instituted by Christ, have what is called the fullness of the faith. Thus, this is the reason other Christian Churches are called "denominations." The prefix to the term "Denomination" indicates a subtraction. Thus, all other Christian faiths are missing part of the equation. The Catholic Church is NOT a "denomination". We have it all, and to state otherwise is a betrayal of Christ. Do we expect the Christian Denominations to agree with us? No. Nor did the Pope. His audience was not the world in that particular address, but rather, he was speaking to Catholics, his primary flock.

"I remember Vatican II with great joy, and I am so saddened that there seems to be a move by this pope to make it a thing of the past or even say it was misguided," said a eucharistic minister from Lemoyne, asking not to be identified for fear of offending people she serves.

OK, first of all, let's correct the term "Eucharistic Minister." The ONLY Eucharistic Ministers are men ordained as priests or deacons. (Holy Orders) Period. The proper term for the laity who assist in the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament during Mass, or to hospitals and the homebound is "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion", or "EHMC", or "Extraordinary Minister", for their ministry is extraordinary, not formal.

Now that that bit of catechesis is out of the way; His Holiness Benedict XVI IS reinforcing what Vatican II actually taught. He is not, contrary to popular ignorance, making it a "thing of the past." In fact, it's clear he is completely EMBRACING Vatican II and trying to help us all do the same.

In the document on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which is the Vatican II document most abused, slandered and libeled, it states very clearly:

ARTICLE 36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites

ARTICLE 54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and "the common prayer," but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

So we see, the Pope is not out of line to make the Old Mass more available; rather, he is trying to assert the formal teachings and recommendations of the Vatican II document on the Liturgy.

So, given this evidence, I must ascertain that the person who was quoted in this article who refused to be named might have actually feared that her ignorance might be found out. I find it far more offensive not that she is uncatechized, but that she is very representative of the majority of Catholics who really haven't the slightest idea what the Church teaches or why. I'm offended because, we, the laity, have been neglected, we have been mislead, and now when someone legitimately tries to teach us the truth, we spout off ignorance that reflects upon us and NOT those who are responsible for the bad catechesis.

Oh, yes, I am offended. After all, the following soul so exemplifies the misunderstanding of the role of the Church AS an anchor:

The church "should be a rudder and help us move forward into the centuries," said Lou Gehosky, 66, of New Cumberland. "But this is worse than an anchor."

In other words, the Church is doing what she should; keeping us from going with the currents. In movies, those who go with the current tend to go over big waterfalls or dams. And we know about waterfalls and dams; they drag bodies down, hold them under and drown them, and if they eventually release them, they are no longer live bodies, but corpses.

Thank you, Jesus, for instituting Holy Mother Church, for providing us the Water of Life, the Anchor (ROCK) of safety, and the Eternal Truth that keeps us from being damned by the fickle yet powerful currents of modern times. Amen.

To Mr. Gehosky; if you want to let go of the anchor, go ahead. But we'd all prefer you hold on a little longer, and read the inscription on the anchor you currently condemn. That anchor is there to save you. Ask any sailor caught in a storm.

The pope's recent decrees provide more evidence of how conservative the Catholic hierarchy has become, said Chester Gillis, professor of theology at Georgetown University.

Well, in all honesty, Georgetown University has no credibilty here. They aren't actually Catholic. And basically, what Mr. Gillis is saying is that, once again, the Pope has professed that he, and the Catholic Church, are Catholic. How Shocking!

Pope John Paul II's 27-year tenure left that legacy.

Praise God and thank you, John Paul the Great!

Another example emerged recently in Harrisburg, when indulgences, pledges of personal sacrifice and worship intended to reduce the time souls spend in purgatory, were offered for pilgrimages to St. Patrick Cathedral during this, its 100th anniversary year.

Indulgences, whose abuse helped spur the Reformation, are understood to reduce the time a believer spends in purgatory after death. Downplayed after Vatican II, they were revived in 2000.

Shortly after his decree on the Latin Mass, Pope Benedict asserted that though other Christians might find salvation, Catholics represent the one true "Church of Christ."

OK, this quote is actually a conglomeration of formal ignorance, lazy journalism, and pretty much is a transition designed to throw people off. It's a strawman, a red herring, and plays only to the ignorance of the masses, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Indulgences don't have anything to do with this article, and they have been completely misrepresented. They were, in fact, downplayed after Vatican II, but it had nothing to do with the abuses of bad Popes, but rather, with the complete spiritual acedia that actively quashed devotions in the THC-inspired air of the late 60's and early 70's.

And, in fact, the Catholic Church IS the "one Church of Christ". I wouldn't be Catholic if I didn't believe this. Nor would be the Pope.

People, listen to the Pope. Listen to John Paul II who TOLD you all to read the Documents of Vatican II. They're all readily available.

One of the things Vatican II recognized was a need for the active involvement of the laity in life in general. It is the job of the priest to preach the Gospel to us, to offer the Sacraments, and to "raise" us as children of God. The priest is called out of the world, so as to enable the children of the world to go out and spread the Good News of Christ. THAT is what is meant by "active participation". The Church is not the domain of the priest; but the priest is acting as our spiritual Father. He is our Shepherd. Vatican II defines this, and John Paul II continually taught that Man must be the way of the Church in the modern world, that all are called to holiness, all are called to this renewal. We, the laity, are in the world, here to serve the order to bring the world to Christ.

Read the documents. Really. You can find them all HERE.