Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing through the Holidays

The end of November already. How'd all you Nano-writers do? I didn't finish polishing my historical, but I'm halfway through, so it's progress.

These are all pictures Max took on our walk to the cemetery on the island. I like going there often with our dog, but in Nov. we make a special emphasis to go as a family to pray for the dead. It is beautiful and peaceful and I find myself singing: For the Beauty of this Earth.

A new liturgical year begins tomorrow, and I'm taking stock of how I spend my time, and making the necessary changes I need to stay productive. An observation: it makes writing through the holidays a lot easier :)  So if you're worried about the holidays derailing your writing, now's the time to create habits that help you to write with your family and festivities. Wishing all my brothers and sisters in Christ a most blessed Advent.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratias Agimus Tibi

Enjoy this bit from the Gloria in Bach's Mass in B-minor: Gratias Agimus Tibi (we give Thee thanks).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday because it lacks a commercial aspect. We focus on food, family, friends and all the blessings, too many to count. My husband cooks the turkey on the Big Green Egg and it always comes out moist and tender. We also have a tradition of pigging out with ABTs (atomic buffalo turds). These are bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, onions, garlic and pulled pork, roasted on the Egg. I'm afraid these will lead anybody to gluttony.
It's easy to be thankful for all the good things in life -- family, friends, food, comfort. Alas I am not thankful "in all circumstances." This past month has been especially trying -- not much relief from the migraines. I feel pathetic and desperate. A dear friend, whose own little girl is suffering from leukemia, sent me this quote from St. John Vianney:  "We complain when we suffer.  We have much more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing so likens us to Our Lord as the bearing of His Cross."

This immediately reminded me of a poem by Joyce Kilmer that I read on Faith's blog a year ago. And it made me smile. I hope the poem resonates as deeply with you as it does with me.
The roar of the world is in my ears.
Thank God for the roar of the world!
Thank God for the mighty tide of fears
Against me always hurled!
Thank God for the bitter and ceaseless strife,
And the sting of His chastening rod!
Thank God for the stress and the pain of life,
And Oh, thank God for God!

This picture was taken in St. Augustine, FL where the first *real* Thanksgiving took place Sept. 8, 1565. I can imagine the Spaniards and local Timucua tribe sharing a meal together after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered.
My dear readers, I am thankful for each and every one of you. May you have a blessed, bountiful and beautiful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Periodic Table in Song

I can impress kindergartners with my ability to sing the alphabet backwards, but I just found something that I really must master: The Periodic Table. Check it out!

Years ago, I bought a tape of biochemical cycles ... it's in a box somewhere, but I've never forgotten them. Tell me, have you ever memorized a bunch of difficult stuff to songs? Do share!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Missing You

I can imagine you singing all our favorite music and more in heaven. I pray for you still, but need your prayers ever more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Notes from a Conference I Missed

This past weekend, my daughter and I had girlie time, cooking, baking, playing the piano, and just hanging out while my husband and son went to a Marian Eucharistic Conference in Greeneville, SC. Max got to serve at both Masses and spend time with the Fathers and Deacon, all of whom were powerful speakers, on fire for the faith and in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish I could've gone too, because these guys did not jot any notes at all, after all the preaching I've done over the benefits of note-taking. Grrr. That is my only annoyance. Thankfully, over supper and during walks, I've gathered some of what they learned, and I'm sure more stuff is yet to come.

Max told me he met another Dwight, that is, Fr. Dwight Lewis. We were neophyte Catholics when Fr. Dwight was training at St. Jude in Redmond. He was so passionate and on fire with the love for the Lord, he fanned the flames in our own hearts. The other Dwight is Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers, who spoke of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. God becoming Man. Word made Flesh. It's a Mystery! Joy. It is infectious and exuberant. And this is why I cannot shut up about Jesus.

Oh, I wish our churches were full to the rafters because how can we not fall on our faces to thank Him? Alas, it comes from parents not teaching the faith, or living it themselves. I don't have the stats, but Fr. Bill Casey said it was shameful how ignorant Catholics are about their faith, how they know nothing about the Real Presence of Christ, how even the ones who are catechized leave without a second thought. So the stuff they learned never went into their hearts. The laws of God are written upon our hearts, not our heads. I don't have answers to remedy this terrible apathy, but I do believe we can accomplish great things through prayer.

Michael and I were atheists. But people (and saints!) were praying for us, and God found a way into our hearts. So, pray, pray, pray for your loved ones, your spouses, your children, your parents, your friends, your neighbors.

Both Michael and Max enjoyed the history lessons from Fr. Mitch Pacwa. He is also a Maronite priest. This means he knows how to celebrate the liturgy in Aramaic! How cool is that? For him, Latin must be modern! He's a polyglot; he has to be one to be a Biblical scholar.

I learned that the first denial of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist happened a thousand years after the Last Supper! This resulted in a formal definition of trans-substantiation. This mean that bread and wine, after consecration, *is* the Body and Blood of Christ. It looks like bread, tastes like bread, feels like bread, but the "breadness" (for lack of a better word) has been changed into the Body of Christ. Another mystery!

I love that Christ is with us, not just as spirit (like when two or three are gathered), but really and truly, in a way so that we can consume Him. Literally. We are what we eat.

Michael said that Fr. Pawca ended with a reflection on how it must have been for Mary to receive her Son, she, who carried Him in her womb, who gave her Son to us.

I am so thankful Michael and Max got to spend the weekend in deep devotion learning more about our Faith and Beauty. It is something they will carry with them a long time. Next time, they'll take notes.

Have you ever gone to a religious conference?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I was looking for some classics on Amazon this morning and decided on a lark to check my page. Several years ago, I discovered that some of my Perfection Learning books had been published in hardcover, but I was never told.

Imagine my delight to see INDIA, one of my Compass Media books as an e-book!!! I promptly purchased it for a couple of bucks!!! I hope Compass decides to make more of these books available to the public on Amazon. They are beautifully made.

I had so much fun writing this book and doing all the photo research. I still remember the first week I received the assignment. I couldn't write a single word. There was so much to absorb and to learn. How would I organize it? Once I wrote up the outline, everything flowed. I encapsulated 5,000 years of  Indian culture and history in this book. No small feat. My fifth grade teacher would be proud.

I have never excelled at history; it is only now that I find wonderful authors who make it a pleasure. I remember what torture it was to study dates and how many people died and so forth, statistics that did not matter. I always wanted to know the why of an event, what the person was like. This is probably why I adore good historical fiction because it delves more deeply into the human psyche.

Grab a chair and I'll pour you a sweet mango lassi!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween, Requiem Mass, and Books

My daughter carved this pumpkin ... and the surprised expression reminds me of our tuxedo kitten, Finney-boy, whom we still miss. It was a warm night and the kids had a great time collecting candy, ten pounds in all. Gone are the days when sugar was a controlled substance in our home.

We've also had the privilege of singing at two Requiem Masses this week, Gabriel Faure's grand Mass with strings and horns, and a simple Gregorian chant. So wonderful to offer our prayers for our beloved dead, and for those who are forgotten. We only need remember the words of our blessed Lord as He hung upon the cross: This day you shall be with me in paradise.

No Halloween post would be complete without our perfect Halloween cat, but my friends, the best Halloween post comes from Faith.

The days have been misty and cool. I've been on an Irish marathon for some reason. Rosemary started it. She had mentioned HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION by Thomas Cahill, which has been a wonderful read for me, reminding of another book: A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. When I picked up the first book at the library, the librarian recommended STALKING IRISH MADNESS by Patrick Tracey. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful memoir of Tracey's search for the roots of schizophrenia in his family. This book reminded me of Kersten Hamilton's GOBLIN WARS trilogy. Other books I've thoroughly enjoyed are Madeleine L'Engle's CIRCLE OF QUIET and Kate di Camillo's newest: FLORA AND ULYSSES. I almost wept tears because my children thought it was too silly. Is it possible that as they enter their teens, they are losing their capacity for the wonder and beauty of imagination? Sigh.