Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Conversation with Amy Alznauer

My dear Amy,

I’m so thrilled you accepted my invitation for an interview. It was such a God-wink when I won a copy of The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: a Tale of the Genius Ramanujan, beautifully illustrated by Daniel Miyares. When I looked at your background in mathematics and the story of your father coming upon Ramanujan’s box of papers, I just knew you were the perfect person to write his story. Was it difficult to write so simply about complex matters?

To me that is the joy of writing and talking about mathematics, to take some complex, abstract thing and find a way to make it not only clear but seductive, opening the reader or student to even deeper engagement. And I’ve found that mathematics, like so many other areas of human thought, thrives on metaphor. The hard part is choosing the right metaphor. When I was in high school I was reading Macbeth and the I Ching at the same time and was struck by certain superficial similarities, so I wrote a very silly paper titled The Yin and Yang of Macbeth. My English teacher made endless fun of me. If he’d been kinder he might have noticed that I was a budding, or at least aspiring, metaphor maker, but he did have a point. You can bring almost any two things into correspondence by way of metaphor but that doesn’t make the metaphor meaningful. So, the hard part for me in writing this story, or any story for that matter, was discovering the right metaphor. In this case, I needed a metaphor capable of speaking to both the life and the mathematics.

That's so interesting about having the right metaphor. I really loved how something small can have infinity inside. It's a paradox, like our Trinitarian God Himself. 

Your writing is so lyrical and perhaps it comes naturally to you being a mathematician (I know another mathematician, Marcia Hoehne, who writes literary MG and who noted in a book review of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. that “Studies have shown that boys fall into one of four categories -- they're good at math, writing, both, or neither. Girls, however, fall into three categories -- they're good at writing, both, or neither. What this means is that if a girl is good at math, she's good at language, too.” I found this to be true in my observations. How about you?

To me mathematics is all about language. It is a language. An equation is a sentence, and I always point that out to students, that they are reading extremely precise, rigorous language that largely follows grammatical rules. Mathematics is also tremendously creative. Mathematicians tend to dream in numbers and symbols. Sometimes geometric objects come to life in dreams. Working mathematicians describe their work as an adventure, as walking in a garden, climbing a mountain, making their way through a jungle. So, it doesn’t surprise me that skill with writing and mathematics would go together. But I don’t have much to say on this fascinating gender split! I need to hear more!

This just makes me want to sing—yes, mathematics *is* a language, as is music or poetry. Since we are discussing mathly observations, do you sing too? Play an instrument?

I come from a musical family so I feel like the dud in that regard. My father has been playing boogie-woogie piano by ear since he was four years old, my sister is an opera singer, and my brother improvises classical music on the piano and on a custom-made clavichord. But I do love to sing and I play a smattering of instruments poorly. I even have a harmonium that I use mostly for chords and droned single notes. It reminds me of the sad, full tones of a bagpipe.

I’ve not heard the harmonium in decades! My mother used to play it sometimes while singing devotional songs. And my sister and I loved to sing along to the radio or to our records (we still do). But I fell in love with piano when we moved to this country and took lessons for a couple of years. I don’t play as much as I’d like to but what a joy it is for me, even with plenty of wrong notes. I doubt you're a dud, Amy. We simply can’t be brilliant at everything. But what a wonderful background—I can only imagine your family get togethers. But I digress. Let's talk about what you're wonderful at--writing.

What’s your process? I love reading about how writers write. I’ve collected quite a few biographies and it’s like having a cup of tea with a good friend. And picture books have the added dimension of the art, which is so lovely.

I work in fits and starts which is my least favorite thing about myself as a writer. I don’t have one of those reliable, write-every-morning-with-coffee schedules, but I am convinced I could!

I can relate—I didn’t start writing until I was pregnant with Dagny so fits and starts is all I knew. Nap times were sacred. But once they started school, a good routine emerged.

Usually it goes like this. Something intrigues me. Usually it is a context or moment, maybe several connected moments, that seem replete with meaning. I can feel the possibility of metaphor within this context. This may seem strange and not quite at the heart of story, but for me a metaphor is often the thing that gives rise to story. A metaphor seeks to bring disparate things together, and that progression, of things moving into connection or communion, is story. It offers both action or quest and resolution. So, I get this initial spark and then do the intense work of research. Scenes, snippets of dialogues, character traits begin to attach themselves to the central idea. I work out a timeline, and all of it begins to sort itself out. By the time I begin to write, I have a strong sense of the arc of the story and the central metaphor. I know the shining bits I want to include, but the rest, the actual execution, is still dark. Then I labor over an opening. Sometimes this is a long process, other times it comes quickly. And then usually, I am off and running. I can write fairly consistently, on that nice, mornings-with-coffee schedule.

This is really beautiful. But how do you juggle so many responsibilities—teaching, writing, family life, and now homeschooling as well, I assume with the covid?

Life is always changing, one thing taking priority for a while out of necessity, everything shifting around, and then shifting back again or somewhere else. Lately I have been trying to embrace this chaos as part of the life my husband and I have chosen. I tell myself that my children are growing up in a house full of books and creation and philosophy and that what it lacks in order is hopefully made up for by spirit and love. 

In One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan they discuss how excellence happens at the extremes, and how one can learn to counterbalance. So go ahead and "choose what matters the most and give it all the time it demands." It sounds like you are juggling all your balls well.

You have not one but THREE picture book biographies coming out this year!!! Congratulations!!! How'd this happen? I notice that Candlewick is the publisher for both Ramanujan and the Flying Paintings: the Zhou Brothers story--and to have them illustrate their own story! Oh, please do tell how this came about? Did you visit their gallery to ask them yourself? I can't wait to read it.

To your first question. My three books went under contract over a five-year period, and by some strange, twist of fate ended up with pub dates all within the same four-month period. There is no explanation other than bad or good luck, depending on how you look at it.

Definitely good luck! And I see a fourth book as well to which you contributed an essay!

The Zhou story is another matter and quite interesting. I wrote the story first and then took it to the brothers, who immediately loved it. They were also thrilled with the idea of Candlewick publishing the book. After contracts were signed, sealed, and delivered (meaning we had ceded our rights to choose an illustrator), the brothers contacted me through their son, Michael, with concerns about who would illustrate their story. Michael and I poured over stacks of picture book biographies looking for a good style or feel for the book. But nothing seemed quite right. A week later, out of the blue, Michael sent me two gorgeous paintings the brothers had done for the book. I still remember sitting on my kitchen stool, staring at these paintings on my phone and realizing that the Zhou brothers themselves wanted to illustrate the book! Nothing could have been more wonderful or terrifying. Would Candlewick ever decide to bring on two world-class, modern artists as illustrators? But on the other hand, would the Zhou brothers agree to go forward with the book if they were not chosen? So, I made a grand pitch to Candlewick and held my breath. Well Candlewick went for it, and not only went for it but were overjoyed. And so here we are.

That’s so wonderful! Perfect, in fact. 

Of course, I loved The Strange Birds of Flannery. You did an amazing job capturing her childhood and worldview. She's not an easy person to read or write about. But you wrote beautifully. And what's this I hear about a movie? Please do tell.

Thank you so much, Vijaya! And yes, there is a film, which I have actually seen. It’s a gorgeous, intimate look at O’Connor’s entire life, full of great music and fascinating commentary from celebrities, friends, scholars, and writers like Alice Walker, who were O’Connor’s contemporaries. Often documentaries about writers focus only on the life and not on the work, but here the directors alternate between biographical segments, commentary, and beautifully animated sequences from her fiction. You come away from the film feeling like you’ve walked by Flannery’s side and seen the world a little like she might have, through her illness, her faith, her obsessions, through the minds of others who loved her, and most importantly through the world she created in her fiction.

But I’d like to add that the release of the film, and my book release, were somewhat dampened or at least altered by a piece recently published in the New Yorker by Paul Elie, sensationally titled, “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?” His central claim is that (until now!) no one has taken O’Connor and race seriously. This, however, this is egregiously false. I was actually so appalled by this claim that I wrote a response here, detailing many of the women and Black scholars Elie ignores. Jessica Hooten Wilson and James Foss have both written beautifully about Elie’s bizarre and problematic interpretations of O’Connor’s fiction."

Well said, Amy. I'm so sick of people wanting to rewrite history, painting everyone with a broad brush, labelling and dismissing. What I see in Flannery's letters is a woman who has grown. I'm sure she's a saint in heaven.

How do you choose your subjects, Amy? Or do they choose you, won’t let you go? Do you ever worry that you won’t be able to do them justice? Obviously, I struggle with this myself…

I would say it is more that they choose me. An idea (usually the spark of metaphor, that rich context) arises through my own reading and then if these ideas are going to lead to a book they relentlessly percolate or fester away (depending on my mood) until I can no longer ignore the project. And of course, in the case of biography, I always worry that I won’t be able to do my subjects justice! It’s not that I think a picture book biography has to be comprehensive, but it does have to convey the core spirit of the life or lives, and that is challenge enough. It has to be true to the person who really lived and that is a great task and responsibility. So, I definitely approach my subjects with fear and trembling.

This is such good advice. I have tried to write about our Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist and after two sentences or even ten, stricken with paralysis. But I must continue like you say, with “fear and trembling.” I think I know what’s missing in the lives of the saints I want to tackle—the central image, the metaphor.

We could discuss craft all day long but I want to move on to business, because publishing is a business. Did you know from the beginning that you needed to have an agent? And how did you go about it?

I’ve always known that pitching editors and agents would be my least favorite part of the business (but isn’t hocking one’s wares everyone’s nemesis?). So I thought paying someone to do this for me would be more than worth the expense. Two key things happened that helped me find an agent. First, I joined SCBWI. This organization opens doors for so many book creators. And second, at my very first conference, the SCBWI-IL Prairie Writers and Illustrators Day, I heard about a new local contest: the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship. I entered and amazingly I won. Working with my mentor, writing coach extraordinaire Esther Hershenhorn, I rewrote my story The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity and found my agent, Rosemary Stimola. I consider all of this to be largely a matter of luck. But again, SCBWI offers so many opportunities for awards and access to agents and editors, that lucky things seem to happen all the time. Every day I hear about another person finding their way to publication through the doors SCBWI has opened, the lucky breaks they make a little more likely to happen.

Yes, I love what SCBWI offers and I love reading the stories behind the story. I’ve been part of the Western WA chapter and now the Carolinas and must give a shoutout to Verla Kay’s Blueboard (children’s literature message board) which merged with SCBWI. I’ve been a moderator off and on for over a decade there.

 Your very first book, though—Love and Salt—is a memoir of your conversion. I loved the epistolary nature of the book because I’ve been a letter-writer my whole life and there’s a bit of a guilty pleasure in reading other people’s letters. Did you ever read Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock? Pure fiction, with a mystery at the center of it, but oh so delicious—you can say it’s a picture book for grown-ups!

It has been years since I’ve read Griffin and Sabine, but the story and even more the book itself is beautiful. Like you, I’ve always written letters. I even have boxes full of letters from my high school friends, correspondences that we kept even though we saw each other every day. And letters have always been precious to me and almost sacramental, these physical objects that seem to contain another person's spirit. That is why working in library archives has always been transformative. You hold in your hands the drawings, the letters, the stories that another person once touched and created with their minds and hands and hearts. It’s breathtakingly intimate.

Yes! I wish now that I were as good a keeper of letters as my sister. When I’ve visited her, she’s shared old letters our mother wrote. I believe my mother is a saint in heaven too, so I love being able to touch the things she touched when she was alive. Of course, I have some of her clothes and jewelry and I treasure them, wear them.

Love and Salt is such an intimate look between two friends making their journey towards the Lord. I loved it so much. It’s strange, but I think some of us cannot think straight without writing. I thought about the many letters I’ve written and received when I was going through my own conversion or walking alongside my sister when she made hers, and it’s through words that we gained more clarity.  I’m so grateful for this purely unselfish gift you and Jess made. Each book has a piece of us in it, but these letters! They allow me, a stranger, into your heart. How is it that you were able to do this? Did either one of you have any reservations of making public such private aspects?

Thank you for saying this. Yes, it was a very difficult decision to publish our letters. The project actually began in part because we were trying to get away from the competitive, publication-oriented culture of our MFA program. We wanted our writing to matter not because it was accepted by a publishing house, but because the act of writing itself was meaningful. And yet, writing in a journal, purely for oneself, can be terribly unsatisfying. The desire to create necessarily involves an audience. So, writing letters was a perfect solution. As Vivian Gornick puts it, to write a letter you must sit alone in silence “in the conjured presence of another person.” It’s very much like prayer. You pour your heart out in solitude, but always you’re aware that your correspondent awaits, invisible, on the other end.

I love this so much. It expresses the letter and the prayer perfectly.

So, we never intended for our letters to become a book. We loved them precisely because they were ours and ours alone. They seemed to contain our friendship and even our prayer life. But, at some point, after the tragedy we lived through together, we wanted to see our letters together. We wanted to be able to read them in their entirety. But after we achieved this, photocopying all the hand-written ones (which were most of them) and collating them, we realized that they told a story. And stories have a way of wanting to be read. We started to see our letters as a book. But even then, even after spending a year transcribing and editing down our thousand pages to a book-length manuscript, we couldn’t bear to part with them. We shelved the project for over two years. But then one day, almost on a whim, my co-author Jessica Mesman wrote a letter to Loyola Press, and they very quickly responded with an offer. I still remember her calling me breathless with this news, and us just sitting there in shocked silence on the phone not sure what to do. But again, stories seem to reach out for readers, and eventually we were able to let go.

I will always be grateful that Jess took that step. One of the most interesting aspects in Love and Salt were the letters that were never sent. How in the world did you manage to keep so organized that you actually had those scraps of paper?   

It wasn’t about organization (I am not organized!) but about habit. For both of us, our letters had become a way to keep time from slipping beyond memory. They were our memory keepers. So, when I lost my child, Jess kept writing when she knew I couldn’t. When I was in the hospital she chronicled my time for me, writing down the little moments of pain and joy (and oddly there was joy) and revelation, the little details I told her over the phone. She kept vigil through letters. After I was home from the hospital, and my child forever gone from my arms, again I feared more than anything else having time or memory fall away. So I, too, kept writing. And since my daily habit was writing to her, my notes took that form. We never told each other about these letters, I guess fearing that they would only bring more sorrow, until we started thinking about our letters as a book. We were sitting at my kitchen table and the conversation went like this.

“Our story can’t be a book, because the turning point is empty. We wrote nothing then,” I said. “And I refuse to invent something about that time.”

“I never told you this,” she said. “But I kept writing to you.”

I stared at her, stunned. “I kept writing, too,” I said.

Later that day we sat together reading these unsent letters and crying. It was painful, but we were grateful beyond words. Our time, our hearts from that time, were held, preserved by those letters.

I have tears. The power of habit! I just want to sit in silence and reverence at how writing saves us.

This photo taken by Amy

What’s next for you on the horizon?

There are so many projects that have grown out of these books, articles, art exhibits, reading and activity guides, even possibly some small films (trailers, a short art film, etcetera), so I have my hands full. But I have a few new ideas percolating (sometimes festering!) away, so I hope by this fall I can begin a new picture book and possibly a novel!

That’s so exciting! God bless you, Amy, and all the works of your hands. Thank you so much for taking the time for this conversation. It’s been so very illuminating. May metaphors and good habits be sown in each and every reader. 

Ramanujan—may he forever contemplate the infinite beauty of God. I am so grateful to him, for many reasons, but chiefly because he brought us together.. This joy can only be surpassed by a visit. And when you do, we’ll make a pilgrimage down to Savannah and Flannery’s childhood home—perhaps we can arrange a book reading!

Vijaya, I have been so very happy to get to know you, too – to share math, faith, and children’s books is rare thing. And I know someday that trip, or another, will happen! It must

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Feast of St. Martha
Wednesdays are a treat for me because Fr. Mitch Pacwa celebrates Mass on EWTN and he always increases my understanding of both history and Sacred Scripture. I always remember the beautiful Lenten retreat he offered on Isaiah 53. Don't ever miss the chance to learn from him. Today is the feast of St. Martha, the busy and efficient hostess who was reprimanded by Jesus because she wanted her sister, Mary to help. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 41The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-41). Today we see Martha grow in faith. Here's the Gospel:

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Fr. Mitch begins with the fact that God loves us, not to be confused with affection, which is a normal human response. Even the animals have affection. But love comes from God. God *is* Love. It is so great and infinite that He gives His only Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish (John 3:16). Jesus loves the Father and each of us so infinitely that He goes to the Cross willingly to save us. And this is why we are able to love another. It's about offering ourselves to God and accepting Him. It's about offering ourselves to our neighbor and accepting them.

Jesus loves Martha and Mary and Lazarus. They are His friends and they love Him too. Underpinning this love is faith. And you can see how Jesus draws Martha closer in this exchange and deepens her faith. She believes Lazarus wouldn't have died if He'd been present. She believes in the resurrection (the Pharisees and Essenes do, but not the Sadducees). And when Jesus tells her HE *is* the Resurrection she professes her faith. She believes Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. The wording is very similar to Peter's confession of faith (Mt 16:15-16):

15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16* j Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 15

So if we've received the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, and if we nurture them, we continue to grow in them. But once we reach heaven, faith and hope disappear--we don't need faith because we will see God and we don't need hope because we're in heaven. Only love remains! But oh, this is just an inadequate summary. If you have a chance, listen to his homily (~12 min). 

It was this feast day that we got to attend at EWTN six years ago on our way to see my brother. How the time has flown. And how much our Lord has brought me closer to Himself. My prayer is that all who read this will be brought closer to Him too. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Congaree National Park

I love living in SC. We mostly go to the beach since we're so close to the ocean but once in a while we like venturing into the forests. Congaree is only a couple of hours away so when Dagny had a day off we went for a hike. I've not done anything strenuous for a long time and boy were my feet sore! But it was a lovely change of scenery for all of us. It's so wonderful being out in God's creation--so many marvelous things to see, sounds to hear, and the imagination to run free. What stories these trees could tell.

It's an old growth forest with some of the trees over a hundred years old. The tall cypress trees produce "knees" from the roots, probably to stabilize it given it's a floodplain. I loved listening to the hum of insects, the bird calls, the woodpecker hammering away. My favorite was listening to two baby raccoons chirp as they scuttled away from us. Soooo cute. The old growth forest is beautiful but also very buggy. I was covered from head to foot and still where my clothes stuck to me, I got dozens and dozens of mosquito bites. I look like I have the pox. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Magdalen and Me

Resurrection by Fra Angelico 1440
Yesterday was the Feast of Mary Magdalen, the Apostle to the Apostles because it was she who announced the good news to them. I love her so much and identify with her because like the Magdalen, I'm a sinner who's contrite. She is the woman whom Jesus heals of seven demons (seven deadly sins), who washes the feet of Christ with her tears and then dries them with her hair when He is dining with the Pharisees. They are surprised he'd let a woman of such ill-repute touch Him. But our Lord tells them that she has loved much. Is she the same Mary (of Bethany) who sits at Jesus's feet to listen, who breaks open a jar of costly nard to anoint our blessed Lord? I don't know. We know Jesus tells Judas the traitor to leave her alone, to let her prepare His body for burial. We do know she's the same Mary who accompanies our Lord to the Cross, and who is the first to see the risen Christ because she goes to the tomb early Sunday, while it was still dark, to anoint His Body. She's expecting to anoint a corpse, instead she sees two angels at the tomb. I love this painting by Fra Angelico because it tells the story so beautifully.   

St. John evokes the Song of Songs, which are love songs and can be very erotic but I've come to the conclusion that marital love is the perfect metaphor because there is no other equivalent to express how passionately God loves us. Think of the four stages: betrothal, wedding, consummation, birth. In the Magdalen, the conversion is complete.

I've been pondering this love for a long time, how He loved me from the beginning, how He loved me while I was still mired in sin, how He extended His Hand to me, drew me close even though I was filthy, and washed me tenderly. And no matter how often I fall, He picks me up, washes the dirt and grime off me and makes me pure again, the way I was meant to be. His love is constant, always seeking, and never satisfied until I am with Him and He in me.

Well, we finally got some time at the beach. So peaceful and beautiful, the water as warm as a bath! Deo gratias!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Obstacles, obstacles, obstacles

No beach time even though it's hot and humid. Dealing with a sick kitty--she's better now but for a while I worried she might get dehydrated and wasn't looking forward to a big vet bill. But she turned a corner with prayers to St. Francis. What joy to hear her lapping up the tuna water! I still don't know what she ingested that made her so sick, but I'm thankful to have my sweet Jules back, meowing for more tuna. Benny missed her too--he wandered about aimlessly until she got better. I felt aimless in my writing too.

Then Max sliced his finger at Dashi while making basil butter. I took him to ER to get stitched up (I didn't know you could stitch through a nail). Max was brave, but I could tell how much it hurt to get the anesthetic. Reminded me of the time Michael had a similar injury whacking a bush...and how I had to take him to ER with three little kids in tow. The anesthetic didn't take and instead of having to go through the pain again, Michael got sewn up without it. 

I couldn't get the car started after, but I kept trying and it finally roared to life. So Michael and I made plans to go to the beach the next evening--it'd be perfect after a long, hard week of work. But, no luck. There is something seriously wrong with the ignition system. So today Michael's taking it apart, trying to fix it. Prayed to St. Eligius for his intercession. Thank God for saints and handy men. I'm making good progress on my Crown of Sanctity book (it's a tome at 500+ pages but free for the kindle, folks). Ironic how much I want to oppose the Divine Will at this moment. Pray for me.  

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

I find it fascinating that the original devotees at Carmel were actually disciples of the prophets Elijah and Elisha who honored the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah. Once God entered time through Mary and redeemed mankind on the Cross, they became Christians. Here are the beautiful meditations from Dom Prosper for today's Feast Day. On this day in 1251 AD, she appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the brown scapular, which so many of us wear to remind us of our own devotion to the mother of our Lord. She is the Queen Mother and we can appeal to her for all our needs. She fights continually on our behalf to bring us to Jesus. 

She brings us Christ and we return to Him through her. St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us how. "God has willed that we should have nothing that did not pass through the hands of Mary." Wow! All the graces we receive from God are through her. She sings the Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..." I am convinced that the world will be reconciled through her to Christ, especially once I began to read some of the literature associated with her appearance to the three little children at Fatima. She appeared to them and told them to pray and fast for poor sinners.  

I have been so saddened to learn about the destruction of Christian churches and statues over the past couple of weeks in the US. I know Christians are persecuted elsewhere but I didn't expect this vandalism here. But this weekend, I was most sad to learn that the Hagia Sophia, one of the oldest churches ever built dedicated to the Wisdom of God, is going to be turned into a mosque. At least the sacred art was protected as a museum. Do take a look before it's destroyed. I'm afraid many of the churches in Europe are already museums. We must return to our Judeo-Christian roots before we lose our great heritage. 

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Summer Fun

I've been serious lately but I wanted to share with you some summer fun. The kids were  taking care of our neighbor's pets and here's an unusual one--a flying squirrel. Thankfully, they didn't lose the little fellow. They've been out with their friends and Max even got to visit with his girl. We had enjoyed her company so much when she stayed with us before Easter break, when their schoolwork went online. I loved having another daughter.

Friends of ours were giving away many books so Max carted home three boxes--mostly classics and history. Why, yes, I see some home organizing and tidying up in my very near future while the kids are still home to help :) And Dagny brought home this beautiful wedding dress. I can already picture her... and oh how we already pray for their future spouses. Sunrise, Sunset. How's your summer?