February 2006 Archives

(Part 2 here)
(Part 1 here)
We lived in Los Angeles while I was in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. I loved being at Holy Nativity school. I wasn't always a good student - I was inclined only to do the work I wanted! But I was then, as now, a voracious reader. It was while I was there that I learned to read music, taught myself to play the piano, learned to hear and sing harmonies to just about every hymn. (When you're a natural alto in a soprano world, you learn to adapt). I remember moments of grace. Meandering home after school, singing softly to myself in syllables of no particular meaning, feeling just so close to God and knowing that my guardian angel was nearby.
On March 1, 1964, I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church and allowed to receive their communion. I know the date because I still have the prayer book/hymnal that my mother gave me for the occasion - with the signature of Anglican Bishop Bloy. I was nine years old. My Russian/Hungarian Orthodox godmother, Vera, had hand sewed my dress. It had a taffeta slip and was made of white organdy, with pearl buttons. I loved that dress and wanted to wear it all the time and to keep it forever. I pictured my daughters also wearing it.
While we were living in Los Angeles, the family continued to grow. When we left England, there were three children. Within a few years, there were five of us kids. It wasn't always easy, it wasn't always fun, but family is family and each of them was/is a gift from God.

The summer between the 5th and the 6th grade, everything changed. My dad was assigned to go to France. My parents sold the house in Los Angeles, packed up all our belongings, shipped our station wagon to Europe, and gathered up the five children and got on an airplane and went. They took a little vacation time so that we could visit England, and by August we were in the house that was to be ours for the next year.
Our family was too large to be comfortably housed on the Air Force base, so we were in a huge old house in a little French village by the name of Prémôntre. We were the only Americans in the village. The town was notable for an old abbey (founded by St. Norbert) and a tuberculosis sanitorium. It was so small that it didn't even have a bakery (which in the France of that time, was pretty remarkable!)It was a 30 minute car drive to the American base, an hour and a half by bus to get to the base school. My French was not good enough to go to the village school.
We had an au pair who lived with us. Her name was Monique - her sister Francoise lived with another family in the village. She taught my mom how to make crepes, and I remember sitting in the kitchen on Shrove Tuesday making and eating crepes, and being sent out to the local store to buy more sparkling wine and fizzy lemonade to go with the crepes. Monique taught me to eat morels, to always put a sprig of rosemary in the roasting pan before cooking a roast, and to cross myself when an ambulance went by.
It was a major change in more than one way. That was the year that my parents stopped going to church. Everywhere else that we lived, my parents had been able to find an Episcopalian or Anglican church to go to. But in France, our choices were the generic Protestant service on base, or Catholic Mass either in the village or on base. I only remember going to church with my mom twice in one year. Once for the generic protestant service which I found confusing – no bible readings, no chanting, and an hour long sermon – once for a traveling Anglican chaplain. I tried to go to Mass in the village, because I’d been told that our Anglican communion service was basically the Mass translated into English, but this was 1965 – and the Mass was in Latin and basically whispered. I tried, and with help I probably would have become more comfortable, but the dual language barrier (French and Latin) made it too hard. I gave up on going to church.
One day I wanted to dress up and I asked my mom where my confirmation/first communion dress was. She told me that she had given it away to a little French girl for her First Communion. I was simultaneously miffed and happy - miffed that I hadn't been consulted, happy that at least some other person would have the joy of the beauty of that outfit. It also reinforced in my mind just how much a child is at the mercy of the parents, in big things and in small. I hoped that I would be able to be more considerate of my children's feelings, if and when.

Living in France taught me things that living in England hadn't. I learned that people everywhere have so much in common, but that their cultures can be very different. It knocked me out of the casual self-important isolationism that is so much a part of being a child, and to some degree of being a North American. I also learned lesson one about being ultimately home less. I was not at home in France, not in the village, not with the kids on the base (who ridiculed me for liking the French people and for trying to learn French). I had no real friends - just people who tolerated me because there wasn't any real alternative. I learned a lot about transience the year we lived there. I did some really stupid things because I did not understand how to play the games to fit in. The social conventions were so very different and I just didn't get it. I was alone, lonely, and I turned often to the books that were all around me. I can laugh about it now, but how many ten year olds read Dostoevsky and Chekhov?

Pancake Tuesday

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A book I read as a child was about France just after WW2 was over. It concerned a French child who wanted to be able to follow her family tradition of pancakes the night before Ash Wednesday. I remember in England cooking pancakes over the wood stove of the school I attended. The recipe below is from my mom - I think that she got it from Monique but I could be wrong!
Crepe Batter
Make in blender. (easier than beating by hand!)

1 ¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
2 TBS sugar (optional)
¼ cup booze (brandy, rum, bourbon)
2 tsp lemon rind (grated) or extract
6 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
2 – 3 cups milk

put in blender in order listed. – use 2 cups milk at start. Blend until smooth, add in extra milk as needed to get to consistency of thin cream. Let rest one hour or more in fridge.

When ready to cook, have some melted butter in a dish with a heatproof pastry brush, to brush the pan between each crepe.

I use my cast iron griddle (10" round) to make crepes. My daughter uses an omelette pan. They both work just fine.

Heat the pan (cold water flicked on it should dance), and brush with butter. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter on the heated surface, and swirl pan so that batter covers it in a very thin layer. As soon as the edges start to get dry, turn the crepe over in the pan and just barely cook the second side. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. You can keep the crepes warm in a stack with a damp towel over the top. You can let them get cold and heat them just as you use them. You may need to post a guard to keep your family from grabbing them to eat as fast as you can cook them.
Traditionally these are served with lemon juice and sugar for Shrove Tuesday - or you can roll them with jam, or fill them with just about anything. I don't recommend syrup, though, because it is rather overwhelming.
Tomorrow night's dinner! a good last meal before the Ash Wednesday Fast.

help me out here

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Go here and here and follow the directions. Thanks to UKOK for the links.

-A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
-A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
-A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.
-A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
-A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
-A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
-A shark is the only fish that can blink with both -eyes.
-A snail can sleep for three years.
-Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
-All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.
-Almonds are a member of the peach family.
-An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
-Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
-Butterflies taste with their feet.
-Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.
-"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
-February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
-In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
-If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
-If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.
-It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
-Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
-Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
-Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
-Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
-"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.
-The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
-The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
-The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
-The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.
-The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
-The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).
-There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
-There are more chickens than people in the world. (or there were before the bird flu and the West Nile virus!)
-There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous
-There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."
-There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.
-Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
-TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
-Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
-Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
-Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself (Yech!).

I love Bishop Vasa!


02/17/2006: Christ is reassuring and humble, as well as powerful, mighty

The primacy of conscience only applies to a properly formed conscience. Dr. John Rock (one of the inventors of the birth control pill) maintained to his death that his personal conscience trumped the clear teaching of the church - and stated that he was taught this by the priest who was the hero of his youth. So very sad........

Vatican investigates liturgical abuse


new blog!

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more prayer requests

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A friend sent me this email:

Yesterday, Lilly Meehan, a good friend, terrific lady and childbirth educator in Ventura CA for many years was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I am asking that you would say a prayer for her strength and her healing as she begins to embark on surgery/treatment. All of this comes in the middle of her trying to plan her daughters wedding and care for her other daughter who has been chronically sick for the last 4-5 years. If you can email her an encouraging word or if you know someone who has had thyroid cancer and can give her information, please email her at:Mykdzmom2@aol.com

I first 'met' Lilly through a couple of email lists - one for childbirth education, the other for PCOS support. On a trip to CA a few years ago I was priviliged to meet her and her daughter for a wonderful few hours. So this news was more than a little distressing. I sent her an email asking permission to post her story and prayer request on the blog. Here is her reply:

Please do post to the blog, I don't mind if it uses my name. I also need any and all prayer warriors doing their thing, the more the merrier! Keep in mind my daughter is getting married in August, she lives in Texas now, the wedding will be here in Ventura, so I am the mother of the bride with a bride not even in town to help out. As if there was not enough going on.............
Lilly Meehan
Childbirth Education
~~Helping families prepare for birth since 1987~~

late night update

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from my sister

Just got off the phone with Dad. He sounds much better than before the surgery, in spite of getting his dinner screwed up – they sent him a hamburger, potato and a cookie. It was in the process of being fixed when I got off the phone, but his blood sugar was very high (330) and they were fixing that too.
One good thing came out of the surgery, his kidney function actually went up. I guess it’s because he has less toxins in his blood to filter since so much infected tissue has been removed, but the Dr’s weren’t speculating. Dad said they seemed surprised which bothered him. He’s also out of isolation. He must be much better because his new roommate is a heart transplant patient. Dad said he’s a very interesting case. We couldn’t talk much about it because the man was there.
Dad expressed his pleasure at hearing from various family members although he couldn’t remember when anyone had called (the first thing that goes in the hospital is your sense of time).

i really need to get my act together


and take it to the blog.
I have 5 different posts in various stages of development sitting in my drafts folder.
Eventually I will have to finish them.
But first I need to finish other more important stuff.
Like the game of scrabble on my Palm, or alphabetizing my spice cabinet, or putting together a handout for the next Confirmation session. Or catching up on my sleep.
Last I heard, my dad is stable. No news is good news for now.

moments of grace

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We've had a fairly low-key celebration of 32 years of wedded life today. Met up at noon to go to daily Mass at St John the Evangelist parish, talked afterwards with the DRE about the last confirmation session (yes, I have more to say on that topic too - later, later). Then this evening we went to dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant followed by some time at the local adoration chapel before coming home.
While we were in adoration, a young couple came in with a toddler - I would guess maybe 18 months to 2 years old. The child came in the door and in typical age behaviour was not interested in being quiet. But the words from her mouth on walking through the door "Baby Jesus! Baby Jesus!" were so beautiful and precious that I just had to smile. The parents and child stayed for maybe 5 minutes, and mom was helping the child to sit or kneel. It was so wonderful to have a glimpse into the life of a couple who is earnestly trying to raise a child up in the way she should go.
As they walked out of the chapel, I reached into my pocket and gave her a hand knotted rosary. I felt that such good behaviour should be rewarded in some way and that is what I had with me. I'm glad that I always carry an extra rosary with me for just such occasions!

from my brother

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Re: Dad surgery
Date: Feb 21, 2006 10:55 PM
Just talked to dad he's out of surgery and in a new room.
He's doing well says he didn't feel a thing. but did manage to get a peek while the doctor was teaching a student. No more is his right big toe and his left middle. The wound on his heel remains. (another issue and doctor). Heart is doing fine. kidney stable at 30% function.

short update


got an email about 3 hours ago that they were getting ready to take my dad into surgery. the plan was to use a regional block with a little conscious sedation. our family all have had issues with anesthesia - hits us quick and hard. so avoiding general is a good idea. Haven't heard anything since. any bad news would be via phone tree, so I'm assuming that things haven't had more than the usual amounts of hassle.
Time zone issues make it hard sometimes. I'm getting ready to go to sleep, as I have to get up way too early tomorrow for work.

the mutilation of hymns

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Quis custodiet ipses custodies


Kobayashi Maru: Morning Quick Picks Friday mentioned a story that I heard about from one of the nurses at work yesterday. I had a hard time believing it was true. But apparantly it is. The US government has decided to outsource port security to a company from the United Arab Emirate.

I don't know why, but the first thing I thought of upon reading this was of all the scrap metal that we sold to Japan at low prices in the 1930s.

Get the language right!

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NPR is getting on my nerve more and more, but today I finally got off the dime and sent them an email about a news item -this one.
Here's the letter - not that I expect them to pay it any attention.
Your item on stem cell research included a glaring oversight that is exemplary of the general reporting bias on this controversial topic. You consistently omitted the adjective "embryonic" in the discussion.
The pro-life movement is NOT opposed to all forms of stem cell research. The movement supports stem cell research using cells derived from placentas, umbilical cord blood, adult tissues of various kinds including fat cells and bone marrow - but not research that requires the destruction of a human embryo.
The idea that embryonic stem cells represent a panacea is wide spread and extremely deceptive. The medical breakthroughs to date using stem cells have all been from the non-embryonic kind.
As a 30 plus year NPR supporter and a pro-life medical professional (I'm a certified nurse-midwife) I highly resent the implication that opposing embryo destructive research is somehow a form of medical Luddite-ism. Please, when you tackle such a nuanced topic, use the nuances and the proper language.

culture wars etc

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I was listening to a piece this morning on NPR about Poland's attempts to influence the European Union towards a more Christian worldview. It reminded me of something I had heard yesterday on EWTN, I think on the rerun of Fr. Groeschel live - defining the term Culture War and giving the etymology of the term. Then I found a link to Enchiridion Militis over at Apologia. It all fits together, somehow.

Life, the Universe, and all

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It's been a busy last ten days. Not quite sure where to start. I had a long post already to put up, and hit the wrong button and whoops, it's gone. Kind of emblematic of things lately.
That sense of forboding is still haunting me. Even with all the stuff happening, I am getting the sense that there is still more to come. I know that God won't send more than we can handle (with His help), but somedays I wish He didn't have quite such a high opinion of me!
Weather has been just plain weird. We've also been dealing with car issues. February looked to be a light month for births, only 8 due dates in the midwife practice, but I attended 2 on Wednesday (within 2 hours of each other, too!) and one yesterday that was just plain a long and tiring labor for all involved. The weather related power outages have meant that our phone keeps ringing at home, at all hours, as the remote alarms from various sites call my husband the engineer. So we're all a little sleep deprived and more than a little grumpy. It's at times like this that I realize that the marriage of engineer and midwife is a little more stressful than most. BTW - our 32nd wedding anniversary is coming up next Thursday. Pix from our 30th anniversary party here. Wedding picture here. No plans that I know of for celebration - our funds have been rather diminished by a couple of the other items from the last 10 day. Car stuff.
Almost exactly 2 years ago John's Bronco was decommisioned. It's been sitting in our driveway since. The body is in great shape, the interior is less so. Since it came out from the West coast, it didn't have the body rotting salt exposure that kills cars in New England and other snow zones. Last year, after youngest daughter got her driver's license, we briefly discussed resurrecting it for her use vs getting her a newer used car, when she took matters out of our hands and purchased a beat up but running car from a friend. Our mechanic (and fellow parishioner) told us that the rust level on that car was such that investing in major repairs was probably not wise, but that for as long as it kept running the car would be safe and reasonable as a basic transportation.
A while back, the car started to go through coolant at a pretty fair clip - and on the way to the mechanic it became obvious that the engine was blown. Scratch one car. Daughter has been in mine and I've been in a rental, while the Bronco is getting resurrected. Hopefully this set of repairs will keep it going for at least the next few months. She's now driving a car that is older than she is. Now that she's had a year driving experience in a car with standard transmission I am a little less uneasy about her in the Bronco - it's not the best car for a novice driver but she's not a novice anymore. The low gas mileage will be tough for her to deal with, though.
Back to the weather. We got the fringes of the snowstorm that buried NYC last weekend. It buried the car that we'd decided to junk, in the parking lot where it had been left with a windshield note. Local police did call to tell us that it needed to get removed, which has been done. The snowstorm caused cancellation of the confirmation class - so we'll be tackling that topic today. It's the chastity talk, with teaching on Catholic Christian sexual ethics. I offered to speak, but the DRE wanted to bring in outsiders for the big group. My turn to speak will be next class - when I get to speak on the Church. (Why be Catholic when there are so many other choices?). Part testimony, part didactic teaching, part get them to think.
Friday we had those windstorms. Power outages. And when I was getting ready to sit down and catch up the blog, we lost our cable/telephone/internet connection. It's been real.
Thanks for all the prayers. Time to get off this keyboard and head to Mass.

dad update

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latest email from my sister:

he is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to remove 2 toes, the big toe on his right foot and the 3rd toe on his left. There is still a chance he could loose the right leg below the knee if they can’t get the infection on his heel under control. Right now he is in isolation because the infection in his heel is MRSA (methacillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). That means all visitors and staff entering his room must wear protective gear (gowns, gloves, shoe covers and masks). He said he expects to be in the hospital for another few weeks.

MRSA is nasty, and the prevalence is increasing. I've seen two cases of community acquired MRSA cellulitis in the last year - both in pregnant moms. One managed to clear it before her due date, the other is still in treatment/monitoring phase.
The fact that my dad is immune suppressed due to his kidney transplant isn't making things easier, either. Thanks for all the prayers. please keep praying!

blogs from TOTB buddies


What he said


I'm a day late (and a dollar short, too!)


But here is this week's Spanning the Globe
I notice more than one reference to that wonderful and mystical prayer, the rosary.
Actually, while you're over reading TSO, scroll up to his post on Evangelicals and others praying the rosary.

St. Peregrine, pray for him

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Just got off the line with my daughter. She is asking for prayers for the father of one of her friends.
diagnosed with prostate cancer.
PSA 8, Gleeson (spelling?) 8
name is Carl
in Florida.
59 year old.
the numbers indicate a really agressive form.
he's a chem engineer who spent his life working around possible carcinogens.

I told her I'd call out the troops.
Am asking for help from St. Peregrine and St. Gianna, as well.

quiz time

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not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

latest update

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via my sister who

just got off the phone with Dad. good news. The test results are in and he DIDN’T have a heart attack. All heart function tests show no damage and good function. The heart attack suspicion was based on high enzyme levels. The Dr still doesn’t know why those were elevated, but is apparently satisfied that it wasn’t a heart attack. They’ve put him back on his insulin pump so his blood sugar issues are getting sorted out. He has an MRI scheduled for his toes today, but the angiogram is still up in the air.

Thanks for all the prayers. Looks like the crisis is past for now.


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If there is someone on your blogroll who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence on your blog.

wonderful story!


I was just now listening to a news item on NPR's Weekend Edition, Saturday. It concerned an organization called the St. Joseph of Arimithea society at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland OH.
Link will follow when it becomes available. If you live someplace where your local NPR stations runs the program on the refeed, listen for the story starting around :32 of the first hour of programming.

Scott Simon interviewed a junior at the high school. The student explained that the society was formed in order to perform one of the seven corporal works of mercy, that is to bury the dead. The society provides students who act as pallbearers and assist at funerals for persons whose extended family is not available of non-existent. The student being interviewed also explained that the school had a strong committment to putting their faith into action (my phrase,not his)and already had programs for the other works of mercy.

At the end, Mr. Simon asked the student to list the other 6 corporal works of mercy, which the student did with great ease.

Udate: here is the link

Dan Sklenka is a member of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearer Society at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. As a public service, students at Ohio school help staff funerals that lack pallbearers. Sklenka tells Scott Simon about the activity.

Hats off to St. Ignatius High School, the Joseph of Arimithea society, and NPR for running the story.

Friday Evening update


My sister talked to Dad again.
Her email follows.

He’s in fine spirits in spite of the hospital staff not being able to meet his needs for insulin. He said he knew that would happen and resigned himself to being an interested observer when he knew he was going to have to be admitted. When I spoke to him he had returned from having the cardiac stress test, the results will not be available until tomorrow. He commented that they seem to have forgotten about his toes – the reason for the hospital stay initially- in favor of his heart… can’t say I blame them… and expects they’ll get back to the toes soon.

another update

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I just got off the phone with my dad. He sounds very hoarse but is optimistic that tomorrow they will finally be able to do what he came to the hospital for.
He has ulcerated wounds in 2 toes on each of his two feet. Some of them are down to the bone. He wants to avoid possible amputation, even of a toe, if there is any real alternative. He's fought these before, starting years ago when he was in a cast for way too long with a fracture.
We'll see what happens.
Oh, and talking to him tonight I learned that he had a great-uncle who also had type one diabetes. I hadn't known that. My paternal first cousin's daughter also has type one diabetes. It's a nasty disease. I'm thankful that I've been spared.
Thanks for all the prayers. I think that they are helping. It certainly helps me to know that you guys are out there. I am also hoping and praying that with the healing of the body will come some changes of heart - always the harder part to heal. But it isn't in my hands - what I can do, I have already done.


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Yesterday's news on my dad:
(around noon PST) The procedure was a no-go this morning, don't know the details, but among things mentioned was a blood sugar reading of 600 overnight (I guess that would do it). Right now he says "things are up in the air", but he didn't sound very happy about it.
(Around 5PM PST) Last night Dad had a mild heart attack which was confirmed during a short stay in the cardiac intensive care
unit. He has since been moved into the regular cardiac care unit and
expects another attempt tomorrow morning to complete the angiogram (dye contrast scan of his blood vessels) he wasn't able to have this morning.
I really appreciate the prayers that are being offered up. As in most families, there are always unresolved personal issues between parents and children, and among the sibling group. I am blessed that I have so many brothers and sisters and that we are in communication, despite all the other stuff over the years. It's hard being scattered all over the USA, but we were raised to have that combination of self-sufficient and stick-together that will help, I think.
I'm not yet to the point of trying to take leave from work and scrape together an airline ticket to SoCal - but there's the doom and gloom part of my brain that is starting to head than direction. I'm right now just planning to wait and see what the next few days bring.

(part one here)
I was raised in the Anglican (Episcopalian) tradition. My parents actually met in the choir at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in San Diego CA. 3 years later, they got married in that same church, where my grandmother was a parishioner and first grade teacher. I was raised to go to church every Sunday and Holy Day. Because my dad was in the Air Force, we moved a lot, but the 3 years we lived in England we went to the Church of England in our town and to the Vacation Bible School on the base. When we came back to the States, my parents sent me to live with my grandma for a year (for second grade) and I attended the Episcopal School where she taught. It felt good to have that tradition to hold onto, to be at the church where my parents met and married, to be in the school choir and sing, to be part of what I even then saw as a long tradition of Apostolic Christianity. I remember that I once had a necklace that had a mustard seed encased in glass, that I wore to remind me to have "the faith of a mustard seed."

a letter from a sister

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update on my dad
I just spoke to (dad's wife). Dad was getting an IV placed. His angiogram (inject dye and see where things flow) is scheduled for tomorrow. If it goes well and seems like it would be worthwhile, they will then to the angioplasty (balloon thing to open up veins). If this doesn't work they may have to try to harvest another vein for a bypass, but he is running out of them.(another monkey-wrench ...the dye is not good for kidneys, so they will have a nephrologist standing by, with consultation to Minnesota if necessary)

I also spoke to Dad. He will be confined to a wheelchair for a while
after this is done, so have bought one from e-bay (good old e-bay).

I just got a call telling me that right now Dad is checking into the Medical Center to have some sort of surgery. I think he said an angioplasty is needed to open the veins in his leg so that the
wound(s) on his feet can get better blood flow in order to heal. Apparently, the wounds have not healed for many weeks (months?). Pray for his recovery and the surgeon's skill & good judgment.
love, (brother)
My dad has type one diabetes (the rare kind). He and his only sibling, his younger brother, were both born with the gene that can lead to type one diabetes if the right stimulus is present. My Uncle Bob got diabetes in childhood, after a viral illness that was probably an influenza. When Bob got his diabetes in 1941 or so, insulin therapy was in its infancy. None the less, with the strict discipline imposed on him by my grandmother, he survived childhood and actually lived to the age of 60 or so.
My dad's diabetes came later in life. He was a very fit man, an Air Force pilot, always working out. His weakness was cola and sweetened tea - he would consume these beverages all day long. But he also exercised to keep from gaining even an ounce over what the flight surgeon recommended.
When he was 28, mumps went through our entire family. I was the first to get it, and had a fairly mild case. My fever went up to 105 degrees F (40.5 C) and I lost 10 lbs, but I had no real complications. My mom was immune, having had mumps as a child. The disease worked its way through the other 5 members of the family, with my sister Cathy and my Dad getting it last and worst. My mom was so exhausted from caring for the rest of us that I ended up doing a lot of nursing care for Cat and Dad. Cat was delirious part of the time. Dad had some other complications that I wasn't told about at the time (but let me say that my baby sister was considered quite a surprise 5 years later). Several months after his bout with mumps, my dad developed his own Type one diabetes.
In those days, not as much was known about the difference between the two types of diabetes. So they didn't put him on insulin right away. Insulin would have meant no more flying. They put him on a very strict diet which he followed, but he continued to lose weight. About 6 months into our stay in France, my dad ended up in the hospital and was started on insulin, and our stay overseas was cut very short - from the planned 3 years to a lttle less than one year.

Diabetes changed his life, and affected every one of his children in one way or another. I learned early how to draw up and give insulin shots. We all learned the mood swings that indicate blood sugar lows and highs. Career plans and life plans were abruptly derailed. The impact of the sudden onset of a chronic illness cannot be underestimated.
One of the truly frustrating things for me is that there is so much confusion and outright ignorance about type one diabetes. The more common type two gets the spotlight, but the two conditions have many differences. The final common endpoint of both of them is pretty similar - piecemeal organ failure due to the effects of the elevated blood sugar on perfusion. But the etiology is extremely different. Both diseases require a combination of genetics and environment. But type one is triggered not by obesity or overstressing the pancreas - it is triggered by the body's immune system destroying the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas. It cannot be effectively treated by anything other than replacing the insulin. In type two diabetes, the pancreas actually produces excessive amounts of insulin - but the body has learned to ignore it.
My dad had a kidney transplant in January 1984. He's had several surgeries to increase blood flow to various parts as the disease process has blocked them. He's had lots of problems. But he's still alive and in as good health as could be expected for a 71 y/o guy who's been living on borrowed time for decades.
Please pray for him - pray most especially for his soul, for his conversion, for whatever graces are needed for however much longer. And while you're at it, could you throw in a few prayers for my grandmother (his mom)? She's 91 and dad's been co-ordinating her care along with his own. Yes, there are six kids in my generation, but we live all over the country and most of us have families as well.

sartre was half right


Heaven and Hell
Another gem from the waiter.

wonderful jesuit saints


Why be Catholic?


I'm going to be giving a testimony and teaching to the entire Confirmation I class (that's nearly 100 people between the kids and all the other small group teachers). I'm going to take my prepared speech and edit a little bit for those of you who have been waiting impatiently for me to finish telling my conversion story. You don't have to go back to part one to make sense of part two - I've repeated a few items to make it readable alone. But if you want to, part one is here.
I hope to have it edited and posted some time in the next few days. I'm also working on a few other items, will get them up as the spirit moves me. I have a little bit more time available the next 2 mondays, as choir rehearsal is on hiatus till the 20th. Of course, I have all kinds of other stuff that I'm supposed to be doing - but some how writing is more fun than housework.

Ann Coulter on abortion 'rights'

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Heard on the radio this week

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The Chemistry of Love.
If you can, I suggest not just reading the transcript of the interview but also listening, because there were some pretty interesting inflections that just don't come across in the printed world.
Of course, it is pretty annoying to me when I see the spin that has been put on the biological evidence that she has found. To a Darwinian evolutionist, biological pressures are the only reason for the phenomena that she describes. I would love to get a chance to look at the raw data from her experiments and compare it to some of the work done in the 1950s by Niles Newton (who did absolutely pioneering research on the influence of oxytocin on both pair bonding and parent-child bonding).
It is pretty obvious to me that romantic love, erotic love, and long term attachment all have a part to play in human marriage and family. I find it awe-inspiring to see just how well designed the ebb and flow of hormones is to create and maintain the bond between the marriage partners and to sustain them in their ability to care for their children.
I also find it less than co-incidental that this research is being publicized about the time of the release of Deus Caritas Est (which I still have yet to read).

blast from the past


Karen Hall needed a song for her TV pilot. She picked "I wanna be sedated" by the Ramones. Here are her Also Rans. I hate to admit just how many of them I could sing from memory.......

Must be that they are pro-life

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CNN.com - Women sue Wal-Mart over contraception - Feb 1, 2006

And on a similar note, read this article about a survey done by the group that calls itself "Catholics for a Free Choice". Would you consider this article to be unbiased reporting? It seems to me that Catholic Hospitals should also have the freedom to make a choice that is in line with their ethical guidelines.

very sad news


All Saint's Day School to close]
This is the school where my grandmother taught first grade for decades - where I went for a year, where my sister and one of my daughters also spent time. It has always been a wonderful resource for the community, faith filled, academically strong, and just a great place. This breaks my heart to hear.

Isaiah 65:24

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(This was sent to me. I have no direct knowledge of this incident but also have no reason to doubt its veracity)

This story was written by a doctor who worked in South Africa...

impending ??????

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I am getting this feeling that is hard to categorize. I don't know if it's a premonition or simply indigestion of some kind. I felt some of this a little while before some major events in my life's story - for example the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and the OK City bombing - and nothing at all before other major events (like 9/11 or my sister-in-law's sudden stroke and subsequent death).

The feeling is an impending change - kind of like the drop in barometric pressure before a storm, or the change in sky color when a tornado is headed your way. I only wish that I knew what it is that is coming.

Now, I know that I have a tendency towards paranoia. I'm by nature more of a pessimist than an optimist - which is why I try really hard to look for the good in all things. So I am trying to turn this discomfort over to the Lord. But it is really difficult.

My profession is under attack - I don't think there is any grand conspiracy but rather a confluence of events. The culture of death has so infiltrated the health care system that I am not sure it can be extirpated. Much like in Orwell's 1984, language has lost its meaning - infanticide and euthanasia become 'death with dignity'. Murder of the preborn has become 'reproductive choice'. And so on. But this is nothing new, and I don't understand why, here and now, I am feeling so embattled and borderline embittered.
Pray for me when you can, please? Even a random thought/prayer here and there would be helpful.

Or is it that legally, they aren't human beings yet?
The Big Business of Making Babies

HT to Dawn Eden whose personal headline on this issues was Cradle of Industry

Another one bites the dust

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I am getting really discouraged about the place of midwifery in the North American culture. The events described in this newspaper article are things that I have known were coming for weeks. And yet, like an oncoming freight train, it seems that we are helpless to stop it.
Lord Have Mercy.
The great idol of the USA - the everpowerful profit motive.
Addendum (2/2/06)
If you want to read the article and are not registered, you might try the bug me not service (link in the blogroll).
Here is the URL for this practice.
The postal address is:
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nashua East
21 E Hollis St, Nashua, 03060
Phone is: (603) 577-4000
Chair of the Dept of Ob/Gyn is Dr. Cecilia Stuopis
The clinic’s medical director is Dr. Sanders Burstein.
I'm still working on a more global posting about what is being done to midwifery in the USA - but I can say that I personally know of legal midwives doing home births who are being harassed in WA, CA, and KS. Competent but unlicensed midwives who have fought for years to establish licensing for non CNM midwives are being forced underground in many states. Victories for midwifery that have been won in WI and in VA are being eclipsed by losses in other jurisdictions. And the voices that cry the loudest for 'reproductive choice' in the name of abortion 'rights' are peculiarly silent when asked to support the rights of women to make personal choices about where and with whom to birth their term babies!
Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming.

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