Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book meme

I saw this on Melanie's Blog and thought it might be fun...

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

I can't think of one I'd consider myself irrational about. I mean books like The DaVinci Code might have good reviews but I have rational reasons for cringing from it. I read The Jane Austen Book Club even though I cringed from it for fear of what it would try to do to Austen and her books. I was right and didn't like it. I don't think I irrationally cringe from any book - there is always a rational reason.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice), Melanie Hamilton (Gone with the Wind) and Beth March (Little Women). I don't think any other three women could improve me so well even in one afternoon tea.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

This is tough. I am not easily bored by any book even if parts of it bore me. I've heard The Old Man and the Sea is boring and the Grapes of Wrath are boring and The Once and Future King is boring but I haven't read any of them so they might not be to me. If I could pick any book I'd say the Dictionary. But I don't know which novel.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?

Hmm. I'm pretty honest about what I've read or haven't read. I guess Stephen King's Needful Things. I did buy the book and read a little but was so disgusted by the hate back and forth between the Baptists and Catholics I didn't read any more, threw it out, and forever declared my disgust for the book though I do enjoy the film.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t?

Not that I know of, no.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalize the VIP)

It depends on the VIP. I mean, if he/she was a politician, I'd go for Democracy in America by Tocqueville. If the VIP is a religious leader, I'd opt for the Bible. I think it depends on why the VIP is a VIP and how I could best serve him/her in that regard.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

I guess I'd say French just so I could read all the french authors in their original text. Second choices would be Hebrew and Greek.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

I'd be a stinker and say Where Is Spot? since I read that every other day anyway and could easily breeze through it once a year and then read something new. But, if I wasn't a stinker I'd say Pride and Prejudice, ever my favorite.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I first learned of Evelyn Waugh on Melanie's site and now plan to read Brideshead Revisited eventually.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

"Floor to ceiling bookshelves are stuffed with everything I've ever wanted to read. Lots of leather bindings, sure. Plenty of first editions, why not? Every book in a series has matching covers. But the most important thing is all those hard to find volumes. A complete Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is a must. Lots of current atlases and reference books. Books for people of all ages from the smallest babies to the oldest grandmothers. Lots of picture books with the most beautiful artwork. And plenty of copies of the most favorite picture books because you know how babies and toddlers chew through the favorites. All the lovely art books with full color plates I've drooled over and not been able to afford. Books in their original languages as well as the best translations. I could go on all day; but I think you get the drift. There would never be an end to stocking such a library because there will never be an end to the publishing of good books. So that fairy is going to be working hard for the rest of my life and my children's and grand children's lives too while we're at it."
I'm completely with Melanie's answer here on this one. oh I'd love that library and I don't think DH, my dad, my children or I would ever leave it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unappealing Appealing

In our diocese, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Bishop's Appeal is done after Christmas but before Lent. Since Lent begins early this year, that means that we have gone straight from Christmas into the Bishop's Appeal. I dread this every year and every year I find it more repulsive. At least when telemarketers call me I can simply say no and ask to be removed from their calling list. But the Bishop thinks it necessary to mail us a petition for money, call us for money, and saturate our Masses for four weeks with pleas for money. It is overkill. The Bishop may very well be asking for money for some very worthwhile things, but asking 6 times across a month's span is ridiculous. Unfortunately, that is not where it ends. In addition to this harassment is the sin of placing himself in God's place.

During the Mass, the priest becomes, quite literally, "another Christ," and he does so in such a special way. The most obvious, of course, is as Christ the Priest at the consecration. But he is also Christ the King in presiding over the celebration of the Mass - he is leading and responsible for the Mass. He is also Christ the Prophet when he reads the Gospel and preaches to the people during his homily. You cannot divide Christ and omit any of these roles - each is essential. And yet every year we lose homilies to pleas for money, and money, and more money. Today we had to listen to an audio recording of the Bishop's plea for money. (At my previous church we even had to watch a video plea by the Bishop.) And then afterwards our pastor takes time to tell everyone how to fill out the card - as if people didn't know to write their address on the address line. Instead of being given insight and encouragement from Christ in a homily, I was plagued for more money. I believe it is simply a sin to deny Christ HIS time to speak through his priest to his people (to what extent the priest lets him is his affair, but my point remains). People go to Mass to praise, serve, adore, learn about and love God. To inject 15 minutes of pleas for money and deny Christ HIS time with his people - often people who really need that time - is just shameful.

Now, I will confess an extra irritation of mine. James and I have a 2 year old and a 2 month old and we were attending the 9am mass with the children's liturgy. Do I need to draw a picture of how many little children were at this mass. And yet, we did not finish with the appeal information and form-filling-out until 40 minutes into mass. We left right after Communion (we rarely do it but both Cecilia and Felicity were on the brink of hysterical crying) and still did not get to the car until 1 hour and 5 minutes after Mass began. It was extra difficult for us (and I expect many other parents) to enjoy Mass when it was prolonged so and I admit myself especially ungrateful for the Bishop making Mass so difficult simply to ask for money yet again.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I saw this on Melanie's Blog and thought it looked like fun...

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE ? Yes. My middle name Rose was after a family friend. I don't think at the time Katherine was after anyone in particular.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? I don't remember. I don't think I have in January yet but I know I did in December.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes, when I do it well.


5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes. Cecilia is 11 days away from being 2 years old and Felicity is 2 months old tomorrow.

6. WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? If not I'm in trouble.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? No. Not fond of it.


9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No. I'd love to skydive if I knew I would be okay, but no interest in bungee jumping.






15. RED OR PINK? Red. Don't like pink except on little ones.


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? James when he is at work. I haven't seen Msgr. Conley in 5 years so it would be nice to see him again.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black skirt - no pants. Black penny loafers.

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Two Chewy Werther's Originals last night.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? "Preparations for Battle" by James Horner from the movie Glory


22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Pine trees, cooking tomato sauce, cold crisp air like yesterday, a newborn's skin, vanilla, baking chocolate chip cookies, Cinnamon, Smoked BBQ

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? The Pediatrician's secretary setting up Felicity's 4 month appt.

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Basketball, Football and Baseball

25. HAIR COLOR? brown and gray

26. EYE COLOR? blue


28. FAVORITE FOOD? Italian or TexMex


30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? 3:10 to Yuma, the remake. Great acting. Terrible ending.


32. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter Winter Winter. I hate when it is hot.

33. HUGS OR KISSES? hugs

34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate Soufflé

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Slowly reading Home Comforts, will finish St. Francis de Sales' Thy Will Be Done today. Going to start Harris' Red Dragon tonight.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? A Golden Retriever just like my sweetie Biscuit.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Fire crackling, thunderstorms, Mom when Cecilia says it (she usually still calls me Daddy), Wind blowing through the trees, An orchestra in an old church, my daughter's laugh, a cat's purr

39. BEATLES OR ROLLING STONES? I guess Beatles, but I only like about 3 of their songs. Doesn't say much for the Stones, huh?


41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I'm good at organization and can be obsessive about it.

42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? southern New York

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Magnificence of Marriage

I have often heard of the priesthood and religious vocations spoken of by priests and religious with great praise and recommendation. And I don't blame them. These vocations are amazing and honorable and beautiful and to be celebrated. Our Pastor did not preach on the priesthood or religious vocations on Sunday but it is fair since he ignored families on Holy Family Sunday as well, though that doesn't make it right. Unfortunately, in my experience, marriage is often left trailing behind, only preached with regard to what the married should be doing and rarely acclaimed for its beauty and honor and magnificence. James and I were saying that we think the last good homily we heard on marriage was at our wedding (much thanks Father Caulfield!) Why? Well, certainly it is easier for priests to preach praise for their own vocation as they live it and not marriage. But I think the fact that marriage is more common and there has been a lack of acceptance of religious and priestly vocations is a bigger culprit. So I wanted to say some things about the vocation of marriage.

I am a wife. I chose to live the rest of my life with one man. I chose to love him for the rest of our lives. I chose to honor him, help him, care for him as no one else does or can. In other words, I chose to lay down my life for him so that I became an Us.

I am a mother. Because my husband and I freely choose to lay down our lives for each other, God blesses our love with the blessing of children. God exaults us to share in a power only He has - the power to create a human being. A person. A person who did not exist before (except in God's own mind) and will exist for eternity is created by the three of us. And even after death in the halls of Heaven, we will always be that person's mother and father. Through the creation of this tiny person, we become a family and our family represents the Trinitarian God and His Church to the world.

I am another Christ. I must be another Christ to my husband, to my children, and to the community I live in. I must exemplify His virtue, His purity, His wisdom and His Charity. I must provide a perfect mirror image of what God's love is, especially to my children who look to me to meet every one of their needs as well as wants.

I am the Church. I must mirror my Husband and support him and encourage others to do so. I must nurture my children through proper instruction, reception of the Sacraments, and education. I must make sure all my children are properly prepared to receive the sacraments and grow to love the Church as their own.

I am a Homemaker. I must provide a clean, well-kept, and cosy home for my family to live, work, pray and play. I dust, vacuum, polish, wipe, scrub, mop, sweep, plant, organize and wash. I launder, washing bedding, clothes, towels, and other odds and ends. I must cook (I'm still working on learning that one as well as I would like) providing healthy, hearty and nourishing meals so my family will be healthy and strong but also enjoy eating and being home.

I am a teacher. I must teach my children how to walk, how to talk, how to have good hygiene and take care of themselves. I will be homeschooling teaching them math, literature, history, art, and many other subjects. I must teach them proper manners and how to behave appropriately at the table, at home and outside the home. And most importantly I must teach them theology that they understand their faith as well as live it.

I am a Guardian. I am responsible for the salvation of not only my soul, but the soul of my husband and the souls of my children. I must do everything I can to preserve their innocence, purity and virtue and foster these constantly.

I am called to do all this and do it joyfully! It is quite a bit of responsibility and certainly no easier than any other vocation. I don't get any days off or any vacation time - my husband and children need me live my vocation faithfully all day every day. Wives and Mothers, and those who will become them, need just as much support and encouragement as those who will become priests or religious and perhaps more so if marriage is seen as the more common and easier vocation. Maybe, just maybe, if priests dedicated more time to preaching the perfection that marriage and family can be and encouraging and supporting their parishioners in this endeavor, they would hardly need to preach for religious or priestly vocations because there would be a plethora of them from solid, faithful families.

Marriage has its own unique beauty and magnificence that is all to often ignored or hidden beneath laziness or self-centeredness. Am I a perfect wife, mother, Christ, Church, homemaker, teacher and guardian of souls? HA! Far from it. But God is most merciful and in just striving to be those things as perfectly as I can it is easy to see that majesty shining.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Silence of the Lambs

I remember when I was 12 asking to see the film. My Poppop and dad kept raising the age at which I would be permitted to see it until it got up into the lower 40s. I "triumphed" and saw it when I was 12. It is a good film. But I never read the book until this past week or so. As good as a movie the film is, the book is even better and for two primary reasons. First, in the book, Jack Crawford has a lot more to him and his relationship with Clarice is much more significant. He becomes very much a dear friend as well as a father figure to her. This of course adds depth and emotion to the story not present in the film.

The second reason I find even more interesting. In the book, Buffalo Bill would let his victims go in his darkened basement and, using his night vision goggles, literally hunt them. It is reiterated repeatedly in the book that Dr. Lector seeks only to amuse himself. Once he ceases to be amused, he either switches off or becomes violent. Clarice Starling seeks out plight and hunts those who cause it. All three of the characters are hunting or seeking something. Bill's hunt ends in his death. Lector's search ends in exile as a fugitive. Starling's is the only one that ends in the silence of the screaming lambs. Only Starling's search ends in the blessed silence and peace. Bill's hunt is over. Lector's search will continue but only as others search for him. Starling's will be the hardest to maintain because she will have to earn it over and over again, as Lector observes, because there will always be plight. Yet her search will always have the greatest reward.

This theme and subtle point made me wonder if the author was just a teeny bit asking the reader, "What is it you seek and what will your end be?"