Thursday, March 15, 2018

My life is like a movie!

Unfortunately, the movie is Napoleon Dynamite. This actually happened to me recently.

Yes, Middle Age Brain strikes again (actually, I'm past middle age, since I don't think it's likely I'll live past 100, but that's neither here nor there. I still feel too young to call myself a 'senior'). I was at a small-town grocery store, having dashed inside to buy two (literally two) items. $44 later, I zipped open my purse to see... no wallet. Of course. I had put it in the side pocket of my gym bag the previous morning, and had forgotten to replace it. No cards, no cash, no knowledge of how to use my smartphone to pay for stuff (IS there such an app? I don't even know. Probably, but I'm old.)

Luckily, I had my bulging little change purse, and if there is anything I don't do often enough, it's empty my change purse. I decided to pay with "loonies" and "toonies" ($1 and $2 Canadian coins).

I got as far as $37, and that was that. The kindly clerk said she would ring in the entire amount ($44) and that I could bring the rest back the next day. Did I mention she didn't know me from Adam? Or Eve? However, I must have looked suitably pathetic (and trustworthy) because she let me walk out with $7 of my groceries unpaid for. Fortunately, when I got to the car, I remembered hubby also has a little stash of coins which he uses at the coin-op carwash (sorry, Hon). So I ran back into the store to square my debt.

It restores one's faith in humanity. My memory, not so much. Must go put wallet back into purse now.

Scale: our quarters, nickels and dimes are the same size as U.S. coins of that ilk.
So are the pennies, but we don't use them anymore. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

One more quick post

This blog post was written by my lovely niece Anna, who is a mom, designer and seamstress/crafter. She owns and operates Little Plum Tree from her home: beautiful hand-made toys, using local products and materials. I have a couple of her tote bags, and my pet hen, Henrietta, also came from Little Plum Tree.
Henrietta enjoying a prairie summer sunrise from the comfort of the settee

The article is about making one's home beautiful--something with which I have always struggled mightily. Heck, I can hardly keep the place tidy, but it's all part of the same problem. I liked this quotation:
In the past I’ve been tempted to settle for a solution that is functional only, thinking I need to be content with something I don’t particularly like because we need to finish a project, or because it’s superficial to hold out for something that’s more attractive.

Ain't THAT the truth! Mrs Beazly and I have struggled with this for so long, we even came up with a name for our decor style: "Scrap and Salvage" (and not in a good, trendy, hipster, thrift-store kind of way). For a while at my house, we had an old kitchen cabinet standing backwards (doors to the wall) embellished with some laminate shelving and pine "trim," which functioned as a shoe shelf IN OUR ENTRYWAY: you know, the place in your house where guests get their first impression. Before it went to its rightful home (the dump) I photographed it, but it was so ugly, I can't even bring myself to post it. (Like that Legolas guy said after that Gandalf guy died in that movie, "the grief is still too near.")

And I still can't get my hubby to throw away the boxy, non-functioning, fake wood/fake leather stereo speaker from the 1970s that he uses for an end table next to his reading chair. Good Lord! I'm in my FIFTIES: when can I stop living like a college student, and instead have only real furniture in my house? (Yes, I know: First World Problems.)

Anyway, back to Anna and Little Plum Tree. She also has a great eye and is a marvellous photographer.

I think my next acquisition will be this little owl. I'm in love with him. 

Deadlines and other necessities of life

Today is music lesson day. Not much time for blogging. 
So true. It was true in university; it was true for freelancing, columns and speech-writing. It will likely remain true for future projects (evidently).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fitness update

I'm old, but I'm not that old. Going to the gym, circa 1923
OK, I've now completed three workouts, and I have good news: I DIDN'T DIE! And I didn't even throw up (though after my first one last Thursday, I felt pretty nauseated, and my entire body felt like Jello). But I survived! This took place at the local CrossFit gym. I was inspired by a friend and assured that "anyone" can do it: they scale down the exercises and movements to fit your age, fitness level and any injuries or or chronic physical issues that you may have. So far, so good.

And golly, as a Catholic, how can you not be attracted to something with the word "cross" in it? And believe me, after my first three sessions, the emphasis is definitely on the "cross" -- fit, not so much.

I have to do the "On ramp" beginner's class, before I'll be ready to join the regular fitness classes (well, "ready" is a relative word. I may never feel "ready"; the best I might be able to do is "willing"). My first sessions have definitely pushed me to the edge of my strength and abilities. I had not done any research into CrossFit before plunging in; this was so that I would not get intimidated before I even began. But I'm moderately intimidated now. Not only are the workouts hard, but it also looks as though the cost of regular gym membership might be prohibitive, at least for the present. My writing income has been (*cough*) hovering around zero for the last three years. So until I can find a job or two, and earn a few dollars, I don't see how it will be feasible for me to join a second gym. (Our family already frequents another establishment on a semi-regular basis.)

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Closer to reality
Fantasy--sort of

Today I'm taking the plunge and starting a new fitness adventure. I'm carpooling with a couple of other ladies and going to a gym in a nearby community. Close to the time they were due to arrive, I heard a vehicle pull up outside. "Is this my ride?" I wondered.

No, it wasn't. I hope this isn't an omen.

But with snow. Lots and lots of snow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Promises, promises

Not that I want to pick on Mr. Gore especially (cough); after all, he's not the only alarmist, but it's possible that he's made the most money off his fear-mongering. (Oh wait, mybad; that's money made from fossil fuels.) And I have just one teeny question to ask him: WHEN IS THE GLOBAL WARMING GOING TO START? and CAN IT START IN SASKATCHEWAN, PLEASE? Pretty please?

Here it is, March, and yes, I know March always has unpredictable weather (heck, so does January, February, April, and so on.  Do my classmates remember the blizzard of '82 that happened on the day of our high school graduation on the last weekend in May?) At any rate, there is such a thing as "normal and "seasonal" temperatures for this time of year, and -26 degrees Centrigrade is NOT IT.

I don't mind the snow--truly I don't, except when it's all over the highway and makes you cancel appointments or makes it dangerous to drive. With the fresh fall of snow, I might even get out to use the snowshoes that I received for Christmas.

But the cold: I can no longer stand the cold. Not in March. Please Mr. Gore, let loose the Dogs of Warming ... or at least open up one of your many vacation homes  to winter-refugees, so we can get away from this chilly misery. Some of us can't afford tropical vacations, because we're trying to keep up with the cost of not freezing to death and stuff.

Too funny not to share.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We are not on Twitter

When it comes to online communication and/or searches, a single letter, or even a dot can direct you to the wrong (or let us say "different") place. So one must be precise. I was googling our blog name one time, and came up with this lady's Twitter address (or handle, or whatever the Twitterites--Twitterenes--Twitteronians--Twits? call themselves).

I highly approve of this graphic: Mrs Pinkerton

Most in the MSM and Hollywood consider women like me to be just dumb old housewives. #wife #momto5#nebraska #catholic #prolife#conservative #NFP

This is not us we (you must use proper grammar, no mattter how awkward it sounds). This is (as you can see from her description) a wife, mother of 5, who is Catholic, from Nebraska, who is prolife, conservative, and promotes natural methods of fertility awareness. Something tells me we could have a tremendous amount in common with her. But I can't say for sure, as I've not read all of her tweets.  

Here are the differences: we are three ladies (albeit two fairly silent ones, for various reasons--we're slowly rectifying that); we have 16 children between us, and we are not from Nebraska. We are from Canada (SK and ON) and Australia. 

In any event, more power to you, Mrs DOH from Nebraska! Let it be noted (if copyright issues ever arise) that she joined Twitter in 2017, and our blog has been operating under this banner since 2009. And she has 128 followers, and we have 34, so we're evidently doing something wrong. Maybe we should get on Twitter. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Winks or roses?

No, this is not about emojis or online dating. It's yet another observation about yet another Jordan Peterson video that I watched recently. (Yes, I watch a lot of them. It's the only form of TV we have now, and on the whole, it's more edifying and enlightening than HGTV or the Food Channel--and I've lost weight.)

Wisdom's  hint of a smile

The video below comes to us from the Dutch podcast, EindBazen ("bosses") episode #87. The host, Michel Vos, describes himself as a former "militant atheist," who is now struggling to come to terms with the concepts of morality, man's desire for knowledge, and the complexity of the universe. He thinks it's almost "too convenient" how well it all works together. Not to us believers; it's just how God rolls.

He talks about small acts of love, friendship, service etc, that end up having a big impact on people's lives and the wider society. He calls these acts "winks from the Universe," adding, "it restores your faith in humanity."

I think it sounds suspiciously like the way God works, and it reminds me of the spirituality of The Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it "The Little Way." Find out more here. 

She used to say that after she died, she would send forth a shower of "roses from heaven." They are not really from her, of course, but from the Lord, the giver of all good things. Like all the other saints, she is just a friend (or big sister, however you want to imagine it) who is already there, and praying for us. We don't worship the saints; we just ask them to pray for us, much as you would ask your grandpa, or aunt or best friend to pray for you.

But back to the video for a few more points:

  • heroism is our goal: it shows we are "properly inculturated"
  • "You tend to become what you practice" says Dr. JBP ("Families, become what your are," was a famous quotation by Pope St. John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio)
  • "getting proactive with your life" is an antidote to misery and resentment
  • they discuss the symbolism of the pilgrimage and how it changes you: the psychology and biology of going outside your comfort zone and meeting goals
At one point, Michel Vos invokes (and approves the wisdom of) The Serenity Prayer, even though he says he's not a very religious person. They also discuss what was variously expressed as "the arbitrariness of evil" or the "randomness of the universe." 

I don't agree, because I think there is no such thing as coincidence or dumb luck or randomness, whether we're talking about good or evil. I believe God is omniscient, omnipresent, all-loving, all wise, and that his will is inscrutable. But he also has given us free will, and that, alas is where the devil so often seems to gain the upper hand. 

On that note, it's interesting that in the video, Dr. JBP discusses the psychological utility of fear.
He tells us that we need more than goals; we need a vision. And not just a positive vision (of future success). He says we also need to fear how bad things could get if we fail to move forward: if we let everything slide or let our worst habits take over. And thus he arrives (I kid you not) at the psychological utility of hell. Michel Vos even refers to the idea of "lighting a fire behind you."

Wow: how LONG have secularists been laughing at us Christians for talking or preaching or wanting to avoid "the fires of hell" -- and now here they are, straight-faced, discussing it as a legitimate motivation for goal-setting. Talk about a vindication for old-timey religion.

"You need a vision of hell;" says Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, "there's nothing like consulting your existential terror."

You don't hear secular professors say that every day. There are such interesting things going on... one might almost envision the Spirit of God hovering over the void.

Something tells me the saints are chuckling--and possibly winking.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest

But I suppose there are various ways to define "rest." One thinks of the phrase, "A change is as good as a rest," and today I will have to hew to that version. After Mass, we're heading north (45 miles) to visit my husband's parents for the afternoon. In the evening, Hubby is going to drive our teens back to the parish for youth group, but I'm staying in town to see Faure's Requiem (woot! All my life I've longed to see that performed). I hope to catch a ride back home with a friend. Fingers crossed that it will all work out, and that the weather will cooperate (yesterday we had a blizzard, so you never know.)

But back to the idea of "rest."  There is this concept of "Resting in the Lord," and it's something we should strive to do on a regular basis, whether it's Sunday or not. Most people I know (including yours truly) seem inordinately stressed a lot of the time; it just seems to be the way life is. And there are no signs of it letting up, especially as postmodern society gets more bizarre by the day. 

We need to "get away," which is, I suspect, why people who can afford it --and even some who can't-- take exotic vacations. Some people of faith take pilgrimages to various holy sites in the world; others go on retreat as often as they can. But sometimes you just can't get away...or can you

The answer is yes. It's called prayer. More specifically, contemplative prayer, which mainly just means sitting still and quiet and focussing on God. Which is kind of hard to do, especially if you are a restless sort of person, or if you have a million things to think and worry about. But my main aid in this pursuit is listening to calm worship music. It's a way to touch and commune with God without leaving your bedroom.

One of my favourite artists is Audrey Assad. If you don't know her music, seriously, look her up. She has lengthy playlists on YouTube (not that I recommend those for prayer, since they are interspersed with annoying ads). I have her album Fortunate Fall, but I'm going to acquire more--in fact all of them. I love her that much. She helps me connect with God, and that is no small feat. 

If you have time today (and please try) sit still and listen to this track. And meditate upon the words. 

Lover of my soul, even unto death...

Have a blessed Third Sunday of Lent. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I'm glad wrinkles are in style

Because if there's one thing I am NOT going to do, it's iron tablecloths and sheets. The wrinkles add texture, don't you know! (Makes our faces more interesting, ladies over 40! Remember that.)

This photo is from one of my favourite sites, Nordic Design. There is something so appealing about Nordic design: the coolness, cleanliness, sparseness (this must be my inner neatnick rebelling against my manifest hoarder), the warmth of the wood and other natural elements, and of course THE LIGHT. Read anything on Nordic design and rule Number 1 is proper lighting. That is why (according to the Little Book of Hygge), Scandinavians use more candles per capita than anyone in the world.

I prefer rustic to ultra modern...

...but this couple has managed to blend the two quite nicely (that range and hood/fan!)

More wrinkly bed linens

Happy Saturday. Are you cleaning house today too?

Friday, March 2, 2018

More heaven

This is yet another song that my daughter has been practicing. She accompanies the junior church choir for Sunday Mass, and also when they compete in choral classes in the local music festival. It is for the latter that she is preparing this piece, although (I hope) the choir will also sing it during the Easter Triduum.

I love this song because of its inherent beauty, truth and holiness, but also because it was composed by a Canadian duo for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada. I will never forget that event, even though I could not attend (having recently given birth, which sort of chartecterizes most years of my life between 1988 and 2004). I watched it on TV, and Pope (now Saint!) John Paul II was of course in his declining years (health-wise), and the Canadian state TV network (CBC, a leftist outlet) were all cynical and critical and "oh he's so frail, he has to exit the plane with an elevator, yadda yadda yadda" and then the Holy Father left the plane of his own accord and WALKED down the stairs and rendered the reporters speechless. It was so satisfying.

The music for the Masses of WYD 2002 was just wonderful. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it, and I still watch reruns on YouTube. It was a moment in history--wish I could have been there.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

I had meant to post this on Monday

But... procrastination. I wonder if I'll ever overcome it? Maybe someday...

As I had mentioned last Friday, I attended the St. Therese Institute  Lenten conference in Bruno, SK. It was a fantastic and grace-filled weekend--all the more so because I was able to experience it with three of my daughters and several other good friends. And, as always, I made some new ones (friends, that is).

Why Identity Politics / Social Justice Warriorism is driving me mad

Genius? Dunces? Him? CONFEDERACY???

Mainly because it's killing satire. What would Jonathan Swift have said to all the craziness going on in North American society these days? Possibly, nothing: he'd have been hauled before some human rights or social justice tribunal for writing Gulliver's Travels (alternately, he'd have been given an award by Planned Parenthood for his essay "A Modest Proposal" wherein he --satirically-- suggests that society solve the "overpopulation" and poverty problems in one go by eating their children.) It is satire. He wasn't serious. You have to explain that these days.

When satire is dead, comedy is dead. Also drama, poetry, song, fiction and film. I avoid Hollywood movies for the most part, because  they are no longer interested in telling entertaining and exciting stories. Most of them contain lame preaching on trendy topics, and thus have become the equivalent of medieval morality plays  (in fact, they're probably far worse, becuase at least back then, people knew how to write).  It's the same reason why some Christian ghetto novels and films are so bad. The story must come first; the moral or lesson must be incidental, not central to the purpose of the artwork. But I digress.

I enjoyed this essay/article by Lionel Shriver. I must admit I had not been interested in her work until I saw her interviewed by Mark Steyn, back when he had a TV show on CRTV. Those videos are also worth checking out.

It doesn’t take much parsing to conclude that protecting all and sundry from the terrible experience of having your feelings hurt is the end of free speech altogether. Since nowadays “you can’t argue with what people feel,” umbrage is freed from rational justification. Given that the better part of the human race is crazy, stupid, or both, there’s nary a thought in the world whose airing won’t offend somebody. Doesn’t Darwin offend creationists? Furthermore, in granting so much power to woundedness, we incentivise hypersensitivity. If we reward umbrage, we will get more of it. We do reward umbrage, and we’re buried in it by the truckload.
If you feed me, I will grow.
Trigger warnings/Microaggressions

More from Ms Shriver:
Yet these days, straight white fiction writers whose characters’ ethnicity, race, disability, sexual identity, religion or class differs from their own can expect their work to be subjected to forensic examination—and not only on social media. Publishers of young adult fiction and children’s literature hire “sensitivity readers” to comb through manuscripts for perceived slights to any group with the protected status once reserved for distinguished architecture.
Good heavens, what hope do aspiring writers have, unless the culture regains its sanity?