Monday, June 29, 2009

1950 meets 2009

On Father's Day, we went to my grandparents' house. My grandfather and the menfolk were sitting outside under a tree, drinking sambuca and black coffee while the womenfolk sat on a swing on the front porch and tried to make me feel better about having just inadvertently blown the surprise of my cousin's upcoming wedding shower.

Sometimes it feels like my grandparent's house exists in a world just a few decades removed from the one I blog in.

Sometimes it doesn't.

My cousin and I headed over to sit and talk with our dads and uncles a little bit later. We chatted for a while, ate fruit, and then my grandfather announced unexpectedly, "So there's Twitter."

"Grandpa!" my cousin exclaimed. "You Twitter?!"

We well knew that he did not. They don't own a computer anymore.

"No," said my mostly-deaf grandfather. "But I hear things."

"There's another one, too," he said. "There's Twitter and. . ."

He looked up at the sky, hands folded over his stomach, as he tried to think of the "other one."

"Facebook?" we supplied helpfully. "MySpace?" "Blogs?"

"No, no. There's Twitter and there's. . ."

Moments passed.

"Text!" he announced decisively. Everything Grandpa does is decisive. "There's Twitter and there's text!"

He, of course, had no idea what either one was. My cousin successfully demonstrated texting (which my mother had recently taught my grandmother how to do; Grandma has and uses a cell phone, Grandpa does not) by texting her father as she sat next to him, and then showing Grandpa how the message instantly showed up on my uncle's cell phone, but I don't think our explanations of Twitter really got through. At the very least, he didn't understand the point.

Then again, neither do I.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Accidental Adoration

I've never been to Eucharistic Adoration before Friday, and I didn't mean to go then, either. I was going to Confession, and I didn't even take note of what was going on in the chapel as I passed it to get to the Confessional. Waited on line, confessed, was absolved, went to the chapel and sat down in a pew to pray my penance. I glanced up and stopped when I saw the monstrance on the altar. I was literally awe-struck at what was before me, stunned into silence. I couldn't think, couldn't pray, and tears welled up in my eyes. It was some time before I could choke out my penance and return to just sitting there, amazed to be in the physical Presence of Christ.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and deprivation heightens the senses. That confession had been a long time coming, and it had been some time since I'd been able to receive Communion.

And so, even though I was supposed to be meeting friends and had intended to bang out a quick Penance after Confession and be on my way, I sat. The Presence of the Lord was palpable. I've never felt anything like it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Does that surprise you?

Last night, talking about our future, and the fact that Rhett ate angel hair pasta with butter and cheese for dinner every night this week:

me: ok, I can do the cooking
11:52 PM I'm the wife
Rhett: wow
you would've gotten your ass kicked by the other girls during the women's lib movement

RIP Father Thomas King

I just heard that Georgetown's Fr. Thomas King died tonight. Though he was 80, it was apparently unexpected. I was thinking that I'd have to include in this post the line, "Though I never took a class with him. . ." but I realize that that's inaccurate. Fr. King was actually one of my very first introductions to Georgetown. His Problem of God class was one of the classes I sat in on during an admitted students' weekend, before I knew whether I would be attending. I had no idea at the time that he was such a Georgetown institution, and, not yet having had the benefit of attending his Masses, did not know how softly he could speak. I was sitting in the back of the classroom, and picked up on very little of what he said. In later years, though my
"spot" in Dahlgren Chapel was generally the right side as you enter the church, several rows from the back, I always knew to make a point of sitting nearer the front at the 11:15 Mass. Father King always said something important, and didn't generally say it very loudly.

I just went and got out a CD of documents that I had copied off of my computer my Junior year at Georgetown. They're all that survived my hard drive's crash, and I'm glad now that I had them. There's one file on there, a Word document titled "Things that tell you how to live," that I started after one of Father King's homilies, given May 8, 2005. He had preached about a Jesuit who had lost his legs in the First World War, and soon thereafter received a letter from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, on whom Fr. King was an expert. My reflection, that night
after Mass, follows:

“...and he was a joyous man.”

~Fr. King on a Jesuit in the ‘70s who’d had his legs blownoff in WWI. He’d received a letter from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin the day after losing his legs, in which he was told (and I paraphrase), “Let the greatest comfort to you be the knowledge that the Lord, in His Infinite Wisdom and Power, now prefers that you be so. Your most profound hopes and dreams, therefore, are not thwarted, but even enlarged.” Have hope in something greater than your dreams and aspirations. Have hope in the possibility of a life in God.

-Wake up every morning, and be joyous. You have your legs – you have everything he lacked, you should have at least as much joy. Be joyous in the knowledge that there is a day ahead of you, in which anything can happen, and be joyous in the knowledge that God gave you that day. Greet the world with the wonder, hope, and expectations of a young child, whose dreams have not yet been limited by circumstance and the world.

It was the first homily in my memory that ever really hit me. I don't know that it changed my life - though maybe it should have - but it changed my evening, and I felt compelled to reflect on it. Sometimes I forget that Christianity is a joyous religion. My Georgetown career was the time when I went from going to church on Sundays because I probably should to being a Catholic because I believed, and Mass with Georgetown Jesuits, Father King included, was part of what got me there.

I wasn't a regular at the 11:15 Mass, though when I went to a week-day Mass, it was always that one (which was a far cry from the 12:10 Mass, the other daily Mass). On weekends, I split my attendance between the 10pm and the 11:15. Father King preached the first homily I ever remember hearing that mentioned abortion, birth control, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality. Priests still talk about those things?! The freshman me had no idea. His candle-lit weekday Mass was where I learned to pray the Sanctus in Latin.

At the moment, what stands out most in my mind, however, is the endearing habit he had, when he happened upon his own name in an announcement he was reading, of exclaiming with apparent surprise, "Oh! That's me!"

RIP Father King

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Babies Everywhere!"

An oldie but a goodie:

"I feel great!"

Monday, June 22, 2009


If Gossip Girl Were Written by Real New Yorkers...
Boyfriend: I wouldn't marry you. I would pay for half and give you a ride to the clinic.
Girlfriend: Baby, that's beer money. Just push me down the stairs and we'll go out.
Boyfriend: I love you.

--84th & 1st
via Overheard in New York, Jun 18, 2009

What was that we were told about the always "heart-wrenching decisions" that are never "made casually"?

Friday, June 19, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XX

1. I hate how during the day, I think of a really interesting thing, that's I can't wait to refer to in a Quick Take, and by the time I sit down to write my Quick Takes, I have no idea anymore what it was that was so interesting and so important that I wanted to share it with perfect strangers on the internet.
2. My youngest sister is going to her senior prom tomorrow. Oh. My. Goodness. That is all.
3. Earlier this week, I finally finally finally learned the date of my great-great-great-grandfather's death. It's a crucial bit of genealogical information that I've been looking for for months, but it wasn't until I finally thought to do searches under his second wife's name - she survived him - that after all these months, I came across his obituary. That just goes to show you, don't ignore anyone. Not even your great-great-grandmother's stepmother.
4. Speaking of which, I've come to realize:
Negative effect of doing genealogy: All your friends think you're a nerd.
Positive effect of doing genealogy: All your relatives who are over 70 think you're the cat's pajamas.
5. I need to start reading more. Like I said the other day, I've started reading The Screwtape Letters. When I read for pleasure - which is rarely during the school year - I usually read novels. I'd like to start reading things that are still fun and interesting, but have some substance. I don't know where to start looking for ideas, though.
6. When I was younger, my dad used to tell me how one of his favorite things to do, once he hit college age and older, was drink with his parents. When I was a teenager who scrupulously hid any sign of my (limited) drinking from my parents, that sounded absurd. Now that I'm of the legal age, and my relatives are among my only friends above the Mason-Dixon Line, well, you know, drinking with my parents is one of my favorite things to do.
7. One of my favorite things about working in a historical field is the ability to - nay, the necessity of - occasionally using terminology that is very much not PC. It's just a little fun, even though you'd never say these things in real life. But after all, the USCT are still the USCT, even though we wouldn't ever say that "C" in any other situation. But every so often, like this afternoon, you run across something in a public history institution that was written - academically - 100 years ago that's just downright racist. That makes you want to hide it in the back of a file cabinet and conveniently forget to make it available to the public. It's a fascinating look at the past, but it really makes you squirm.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I do usually read all the e-mail forwards I get from my sometimes-crazy relatives, but I usually delete them right afterward. I kinda liked this one, though, mainly the end. Laugh at me for being sappy, but don't worry, I'm editing out all the Precious Moments graphics wherein chubby blond angels on clouds blow heart-shaped bubbles.

The man whispered, "God, speak to me" and a meadowlark sang.
But, the man did not hear.

So the man yelled, "God, speak to me" and the thunder rolled across the sky.
But, the man did not listen.

The man looked around and said, "God let me see you." And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.

And, the man shouted, "God show me a miracle." And, a life was born.

But, the man did not notice.

So, the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you are here."

Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man. But, the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

I found this to be a great reminder that God is always around us in the little and simple things that we take for granted ... even in our electronic age.

So I would like to add one more:

The man cried, "God, I need your help!" And an e-mail arrived reaching out with good news and encouragement.

But, the man deleted it and continued crying .

Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way that you expect.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Screwtape Letters

I started reading The Screwtape Letters this week. I've gotten about halfway through - I don't have much time for reading lately; I try on the train, and then I fall asleep - and I realized I should be reading this with a pen in hand. There's plenty in there that needs highlighting - and remembering. Maybe when I'm done, I'll be able to write an interesting post with a theological bent, like all the real writers in the Catholic blogosphere.

The downside of reading The Screwtape Letters on the train when you know you're going to fall asleep? Dreaming about demons on NJTransit. Not my favorite way to commute.

Friday, June 12, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XIV

1. I've missed the past couple weeks worth of Quick Takes. I have a lot less free time in front of the computer lately, and, as you may have noticed, most of my posts are either very short or not exactly composed by me. Writing a blog is hard work! But I really do miss Quick Takes when I miss Quick Takes, so I'm trying to scrape something together now.
2. Reflections on traveling back from DC: It's a sad commentary on the state of northern New Jersey when you think, "Ah, almost home!" upon seeing the countryside turn into industrial wasteland.
3. Also a sad commentary, on the state of my biceps: when going bowling leaves you thinking, "Man, I'd better start working out more." I'm a really good bowler (well, relatively speaking, but I did take lessons when I was 7) at the beginning of each bowling experience I have, but then by the end my arms are tired and I'm bowling gutter balls at every turn. (I still came in second.) Time to start working out again?
4. Project for the summer: learn to drive a stick shift. It's so much more legit than a wimpy automatic transmission, but it really seems like a lot of effort to put into something that isn't actually necessary for any reason. How much work should I put into my street cred?
5. Something I've been wondering about for a while: How on Earth is the name Kmiec pronounced?
6. I was on the train to work earlier this week, crocheting, when a guy sat down next to me. He looked at my hook, and joked, "Just don't stab me with that thing." It's clear that he didn't know the difference between knitting and crocheting, since everybody knows that only knitting needles are used to stab people. Crochet hooks are never weapons. That's why I added the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF) blog to the sidebar.
7. And after I spent all week - more, really - trying to compose quick takes, I've still reached Friday morning without 7. So I'm making myself late to work to write up this little quick take about how writing 7 quick takes - over *3* weeks, wow, my life must be boring - is *really* hard.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Christian the Lion

I'm sure everyone's seen this a dozen times by now, but I can't help posting it again. I cry every time.

Safety First

I noticed that someone actually reached this blog by googling "how to clean up red wine off white walls." Let me make it clear, again, in case it wasn't clear in the first post, that the method we used to clean red wine off of white walls is not a recommended method.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"The hippo kills more humans in Africa than any other wild animal"

Jessica the Hippo:

Hippo opens doors, drinks coffee, hangs out in the kitchen, sleeps under pink sheets.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How do you get red wine stains off of a white wall?

By using poison.

Curious about what we did in the hours between 9:30 pm and 2:30 am when I was staying at my sister's?

No, I was not such an old fogey that I went to bed at 10 pm like I wanted to. (I'm 15 mos older than my sister and a full 2 mos older than my cousin, which is what I'm using to justify the fact that I look at the hours they keep and start muttering under my breath about kids these days.)

A few of my cousin's friends came over, and brought beer and wine. We sat around for several hours, talking, drinking, listening to music, watching YouTube videos. (Prepare yourselves for a-dorable animal videos in the coming days.) We really had a very nice time, and I'm glad I didn't poop out early in the evening.

By their standards, though, I may have been pooping out early when, at 1 am, I demanded to know where I was going to be sleeping so I could go to bed.

We start working out sleeping arrangements.

The friends start gathering their things to leave.

My cousin starts playing catch across the kitchen with a big inflatable bouncy ball.


Things are pleasant and funny at first, until the bouncy ball knocks an open beer bottle off the counter, and it spills all over the place. One of the friends and I start cleaning it up. They keep playing.


My sister's boyfriend observes, "That wine glass on the table is going to spill before the night's over."

[Crash! Splat! Shatter!]

Wine glass is destroyed, as are the tablecloth and placemats, and it looks like someone took the wine and threw it at the wall.

Friends peace out, we start cleaning up. Red wine, we discover, does not come off of white paint easily, even after just moments. We're wiping and scrubbing, using paper towels and a sink scrubber and Clorox Greenworks with bleach, and we're getting nowhere.

And then my cousin starts spraying with Lysol on top of the Clorox. "No! No!" we yell. "You can't mix bleach and Lysol! It's toxic! It's dangerous! That's the cardinal rule of bathroom cleaning! Our mother taught us when we were 7!"

I was the one who had my face by the wall scrubbing when she started spraying, so I was the one who soon started coughing and choking. It did feel like my nose was burning on the inside. Eventually, we started getting a little light-headed. No explosions, thank God.

Then. . .then, we noticed it had worked. Not perfectly, but the Lysol cleaner plus the Clorox cleaner had worked better than the Clorox alone. And so we decided to keep going. (That might have been the beer deciding.) We opened all the windows and the door, and would periodically go out into the hall to breathe clean air before returning to work creating toxic fumes. We got about halfway done before we gave up and went to bed.

Would I reccomend this method for your red wine stains? I suppose it really depends on whether you value your paint job or your life more highly.

Monday, June 8, 2009

These darn kids!

Last night, I went into Manhattan to see my cousin's band play. They were wonderful, as always. After the show, I went back to the apartment she shares with my sister Suellen, because it seemed silly to take the ride all the way back out to the suburbs just to go to bed and wake up and take a train all the way back into the city. I imagined myself perky and well-rested, since having a 30-minute commute would mean I could wake up at 7:15 am instead 5:30 am. That's a lot of sleep!

When my cousin and I walk into the apartment, around 9:30, my Suellen and her boyfriend are looking at menus online.

"Oh, are you ordering food?" I ask.

I was hungry, I could have used a little pre-bedtime snack.

"We're thinking about going out for dinner."

"This late?" I'm incredulous. "It's a weeknight!"

"I know!" my cousin agrees. "I probably won't stay up past 2 or 2:30 tonight, since I have to be at work at 8."

I waited for her to laugh at her own joke, to at least crack a smile. Nothing. She was serious.

I'm sorry, can anyone else count how few hours of sleep that allows?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

God Texts the 10 Commandments

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg's

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
ttyl, JHWH.
ps. wwjd?

From McSweeney's

(A Protestant 10 Commandments, but I'll take it.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dig Kabri

Just added a new blog to the sidebar, which is supposed to begin chronicling an archeological dig taking place at the Tel Kabri site in Israel this summer. Should be interesting. Check it out!

It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary

I love watching Disney as an adult. (Sometimes, in the context of Disney, I think of myself as an adult.) Watch this video.

Seriously. Did you ever realize Bert was hitting on Mary? And that she totally shoots him down? I mean, really, "You'd never think of pressing your advantage/Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed/A lady needn't fear when you are near/Your sweet gentility is crystal clear." In modern parlance, that's "Don't even try it." Ouch.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Benedictine monk copies manuscripts: Slow news day, or super-exciting?

A Benedictine monk, inspired by his order's long history of copying manuscripts, is at the head of an effort to digitize rare and priceless manuscripts. The Wall Street Journal reports:

One of the most ambitious digital preservation projects is being led, fittingly, by a Benedictine monk. Father Columba Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's Abbey and University in Minnesota, cites his monastic order's long tradition of copying texts to ensure their survival as inspiration.

His mission: digitizing some 30,000 endangered manuscripts within the Eastern Christian traditions, a canon that includes liturgical texts, Biblical commentaries and historical accounts in half a dozen languages, including Arabic, Coptic and Syriac, the written form of Aramaic. Rev. Stewart has expanded the library's work to 23 sites, including collections in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, up from two in 2003. He has overseen the digital preservation of some 16,500 manuscripts, some of which date to the 10th and 11th centuries. Some works photographed by the monastery have since turned up on the black market or eBay, he says.

I think this is an amazingly cool story. It lumps together a lot of digital preservation projects, though, some being much more exciting and much more important than others. The slide show includes, next to images of deteriorating priceless manuscripts being preserved by digitization like a 17th-century Book of Hours in Arabic from a Lebanese manuscript, the UN's World Digital Library image of Einstein's naturalization papers. I'd guarantee that Einstein's Declaration of Intent has been scanned multiple times and exists in digital copies in several places. It's often seen in National Archives brochures. I mean, it's well-known, it's safe and well-cared for, I'm sure it's location is meticulously documented (especially if the article is accurate in saying it's housed in College Park, as I think that, as Einstein was from NJ, his papers would be housed in NY if they weren't taking particular care of them because they're special), and it appears to be in very good condition. It's available digitally on NARA's website. Maybe I'm jaded by constant exposure to "normal" archival materials, but being able to see Einstein's declaration online in another place just seems plain old boring compared to modern day monks crusading for the preservation of otherwise unknown, unavailable, inaccessible, and often unprotected priceless manuscripts.

Crusader monks and archival preservation. What's not to love?

H/T Jennifer's Favorite Links