Saturday, December 29, 2007

Palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss

Your Famous Movie Kiss is from Romeo + Juliet

"Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night"

On the Verge of a Breakdown?

Our Favorite Verger breaks radio silence at last. And it seems the Long Vigil in the desert has not withered his wit, nor custom staled his infinite variety.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/Slouches towards Atwater???

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How the Grinch Stole San Joaquin, part 3

St. Nicholas Church, Atwater received a letter on Christmas Day. Father Risard's "deployment at St. Nicholas is now over." Please note, this is not the same as being fired, because the Bishop said he would not do that, and the Bishop is an honorable man.

The locks at the church have been changed. Please note, this does not mean that St. Nicholas is closed down, because the Bishop said he would not do this, and the Bishop is an honorable man.

The Bishop said that nothing would change after the Diocesan Convention except who we pray for as presiding Bishop. Please note, this does not mean that the faithful at St. Nicholas in Exile will now have to meet at at the Castle Vista Rec Center because the Bishop.... oh, wait, never mind.

Here are the directions to the Rec Center.

Father Jake has all the details.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve!

As I spend this Christmas Eve with family and friends in Philly, my warmest wishes to all of you out there.

The light of the Christmas star to you,
The warmth of home and hearth to you,
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you,
The hope of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How the Grinch Stole San Joaquin, part 2

From Andee, an eyewitness at Atwater and all-around "Gooperson" (as Grendel would say) as reported on Father Jake's Blog:

"Bp. Schofield did come to Atwater today, preached and celebrated (with Fr. Fred concelebrating and distributing the eucharist). At the end of the service, Schofield stood up and said that there had been much speculation about the reason for his visit, and he wanted to reassure everyone that (1) Fr. Fred had not been fired and (2) St. Nicholas was not being closed. Then, just as everyone was starting to take a tentative breath of relief, he said the other reason he wanted to come was to tell them that Atwater was no longer bringing in enough money to pay a full time priest, and that instead the diocese would be sending them supply priests occasionally. In other words--Fr. Fred wasn't being fired, he just wasn't going to be paid any longer, and the diocese wasn't even going to keep a steady part time priest, just send supply priests periodically.

Then, in his concluding remarks, Fr. Fred told the full and emotional story of the ways the diocesan leadership--most specifically, he named Bp. Schofield and Canon Gandenberger--had deliberately and maliciously undermined the health of the mission, fostering division and schism instead of love and compassion. Tears, prayers and applause from those who witnessed this!

Among those of us who came to be there in support of Fr. Fred and St. Nicholas were myself, members of Holy Family (Fresno), St. Francis in exile (former members of St. Francis Turlock), St. Michael's in exile (former members of St. Michaels in Sonora), St. Paul's Oakland, St. Aidan's San Francisco, Canon Bob Moore (Diocese of Olympia - also both husband of Bp. Nedi Rivera and Presiding Bp. Katherine's appointee to provide interim pastoral care to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin), Fr. Michael Backlund (representing Bp. of Northern California Barry Beisner), and Remain Episcopal attorney Mike Glass. At least four of us present are on the Remain Episcopal Board.

They were surrounded by our love, and by the prayers of thousands of people from around the world.

Fr. Fred has no plans to leave, and I understand that funds from outside the diocese are being made available to make sure he is paid.

After the service and a wonderful extended coffee hour, a number of us helped them distribute bags of food and turkey certificates to a low income Housing Authority project in the area, where we were greeted with enthusiasm and warm Christmas thanks.

The morning ended with several of us joining Fr. Fred and his extended family (parents, two brothers, nieces and nephews) for lunch.

Emotional, difficult, heartwarming--and Christ was very present."

Lord, have mercy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

How the Grinch Stole San Joaquin, part 1

(Excerpted from the article, "SAN JOAQUIN: Atwater vicar asks bishop to clarify planned visit" at the Episcopal News Service)

The vicar of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Atwater, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin has written to Bishop John-David Schofield questioning his plan to visit the congregation December 23 and asking for clarification about his status as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Fred Risard noted in his December 20 letter to Schofield that St. Nicholas had "already had the pleasure of your annual visitation for 2007."

"Without notice of the upcoming visit we have not had the opportunity to prepare candidates for confirmation, nor is the Bishop's Committee prepared to meet with you," Risard continued.

The vicar told Schofield that he has the permission of the mission's Bishop's Committee (which is the mission equivalent of a vestry) to request the clarifications. Risard also noted that he has consulted with legal counsel.

"We would like you to state to us your pastoral and canonical relationship with St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, and myself," Risard wrote in his letter. "You publicly stated at our diocesan convention that you no longer are the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and instead you are a Bishop within the Province of the Southern Cone. As such, we understand your visit is simply to worship with us; there will be no liturgical role for you, neither celebrating nor preaching. The Episcopal Church welcomes all, and you are most welcome to worship, with the purpose of seeking transformation and reconciliation."....

Risard told ENS that Schofield spoke to a deacon at St. Nicholas by phone on December 20 and questioned the intent of Risard's letter. The vicar said that he emailed Schofield later in the day to assure him that he has no intention of banning him from worshipping with the mission congregation.

"I would never ban anybody from worship -- not even my worst enemy -- because I would hope that they would be transformed by the Eucharist and the grace of God," he said.

Risard said he is worried that Schofield is coming to St. Nicholas to either announce the closing of the mission or his removal as vicar, actions that Schofield has taken elsewhere in the diocese during his episcopate.

"Is it his intention to support the mission congregations in their call to worship and to serve the poor or does he want to close it?" Risard said. "He needs to go on record about what he's doing."

Noting that following their Eucharist, the mission congregation plans to "go out into the community to deliver groceries and coats to a dozen needy families as we seek to do the work of Mission which comes out of our worship of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior," Risard asked in his letter, "Will you be coming as our Episcopal Bishop, having repented of your actions at Diocesan Convention, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation? Or will you be coming to worship as a visiting foreign Bishop seeking to reconcile with your former congregation and Vicar, and, following the Mass, to join us as we take groceries and coats to the poor?"


Aghaveagh says, "what a courageous priest!"

Read the entire article.

Guaranteed to be more boring than Padre Mickey!

Our Great Christmas Adventure: we left the house yesterday evening to catch our plane for Philly (via Lost Wages), so that we would arrive two hours ahead of time. We put the two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's) in the trunk. Dan, our Classics student and Grendel-sitter, drove us to the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (International? Well, they have flights to Mexico.)

The line in front of the US Airways counter was not that long, and so we took our place. However, for the next 15 minutes, it did not move. After an hour, we realized that (as Grendel would say) Something was Very Wrong. Two hours later (really!), we got up to the desk. Our flight to Vegas had been delayed by over an hour, and so virtually everyone who was in front of us had missed their connecting flights and had to be re-routed, as did we. And because it's the Christmas travel season, there were major problems finding flights that were not full. After another half hour (I am totally accurate here, I want you to know; it's part of the excruciating boredom I promised) we had our new flight plans: we would return for a 6:30 am flight on American Airlines to Dallas/FW, and from Dallas to Philly, arriving there only 9 hours later than our expected arrival time.

They gave us a hotel voucher so that we could get our 3.5 hours of sleep before we had to be back at 4:30 am. I suppose we could have tried to go home, but we were dropped off so we didn't have a car, and we didn't even have a house key. So we trudged with our two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's) to the Holiday Inn a half-block away. We caught the bar ten minutes before closing and managed to order two beers and two chicken quesadillas before they threw us out. We then hauled the two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's) up the stairs (what, Fresno hotels have not heard of elevators?) to our room, only to find that the key did not work.

An employee came up to let us in. By the time we had finished eating and were drifting off to sleep, it was about 12 midnight. The nice man on the telephone wake-up call that rang at 3:30 said that today's weather would be sunny and warm. I think it was an old message.

So we schlepped our two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's) back to the airport and over to the line at the American Airlines counter. We waited in line. Luckily the line was moving pretty quickly, and in only about half an hour we were at the counter. We presented the paperwork that the nice man (Andre)* had given us last night to the equally nice lady (Claudia)* and found out that our confirmed reservation Did Not Exist. After about a half hour of waiting, and several phone conversations with Bob* at the US Airlines counter Claudia was able to get the Magic Numbers that, upon entry into her computer, would allow her to put us on standby for the flight.

* Please note: all names changed to protect the innocent and the incompetent.

Oh, dear...when Claudia tried to punch in the Magic Numbers it appears that they contained too many digits and hence lacked the requisite Magick. Another attempt to get Bob back on the phone. He was having none of it. We stood to the side while Claudia helped the people who actually were going to get on the plane for Dallas FW and tried to straighten things out with Bob over the phone, pleading several times in a plaintive tone for him not to hang up on her.

A total of two hours after we showed up at the AA counter, it became clear to all concerned: Claudia, Liam, me, and the six white German Shepard puppies from (evidently) a puppy mill that were being sent off as Christmas presents to various destinations (and who howled inconsolably in solidarity with us for an hour, nearly driving one of the agents to canicide) that we were going nowhere, except back to US Airways. Claudia apologized profusely, we thanked her profusely, and we trudged back to the US Airways with the two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's).

This time there were only three people in front of us, so after only an hour we found ourselves talking to none other than Bob himself. He was of the opinion that there was nothing wrong with the reservations that Andre had made the night before, that somehow the American Airlines people had screwed up, and he also broadly hinted that somehow it must be our fault for waiting at the AA counter for 2.5 hours. All very well and good, but it doesn't get us and our two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's) to Philly.

He typed arcane data into the computer for what seemed like hours (I could feel the stony stares of those waiting in line boring into my back, so I didn't turn around) but was in reality only about 20 minutes, and finally he had our answer:

We could board a flight to Phoenix at 7:15 pm, arrive in Phoenix at 9:52, then board a flight to Chicago at 11 pm, stay there for two-and-a-half hours, then board a flight to Philly, arriving there Saturday at 8:47 am…only 36 hours after we left our house with the two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's). And that was it. As compensation for our time, we got meal vouchers and an upgrade to first class on the Phoenix to Chicago leg (that was all that was available in First Class.

So now we sit in the magnificent Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, and since we couldn't check our bags yet, we’re stuck in the Ante-Inferno and have to lug around with us the two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's). So we sprung for a luggage cart. We also sprung for a day of wireless Internet access (unlike real airports, Fresno-Yosemite International Airport charges for wireless) so that I can relate to you the story of our Christmas Advent Odyssey, and as a real treat I have taken pictures of some of the exciting objects that will occupy our time for the next eight hours.

The two Rick Steves Back Door bags, one red overnight bag stuffed with socks, presents, and two giant Bubble Makers for the nephews, two briefcases and one purple coat (Liam's).

My Christmas present from Liam--I might as well wear 'em in the airport--we'll be here a while!

Distinctive Headgear and gloves I never get to wear in Fresno.

The Fresno FishWrap.

My Gingerbread Latte.

What I should be reading instead of blogging.

One of the Bubblemakers for the Nephews

A cool set of children's books for reading aloud to the Nephews.

Bored yet? So are we! Here Liam uses the Purple Coat to take a short nap.

By the way, it takes exactly four minute to walk from one end of the airport to the other and back. As Hamlet said, "I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

So, Padre Mickey, are you still there? Padre?? [ZZZzzzzzzzzzz...]

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Belfries of all Christendom

John Gurka's version of "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day"

It always gives me goosebumps.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Next Sunday at a church very near you...

(saw it at Lindy's place)

All over but the grading...

Well, stick a fork in this semester; it is done. All but the grading...I finished giving my last exam on Tuesday and now am working my way through a huge stack of Blue Books, research papers, extra-credit assignments and the inevitable frantic flurry of late assignments ("to be turned in by 5 pm Thursday").

There is not much to be done but put nose to the grindstone, play Christmas... er...Advent music to keep one's spirits bright, take a break when one gets too disgruntled (Oh, just for once I'd like to be gruntled!), and keep the kettle warm.

Tonight is fall graduation with its pomp and ceremony. Much better to wear full academicals when it is 40 degrees out than when it is 100!

I hope you are warm and safe out there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

As the Dust Settles

It's been a whirlwind few days. Saturday, after the convention, we all met at Holy Family to console, be consoled, and pray. We talked a lot about our fears, our hopes, and our sense of loss. Afterwards I spent some quiet time setting up for the Second Sunday in Advent service. The familiar task of filling the candles, setting up the altar, and preparing the elements was very soothing to a soul troubled by the recent events.

Sunday morning we had what must have been a record attendance for a non-holiday Sunday for our two services. We almost ran out of wafers! Luckily some prudent Altar Guild member put out a reserve :-). I can't honestly say if it will last, but it was wonderful. The mood was optimistic and the fellowship grand. Father Keith gave a great homily about "How can we find peace--in the world, in the church, in our hearts" filled with his usual humor and thoughtfulness.

Well, towards the end of the service several press crews started showing up, including one from Univision. Ojalá que usted esté aquí, Padre Mickey, for we had no fluent Spanish speaker at the early service. (As a bit of humor, we delegates at the HF table at convention began to speak in Spanish after the vote, but my Spanish is very rusty.) All the more reason seriously to discern your calling, Padre; we need you here in the continuing Diocese of San Joaquin!

There was a piece in the L.A. Times that had some good things to say, including the last bit about Father Keith:

"Meanwhile, Axberg, Holy Family's rector since 2003, urged his congregation Sunday not to worry about the future. He told them about the convention votes and answered a few questions about steps likely to be taken by the national church. Finally, he asked them to pray for all involved in the diocese's continuing struggle, including for Schofield. First one, then all, rose to applaud their priest."

Now things are starting to settle down from the buzz over convention, but as the word spreads, some folks in other parishes (not delegates, but the people in the pews) are beginning to realize what this vote means, and they are asking questions and writing letters.

One last thing: you cannot know how much your support has meant to us. Father Jake has opened up his blog as a place for comfort and news, and reading your comments has done much to lift our spirits. Kristin, Paul, Diane, Padre Mickey, and others, thanks for dropping by and adding your words of support!

Personally, I feel most for the missions, who have no choice in this process, and whose clergy are appointed by the Bishop. They can be closed at his desire, and their buildings sold. I hope that this does not happen, but as parishes begin to place their assessments into accounts earmarked for the Episcopal Church, not the Province of the Southern Cone, the diocesan budget will feel the pinch.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

We are still here

We mourn the departure of many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who did what they thought was right. We love them and pray for them and wish them well as they join the Southern Cone.

We, however, are not going anywhere. We ARE the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and although we are currently without a bishop, we have godly clergy to lead us and courageous laity eager to carry on the Great Commission.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Diocesan Convention, Day one

The first day of convention consisted mainly of procedural matters.

I attended the Eucharist that opened convention this morning at St. James Cathedral. It has been a year since I attended mass here. I felt a certain sadness because we used to attend here regularly until we felt we could no longer do so in good conscience.

It was certainly awesome in its ceremony! Three pointy hats, dozens of priests and deacons, pomp and pageantry, glorious music and wonderful sung liturgy. There was nothing liturgically here that I did not agree with--why am I not orthodox in their eyes?

The Bishop of Bolivia, the Right Reverend Frank Lyons, gave the sermon. In essence, he said that we are on a journey, and that it may not always be comfortable. In fact, although we may wish for a comfortable Jesus who shows up in the morning to give us tea, this is not the case. It's scary stuff.

In the afternoon, we heard the Bishop's address. Rather than giving you my paraphrase, here is a link to the text of the speech.

I will blog more tomorow. I am exhausted in body and soul.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thoughts for this weekend...from our friend Billy.

THE World is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon, 5
The winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn,— 10
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

San Joaquin Diocesan Convention is coming up

Our Diocesan convention is a week away. As a delegate, I must admit I am not looking forward to it at all. It is most likely that the second vote on the constitutional changes will pass by a large majority.

And so those of us who do not want to abandon our Church wait for the vote that will put us in no-man's land--not wishing to "leave" with the rest of the diocese (as if they could actually vote to remove an Episcopal Diocese out of the Episcopal Church) and not knowing how soon, if at all, the National Church will act to place some sort of presence here.

I feel two main emotions: sadness and frustration.

I'm sad because my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ no longer feel that they can worship with us.

I'm sad because our Bishop, who is supposed to visit all of his parishes, never visited Holy Family, although we repeatedly asked him when he was going to come.

I'm sad because when the vote passes, everyone around me will be rejoicing. I will not be.

I'm sad because my fellow Episcopalian professor now calls herself an Anglican, and there is now an unspoken barrier between us.

I'm frustrated by people who know little or nothing about the history of the Bible and the transmission of texts speaking of the "faith once delivered" as set in stone (as if it were some sort of moldy archaeological artifact!)

I'm frustrated because my theology is just as orthodox as theirs is, and in most areas certainly more Anglo-Catholic, and I'm getting tired of being labeled a heretic. The bishop said in a recent interview with our local ABC news affiliate that the Episcopal Church has "abandoned much of the Bible and its ethical teachings." This is, in a word, poppycock. I'm so tired of this refrain, "you disagree with me, therefore you're a heretic..."

The Bishop has said time and again that those of us who do not want to leave (although he puts it as those of us who want to "leave the diocese") will be allowed to do so, and he will not take our property. I want to think he is a man of his word.

In his pastoral letter, he states:

"Should the second reading of the Constitutional changes receive the necessary two thirds of each order voting affirmatively next month, this will mean that the Diocese is free to accept the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone."

He also says that it may not be permanent--that (citing the old invalid comparison to the Dioceses of Southern States during the Civil War) if the Episcopal Church repents, the Diocese may return. Hmm. Don't hold your breath.

Already chinks in the armor have begun to show, and the vote may not be as overwhelming as last year's first vote. I have to be honest, though, if the vote doesn't pass, we'll still be in the same position of Limbo, with a Bishop who no longer wishes to pastor us, and we will continue to endure the same misery. Let's end this now and get back to our true mission--the Great Commission.

We could all use your prayers Friday and Saturday next.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Goodbye, Sneakaround Jones

Sneakaround Jones died this evening.

We were out today "getting and spending" as the poet says. In a lull during cooking dinner I went to check on Sneakaround Jones. He was sitting in the litter box--he's never done that before. I lifted him out and put him on the bed. I could tell something was wrong. He seemed weak and his legs looked very odd. This was about 8:00.

I took him in the blanket out to the couch and told Liam that there was something wrong with Sneakaround. We laid him on the couch, wrapped in the blanket. He was still purring. Over the next hour he became progressively worse. I called the Shabazz-man and got his service. I left a message to call, that we may need him to come out.

Soon it became apparent that Sneakaround was failing fast. We told him that it was ok--he could go to sleep and that we would see him soon. We kept vigil.

For the most part he seemed very weak although at one point he tried to get up. His breathing became very labored. Liam had to walk Grendel and so I told him that Sneakaround would wait till he got back. When Liam brought Grendel back, I could see that Sneakaround was laboring. I called Liam. We forgot about dinner.

We sat on the couch and cradled him for about an hour. He died in our arms. He did not seem to be in pain. He gave a couple of deep breaths and then he left.

We said goodbye and wrapped him in the blanket. We brought the other cats to say goodbye too, so they would not wonder what happened.
Then we put him, still wrapped in the blanket, in a cardboard box, and Liam brought him out to the garage. We'll take him tomorrow to the SPCA to be cremated.

He was a good cat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sneakaround Jones is sick

We're not exactly sure what is wrong, but the vet (The Shabazz-Man) thinks it may be bladder cancer. Sneakaround has always been plagued by bladder infections, but lately it has gotten worse. We have tried antibiotics and steroids and anti-spasmodic medicine...nothing seems to help. But he seems in good spirits and he's not in pain that we can tell--his quality of life is still good. But soon we may have to make a difficult decision.

I've never loved any cat this much--Sneakaround is special. Dog-like in his affections, a real people-lover. He sits next to me as I type, purring away. Hi ssoft snoring on the couch is the most comforting sound in the world. He is about 13 years old as far as we can tell-he and his brother Bertie Wooster were brought to us by Jean the Cat Lady when I was still in graduate school at Bryn Mawr. He's already been through at least nine lives--operations for ear tumors, a needle in the throat, the infections that have landed him in the pet hospital more than once...and has yet he has always kept his good humor.

I asked Cassandra, the vet's assistant, if the Shabazz-man ever made house calls to give the last necessary medicine--I don't want Sneakaround's last minutes to be in the vet's office, but at home with us. She said that he would for his favorite clients. I hope we will know when the right time will be. Until then I try to give him extra love and special food. He has his own place to sleep when he wants to get some time away from the other cats.

I don't even like thinking about it, but the visit by the Shabazz-man is the last bit of loving care we can give him.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Guy Fawkes Day...and my birthday!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November...

I do love birthdays, mine especially. And since I celebrate Birthday Tide, there's still time to buy presents! It lasts for a week month!

Thank you, MP, for the lovely music! Yer the best!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What type of Liberal am I?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

I guess I never thought of myself as either intellectualist or elite...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

St. Laika

On a cold November morning fifty years ago today
Russia sent a dog named Laika to the cosmos far away.

How ironic that your capsule bore the name of Sputnik Two!
For there would be no companion on this odyssey for you.

Good-natured mutt, a street survivor, how life must have seemed so good
When they saved you, brought you home and bathed you, trained you, gave you food.

Little Barker, Little Muttchik, unsuspecting pioneer
How could scientists have named you and yet be so cavalier?

Trustingly, you let them strap you in the cockpit, shut the door–
“It’s the same game we had played, about a thousand times before”

Surely soon, they would come back, release you, give you treats and praise
As you waited, patiently, yet puzzled by the long delays.

Then the take-off, oh, how frightening, as your heart beat twice as fast,
Three times, as you felt the power of the g-force from the blast

Did you whimper? Did you shudder? Did you fear that cosmic night?
Did you wonder why your friends had sent you on this fatal flight?

Or did love and deep devotion to them calm your deep alarm
Trusting, hoping, still expecting them to keep you from all harm?

And then, finally, was nothing, only silent, empty space
Only Little Laika, sleeping, still with hope upon her face

On a chilly April evening, finally your journey’s end
Shooting star lights up the night sky, welcome home, my valiant friend.

Blessed Laika, we are sorry, for the horrors we put you through
Blessed Laika, please forgive us, for we know not what we do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Irish triad

Three things that soothe the weary spirit: a cup of strong sweet tea, the smoky smell of a peat fire, the soft snoring of an old cat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Evening Office Hour Blogging

My office hour after my last class is always fairly quiet, allowing me to get a bit of work done. Or (getting one's priorities straight) some blogging!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one speaks volumes:

(Guess what I'll be doing this weekend!)

But not tonight. Not on Friday Night!

It's time for Chinese food, a glass of wine, the latest Netflix, and some Blogsurfing. I have a feeling Red Mr. Peanut is going to be brilliant tonight!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

St. Crispin's Day

This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
Henry V, IV iii.

The best ever battle speech from Shakespeare, performed by the best Shaespearean actor. It gives me goosebumps every time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Harry Potter would be proud.

A true hero speaks out over at Caliban's Dream. Please read this compelling story and spread the word.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bad Cold

I am sick with a cold, nothing really serious, just feeling sub par. I should be grading papers but that is far more than my poor brain can take at this juncture. So I am reading other people's blogs. Padre Mickey is his usual eloquent self, with posts about all the saints in the past week. Grandmère Mimi has a potpourri of insightful observations in lovely posts with great art, including a leaf from one of my all-time favorites, Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. (I resisted the temptation to insert a "the" in front of Les--Liam always brings up that the "The La Brea Tar Pits" actually means "The The Tar Tar" Pits...)

Mad Priest is his usual brilliant self, although catching some flack from the Colonials for his use of a certain taboo noun. If I say I can see both sides of the argument, and agree with both positions, does that land me a spot in Dante's Ante-Inferno?

And Grendel has launched his own blog.

I wish I knew what this New York party was all about...but on the other hand, I wasn't invited (self-pitying sob).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wireless is Wonderful

We now have wireless at the house! It's amazing how much more work I've been able to do in the last few days: I can answer my e-mail I can surf the 'net, and (best of all) I can read OCICBW nestled in my own comfy little bed, while Grendel growls contentedly nearby.

Yesterday I was on campus for 13 hours....and except for a brief lunch worked the whole time. (Good Grief! you'd think I'd be caught up by by now but no, I seem to be even more behind than before!)

As I write this, my Medieval History students are working on their midterms. I can almost hear those busy little minds churning out essays on the Crusades and the development of the Church in the early medieval period.....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blessing of the Animals at Holy Family

What a great turnout! The parishioners of Holy Family and their companion animals came out in full force on Saturday. (The unofficial count is 17 dogs, 11 cats, and one rubber chicken.)

Father Keith did a wonderful job, first blessing all Animals of the World, those to the North, to the East, to the South, and to the West.

The he bestowed a personal blessing on each individual animal (including the Rubber Chicken):
Kristin, our Parish Administrative Assistant, gets a blessing for her dog.

Lee and her kitties...

Grendel behaved so well! I was very proud of him.

There was a wonderful service with music, and they played Grendel's favorite hymn, "All Creatures of Our Lord and King"! There were doggie and cat treats for the quadrupeds, and other treats for the bipeds. ("Don't get them mixed up," Father Keith urged us.)

This is Kathleen's beagle. Isn't she lovely?

Oh, and here's the Rubber Chicken.

Yes, it is!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Non-Canonical Cat Blogging

Sneakaround Jones likes this spot in the bookcase.

Who let the cat out of the bag? (Actually, it's The Pig.)

Phoebe the Moon-Kitty chomps on Elephant's Child.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Grendel offers a Poem for St. Francis

Grendel the Misanthropic Dog wanted me to post a poem he wrote in honor of St. Francis. Well, it's actually a song, to be sung to the last bit of "All Creatures of Our God and King", the words of which were written by St. Francis. Grendel didn't know that when he composed the song; it must be serendipity:

What does it Mean to be a Dog?
Not the same as being a Frog.
Dog and Frog,
Dog and Frog,
They are Not the Same.

(He begs me point out that the capitalization is Very Important Indeed.)

If Grendel behaves himself, he will join the other animals at the Parish Blessing of the Animals this Saturday. Hmmm. I can't believe I just typed the words "Grendel behaves himself."

Monday, October 1, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, 1918-2007

My very first post here at TMBN was a quote from one of the best children's books ever written, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

It is hard to describe the impact that her books made on me. I read Meet the Austins as a very young girl. It wasn't hard to imagine that this household, with its joy, love of learning and music, faith and stable family life was where I really belonged. My own home life was marked by dingy and ignoble poverty, anti-intellectualism, alcoholism, and a seemingly endless stream of stepfathers, one of whom nearly soured me on religion for life with his Pentecostal-flavored beatings with a thick, black Belt.

Small wonder that the life of the imagination was my refuge, and L'Engle's books in particular offered the glimpse of a life illuminated by learning. Here I first encountered names unheard of in my house: Dante, Donne, Bach, Mozart, Frost...

Whenever we moved (which was often) I quickly found the nearest public library. My first question after "How can I get a library card?" was always "Is there a limit on how many books I can check out?" The only reading material at our house I can remember was a set of the Bible Story Books (I can still see their sky-blue covers) and I had long since devoured all of them, winning undeserved praise at Sunday School for my knowledge of the Bible. The punishment for crimes not serious enough to merit The Belt was simple and devastatingly effective: loss of reading privileges.

A few months ago I fled to the children's section of our campus library and "sought to borrow, from my books surcease of sorrow." Camped out in a carrel for a couple of hours, I re-read Meet The Austins. It's a simple book, really, but has held up well. All those memories came back, some bitter, but many sweet, of the place I had made for myself as a child.

Friday, September 28, 2007

In the weeds

Hard to believe that it's been a month since I have taken even two free moments to blog. Enough of this. Work be blowed. Bid it goodbye. The work will never be done, completed. I hereby grant myself a small space in which to write everyday.

Why not? It's now the end of my office hours, Friday, the last student has left, the weekend looms, full of the promise of at least two hours' leisure, and I am listening to Sinead O'Connor sing that great old ballad of Irish courage, The Foggy Dew:

It never fails to send shivers down my spine:

But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.

So, anyway, I have to go do some shopping because tomorrow is Holy Family's Greek Dinner and I am doing the stuffed grape leaves and the hummos. Maybe I'll have a chance to write more tomorrow--lots to tell: a new computer, a new bookbinding press (which alas, has sat on the table unused since I got it for lack of otium) the sad news of the passing of Madeleine L'Engle, and the continuing saga of our dear disfunctional diocese (DDD? Hmmm.) And perhaps while the grape leaves cook I can catch up on the many Friday Night Red Mr. Peanut Bank episodes I have missed!

But I promise to be more diligent in future, although I'm sure that most have given up on Aghaveagh long since...nonetheless, perhaps a traveler or two will pass by and offer greetings.

So I leave you with a lovely image from an old country saying:

"THE closing of an Autumn evening is like the running of a hound across the moor.
Night is a good herd: she brings all creatures home."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

St. Augustine of Hippo

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

- Augustine, Confessions, 10.27

It's beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Of Course!

You're Ireland!

Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this makes you intriguing. You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice. You're good with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato. You really don't like snakes.

(quiz nicked from Doxy, who nicked it from Eileen)

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

The Book Quiz

You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!
by C.S. Lewis
You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust in zoo animals.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On The Beach

is the title of the long-awaited blog by David Charles Walker, with absolutely transcendent music– and dancing! He even has a triad of his own devising worthy of any Irish bard:

"Three transfiguring events:
• the passing of a friend,
• the glory of a transformed night sky,
• Christ upon the mountain peak."

Put on your dancing shoes and enjoy!

Three Things

Three sparks that kindle love: a face, demeanour, speech.

"Three Things" are traditional Irish triads.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Bard of Armagh

I am feeling very sentimental and sad because Tommy Makem, the great Irish singer, the Bard of Armagh, has died.

He sang with the Clancy Brothers for some years before going solo. He was the voice of the Children of Ireland in Exile, for anyone who had even a drop of Irish blood, or who wished he did. Anyone whose heart soars at the sound of a plaintive penny whistle, or the sweet, lyrical strains of a fiddle.

"We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?"

And so, in honor of Tommy, I imagine everyone coming together for a wild, joyous ceilidh. Oh, it will be held at Mad Priest's-- that way he couldn't make any excuses about the journey. Can you see the joyful crowd on the dance floor, with Grandmère leading the way so dignified and grand in her midnight blue silk taffeta, and Wormwood's Doxy cutting a very fine figure indeed (in red, of course), so that all the lads would line up for a dance, and she'd break their hearts by the end of the evening. Everyone would fall hushed to see Cecilia dancing so sweetly with her Beloved during a slow, sad ballad, and wipe their eyes and remember what it was like to be young and newly in love. Ellie would wear out a pair of red dancing shoes and drop exhausted into a chair, to be revived with ices and shandy. Mad Priest would eye the scene with a proprietary air from his seat of honor and smile graciously on all. But the real stars of the dance floor would be ePiscoSours and Counterlight, whose sophisticated dance moves would amaze the crowd. (Lisabeth would try, but you know what they say...)

Me, I'm behind the bar pouring pints, much too shy to venture onto the dance floor...(but towards the cusp of the evening, when most everyone is feeling blurred and happy from too much Jameson's, if Padre Mickey asked very sweetly??, perhaps not.)

And then, at the end, when they played "The Parting Glass," we would all rise and sway gently to the music, and remember what it is about this frustrating, bewildering, mortal coil that keeps us all from wanting to shuffle it off quite yet. That is, in a word, Love.

And now, please join the party!

Simply Marvelous.

The Mad One has a particularly lovely Midnight Jukebox that I highly recommend. Of, course, I am behind the times but I had a difficult time loading his pages over the weekend. So please listen if you haven't already.

Feast of the Transfiguration

I send you to Padre Mickey and Grandmère Mimi for some lovely thoughts on the day.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Three Things

Three fewnesses that are better than plenty: a fewness of fine words, a fewness of cows in grass, a fewness of friends around ale.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

St. Sithney, Patron of Grendel and other Mad Dogs

I am reliably informed by Nicholodeon (of the aptly named DOGma reVIEW) that today is the name-day of St. Sithney, patron saint of mad dogs, and this is confirmed by the 13th century martyrology of Exteter Cathedral. According to Nicholas Orme (no relation to Nicholodeon, I think) in The Saints of Cornwall, God offered to make St. Sithney the patron of young girls. Sithney, alarmed that he would get no respite from the young lasses pestering him for finery and husbands, wisely backed off, choosing a less dangerous tutelage, that of mad dogs!

Mad and sick dogs were taken to drink from St. Sithney's spring near Helston, in Cronwall, to cure them.

Here is a photo of my very own mad dog, Grendel the Misanthropic Dog.

Friday, August 3, 2007

When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

--John Keats

Monday, July 30, 2007

I enjoy cross-referencing.

I am in love with LibraryThing. The website allows you to catalog your library online. I came across it accidentally when I was doing a book-title search. It allows you to catalog up to 200 of your books for free--but I immediately sprang for the twenty-five dollar, lifetime, as-many-books-as-you-want membership. Absurdly reasonable! (No, I don't work for them...)

I have had such fun cataloging the books! And it's so useful--I have devised a code to let me know where the books are, so that (for example) if I need to see if I have a copy of Dante's Inferno at home, I just look for the tag "D" (for domus). I can figure out that I have way too many copies of Wheelock's Latin, in various editions. And (here's the most fun) I can see who else has the books I own, how many unique books I own (i.e. no one else on LibraryThing owns a copy) and other fun statistics. Of course, you can keep your library private, but what's the fun in that?

I also bought a little CueCat to scan barcodes of ISBN numbers --this speeds up the entering process considerably, although most of my books don't have a barcode as they are too old. So far I estimate that I have about 1/3 of the books in the office on campus entered, and about 1/10 of the home library done. I can sort by tag (currently I own six books on Egyptian hieroglyphs, all at school, one of which no other LibraryThingers own).

If this sounds like obsessively good fun, check it out! If not, well, I'm sure you are geekily obsessed with something else, so don't make fun of me.

Buffy: You're beginning to scare me, Giles. You need to have some fun. You know, there's this place you can go, right, and you sit in the dark, and there are these moving pictures, right, and the pictures tell a story.
Giles: Yes, yes, ha, ha, very droll. I'll have you know that I have very many relaxing hobbies.
Buffy: Such as?
Giles: Well, um... I enjoy cross-referencing.
Buffy: Do you stuff your own shirts, or do you send them out?

"Halloween," Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season 2

Friday, July 13, 2007

St. James' Cathedral changes its name: article from the Fresno Bee

By Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee
07/07/07 04:29:11

St. James' Episcopal Cathedral in east-central Fresno has a new name -- St. James' Anglican Cathedral.

New marquee signs bearing the name change have been installed at the church, headquarters for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and just east on church property at Cedar and Dakota avenues. The church is at 4147 E. Dakota Ave.

The Rev. Carlos L. Raines, St. James' pastor and the cathedral's dean, says the name change is a statement to the community that St. James' and other diocesan parishes have differences with the U.S. Episcopal Church.

In 2003, the U.S. Episcopal Church elected V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as its first openly gay bishop. In December, delegates at the Diocese of San Joaquin convention in Fresno voted to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church and align with the Anglican Communion over differences about sexuality and the Bible.

The Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide, oversees the U.S. Episcopal Church.

The Diocese of San Joaquin split will require a second vote in October, at the 2007 convention, to become official.

Of the name change taking place before the second vote, the Rev. Van McCalister, diocesan spokesman, says, "We're already, by association, constituent members of the Anglican Communion." So St. James' and other diocesan parishes have a right to claim Anglicanism, he says.

-- Ron Orozco, The Fresno Bee

A letter to the editor by Edward Brennan of Visalia in today's Fresno Bee notes, in part, that:

"The name change at St. James Episcopal Cathedral to "Anglican" is a wake-up call for Episcopalians. The bishop has been in disagreement with the Episcopal Church for years and at the last Diocesan Convention the constitution was purged of all references to the Episcopal Church.

The bishop also made clear his intention to place the Diocese of San Joaquin under the authority of the Anglican churches of the Global South. If you are curious about the future orthodoxy that the bishop will impose, ask your local minister to provide the congregation with the Resolutions Adopted at the May 6, 2002 Deanery Meeting."

Aghaveagh notes:
Holy Family Church in Fresno just installed new signs reading "Holy Family Episcopal Church" (Italics mine). They, however, have no plans to update these signs in the near future.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Another fun way to waste, be creative

Such fun! Not only does Dylan post the "10 least popular memory verses for Sunday school", she also provides us with a link to a site whereat you can create your own motivational poster using said verses! (thanks to Susie ad loc for the verse suggestion--by the way, she has a great blog and I love her Friday Fives!)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cell Phone Anathema: A Rant

I loath telephones in general. I hate talking on them. I detest how they interrupt one's life.
I loath cell phones in particular. I hate how disruptive they are, and I hate what text-messaging has done to the spelling and literacy skills of my students. Why is it so hard to turn off your cell phone when you come into a class? How many times does one actually need to be in constant contact with the outside world for the 50 minutes or so that class is in session? Sure, if your wife is expecting a baby, or your dad is having surgery...I could, and do, understand. But don't those things have a vibrate function?

I'll never forget the time when, during an exam, a student's cell phone went off, she answered it and, after enthusiastic greetings were exchanged, said, "I'm sorry, I can't talk to you now, I am taking an exam..." WHY in the world would you answer a cell phone to tell someone you can't talk to them? Wouldn't the voice mail do the same thing? How could one think this is appropriate?

Perhaps this professor has the right idea:

Incredibly, there are some of us who are still cell phone holdouts.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth of July

Every year, on morning of the Fourth of July, Liam and I emerge from our front door wearing newspaper tricorne hats with revolutionary slogans on them. Liam carries the flag and I precede him playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on my penny whistle. We march down the street in fine military fashion and return to install the flag in its place of honor. With a salute and such exclamations as "Down the British!" (Sorry, Mad Priest) "Up the Rebels", the ceremony ends. Just before sunset the procession (in reverse) is led to the strains of "Taps" and the flag is retired for the evening.

Inspired by the film "The Great Escape," it is one of our favorite rituals. Luckily we live in a neighborhood of eccentrics.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Cat-Blogging

Tuxedo and Sneakaround Jones

Millerton Store
(yes, she only has one eye!)

The Store-Bought Kitty With a Long History

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I've been tagged by Cecilia

Here's what I have to do:
*I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
*Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
*People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
*At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
*Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I hate telephones in general and cell phones in particular. I almost never answer my phone and often do not answer the doorbell. I would rather not talk to people at all, but I am o.k. on the computer. I tend to be rather agoraphobic.

2. I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan.

3. I love beer and I have my own mug at a local brewpub, which entitles me to one free beer every day. A friend of mine and I brewed many batches of beer in graduate school. (We named one of our batches of beer "Baskerville Bitter.")

4. I have no interest in fashion. I have not worn make-up or high heels in centuries and am seriously considering "plain" dress.

5. I have competed in a hundred-mile bicycle race. Thousands of people finished before me, but thousands also finished after me.

6. I tend to listen to the same music all the time except when I go to Mad Priest's place. My favorite singer is Van Morrison and my favorite album is Avalon Sunset. My favorite composer is Bach and I often play the Goldberg Variations when I am working.

7. If I had to be any other occupation than a professor, I would be a cabinetmaker, a nun, or a chef.

8. I have a tendency towards kleptomania.

I tagged David Charles Walker, who doesn't have a blog (although we're working on him) so he will have to post here, and a bunch of other people who as of yet didn't want to play. *sob*

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It's 107 degrees...

But it's a dry heat.

Got in safely last night. Had a wonderful drive. Grendel the Misanthropic Dog behaved himself admirably. We took turns driving (Liam and I, not Grendel) and reading aloud from the Bible when the NPR faded through Ezra, Nehemiah, and most of Esther. I have to say that all that genealogy in Nehemiah is a real snoozer, though, and the names are harder to pronounce than mine!

Used the road trip as an excuse for fast food, since we couldn't stop at a real restaurant with the dog in the car. We did stop at a small roadside fruit stand where Gene sold us a lovely box assortment of stone fruit (including some I had never heard of, "plumcots" and "pluots") to bring to my sister and her husband, and we also bought some to eat along the way so it wasn't all unhealthy food.

I have forgotten the USB cord for my camera so no pix can be loaded yet, although there were some awesome windmills along the way (anachronistic as "windmill" may sound, since they were the tall metal, three-armed ones--no one tilting at them...)

They might be giants.
(one of my favorite films)

Monday, June 4, 2007

On the Road

We set out bright and early this morning for a road trip! Grendel the Misanthropic Dog is going with us, but all the cats and the fishies stay home, with instructions to eat each other if we don't return. Our destination is Phoenix, AZ.

I have my digital camera and I am not afraid to use it (right, Padre M.?). So I hope to blog later on with some pix taken along the way.

As this is a working vacation I am bringing the computer and the book manuscript, but there should be plenty of time for fun reading. I am looking forward to reading Tender Is the Night which comes highly recommended. I have never read it before.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Cookies for Grammar!

A kind reader pointed out that I had a typo in the subtitle of my blog, causing an incorrect negative correlative conjunction. I have fixed it. I appreciate correct grammar, so I was very happy to know!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Boiled Linseed Oil

A day for many small tasks around the house. Finally got some time to treat all the wooden handles of the garden tools with boiled linseed oil. I first sanded them smooth and then rubbed them with a well-oiled rag. After about ten minutes I rubbed off the excess with a clean rag (torn from one of Liam's old T-shirts) and buffed them well.

The oil made the handles dark and smooth. They felt wonderful and smelled even better. I had really put off doing this and the handle of the spade was very dry and cracking in spots. I hope it feels better. There is something about doing tasks such as this that gives you hope for the future.

The smell of boiled linseed oil is very evocative.

I really should clean out the garage.

The Lady's not for Burning

I saw this quiz over at Padre Mickey's. Luckily, it appears I won't burn, at least not for being a heretic.

You scored as Chalcedon compliant, You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with

Friday, June 1, 2007

My Melon-choly Baby?

from Discovery News:

June 1, 2007 — Archaeologists digging in western Japan have excavated what they believe to be the oldest remains of a melon ever found, an official said Friday.

Based on a radiocarbon analysis, researchers estimate the half-rounded piece of fruit to be about 2,100 years old, said Shuji Yamazaki, a local official in the city of Moriyama.

The remains are believed to be the oldest of a melon that still has flesh on the rind, Yamazaki said. Previously, the oldest such find was believed to be remains found in China that date back to the fourth century A.D., according to local media reports.

The melon might have been so well-preserved because it was in a vacuum-packed state in a wet layer below the ground, an environment hostile to microorganisms that might otherwise have broken down the remains, Yamazaki said.

Melon seeds have been often found in archaeological digs around the country, but researchers rarely find the remains of melon flesh, Yamazaki said.

Moriyama is about 205 miles southwest of Tokyo.

I guess that cucumber in the back of my fridge doesn't feel quite so old now.

OK. Enough excitement for the nonce...back to work.

Wormwood's Doxy: Just Love

Many of you have probably come across this post by WD, but in case you haven't, it's deeply moving. Check it out. An excerpt:

"So, my dear friends, do not make his sacrifice a vain one. “Just love”---no matter what the cost. Believe that God’s judgment comes in the form of tears, rather than thunderbolts. Believe that when Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” that he meant it---and that God gave His only Son what was requested."

Thanks. I needed that.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

For J. E.: sit tibi terra levis

I just found out one of my master's students died. He had been ill for a while, but evidently the pain got to be too much. The details aren't entirely clear, but either accidentally, or on purpose, he took too many pain pills.

I found out via e-mail. I don't know if any of you have had the same experience of seeing an e-mail entitled simply with a name. You open it up, and the stark news hits.

Students are not supposed to die before their professors. There's something Homerically wrong about it.

J.E. was pugnacious, argumentative, maddening, irascible. He swore and smoked. He was un-P.C. to the extreme. He would most definitely win the "Most Likely to Climb the Clock Tower" Award. He drove me crazy. I liked him immensely. I couldn't make him learn his Latin verb forms even though I met with him every other day, on my own time, mind you. We argued all the time. He loved his dog. He always brought hard candy.

How can someone so vividly alive be dead? And if there is something after this life (and God knows lately I have had some serious periods of doubt) where will J. end up? How far does God's mercy extend?

May the earth lie light upon thee.