Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Happenings, or Why I've Been Neglecting the Blog, Update #2

The garden is still half overgrown with weeds. I haven't even attempted to plant anything. Very sad. But life has been crazy busy this summer. Perhaps unusually so with a dear husband working on an intensive PhD program, two successive French exchange students, an engagement and another daughter discerning the religious life.

My life, for now, has been preoccupied with taking care of children, dogs, adult children, a cat, a husband and trying to stay cool in the heat. We've had two medical issues to deal with (successfully avoiding surgery twice!), major car repairs (there goes the new floor fund), a bathroom remodel, two kids sent off to camp and I've finished helping with our regional Catholic Home Education conference. I'm hoping life will be getting back to a more measured pace soon.

Isn't it always the way it goes? You think life will give you a break and slow down in the next phase, but it ends up speeding up, changing direction or just going berserk. Learning to live in the moment, taking each day as it comes and seeing the joy and beauty of creation in all things is what keeps me from going totally schizoid.

1st degree black belt Bernadette, red belt Mom and 2nd degree black belt Edmund.
Oh, and I got my red belt in taekwondo. Being able to kick, punch and yell, "AYEEE YAAA!" can also be very comforting.

Family Happenings, or Why I've Been Neglecting the Blog

Note: I wrote up the following entry some time ago, in June, to explain to a few curious readers why I haven't been blogging.

I love summertime! I can usually be found working in my large vegetable garden, ignoring all other household chores. This summer, however, has proven difficult to find time to devote to my gardening passion. I now have several hundred square feet of 3-4 foot tall weeds that I first must eradicate before I can plant anything. All my seedlings, which I had started indoors in March, suffered from neglect and died. But I can't give up hope. There's always the garden center where I can spend oodles of money to buy lovely tomato and pepper plants and I still have some hope that I can plant some seeds and get something from my patch of dirt.
The dignitaries: Fr. Mitch Pacwa was the graduation speaker at Franciscan University of Steubenville (third from the left, looking down)

There are many excuses I could give for my lack of attention to the garden this summer. Perhaps the best excuse is that the month of May began with a 1450 mile drive (each way) to Steubenville, Ohio, to see the eldest son, Pier, graduate from Franciscan University. He finished his computer science degree (cum laude AND with honors, having completed the Honors Program). Seems like just the other day he was graduating from high school!

We got him and all his gear loaded up on the morning of Mother's Day, then drove for two days home. He was home for only two weeks before he left for his summer internship in Maryland. (Prayers for full-time employment much appreciated!)

the happy grad
Before he left I was able to get his help moving his older sister out of her apartment and into our garage. That is, her stuff was moved into our garage. We don't have a basement, so our oversized garage has become the main storage for our two college grads as they are transitioning into new phases in their lives, as well as our two college gals who have much of their childhood mementos stored in our garage along with all the various and sundry other artifacts one collects when one has ten children. (Why else would we have a dozen or so bicycles in the garage?)

After dear son left, we had to drive 70 miles north to move our next dear daughter, Kateri, from her old basement apartment to her new second story apartment. Fortunately, my dear husband didn't have a class for his PhD that particular Saturday.

Corpus Christi procession in downtown Denver
Next big event was oldest daughter, Maria, getting engaged, followed by her early morning departure to Maryland to begin her summer internship. She returned a mere five days later (for a weekend only) to be the sponsor for her youngest sister Bernadette's confirmation. It was a beautiful Mass with Archbishop Chaput, followed by a very traditional and lovely outdoor Corpus Christi procession around the church building in busy downtown Denver. Later that very same day our first of two French exchange students arrived for a three week stay.

sight seeing at Red Rocks park with one of our French exchange students

An Atheist Conversion Story--LOL!

The Loser LettersThe Loser Letters by Mary Eberstadt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With biting satire and dark humor, Mary Eberstadt puts a new twist on the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. In this particular tale, A.F. (A Former) Christian writes a series of letters to the top brass in the Atheist world, e.g. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al.

The "Loser" in the story is the same Person as the Enemy in Screwtape, i.e. God. Once the reader gets one's head around the fact that this story is topsy-turvy, and it's actually a compliment to be called a "loser," a "crackpot," a "Dull," "unspeakably treacherous," "dangerous," or "mortal enemy," then one begins to fully appreciate the wickedly brilliant sense of humor of Mrs. Eberstadt. And she is not afraid to name names. Besides addressing her letters to her BFFs (Best Friends Forever) in the atheist world and calling them by name: "Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Onfray, Stenger and Others" she also names some of the greatest enemies of atheism: John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, Fulton Sheen, Elizabeth Anscombe, Mother Teresa, Kit Carson, Dorothy Sayers, Alec Guinness, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mortimer Adler, Evelyn Waugh, Malcom Muggeridge, Graham Greene, Hilaire Belloc, T.S. Eliot, Robert P. George, Michael Novak, George Weigel, Bernard Nathanson, Antony Flew, Richard John Neuhaus, Germain Grisez, C.S. Lewis, Dinesh D'Souza, David Berlinski and the sonagram machine, to name just a few.

To give you just a taste of her rare wit, here's a sentence...yes, just one sentence, for you to ponder:

You see, if everything You guys and the rest of the Brights said is true; if we Humans really are just some tiny animate fungus on a somewhat larger rock of some kind, however statistically improbable, just orbiting one of those billions and billions of stars that Forebear Carl Sagan liked to talk about; if there really is nothing behind us and nothing ahead, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all; if You guys and the other Atheists are right, and all Loser's poets, builders, painters, prophets, believers, and apologists stretching back over three millennia are wrong; if no one else really is watching us, or caring about any of us at all; well then, in this whole random cosmic rave of matter and antimatter, space and time, that just dwarfs every last thing any one of us will ever be or think or do--if that's really what we're talking about here, then one little elective medical procedure, one teeny-tiny exercise of a woman's right to choose by one very insignificant human female like A.F. Christian, shouldn't matter much to anyone, anywhere, ever at all.

Brilliant, isn't it?

And on the wide-range of atheist opinions on the morality of abortion, she gives this adroit observation:

At first, I have to admit, I didn't quite get why everybody should be so North-Korean-election-lopsided about this. After all, we Atheists are supposed to be Freethinkers. We do disagree about some important things, like--well, like nothing I can think of offhand, but I'm sure there's something we don't all think alike about, somewhere. This issue isn't one of them, though.

It is a pleasure to read a book that promotes deep-thinking, yet is easy to read. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves you hungry for more. Thankfully, the author has given us a list of "enemies" from whose work we can choose.

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