Daybook No. 94

Daybook No. 94

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Outside my window::

Cloudy and chilly! My iPhone says it’s 28 degrees out there, and I’d believe it.

Wearing::

My PJs–blue t-shirt and Disney PJ pants. So, you know, nothing exciting.

Reading::

I’m about to finish The Noonday Devil: Acedia, the Unnamed Evil of Our Times, and this is REALLY good, guys. I highly recommend it!

Also, this arrived at the house yesterday!:

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Yay!

This was originally a Christmas present! But there was so much interest, and the press that publishes this is so tiny, that I’m just now getting it. I’m not going to link to it on Amazon because I don’t think they have any–but your local bookstore might! If you’re a LIW fan like me, you will really love this. And if you’re a real fan, then you’ll appreciate this photo of a hay log!

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(If you’re not a LIW fan, then just….move on. :-P)

Around the house::

The usual. Changing sheets today, though, and working on cleaning out the office. I need to get some trash bags up there so I can bag stuff that’s been tagged for discarding.

Pondering::

Why people think that good food should be cheap. I mean this in terms of meat and produce, milk and eggs.

A good product that is raised humanely and responsibly, by actual family farms, is going to cost more. It just is. There’s a lot more that those farms have to pay for. And we’re not even coming close to really covering their labor costs. BUT they provide a product that is better–for the animals, for the environment, for us. Have you tasted local milk before? Let me tell you, it’s awesome. I gladly pay more money for it because it’s so good. Stores that have higher price tags on these items are usually (Not always) but usually providing you with a better product. If you want healthier food, you’re probably going to have to pay for it.

I’m just touching the surface here–if you’re really into this, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which is amazing.

Farming is hard work, people. Raising food, raising crops is hard work. Some of that should be reflected in what we’re paying (and I say this as someone who is, by no means, rolling in the cash). That doesn’t mean you can’t love Trader Joe’s. I do love Trader Joe’s.

You can get deals at Farmer’s Markets. In fact, I direct you to Elizabeth on this. I don’t have a vast experience with farmer’s markets, and that’s something I’m hoping to change this summer. Don’t go to places like the market or more expensive grocery stores thinking everything is going to be expensive. In fact, when it’s in season, it’s usually cheaper! It’s when we’re paying for tomatoes to be shipped from Chile that they’re expensive! (And they just don’t taste as good.)

Anyway, read Elizabeth’s link, read the book, and think about food as more than just a price tag, guys. Just some food for thought, this morning.

Lent::

We’re in Passiontide–the last two weeks before Easter. Yesterday I was teaching CCD and the two questions were:

“Is Pilate a Bad Guy?”

“Is Judas in Hell?”

I had to refrain from pulling out Dante for that last one. 🙂

Writing::

I’ve got a list of writing projects to work on, so I have to get cracking there. This includes making an omelet so I can photograph it later this week.

How a Lay Dominican (that’s me) prays!

Since we’ve had a Dominican Friar and a Dominican Nun (also known as the first and second orders of the Dominican order, respectively),  tells us how they pray, it’s time to get the third order in here.

Me. 🙂

So anyway, this is how I pray, and I’m using the same questions put to these fine people. Enjoy.

Romans verse

Who are you? 

At the most basic level, I’m a child of God, whom He created with a purpose for some unknown plan of my life. He knows the plan, I don’t, and sometime I’m OK with that. Sometimes I want a burning bush. 🙂

At a more prosaic level, I’m a daughter, writer, actress, singer, first grade CCD teacher, cousin, niece, granddaughter, and sister.

What is your vocation?

My vocation is to the Third Order Dominicans–Lay Dominicans, as we’re called now. We are part of the Dominican family but we are “in the world”, in that we’re not cloistered like the nuns, and we don’t wear habits or live in community, like the nuns and friars do. We have regular work-a-day lives but it’s colored by our specific call to praise, to bless, to preach (one of the order’s mottos) and to spread the Truth of Christ and His Church throughout the world.

What is your prayer routine for an average day? 

My day starts are various times–right now I’m writing full-time, so I don’t have a time I have to get up. When I get up I have my coffee and say lauds and then have time for lectio divina, which I’ve recently started in earnest. I find that I have to do it after lauds or it doesn’t get done.

At 3:00, I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and the Office of Reading. Around 5:00, I pray Vespers and say my rosary, if I haven’t said it earlier in the day. Before bed I usually have at least 15 minutes of spiritual reading/mental prayer, and I’ll say compline if I can. As a Lay Dominican, I’m asked to say at least morning and evening prayer (lauds and vespers), pray the rosary daily, and go to daily Mass when I can. If I go to daily Mass, it’s usually the 11:45 at my Dominican-run parish.

How well do you achieve it, and how do you handle those moments when you don’t? 

Since unlike Br. Humber or Sister Mary Catharine, I don’t live in community and have a life that is governed by a horarium, it can be difficult, especially vespers, since that’s right around dinner time. If I’m going out (like I am this evening, to a hockey game), and circumstances dictate that I can’t say vespers at the regular time, I try to say it when I get home. Yesterday, for example, I had an early morning doctor appointment, so I missed being able to say lauds. Since I’m not bound by pain of sin to say the office, like priests are, if I miss it’s not a huge deal. I just get back to my normal routine the next day (or as soon as I can. There are times when I’ve been hospitalized and unable to say my breviary because I wasn’t quite with it. 🙂 ). On most days, I manage this fairly well.

Do you have a devotion that is particularly important to you or effective? 

The rosary, and we’re going to talk bout that more below. I’m also a huge fan of the Divine Mercy chaplet, and the Liturgy of the Hours. In fact, wanting to pray the Liturgy of the Hours regularly is what led me to the Lay Dominicans!

Do you have a place, habit, or way of praying?

I generally pray while sitting in a corner of my couch, next to a small end table that has a candle with Our Lady of Guadalupe on it, and a statue of Our Lady of the Smile. My rosary beads and some devotional books are also on this table. I pray lectio at my kitchen table so I have room to spread out my Bibles and my notebook.

Do you use any tools or sacramentals?

My rosary, of course. Lots of books–breviary, the Ignatius Study Bible New Testament, and the C.S. Lewis Bible, which I adore. I also like to use a pamphlet of rosary devotions, or the Magnificat Rosary book.

What is your relationship with the Rosary? 

I love it. I’ve always loved it. I always have one on me–usually a few, actually. It’s my favorite way to pray. I love how many layers there are to it; there’s always something new to think about. It’s my go-to intercessory prayer. When people are on my prayer list, that means they get a decade of the rosary.

Are there any books or spiritual works that are important to your devotional life? 

There are a few I regularly go back to: Mother Mary Francis’ Come, Lord Jesus (a book of Advent meditations), Fr. Richard Neuhaus’ Death on a Friday Afternoon for Lent, and Be Holy, by Fr. Thomas Morrow, is amazing.

What is your most recent spiritual or devotional reading?

Right now I’m reading Benedict XVI’s General Audiences: Prayer. And I’m just about to finish those. Next up will be a book by Cardinal Wuerl that, incidentally, Brother Humbert got me for Christmas. 🙂

Are there saints or other figures who inspire your prayer life or act as patrons?

St. Therese of Lisieux was my confirmation saint, and I have a strong devotion to her. St. Catharine of Alexandria, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Dominic (of course), and St. Catherine of Siena are also some of my favorite patrons. Since I sing, St. Gregory and St. Cecilia are often called upon. I also love the story of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and pray to her frequently. My Dominican patron is Blessed Lucy of Narni, and yes, she is most likely the influence for both “Narnia” and Lucy Pevensie, which makes me happy, and may have been an influencing factor in me choosing her. Also St. Genesius of Rome, the patron saint of actors!

Have you had any unusual or even miraculous experiences as the result of your prayer life?

Negative. That’s OK though! 🙂

How a Cloistered Dominican prays: Sister Mary Catherine!

I was fortunate enough to meet Sr. Mary Catherine (and most of the other Summits nuns!) when I was discerning if I had a vocation to their wonderful life in Summit, NJ. Obviously, I didn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing here (ha!), but the deep Dominican spirituality and joy I found there continues to echo.

Like last week’s post, Sr. Mary Catherine discusses how she prays. To round this out, I think I have to write about how a Third Order (or Lay) Dominican prays. Then we’ll have the whole series! 🙂

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 65

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I.

Happy Friday again, y’all!

Here’s a quick wrap-up of some of this week’s posts, in case you missed them: Daybook, Yarn Along, The Open Guitar Case, Contemplation, How a Dominican Friar Prays (who happens to be one of my BFFs).

II.

There was also this special post. I am so happy. Editing this manuscript went pretty well, except for some parts that made me think why did I write this DRECK?! But that’s what editing is for….getting out all the crap. There are some entire sections that need to be seriously trashed and re-written, and the prospect there is sort of daunting. But first I’m working on adding a more solid ending, which was one of the big problems in the first go-round. One thing at a time, right? But for January, my goal was to just edit the firs two parts of the book, not the whole thing. So I am lightyears ahead there!

III.

Quick Oscar movie posts: I saw Gone Girl and How to Train Your Dragon 2Gone Girl has one nomination (best actress for Rosamund Pike, who plays Amy), and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is nominated for Best Animated Feature.

I wasn’t really impressed with Pike in Gone Girl. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good actress, but I don’t think she was quite as creepy as the role requires her to be. I’m also not sure if that’s a fault of the writing/medium. In the book, she’s just so creepy. In the movie she’s borderline creepy. Also, the movie doesn’t do as good of a job fleshing out Amy and Nick’s before.” I know, movies are different than books, but in this case it just didn’t translate well. And with the competition in the best actress category, I don’t think Pike will win.

As far as HTTYD2, I thought it was very well done, just as good as its predecessor. Gorgeous animation, great story. I’d need to see more of this category to predict, however.

IV.

If you’re looking for a great Lenten e-retreat, as it were, ladies, I give you this:

RESTORE.

I did this last year, and it was amazing. Please consider gifting this to yourself. It’s amazing.

V.

And yes, Lent. It’s coming soon, peeps. It’s early this year. May I direct you to my Lent series? 🙂

VI.

And to round this out, some Christmas pics:

Me and my cousin Paige (who, incidentally, also asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor.)

Me and my cousin Paige (who, incidentally, also asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor.)

VII.

My cousin Kelly, and another cousin, Justin. These guys kill me.

My cousin Kelly, and another cousin, Justin. These guys kill me.

Seven Quick Takes No. 63

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I.

Brrrr.

We’re back to this:

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Yes, I’m a Hothian. The lows this week were actually in the negative numbers. When I left to meet my dad for lunch today, it was  -1. Oh what joy, oh what rapture! Today the low is supposed to be -2 , but we’re staying clear of negative numbs next week, when it will be absolutely BALMY!

II.

Reading update: Finished Elizabeth of York, which was very good and led me to re-read the King’s Curse and dive back into the Cousins’ War series from Philippa Gregory. This series really made it much easier for me to understand the Wars of the Roses, because if you just read a history book version of it, it can be very, very dry. So bring on the historical fiction! (And then read the 100% official version.) Especially since Richard III’s remains were found a few years ago, this time period is pretty current in British studies at the moment.

The thing I really like about Gregory’s fiction is that she doesn’t make it all bodice-ripper romance novels. She is sympathetic to the character she’s writing about, and gives you lots of perspective, which I enjoy. They’re well-written and well-plotted. Obviously, some of the books I like better than others, but the Cousins’ War series doesn’t have a clunker in the bunch.

III.

I’m hoping to pick up some frames over the weekend and hang some new art around here, because the walls are awfully bare and I’m tired of it! Especially since I’m not allowed to paint here, I need things on the walls for color purposes!

IV.

There are a few movies that are just better in Blu-Ray, and Wizard of Oz is one of them. Holy Munchkins, the level of detail you can see is amazing–Glinda’s choker, the colors in Munchkinland, and those slippers really sparkle, peeps. Do yourself a favor and upgrade if you only have the DVD, because this is a lot better.

And also–the amount of detail. Someone had to make all those Munchkinland costumes by hand, people. HAND! And all the hats and accessories! What a job that must have been. Next time you watch the movie, check out the sheer number of Munchkins and give massive props to Adrian for designing all those, and all the people who sewed them!

(And I still want that lollipop that Dorothy gets. That’s the best lollipop ever.)

V.

Speaking of movies: If you haven’t seen Babette’s Feast, you need to do that, too. It will make you hungry. But it’s awesome. (It’s Pope Francis’ favorite movie.)

VI.

Back to Oz: I also just noticed how Margaret Hamilton changed her voice for Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch. Yeah, I’ve been watching this movie for 32 years. Sue me. 😛 That’s pretty impressive that she does it so completely–she never slips–and both of them are different than her speaking voice (although the Witch is closer to her natural voice). It’s hard to maintain an accent like that (for a bad example, see Julianne Moore in A Single Man. UGGGGH. She slips in and out of that British accent like an oily fish.)

VI.

I’ve managed to do home workouts every day this week–YAY!–but I have…….I can’t believe it….

missed the gym.

Yeah. Wow.

So I’m doing that later today and tomorrow. Because since it’s about freezing I will attempt to leave the house!

VII.

Going to the symphony with my parents on Sunday (as part of my mom and mine’s attempt to Musically Educate Dad 🙂 ). Dvorak’s New World is a big part of the program, along with some shorter works, so it’ll be a great concert!

Daybook No. 83

Daybook No. 83

Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

Outside my window::

Well, it’s raining, but that’s OK. It’s been in the 50s the past few days–I actually had the windows open in here yesterday. Amazing!

Wearing::

Jeans, t-shirt. Nothing interesting, sorry. 🙂

In the CD player::

Messiah. Because it’s that time of year!

Reading::

I started The Miniaturist last night, and it’s been REALLY hard to put down so far. I’m a quarter of the way through and I’m loving it. I also have Some Luck, which was an early Christmas gift, and of course all my Advent books. And since it’s Jane Day, I may open one of hers, like Persuasion, which is a bit shorter than the others, and I love it. (Well, I love them all. How to choose, people?!)

Around the house::

Normal weekly cleaning today–dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, etc. Working on cleaning the master bathroom as well.

From the kitchen::

Today I’m having dinner with my parents, but lunch will be a salad, I think. I need to check out my meal plan ideas for the rest of the week.

Health/Fitness::

Lost a pound at clinic yesterday, WIN. Everyone generally pleased, go back at the end of January. I’ve also been noticing that I’m getting a wee bit stronger, so that’s a good thing. Still going to the gym 3-4 times a week. I’ve been having some muscle cramps in my legs which is inhibiting the working out, but we think it’s a problem due to low magnesium levels in my blood (this is a pretty common post-transplant problem), so we’re upping my mag doses to see if that helps. It should.

Church::

I made life promises on Sunday. 🙂 It was a pretty great day. I’ll write more about that in a separate post.

Plans for the week::

Not a whole lot, actually! No CCD because we’re on break, so it’s a nice, wide-open week. 🙂

Praying for::

  • Elizabeth’s son Patrick, who’s having surgery today
  • Courtney, and her family.
  • A woman in my Lay Dominican chapter who may have a recurrence of her brain tumor.
  • Elizabeth

Adorable Photo of the Week::

Prince George. Look at those cheeks!

Prince George. LOOK at those cheeks!

Pondering::

JoyIsAlwaysPossible

Daybook No. 82

Daybook No. 82

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a good day for staying inside with the fireplace on and the tree lit.

My Christmas Tree, 2014

My Christmas Tree, 2014

Wearing::

Jeans and an IBM Innovate conference long-sleeved shirt. (When we’ve gone to Disney the past two years, this is what we went for–that conference. Dad and I have matching shirts. 🙂 ) And fuzzy Life is Good socks, because it’s chilly!

Reading::

Love Does, Seeking Spiritual Direction. And of course my Advent books.

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming’s Christmas in New York. I’m really loving her version of “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Around the house::

This week I’m working on the kitchen–cleaning out the fridge and freezer, stuff like that. I’m trying to stick with the Zones, with some adjustments, because I want to polish all the furniture on the first level before Christmas week, sow hen people come over it’s pretty. 🙂

From the kitchen::

I’m working on some recipes from Mad Hungry. Yes, it’s for “feeding men and boys”, but man there are great recipes in here. Dinner is chicken and a side salad. Lunch is–tentatively–a meal-sized salad.

Health::

Clinic on Monday. Scheduled a colonoscopy for January–happy new year to me, eh? 🙂 Currently my stomach is acting up and refusing food, so we’ll see if it changes its mind later. It might, it might not. No biggie. I mean, not currently a biggie. If it decides to act up more, I will be displeased, but at the moment, it’s kosher.

Plans for the week::

Hockey game on Saturday night–Pens/Jackets. A tough night for cheering–but either way, a team I love wins! Sunday, I make life promises!!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!!

Pondering::

This amazing blog. People. This mom? This family? This shows us grace, and how God works. How He is good all the time. I love this family. These are my sorts of people!
Click over? Read the story? (You might want to start here.)

Really, it’s all grace. Overwhelming grace, God’s grace, the gifts we get every day. This family, this mom, gets that.

SometimeTheProofThatGodExists

I try to live my life this way. And God knows, man, I fail and I fall and I flounder around going, Where is the burning bush?! But the older I get, the more I realize that grace is just everywhere, abundant, and that trust is how we find Him.

Catholicism 101: The Immaculate Conception (and a meditation!)

No, not the Immaculate Reception. That’s something else. 🙂 

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The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, not Jesus. Catholics believe that Mary, when she was conceived, was conceived without original sin. She was born “immaculately”, without the stain of original sin, because she was to be the Mother of God, and God had preserved her from original sin. This has been believed since the early days of the Church (there is no grave of Mary’s, nor any relics), but was only formally declared as dogma in 1854, by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus. (This is an example of a pope using papal infallibility). (No, that does not mean what you think it means, most likely.)

For Catholics in the U.S., the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation (meaning you have to go to Mass), since Mary is the patroness of the United States.

Today’s meditation is from Come, Lord Jesus: 

Our Lady was pre-redeemed. Remember that this means–and one says it with all possible filial reverence–that our Lady was “pre-cleaned.” And even that pre-cleaning did not leave her without choices. One grow a little hesitant in the field of her perfect humanity, and awe and reverence are good, but it should not be the wrong hesitation because we should not allow our Lady to become remote from us. The fact that she was free of all human concupiscence, free of all the effects of original sin, does not mean that she was without choices. It does not mean that she could not have chosen to feel sorry for herself. I say, one feels a hesitancy in saying these things, but one shouldn’t, because if she never had choices to make in her sinless person, of what purpose would she be? If she were merely some beautiful automaton, she would not be our Mother.

She did not have that downward pull that we have, but she still had choices, and she could have wrong ones or right ones. She could have insisted after the finding in the temple that Jesus explain what he meant. She could have said, “I am your Mother, and I have got to get this straight. I don’t understand what you are talking about.” But she preferred, she chose, to accept what was to her not understandable, and to return to her humble home and to go about her duties and to ponder these things in her heart. She made her own choice to allow him to fulfill all that was involved in his Passion. And she did not, when she met him on the way of the Cross, lapse into hysterical sobbing, nor did she demand that this should be stopped. She chose the will of God and she chose it freely–again, we say, unencumbered by the downward pull of concupiscence that we know so well, but still a woman quite capable of doing right or wrong, or doing good or better or best…Our Lord did not give her to Saint John and say, “Now I am giving her to you, and she is Mother of all the flawlessly holy ones.” But he gave her to be the Mother of all persons, of all men, and he knew what was in man, what is in each one of us, our weaknesses as well as our strengths…

And so, if God shows us our faults or they are lovingly pointed out to us, and we think we are being rubbed very hard and are feeling sorry for ourselves, it is only because God is so intent on cleaning us, so intent on cleansing us: this is a big spot, it needs some hard rubbing; this is a bad stain, it needs a bigger dose of bleach. We grow in the love of being cleansed and in the ongoing understanding of what it means–the only thing it can mean for any of us–to come to God with a clean heart. It means that I have been cleaned by God, by humbling facing the truth, confessing my faults, and wishing to go forward.

Daybook No. 79

Outside my window::

Well, this

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Yeah, it snowed yesterday. Heavy, wet snow, about 2-3″, depending on where you were in the city. This is the sort of snow that looks pretty, because it sticks to the tree branches and makes them look all magical, but it also causes power outages (because it’s so heavy, weighing on the lines), and is a real pain to get off the car.

I know. I’m a grump. Sorry. I mean, I didn’t have to go anywhere yesterday, so I didn’t mind it, and it is pretty. I just remembered days of having to scrape this stuff off my car, in the morning, when it’s really cold. Shiver. (This morning, the low was seven, without the windchill. Yeah.)

Anyway, moving on!

Wearing::

Jeans, a sweatshirt, gray socks. Nothing exciting. Today’s going to be a lot of around the house stuff (see, really cold temperatures, above) so I want utilitarian clothes.

From the kitchen::

On a day like today, a lot. I’m thinking a vegetable soup for lunch or dinner, depending, and then chicken and rice for the other meal. So it might be chicken and rice for dinner, since the meat has to thaw (an adventure, today…). I might also try this chili recipe, which is super good and fast. (and warming!)

The snow threw me quickly into “winter provision” mindset–meaning making sure the freezer is stocked and I have a list of things I can make if I get snowed in. I mean, it’s not The Long Winter, here, but Columbus can get very, very cold, and we do get big snow storms, as last winter attested. So it’s better to be prepared. Part of my “around the house” stuff today includes making a list of recipes I can make from mostly shelf and freezer stable items.

Reading::

I just finished Traveling to Infinity, by Jane Hawking, ex-wife of Stephen Hawking. She wrote this book awhile ago, but it was re-released to coincide with the release of The Theory of Everything, the biopic about the two of them, which stars Eddie Redmayne (sigh) and Felicity Jones.

The book is very, very good. She does a wonderful job talking about the good and bad parts of their marriage–it’s not all about the ALS. It’s about his work, her work, their children, their travels…it’s well-written and she isn’t writing it heavy on the pity, like some memoirs are. It’s factual, but you can also feel Jane’s emotions as she tries to balance everything. The movie’s already opened in New York and LA, but it gets wide distribution next weekend. I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

Pondering::

How much money is enough money?

Recently, I’ve become a baseball fan. My parents are from Pittsburgh, so they grew up with a full complement of professional sports at hand, and us children were raised to love them. This included the Pirates. But for most of my (conscious) life, they weren’t very good. Rooting for them was sort of like rooting for the Bad News Bears. They sure tried hard. It just didn’t go anywhere.

Because of that, my experiences with pro baseball were pretty limited, and what I did know, I didn’t like: the designated hitter rule, the strike, and the fact that there wasn’t any salary cap. I thought it was ridiculous that someone was getting paid a nine figure deal to hit a ball.

So anyway, I started putting all this aside and realized that baseball could be exciting and a fun sport when the Pirates started winning. Not when they went to the playoffs for the first time two years ago, but a few years before that. I started to follow them and I liked what was happening.

Yesterday we lost one of our best players to another team, who are going to pay him eighty million dollars over 5 years.

Eighty freaking million dollars.

Now, that works out to about $16M a year (Canadian–it’s a Canadian team). $16M is more money than I would really know what to do with.

When is enough, enough? I don’t know if he left just because of the money (he’s Canadian, he wanted to end his career in Canada, etc.). But really? A team that treated you well, a city that adored you….lost because of money? (Or at least that’s what it seems like.)

When is enough money enough money? I know how capitalism works. I know it’s “what the market will bear”, yada yada yada. But all the other pro leagues have salary caps. Why doesn’t baseball? Why is money such a huge part of the baseball makeup? There’s no parity, that’s for sure. Teams like the Pirates will never make as much as the Yankees in TV deals and all that stuff. They don’t have $80M to throw on one player.

So the system does need fixed. But also—guys? When is enough money enough money? How long would it take to spend $80 million? Think about it for a second.

I just don’t get it.

(Back to regularly scheduled programming!)

Around the house::

Dishes need washed, the first floor needs vacuumed and dusted, I think I’m going to bring the creche up today, sheets need changed on my bed and the furniture in my bedroom needs dusted.

Creativity::

My NaNo novel has sort of stalled. I don’t know why. Is it because it’s not the right time for me to write this? Because I’m dry on ideas? Or something else? Or maybe this story just won’t bear out. I’ve tried writing it in two different formats, now, and each time it hasn’t been enough to sustain my writing juices. Something to think about.

Still working on my scarf/cowl. I’ll have photos tomorrow for the yarn along.

Daybook 77 and A Saint for All Times

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Outside my window::

Overcast and chilly. It’s definitely fall! But that’s OK! I have a lovely bouquet of red roses in a mason jar on my counter and they make all my mornings better. (My parents gave them to me for opening night of Dolly! They’re really gorgeous.)

Wearing::

PJs, and drinking Mystic Monk coffee. 🙂 My body has been demanding lots of extra sleep lately so I’m trying to obey it, even though it makes me grumpy, because I’d much rather get up at like 8, and not 10. But….the body wants what it wants.

Reading::

I just won a book from Goodreads, so I’ll be starting that today (It arrived yesterday) and then blogging about it, so look for a review soon! Reading Benedict XVI’s general audiences on prayer as well. Really, I have a bunch of books I want to start/finish but I just haven’t yet, which is inexcusably lazy on my part.

Pondering::

The pontificate of St. John Paul II.

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I was so, so lucky to spend the majority of my life under his pontificate, which also meant, sadly, that I didn’t really appreciate it until he had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. (Well, one doesn’t really appreciate the pope when one is a small child, to be sure!) He was elected pope on October 22, 1979, just a few months after my parents were married. My siblings and I were all born during his reign. I received all my sacraments while he was pope. His writings, so rich in so many genres (he wrote plays and poetry), and his life, so rich in so many ways, are a source of inspiration and constant study for me.

I vividly remember feeling like I was losing a father when he was dying. My father is still alive–praise Jesus–but I thought this is what it would feel like. He had always been there, always faithful shepherding the church. He had done so much to bring Christ to the world, to “open wide the doors to Christ”, and he did so much to change the world! A pope from a Communist country, who helped bring about the defeat of Communism? Prayer works, indeed. It was unimaginable for so many people. I remember the night the Berlin Wall came down. We watched it on TV in our family room. But I really didn’t understand what was happening–I was only seven and a half. But as I studied history and became more mature, I marveled at it.

For me, personally, I have only admired him more as I’ve gotten older. I ask for his help before auditions, since he was an actor. I ask for his help when writing, since he was a writer (yeah, I ask St. Francis De Sales too, but John Paul II is more immediate for me). His fearless attitude, his call to “be not afraid!”, echoes all the time in my heart. And of course, his great devotion to Our Lady, as he entrusted his entire papacy to her.

I don’t think theologians have even begun to mine the brilliance of his writings, and what they mean for us. I’ll really always consider him “my” pope, like so many other people in my generation. It wasn’t just the length of his pontificate, but the way he spoke so intensely to young people, and even remembered them on his death bed: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.” I was a young person during his papacy; I was about to turn 23 when he died.

Watching him in prayer was an intense experience. I never got to see it, personally, but I’ve read accounts and seen video. He had such intense communion with God, such a deep prayer life. You could see how it imbued his mission, how vital it was to him.

And of course–his suffering, the idea of redemptive suffering which is so unique to Catholicism–was on display for everyone to see. As a sick person, this also inspired me. He showed us that life has worth always, even when fragile and failing. His spirit never faltered.

There’s so much that could be said about him. If you want to learn more, I suggest George Weigel’s monumental Witness to Hope

Around the house::

(I really need to reorder these when I have such a long pondering!)

Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor today, and dusting the furniture in my bedroom.

Creativity::

Working on my NaNo2014 novel–getting the prep done before it starts up November 1!–and also it’s the last weekend of Dolly. Come see it!