Friday, April 29, 2016

Of Wormwood and Black Walnut and Strange Pet Behavior

This clever dish concealed a pocket of herbs--wormwood and black walnut--by which I sought to deliver a death-dealing blow to some parasites that are plaguing our old black Lab, Cowboy.

Doesn't it look scrumptious?

It's actually layers of leftovers, topped with the spaghetti squash seeds that I had just scooped out in preparation for our own lunch.  I had a ginormous pot of bone broth simmering on the stove with lamb, chicken, and beef bones in it, and I decided to top the whole "casserole" with a ladleful of it for good measure.

The herbs are pungent, so I needed all the help I could get.

Or so I thought.

Not only did Cowboy plunge his muzzle into the medicinal meal, Stray Cat did too.  I had to keep grabbing him up to keep him out of it, as I feared the whopping dose of herbs would be dangerous for him.  However, every time I set him down, he dove back in.  What a strange kitty.  Strange dog, too.  I thought he might bite Stray Kitty's head off, but he never even growled.

After Cowboy had consumed the majority of it, I let Stray Cat down, and he proceeded to clean up, even devouring the last bit of carrot.

Our other four cats never paid the least attention to the food.   When I picked up the pan, Stray Cat batted at it with his paws, as if to pull it back down.  Crazy.

I gave the herb combination to Cowboy for three days total.  Next week he starts a once a week maintenance program of a second herb combination.  He has responded well so far.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Forget the Election and Celebrate Catholic Thanksgiving

From the movie "Babette's Feast"

Editor's Note: I got the idea and the historical background for this post from reading Dr. Marian Horvat's "The First Thanksgivings Were Catholic."

If you, like I, really detest the whole Puritan/Pilgrim party that is foisted on us every November, right when Catholics should be preparing for Advent and Christmas, your chance to fight back with a holiday that is truly meaningful is coming up: Saturday, April 30.  That's the day the second Thanksgiving was celebrated, in Texas, with Holy Mass and a great feast.  Even better, according to "The First Thanksgivings Were Catholic," after the Mass, the expedition leader, "Don Juan de Oñate, took formal possession of the new land, called New Mexico, in the name of the Heavenly Lord, God Almighty, and the earthly lord King Philip II."

Now that's more like it! 

May Catholic men rise up in the spirit of Don Juan de Oñate and renew the effort that Catholic missionaries began so valiantly long ago, establishing outposts of the True Faith in the midst of our  pagan land.  Why waste time worrying over which narcissist will be the next president of the United States?  It's just another distraction at this point.  Plus, should Catholics aspire to getting back to America's Masonic roots and its godless Constitution as "conservatives" propose?

No, we must build from a solid foundation; we must establish a Catholic order, replacing Lady Liberty with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is not going to happen with anyone who is "electable" in the present system.  

The first priority is establishing the Social Reign of Christ the King in our homes and in our communities.  That will provide the rich soil from which the seeds of good government may burst forth and flower.  Catholic mothers, with Rosary in hand, must form Catholic citizens.   And it can start with simple things like celebrating Catholic Thanksgiving on April 30 and again on September 8, the day on which we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a month rich with Marian feasts, when the real first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in Florida by Spanish Catholics.

And by all means invite your non-Catholic friends.

I highly recommend watching Babette's Feast.  It seems the perfect artistic representation of the difference between celebrating Protestant Thanksgiving and Catholic Thanksgiving, and not only that, it is a truly beautiful movie that will uplift and inspire you and increase your sensus Catholicus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In the Spirit of Fraternal Encouragement: A Music Detox

John Cuddeback, a philosophy professor at Christendom College, has invited his Bacon From Acorns blog readers to join him in listening to only a select few "classical" music pieces for two weeks.   I think it is a grand idea!  It offers a reset of our emotions and an opportunity to get to know several beautiful pieces intimately.  Read his post linked above to get his list of recommended pieces, overflowing with musical antioxidants.

Mr. Cuddeback does not include any Gregorian chant because of its intended use as liturgical prayer, but here I must lovingly disagree.   Are we not to pray without ceasing?  And is not the home our domestic church?  I think it would add greatly to the efficaciousness of the "fast" to listen to one piece of chant every day for the two weeks, especially if you did it first thing in the morning to help set the tone for the rest of your day.  Aside from the graces to be gained,  it would also give our parasympathetic nervous systems, so overloaded with the stimuli of modern culture, a rest, as Gregorian chant appeals directly to the intellect, not the passions.

Need more inspiration?  Here are two things I read today that I found immensely edifying.

Twelve Latin Chants Every Catholic Should Know:  This is great for narrowing down the choices, and it gives a little background with each chant.  Well, actually I lied.  It didn't help me narrow the choices.  With each description I was sure that I would finally decide on THAT piece, only to read the next description and decide that it was THE ONE.  Maybe I shall start at the top of the list and listen to each piece for two weeks until I have absorbed each one into my being.

Feeding Our Children Liturgical Garbage:  Jeff Ostrowski, who holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Theory, explains in a short Views from the Choir Loft blog post why we should listen to the best music and provide it for our children.  He shares some stellar quotes, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blessed Be the Womb that Bore Thee...

Young Mother Nursing Her Child, Mary Cassatt

and the breasts that gave thee suck!

I inadvertently titled my last two posts with the same first word--blessed--so I thought I would go for three in a row.

Women have breasts and wombs!

Really!  It's in the Bible repeatedly.  Apparently God knew how confused mankind would become in these latter days and made sure to give us clarity on this concept.

So repeat after me:

Women have breasts and wombs!

Don't you feel better?  I do.  It's because the truth shall set you free.

If you don't have breasts and a womb, you're a MALE.

So easy!

I was reminded of the importance of this distinction again on the Solemnity of St. Joseph in the epistle from Ecclesiasticus:

The God of thy father shall be thy helper, and the Almighty shall bless thee with the blessings of Heaven above, with the blessings of the deep that lieth beneath, with the blessings of the breasts and of the womb.  (italics mine)

Clearly these things that set women apart are highly-valued by God.  I'm so glad to be a woman!  I'm especially glad to know that I am a woman and not to have the burden of trying to convince myself and others that I am something I am not, like a man or a boy or even a cat.  Some people are really doing such things.

In reality, it's earth shattering when you spend some time thinking about why God made women the way that He did--that He lavished our bodies with the means of blessing--and knowing that He has a particular order to His design for our lives.  Yes, God is all about order, not confusion, even in the most basic things like gender.

Thinking about that, I finally understood why this trend of photographing women with their arms crossed in front of their chests always bothers me.  They are denying the blessings of the breasts and the womb!  They are assuming a "tough guy" attitude and saying "no" to being nurturing.  I saw it most recently on a billboard advertising the services of a woman lawyer.  It's been popular also with teenage girls on sports teams but also graduation pictures, etc.

What really needs to go in those arms is a baby...

a nursing baby.  I thought I better clarify.  People have such a hard time with reality these days.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blessed Be the Tie That Binds and Other Awkward Situations

Emma and I on Easter Sunday

Last Sunday in Whole Foods, Emma and I were side by side, shopping for produce.  I was wearing one of my favorite skirts that has a lace overlay.  As I was reaching for a bag of avocados, Emma decided to depart for fruits unknown, and suddenly, I felt a tug and saw the left side of my skirt lift . To our surprise, we discovered that some hardware on her purse had developed an attachment for my lace, and it did not want to let go.  So I stood there smiling at all the customers who passed by as Emma worked carefully to separate us without ruining my skirt.  I was ready to slip her purse strap over my shoulder and close the curtain on our embarrassing scene, when Emma's nimble fingers finally worked the purse free from my hip.

"Thank God almighty, free at last!"

Then on Friday, I took my Dad to a specialty surgical hospital to have his third toe on his right foot straightened.  Over the last few years it has curled up, causing him to have to walk on the tip of it.  This caused an ulcer to form that we were constantly having to have cut open and cleaned out.  Plus, walking on that toe was really painful.

On Thursday, a nurse from the hospital called me to give me pre-surgery instructions--nothing to eat or drink after midnight, etc.  I explained all this to Dad.  One of the things she said was that I needed to wash Dad's leg and foot with anti-bacterial soap the night before and also the morning of the surgery.  She also said that Dad should wear shorts.  That night as I was trying to wash his leg and foot, his dog, Cherokee, came nosing around.  I told Cherokee firmly, "No, go away.  You can't lick his leg now."  My Dad looked at me surprised and said, "Why did you tell him that?  He doesn't have any germs."

Sometimes my Dad just makes me burst out laughing.

Dad hasn't worn shorts in years, but I found a pair in his closet, and he was able to put them on himself the morning of the surgery--mostly.  He said they were falling off and asked me to tie the drawstring that was located inside the waistband.  He has arthritis and can't do such things for himself.   So I tied the drawstring into a knot, because I figured a bow wouldn't hold.  I assumed that once he was lying on the hospital bed, it would be an easy matter to undo the knot to get him into a hospital gown.  Then I spotted his 16 ounce coffee cup in the drink holder of his walker.

"Dad, did you drink coffee this morning?"
"But I told you nothing to eat or drink before surgery."
"I know.  I always drink it anyway."
"How much did you drink?"
"The whole cup."
Then my mom piped in, "That's right.  He always drinks his coffee before surgery."
I sighed.
"Let's go," Dad said.

So we took off for the hospital, which is an hour away.  Dad slept most of the time.  He woke up as we were pulling into the parking lot.  His brow furrowed as he looked at the hospital.  "That seems like an awfully big hospital for such a little operation," he observed.

We got inside, and before I could finish the paperwork the receptionist had handed me, Dad said he had to go to the bathroom.  Of course!  The 16 ounces of coffee had kicked in.

Then I remembered the knot.  "Oh, no," I thought to myself.  "How can I get that knot undone discreetly in a public place!"  But before I could think further about it, Dad said, "Grab my shorts.  They're falling off."

Due to the ravages of age on my Dad's anatomy, the part of him that used to serve as a rear brake for slipping waistbands is in full retreat.  So there we were in a busy waiting room, side by side, heading for the bathroom with Dad pushing his walker and me holding up the back of his shorts.

"I am the way and the suspenders," I mused.

We finally got to the bathroom only to discover that the maid was cleaning it.  Dad asked me to get the knot out of the drawstring.  I told him that since the shorts were coming down in the back, he should be able to pull them down without untying the knot.  He insisted that I try anyway.  Between him not being able to stand up straight, his lack of balance, and the limitations imposed by his big tummy, I made little progress.

I cringed every time somebody walked past us.

Dad grew increasingly frustrated.  I was growing a little frustrated myself, as I still needed to fill out all the forms, and we were only minutes away from his appointment time.

Finally the maid came out, and Dad went in with the knot still in place.  A few minutes later he re-appeared and said that I had to get the knot out.  I tried again, all the while conscious of the stares of passersby.  I was again unsuccessful, and he returned to the bathroom, looking like a rapper from the rear view.  Snoop Dog got nothing on him.

During Dad's lengthy sojourn on the throne, he managed by some miracle to get the knot out himself.  When he exited the bathroom, we re-assumed our strange arrangement of me holding up his britches till we could get him seated in the lobby.  When the nurse came to get him, I explained our situation, and she brought a modesty-preserving wheelchair to get him back to the surgery suite.

I was never so glad to see him go!

The surgery was a great success, and on the way home, Dad requested that I stop and get him chocolate ice cream, as is his wont after all medical appointments.  So I got him his ice cream, and I ducked into Chipotle to pick up lunch for myself, as it was after 1:00.  When I returned I found him contentedly spooning in the ice cream while showing off his fashionable post-surgery boot.

The evil shorts had one last hurrah.  When we got back in the house, there wasn't room for me to walk beside him through the dining room, so just as he greeted my mom, the shorts dropped dramatically to the floor, at which point I had him step out of the wretched things and flung them far from me.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Blessed Sani-tea

Especially in the evenings of late, we've been quietly enjoying our new tea station.  I'm sipping a cup of chamomile now.  Just pulling open the drawer gives me a glimpse of order in a world gone mad!  Hahaha!    Or maybe my mind is desperate because we've been living in such chaos for the last five months.

At any rate, between the tea drawer and the new electric kettle I procured--with automatic shutoff!--our tea drinking careers have blossomed.

I have a picture, but I won't show you, of what I did to my my mother's kettle while boiling water on the stove for tea.  I went to her living room to get something and received several texts from my husband and a phone call too.

Did I totally forget about the tea kettle boiling on the stove?  Yes, yes, I did.  By the time I discovered it, it was so scorched, I actually had to wait for it to cool before I could separate it from the burner.  So the next day I bought the one in the picture for our house.  I don't trust myself anymore.

Interestingly, an ex-library copy of My Heart Lies South that I had ordered arrived in the mail today, and it opened to the chapter on medicinal teas that Mexican ladies regularly used to successfully treat various ailments, including menopause.  My favorite one the author describes is

 toloache, a dreadful mysterious weed, which is secretly given to husbands who have strayed too far from home and fireside.  It effectually soddens them and if they are given enough of it, it causes them to sit drooling gently by the fireside forever, while Mama goes out to earn the living.

You just can't beat the early 20th century Mexicans for practicality in the handling of domestic affairs.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Housewife's Education: Without the Encumbrance of Degrees

An inspiring excerpt from Solange Hertz's Searcher of Majesty:

Ancient monks called Mary "the philosophy of Christians," and spoke of "philosophari in Maria."  Obviously philosophy belongs to the housewife as tent-making belongs to St. Paul.  It's comprehensive.  It's cheap.  It requires absolutely no special equipment but wonder.  One has to study philosophy and invest in expensive books to be a philosophy professor, but not to be a philosopher.  A philosopher is just anyone who's willing to hit head on, with his head, the mystery in what everybody else takes for granted.
Really only housewives have time to grapple in their native habitat with such things as space, time, being, motion, birth, or growth, in order to classify properly why dishes break, or why yesterday can't be lived again, what's up, or just who is my five-year-old.  Whatever the housewife chooses to study at home, she is in the enviable position of being able to go after knowledge itself, without the encumbrance of degrees.  This isn't an inconsiderable advantage, being set free to proceed at her own rate, without grades or classroom, toward what she, and not somebody else, needs to know.
Here I would like to insert that later in the book, Mrs. Hertz talks about women and the cyclical nature of their hormones, which explains their need for stable lives at home, and how our culture demands instead that they run hither and yon.  (I wonder what Mrs. Hertz would have to say about American women now fighting in wars!)  She compares this to how dairy cows are treated, which may seem funny, but it is so true.  Dairy cows lead quiet lives of regularity at home, because if they can't their milk dries up.  This is true of women too, whether it's producing milk for the baby or the milk of human kindness or sharing "the milk" of their wisdom.  I have come in contact with so many young women whose health has collapsed because of how the unnatural stress of college affects their hormones.  

Mrs. Hertz continues:
A mother's knowledge can't be just a series of isolated facts to be tabulated later, like a research assistant's.  It must be coordinated and unified even beyond the power of philosophy to accomplish.  It must be super naturalized.  It must become wisdom.  Wisdom can take unto herself any amount of undigested facts and transfigure them, but in this world this happens only through suffering, through pondering them painfully and deeply in the heart.
Few mothers can take it.  Their college educations rarely become a part of them to that extent.  Ignorant women are the curse of the home, as great female educators like St. Madeline Sophie Barat and Mother Janet Erskine saw only too clearly.  Educated women, on the other hand, can hardly be made to stay home at all!  They can't waste themselves on a handful of children, and a world greedy for their skills agrees only to readily.  Female education today is little more than a way out of the house.
The supernatural education of the young, nevertheless, depends precisely on teachers who are able to "stay home" and transmit to them the painful fruits of their wisdom, the "true knowledge of the things that are."  Wisdom knows, says Scripture, "the disposition of the whole world, and the virtues of the elements, the beginning, and ending, and midst of our times, and alterations of their courses, and the changes of seasons, and the revolutions of the year, and the suppositions of the stars, and the natures of living creatures, and rage of wild beasts, the force of the winds, and reasonings of man, the diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots," for wisdom knows everything, keeps track of everything and has everything, like the good housewife she is (Wis. 7:17-20).