Sunday, July 31, 2005

His Girl Friday

Saturday J and I went to see "His Girl Friday" at the Guthrie Theater. It was a lot of fun. Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance starred. Angela Bassett is gorgeous. Is it possible this woman is 48? She looks much younger than her husband who is 2 years younger than she is. (Her husband is Courtney B. Vance.) Bassett was nominated for an Oscar for playing Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With It?" and Courtney B. Vance is in some courtroom drama t.v. show.

Anyway. The acting was superb, as it almost always is at the Guthrie. I have rarely been disappointed with productions there. The cast was outstanding. I thought the script, a blending of the movie "His Girl Friday" and play "The Front Page" was pretty good. Maybe a bit muddled in spots. The production moved fast and there was a lot of energy. One time Angela Bassett jumped up and began to react to someone coming in the door before they actually got to the door. She had to take a deep breath and hem and haw a few seconds until she was supposed to have her reaction. But who gives a durn. She was stunning. And she got a lot of laughs. I'm afraid I thought she was much better than her husband. I feel bad saying that for some reason. I probably think he wasn't as good only because I had Cary Grant's performance from the movie in the back of my mind the whole time I watched the play. No one tops Cary Grant. Vance's delivery just wasn't as funny as it could have been.

We've seen lots of good productions at the Guthrie. Some of my favorites have been Pride and Prejudice, The Three Sisters, School for Scandal, Pirates of Penzance, and The Perfumerie.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

From Friday's WSJ...

Much Depends on Dinner
Families don't sit down to eat together anymore. Something has been lost.
BY CAMERON STRACHER
Friday, July 29, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

The recent death of Gerry Thomas, whom many credit with inventing the TV dinner (think Swanson), draws to a close the kinder, gentler era when happy families gathered around a television set, aluminum trays in hand, enjoying their chopped sirloin beef and sweet green peas in seasoned butter sauce while laughing at the wacky antics of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Today, televisions are a lot bigger (and flatter), the frozen-food industry has grown into a $30 billion business and the chances of getting everyone to sit down for dinner at the same time are a lot slimmer. Instead, we are a nation of take-outers and drive-throughers, eating our meals on the go, dining by ourselves and laughing alone. The family dinner has become an endangered species, the victim of our own ingenuity and productivity.

These days, fewer than one-third of all children sit down to eat dinner with both parents on any given night. The statistics are worse if both parents are working and the family is Caucasian (Latino families have the highest rate of sharing a meal). The decline in the family dinner has been blamed for the rise in obesity, drug abuse, behavioral problems, promiscuity, poor school performance, illegal file sharing and a host of other ills. read more

is this possible?

I laughed out loud in disbelief:

GHETTO BLASTERS: When adults try to be hip and reach out to today's youth, they often miss the mark. That's what happened after Miami authorities announced a "Ghetto Style Talent Show" and a watermelon-eating contest as part of a summer-camp picnic today for city children. After critics complained about stereotyping, Parks Director Ernest Burkeen apologized Monday and the talent-show name was changed to "Funky." Although the watermelon-eating contest was not canceled, Florida International University professor and race-relations expert Marvin Dunn called it an "insult to black history and black pride." In fact, he told Tuesday's Miami Herald: "If I eat a piece of watermelon, I do it inside."

Friday, July 29, 2005

this is pathetic

Here is an article telling about how they're actually paying kids at a high school in Boston to go to school.

This is just plain sad. If I were a kid at that high school I'd be thinking there must be something very wrong with this school if they have to pay me to go. Or maybe something wrong with school in general.

I'm reading Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto. It's got the alarmist thing going full tilt but when I see kids are being paid to go to school it tells me this guy may not be far off.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mitt Romney article

This is one of the better articles I've read on Mitt Romney, Mormon governor of Massachusetts and probable presidential hopeful.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

the kind of man

Yesterday we went to Hyland Park (about 5 minutes away) for a ward camp out. I had thought we wouldn't stay the night because J had been sick all week and I was just starting to come down with it. It's some flu thing. I had told the kids that we probably wouldn't be putting up the tent, etc., and they were mightily disappointed.

When J got home from work I could tell he wasn't feeling well still, but he said he wanted to take the tent and stay the night with the kids. He just didn't want to disappoint them. I went to the park with the family and Frodo and I came home about 9. The kids had a wonderful time with the big group of young 'uns, s'mores, and light sticks. (Have you noticed that some people say "shmores" instead of "s'mores"? Why is that? It simply isn't spelled that way. There is no reason for it, I say!)

J arrived home this morning about 10:30, exhausted but happy, with a pack of sticky, dirty kids. It was opressively hot last night, especially in a tent with a rain tarp over it. A little breeze finally blew in about 4 am. Violent thunderstorms were predicted but luckily didn't manifest.

I am so proud of J. He is a great man. He never thinks of his own discomfort as long as he's making someone in his family happy.

J is also the kind of guy who always stops and helps people who are pulled over on the highway. Unless I am there to prohibit him. Last Saturday he was coming home from the Children's Museum with the kids. He saw a car pulled over to the side with flashing lights. J took the next exit and turned around. The guy had run out of gas. J gave him a ride to the gas station and back. J told me that the guy did say something "strange." He said, "Man, you got a lotta kids here. If you didn't have all these kids that lady I had back in the car there could 'take care' of you. Or maybe you want to come back when you don't have the kids..." J let this remark pass without comment.

I'm still glad he's the kind of guy who stops to help. I think.

Friday, July 22, 2005

from the June 2003 Ensign

The Cost of Riches

By Elder Lynn G. Robbins
Of the Seventy

When we selfishly seek after wealth, we put our families and our spiritual health at risk.
Lynn G. Robbins, “The Cost of Riches,” Ensign, June 2003, 24In early Church history, members were constantly on the move—from New York to Ohio to Missouri and then to Nauvoo and beyond. Building new homes was a frequent chore. Many of the homes were modest by today’s standards, sometimes measuring just 12 feet by 12 feet (3.6 m). However, when Mary Richards moved into her new log cabin at Winter Quarters after spending the winter in a tent, she remarked, “Our little house seemed to me almost like a palace.” 1 Interesting how grateful her attitude was, even when she had so very little.

Today Mary Richards’s cabin would be dwarfed by most homes. It seems that while the average home has increased in size, the average family has decreased in size; and while homes have more time-saving devices, the average family spends less time together. Affluence is up, but happiness is down, as indicated by rising divorce rates. Why isn’t more money buying greater happiness?

What Is Sufficient?
In his book How Much Is Enough? Alan Thein Durning says that in the 1990s, people were “on average four-and-a-half times richer than their great-grandparents were at the turn of the century, but they [were] not four-and-a-half times happier.” 2 The authors of the book Your Money or Your Life suggest that fulfillment seems to increase during the initial stages of spending, when one is buying necessities and some nice things, but begins to decrease with excess spending. 3 If that is true, one of life’s most fundamental questions should be, “What is sufficient for our family to be happy?” Our success will depend not only on answering the question “What do we need to be happy?” but also on answering the question “What don’t we need to be happy?”

Because the natural man’s perceived needs are forever expanding, “sufficient” is forever elusive, and his time is increasingly devoted to money and the things of this world. Take the extreme case of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, for example. The prince squandered $15 billion by building marinas, palaces, and apartment complexes and purchasing luxury hotels, aircraft, thousands of cars, and so on. His panicked brother finally had to cut the purse strings and limit him to a monthly allowance of $300,000. 4 For the natural man, there is never enough money.

Along with obeying the law of tithing and avoiding unnecessary debt, one of the most oft-repeated financial principles taught by the prophets is to live within our means, regardless of our income. If Satan can tempt us to overpurchase, we risk not only becoming a time slave to unnecessary debt but also being “time-consumed” with too many things of this world. The result is less time for the Lord and for our family.

More Money Equals Less Time
Juliet B. Schor, who teaches economics at Harvard University, says that due to improvements in productivity, Americans could work 22-hour workweeks if they were satisfied with a 1948 standard of living. While we are certainly grateful for the progress made since 1948, that would give many of us at least 18 extra hours per week! 5

In the book Your Money or Your Life, the authors convincingly illustrate how everything we buy consumes a part of our life—hence the title of their book. 6 Applying simple math to an hourly wage, for example, can illustrate how upgrading to a bigger home (or an unnecessary home equity loan on an existing home) could cost an extra 5 or 10 years of life to purchase, depending on its cost. And if not 10 years of the father’s life, then perhaps 10 years of the mother’s life as a second wage earner. When we spend beyond what is sufficient, the trade-off is less time.

It has been said that a rich man doesn’t own his things; rather, his things begin to own him. “A thatched roof once covered free men; under marble and gold dwells slavery.” 7 In his book Clutter’s Last Stand, Don Aslett gives us additional insight into this self-imposed slavery. Each item we accumulate, he says, “stifles us and robs us of freedom because it requires so much of our time to tend.” He writes further: “We have to pay for it, keep track of it, protect it, clean it, store it, insure it, and worry about it. … Later we have to move it, hide it, apologize for it, argue over it. … But these things are valuable, you say? What about the value of the life and time to store, to clean, to insure, to transport, to protect—what does that cost? More than money.” 8

Being Content
One antonym for greed, and perhaps the antidote to it, is contentment. The Apostle Paul stated, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philip. 4:11). Contentment and gratitude are essential if one is to be truly happy.

The ability to be content was one of Benjamin Franklin’s greatest traits. It had a profound impact on his life and upon the new nation he helped to found. Author Catherine Drinker Bowen writes of Franklin: “He was forty-two when he retired. … Had Franklin stayed in business there is little doubt he could have amassed a fortune … the kind of estate built up in America by royal governors. … Once assured of a competence, he showed no desire for increasing it; Franklin never changed his simple style of living and seemed to have no ambition for outward show.” 9
For Franklin, “outward show” was dangerous. He said: “The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.” 10 He knew time is the one thing that is purchased by not spending money. With more time, he was available to help establish a free land where the gospel could be restored (see D&C 101:80).

President Brigham Young (1801–77) also understood the value of spending his time on that which is most important. After gaining a testimony of the restored gospel, “he gave away many of his possessions and reduced his business.” This downsizing gave Brigham Young a gift of time that he could devote to building the kingdom. “He served a series of missions. He held meetings and baptized in the countryside surrounding Mendon. He also traveled into upper New York and Ontario, Canada, to preach the gospel and bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” 11

Of course, the Savior Himself is the greatest example of proper prioritizing. With few possessions to distract Him, He focused all of His time and effort on His mission. The Lord doesn’t expect us to seek out poverty, but His counsel is direct: “Thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10) and “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Putting the Family First
Benjamin Franklin said, “When you have bought one fine thing you must buy ten more, that your appearance may be all of a piece; … ‘’tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.’ ” 12 This is especially true with today’s tendency to purchase the biggest home possible, which requires not just 10 more “fine things” but hundreds to fill it. Families with barely affordable mortgage payments often turn to credit cards or a second wage earner to pay for these fine things. Too often the result is ever-increasing debt, manifest by record numbers of people filing for bankruptcy.

The pioneers had to discern what their true needs were. As they hurriedly left Nauvoo, they took with them essentials such as food, clothing, blankets, cooking utensils, and perhaps a few extras that weren’t life sustaining but were nevertheless precious, such as a favorite rocking chair. They tearfully left other keepsakes behind.

The trek that lay before the pioneers was not easy, but with faith they began their westward march. Then they came to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The trail that was manageable before seemed almost insurmountable now. Many had to lighten their load and again face the difficult process of choosing what to leave behind. Subsequent travelers migrating west on the same trail would come across tools, chairs, and other valuables left to decay and rust on the plains at the foot of the Rockies.

The Saints who had to make these sacrifices must have made many longing backward glances as they continued their journey. Yet while they left many cherished items behind, they didn’t leave behind their most precious asset: their children. That would have been unthinkable.
Now, some 150 years later, we are facing different challenges but a similar choice. Tragically, this time it isn’t furniture and fineries that are being left behind but our children. Believing that possessions and “personal fulfillment” are paramount, many parents are leaving the primary care of their children to day-care centers. Some, such as single parents, may have no choice, but others do. The Savior tells us:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, …
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (3 Ne. 13:19–20). Surely we should consider our family to be among our greatest treasures.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” we learn that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” 13 Since the family is central, then the most important work we do, according to President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973), is “within the walls of [our] own home.” 14 Note the word within. Parents earn money outside the home to make a living, but they spend time inside the home to make a life.

The cycle of affluence leading to pride is depicted numerous times in the Book of Mormon. The Lord warns us, “The riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39). We would be wise to avoid the Nephites’ mistakes by being wary of “outward show,” learning what is sufficient for our true happiness, and discovering how to be content. I believe these principles are deserving of our sincere pondering and prayer.

summer joys

I gave Bernie a plate of noodles with fresh pesto today and after tasting it, she averred, "Mmm. Perfect!"

There are so many summer joys, inspite of this heinous heat. In what do we revel? Fresh pesto is high on the list. Berries too. Blueberry pancakes (we must content ourselves with the gargantuan cultured variety--you lucky Mainers!). Sliced strawberries on cereal. Raspberries savored slowly. Fresh pineapple. Bless those Dole people and their perfect pineapples, which I understand are the result of many years of engineering. Wild salmon in early summer, late spring. Less expensive, better quality mangoes and avocados. Pasta salads. Anything grilled.

There are some non-culinary joys, too. Lazy afternoons on the screened porch. Laziness in general. Parks and zoos when we're feeling ambitious. Late sultry nights and fresh early mornings. Why am I so much more likely to indulge myself in the summer? Most people lose weight in the summer, but I always gain a few pounds.

This has not been a "getting things done" summer for me. I did paint the entryway and my bedroom is next. I've worked on my Physical Science course. Besides that I've done precious little. Shuttled kids around a bit for a month of swimming lessons and tennis, but that was over last week. I've done the bare minimum of yardwork. I've read three novels to my girls. We did get the puppy who requires attention. I've done the bare minimum of house work. I like to have my kitchen and bathrooms clean and the floors not too bad.

What have I been doing? I am up at 6 or so every morning to read the scriptures. I'm reading the Book of Mormon right now. This time is without price to me--a feast of fat things.

On the frivolous side, I've discovered the joy of painting my nails. I can't believe I've gone so many summers with ugly sandal feet! They looks so much better with painted nails.

I haven't organized any closets or drawers or done any big projects. Does this bother me? I'll admit it did a little. But this morning I was thinking about how I don't want to be a slave to my stuff. There was a great Ensign article on that in the June 2003 issue. I like this quote:

In his book Clutter’s Last Stand, Don Aslett gives us additional insight into
this self-imposed slavery. Each item we accumulate, he says, “stifles us and
robs us of freedom because it requires so much of our time to tend.” He writes
further: “We have to pay for it, keep track of it, protect it, clean it, store
it, insure it, and worry about it. … Later we have to move it, hide it,
apologize for it, argue over it. … But these things are valuable, you say? What
about the value of the life and time to store, to clean, to insure, to
transport, to protect—what does that cost? More than money.”

brunette

I am a brunette now. After several years of varying shades of blondeness I was ready for a change. I had never colored my hair darker than my natural color.

It's darker now. I prefer it to my former highlights, but it turned out a good deal redder than I had anticipated. I don't think it looks bad. In fact, the girl who cut my hair the other day recommended red for me. But really, I was looking for a dark brown, neither red nor ash. They sold reds, ashes, and this. It did not look red on the box. Perhaps the highlights I had brought the red out, I don't know, but here it is.

The girls, including the neighbor girl, think it turned out really good. Lidia was adamant that I not go through with it when she saw the box, but now she thinks it looks great. A few hours after he'd seen the big change Marcus drew near to me with big eyes and said in a soft voice, "Mom, I didn't know it was you with that dark hair. I thought you were someone else."

J thinks it looks good. Perhaps I'll borrow the neighbor's digital again and take a few pictures so y'all can check it out.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

We're reading...

together:
Anne of the Island, Montgomery, Lucy Maude

We are nearly finished with the above. The girls would like to finish out the series, but I think we'll try something else for a little while and maybe come back to Anne. I hope to post on the beauties of this series at some point and the great discussions these books have sparked.

Lidia continues with the American Girls series:
Meet Kaya
Kaya and the Lone Dog
Samantha Learns a Lesson
Changes for Josefina

Georgie:
finished Gone-Away Lake, Enright, Elizabeth
She's done other reading from non-fiction science books and such that she has in a stack by her bed.

Marcus:
He would like to read Pokemon chapter books, but he's definitely not able to read at that level yet, and it's frustrating for him. He does well with the Frog and Toad books. I need to make a habit of daily reading with Marcus--he's the one who hasn't been read to as much lately.

Bernie:
lots of ABC books! Her favorite: Dr. Suess's ABC. That was Marcus's favorite too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Family Home Evening

We have been doing lots of fun stuff like visiting parks, playing games, and watching movies this summer for Family Home Evening. (FHE for short. Generally observed on Monday evenings, this is a time families around the world of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints set aside to spend with their families. We do fun activites, service, or learn together--anything that brings us together.) Last night I decided we would have a lesson on the first Article of Faith, which is, We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. I had scriptures, a story, and activities prepared. I had made some favorite cookies (recipe below) and the girls had given some to the neighbors.

We had a family favorite for dinner: tostadas. During dinner Marcus stole away, presumably, to play a game on the downstairs computer as he often does. About 40 minutes or so later, we were assembled in the living room to begin our lesson. M was nowhere to be found. We soon realized that his shoes were missing. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach as I remembered a conversation J and I had had with M while we prepared dinner. He wanted to ride his bike to Jerry's like Georgie and Lidia do. We told him he was too small to go by himself and we would take him some time. Jerry's is a grocery store a few blocks from our home. There is no safe way for a child to walk there, especially now that there is construction on that road.

J and I hopped in our cars to drive different routes to Jerry's, while the girls took to their bikes to check the walking trail. J soon found Marcus at Jerry's. A college-age girl in our neighborhood had found M walking back from Jerry's. She asked him if he was lost. She couldn't get much information out of him, so she took him back to Jerry's. That's where J found him. We're still confused about how exactly far he got. Did he walk all the way to Jerry's and then turn back? The girl found him close to there, but coming back toward our street. M doesn't have much to say on the matter.

When we got home the neighbors on both sides were waiting in our yard. The girls had told them M was missing. They were flabbergasted that he had tried to walk there by himself. It didn't surprise us much. Our children think they can do anything. We were reminiscing that all have been lost at least once except Bernie, and the same is sure to happen with her. In fact, 2 days ago I couldn't find B. She often sneaks out and rings the neighbors' door bell to see if she can play. I went over there to see if they'd seen her, and they hadn't. After about 5 minutes of frantic searching, the neighbor appeared with Bernie. She'd been at their house all along! They don't know how she got in!

Anyway, after all of this I didn't feel like beginning our lesson and it was so lovely outside we decided to hang out at the park across the street. Then we decided to walk over to the college girl's house and give her some cookies to thank her for helping Marcus. She wasn't at home but we talked with her dad for a few minutes. He was a very nice guy and asked Marcus how he was doing. Turns out his daughter had first brought Marcus home and asked her dad what she should do with him. Her dad was the one who suggested she take him to Jerry's.

Last night J confessed that he'd done the exact same thing once as a child, except he was visiting relatives in a big city near his hometown in Mexico. He set out on his own to go to the store, but got lost. A girl found him and somehow returned him to his relatives' house. It must be an inherited tendency!

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

My current favorite peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie recipe...

1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup quick cooking or regular oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz milk chocolate chips or M&Ms
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Beat sugars, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and egg in medium bowl until creamy. Mix in flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. (Don't over-mix.) Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes.

The secret to the perfect melt-in-your-mouth cookie is to take them out when they are just barely done.

The neighbor girl says these are the very best cookies she's ever tasted.

Monday, July 18, 2005

from Friday's Wall Street Journal...

All for One?
The idea of unity divides Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
BY FREDERICA MATHEWES-GREEN Friday, July 15, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

"The need is felt to join forces and spare no energies" to renew dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, said Pope Benedict XVI. In comments to delegates of the Patriarch of Constantinople on June 30, the pope explained that "the unity we seek is neither absorption nor fusion, but respect for the multiform fullness of the Church."

Outsiders may wonder: Why don't those two venerable churches just kiss and make up? From the outside, they look a lot alike. Each church claims roots in earliest Christian history. The dispute that split them is a thousand years old. Isn't it time to move on?

It is my own Orthodox brethren who appear to be the cranky partners. Catholics have been making friendly overtures for more than a decade now. Pope John Paul II even said that the extent of papal power--over which the two churches split in the 11th century--could be "open to a new situation." Both churches hold as ideal a united body with Rome as "first among equals." Yet the Orthodox drag their feet, sometimes seeming downright rude. A Catholic friend tells me that the attitude seems to be: "Take this olive branch and shove it."

The Orthodox Church is smaller and less powerful, so we don't get much opportunity to explain how things seem from our perspective. But it comes down to two words: "unity" and "chaos."
From a Roman Catholic perspective, unity is created by the institution of the church. Within that unity there can be diversity; not everyone agrees with official teaching, some very loudly. What holds things together is membership. This kind of unity makes immediate sense to Americans: Whatever their disagreements, everyone salutes the flag, and all Catholics salute, if not technically obey, Rome's magisterium.

When Roman Catholics look at Orthodoxy, they don't see a centralized, global institution. Instead, the church appears to be a jumble of national and ethnic bodies (a situation even more confused in the U.S. as a result of immigration). To Catholics, the Orthodox Church looks like chaos.

But from an Orthodox perspective, unity is created by believing the same things. It's like the unity among vegetarians or Red Sox fans. You don't need a big bureaucracy to keep them faithful. Across wildly diverse cultures, Orthodox Christians show remarkable unity in their faith. (Of course there are plenty of power struggles and plain old sin, but the essential faith isn't challenged.) What's the source of this common faith? The consensus of the early church, which the Orthodox stubbornly keep following. That consensus was forged with many a bang and dent, but for the past millennium major questions of faith and morals have been pretty much at rest in the Eastern hemisphere.

This has not been the case in the West. An expanded role for the pope was followed by other theological developments, even regarding how salvation is achieved. In the American church, there is widespread upheaval. From the Orthodox perspective, the Catholic Church looks like chaos.

This is hard for Catholics to understand; for them, the institution of the church is the main thing. If the church would enforce its teachings, some adherents say, there would be unity. The Orthodox respond: But faith must be organic. If you have to force people to it, you've already lost the battle; that wouldn't be unity at all.

So we've got two different definitions of "unity." Is "unity" membership in a common institution or a bond of shared belief? The Orthodox take their cue from Christ's prayer to his Father, "that they all may be one, even as we are one." What kind of unity do the Father and the Son have? They are not held together by an outside force; they are one in essence and have a common mind. If we are "partakers of the divine nature," as St. Peter said, then, the Orthodox believe, we'll participate in that mind. That's what makes us the "body of Christ," the church.
Thus the Orthodox hesitate at a phrase like the pope's "multiform fullness." Catholic diversity makes it easy for Catholics to embrace us: When they look at us, they see the early church. We fit right in. But when the Orthodox look at Catholics, we see an extra thousand years of theological development, plus rebellion in the pews. What kind of unity do Catholics have, at present, that we could enter?

There are plenty of good reasons for the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches to talk. Discussion clears away misunderstanding, and common causes can benefit from the energies of both churches. But we can't be fully united until we agree on what "unity" means.

Ms. Mathewes-Green is the author of "At the Corner of East and Now: A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Enough already!

I don't know if it's because of the heat (too many days in the 90's) or what, but I feel a need to vent.

I am so tired of seeing naked women in the locker room at the gym. O.k., maybe that sounds a little ridiculous. I mean, that's where you would find naked women, right? In a locker room. (At least, that is the only place I would find them because I don't make a habit of seeking them out on the internet or perusing certain publications.) The women go to the locker room and they must shower and change, right? So naturally they would be au natural.

Well, my problem is not women changing or hopping into the shower. My problem is women strolling about and even chatting in the nude. Yesterday I took the girls into the locker room after Lidia's swim lesson so she could shower. Usually we use the shower at the pool but there was a huge line for it. As soon as we walked in we saw a few women hanging around the hot tub. They were naked. Then we saw a nude woman walking from the showers to the changing area, dragging a towel along. I wanted to ask, "Why don't you put that towel around yourself, lady?" While waiting for Lidia to change (and of course I've taught her the "modest" way) Georgie and I found ourselves with the option of contemplating either our toes or the ceiling, because all around us there were things we'd rather not see.

All shapes and sizes of ladies at my gym feel comfortable chillin' in the buff. It's not just the ones who have shelled out for certain body parts, wanting, I suppose, to get more bang for their buck by displaying their purchases. It's everybody. I start to feel like I'm the only one who is uncomfortable with it. Am I some uptight Puritan or something? I guess we're not talking South Beach or Scandanavia or some swingers resort where both sexes lounge about in the nude. It's just women. But still, am I the only one who feels this is indecent?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Marcus's talk

Marcus gave a talk today in Primary. Primary is the children's organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Primary lasts two hours on Sundays, and includes Sunday School as well as Sharing Time. Sharing Time is broken up into a time for opening exercises, choir, and a brief lesson or activity.

His topic was "repentence," and he told the story of Jonah. M was looking forward very much to delivering this talk. He loves public speaking! Everything went fine until we got to "He told the men on the ship to throw him overboard." M busted out laughing. He covered his mouth but couldn't stop! He just thought that part was really, really funny. He finally got control of himself, but the next sentence was even funnier: "The storm stopped, and Jonah was swallowed up by a large fish." When he started laughing again I couldn't help it and I lost it, too. (I was beside him, helping him.) Of course all of the children were in an uproar. M turned when he heard me laughing and tried to cover up my mouth! Poor guy! Now even his mom was laughing at him! When he got to "After three days the fish spit him out on dry land" he could barely get it out through his laughter, but then he calmed down and delivered the last few sentences without incident.

Here is M's talk:
Sometimes I do things that I shouldn’t do. When I do things that are wrong, I always feel better after I say I’m sorry. Then I try not to do the wrong thing again. That is called repentance.

In the Bible there is a story of a man who had to repent. His name was Jonah and he was a prophet. The Lord told him to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people to repent or they would be destroyed. But Jonah didn’t go to Nineveh; he ran away on a ship. Then there was a big storm. Jonah knew he had not obeyed. He told the men on the ship to throw him overboard. The storm stopped, and Jonah was swallowed up by a large fish. Jonah prayed and repented. After three days the fish spit him out on dry land. This time Jonah obeyed the Lord and preached repentance to the people of Nineveh. They repented and were saved from destruction.
I know that Heavenly Father wants us to repent every day
.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

And Lidia, too!

Well, Lidia opened a letter that came today from the library (Georgie's came yesterday) and she won a Barnes and Noble gift card, too! She feels much better.

Georgie won!

It's not a big thing, but it still feels good. Georgie opened an envelope from our library this morning. In it she found that she was a winner in the weekly drawing they have. The children fill out a form for each book they read and enter it in the drawing. But get this: Georgie only filled out one form, while poor Lidia filled out six. The kids have to either draw a picture from the book or tell about their favorite part or why they liked the book. Lidia drew beautiful, intricate illustrations for her six books. Georgie wrote the following: I liked it because it was good.

Georgie got a 10$ gift certificate for Barnes and Noble. Lidia was disappointed and we told her that that's usually how life is--pretty unfair. But she'll get to pick out a book too when we go to Barnes and Noble.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Saipan

I just checked out my aunt Marilou's blog, "TheThinks." Marilou, my mom's brother Casey, and their 8 children live in Saipan. (Two--almost three-of those kids are in college in the States now.) She has a link to Del Benson's website. Del is a photographer who lives on the island. Check out these stunning pictures of Saipan!

Gym Rats

A disproportionate amount of exercise, as some American women practice, may
turn out to load the deck against your weight-loss goals. While offereing
little or no health benefit compared with milder exertion, the overheated
workout may in fact lead to defeatism ("I give up!"), even to heartier
eating. Indeed, too many women I know exercise so that they end up with
oversize appetites just to refuel their bodies. They become like
(gym) rats on a treadmill...

...American women seem to have two modes: sitting or spinning.
French women prefer the gentler, more regular varieties of all-day
movement--"the slow burn," in American terms.
-Mireille Guiliano, French Women Don't Get Fat

Seasonality

Seasonality (eating the best at its peak) and seasoning (the art of choosing and combining flavors to complement food) are vital for fighting off the food lover's worst enemy: not calories, but boredom. Eat the same thing in the same way time and again, and you'll need more just to achieve the same pleasure. (Think of it as "taste tolerance.") Have just one taste experience as your dinner (the big bowl of pasta, a big piece of meat), and you are bound to eat too much, as you seek satisfaction from volume instead of the interplay of flavor and texture that comes from a well-thought-out meal...

...In the end, seasonality is the key to the French woman's psychological pleasure in food--the natural pleasure of anticipation, change, the poignant joy we take in something we know we shall soon lose and cannot take for granted. Such heightened awareness fo what we put in our mouths is the opposite of routine, mindless eating that promotes boredom and weight gain. -Mireille Guiliano, French Women Don't Get Fat

French paradox

There is a "French Paradox" that extends far beyond the capacity to enjoy
wine and cheese while preserving a healthy heart. Really, as with all
paradoxes, the contradiction is only an impression that conceals a perfectly
logical truth. French women don't get fat because they have not allowed
new attitudes and modern theories of how the body uses food to over-rule
centuries of experience...They do, however, understand that each of us is the
keeper of her own balance, and when that balance slips, each must devise her own
plan of correction, based on personal preferences.
-Mireille Guiliano, French Women Don't Get Fat

Thursday, July 07, 2005

In June we read...

Read Alouds:
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, Montgomery, Lucy Maude. We are on the last chapter of Anne of Avonlea. Both Georgie and Lidia have enjoyed these books tremendously. Anne is irresistable! In fact, they would like to move right on to Anne of the Island.

Georgina:
Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Born to Trot, Henry, Marguerite
Star in the Storm, Harlow, Joan Hiatt
The Golden Hour, Williams, Maiya
Gone-Away Lake, Enright, Elizabeth (currently)

Lidia has discovered the American Girls series. So far she's read:
Kristin's Surprise
Meet Samantha
Meet Josefina
Samantha's Surprise
Josefina's Surprise

Calandria:
I read a few dog care and training books.
Also, French Women Don't Get Fat, Guiliano, Mireille. I was looking for something light and found this at the library. (It's a current best seller so I had to do the $3 rent-a-book thing.) I have liked this book quite a bit, surprisingly. I usually find self-help books annoying. Maybe I like this one because I agree with everything she says. Also, she has a charming way of writing that for the most part avoids a nauseatingly superior tone, an obvious danger of her subject. But who knows, maybe I am so used to hearing Americans belittled (mostly by other Americans) I am becoming insensitive to it.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

My friend Michelle

Michelle is one of those ultra-smart homeschooling moms on my LDS Mother's Ed elist. She is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who has done phD work in political science. I love her posts. She would be a much-loved and widely-read blogger. Here is one of Michelle's recent posts that reminded me of a literary gem I discovered in college:

I read a chapter from Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for a poetry
project I'm working on. I've read some essays from her before, but had
forgotten how dizzy reading her for long makes me--I think I'll just
"sample" from the rest of the book rather than read it all, I'm not sure I
need mental vertigo today.

But she's very quotable! She had this to say, in her chapter "Seeing"
and I thought it very CM:

"I used to be able to see flying insects in the air. I'd look ahead and
see, not the row of hemlocks across the road, but the air in front of
it. My eyes would focus along that column of air, picking out flying
insects. But I lost interest, I guess, for I dropped the habit. Now I can
see birds. Probably some people can look at the grass at their feet and
discover all the crawling creatures. I would like to know grasses and
sedges--and care. Then my least journey into the world would be a field
trip, a series of happy recognitions."

I think this is what CM was aiming at with nature study--every journey
being a series of happy recognitions; and also, in a larger sense, what she
was aiming at in general--that we would be so acquainted with and able to
"see" ideas, the words of a poet or the paintings of an artist, and then,
when we recognized that idea, those words, a similar painting, we'd have
another series of "happy recognitions."

Dillard describes seeing in nature as being like those "find the hidden
picture" puzzles, and how we have to keep looking and seeing in different
ways and different approaches to really see all that is there--actually, we
probably are incapable of seeing all that is there. I think this applies
to what we apprehend of the rest of the world, too--people, books,
ideas. The world sometimes seems to be layers upon layers of meaning. My
mother has this framed picture--it looks like scribbles and jumbles. But
she insists that if you stand up close and concentrate, you will see an
American flag. I've never seen it! I can't format my eyes and brain to
find it. Normally I'm pretty good--remember those "optical illusion"
pictures in a psych textbook? I could always see BOTH pictures there--the
young woman and the old hag, the vase and the two faces. It gives new meaning to the Lord's criticism of "having eyes but not seeing" or "seeing, but not seeing" There's an entire world I never saw before my conversion, so many things I never even suspected or dreamed of being there--my "eyes" were formatted anew by the Spirit to allow me to focus on something "in between" or closer, like Dillard's column of air before the hemlocks.

Makes me wonder what else I'm missing, and how I can format my eyes to find it!