Photo: "Ride of my life!" The boy whose wheelchair got stuck on the front of a semi and was pushed miles down the freeway before the unsuspecting driver was flagged down. The boy never even spilled his soda.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I happened upon the artist, Cynthia Large while searching for an image of St. Christina the Astonishing. Her work is masterful! Please visit her website here to view her all of her work. What follows is a brief biography I took off her website:
I was born in Northern California in 1972, and raised among the redwoods. Between the ages of 15 and 17 I lived in some isolated areas of Utah and tangled with small religious movements and heresies. Curiousity has not yet killed the cat, and the study of both orthodox and heretical faiths continues to inform my work.
Theology is combined in my paintings and assemblages with ideas about music and mental illness; these themes form the (sometimes) overlapping spheres of genius, madness, and spiritual ecstasy.
In 1990 I moved to New York, received my B.F.A. from Parson's School of Design in 1994, and then spent two years in the Netherlands, examining the art and religious upheavals of the late Middle Ages. During this period I studied the techniques of the early Flemish painters, and developed a method of painting based on what I learned.
Egg tempera and oil are my primary mediums; the process is labor intensive, and each painting takes nearly two years to complete. The frames are handmade of various woods, with inlaid marquetry panels, and I often incorporate salvaged piano keys and organ pipes in my work. In 1999, I received a grant from the Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for my paintings of the composer and pianist Clara Schumann. My current series of paintings, "Holy Mischief", portrays the lives of the most restive and unruly figures in the history of religion.
I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and believe that artistic talent is a gift from God, as all gifts are. I strive, in my daily work, to honor that gift, and to remember the One who bestowed it. I currently live in New York. Cynthia Large, Quaker Artist
[Art: Julian of Norwich, Cynthia Large]
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
A very handsome Jack Russell terrier played St. Joseph this year, while a lovely Siamese played Our Lady. The Pugs were so cute as angels! The Shepherds were real Border Collies and the sheep were all kittens except for a couple of rabbits.
(The three Pit Bulls who were scheduled to play the roles of the Kings had to be put down that day and couldn't be in the pageant. Sad.)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
It brings back memories of finding an excuse to speak to Sr. Joseph about the film - she was the 1st grade teacher at my school when I was in 5th grade - she happened to be the young, pretty nun. Sister told me their life was nothing like what the film portrayed - she was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet - and of course, it was around 1960. (You see, the breakdown began before the Council - Vatican II simply opened the windows.)
Anyway - the film takes me back - ah! (This season is far too nostalgic.) But I want to let you know, my dearest uncle is very ill. He had a heart attack earlier in the week, and then a stroke. He is 89 and my aunt is 82. They were both in perfect health. I'm just asking for prayers for him, my uncle's name is Arthur.
Thank you very much.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
[I'll be off-line for a little while.]
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
On the first Christmas eve - that is, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of the holy Virgin Mary - and before anyone else knew about it, even the shepherds, the stray cats of Bethlehem gathered around the stable. They were hiding in the hay and behind the sleepy ox, one kitty slept on the back of donkey because it was warm, a couple of others rubbed up against St. Joseph who seemed to be asleep - although he was really in ecstasy.
The holy Virgin was kneeling upon a fleece mat laid over the straw in a corner of the stable, protected from view by the large sleeping ox and a low wall. The Blessed Virgin was in ecstasy as well, when suddenly a great light shone, and upon the fleece was a lovely newborn Infant, glistening as if bathed in star dust. No sooner had He appeared than the Blessed Mother swiftly wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger nearby. As if from nowhere, the tiniest angels appeared, about the size of bees, encircling the newborn in the manger, while strains of heavenly music could be heard, along with the gentle singing of heavenly choirs.
Joseph walked very slowly into the enclosure, his head bowed, tears streaming down a face made radiant by the light emanating from the Holy Child and his Blessed Mother. He knelt next to his wife, adoring the Holy Infant. The ox noticed and rose partially, although just enough to kneel, facing the Holy Family. The donkey did likewise. The cats, naturally shy and accustomed to being shooed away, kept their distance until they noticed all the other little animals; mice, chipmunks, rabbits, gathering in awe at the foot of the manger, completely unselfconscious of any danger.
Now, as you know, stray cats are always hungry and always looking for prey - which is why many people who dislike cats, tolerated them in the first place, since they kept their homes free of vermin. As the cats watched all the critters assembling, it seemed to them it was a living banquet being laid out before their eyes. However, the grandpa cat whispered that this was not the moment or place for feasting. He proceeded to explain to the other cats that they had all just witnessed a miracle, that God Himself, our Creator, had come down that night to live amongst men. Grandpa cat pointed to all the little animals, particularly the mice, and reminded the other cats of the scriptures which referred to the Christ when it foretold, "In that day the kitty cat will lie down with the mouse." (Grandpa cat knew the scriptures because he sneaked into Temple every Sabbath. He quickly related how the Virgin would be found with Child, that her Child is the Redeemer and Saviour, who brings peace to all the world, renewing nature itself, and so on.)
With renewed confidence all the cats crept out of their hiding places, their attention rapt upon the Divine Child. The kitties were neither distracted by the mice and other animals, nor were they a bit perturbed when the shepherd's dogs arrived... the atmosphere being so permeated with peace and joy that silent night. A few of the older cats cuddled near the Madonna and the feet of St. Joseph to warm them. As it was a very cold night that first Christmas, Our Lady picked up a very fat cat and another beautiful Siamese cat, placing them gently near the Child Jesus, to keep Him warm too. [This is when I ask my cats, "And do you know who these kitties were, so privileged to keep watch over the Holy Infant? They were your great, great, great, great, (almost too many greats to count!), great grandmothers!"]
So this is the Christmas story I tell my cats every year, and when I'm finished, they roll around for a long time afterwards, purring and stretching, as if they had nibbled upon catnip, and I always seem to be able to see a twinkle in their eyes, with a smile upon their little mouths. After some time, they then go over and adore the Bambino Jesu, sitting alongside Him into the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I'm going to confession today. I'm very nervous about it for some reason. Well, mainly because it's hard to confess sometimes. I know we are confessing to Christ, but the priest is a guy, and he has to listen to what we have to say. Strangely enough, when you get to be my age, my sins seem more shameful. I think it is because at my age I always thought I should know better, or I should be more mature and not commit such stupid sins. What I think I'm saying is that I equate maturity with perfection - and on some level that is true - but being older doesn't guarantee maturity or perfection - as evidenced by my blogs.
The thing about sin however, especially when you get older, is that you are keenly aware of how deliberate it is. If other 'mature' men are like me, sins against chastity used to be the principal sin everyone confessed. Hence the shame and embarrassment thing was pretty much a given. But nowadays, the sins seem to be less carnal and more spiritual - therefore it's a different type of shame and guilt. (As most Catholics know, confession not only takes away the sin, but the shame, and the guilt as well.)
The awful truth.
Having said that, the spiritual combat seems much more vicious now that I'm older - and deals directly with the theological virtues, to be sure - but even more so, with the root sins that have plagued us all of our lives. (I think the psalmist referred to these when he prayed, "from my hidden sins acquit me O Lord.) Our "big" sins of intemperance, or sins against chastity, often eclipsed these deeper, darker, nasty sins of pride, envy, jealousy, rancor, lying, sloth - oh, the list goes on and on. In other words, the sins, the combat, becomes more spiritual - and therefore seems to me to be more deadly.
Which brings me back to my point. Confession seems more difficult at times because we are really laying bare our soul to its very depths, and more often than not, to a much younger man. Even the devil doesn't have access to this level of our being. Whatever. I'm going to confession. I think I need humility and deeper contrition - please pray for me.
Gosh - I could sure use a cigarette.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Bunny Rabbit and his brothers came out and hopped around to find roots to eat.
The squirrels ran up and down the trees, and all around everywhere to find hidden nuts.
All at once Bunny Rabbit heard a noise. (Bunny Rabbit is one sharp tack.)
He sat up on his hind legs and held up his long ears.
The other rabbits listened, too.
Sammy and Bobby heard the noise and scampered up into the little pine tree. (Sammy and Bobby are squirrels who just scamper about - all over. They are very annoying.)
"Bow-wow-wow!" barked Jip, as he ran through the woods.
"It's the dog!" cried Bunny. "Let's run and hide." (Dogs are so scary to squirrels and bunny rabbits! Puppies will tear them to bits and pieces,)
The little rabbits whirled around and hopped back to their house. (Their ears flopping to and fro! Giggling because they knew they were being filmed.)
Sammy and Bobby were safe in the tree, so they did not try to run away. They heard some one talking and they looked to see who it was. They saw two children and a man.
The man had an axe in his hand. (They so wanted to scream, they knew all about axe murderers - then they covered their eyes fearing what might happen to the children...)
BUT... The two children ran along the path, talking and laughing and spitting on each other.
They were looking at all the evergreen trees. (They couldn't see the forest for the trees! This is where the expression comes from!)
"This is a good one," said the little boy. (Although he knew he would be wrong - since the little girl always had to be right. The little boy vowed then and there never to get married. 'I'll be a priest!' he thought, 'and then I'll make her wear chapel veils to church and won't let her do the readings at Mass or be an altar girl and stuff.' Yes - this is how these customs got started!)
"This is a better one," said the girl, and she pointed right at the little pine tree where Sammy and Bobby were hiding. (The squirrels then realized this wasn't a crime scene after all - these people seemed to be intent upon deforestation and wiping out wildlife from the planet, in an effort to promote global warming.)
"They are going to cut down this tree," whispered Sammy. "What shall we do? What shall we do?"
But the man did not cut down the tree.
He looked at it and said, "That is too large for our Christmas tree." (Omigosh! The squirrels snickered - and they realized the intrusive humans were just looking for a Christmas tree to cut down, decorate, and then burn a few days later.)
"We must find one that is much smaller." Said the axe murderer.
So the man and the two children went along the path into the woods.
And before long the sound of the axe rang out through the stillness. (And the bone-chilling screams of the children did too! I'm just kidding.)
"I never was so frightened in my life," said Sammy. "I thought..."
"I thought so, too," said Bobby. "But I was not frightened. I could jump to that next tree. It is not very far."
"I know that," said Sammy. "But I have a store-house in this tree."
"Where is it?" asked Bobby. "I wish you would show it to me. I am as hungry as a bear."
"So am I," said Sammy. "Let's have dinner now." (As he turned to go get the good china and silver.)
"We will call it a Christmas dinner. The children said this would make a good Christmas tree," said Bobby.
"I wonder what a Christmas tree is like," said Sammy. Bobby followed Sammy and peeped into the hole where the ten acorns were hidden.
Sammy took out a nut, and Bobby took out a nut. (Just a couple of nuts - get it? This is where that expression comes from!)
They sat up on their hind legs and nibbled away happily. (They really didn't have china or silverware.)
And as they nibbled annoyingly, the man and the two children and the dog came back through the woods.
They were dragging a little tree over the snow.
The dog ran along beside them barking loudly. (So the dad shot him.)
"That must be the Christmas tree," said Bobby. "I wonder what they are going to do with it." (He wondered if it would be a theme tree, you know, very traditional, or if they would flock it and do something fabulously monochromatic with it.)
"Tweet, tweet!" sang a little sparrow. "I can tell you. I saw one last year. I peeped in at the window after the tree had been set up in the warm room. I saw many pretty things hanging on the branches. I saw the candles lighted, and Santa Claus came in to give away the toys to the happy children. Oh, it was pretty! But I like to see the tree in the woods better."
Then the little sparrow flew away, and the two squirrels ate another nut. (They looked at each other and shrugged - they couldn't understand a word of what the sparrow had just said.)
"I think this is a good Christmas tree," said Bobby. (Repeatedly over and over, really fast - he was a very fast talker.)
"Yes," said Sammy. "A tree with a hole full of nuts is better than one covered with candles and toys." (Said Sammy, repeatedly over and over, really fast - he too was a very fast talker.)
"It is better for squirrels," said Bobby - over and over. And then he took another nut. (Actually, the squirrels were nuts.)
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
That is me in the photo - I'm the one in the forefront wearing the dark suit, feigning happiness. It was an okay event. The girl next to me is Jennifer Colb, who was rather obvious in trying to seduce me. I explained to her I wanted to be a priest, so she ignored me the rest of the party. (None of us knew her very well, she was a daughter of one of my parent's bar-friends, who just happened to drop by.)
The boy next to me was my best friend Bob Cosamini... I say 'was' because we had a falling out about 10 years ago, right around Christmas. I had been helping him set up his business. One day I came into the shop and he told me his wife did not like a piece of art that I had hung. I walked out in a huff, and we have not spoken since. (Well, I wrote a letter. Never write letters when you are angry.)
I digress. Anyway, at parties such as these, Bob would use the bathroom and come back and tell us - in detail - all about it, what it looked like, the whole shebang. The girl at the back of our table next to Bob is Gloria Sword - she beat up Mary Kay Figaretto once - Mare is the dark-haired girl seated at the furthest table, across from Larry DeMarco. Larry has been in local theater for years now - and quite serious about it. Mary Kay is the one who introduced us all to Slo-Gin, with which we spiked our punch that Christmas. Most of us got sick and threw up. My parents thought it was my mom's cooking and refused to entertain ever again.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Right on, Target!
I'm not a big fan of Advent Wreaths or Jesse Trees, although if I had a Jesse Tree such as the illumination shown, I would be pleased. I think these things are great for families, especially kids, but for me, not so much. Although, I do appreciate old-world looking Advent calendars.
Speaking of Advent calendars - has anyone paid much attention to Target's Christmas ad on television? I vote it the best of the 2007 season. I love the music - sounds very Paul McCartney - and the format is nothing more than an Advent calendar. Now that is a good 'Catholic' Christmas ad if I ever saw one!
Right on, Target Corporation!