mary_j_59: (mug)
Sorry! It's another political post. As I say below, I was inspired to write this by our readings at Mass these past two weeks. They were almost scarily relevant.

Before our current president (I suppose we must call him that) took the oath of office, I had a brief conversation with a friend. “Young women I know are in tears,” she said to me. “I can’t understand it. I think it has to get worse before it gets better.” At the time, I was rather shocked and startled, but I’m starting to agree with her.

It’s not that Trump isn’t awful. He is. He is even worse than I imagined he would be, and the appearance of Swastikas on public property is absolutely chilling. All the bullies, racists, and neo Nazis seem to have been greatly encouraged by recent events. And yet- Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
I know nine women who marched on Saturday, and I ended up joining a small local march myself. It was a beautiful experience. Now we have to find a way to stay united and keep pushing for a humane and civilized world. Here's a short film I took.
mary_j_59: (flute)
If they do these things in the green wood, what will they do in the dry? (Our Lord Jesus Christ)

I went to a funeral a week ago exactly. It was for a good friend of one of my aunts, a woman who was also a friend of my parents'. A brilliant Indian summer day; a little wooden church by the sea. The woman whose life was being celebrated was a WWII vet, so she received military honors. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
Like millions of my fellow citizens, I am going to vote in a couple of days. A priest in a church I visited said a couple of very wise things about the election. He said:
1. There is no candidate who truly represents Catholic social teaching and/or the morality of the peoples of the book.
2. Our fellow citizens, whomever they support, are not the enemy. They are our countrymen and women, and our brothers and sisters. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Varen)
I wanted to say just a bit more on Orlando. I think our love affair with guns in this country is obscene. I really do. Yet I got a couple of petitions for gun control that I could not in good conscience sign. Among other things, they are insisting that anyone who is "suspected of terrorism" should be forbidden to buy a gun. And here's the thing:

A Republican lawmaker -- I forget who -- explained why he could not support this law. He said he couldn't agree that people on some secret list should be penalized. I thought about that, and I actually agree with him. We have no idea what could cause you to get on that list. Advocating for equal rights for Palestinians? Supporting BDS? Dr. Sami Al Arian did those things, and there are those who called him a terrorist. He was actually jailed. So far as I know, he never did, nor threatened, any violence to anyone.

So this Republican is right. I don't agree with barring people from exercising their second amendment rights because they somehow got on some secret list. Editing to add that neither doctor Al Arian, nor any of the activists I know, would ever try to buy an assault rifle. Here is what I would like to see.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Three things that are on my mind. Except for the first quote, I mention no names. I have no intention of violating anyone's privacy.

1. Poor, battered Rodney King, all those years ago, pleading "Can't we all just get along?"

2. Some years before that, my sister told me a lovely story. She was walking one way; a handsome young Black man (is it still okay to say "Black" in this context?) was walking the other. As they passed each other, he smiled at my blonde, blue-eyed sister and said, "You're beautiful." She smiled back and they each went on their way.

3. Yesterday, one of "my kids" came to visit me at the library. She came with her girlfriend/partner.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (flute)
Fair warning, everyone - I am a Bernie fan. I think he's great! But not perfect. That said, I fail to understand why the man is being blamed for the (apparent) acts of a few of his supporters. He said, quite clearly, that he does not support violence and that nobody ought to be threatened. Could he have offered more sympathy to that poor woman in Nevada? Yes, I think he could. She by no means deserved this horrible treatment. No one does. Still, Bernie has never advocated violence against anyone, unlike the other two candidates. Which brings me to my main point.

The Donald, Heaven help us! How did we ever get to this point? Well. Here is one way. He's a bully. And-

We live in a country in which bullying is not only acceptable, but effective.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
Today, by great good luck, I saw something remarkable. The local astronomy club in CT had set up telescopes for viewing the transit of Mercury across the sun. After a solid week of raw, rainy weather, we had a brilliant day. There was a strong wind – the guys told me the wind had actually played havoc with the telescopes – and scarcely a cloud in the sky. I got to the field about a half hour before the viewing period ended and got to look at or through three of the scopes.


Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Warning - this is a bit of a rant. And I'm sure others have said similar things, and gone into greater depth than I do here. But it's been on my mind.

How to Silence Marginalized Voices-
a Brief Instruction Manual


1. Discount oral histories, because they are only memories of old people, not facts.
2. Dismiss memoirs, also. They are personal, not scholarly.
3. Insist that the marginalized people should produce scholarship that is up to your standards, despite being denied your sort of education. Feel free to change the standards if someone actually manages to be scholarly. For example:
4. Dismiss scholarship produced by expatriates, because they are expatriates.
5. Also, dismiss arguments you don’t like as opinions, not facts.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Deirdre)
Here's a picture of the actual stew, which I cooked during the blizzard. The recipe follows:

Kassin Harbor Bean Stew

Ingredients:
1 lb (about 400 grams) dried beans, or two large cans.
4 shallots, 2 sweet red peppers, I yam or sweet potato, ½ to 1 bulb fennel.
4-8 oz (100 to 250 grams) salt fish (I’ve used both pollock and cod.)
1-2 tablespoons olive, canola, or good quality oil. 3 or 4 teaspoons curry powder, at least 2 teaspoons cumin, ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, a clove or two, hot red pepper, salt, and black pepper to taste. You may substitute an onion for the shallots, green pepper or celery for the fennel, and you may add 1-4 cloves garlic if you like it. The fish is optional, too; you can substitute ground meat or simply make a vegetarian version. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)
(crossposted from my author page)

Patricia Dunn, author of “Rebels by Accident”, came to our creative writing class last spring and did some really neat writing prompts. This autumn, I tried her method again. One of the prompts was “hunger is a mountain”. This is what I came up with.



Hunger is a Mountain

(A Writing Prompt)


What does this mean? How can a mountain be hungry? It grows and dies so very slowly, and when does it ever eat? What feeds it?

I can’t imagine being in a mountain’s skin. One of the old, metamorphic mountains of New England. Every summer, hordes of tourists and locals climb through its green, damp woods and cross its streams. They are hungry, as the wild creatures are hungry, for the little dark berries that grow on the bushes ringing the mountain’s bald crown. They call it Blueberry Mountain.
280px-MtCardigan.jpg

The mountain is generous. It feeds the foxes, the chipmunks, the squirrels, the porcupines and birds and deer and people. The people climb up hopefully and walk down again carrying buckets full of blueberries. Then they eat. They eat blueberry muffins, blueberry dumplings, blueberry turnovers, blueberry pies, blueberries with cream and ice cream. They eat blueberries fresh and frozen and canned. And every time they eat, they think of the mountain and how they’ll go back the next summer and pick blueberries again.
mary_j_59: (portrait)
I’m very troubled by what’s happening in the world generally, and in the Middle East in particular, and I’m struggling to understand it. I am posting this now because it is Holy Week, and I think that’s relevant to my understanding.

Amidst all the trouble and bloodshed, a few facts do stand out:Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)
“Why listen lady,” he said with a grin of delight, “the monks of old slept in their coffins!”

“They wasn’t as advanced as we are,” the old woman said. (From “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”, in The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, Hardcover, 17th edition, FS&G 1981, page 149.)


Recent events have gotten me thinking about progress, which may be more illusory than it sometimes seems. G.K. Chesterton once wrote a poem about evolution. Its refrain went something like this: “Evolution – up, up, up/Evolutes us on, on, on”.  Similarly, C.S. Lewis compared evolution to a sailor climbing the rigging of a sinking ship. My point isn’t that evolution is false. On the contrary, it is as solidly proven as a scientific theory can be. Evolution certainly happens. And so does progress. But evolution is full of turning back and cross breeding and dead ends, and progress is very far from linear. It’s a serious mistake to think that, just because people lived before us – say, a generation or so – we are more advanced than they are.
mother shoots villain
Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)

It is the weekend of Gaudete Sunday, so Im posting this. Here's the incomparable Maddy Prior and Steeleye Span, singing "Gaudete". Someone has kindly provided a translation of the verses in the comments; the chorus is "Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary! Rejoice!"

Let us remember that, in spite of the state of the world, there is much to rejoice about. Whatever you celebrate, I hope you'll have a happy, healthy winter festival.
mary_j_59: (portrait)
My sister and her teacher doing American waltz. I think they did a lovely job - and, honestly, I'm proud of the job i did filming, too! It's just a phone camera, but I managed to keep them in the frame all through the dance. Enjoy!
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
I am deeply upset by the news of the world, and thus I'm posting something rather controversial. One of the driving forces in U.S. politics is Christian Zionism. I have many problems with that philosophy, if philosophy it can be called.

First, as a Jewish friend noted, it is profoundly anti-Semitic. Christian Zionists believe that all Jews, everywhere, should go and live in Israel. That is not what I believe. I believe Jewish people should be able to live, as free and equal citizens, in any country they choose. Israel might be one of those countries; it might not. If a majority of Jews choose instead to live in the U.S., that is their absolute right! When Christian Zionism arose in late 19th-century England, one of its goals was to get all the English Jews to leave and go "back" to Palestine.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
My first professional library job was the one I hold now – young adult librarian in a small to mid-sized public library. It has been a joy to work there. But the administration has changed, and it may be that I won’t be a teen librarian from this summer onward. (NOte: It happened. My position was eliminated in April.) If that is the case, I want to list what I accomplished in my position over the last twenty years.


  • School – library cooperation:

I got the entire fifth grade to the library to hear Marybeth Weston, a local author, read her play, The Squaw with Blue Eyes.
 Along with the English teachers  in the middle school, I instituted the kid’s choice awards. Children suggested and then voted for their favorite books in a variety of genres, designed bookmarks, and chose their favorite designs. The bookmarks were professionally printed for distribution in the school and the public library. We did this for several years.
 I contacted the high school geology department and arranged for author Mike Mullin to do a booktalk centering on the Yellowstone supervolcano.
 With the middle school librarian's support, I came into the school library every month to do booktalks with the kids. I did this for several years.
 The Interact Club at the high school worked with me to hold a Halloween parade and costume judging every year at the end of October. This, too, was a regular program for many years. This brings me to:Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Niki)
Today, I had to tell two of my 14-year-olds they had to leave the library because we were closing. One boy responded. "Why does something so good have to close?" He also said, "This is the only place I can be myself." Isn't that cool?

Editing today to tell the rest of the story - I think the boys wouldn't mind.

Me: "I really want you on my teen advisory board!"
Boy who'd spoken: "What's a teen advisory board?"
Me: "We get together and share snacks and you tell me what you like about the library, what you'd like us to do, what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong."
Boy: "The library's doing NOTHING wrong."
Me" "Great! I need you to tell the grown-ups that."
Boy: "Don't they know that? Why don't they know that?"
Boy's friend: "Because they're grown-ups."

Wise words. We grown-ups need to be sure we don't forget what it feels like to be a kid, and that we don't forget to listen.

And yes, libraries rock! Just look at the young teen in my icon - she thinks so, too!
mary_j_59: (flute)
My mom was born in Galway, and my Dad's mother in Banagher, so I've been to the west fairly often to visit Mom's family (and once to visit Dad's). I have, however, never been to the North of Ireland. This month, when I went over to Galway to visit my aunt, I told her I'd like to go on a literary pilgrimage to Belfast. This picture shows why.Searcher statueThere are more pictures, as well as explanations, under the cut. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (flute)
I am trying to be very careful and exact in what I say here. I have no intention of offending anyone, but I do think this is important.

What would you think if a friend of yours said this:
"I hate Judaism! I really hate Judaism! I can't tell you how angry it makes me."

Think a bit. Now, substitute for "Judaism" the phrase "the Catholic Church." Do the above sentences suddenly become okay in your mind? If so, why?Read more... )

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