Month: December 2013

12 Days of Fiction, Day 6: Six Geese A-Laying

Welcome to the sixth post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.

 by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it.  Thanks to Random.org for the random number generator.

Today we have two, one from Kimberly Hartman and the second…. from her husband Mark!  Thanks for playing, Mark and Kimberly!  I love how you turned six geese into two very different kinds of superhero stories!

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LAY-tare!  

by Kimberly Hartman

“Where did he go?! Somebody go after him, he can’t have gone far! Over there, through the trees. Run!”

Cacaphony of voices  fell behind the pursued man in the deep dusk. He was faster than them, knew the area well. But many against only one. He hadn’t much chance to get away without subterfuge. The same they had used on him, tricking him out of hiding. Care for a sick man, indeed! So unfair. The life he sought, vanished, if they got to him.

The barn appeared quiet, the house beyond it dark. He slipped inside. The animals within, moving in curiosity, sniffing, without alarm.

“Oh, sweet geese, have you an egg or somewhat for a poor man’s breakfast?” He whispered to the softly nattering half-dozen that sat in their nests, heads buried, along with the rows of other sleepy fowl. “Sweet sleepy ones, you’ll find no harm in me, I’ll be gone soon.”
The fugitive buried himself in the straw. He knew there’d be no work tonight.
Voices, sudden, sweeping outside, sharp. As sudden within, as the startled geese joined in happy response. “Shush, shush!”
“We know you’re in there, Martin! Come back to Tours!”
The fugitive crept out, covered in straw and goose feathers. He grinned sheepishly. “Oh very well. If you want me that badly, I’ll be your Bishop.”

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Goose Flight

by Mark Hartman

“Goose flight, Goose Leader. Stick close; with what this area’s gone through, we’re gonna be dead-reckoning until we see the laser dot.” The leader of the flight of death and life waited for his team’s laconic acknowledgements.

“Two.” “Four.” “Five.” “Three.” “Six.”

On they flew, at an altitude which made the December ground temperature irrelevant to their war machines, each lost in silence, contemplating their mission; each wanting to be there to do their duty even more than they wanted the companionship of their comrades back at the base for Christmas dinner.

In a few minutes, their receivers came alive with a staticky signal from the ground. “Goose Leader, Goose Leader, this is Gander. We hear you coming in. Let us know when to light it up.”

The flight commander took a deep breath, released it, pressed his mic button, and said, “Gander, light it up. Goose Flight, Lead, form up on me with ten ­second, I say again ten-second intervals and get ready to release in order based on my mark.”

The professionals of destruction once again acknowledged their leader’s commands, and performed a complicated ballet in the sky, terrible in its beauty were there any to see.

“Flight, lead, mark, mark, mark, package away!” And on the first “mark,” he hit the “drop” button causing the package to separate from his warcraft. One by one, each of the six Goose Flight members laid their eggs of death and life; one by one, each of the eggs popped its parachute and soft­landed only yards away from the target point.

“Thanks be to God,” said the medic, as he broke open the package of antibiotics so deadly to the infection in this isolated Iranian town, cut off from the rest of the world by a major earthquake only three days before Christmas. “You other guys, open up the other packages and start handing out MREs – some of these people haven’t eaten in a few days.”

“Gander, Goose lead. Got it all?” squawked the radio.

“You bet, Goose! You guys have a great Christmas!”

“And to all a safe return to base.”

“Goose out.”

12 Days of Fiction, Day 5: Five Golden Rings

Welcome to the fifth post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.   Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it.  Thanks to Random.org for the random number generator.

If you’d like to join in, we only have “6 Geese A-Laying” and “8 Maids A-Milking” unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite (or on any of the above, if you have clearance to get to them), and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

And now here’s a contribution from Dan Costello of Catholic Writers Guild fame!  Thank you, Dan.  This is a lovely piece.

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My great grandmother had eight children, five of them girls. They came from Ireland and settled in Brooklyn, New York. The five sisters grew, married and had children and then each one after the other passed into the loving arms of our Lord. All told, from these eight children there twenty seven more children who in turn had another forty five children. If we ever all got together it would be quite a banquet to serve us.

Many of us had lost touch with each other and when my grandmother passed she left the oddest note behind. She wanted me to take her wedding ring and put in a box in her top dresser drawer. The box had a red top so it would be impossible to miss. When I found the box it had four other rings in it, each wrapped in tissue paper and each with a note, “Tessie, born 1921 in the snowstorm at home…”  They all went on that way with little notes about each. I found Margret the funniest. “Margret, tomboy and best marble player on the block…”

There was note prepared for my grandmother, “Ellen, born 1927. Married John. Loved ribbons in her hair as a girl. First to ride a bicycle.” I thought her and Margret must have gotten along well.

What to do with the rings? What to do with the stories? I thought long an hard and then took down a piece of paper and began a letter.

“Dear uncle Ralph, How many of your side can you get in touch with? Can we use your farm?”

We would have to share the stories. No one is truly passed until they are forgotten. We had to keep the memories alive, while we could. I lined up those rings and thought of the dishes washed, the hands held, the meals prepared. These stories should not die. These stories will not die. The courageous women will be remembered.

12 Days of Fiction, Day 4: Four Calling Birds

by E8 Album HQR Initiative

Welcome to the fourth post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.   Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it.  Thanks to Random.org for the random number generator.

If you’d like to join in, we only have “6 Geese A-Laying” and “8 Maids A-Milking” unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite (or on any of the above, if you have clearance to get to them), and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

Today’s piece is by Amy M. Bennett, author of “End of the Road”, available from Oak Tree Press, amazon.com, and  barnesandnoble.com.  Amy writes, “Spent the day in Santa Fe visiting our Carmelite family members, got my story written but no internet access!  I think I went a little overtime (10  minutes fly when you’re having fun!)  Hope you like it!  It’s a spin-off of my Black Horse Campground series!”

Thanks, Amy!  It’s a great piece, and I especially love the tie-in to the meaning of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  PS: See, people?  I told you I wouldn’t get upset if your post doesn’t go up on the exact day you’re assigned!

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Four Calling Birds

 Corrie sighed as she hung the phone up and rubbed her temples. Eight calls to eight different contractors and handymen and not one of them would be available to fix the concrete walk around the Black Horse Campground office and store for at least two weeks.

She looked out the window and winced inwardly as she studied the condition of the wooden steps leading from the building’s porch to the walkway. Just this morning, the UPS delivery man had nearly lost his loaded hand truck off the top step and rescued Corrie’s shipment at the cost of a splintered step and broken railing. And no one would be available to fix anything for a while.

She had given her employees, the Myers and the Pages, the day off to do the campground’s shopping in Las Cruces, 150 miles away, and would be gone until late, so neither Red nor Jerry could do any repairs until the next day. Her maintenance man, Buster, had offered, half-heartedly, to make some repairs, but his enthusiasm was only matched by his skills so Corrie had let him off the hook… much to Buster’s relief.

And Rick and J. D. were both on duty and unavailable.

She tried not to grow irritated at the situation, but it hadn’t helped when a guest’s son had tripped over the broken walkway and skinned his knee. Corrie had placated the child and his mother with a bandage and an ice cream, but she cringed to think of a guest being injured more seriously. She had called Father Eloy, the pastor at San Ignacio church, and asked if he knew any parishioners who were able to do the work and might want a little extra money and he’d admitted that everyone was busy now.

“All the ones who were hurting for work during the heavy rainy season are overwhelmed with projects now that the weather is drier,” he’d told her. “I’m sure they’d do it if they could, Corrie, but the church repairs have been put off as well.”

“Well, if you hear of anyone looking for work, Father, would you have them give me a call?” she’d asked.

Now she turned as the bell over the front door rang and her old black Lab, Renfro, let out an unenthused “Woof” of warning before resuming his snoring. Two men stood just inside the door with two boys around the age of 13 standing with them. One of the men stepped forward and removed his battered ball cap. “Ma’am,” he said, his voice quiet, “my brother and I are traveling through town with our families and we’re looking for a little work to boost our funds. Noticed that you might could use some work on that walkway out there.”

“You do concrete work?” Corrie said hopefully. Fr. Eloy must have found someone and sent them down to her right away. The two men nodded.

“I’m Marcus and this is my brother, Lucas,” the man said and the other man inclined his head. “These are our boys, Jonathan and Matthew. Mind if we get started right away?”

“Not at all,” Corrie said, breathing a silent prayer of thanks. “Do you need any…?”

“We got our tools and materials with us. We just need a place for the night and some money for gas and groceries. We got our wives and other kids with us.”

“Make yourselves at home,” Corrie said immediately. She reached under the counter for two keys. “Two of my cabins are empty right now and you can use the bathrooms and laundry room. There’s even a grill you can use to fix a meal. How soon can you start?”

“Let us get our families settled and we’ll get right to work, ma’am.” Marcus replaced his cap and he and his companions backed out of the door.

Corrie shook her head in wonder. She watched as they drove their trucks to the cabins and unloaded two women and several younger children, then pulled up beside the walkway.

It seemed like not more than a few minutes passed before they were pulling the broken stair apart and breaking up and removing the concrete from the walkway.

As the day wore on, she glanced out the window from time to time and watched them work without pause, except for when one of the wives would come over with sandwiches or a bottle of water for them. It was close to four o’clock and she saw that the work had gone amazingly fast. She stepped out on the porch and held out an envelope to Marcus, who stopped working long enough to accept it with a grateful smile. “God bless you, ma’am,” he said with a slight bow.

She returned to the office and busied herself with paperwork. When the door bell rang, she looked up, expecting to see Marcus and his crew, but it was Rick and J. D. who walked in. “Hey,” Rick said, removing his Stetson and shades. “Looks like you got the walkway fixed.”

“Yes,” she said, then frowned at Rick’s use of the past tense. “Those men have been at it all day and are making amazing progress.”

J. D. raised a brow and shot a look at Rick. “What men?”

Corrie pointed out the window. “Well, the men who are….” She looked and gasped. The walkway was finished. Only the barricades to keep people out of the wet concrete were still up. She stood and went to the side door. The trucks and all the men’s families were gone as well. She turned back to Rick and J. D. “Did you see two pick up trucks pull out of here?”

They both shook their heads. “When would this have been?” Rick asked.

“Well….” She shook her head, dazed. “I could have sworn they just left, but….

“Who were they?” J. D. asked, and both he and Rick had the wary expression of concerned lawmen.

“I don’t know,” Corrie said. “I thought maybe Fr. Eloy sent them to do the work, but they never told me their full names.”

“What names did they give you?” Rick asked, pulling his pocket notepad out and flipping it open.

“Two men and two boys. Marcus and Lucas and their sons, Jonathan and Matthew.”

Rick’s eyes narrowed. “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John fixed your walkway?”

Corrie stared at him and J. D. and said, “Yeah… I guess they did.”

12 Days of Fiction, Day 2: Two Turtledoves

Welcome to the second post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series, where a volunteer writer is assigned a random writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” All writing on the prompt must be done in 10 minutes or less.   Volunteers have been cultivated through the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, the Catholic Writers Guild members-only Facebook page, my Facebook page… and I think that’s it.  Thanks to Random.org for the random number generator.

If you’d like to join in, we only have 5 days unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite (or on any of the above, if you have clearance to get to them), and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

And now here’s a contribution from Kimberly Hartman of Catholic Writers Guild fame!  Thank you, Kimberly.  I am indeed intrigued!

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“Sorry, that’s the price of one.”

“Wait.. I could buy two of these last year at this amount! I know costs rise but…”

“Look, it takes money to get all this into the city, and the smaller the package, the more cost per. It’s not personal, it’s business, ok? Maybe your people can pony up the rest for you, you always come in groups, right?”

“It’s just me and my son this year. We’ll even need to stay in the city to make enough to get home. Tell you what, I’ll work for you to pack up whatever’s left.”

“You kidding? I don’t have enough overhead to pay the guys I got. Go on, I got paying customers, here. -what! What the heck?!!!! Hey , you there! Over there! Stop with the whip!  Hey! I ain’t no thief. Hey, guys, don’t let the animals get away!

“…as was done for me, so I do for you…”

Recommendation: Two Statues by Brian Kennelly

How can I possibly describe Two Statues? Is it a pair of buddy-cop dramas, woven together with mystical threads?  Is it a mystery story where the dramatic irony only manages to increase with each sentence, drawing the reader inexorably into a wilderness of miracles?  Is it an adventure story, bringing our four main characters up and down the eastern seaboard in search of answers both practical and otherworldly?  Is it a story of forgiveness alone or of reconciliation?

How can I possibly describe Two Statues? I don’t honestly feel like I can.  The best description this reader can give, however, is “five stars.”  Thank you, St. Benedict Press, for taking a chance on a novel like this.  It’s fiction like this that breathes credibility as well as humanity into the good doctrine promoted in your nonfiction.  You took a chance, and I’m hoping it pays off for you… so you can afford to take more chances on great Catholic fiction like Two Statues.

12 Days of Fiction, Day 1: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “12 Days of Fiction” series.  For simplicity’s sake, I prayed that I’d get the first day.  Random.org strangely obliged.  I’m not sure whether I should say, “Thanks, God!” or, “Erm… thanks, God.”

If you’d like to join in, we still have 7 days unclaimed.  Comment on this post or on the original 12 Days of Fiction invite, and I’ll comment back with your day and writing prompt.

And now, here’s my contribution.  My prompt is, “The First Day of Christmas:  A Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

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“Pear-shaped,” the saleslady lamented, giving my figure the once-over.  The already bright lights of the bridal salon were made even brighter by the surrounding cloud of white, sequined dresses on the lines of mannequins flanking us.

“Yeah, pear-shaped,” my best friend Jenny nodded next to me.  “Hey, at least she’s not an apple, right?”

Jenny waved her hands to indicate her own ample bosom, which hip-ridden, flat-chested me had always envied.

The saleslady–excuse me, “occasion consultant,” as her nametag read–shifted her eyes back to my pear shape and nodded decisively.  “At least you’re slim everywhere else, honey.  Don’t worry.  At this salon, we can find something for even the worst of figure flaws.”

She gestured for us to follow her to the back, where a few dresses had already been placed out for my perusal at this appointment.  Elspbeth, our “occasion consultant,” unzipped one translucent garment bag and held aloft its contents, the train draping over her arm in a glistening swath.

Jenny winced.  “What do you think?  Too many sequins?”

Elspeth presented another and then another.  Nothing spoke to me, the bride-to-be.  When Elspeth sighed and said she had another client coming in a few minutes, that we might need to make a second appointment, I nodded and looked away.  Why was I feeling like I was the one disappointing her, when it was my wedding?

The phone rang, and it was for our occasion consultant.  While she returned to the front to answer, and while Jenny answered a text of her own from some other best friend, I wandered back to the front of the shop to give those mannequins a closer look.  There was one with a high neck, silk chiffon, beading cascading down from the hips.

Perfect, I thought.

At last Elspeth returned to me with an old-fashioned pen-and-paper appointment book in hand.

“I’d like to try this one,” I said.

There was that wrinkled, disapproving moue again.  “Honey, that’s more for our hourglass brides.  That much detail right at the hip will draw the eye exactly where you don’t want–”

“I’d like to try this one,” I said, “or I’ll be taking my business to Combe Bridal.”

Elspeth sure could tighten her mouth.  With disapproval still in her eye, she nodded and I followed her into the back.  Now Jenny was on the actual phone part of her phone.  I could tell, the way she was yelling, it was probably her mother.

Elspeth found the try-on gown for the dress.  It did not zip.  Not even close.  But as I stepped onto the short, round pedestal that took its place in front of the triple mirror, my breath caught.

Jenny stopped her conversation.  “That–that doesn’t look right on you.”

Elspeth was giving me an I-told-you-so look.

I looked back in the mirror.  My hips were obvious, but so was my face.  How could there be so many shades of white in the world?  How could this particular shade manage to make my eyes look wide, my cheeks have just the right amount of flush to them, and my lips look so ready to receive that first kiss?

I shook my head.  “No.  It doesn’t look right.”

Elspeth reached for the garment bag to put the offending dress away.

“It’s not right,” I said.  “It’s perfect.”

I wrote down the designer and name of the dress.  Then I drove off to Combe Bridal.

Without Jenny.

Funny thing, humility.

St. Bernard defines humility as, ” A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself. Jesus Christ is the ultimate definition of Humility.”

St. Thomas Aquinas says humility, “consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.”

In modern terms, I think, humility is the practice of not making it all about me.

File:Madonna-of-humility- 1433 Domenico di Bartolo.jpg

So what’s so funny about that?  The harder I work at humility, the more I can see the pride of others.  The more I see that pride, the more it bothers me.  Why does it bother me?  Because they’re making everything all about them.  In other words, they’re not making anything about me.  Which, if I’m expecting anything to be about me, I’m the one making it all about me.  Which means I need to work harder at humility.

That’s pretty funny.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this.

nativity scene

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: The floors never got mopped. The cookies never got baked. There’s some kind of green crust on the wall in the downstairs bathroom that keeps growing back even after you scrub it with bleach. And don’t forget, you certainly shouldn’t have to work night shift on such a special celebration.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: You didn’t have money to buy a nice roast for dinner. It’s instant mashed this year, because unemployment just ran out three weeks ago. Your heart breaks because the kids’ gifts are from the dollar store, thrift store, or the “giving tree” program of some church.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: Your kid is not supposed to be in Europe, the ICU, or Afghanistan on Christmas. Your daughter is not supposed to be in jail. You’re not supposed to be in jail. You’re not supposed to be homeless. You’re supposed to have a warm house with clean sheets, or at least an overpass to keep the rain off and the wind down.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: You’re supposed to get together at a joyful holiday party with a loving family who wants you safe and healthy and who would protect you from anyone who threatens otherwise. You’re not supposed to be triggered by memories of incest at everybody else’s fond Christmas recollections. And that family is supposed to believe you, not your abuser, when you tell what happened all those years ago. Your abuser is the one who should be getting left out, not you.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: Your mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, uncle, best friend was not supposed to have died of cancer. Or blood clots. Or be present but lost to Alzheimer’s. Or have committed suicide. Or be MIA in some foreign war you don’t even know why we’re in it.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: You should be able to stroll warmly and freely and into Mass on Christmas day, not be scandalized by a priest who turned you away or turned on you. The Catholic Church should bring you comfort, not conflict.

Christmas is not supposed to be like this: A Tiny Prince is supposed to be born in a clean place, with clean cloths and hot water and plenty of string and a good, sharp knife. His laboring mother should be made comfortable on the best cushions the world has to offer, surrounded by her supportive family, competent medical staff, a doula, and a lactation consultant. The husband should be given a chair to sit in when his feet grow tired from pacing, and at the very least he should get a hot cup of coffee. Once the Child is delivered, He deserves a gentle, warm bath, a soft diaper, and a quiet place for a first (and, of course, easy) nursing session. He certainly deserves better than a filthy stable, scratchy straw, and nobody to help out but a handful of sheep-poop smeared pastorals. That braying donkey over there certainly should shut up and stop waking the baby. And the manure—have we mentioned the manure?

Christmas isn’t supposed to be like this, so come to the manger. In fact, if your Christmas is not the way it’s supposed to be, all you have to do is open your eyes. You’re already there.

Emmanuel—God is with us in our world, even in its wrongness. If we open our eyes to see Him, really see Him in all the people around us, we’ll see something amazing. We’ll see that we are all, every last one of us, at the manger together. We don’t have to talk right now. The Baby is sleeping. But maybe, just maybe, when He wakes, we can spare a smile at each other, see how we ourselves have made others’ Christmases something less than they were supposed to be. And then, maybe, just maybe, we can join with Him and make things right. You can forgive in silence. You can take full responsibility in silence. Make those rough places plain. Resurrect Christmas. After all, He didn’t come just to experience the not-supposed-to-be. He came to give us better than we imagined. All we have to do is follow Him there, from the manger, to the cross, to the grave, to eternal life.

Merry Christmas. I’ll see you at the manger.

“Twelve Days of Fiction” Improv Fun

Is anybody up for something fun? I’d like to host a “Twelve Days of Fiction” here at my humble little hole in the interwebz wall.

Ancient Youth Ministry Proverb:  If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.

The only rules are:

  1. I’ll put participants’ names in a hat, and you’ll get a writing prompt from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
  2. It must be a piece of fiction you improv and write in 10 minutes or less (or fewer, depending on how you measure time.
  3. Keep it PG-13 or better.
  4. Aim to get your writing posted the day you’re assigned.  I’ll still love you if you can’t, but don’t give up if you can’t get it posted on time.
  5. NO OVERTHINKING!
Mary bathing Baby Jesus--CUTE!

Mary bathing Baby Jesus–CUTE!

If you want in, comment here no later than midnight on December 23.  Honestly, I won’t be checking until early on December 24, so if it’s before then, you’re good.  No later than Christmas afternoon, I’ll put all the interested names in a hat and let you know which day and song line is your prompt. We won’t start until St. Stephen’s Day (prompt: A Partridge in a Pear Tree). Post your writing to your blog (if you don’t have one, PM me and I can post it on mine for you). Let me know where to look, and I’ll link your piece on my blog, and I encourage other participants to do so.

Having been in a critique group that always started off each meeting with a writing exercise, I can personally attest to how the practice of improv writing has sharpened my writing as a whole, not to mention broken many writer’s blocks.

So, who’s in? I just need eleven more writers.

7QT: The O Milestone, Stupid Goldengrove Edition

Join me and Jennifer and some other thoughtful, beautiful people over at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday

7_quick_takes_sm1 (1)

This week is going to be pretty random, but if I don’t write something, then I’ll be even more off my game than I already am.

-1-

O 10 Books:  There’s this meme going around on Facebook where you list the ten books that have “stayed with you.”  Keep in mind, this is not a recommendation list from me (see #3&4), but just books that made me think a little extra long.

  1. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
  2. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  3. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  5. The Diamond Age, or: A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
  6. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (obviously)
  8. Bleeder by John Desjarlais
  9. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien by, well, that’s probably also obvious
  10. The Bible, which seems like a cop-out, but reading it is what made me realize at the time of my rather shaky reversion, “Well, I guess I must be Christian.”

-2-

O Double Digits:  First Shift turns 10 next week. I asked them what kind of a cake they wanted, and they said, “Daddy’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake.”  No decorations or theme, just the cake. I guess last birthday was our final “decorated cake” for them:

Get it?  They were turning 9?  Anyway, if I had known that that would be our last year with a “theme” cake, I might have hired somebody else to do a better job on the decorating.  Stupid Goldengrove.

-3-

The boot is off!  I have been cleared to do aquatic exercise, elliptical or stationary bike.  Hooray!  But no time to do those things with two PT appointments a week yet.  Boo.

-4-

O Exercise:  Between writing, family travel and now Advent preparations, I have had zero time to get to the gym.  What I have started is this Lazy Lie-a-bed Good Morning Stretches routine.

Doctor:  Do you exercise?

Me:  Yes, every morning before I get out of bed.  

-5-

O Book Review:  Now that the blog tour is (mostly) done, I have gotten back on my schedule of reading the review copies I picked up at CMN.  The latest review is A Body In Prayer by Neil Combs.

I admit, this did not make the top of my schedule because when I read the title, I feared it would be some  kind of hippy-dippy, “stretch like this to open your heart to the light” yoga-fest.  I met the author at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference, however, and while his complete lack of in-person hippy-dippiness put me a little more at ease, still I remained leery.  Now that I’ve finished it, allow me to dispel any fears you might have!  A Body In Prayer is a moving, challenging, and yet still comforting read that helps us see that every single motion we make, whether voluntarily or involuntarily (yes, there is a chapter on praying with your stomach) can be lifted up to God.  A Body In Prayer makes the daily challenge of Christian living seem more approachable without ever watering down the fact that it is in fact quite a challenge.  Bravo, Neil!

-6-

O Routine:  I am right now trying to get this finished while getting ready to return to daily Mass for the first time in about two weeks.  Between travel, sickness, PT, snowstorms, and then some more sickness, our days have been totally thrown off.  The upshot is that it gave me a chance to try shaking up our homeschooling routine a bit, which made math a more successful subject than it’s been in a while, so, as Ma Ingalls would say, “There is no great loss without some small gain.”

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O Dignity:  Lastly, check out Kate B’s series on how chastity education isn’t just for teens; it’s actually a means of keeping even our youngest children safe(er) from predators.  It’s like how anti-counterfeit workers are taught how to recognize counterfeit bills:  they don’t spend the day studying bad bills; they spend their days studying exactly what the real deal is supposed to look like.  When they encounter a fake, they can stand up and say, like St. Maria Goretti did, “No!  It is a sin!”    Good on ya, Kate!