Monday, July 31, 2006

Kenny can't sit through the altercations and tonight, he had me skip to the very triumphant ending where everyone is cruising around The War Room, punching the sky, smiling "Yeah, YEAH!"

I watch it for the retro technology, including the funky synthesized soundtrack. Kenny enjoys hearing Joshua "talk": Shall we play a game?

He, ah, he recognized a voice. He said, "That sounds like the Know-It-All kid!" And, of course, he was correct. Funny, Timmy called him "Noodle kid" for the longest time, "Noodle" for short.

I wondered whether Kenny would pick up on the voice. He's got his mother's knack for placing actors and roles, 'though I must admit that I didn't place "Jim" as "Arthur Lidz" in Unstrung Heroes, a favorite movie because of the acting ensemble as well as the particular ethos portrayed.
I'm usually a staunch supporter of the YMCA. I've had my kids in their swim program for three years solid, every week, every session. In the fall and winter, I was over there six times a week, sometimes twice a day, in programs for me or the kids.

But, the current renovation project has got me reconsidering my big plans for the fall.
You see, I found out last Friday that the two ladies' locker rooms are being remodeled now for the next two months. In the meantime, women and children may change in a trailer in the parking lot. I'm not comfortable with the makeshift accommodations.

I feel bad about modifying my planned fall routine. I mean, the timing is not convenient: Kenny passed the American Red Cross Level II in swimming a few weeks ago and I was hoping that this fall he would test into the Rays swimming level at the Y. Tim is swimming at the Eel level, when he feels like swimming. He's not much for structured swim lessons and would rather just play around and do his own thing. Of course, Chris is ready to move up to the 18 mos. - 3 yrs. old class. And I was hoping to return to my swim aerobics group three mornings a week, at least until November or December.

But, if the regular locker room is unavailable until mid to late September, a few weeks into the fall session, if it sticks to schedule, what am I going to do? It's chaotic enough in the regular locker room with three kids, two soaking wet.

I'm going to have to play it by ear, I guess.
An Apple store opened at the Freehold Raceway Mall so, instead of going to the Menlo Park Mall to get my iPod repaired, I just drove to Freehold.

They said that I had to see a "genius". I wanted to tell them that I live with a genius and he couldn't fix it. But, no reason to be smug right off the bat. They helped me to make an appointment for an hour later. I did some other shopping and came back.

I sat at the bar, the "genius bar",
at my appointed time and he called my name from the overhead screen. I pulled out my iPod and quickly saw the error image on the display and said, "Oh, this is the error message." And he said, "The battery needs to be charged. That's what that message means." And I said, "Well, then, no, no, that's not the error message. It's an exclamation mark with a file."

So, he connected my iPod to the counter laptop and said that he had to wipe it out because it was unusable. I said ok to that. Then he reloaded the software and told me to charge it and update it with my songs.

I was somewhat pleased and a little bothered that my husband and I couldn't have pulled this off using the online restore and reset tools. I told the genius that we had tried resetting and restoring.

Anyway, long story short, iTunes is not able to update my iPod. So Jeff thinks there are bad disk sectors. I don't know how common this is with the 3G iPods. I realize that bad sectors are a common occurrence, so common in fact that disk controllers map them out dynamically nowadays.

Gosh, I remember the old days of typing known bad block data into the format program by hand. You remember that? It's like, the manufacturers, Seagate or Maxtor, couldn't produce defect-free disks, so they just ran post-production diags, collected the list of bad blocks and printed them on a separate paper. Eventually, I guess, format programs learned how to detect bad blocks for themselves at format time and allow for sparing. And, of course, nowadays, bad sector handling is invisible to the end-user.

Well, gotta go back to the Apple store.
It's probably a combination, hands full and fourth, but at my check-up, the doctor noted with some agitation that the blood work had not been done.

It wasn't simply blood work; she tacked on a one-hour glucose test. That requires more in-office time and preconditions, namely fasting blood sugar. Heck, I haven't a history of gestational diabetes. Last time, I took the 3-hour test twice and passed!

So, today was the day. She wrote me another script because I wasn't sure I could find the original. And the second script didn't have the one-hour glucose. So I still need to go back for that when she remembers it again, probably next visit.

She wants the AFP (quad) screen between 18 and 19 weeks, so, in other words, now.

The 11-week screen results were spectacular, so I don't see the point in the less sensitive AFP. But maybe I don't understand my screening options very well because when I tried to waive the AFP screen, my doctor told me to just go ahead and get it. And we wonder why medical costs and insurance premiums are out of control, all these "be on the safe side" tests.

In fact, I was at the lab for only thirty minutes. So, it was reasonably quick. She drew seven vials of blood. I had to look away. And it hurt. During my working years, I donated blood six or seven times a year (the maximum) and usually did fine. But since having kids and stopping working, I haven't donated blood at all. And they tell me that I have a lot of scar tissue.
Chris at Calling Rome Home has a link to a video clip of William Donahue on The Colbert Report. Check it out.

There are awkward moments in the interview but they both make some good points.

I disagree with Donahue when he says that anti-Catholicism comes only from the Secular Left or that conservative, Evangelical Christians are amiable to Catholics. My experience has been just the opposite.

Further, I enjoy reading Garry Wills, even if I have to wince when I do it. Sure, Donahue's general assessment of "Lapsed Catholics" is consonant with my limited experience.

The ruler shtick is completely tired and doesn't resonate with this post-VCII, public-school girl.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My brother-in-law put up pictures of our 20-year high school reunion here on flickr.

We are a motley crew. If you look closely among the photos in the set, you can see an '84 graduate lurking among the underclassmen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The "study" of the Hebrew and Greek words for "anoint" turned up "rub with oil, consecrate".

The teacher-by-video, Kay Arthur, was quite adamant and repetitive in her assertion that everyone within earshot has been anointed.

With oil? When? I couldn't ask, not without sounding arrogant and superior.

Still, I detected a disconnect between the conclusion of the study - which was clearly a physical gesture involving oil - and what I perceive to be the typical Evangelical experience of anointing, involving nothing but the mind and the emotions.

Kay also said that we can never pray Psalm 51:11 because it can't happen; it is impossible for God to take His Holy Spirit away from us.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:11 (NASB), also Psalm 51:13 (NAB)

Kay said that when we sin, we grieve the Spirit, we quench the Spirit, we turn the Spirit's influence into a trickle and we reap the consequences.

My reaction to this is, first of all, outrage that she's telling me that there's a verse of Scripture that I am not allowed to pray?!

Secondly and more profoundly, I'm left with the impression that whether the Spirit departs or whether I quench Him, the end result is the same: I haven't the divine assistance that I once had and surely need.

Am I being nit-picky or is she off-base?
I took the boys to Kruise Nite in Freehold this evening, a monthly event during the summer. The kids wanted to do the County Fair instead so they were not happy with my plan.

I didn't know that it was going to storm but, because of the high humidity, I brought their raincoats anyway and carried them on my arm as we walked up and down Main Street.

There were not as many cars on display as usual. Even still, I like being out at night - it was between 7:30 and 8:30 pm - in a casual place like Freehold. Certain sections of the sidewalk were quite crowded and nearly impassable, especially where vendors were hawking merchandise and local restaurants sold quick food. A radio station blasted music, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.

Some of the modern models were very slick, especially the Hummers. There was an H3 with tricked-out doors that swung up to open and large TV screens throughout, especially on the tailgate, hung upside down, I imagine, so that when the tailgate was opened, the image was properly displayed. An H2 was similarly accessorized, plus fluorescent tubing along the floorboards and dash, accenting the interior. The horn of one vehicle was the theme to The Godfather.

We crossed Main Street at the light for 79 North and started back west towards our car. It was then that I noticed the dark sky and lightening in the distance. I figured that we would have enough time to reach our car even though I was parked just east of Lincoln Place.

There were police barricades, blue sawhorses, around the outdoor patio of one restaurant, spilling into the street. It was there, within the barricades, that open containers of alcohol were permitted in public. Police presence was profoundly strong on all sides of this confined, crowded area. We had to pass through this area to reach our car ... we could not even go around because we would be too far into Main Street to be safe. So, we pressed through the crowd.

Just ahead of us walked two women dressed for a night out. I imagine that they were comparably dressed but I noticed only the second because she was closer; I mean, we were walking virtually single file through the crowd. Ordinarily I don't notice what people wear. I get into less trouble that way. But I was affected by the reactions of others to her attire, after all, I saw her only from the back. In summary, the men were very pleased to see this woman walk by and they called out to her, saying "hello" and things like that. She ignored them, focusing instead on her own plan, whatever that was. And, in a disgruntled response to that, I heard one man grumble, "Just shows you how stuck-up they can be." And I thought, hey, mister, don't flatter yourself. Why would she give a drunk like you the time of day?! Get real.

It started to sprinkle, very lightly, barely noticeably, but I put their raincoats on because, after all, I had carried them for about an hour. Why not?

The approaching storm looked really, really scary and people started running for their cars. My oldest son sensed their panic and wondered whether we should instead take shelter on the front porch of one of the local businesses on that west end of town.

"No way," I said, "our car is right here. It's better than a porch." And I got them and myself in just as the sprinkling turned heavy.

I pulled out into the stop-n-go traffic heading east along Main Street, pulled into a driveway, and backed out onto Main Street again, heading west (I should have parked west of Lincoln! Note for next time ...) and started down Business 33 near the race track for home.

Along 33 itself, I became concerned that the power lines along the roadside would come down. (And the next day, this actually happened to some people in Washington Township.) So I moved to the center lane as a precaution but, of course, the poles were still tall enough to affect me ... unless I chose to drive in the grassy median. Anyway, no trouble getting home and, in fact, Tim fell asleep! But I'm just glad that we didn't do the Fair like the boys wanted because it closed early:
On Thursday night, fair officials closed the fair at 9 p.m., two hours early, because of a thunderstorm, Kirkpatrick said.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

With some other families, we attended the Monmouth County Fair tonight on its opening night. Jeff has taken Kenny for the past two years because it falls during his birthday. So, it's a kind of birthday outing. But I have never been until tonight.

It was wrist band night, $15 for unlimited rides. All three kids demanded wrist bands, even the baby! He would not be denied and, at 36", rode on a few things, including the merry-go-round with Daddy.

A little after 8pm, we grabbed a bite, chicken strips and fries which the kids made disappear. I was thirsty only so had two $3 jumbo cups of orange-ade which was delicious ... until I noted how much sugar they put in, about 1/2 dry measure cup!

Kenny and his friend wanted to do the rock climb. It cost $6. His friend's parents said "ok" but I declined over and over again. So, his friend tried it and did alright. Then Kenny had to try it. He did alright too. But I just think that they aren't old enough, at 6, to problem-solve the haphazardness of rock climb. They are used to symmetrical climbs, ladders, stairs, blocks, etc. Well, anyway, that's my theory.

Tim jumped in the bouncy room ... his favorite thing. Kenny rode the ferris wheel with Daddy. The fireworks shot off around 9:15. We paid a little attention. We left after 10 sometime and no one fell asleep on the way home! But they went straight to bed with no argument. They want to go again on Sunday.
Dropped off my sons' tuition payment this morning. It's due by August 1st but I'm always paranoid about missing the deadline so I plan to drop it off a few days before.

I usually have misgivings about paying their tuition in full before the fall. Last year there was concern over whether Tim was quite ready. In the end, he did ok. This year there are plenty of reasons to be concerned, especially the administrative changes.

However the incentive for paying in full and early is 5% off each tuition, and I can forget about payments for the rest of the school year. It sounds like alot of money whether we pay it all at once or dole it out monthly, so there's no advantage between those options. I think that the kids' accounts have limited check-writing privileges, five checks a year or something, so the best I could do would be semi-annual which doesn't win me a discount.

What's done is done. For some reason my husband has always left this task to me.
We spent a couple of hours at Sesame Place yesterday. It was the right amount of time. Tim wanted to do Elmo's Flying Fish and he wasn't tall enough to go alone, so I had to go with him. The wait in line was about 20-30 minutes which didn't bother Tim at all because he watched the ride and riders the entire time. It didn't bother me either. But the folks behind us were griping to each other. "What a rip-off this place is?! $47 to wait in line! Next time we're going to Disney! That's all there is to it. We could have this much fun at Point Pleasant!"

It just seemed to me as if they were comparing apples to oranges. I mean, Disney is a way different venue from Sesame Place. And Point Pleasant is different again. Ah, they're just crabs.

Riding the Flying Fish concerned me, not just because the warnings included "no expectant mothers". I'm over my dizzy spells but I get nauseous very easily. Fortunately, Tim is at that extreme age of three going on four, so he pegged the white "lift" button for the entire ride and we didn't fluctuate up and down at all. That might have been the saving grace to my surviving the ride without only a little, temporary dizziness and no nausea.
The Catholic Carnival is up.

I put up some posts yesterday with last week's dates for the sake of chronology.

Since none of my posts have titles, be sure to scroll down and through to see something new.

We're heading out to Sesame Place ... even though the weather looks if-y.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's hard to know what to think. To figure why they didn't come out, the vast majority of them, especially those who haven't gone far. Not too far, anyway. Close enough to spend a few hours in Bethany with some of us who drove all day to be there.

Some had to work. The rain. The venue. There were conflicts or other upcoming events. The county fair was wrapping up. We declined a friend's birthday party and niece's graduation celebration to be there.

My father was fond of saying that Oakfield is a nice place to be from, a not-too-subtle encouragement to move away upon coming of age. In the twenty years since I've been gone, I'm not sure that it's remained such a nice place.

The wings were good, especially those from The Magadore. And the pizza from Pontillo's was good. They can't make pizza in NJ ... they don't know how.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It was an affront to common hospitality, the fact that I couldn't get a fresh drink along the Southern Tier on Friday afternoon.

Our traditional stops: Horseheads, Painted Post, boarded up and vacant. Near ghost towns. What is the NYS DOT thinking?! Turning Route 17 into an interstate? The old movie line in, say, Psycho that they moved away the highway is too true in places like Corning.

I don't exactly remember where we found an up-and-running gas station, maybe it was Riverside Village. I ducked inside a quickie mart there for a drink and snacks, finding only expired products. Pretzel sticks from February.

I asked the store clerk for something fresh. His accent was heavy, and my ears were ringing from the road and the kids' screaming. I don't hear very well, so I kept pestering him in my pushy, Jersey way, "Huh? Huh?!" He was able to show me the cooler with the fresh sodas.

We received the outdoor restroom key from him and I had my eldest son return it when we were finished. I thought the experience would be good for him but I hung around to make sure that he managed it alright.

Kenny ducked into the store with the key in hand but was unable to see the clerk.

He turned to me, raising his hands palms up in a questioning gesture. I saw the clerk behind the counter, so I motioned to Kenny to set the key on the counter.

Kenny turned again towards the counter just as the man slumped over and down to the floor. For a second time, Kenny failed to see him. Then I realized what was going on.

I dashed inside the store to help Kenny place the key prominently on the counter and took him away, explaining that the man was saying his prayers. Kenny didn't understand because the man wasn't in church. ("There's a time and a place ...")

After interacting with me and my impatience, the clerk needed to say his prayers to regain his even keel. No, actually, it's quite common in all parts of New York State.

We came home via the Thruway. Route 17 just ain't quaint no more.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I asked Fr. Boadt for the status of the revision of the Old Testament of the New American Bible last night.

He said that the translation itself was completed ten years ago but is awaiting episcopal approval.

Since the translation was finished, the approval process changed so that, instead of needing the imprimatur of only one U.S. bishop, five bishops need to approve it.

He said the sad truth about the American Catholic Church is that there are not five U. S. bishops who know biblical Hebrew well enough to approve the translation!
This remark created such a hubbub that I was unable to hear his comments after that very clearly, but I thought that he said something about the recent appointment of an American bishop who knows enough Hebrew to be the fifth and final member of the approval committee. I haven't been following the news lately, so I don't know of whom he might be thinking.

I wondered whether the Vatican deliberately put us in this situation by not appointing bishops versed in biblical Hebrew, knowing that the translation approval was pending and having some problem with the translation (inclusive language or whatever). But I wasn't about to put forth my conspiracy theory in such a public conversation with such a nice, faithful priest.

Fr. Boadt concluded by saying that he expects the translation to be approved in a year or two and become available. I wanted to ask what impact this new translation would have on the recently released Lectionary for Mass, but I didn't get a chance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Without taking the extreme but fascinating position of Robert Carroll in his twenty-year-old study on Jeremiah in the Old Testament Library Commentary series (Westminster Press) - a book review here - Fr. Boadt agreed that the prophet began as a propagandist or advocate for the reforms of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34-36, 2 Kings 22), reforms which echo almost verbatim the language of the Deuteronomistic Historian.

It was great to see the textual parallels: Deut. 6:5 & 2 Kings 23:24-27. Jer. 7 picks up 2 Kings 23.

Fr. Boadt spoke favorably of Bill Holladay's Jeremiah commentary in the Hermeneia series from Fortress Press.

So, the extreme position, if you couldn't tease it out of the book review, is that Carroll posits that there was never a "Jeremiah". The Deuteronomists created a prophet to teach their theology. In 1:5-6, Jeremiah is portrayed as a new Moses and speaks of a new covenant.

I was reminded of my impression formed maybe two years ago, when I last heard Fr. Boadt lecture, my suspicion that St. Paul never really existed either. He models himself on Jeremiah so profoundly, the Apostle to the Gentiles called like the prophet to the nations. It would just be an interesting parallel, if Carroll is right about a school of theology producing a spokesperson, a prophet to proclaim their teaching, then who's to say that the Jewish Christians didn't imitate that in Paul.

It really dawned on me that I haven't studied these major books. Two years ago when I listened to Fr. Boadt discuss Amos, Hosea and Micah, I had studied them already. They are more manageable because of their size. So his goal was to pique our interest in these books and prompt us to take a closer look on our own. And that sounds like a good idea to me.

For anyone bothering to keep track, I sent quite a mixed message this evening:

  • Jewish Study Bible open to Jeremiah

  • New American Bible with holy cards sticking out

  • reading On Being Presbyterian (so far, so good, michele),

  • wearing my clear-crystal beaded rosary around my neck.

    But, I sat in the back and no one was keeping track.
  • His intentions were good: to excuse us early. But we were greeted with a most ferocious summer storm directly overhead. Had I been alone, I would not have hesitated to exit the building and walk to my car. For fools rush in ...

    But the collective wisdom of the others compelled me to tarry. Besides, the crowd of them was blocking the lobby doorway! As if no one would want to exit anyway. Just as well. What's another fifteen minutes to a 70-minute drive? After all, he let us go early.

    The janitor was cleaning up, and one bright fellow mooched a large black garbage bag from him. The classmate chivalrously dashed into the wicked weather to retrieve his chariot for his car pool sister. I expected every one else to follow suit ... so to speak ... and grab black bags for themselves. This is NJ; no one can wait a lick.

    But the only one to do likewise was our Fr. Boadt. He had his clerical garb to think about. Still, he waited with the rest of us. He probably wanted to make sure that everyone left the building safely. I would have taken the opportunity then to have him autograph my copy of Reading the Old Testament but his arms and hands were tucked inside the garbage bag. He had not bothered to punch his way out.

    The drive home was quite terrifying.
    Catholic Carnival is up.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Through no fault of my own, I happened to be seated next to a biblical fundamentalist.

    She sat there only one night, the first night.

    I think that my uncontrolled snickering at her naive comments prompted her to move closer to her mommy on subsequent evenings. Yes, her mother was in the class. There's something so fitting about that.

    But, anyway, to her comments, which were so hard to take seriously. Yet Fr. Boadt admirably regained his professional composure in the wake of her first question almost instantly, as soon as he recognized what he was dealing with.

    It came about as it usually does, during an overview which mentioned the prophet Nahum, Nineveh, and the Book of Jonah. I'm not sure that he baited us to see which fundamentalist among us would speak up and protest. It wasn't an attempt to sniff out Protestants, probably, because we just never assume that they can be bothered with our so-called scholarly treatments of Scripture.

    I do remember one giving the sweet & retiring Fr. LaVerdiere trouble a few years back during a Revelation study ... and he hadn't gotten out of the Letters to the Churches yet! I guess the guy was looking for an allegorical or spiritual treatment of the letters and Fr. LaVerdiere was giving historical-critical, an approach which does not preclude other interpretations. I digress ... because you already know her objection to Fr. Boadt's comments on the prophet Jonah and the book which chronicles his mission to Nineveh.

    He called it a short story that would have had its original readers rolling on the floor with laughter (ROTFL?) She asked about the story's historicity. He said, "Well, let's start from the text and see what can be drawn. There was a city of Nineveh. There was a prophet Jonah ... and, and, we're starting to run out of facts. Do you see?"

    Later in the week, he made some other reference to historical accuracy, perhaps the number of years in captivity in Babylon, which he reckoned as 60 instead of 70. So he looked at me, looking for her and said, "Where's my girl who wants things to be historical?" and I'm like, "Hey, don't look at me!"

    I found it interesting how the Babylonians destroyed Nineveh, an event which I guess is reported fairly accurately, albeit poetically, in Nahum 2:6-11. Fr. Boadt classified the text as a victory hymn, written after the fall from an eyewitness account because the details are very specific.

    It reminded me of my favorite section in Revelation, chapter 18, the fall of Babylon, if the fall of a city can be considered "beautiful". Anyway, he said that the Babylonians dug a canal from the Tigris to the dry moat around Nineveh, flooding the dry moat, dissolving the mud bricks of the walled city and the city walls fell under their own weight.
    He started by saying that prophecy is a phenomenon of religion, not just of Judaism and of Christianity. Gods are always talkative. No peoples honor gods who don't communicate.

    Seeing prophecy in vision is very Judahite. The southern prophets see in visions because of the Temple and their physical experience of worship and ritual. In the North, God is not so close. Hosea doesn't use visual language.

    The contention that gods are always talkative got me wondering about the state of Christian (and to a lesser degree Jewish) prophecy. 'Though I know little about Jewish thought on the topic of prophecy. But, by and large, most Christians would agree that the significant aspects of the faith are revealed. That the biblical canon is closed, if not officially, certainly practically. So what need have we of prophets?

    Then there's the matter of apparitions ... which I don't have an answer for ... but simply share the exaggerated perception of those in Wayne Weible's Lutheran Sunday School class: "Well, you know, this sort of thing usually happens in the Catholic Church."* Are we just more flighty? And here my ignorance of Tracy's work on the imagination will show. But, in broad strokes, we might have more in common with the southern prophets because of our sensory liturgy.

    * Weible, Wayne. Medjugorje: The Message. Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 1989. Can you believe that I forgot that he autographed a copy for me last year?!
    The first reminder from two years ago was the impact of the political tactics of the usurper Tiglath-Pileser on Israel's prophetic literature.

    Beginning in the eighth century BCE, per Karl Jasper, thinkers across Asia and Europe arrived independently to the same axial crossover: a turn from corporate thinking to a concern for the individual. The teachings of Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster and the contemporary Hebrew prophets (Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea) reflect this shift.

    Prior, the Hebrew prophet addressed God's word to the king alone who was responsible to God and to the people. Because the message was specifically tailored to the king's circumstances, few of these oracles have survived. We know the names of these prophets and their prophetic careers are chronicled but we have no "Book of Nathan" , no "Book of Elijah". The absence of universal application resulted in their legacy not being fully preserved.

    Tiglath-Pileser held individual citizens responsible for rebellion. Amos imitates his method: the God of Israel holds individual people accountable. And because Amos' words speak to all, not just to the king, his writings and others in the same vein have been preserved.

    Fr. Boadt was careful to point out that the influence of Tiglath-Pileser on Hebrew prophecy, the axial crossover and the preservation of the prophetic texts were divinely inspired historical developments, to be sure.
    Those among us without Bibles were encouraged with slightly rhetorical chides to bring a common copy.

    Not the family heirloom, kept-under-glass-at-home, chronicle of weddings and baptisms, but something we could mark up. I don't write in Bibles. I just don't.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    The choice on some Sunday mornings is between arriving to church on time or bringing along one of the children. This morning there wasn't any choice: I was already late so go ahead and bring a child.

    Enough folks go away for the summer that latecomers like myself CAN find good parking spots this time of year. Tim and I approached the lower level door at the same time as another family whom we know socially. The wife admitted that this was their first time at the church. I tried to contain my glee.
    I could have said something snotty like, "Well, in that case, I'll mention to you that the service begins at ELEVEN!" but such a remark would have incriminated myself as well.

    Immediately my mind ran through possible causes for this family coming to church for the first time. Were they invited to a baptism? That didn't seem to be it. Even though they were nicely dressed, they weren't "over the top," dressed to the nines like most visitors for baptisms. Besides they would have mentioned that off the bat, lest I mistakenly think they were there of their own volition.

    My hunch, if I had to make one, is that their children will attend a Catholic school this fall, and the parents wanted to investigate this Catholicism thing a little. That hunch assumes that they possess no prior experience with Catholicism ... a big assumption but one that's getting easier and easier to make all of the time.

    Back to it: She asked whether the ground level door would make a good entrance and I said, "Sure." and some other rubbish about us heading directly to the Cry Room.

    I'm a busybody but for the most part I was able to keep my eyes off them. I became curious about two things: at what point they would leave and whether they would take communion. The husband was in and out with the youngest one for discipline reasons, I suspect.

    I hadn't a clear sense of their spirituality from my social interactions with them. I guess I thought that she was a syncretist, being attracted to nature religions, paganism and wicca, 'though one day she wore a t-shirt with an om symbol on it. I said to her very sincerely, "I like your shirt" and she said that she really needed that shirt on that particular day. I recognized the symbol from George Harrison's albums (33 1/3 in particular) but didn't really know of the symbol's significance in Hinduism.

    I was mildly scandalized when she and her children went up for communion especially because I know that one of them is "too young". But her willingness to go forward indicates that she has some familiarity with Christianity ... doesn't it? I think that her intentions were for only the children to receive but the Eucharistic minister offered, so she accepted for herself somewhat timidly.

    And they left shortly after communion so, hmmm, maybe they are Catholic after all. I sent an email saying it was nice to see them, that I hope to see them again and if they have any questions about anything, I could try to put them in touch with the right people. They are probably thinking, "Well, Teresa goes there, so that's out." Because I'm not particularly winsome. Folks start running the other way when they see me coming.
    I will miss the Manalapan parties, that's for sure.

    The one yesterday started at 4pm but with the short rain shower, we waited until 5 before heading over. It was in full swing and the first round of food was gone. Not to worry, the second serving would appear within the hour. In the meantime, the boys played on the two inflatables, an obstacle course and a giant water slide.

    Gradually more familiar faces stopped in and we caught up on "our summers so far": trips taken and planned, how camp is going and, of course, SCHOOL!

    Those who are registered received "the phone call" on Friday afternoon from the assistant principal ... who I found out yesterday has now been named THE principal. I expected that; I'm fine with that. We hashed out our theories about the upcoming school year but the only thing that experience has taught me is that there are always unpleasant surprises lurking. In other words, we haven't any real idea on what to expect. And there's where the school needs to settle down, stabilize and get predictable because it's been a roller coaster lately.

    Just before dark, some men started setting up the outdoor screen and equipment for the movie: Cars. My friend remarked as we sat there, "I can't believe that we are sitting in someone's beautifully manicured backyard watching Cars on an outdoor movie screen." I suppose that I had a twinge of conscience even though my boys have seen the movie in the theater. As it turned out, we didn't stay for the entire showing. My boys were tired, so I took them home around 10pm.

    Before it got dark, I gathered up all of my belongings ... or so I thought. But I forgot to locate my rain coat and, in setting up the movie screen, they moved some patio furniture including the chair that had my coat. I told the host about it and he promptly rattled off all of the other items that people asked him to find for them. But I really hope that I get my coat back because it was new, it fits, I haven't got another one and the store is going out of business.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    To go to the beach as a family, we go in the late afternoon or early evening, after Chris's nap, Kenny's day at camp and Jeff's workday.

    Typically, we swing by Jeff's office in West Long Branch, pick him up and head to Seven Presidents in Long Branch. But yesterday the usual routine was thrown off by the fact that Jeff's morning meetings in Newark spilled into the afternoon.

    Jeff was advised by colleagues not to attempt to return to his West Long Branch office via the Parkway because the seven miles between the Raritan Toll Plaza and Sandy Hook (exits 124 - 117) would take an hour.

    So, he came straight home via the Turnpike and considered jumping ship at exit 9 (route 18) but took a gamble which paid off and he was able to reach exit 8A before any real slowdown. He heard on the radio that south of 8A, traffic was backed up for the next 13 miles until exit 7A. Just a typical Friday in the summertime.

    The water was cold but you got used to it. The baby didn't like it at all but was happy to play in the sand. Tim loved it. We were there for a couple of hours (gotta get there earlier next time), left around 9PM and made it home by 10. There's an upside in not living too close: the kids fall asleep on the way home. And, this morning, it's all "clean up": baths and laundry. I really don't mind the sand in everything. It goes with the terrain.

    There are more pictures at flickr.

    And Jeff put up some pictures, too. See the following post for the link to his pictures. His are better.
    Jeff's pictures are better than mine.

    Flickr Pictures
    "Letter to Editor: To ban all skaters wouldn't be fair" - The Examiner - 7/13/06
    Why a new law to ban all because of the actions of a few? As far as I know, vandalism and destruction of public property is already illegal. If that law cannot be enforced, what good is another law? Somehow government has decided that when there is a problem that they don't know how to fix, they should simply pass another law.

    The Rev. Michael P. Lang
    pastor, St. Joseph Church
    "Housing is million-dollar baby" - The Examiner, 7/13/06
    The Monmouth County municipalities that follow Marlboro with the most million-dollar homes are Colts Neck, 129 units; Holmdel, 62 units; Manalapan, 45 units; Freehold Township, 43 units; Millstone Township, 23 units; Sea Bright, 20 units; Wall Township, 15 units; and Howell, 1 unit.

    "Low-income individuals find a home in Millstone" - The Examiner, 7/13/06
    Most developing municipalities are obligated by law to provide a certain number of low-income and moderate-income housing units, but may still make payment to other communities to fulfill a portion of their obligation under a regional contribution agreement. Millstone has fulfilled much of its COAH obligation through an agreement with the city of Asbury Park.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    The assistant principal at my son's school just called to wish me a good weekend, oh, and to tell me the name of my son's first grade teacher this fall.

    Incidentally, she informed me that there will be only one first-grade homeroom in the fall, with eleven students.

    This news merely confirmed our long-held suspicion. However, at the curriculum overview night in early June, the school administration promised two first-grade homerooms, "even if those classes have only four students apiece!" So much for their word being their bond.

    Do I need to get everything in writing? Would it make any difference? Obviously they have no problem showing parents and their children the door at the first hint of dispute; two-thirds of the students are not returning!

    My concern for Kenny's class is that enrollment will continue into September, October and November such that, by December, his class size may balloon to fifteen or sixteen students. Too big for one class and too small for two.

    Besides, how much flexibility do they have with faculty? In my experience, they have difficulty lining up substitute teachers for the odd day here and there.

    How much is this nightmare costing me? $11,5.
    From Commonweal's blog, we all know this, "Latin Will Kill You".

    Be sure to read the comments, especially if you have trouble translating.
    Last Thursday morning some of the women were actively engaging the text of 1 Samuel 13, pondering the meaning of a few seemingly obscure expressions.

    I was unprepared as usual so my influence on their semantic wrangling was ineffectual.

    I could only note for myself the futility of their efforts owing to the textual notes in my Jewish Study Bible on the verses in question.

    For instance, in verse 12, Saul tells Samuel that he forced himself to present the burnt offering in Samuel's absence, contrary to Samuel's instructions. The women debated what Saul meant when he said that he forced himself. The footnote says that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. Still, I think that the translators got as close as they could without being certain.

    Again, in verse 20, among a series of tools listed appears the obtuse "colters" which require sharpening. The ladies wondered what sort of tool this could be. The textual note says that the Hebrew is uncertain but that the LXX reads "sickle."

    These notes are helpful. It's convenient to know at a glance which expressions are uncertain and how the LXX renders the same. I appreciate the sincerity of the Jewish Study Bible; most Christian Bibles don't readily admit that there's any ambiguity or uncertainty about the meaning of the original Hebrew. Only the better commentaries provide such insight and who always has the time to read those?
    Aptly put -- "The American Bible (and Flag) Society" -- by Mark Mossa, SJ at You Duped Me Lord

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    A year ago, mail was stolen from our roadside mailbox.

    The circumstances were quite unusual. Let me first share how most people respond when I mention that our mail was stolen: "Well, that's illegal!"

    Probably explains why they did it during the middle of the night, then.

    It was a Saturday and, on Saturdays especially in the summertime,

    my husband and I are never clear on who gets the mail. We try to cover it between the two of us but there have been a couple of times when the mail sits in the box overnight into Sunday morning.

    During the week, it's not a problem: I bring in the mail. On Saturdays, we fall out of our usual routine of clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Not that I need to make excuses for what happened. Having our mail stolen is in no way our own fault. But, in this case, neither of us brought in the mail and each of us thought that the other had.

    That afternoon, I had spent some time outside with Timmy, then two years old, playing on the driveway and in the front yard. Timmy had this thing for the mailbox flag: he liked to flip it up. When it was time to go into the house, he left the flag up. I didn't think anything about it. I thought the mail had been brought in already.

    At a neighbor's house on Monday morning with other women from the neighborhood, one asked,

    "Teresa, what was the policeman doing at your house early on Sunday morning?"

    I hadn't any idea. Neither Jeff nor myself talked with a policeman.

    The neighbor said that he was standing at the mailbox, then at our front door. We never heard him.

    Another woman shared that her mailbox was knocked over completely and that the policeman brought it up to her front porch on Sunday morning. I looked at our mailbox when I got home. It seemed a little crooked and dented on one side.

    On Tuesday evening, a man from down the street dropped off pieces of our mail that he had found in his yard. Most of it was junk mail. One piece was an empty bank statement envelope. He told us that he had placed a credit card payment, stub and check, in his mailbox on Saturday night and put the flag up. On Sunday morning, the payment envelope was gone and his mailbox was smashed.

    I put the clues together: they checked mailboxes with raised flags for outgoing mail. Our flag was up even though our mail wasn't outgoing.

    From the envelope alone, I couldn't tell which account's statement had been inside. I looked for other recent bank account statements and concluded that it was my personal checking account. To play it safe, the bank recommended changing all of our account numbers.

    In talking with their fraud department -- which I learned over time is a fraud in itself -- I asked in practical terms how could the information gleaned from a bank statement be used against us? My bank routing and account information is clearly printed on every check I write. The statement itself divulged no more sensitive information than any check. I was assured, "Oh, you would be surprised. We've seen accounts cleaned out in a matter of hours."

    I resisted still because we have had these same account numbers for fifteen years. I have the numbers memorized. And the Patriot Act monitors the creation of every new bank account. I didn't want that exposure. Not to mention the hassle of migrating all of our automatic clearing house (ACH) or electronic funds transfer (EFT) to the new accounts.

    I learned that most utilities have two parallel, unintegrated billing systems: a newer web-based system and an older data center system. Changes to one do not filter to the other. I took me a day to figure out what was going on - that even automatic online bill payment systems were not the same system as zipcheck.

    My Cingular cell phone bill was paid twice in one month, via the old system and the new. I straightened that out.

    For the life of me, the cable company took about 11 months to migrate over. And I wasn't even aware of the glitch until we finally closed out the old accounts and discovered that the cable company was still trying to post against them! I had mailed them a cancelled check, I had updated my account on their web site, I had given the new account information to their representatives over the telephone. Come on, really!

    A couple of weeks after the mail was stolen, I was in the post office talking with the clerk. I asked her what she knew about it and she said that two entire streets in town were vandalized, mailboxes down and mail stolen. There was nothing they could do.

    Banks are always bragging about their fraud departments but, when push comes to shove, it's just talk. There's no finesse, no sophistication and no automation. The lion's share of the work to protect assets falls to the consumer. And in the back of my mind I'm thinking that we weren't really vulnerable anyway. All of that work and frustration and time on the phone (and time on hold) and those young punks had no idea how to exploit what they stole.
    We watched a Simpsons rerun recently and there was something crude in it for everyone.

    First, there was a little reading for my five-year-old: when the principal divides girls from boys, Bart relishes the prospect of walking around school "with Bart Jr. hanging out." He pulls a frog from his pants pocket, and the frog's ribbits are subtitled, "I thought he meant his penis."

    I paused the program with TiVo so that Kenny could have a crack at reading the subtitle.

    The key word is one he has proudly and defiantly spelled to me on at least one occasion. I was curious whether he remembered the word. He eventually came up with it but, of course, didn't get the joke. He knew only that it was a "bad word."

    Then, Lisa's nickname, after she slips into the boys' school, is "toilet". Well, that just happens to be the 3-year-old's favorite word at the moment. So he was hysterical laughing.

    They are watching now another episode of The Simpsons, "My Fair Laddy", one that's been saved to TiVo. And Kenny just came running out to tell me that he read another crude line. He said, "'Bong Slut' ... what does that mean?"

    I said, "It's slang and you don't talk that way." He got it a little wrong, but I wasn't about to correct him.
    At times, Catholic liturgy serves as the setting for my dreams. The celebrant is usually someone important, someone I admire, someone I’d love to meet. But my seat is always way in the back, so I cannot get close.

    Last night, I dreamt that I attended a Mass celebrated by Benedict.

    Instead of Latin, he spoke German.

    At the sign of peace, we greeting each other with “the Lord be with you.”

    But, from my muddled unconsciousness it came out as Der Genade sei mit dich.

    I went back and forth between dich and dir, settling on dich. It’s actually dir.

    I went back and forth between der and die, settling on der. It’s actually die.

    Genade is Dutch for “grace”. I went back and forth about an umlaut over the “a.”

    Genade is closest to Gnade, German for “grace” (see 1 Cor. 15:10 in Luther's 1545 translation). Not quite a synonym for "The Lord". I toyed with the orthography, moving the “n” around but settled on Genäde with umlaut.

    Looking at a beginning German textbook right now (page 153), it seems that sei is the correct form for the present subjective, third-person singular of sein, “to be.” So, that makes two out of five words right in this simplest of sentences.

    I often dream words visually, especially when I dream in languages other than English. But the words are not usually as clear as these and even these, you see how far off they are from being correct.
    The kids got hooked on Herbie Fully Loaded this past weekend. They especially enjoy how he wins the race, driving on the wall or fence or something. It's like James Bond for kids.

    I had to laugh because I recognized Justin Long instantly from those Mac commercials.

    Jeff wasn't convinced until he watched the entire movie and caught the telltale scene between Maggie (Lindsay Lohan) and Kevin (Long) after she smashes Herbie up or something. I call it the "Tom Hanks" syndrome, a signature dialogue delivery ("I gotta find Bubba" - Forrest Gump, usw.)

    The commercials and more commercials.
    I was happy to see a trailer on TV for Clerks II. Always nice to see a Jersey boy make good.

    When the first Clerks movie was released, I was working at AT&T in Holmdel. Jeff Anderson ("Randal") was working, quite literally, in the company mail room. He enjoyed some popularity among the managers who had seen the movie. But he didn't quit his day job, at least not right away. I left the building in 1998, I think. I don't think that he was still there. Things were falling apart for the company pretty good by then and services like to-office mail delivery were being cut.

    I can't hope to see this film in the movies. I'll have to wait until it comes to DVD. Jeff subscribed recently to Netflix ... we've had about three deliveries already. Saw part of Capote but he returned the batch before I could watch Munich. I was just satisfied to see Harper Lee portrayed in Capote. Otherwise I slept through the second half of the movie.
    Never really noticed what a pain car maintenance could be.

    Last night I was rummaging through some old mail and came across a letter from Volvo from last month. It was opened and presumably read but I don't remember reading it.

    Anyway, the gist of the letter was an announcement that Volvo extended the powertrain warranty to ten years on our 2000 wagon. The letter described a problem with the electronic throttle system (ETS).

    When I was driving the wagon, two summers ago, it exhibited those same symptoms. The repair was about $800, out of pocket because, as I was told at the time, the car was out of warranty by five months.

    The defect really seemed to affect a core system feature so it seemed reasonable to both me and my husband that the warranty would cover it. Not true then.

    We had the money so we paid the bill. And I was all thanking God that we had the money at the time because the week before, the car's routine service had also cost $800 ... because they recommended that I buy two new tires. And my husband was like, "Yeah, but aren't you grateful that we can afford such repairs?" and I was like "yeah, I am."

    End of story ... until I read the letter last night. I checked my files for the receipt but Jeff had recently shredded a bunch of old receipts, so no luck. Without the receipt, I would be unable to request a refund of the repair costs.

    I called the dealership and, looking back in my Franklin Planner, I told their service department the exact day of the repair. They found a record of the service in their computer and promised to mail me a copy of the receipt. I should received it by Saturday.

    In the meantime, there's a software update that needs to be applied. The letter indicated that and the service department confirmed. So I scheduled to take the car in on Monday morning. Just when I thought I was done with car repairs for a while!

    And I'll ask them to check the air conditioning, too, because another service center replaced the coolant on Tuesday at a cost of $300 and, by the time I got home, it was blowing hot again. They said it would cost $1700 to repair, i.e., fix the leak. The problem is that Jeff is pretty sure that they caused the leak in the first place when they did the 120,000 mile service in May.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    My youngest attends a child care facility a couple of mornings a week so that me and the older one can do summer stuff that the younger isn't ready for. And their payment methods are personal check or Discover card. I haven't had a Discover card in more than fifteen years but one is needed for online payment.

    So, I applied online for a Discover card last week. I haven't worked in four years so I didn't know how to fill out the salary information.

    I checked "unemployed" but filled in my husband's annual salary ... give or take, I really haven't much idea what he makes ... along with our monthly mortgage payments, both numbers taken from our bank's online checking account history, and received instant approval. Scary.

    I doubt they polled my previous account information from fifteen years ago or my full credit report but maybe they looked up my credit score, I dunno. I guess that I'm saying that I haven't any idea what the instant approval was based on ... probably more than the ratio of our mortgage to Jeff's salary ... but maybe not much more.

    And the card arrived and I activated it and I put through a first payment for next week's child care costs.

    Then I created the online account for the credit card with the bank account information for online payment and noticed that my available credit was already down the amount of next week's child care costs! Even though no history of the pending transaction is available. Mama mia that's fast! Good thing I activated the card before putting through the first payment ... I almost forgot to activate the card.

    As you can tell, I don't get new credit cards very often. In fact, I haven't gotten a new credit card in six or seven years ... until this one! And as soon as our child care needs are over, at the end of the summer or at the end of the year, I'll cancel this card, probably. Although the silver color is more attractive than what they used to look like.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    The Catholic Carnival is up.
    It's hard to say whether she's shallow or not. Most people seem shallow most of the time. It's even shallow to talk about whether another person might be shallow.

    But, and we don't talk often, I'm left with the same impression again and again. Nothing breaks it.

    She asked whether I ever go to Starbuck's. Does she know what a red flag that is for me? With a straight face, I say that I'm not a coffee drinker but I like their hot chocolate. She claims to go there every morning for her coffee. Can that be literally possible ... for her ... for anyone?

    She wants a new car. She's bored with her car. She rattled off her previous makes: Lexus, Mercedes, Volvo ... she would try BMW next. She flipped through Glamour as we visited. No one would ever wear that in Manhattan, she attested. Influenced by the teenage model, I said that I could see a young person wearing it. Did I say the wrong thing?

    She asked whether my sons are involved on sports teams. No. Her daughter has joined cheerleading.

    She said that there's a stigma in moving to New Jersey from New York, from Long Island. I know of New Jersey's negative image; I am also from New York.

    Jeff says she's a consumer. Well, we all are. She's a conspicuous consumer, then.

    Is it better to hide consumption like some twisted addiction? Most everyone has their indulgences but she isn't guilted by hers. She enjoys hers.

    It's usually when I allow myself to enjoy life's pleasures that my husband announces that he may be out of a job soon.

    So, I've learned to sneak them: some new books or clothes for the kids. Because if I ever catch myself saying, "This is ok. We can afford this", the roof caves in.

    Pure, Irish Melancholy ... or is this what Lewis meant when he was surprised by joy?
    Broke the law quite a bit today, just now, using my handheld cell phone while driving.

    I dreaded these two days, Monday & Tuesday, for good reason.

    First of all, I haven't felt well since Saturday morning: dizzy spells and nausea. Like my first trimester all over again. Especially the dizzy spells which mean only one thing: dehydration. So I wasn't really "up" for what I had to do. But I still had to do it.

    Yesterday was the day for the recall work on my XC90 to be performed. I told a neighbor that I would meet her at her backyard pool around noon, after I dropped off my car for service. Instead, it was more like 1:30 because of all the traffic on 35 South in Manasquan (on a Monday?!). So, the only respite was a couple of hours poolside before the race was on again. The service station told me that the car would be ready at 5:30.

    It was nearly impossible to squeeze three car seats into the back of the S40 that they loaned me, so I convinced my eldest to stay at a neighbor's house until I returned.

    Because of an afternoon of swimming, my two younger children fell asleep in the car during the drive back to the car dealership. I managed to transfer them from the loaner to my car without waking them. Either I'm that good or they were that tired. But they both woke up when we pulled in the driveway and consequently went to bed later than usual. Even still, I managed to fit in two loads of laundry and, after Jeff arrived home around 8, eked out an emergency grocery shopping trip for bread and breakfast cereal.

    This morning was practically Ground Hog Day except I took in Jeff's car for service.

    And what dawned on me yesterday was how silly to return home when the beach is so close. So, we made for the beach, got an excellent parking spot along the boardwalk (I don't mind paying $3 in quarters for three hours of parking) and played on the 10th Avenue playground. Oh, this is Belmar, btw, where I bought my season badge way back before Memorial Day. Today was our first trip to the Shore, as sad as that sounds.

    The kids were nagging me for ice cream after an hour, but I held them off for another hour.

    By 2:15 they couldn't stand it anymore, so we packed up and loaded up and some lucky devil got nearly an hour of free parking off my vacated meter.

    As we drove to Strollo's at 5th and Main, my phone rang -- Jeff's car would be ready soon. We ate our ice cream. I picked up some raw seafood at Hamptons & Havens. We watched the drawbridge on Route 71 go up and two boats pass under. We passed the train station in town but there weren't any trains coming either way. We left town and went to the car dealership. We were there by 3:30.

    I transferred beach gear and car seats to Jeff's car and loaded the kids up and glanced at the clock: 3:50! There was no way that I would arrive home in time to meet Kenny's camp bus which comes at 4:20. I was 40 minutes away from home! So, I started working the phone. First I called the camp and they told me that there was nothing they could do (very helpful). I tried a neighbor but got no answer. I called Jeff at work and asked him to try other neighbors whose telephone numbers I didn't have with me and I started driving at 4pm.

    The really funny thing is that (1) I made excellent time, hit all the green lights and very little traffic and (2) the alarm on Tim's wristwatch which goes off every afternoon at 4:00 and again at 4:05 -- local Timmy time, so that's about 4:06 and 4:11, respectively. And the alarm sounds just like my phone's ring!

    So I'm driving and thinking that my phone is ringing, twice! Then it rang again, for real, and it was the camp's transportation department telling me that my son's bus is in front of my house and that no one appears to be home to meet the bus. I replied, "That's right, I'm about 20 minutes away." So, the deal that was struck was the neighbor girls took Kenny to their house. The older one has babysat Kenny on occasion.

    So, here, I haven't eaten anything all day and I've used my phone a few times already while driving, what's another few minutes while I order Italian delivered? And that's what I did, pizza, shrimp parm for Kenny and spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. Lord knows I need my carbs. Just an old endurance runner at heart.

    Oh, and the other funny thing was that Jeff's afternoon meeting was cancelled so he thought about leaving work early and would have been home to meet Kenny's bus. But, of course, he didn't come home early because he never comes home early. But the idea crossed his mind and he wishes that he would have acted on it. Oh, well, bottom line is that I need to stop taking our cars in for service because I've been spending my summer at the repair shop and I need to be home when Kenny's bus arrives.
    Just something quick before I head out to the beach:

    Ave Maria Town, Florida ... from Commonweal

    The title "city on a swamp" caught my eye ... I thought the story was about New Jersey!

    One of the comments reads in part: "whether Utopianism reflects traditional Catholic values or whether it incarnates American ones."

    The latter, imo, although I guess Thomas More wrote the book.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Do you have a favorite meal that you hardly ever make? Not because it's tricky, 'though it may be. Not because it calls for exotic ingredients, 'though that's a possibility. Just because it's in a cookbook that you don't otherwise use.

    That's the case with what I made for dinner tonight. And I didn't remember this favorite recipe because I was flipping through that odd cookbook. No. Instead, I saw how good the key ingredient, green tomatillos, looked at my favorite country market late last week and said to myself, "Oh, I have a recipe for those!"

    Now, the season for tomatillos, as you know, runs from May to November, depending. And in my experience, they are best early in the season. Well, these looked great, so I grabbed a pound then racked my brain for the other ingredients and ended up doubling back through the store. The lady at the meat counter said to me, "Oh, what did you forget?" And I was like, "No, no, it's not that ... I changed my menu!"

    So, chicken breast, roasted red pepper, a jalapeño, jack cheese (I opted for pepper jack) and corn tortillas. I didn't think to get fresh cilantro so I had to use dried. I prefer fresh.

    I should say that this recipe comes from the Southern Living annual 1995 which my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas one year. I have never had a subscription myself.

    Cook down the tomatillos in water with chicken bouillon cube and chopped onion for an hour. Add the roasted red pepper and jalapeño (both chopped) plus brown sugar and lime juice and garlic and salt.

    Shred or chop the chicken (Jeff grilled it but I boil it usually) and mix the chicken with the shredded cheese in a large bowl. Roll the chicken & cheese tortilla into a casserole dish, top with tomatillo sauce and more shredded jack cheese and bake until heated.

    I usually don't bother with a side dish but of course, yellow rice or Spanish rice or refried beans are fine.
    It happens every summer but I noticed it earlier than in years past. Out of state drivers.

    Beginning in about April, drivers from both states invade New Jersey. Even the annual visitors seem to forget their way from one year to the next and need to learn their directions all over again. When the drivers from New York get the hang of it, they start running you off the road. Pennsylvania drivers never seem to get the hang of it!

    New Yorkers have always been a problem for me in New Jersey in the summertime. Now that I live in the western part of the state, I encounter Pennsylvania drivers as well and they have their own peculiarities. It's gotten to the point where I don't want to be anywhere near a car with Pennsylvania plates!

    Just this morning on my way to the YMCA to make up a swim lesson with my toddler, I stopped at a light on 33 East behind a Pennsylvania driver. The left lane of the two-lane highway was open and I thought, "Go into that other lane" but I didn't.

    So, the light changed to green, and cars traveling east in the left lane didn't slow down at all as they approached the green light. The PA driver started moving ahead but I saw his passenger pointing frantically towards the jughandle for 527A North.

    In response, he stopped dead in the travel lane! Then he swerved into the left lane (why?), got honked at by the high-speed cars in that lane. He stopped again in the travel lanes ... this is all happening ahead of me, you remember. Then, hopelessly missing his exit, he pulled onto the shoulder. I was delighted that his window was down so that my honk would be loud in his ear. And he had the audacity to honk back! What a bonehead.

    One mistake, I can tolerate. But stopping a second time in the travel lane and swerving into the left lane, that crossed the line, in my book. I mean, how much accommodation can he expect from us? And, you know, what? I didn't hang around to find out, but I bet you 100 to 1 that he backed up along that shoulder and took the jughandle. I see it all the time. And I have seen them back up in the travel lanes too!

    It's rural out here, sure. I see U-turns, stopping dead in the travel lanes and backing up on the highway or the shoulder all the time. Just because it happens all the time doesn't make it any less dangerous.

    On Wednesday, in Freehold, around lunchtime, a couple with New York plates was traveling west on 537 in the vicinity of route 9. I was exiting route 9 south and intended to go east on 537. They were in the left-turn lane for route 9 south and, even though my light turned green, I waited for them to make their turn because they had pulled into the intersection quite far. There were plenty of cars on the other side of the light waiting to head east on 537, so the New Yorkers might not get their chance later if they didn't take it immediately ... 'though I think there is a green arrow for them in the cycle.

    Anyway, they turned and turned and turned ... they made a three-point turn into a six-point turn, right there on 537. It was then that I saw their New York plates. Oi gevalt! I waited at my green light. I couldn't go because they were blocking my lane on the other side of the intersection.

    They finally got their boat turned around, dashed over the overpass bridge and turned right onto route 9 north just as my light changed to red. I was out into the intersection a little because when my light turned green, I pulled out before I realized the maneuver that they had in mind. So, I thought it best to back up a little bit so that a car didn't clip my front bumper since my view of traffic approaching from the left is blind there.

    But, backing up is tricky there, too, because the exit ramp itself is a little blind. I managed to creep back a foot or so and hoped for the best. I suppose it was a little satisfying to know that I was not the only soul witnessing such a disgraceful turn at the wheel and I would have rather sat through a light cycle than ventured out into their mess. But, still, I have "Traffic-Cop Tim" in the backseat yelling, "Mom, you have a green light, GO!"

    I know that driving in New Jersey is unique. I'm from somewhere else, so I know that. The jughandles, the circles, the long yellows, the traffic signals at 55 m.p.h. or faster. All I ask is that, if you want to commit vehicular suicide, please don't take me with you.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    New oratory at national shrine honors patroness of Malta - CNS

    I guess Our Lady of Ta' Pinu wasn't a visual apparition but an audible voice.

    The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception needs to update its virtual tour of the Crypt Church, not only for this addition.

    Last week when I tried sharing with someone the Basilica's absolutely excellent mosaic of St. Cecilia, the patron of my hometown parish, I noticed that her image is missing from the virtual tour!!!
    I didn't really forget that I signed up to audit a couple of summer classes at St. Elizabeth's but I forgot to pay for them. I wish that I could pay online.

    The first class, next week, is this:

    THEO 643 - Christian Spirituality and Prayer
    with Dr. Adele J. Gonzalez
    Graduate Credit or Audit - 1 credit

    A study of the history of the major spiritual movements in Christianity and the different prayer forms they generated. Emphasis will be placed on important issues in the development of a contemporary spirituality, e.g. forgiveness, reconciliation and fear.

    Dr. Adele J. Gonzalez is the founder and president of Get-With-It, an organization committed to human and spiritual growth through the fostering of healthy relationships with self, others, the world and God. She is also an Adjunct Theology professor at Barry University, Miami, FL, and a national speaker in the areas of spirituality, lay ministry and multiculturalism.

    and the textbooks are Thirsty for God and Life of the Beloved

    The second class is this:

    THEO 646 - Survey of Exilic Prophecy in Israel
    with Rev. Lawrence Boadt
    Graduate Credit or Audit - 1 credit

    A study of the background for the great prophets of the exile in the Seventh and Sixth Centuries, B.C.E.: Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Second Isaiah, and a detailed examination of their writings and those of the prophets Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk.

    Rev. Lawrence Boadt is the President of Paulist Press in Mahwah, NJ. He has authored several books on the Bible and is professor emeritus of Sacred Scripture at the Washington Theological Union.

    with no textbooks. Fr. Boadt will distribute handouts.

    I'll probably ask him to autograph his article in my copy of the NJBC. I asked him to on an earlier occasion but, since he had just signed my copy of Reading the Old Testament, he declined and said modestly "one per customer".

    Yet another picture from Hershey ... snapped by a camera along the watery route of the Coal Cracker. I've never seen so much teeth!
    This story is strangely satisfying. "Officials uncertain how to power Millstone school" - The Examiner, 7/6/06

    I hope that the unnamed resident is the Waters family, the landowner from whom the town initially took the land through eminent domain two years ago.

    And, how amusing that the utility company, not being a government agency, can't simply sieze land for its facilities.

    No wonder the superintendent and the middle school's principal are gettin' out of Dodge.

    I set the wheels in motion, turn up all the machines, activate the programs, and run behind the scene ... anything can happen. Prime Mover -- Rush
    Ken Lay dies of heart attack.

    Has this twist of fate got the Houston Baptists wishing they believed in purgatory?

    Looks like Lay has, not only a "get out of jail free" card, but also a "get out of hell on Jesus" card.

    Just another preacher's kid.
    His father owned a general store and sold stoves before becoming a Baptist preacher.

    "In spite of what has happened, I am still a very blessed man.

    I have a very warm, loving and Christian wife and family that supports me.

    Most of all, my family and I believe that God is in control and, indeed, He does work all things for good for those who love the Lord. And we love our Lord."

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    The second hour is spent watching a video. Instead of Kay Arthur, her son, David, spoke on 1 Samuel 13:1-15. He is an ordained PCA minister.

    Rev. Arthur began his sermon with a mention of the iconoclastic controversy. As soon as he put up the dates, I knew what his topic was and I muttered, "Icons, images" but no one else had an idea.

    In the 8th century, someone noticed that images were replacing the word of God in churches! In the 8th century, someone noticed that the second commandment was being violated! In the 8th century, someone noticed that the illiterate were still ignorant of the Gospel!

    Rev. Arthur did not share how the controversy was resolved. On this side of the Reformation, the earlier resolution brokered by Nicaea II isn't important to him. He might say, "Well, it had to be tried again until we got it right."

    My perspective is different. You might group me with Luther on this: freedom to use religious images properly.

    Just a caveat, as I quote from the Wiki article on Iconoclasm: it's my understanding, contrary to conventional reason, that the rise of Islam had nothing to do with this controversy.

    Here are some quotes --

  • much of what exists as accounts and arguments of the time comes to us through the filter of the writings of the ultimate victors in the controversy, the iconodules.

  • the banning of images would only prove that the Church had been in error for a long time and so play into the hands of Jews and Muslims

  • One Syrian monk, John of Damascus, was the major opponent of iconoclasm through his theological writings

  • For iconoclasts, the only real religious image must be an exact likeness of the prototype--of the same substance--which they considered impossible, seeing wood and paint as empty of spirit and life. Thus for iconoclasts the only true (and permitted) "icon" of Jesus was the Eucharist, which was believed to be his actual body and blood.

  • But by making an icon of Jesus, one is separating his human and divine natures, since only the human can be depicted (separating the natures was considered nestorianism), or else confusing the human and divine natures, considering them one (union of the human and divine natures was considered monophysitism)

  • Iconodules argued that decisions such as whether icons ought to be venerated were properly made by the church assembled in council, not imposed on the church by an emperor. Thus the argument also involved the issue of the proper relationship between church and state.

  • Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    At MSN Groups, I had a conversation with the moderator about the NIV translation.

    You can read it all here.

    I would not today stand behind everything that I said then, more than two years ago.

    In particular, since then, I have learned that the Greek text behind the NIV's New Testament is not the same as that behind the NAB's. I have learned that the NIV translators used their own eclectic Greek text for their New Testament work. This modern trend, which they themselves anticipated, results in no current consensus on the Greek NT text.

    I believe that the moderator is the Catholic equivalent of a "King-James-Only" Protestant in his sole devotion to the Vulgate.

    A form of traditionalism that I just do not understand, this idea that the Vulgate is still viable and the only version of the Scriptures that a Catholic may lawfully own. That mentality may be on the horizon, but to my knowledge, is not the state of affairs today and certainly wasn't true two years ago. My NAB comes with approval from the USCCB and, well, I'm an American, so ... why can't I trust the NAB, the Bible version that we read at Mass every day?

    I think that I make some valid points, especially at the end. I point out the inherent danger in taking a good version, like the Vulgate or the King James, and making it the absolute and only good version at the expense of other good versions. That narrowness can result in an over-corrective action whereby the absolute is banned, confiscated and destroyed either out of geniune concern or raw jealousy. So, that is my warning to those of us with these tendencies: they can backfire.

    We start off the point / counterpoint with the initial, original post from the moderator:
    The NIV drops out entire verses from the Bible text. Footnotes indicate that this was done intentionally. Beware. Here are some examples.

    Matthew 17:21, saying that the demon removed by Christ could only be driven-out with prayer and fasting, is simply GONE!

    Matthew 18:11, saying that the Son of Man came to save that which was lost, is simply GONE!

    Mark 7:16, saying that if any man has ears to hear, let him hear, is simply GONE!

    Mark 9:46, describing the mercilessness of Hell, is simply GONE!
    A banished group member points out that the online version of the NAB also omits those four verses.

    Here's my first reply:
    As has already been noted, the NAB also omits these and similar such verses for the simple reason that these verses are merely harmonizing interpolations from parallel Gospel passages, introduced either intentionally or accidentally, during the transmission of the New Testament text.

    If you fear that the “removal” of these spurious verses may in any way affect biblical theology, recall the Synoptic parallel passages from which this material was originally drawn. How many times a belief or teaching is articulated in Scripture has no impact on its validity. Even if Jesus said something only once, it is “gospel”.

    I have problems with the NIV translation myself but my problems do not stem from any doubt that the translators worked faithfully from the most up-to-date, critical Greek text, as did our translators.
    A reply to me:
    Be cautious about referring to a verse as "spurious." Clearly, in the judgment of those who dropped the verses, the verses are, indeed, "spurious." But this attitude frequently changes with time, and with input. So far, I am not impressed.
    My further argument:
    Look, this matter is very plain and very clear:

    The biblical scholars agree that those four verses you cited and many others like them are indeed spurious, drawn from parallel passages, intentionally or accidentally, towards a harmonizing effect.

    It's important that criticism in this forum leveled against cherished English translations, like the NIV, be factual. Would you want someone to charge Catholics falsely about dropping Bible verses? The NIV is not suppressing verses.

    May you now appreciate the problem that textual critics encounter when they set about correcting sacred texts: someone becomes offended when beloved passages are changed. I do not deny that scholarly opinion may change. Obviously it changed enough to remove those verses within the last forty or fifty years and, if new evidence surfaces in the form of older manuscripts, then the pendulum may swing again. But this is the present state of the matter, and suspicion that opinion may revert is no reason to disregard current opinion.
    He tips his hand:
    Matthew 17:21 is in Jerome's Vulgate translation...

    hoc autem genus non eicitur nisi per orationem et ieiunium

    Matthew 18:11 is in Jerome's Vulgate translation...

    venit enim Filius hominis salvare quod perierat

    Mark 7:16 is in Jerome's Vulgate translation...

    si quis habet aures audiendi audiat

    Mark 9:46 is in Jerome's Vulgate translation...

    ubi vermis eorum non moritur et ignis non extinguitur

    This is why I am cautious about adopting a modern translator's characterization of a verse as "spurious." Frequently, such translations find themselves at war with the thinking of the Church Fathers, who were 17 to 19 centuries closer to the gospel writers than we are.

    My final plea:
    Please, buy a new bible. Obstinacy such as yours led to the Inquisition.

    Taking a cue from
    lex orandi, lex credendi, I checked the liturgical use of the verses in question and share with you the following:

    Matthew 17:21 is omitted completely, between two weekdays, Saturday of 18th week (Gospel reading is Matthew 17:14-20) and Monday of 19th week (Gospel reading is Matthew 17:22-27), under both the 1970 Lectionary and the Revised Weekday Lectionary of 2002.

    Matthew 18:11 is omitted from the weekday liturgy of Tuesday of 19th week (Gospel reading is Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14), under both the 1970 Lectionary and the Revised Weekday Lectionary of 2002.

    Mark 7:16 was omitted from the weekday liturgy of Wednesday of 5th week (Gospel reading is Mark 7:14-23) as a result of the recent revisions. That is to say, Mark 7:16, “Let everyone heed what he hears!” appears in the 1970 Lectionary but not in the 2002 revision. Very significant, IMO. Again, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 1-23 is read on the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B), and interestingly, 7:16 is included in the 1970 Lectionary but not in the 1998 revision.

    Mark 9:46 is omitted from the weekday liturgy of Thursday of 7th week (Gospel reading is Mark 9:41-50), under both the 1970 Lectionary and the Revised Weekday Lectionary of 2002. Likewise, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 is read on the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B); verse 46 does not appear in either the 1970 Lectionary or in the 1998 revision.

    My Scripture index to the Divine Office is too inadequate to allow me to check its use of these verses, but the Gospels are little used in this liturgy as a whole, so the inclusion of these disputed verses is unlikely.

    If any of these four verses was included in the Roman Catholic liturgy (American-style), I would concede that the Catholic Church considers the verses to be a proper part of Sacred Scripture. Even though their absence does not prove conclusively the legitimacy of their removal from the Gospels, it is quite telling, especially when one considers the recent revisions. Frankly, I haven’t any idea how to proceed with my point to you who seem to accept no authority, not the approving signature of the Archbishop of Washington, not the CCD, not the USCCB.

    You believe that the Vulgate you own comes from Jerome’s 4th century hand? You might consider this article on the Vulgate’s revision at the turn of the last century:

    Revision of the Vulgate

    Excerpts for the article:

    “It is to determine as accurately as possible the text of St. Jerome's Latin translation, made in the fourth century. Substantially, no doubt, the present authentic Clementine text represents that which St. Jerome produced in the fourth century, but no less certainly it, the printed text, stands in need of close examination and much correction to make it agree with the translation of St. Jerome. No copy of the actual text is known to exist; and the corruptions introduced by scribes, etc., in the centuries posterior to St. Jerome, and even the well intentioned work of the various correctors, have rendered the labours of trying to recover the exact text from existing MSS. both difficult and delicate. This, however, is the work which must be done as the first step in the revision of the Vulgate. It is consequently the aim of the present commission to determine with all possible exactitude the Latin text of St. Jerome …”

    Since the ancient text of the Vulgate suffered from the exact same copyist errors as the Greek manuscripts, the same textual criticism applied today to the Greek NT manuscripts was called for by Pope Pius X and was applied on the Vulgate!

    Want a safe bet? Go with the version of the Scriptures presently promulgated by the Vatican. Buy yourself a new bible and spare us all from having our cherished books confiscated and burned.
    Jeff and I shifted a large dresser from the baby's room to our room yesterday. The baby would not allow us to change him on its dresser-top changing pad anymore. He won't lay still.

    There is a full-fledged changing table in his room crammed into a corner, smack against a queen-sized bed. Did I mention that the baby sleeps in what used to be a fully-furnished guest bedroom?

    When he arrived, we just squeezed his crib and rocking chair into the guest room. Then, when Tim graduated to a five-drawer dresser, we moved the three-drawer, changer-top dresser into the baby's room, in the corner, and only Jeff was tall enough to make use of it, fitting between the foot of the bed and the dresser. For a while, I was able to squeeze in between too, but I'm not tall enough to do so comfortably and not now, certainly, even though I'm not starting to show or anything.

    So, the baby is a little out of sorts with the furniture change especially after waking from a nap. The thing about the piece that we moved out was that it had a large mirror and he enjoyed looking at himself in it, especially after a bath.
    Anchovies, another craving?!

    We ran out of Parmesan Reggiano cheese over the weekend and since I like to keep a small block on hand, I stopped by the Italian specialty shop to pick up another piece today. And I picked up three tins of anchovies, too.

    Holding the tins of fish, the checker said, "Making pizza tonight are you?"

    "No, tossed salad. I put the anchovies on top."

    Would it have made more sense to her if I had explained it was a craving?
    The boys have this thing for catching fireflies. They ask me all winter long, "Can we catch fireflies tonight?"

    It's a combination of being out after dark and staying up past their bedtime. And watching living creatures up close.

    I keep a Mason jar with small holes in the lid handy in the summertime, and their first night out several weeks ago, they caught ten. Last night, they caught two because they were distracted by the fireworks just above the treetops.

    Generally, they are afraid of fireworks up close so we don't go. The Colts Neck Country Fair in late August has fireworks on the opening night, so we might make that.