Saturday, May 31, 2014

Small Stones Saturday

Craven Image
There is no courage
in saying you believe something
if everyone else approves.
There is no bravery
in going along with trending values
and standing where there is no real risk.
But what if there is risk on both sides?

What if you know, if you speak
there will be some who approve
and some who will not, either way.
Then you discover what true values are,
things you will fight for no matter what.
It is then that you know,
how timid the soul truly can be.
And how great and rare
and brave beyond measure
a single voice speaking

A Different Sort of Small Stone...
My three year olds' question.
"Hey Mom? Can I throw a rock?"
(She has rock in hand). ...

All I can say is...
Thank goodness she asked.

Begin Again
Fail fail fail fail
fail fail fail fail
fail fail fail fail...

fail fail spectacularly
and fail again

I will keep trying
until I get it right.


Going to the well

It stings to know
the well has been dry
for some time now....
I keep going
and looking in
hoping at some point
when I wasn't looking
it rained.
Every day
is an exercise
in hope against experience
maybe this time
I'll be able
to drink deeply.
I am a writer.
Was it a description? Yes.
A wish? Yes.
A declaration. Yes.
But what did it mean
and why?
Why did I want
to take words
and sculpt bone and ice
pain and light?
I wanted to invite others, all others
to run away with me in story
and find the world of my imagination
a place they wanted to stay.
That is why I write,
in hopes of creating that whole universe
that someone else discovers and says,
yes, it is very good.

Being Epic
We all live
for that moment
when we are...
epic, wise, beautiful
and change the world.

What we do not understand
is we change the world
when we go about
the business of living
even if it is tedious and hard
(and it often is),
by not surrendering,
we grow in wisdom,
the struggle is epic,
and our success,
all the beauty the world can bear.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Small Stones Saturday

There is a great and silent beauty
to the night,
to the snow,
to the whole world waking
It's just once we rise...
we forget to see it.

The beauty fades before us
as the heat of our days
melts it away
and so we do not stop
we do not slow
we do not remember
to wonder
And thus the world goes on fasting faster
starving and anxious
hoping someone will stop
and recall
this life was made for beauty.

Filling out a resume
It's been 20 years
since I had a job
the world would pay me for doing.
Listing dead places and dusty contacts,
never before have I felt
like I allowed so much time
to pour out
without taking full notice.
For all her schooling
she really should have known better
than to think a three year old ...
my three year old
would agree to talk to her.
She shut her eyes
sucked her fingers
and declared NO to everything.
So the doctor
couldn't check the boxes.
I could have told her
if she listened
none of my children
ever check the boxes
but it isn't because they couldn't,
it's because they will to won't.
All the way home,
she proves the point
answering everything
she'd been asked
and pleased as possible
that the woman who asked
didn't get the answers.

Overheard at the Barber's shop
When I grew up
I lived near that house
set back against the woods...
down the street.

My sister and I
and eight other kids
learned to ride horses
from the old woman.

She trained for the Olympics
so she wouldn't take money
so my parents gave her
boxes of Scotch.

But the houses got bigger
and the families got smaller
there are fewer horses
and fewer people,
and something besides scotch and horses
has been lost.
Embers or Ashes
I have to wonder
why I write
when friends say...
they won't read
what I've written
for fear they
won't like me
after they've read it.
I have to wonder
do they really like me now,
or am I just far more needy
than even I know...
or worst of all,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two week Blog Break...

It began unintentionally, because I'm in the midst of graduation/exams/end of school year/first communion/confirmation/normal every day stuff/obligation writings but I'm seeing that this siege on my time is going to continue until the end of next week, so I'm taking a sablogital until June 1st.  Small Stones Saturday will still post, as I've already cut and pasted them into place, as will a link to Small Success Thursday --as I promised to do that to Lisa and Sarah over at, but unless something is published (i.e. not by me), I'm taking off from this blog to manage the events of these two weeks.   Thank you for understanding, and I promise to be back, bright and bushytailed and blog-a-liciously funny when I get back.  

Here's a link to Small Success Thursday so you can be part of it even though it's Friday, because we can always count our blessings.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Small Stones Saturday

Every week you get five more of the poems I write --every day I'm not writing in a blog, on my WIP or an article, I write a poem to keep the brain jogging around the park.  Here's this week's offerings.

At Gymnastics

The Grandmother
wearing a yellow sweater sighed
but she smiled.
I don't know
what she thought
when she looked out
at the girls
flipping and twirling
jumping and climbing,
but part of me hoped
once long ago
she could do all they were doing and more.

What my children take for granted
Tumblr, twitter, Linkedin, instagram,
Pinterest Facebook, google plus and blogspot.
I remain mostly ignorant...
about all of them.

But I know there is so much more
in the world, in all of time
than the internet can hold
I know what it is
to ride a bike down a street
without a helmet or destination
and to weather a skinned heart and knee
My knowledge may be obsolete
but it is also timeless.

The Perfect Unspeakable Joy
of listening to your 8 year old
warble "Let it go...."
while she's in the facilities,...
as you wonder how
you will ever summon the will
to tell her to not do that.

The Cure

Thirteen goslings pooped in unison
and fluttered as they waddled away

and the mood of my teen
who rolled down the window just to honk
which had been miserable

was instantly better.


The barred owl shuffled along the road,
stopped and stared into the headlights of our car.

Bored when we seemed to be doing nothing, ...
he pumped his great wings

and sought out other parts of the park,
hoping the next exhibit would include more interesting animals.

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday

Welcome to 7 Quick Takes Friday, the linked edition...
1.  This was a big week for The Book of Helen!  She got two good reviews and I hope she'll receive a third from a friend over at Shelfari known as Nighthawk who runs a reading group called Paging All Bookworms. 

2.  Here's the first link, to a review over at!  It felt nice to get a review, there is a sense in which the book becomes less real the further away from publication date it falls, and so having someone read it and enjoy it, brings me back to that moment when it first launched.   There will be a posted interview at some point in the future, I'll let you know.  

3.  The second review came from an editor over at Eat Sleep Write!  You may remember I did a podcast there last September.  Here's the link to that discussion as here. 

4. This makes me beyond sad. There is a prediction of Barnes and Noble closing. There is something dying in a culture where there are no book stores, and it's not just the economy, it's the culture of reading, it's the culture of browsing to discover, it's a community that we will mourn as a phantom limb of life, long after the stores are exchanged for other places. 

I still look at where the Border's was, and grieve that the Big Lots is there instead. I don't need Big and Lots, I need books, thoughts, words and the quiet joy of discovering something in the pages of another person's mind.  I think it symbolizes what is replacing what we are losing. Boo. 

5.   Larry D of Acts of the Apostasy is back in blogging business again!   Go over and say Welcome back, or if you've never visited, say "Hi!"

6.  I have a few friends I need to pray for, so I'm linking to this Novena site. I invite all of you to participate, because I don't know anyone who doesn't need prayers.  

7.  And the last of the 7 Quick Takes involves plugging a long time friend of this blog, the Ironic Catholic, also know in her alter-ego as writer/professor/theologian extraordinare, Susan Windley-Daoust has written a book:  Theology of the Body Extended: Signs of Birth, Impairment and Dying, and it looks really good!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Top Ten Reasons a Teen Shouldn't Leave Her Phone at Home

*This post in no way reflects any opinion whatsoever about the inability of adults to communicate with any teen in particular despite providing for said communication device even if it is grey, not smart, and ONLY a phone. 

Why you shouldn't leave your phone at home when you go out into the world...

10) Parents might read text messages sent after teen has left for the day by accident, before recognizing the device to be yours.  That might be mortifying.

9) As such, we might (not that we did mind you), respond.

8) We will know the names of some of your school friends and ask about them in front of your siblings, giving your brothers and sisters...potential weapons.

7) To make contact with you about the schedule absent a phone, we might contact the school and have them track you down, again...slightly embarrassing. 

6) Mom will also be put out by an extra trip if she deems it necessary for the good of the whole family to bring it to you.

5) The going price for extra errands such as phone delivery, is dinner dishes including pots and pans for the first offense. 

4) Second time adds free babysitting for an evening, no pizza.

3) Third time....we should not have to consider this possibility.

2) Phones left at home will be reprogramed with a locked ring tone playing Lionel Riche's "Hello."

1) Finally, should the phone continue to be abandoned at home, there are other children here who covet your cellphone.  Just saying. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I tend to call my husband Love,
so often I forget about it.
But my three year old hears us talk in the morning...
after everyone else has been shipped off to school.
Over breakfast or me fixing his lunch, she pays attention.
Friday, he was away on a business retreat.
My daughter and I went to mass.
She fished through my purse at the homily,
and pulled out my phone.
"Don't you want to call your love?" she asked.
And she hands me my cell.
"He is your love. You should call him. You love him don't you?"
she beams, knowing the answer,
equally proud to be in on the secret.
Yes. Yes I do.

Pondering Pondering
How did we waste the time
Before we had the internet?

There were three girls running,
one of them wore orange.
There were two toddlers
both plucked yellow daffodils at the top,
and left the blossoms at the foot of the steps.
And all the construction workers
popped up onto the roads next to the pot holes,
taking the place of crocuses.

Just a reminder
Last night I dreamt
of the beach house
destroyed back in 2008....
Instead of relishing
in this lost family luxury
I worked to get to the water.

The fish were biting
my father was fishing
and I spent my time
working and reworking
the baiting of the hook.
Then we were in a hotel
but there was a pond/pool
and I stopped fishing
to worry about my son
and so I did not swim.
I turned to visit
and the room was filled with books
my son and the pool and all else
was gone and still
I did not read.
I woke up and knew
it wasn't an accusation
it wasn't a condemnation,
it was just a reminder.
From the many who love me,
be present, be present, be present.

March 15, 2014
Six word Saturday

I keep waiting to feel less.

March 10, 2014
It was an awesome funeral.
That sounds so odd to say.
And yet it was right right right.
We drank. We sang....
We ate, we feasted.
There were far more stories than tears

And yet the grief stayed real.
The church, everyone should have this,
was standing room only.
Like a wedding, the guest kept coming.
Like a wedding, the wine and the song
like a wedding, the fish and the cake and the guests
We stayed and stayed and stayed.
God we loved our Dad
And God loved Him more.
We joked at the rosary.
The things my dad does to get out of fasting.
We sang and cried and hugged at the mass.
There were 8 priests, two deacons, four nuns and a bishop.
It sounded like the start of a joke.
At the burial, ducks flew over
and people wondered, was that their form of a 21 gun salute
to the hunter who put down his gun?
Or a mocking, "It's safe to come out now nahnah nah nah nah nah!"
And we sang again. We sang the Notre Dame Victory march
and went back home to start eating and crying and laughing again.
It was an awesome funeral.

March 5, 2014

Breaking Heart News
Monday I felt a tug and prayed.
I've never prayed for a peaceful death for anyone.
It's just not in my make up....

But I did pray
that when my Dad died,
my Mom would be there.
She's spent the last year
driving to Orange every day
to sit with him
and sometimes feed him lunch.
Some days, he talks.
Most days, he doesn't.
But his face lights up
when she comes in the room.
Tuesday, my sister, my brother,
and my mom all said
he'd taken a turn for the worse.
So I told Mom my prayer.
Today, Ash Wednesday,
she was there
when he died.
And despite being 47
and a mother of ten,
I feel like a little girl lost.

Big Wealth
There is no brighter smile
than the near unlimited joy
and promise of things to come...
found in the face
of a three year old
who found four pennies.

Small Stones Saturday

Seven Word Sunday
Title: Soul Singing
At mass, my father echoed in my voice.

Spring Break
Today, I have a 7 year old
with a tooth about to fall out.
She smiles and asks when we can practice skating...
and I think, next week,
we get the whole week together.

I can't wait!

Today I got a rejection.
It was reasonable.
But the part of me...
that isn't rational,
wants to cry, pout,
stamp around
and maybe eat six or seventeen cookies.

Today at the piano
those dusty keys
got a work out
as my fingers remembered...
songs assigned
so long ago
and the hours of practice missed
between then and now
It was a concert
and I remembered
the last time I sat
and really played,
it was while my dad
was at a nursing home
and I filled the air with music
trying to will beauty
into every crevice
of that sad place
and wishing I'd spent hours more
so the flood of sound
could have been grander.
Today, the audience
was me
and the fingers remembered
more than I did
and filled the empty places
that still are empty
with the promise
that eventually,
the notes will fill
all the spaces
and all the sharp
and flat feelings
will be
part of a more permanent symphony.

Happiness is Denial, and it's the color green, did you know?
I tell myself
better sooner than later
she learns...

there's not always an answer.
"Mom, fix the crayon."
and she hands me the point
and the stub.
But admittedly,
I didn't want that lesson today.
So I threw it away
and handed her a different one.
This may be a problem
when she gets older
but I'm willing
to settle
for the time being
with her thinking
Mom is magic.
Mom can fix everything.

Best Music
The other day,
my husband caught up
his 14 year old son in a bear hug.
And the strangest sound
issued forth
from my teen.
He laughed.
I can still hear it

Friday, May 9, 2014

7 Quick Takes

1.   We got to Friday and somehow, I'm surprised.   I also didn't link up to Small Success Thursday --because yesterday was so very busy.   So here's the link to go count your blessings over at! 

Sorry it's a day after the fact. 

2.  Helen news!   I got a review over at Catholic!  I submitted her back in September.  You can go read it here.  

3.  Next week is the Gaithersburg Book Festival.  I wish I were presenting, but I'll be volunteering for my kids' school at a booth, which will probably (but not assuredly) prevent me from spending too much money on books!

4.  This weekend, my daughter is receiving her first communion.  I've been through now six of these with my children, and they are always special, but this one, she already has such a love of Jesus, it is breath taking and heart squeezing.   So offer a prayer for her as she prepares. 

5.  My son is confirmed next week.  Confirmation is my very favorite sacrament.  Keep him in your prayers as well. 

6.  Next week, we also gear into high exams for my two teens, followed by graduation the following week for one, and exams for my younger adolescents.  We will exhale in June.  

7.  Penelope is doing well, I've been writing on her every day this week, or reading about her, or researching.  I'm taking an online course on Scrivener and it's really helping me to understand this writer's software, it's also making me look at my WIP --work in progress, more often, so it has the double effect of generating more words.  

Here's a sniff: 

“Are you going to chose one of them my queen?” Erika noted the pearl pendant and emerald and gold earrings on her night stand.

“Eurydamas and Peisander at least make a pretense of courting me and not the throne.” Penelope answered. Her face reddened. Erika, seeing her mistress’s embarrassment left the room.

Looking at the jewelry, Penelope sighed. For three years, she’d kept all 108 men dancing, and not one of her servants understood her reasons. She reminded herself they had to be equally unsure of her intent, in order to maintain the facade. Was she perpetually faithful, or perpetually fickle? The men had to believe both, in order to pursue her, and think they had the slightest chance. Her life, like the jewels in the earrings, held many facets, not all of which could be seen at once, only the ones she let catch light.

She put on the pendant for a moment to consider it, and then took it off, wearing such a thing would be too much of a signal of favoritism. She placed both gifts back in her box of trinkets, polished her favorite blue stone silver ring, and placing it on her ring finger, steadied herself for another day of holding all of the court, all of Ithaca, all the world she knew, together, all while hoping somehow, the next day, things would be better.

She walked into the dining room, Men were asleep in their chairs, some drunk on the floor, others missing from the room were probably stealing a few hours with servants willing to serve more than wine and bread. She took the moment to work tiny mischief, and threw open the curtains from the walls, revealing the cutaways her husband created to allow for more light. She rang a bell to signal to the morning staff to assemble and begin clean up, part of which included sweeping out those left over from the evenings repast.

She saw these men for who they were. She scrolled through each of their faces. Agelaus, weak in mind and heart but not body, Amphimedon, ambitious with no prospects and no loyalty either, Amphinomus, decent but dull, Antinous, malicious in every way, rather like keeping a poisonous serpent as a pet. You couldn’t release it, it might return out of habit, and it might bite you just the same if you didn’t. Ctesippus, crude and cruel. Demoptolemus covetous and envious, Elatus, too young and stupid, clinging to where all the men were, not realizing so few of them acted as actual men, Euryades, lazy but desiring a life of luxury. Euryachus, like oil, she didn’t trust him. Eurynomus, the ignoble brother of Antiphus, he lacked his brother’s courage to go serve Ithaca in the fight. She went through them all, she knew them all, it was a tedious business all of these men, none of them moved her mind, body and heart, none of them touched all. Odysseus had. Odysseus still did.

But it had been a long 20 years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Prayers for Harvard

My dad went to Harvard.  He didn't particularly love it, but his children were proud of his accomplishments.  But he knew the place to be in love with itself, and self love eventually becomes self loathing, as indicated by the planned "black mass" on May 12th.  

Fortunately, we are not without recourse. Elizabeth Scalia, a.k.a. The Anchoress, has been following the story here. 

But we need to do more than know about this or pester the people who run that university, we need to fight spiritual assaults with the proper spiritual weapons.   So I propose a Rosary by Catholic Blogs, a rosary for those involved in this event, for those who promoted it, for those tacitly pretending it does no harm, for those who think it cool, for all those who will be injured by it.   I'm going to ask all the bloggers I have formed friendships with over the years via the com boxes to participate and put a link to their blog here. 

I'm also attaching a link to a beautiful site where you can pray the rosary with people world wide.  

So if you'd like to join the blog rosary in this month of May for all those affected by even the intent to form a blasphemy on the Eucharist and the mass, post this picture on your blog and just leave a note in the com box.  You can also pray anonymously, but I think knowing others are praying, that we are really a community of Catholics, who pray for those who hate the Eucharist, and who do not know what they are doing, and who are doing things which can destroy themselves, is a comfort and a good way to fight against the cackling devil and those who think this harmless.   For some evils, the only recourse is prayer and fasting.   This is one of those moments.  

I will reach out to those I know personally, because evil must be resisted and publically, by those who know it to be evil.   Even if it is a hoax, those who presented it, need prayers.  Even if it is stopped now that people in positions of authority know about it, these people need our prayers.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Small Stones Collection

I still write poetry, mostly because it's fun.  I'm now starting to collect them.  Here are my most recent ones. 

The barred owl shuffled along the road,
stopped and stared into the headlights of our car.
Bored when we seemed to be doing nothing, ...
he pumped his great wings
and sought out other parts of the park,
hoping the next exhibit would include more interesting animals.

Ready for Prom
Her face at her face
drew an unexpected smile
as if seeing ...

what we'd seen
since the first day
we ever saw her eyes.

Proud...or not
My son
took two chocolate bunnies
and smeared peanut butter between them,...
making a sandwich.

I'm disturbed.
Both because he thought of it
as he happily munches away,
and that I didn't.

Banishing the Demons of 7th Grade
(It's about damn time)!
I will open a book and read...

and I will not grade myself
on how far I get
or how long I got to spend
and I will not
consider myself to have failed
if at the end of that time
I decide
this book
isn't the one
to feed me today.

Good Friday
Wasn't going well.
The very air is stale
of my mood...
but it all comes to a blessed relief
when my second son,
the one who always fights,
the one who always struggles
puts out his arms
and carries his sleeping brother
up the stairs.
It doesn't take much.
It never did.
Just love.
Just love.

Friday, May 2, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.  Yesterday I saw a Barred Owl.  It was on the ground, it flew into the tree.  It was nothing short of cool.   We watched it until it grew bored and pumped its great wings and vanished into the trees. Looking at these creatures, it is amazing. 

2.  Great News!  My oldest son got a job at his school!
Cue the celebration!
3.  Wasted words.  I'm giving up the Combox wars.  It happens all the time, I'll read an article, respond, and it turns into High School debate time.  I don't want it. It's not interesting, and it isn't discussion, most of the time, it's agree or go away.  Bleah. Who needs it?  The thing is, I like reading things, I like commenting, I like staying informed.  But I realized it was a means of not being isolated, of making a mark in the broader community, but it was not the mark I wanted. Most people have figured out not to fight the internet, but I had sites I liked visiting if only to know that day, my brain jogged around the park.   It was like grass, here today, burned tomorrow.  To be called conservative by liberals, and a liberal by conservatives, left me feeling like each site considered me the flying monkey of the enemy. 
Where's my banana?

4.  So what to do now?  Offer my own two cents of course, for a nickel. 
Intellectual club sandwiches served free of charge for special blockheads.
I should stipulate, I've always identified with Lucy Van Pelt.  My brother Joe can testify to this truth.
5.  So what started this? 

I read an article over at an online magazine, and I commented.  The tribe at the site had deemed a popular Catholic writer a heretic for declaring as excessive either dismissal of the value of the state in serving the poor, or the absolute virtue of the state in providing charity.  They felt otherwise.  They declared him the uncharitable heretic for pointing out that faith in the state created utopia is as heretical as putting full faith in the idea of sola rugged individual.

I found myself in agreement with the targeted scapegoat.   The state may serve, but cannot fully substitute for the charity of the human person to human person.  It may compliment, supplement and augment.   I'm not sure what they wanted as an alternative, only that this writer humbly submit to their scorn, acknowledge their favored ideology as pure, himself to be a heretic and take the subsequent much deserved in their opinion, lumps.  

I wondered, how spending mental and written energy ferreting out bloggers to take down, helped deal with the inequalities they felt this blogger failed to properly acknowledge by not agreeing with their non articulated orthodoxy.   This was an echo chamber, deeply committed to reminding everyone, only to repeat the echo.   Catholicism is not an echo chamber, it goes out, it goes into people's hearts, it imitates the universe, being universal, it ever expands. 

6.  So here's what I wrote: 

The reality is that we must in our own lives, to a person, to a people, to the world, be charitable; the Calcuttas of our world, the poor are everywhere. They will always be with us, but that by no means eliminates the charge upon all of us who have, to be generous.
It is a hard truth, one we've forgotten in the comfort of our capitalist Catholicism, which is not a demand we become socialist or confiscate wealth. We are called, to "sell what we have" and build up treasure in heaven. Being lazy, we like easy answers. I'll be the first to say, my initial reaction to that is, "You first." because I have a nice home, I have ten kids, I have bills. Surely someone else should take care of this.
Government to the rescue! Taxes and state redistribution seems like an easy answer. But I'm then reminded of the words of Christmas Present, the stinging rebuke to my comfort, "Are there no work houses? Are there no prisons?"
Merely confiscating the wealth of those we don't know, to give benefits to people we don't know, brings us only irritation, envy, resentment and inefficiency. Only true generosity, rendering to the poor the good we have to share, will bring about the true spiritual benefits of charity.
Poverty is never just money, it is the feeling of being isolated, alone, without recourse, without hope, without help, without someone who cares if you exist, without the ability to somehow, get out of the pain. If we would really change the world by how we live, we must recognize, it won't be without sacrifice, and it won't be if we do not freely begin to serve. Not easy medicine for any of us.

7.  I won't link to the place to give it traffic, since that is what the site wanted.  Plus, I now have the hard consequence of having begun this thinking in the first place, it can't just stay words.  

Here's what I didn't write on the site: 

It is discomfiting and inconvenient to our sensibilities to recognize the world and our lives do not live out the faith we profess, not fully.  Knowing this, we face two choices, prayer & service, serious study and sacrifice, a call to do something more than we are doing, starting with serious prayer for all those we scorn, or doubling down on what we already do, i.e. continuing to be as comfortable with our reasonable understandings of things, comfortable with our lives and sedated as possible in our current existence. 

If we are honest, most of us hope we can eek out a last minute deal with the Almighty by being okay, gambling we can slip into purgatory because we weren't ax murderers who ate puppies and gouged customers with cheap imports made on the back of child labor while underpaying anyone we had to hire. We weren't cartoon villains and pure evil.  We were comfortably bath water warm. 

Except we aren't called to be good or to win, or to be right in the comboxes.  We're called to be saints.

I'm so doomed. 


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