Archive for the ‘Chat’ Category



Back for the last week in April. Keep well, my dears.

Read Full Post »

I’ve just noticed this in my gmail inbox, which I don’t check nearly often enough.

To Whom It May Concern:

The United States Library of Congress has selected your website for inclusion in the Library’s historic collection of Internet materials related to the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. We consider your website to be an important part of this collection and the historical record.

The Library of Congress preserves the Nation’s cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. The Library’s traditional functions, acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship, extend to digital materials, including websites.

The following URL has been selected:


In order to properly archive this URL, and potentially other URLs of interest on your site, we may archive both this URL and other portions of your site. (And then it goes on to say what they’re going to do and how you can find out more.)

Who? Me?

I looked it up and it appears to be for real.

I’m not sure why you want comment and collections of links from way down in New Zealand, nice folks at the LoC, but I’ve no objection. Be my guest. Feel free to fill your socks.

Read Full Post »


Today is the Feast Day of the Chair of St Peter. The daily office and Mass readings are about the mission given to Peter.

Today is also 2 years since the Christchurch earthquake (the second major one in months, and the one that caused more than 130 deaths). By the way, the Church is thinking of preserving the facade of the ruined Christchurch basilica as an earthquake memorial.

In other history, the Indians introduced the European pilgrims to popcorn (in 1630), Spain sold Florida to the United States (in 1821), the first solo England to Australia flight touched down (1928), and the Beatles began their own publishing company (1963).

And on this day in 1948, in Plymouth England, after a heavy snowfall in the previous two days (illustrated above) an event occured that would shape my life and ensure those of my children and grandchildren. A small child was born very prematurely. The snow meant no medical help, so his family tucked him into a drawer with a hot water bottle and fed him glucose with an eye dropper. He confounded their expectations by surviving and then thriving; and he’s still going strong (thank God).

Happy birthday, my dear love.

Read Full Post »

Lent begins

Read Full Post »

Love you, Mum


11 November 1923 to 26 December 2012.

She ticked off all the items on her death wish list – she was active almost to the last, just went to bed and didn’t wake up, didn’t linger, died at hospital and not at home, died having spoken to all her children.

She had a wonderful Christmas Day with family. She drove herself to Church, and later had lunch with her son and daughter, plus grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren, and tea with my sister and her family. During the day, she spoke to her other three children. She went to bed and was found unconscious in the morning. She was transported to hospital. She never recovered consciousness, but died later in the day with her family around her.

May she and all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Read Full Post »

Vidi Dominum has invited me to be part of a Super-blog-a-thon. The idea is that each person invites 11 people to answer 11 questions, then they each invite 11 new people to answer 11 new questions, and so on. No cosmic consequences; just the chance to have a bit of fun and visit some nice blogs. Thanks, Vidi Dominum.

First the rules (which, so I’m told, are not obligatory).

1.  Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.
2.  They must also answer the 11 questions the “tagger” has set for them.

3.  They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.
4.  They must then choose 11 bloggers and tag them in their post.
5.  These “lucky” bloggers must then be told.
6.  No tag backs.

Eleven things about me. Most of these you’ll know if you’ve been following this blog for a while. 1. I’m an adult convert to Catholicism. 2. I’ve been married for 41 years and admire my husband just this side of idolatry. 3. I’m grandmother to a tribe of children aged between 2yrs and 12 yrs. 4. I enjoy making patchwork. 5. I work as a professional writer. 6. I’m a sucker for dark chocolate – plain or any flavour, but particularly peppermint. 7. My favourite meals include veges and fruit fresh from the garden. 8. I enjoy watching people, the more colorful the better. 9. I hate crowds – I prefer small groups where I can hear what everyone is saying. 10. I’m bothered by very loud music or very strong scents. 11. I’d rather play Scrabble than Monopoly.

Here are my answers to Vidi Dominum’s questions.

  1. What was the last book you read? I read a lot. I’ve just managed to get hold of SM Stirling’s latest Change novel – Lord of Mountains. Before that, I was on a Romance Historical jag –  Mary Balogh, Carola Dunn, Anne Gracie, Eloisa James, and the like. I’m also currently reading ‘The Help’ by Katherine Stockett. I’m about half way through a book on keeping free range chickens while gardening. I’ve made a start on Michael Woods ‘The Story of England’ – great book. I have ‘The complete idiot’s guide to the middle ages’ to pick up when I have a minute (Timothy Hall). I also have James Rickards ‘Currency Wars’, but I haven’t been in the mode for economics, since my daytime job for the last four months has involved rewriting investment statements in simple terms for beginners.
  2. If you could visit one country right now, which would it be? Scotland. My sister has just been and has only good things to say.
  3. If you could be adopted by another culture, which would you feel most at home in? Early 20th Century country New Zealand or Canada, when communities were strong and still church centred, and the rights movements had gained momentum but not lost its way.
  4. How do you pronounce “lieutenant”? Lef + tenant
  5. Do you speak or read any other languages? Not well.
  6. What is your favourite costume you’ve ever worn? I don’t do the favourite thing very well. Picking just one is tough. I liked the eastern queen outfit I wore to a work do a few years back. Shimmer, glitter, and sway is a different look for me.
  7. What is one of your favourite quotations? Knowledge comes. Wisdom lingers.
  8. Favourite flower? Can’t pick one. I love anything with a subtle scent. I tend to avoid strong scents, like lavendar, because they make me sneeze, but I love sweet smelling roses, sweet peas, peaonies.
  9. Do you prefer heat or the cold? The cold – though I don’t mind dry heat. Can’t stand muggy heat, though.
  10. Preferred birthday cake? Banana Chocolate Chip with Lemon Icing. Gluten free, of course.
  11. Do you like muffins? Yes, especially boysenberry or those surprise ones with cream cheese and a strawberry inside, so that you don’t know it’s there till you take a bite. Unless you’re the one that made them.

My 11 questions for the bloggers I’m about to name:

  1. What five books would you take to be marooned on a desert island with?
  2. What’s your favourite board game?
  3. Have you read a children’s picture book so often you can recite it sight unseen cover to cover? If so, which one?
  4. Name one of your favourite music artists.
  5. Describe one of your favourite deserts.
  6. Who invented the pavlova, and in which country?
  7. How is your parish marking the Year of Faith?
  8. Who is your favourite saint?
  9. What Mass (or Masses) do you generally go to at Christmas?
  10. What about Easter?
  11. What’s your favourite devotional practice?

For the fun of it, I haven’t chosen any of the bloggers on my sidebar blog list. All of these are well worth visiting if you haven’t been to see them for a while, but I’m hoping that some of the bloggers I’m tagging for the Blog-a-thon will be new to you:

Australian Catholic Families:  where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Aussie coffee shop: where Therese blogs about her family, her faith, and her life.

Fallible blogma: Matt’s tagline proclaims that he’s in messy pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Aggie Catholics: where two people from St Mary’s Catholic Centre, which serves Texas A&M University and Blinn College, blog about the faith.

Donum Vitae: where another Therese covers a very diverse range of topics.

Catholicanuk: which is about faith and life in Canada from the viewpoint of a happy Catholic.

Grow the roses: which Chelsea says is a place for her to write about her passions – her family, her faith, God, the media, and living sustainably.

McDermott’s Miscellany: where Catholic teacher Ferdi McDermott shares his thoughts on what he’s reading and heaps of other things.

Battlements of rubies: where Clare (self-described as London Irish) talks about her faith, home education, and life.

Eve Tushnet:  because she makes so much sense, and she writes beautifully.

The ironic Catholic: because she makes me laugh.
Now to tag them all.

Read Full Post »

Tolerance – enduring others

I’m intrigued by Anthony Esolen’s definition of tolerance in his article for Crisis Magazine ‘Toleration and Reciprocity‘. Anthony says:

Thomas Aquinas, practical fellow that he was, understood that not all bad things can feasibly be proscribed by human law. It isn’t because people disagree about what is bad, but rather that a well-governed polity should require few laws, easily promulgated and understood, broadly promoting the common good, wherein the lawgiver can attend to things that are obviously within his scope of competence. Custom and the ordinary interchanges between human beings must take care of the rest. Since human beings are wayward—since they suffer the ills of pride, envy, avarice, lust, and the other deadlies—we will always require the modest virtue of tolerance to get through a day without knocking one another about the head.

The root meaning of the word suggests what the virtue involves. The Latin tol- is related to a group of words having to do with carrying a burden: German dulden, to be patient, to endure; Old English tholian, to suffer; Latin tuli, I have borne. When we tolerate we bear with someone or something; we bear the existence of a wrong. We do so because, given the circumstances, to protest would invite a greater wrong. There is a time for public correction, and a time for quiet endurance and, if the opportunity arises, private correction.

I should like to distinguish tolerance from an even more modest virtue, one without a name; it is part civility, part equanimity, part humility. It is sometimes called “pluralism,” but that isn’t quite right. We acknowledge that no one person can ever grasp the whole of the human condition, or the common good in its fullness. We are fallible, first of all; but we are also endowed with a variety of interests and talents. So we welcome a certain freedom of action, within the bounds of common courtesy and the moral law. One man works on cars in his spare time, another plants grapevines, another reads philosophy. It is to our general benefit that this should be so. But in these cases there is nothing really to tolerate. Tolerance properly understood always suggests the bearing of some trouble, or even of moral wrong.

Anthony goes on to say that tolerance requires a civil response from the person whose behaviour is being tolerated – and then gives several examples from sexual morality and one from tax law.

Word meanings are tricky things. Humpty Dumpty’s path (‘When I usea word… it means just what I choose it to mean’) leads to confusion and nonsense. Fossilising the language doesn’t work either. Words change their meaning over time.

What do you mean when you use the word ‘tolerance’? And should it be a two-way street? If I tolerate you living with your lover without benefit of wedlock, should you tolerate me thinking that you’re imprudent, improvident, and possibly foolish?

Read Full Post »

Legislating meaning

While I was off on my long sabbatical, the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in the New Zealand Parliament. It is now with Select Committee; submissions are due on 26 October – in a little over three weeks.

There are a few things I’d like to say about the bill. I want to query the idea that marriage is “a fundamental human right”. I also want to ask what problem is being solved by this piece of legislation, whether the problem needs to be solved, and whether the bill is the most cost-effective solution. I’ll get to those posts in time.

But for now, I’d just like to comment on the precedent that would be set if Parliament is able to change the meaning of an English word – lexicological evolution by legislative fiat.

I’ve heard it said that ‘marriage’ means different things in different cultures. This sounds reasonable on the surface, but falls apart as soon as we look more closely. Of course, other cultures have other practices. But they also have words in their own languages for those practices.

Wikipedia lists a whole heap of alternative arrangements:   same-sex, multiple partners of either or both genders, human-animal, human-ghost (or human-deceased person), and many more.

I’d like you to note that many of these are called ‘[some modifying describer] marriage’. That’s important. Since the word first entered our language in the twelth century,  ‘marriage’ with no modifying  describer means one man and one woman in a legally recognised formal relationship that involves certain rights and duties, including copulation and responsibilities towards any children thereby conceived. So did the precursor word in Old French, and its precursor in Latin.

There have been a lot of words added as modifying describers. Common-law marriage means a relationship that takes its legal status from the opinions of the neighbours rather than exchanged promises in front of a legally-approved witness. Fleet marriage means going through a marriage ceremony in front of a someone who is not a marriage celebrant, in order to deceive the other party. Trial marriage means living together as man and wife in order to see how things work. The very fact that the modifier is needed shows that our culture recognises such relationships as different in fact and in essence from marriage itself.

We’ve seen a number of attempts at social engineering by changing the meaning of words. The words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are today replaced with the cold and neutral ‘caregiver’. The word ‘fat’ is becoming ‘person of size’. I’m happy that ‘firemen’ are ‘firefighters’, and I’ve got over the hijacking of a common three-letter word that used to mean carefree, bright, and showy. But all of these meaning changes happened in the language marketplace – in everyday conversation, in academic and literary works, in mainstream media.

Changing the meaning of words by legislation is a doublespeak scenario from Orwell’s 1984. I want no part of it.


Read Full Post »

I’ve had a number of other commitments – at home and at work – that meant the blog got pushed to the back of the queue for a while. As one crisis resolved another developed.  But the cascading series of  avalanches seems to have rumbled to close. Life is back to its normal busy but manageable, rather than absurdly, impossibly frantic.

I’ve written many blog posts in my imagination over recent months, but none of them have made it into writing. I’ll see how many I can remember, and also pick up on some of the news I’ve missed.

Thank you for the comments and emails that said you missed me. I’m back; let’s have fun.

Read Full Post »

Holiday programme

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »