Blessing for the earthworms

Spent a lot of time over the weekend gardening.  Which involves digging.  Which involves a lot of killing of earthworms who were hanging out in the dirt minding their own business.  And I feel bad about this.

I suppose if I were gardening for subsistence agriculture I would feel slightly less bad–but I’m gardening for pleasure and the joy of digging in the dirt.  I actually enjoy “worm rescue”:  scooping up the fat, healthy escapees and depositing them into “safe” parts of the garden where they don’t have to worry about me–just birds and small mammals.

So for all the worms who meet an untimely end with my shovel–thanks for all you did to make the soil healthy, I appreciate your life and sacrifice, and do mourn you passing.

Grateful to be 50

Today I am 50.

I realize that I’m supposed to be a bit freaked out by that.  Perhaps I’m supposed to try to hide it.  Or sleep through it.  Or be coy and say “the 21st anniversary of my 29th birthday.”  Usually I don’t mention my age at all.

You might be surprised to know that my most overwhelming feeling is:  Relief.

I made it.  I’ve been concerned about reaching my 50th birthday since I was 23.  That’s when my dad had his heart attack at age 49.  That’s when I officially became “high risk.”  That means I had a higher that average possibility of also having a heart attack before age 50.  I took that very seriously:  kept an eye on my blood pressure and cholesterol.  Tried to be conscious of what I ate (even I was conscious of eating something bad for me, I at least thought about it before shoving it in my mouth).  Have made exercise more a part of my life in most years than not.

Aside from a few teeth, my tonsils and my adenoids, I arrived at this day reasonably intact.  I realize that I should probably not mention that–it’s like jinxing a perfect game or at least a winning game (yeah, I just learned the hard way about that again on Saturday night when I watched Ohio State lose in the Final Four).  But I’m doing pretty well, all things considered:  my husband is wonderful, I have a fulfilling career, most of my family is still around, and I’ve gotten to see more of the world than I ever imagined.

So today, I am relieved and grateful to be 50.

This does not mean that I am out of the woods and am now prepared for disaster.  Far from it.  I plan to continue to continue to be around for another 51 years.  Why that odd number?  Well, according to Star Trek lore, first contact with another species will take place on my 101st birthday, and I plan on being around for it.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, “That’s fiction.”  But it seems like a good excuse to me.  What’s your excuse?

Rally to “restore sanity”?

So was this a sane idea? I posed that question over pasta after the rally.

I attended the rally with my husband, John, and his daughter, Ann, who lives right outside DC. We started planning this trip over a month before the rally was announced, to support Ann who is running in her first marathon on Sunday. Talk about a question of sanity–running 26.2 miles. Uh, no, not sane. But I digress. Once the rally was announced, we knew we had to be there. It was so considerate of John Stewart and Stephen Colbert to provide us with free entertainment on Saturday.

So, back to the sanity issue. Ann chimed in, “No, it was not sane for that many people (a quarter-million maybe, who knows–we can safely say “a lot of people”) to gather in one place. Especially for that many people to gather to see a couple of entertainers.” If that’s all it was, she’s probably right. Continue reading

Katrina +5: a dispatch from New Orleans

I knew that I would have a lot of free time on my hands during my 5 days in New Orleans (my husband, John, and his team made the bridge Grand Nationals, and the games run from 1 PM to 11 PM daily).  So I decided to find an organization to volunteer with while in town.  Many people and groups are still doing recovery work and the city still needs a lot of help.  There are hundreds of houses still in post-Katrina condition.  Then there are the houses that were restored and now need to be gutted and rehabbed all over again.  That’s the kind of project to which I was assigned.

Back in May, I began searching for a volunteer organization that could use me for a couple of days.  I found a website called “HandsOn New Orleans” that coordinates with a number of local organizations.  Through that site, I found Beacon of Hope, a local group that has a number of restoration projects going in different parts of town, including the Ninth Ward, Gentilly, and St. Bernard. Continue reading

“Exceptionally serious crimes”: pedophilia and the ordination of women

The Latin phrase “graviora delicta” translates into English as “exceptionally serious crimes.”  On Thursday, July 15, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican council that Pope Benedict XVI headed while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued Modifications Made In The Normae De Gravioribus Delictis. I have been trying, without much success, to wrap my brain around it.

The main emphasis of the document is the revision of Church procedure and policy on the treatment of pedophile priests, an issue that just will not go away or show signs of improving.  The statute of limitations has been doubled, to 20 years from 10.  Also, the priest can be defrocked without a Church trial.  On the other hand, the document does not mandate the criminal prosecution of pedophiles or the punishment of bishops who cover up the crimes.

The document added pedophilia (or, in the words of the Church, “the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years” (the Catholic version of the Sixth Commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery”), in 2001, to other serious crimes, such as apostasy, heresy, and profaning the Eucharist.

Oh, and ordaining women.

That’s where I’m having some difficulty with the brain-yoga.  I’ve got a couple of possible explanations, and lots of questions, none of which are comforting or particularly satisfying. Continue reading

Cleveland: farm team to the world

Well, the “suspense” is over.  LeBron is joining the international party circuit in Miami.

I, for one, am glad it’s over.  I’m not glad LeBron’s leaving, but the hoopla was getting to be a bit much.

For those of you not in Cleveland, you may have missed the Cleveland Orchestra concert on Public Square last Thursday, July 1.  The evening is always capped by fireworks.  Terminal Tower is lighted appropriately.  This year, lighted windows spelling “HOME” became part of the “Keep LeBron” circus.

There was an article sometime within the past month or so (since we lost the playoffs) that made the point that Cleveland just wouldn’t be the same if we won a championship.

Maybe not, but I’d like to find out. Continue reading