Saturday, December 31, 2005


May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May He let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you,
May the Lord look upon you with kindness, and grant you His peace.

A very insightful and extensive history of this prayer can be found at www.lesserweevil.blogspot

And as Jose Feliciano would say....Prospero Ano y Felicidad 2006


The phenomena of "tagging" has put me in the Blogoshpere game full force.
Moneybags at "A Catholic Life" has put me in the crazy position of having to tell people I do not know 5 weird habits about myself. I usually reserve this for the confessional, so you won't get the full story.
However, good sport that I am, here are.........


1. I love to nap...anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour to several hours. It has always been one of my singular talents, and I find out from scientific inquiry that it is a very healthful and therapeutic endeavor. So there!
2. All my socks have logos. Adidas and Nike....with the white mostly the three stripe variety, and the black sporting the swoosh. As a sidebar to this, I usually wear t-shirts with writing and pictures on them under dress shirts, but I am a teacher, and we can get away with almost anything in the dress code arena.
3. To fall asleep, I need to have the down comforter over my head. Maybe not so good for the oxygen levels, but it feels "oh, so comfy".
4. I cut my own hair. Using a clipper bought in 1980 and the No. 3 and 4 attachment, I do a pretty good job, save upwards of $15, and am able to avoid the annoying chit-chat about "well, what do you you have any kids...and how about those Rams, Cards, Blues (pick one)."
Still, I am psychotically considering letting my follically impaired dome go to seed, with the result being a ponytail, or looking like Doc Brown from "Back to the Future." Call it a cheap guys mid-life crisis.....Unfortunately, the fuzz never grows long, but rather "out". We shall see what sprouts.
5. I exercise in the basement, no, not on an elliptical or stationary bike or treadmill or Nautilus, but simply by walking around in a tight circle, past the steps, aroung the ironing board and occasionlly switching the laundry....efficient, no gym fees, listen to any music I want, climate controlled...and I lost the ten pounds my doc told me to drop to lower my BP to acceptable levels without pharmacological intervention....(I do get outside when the weatherman says "it's going to be up to 40 today...)

There you have it. Rule is to pass this on to five others. So you guys are "it"....
angelmeg at Transcendental Musings...Anvilcloud at Raindrops....Paul at Thoughts of a Regular Guy...Patry at Simply Wait...and last but certainly not least...Non Sum Dignus at The Lair of the Catholic Caveman.
Have fun!


Roughly translated from the Latin into the current vernacular as "My Bad", I must, in the interest of full disclosure and the pursuit of truth, justice and the American way, acknowledge that I decided to take a long winters nap before the end of the first quarter after the Tigers fell behind 21-nil.
We were headed to a birthday party Saturday night, and I need my 5:30 when my one and only popped open the door and said "Hey...Rip (her pet name for he who naps like in a coma)....guess what, Mizzou tied the game." Well, you can imagine that I thought I was dreaming, but, no, the drool on the pillow was real, and the Boys in Black and Gold had miraculously done just what my bride had said.
Call me a fair weather fan, or just a guy who needs napping (see June archives), but I had pretty much taken the same tack back in the fall (see October archives) when I couldn't bear to see my beloved Redbirds fall to the despised team from Texas with the misshapen ball park. I turned off that game, and was resigned to the fact that the season ended, until my Chicago daughter called to bring me back to the reality of "Albert the Great" Pujols.
So Coach Gary Pinkel gets to keep his job, and enter the new year wondering just what the heck he is going to do without the Amazing Brad Smith.
Maybe I should fall asleep during the next Rams game?
This could be a karma thing.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Call me a "homer" if you will, (and I don't mean Simpson), but I will be pulling for Mizzou in their bowl game today. Yeah, you can say they didn't deserve a bowl game, and compared to USC and Notre Dame and Texas, that tis true. Still, post-season is post-season.
And there just hasn't been a whole heck of a lot to get excited sports-wise in my hometown this winter. The Rams are a soap opera; the carpet-bagging owners of the Cardinals are cheaping out on player acquisition, despite rolling in greenbacks after selling everything not nailed down from the old Busch Stadium, from napkin holders to vials of infield dirt, to the urinal used by the hometeam (bought by an enterprising urologist, no less); and the Blues are fighting to be the worst team in NHL history, certainly in Blues history.
So yeah, Go Tigers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


The week between Christmas and New Years always seems to bring out the retrospective pieces in newspapers and television, like who died this past year or what major events occurred to shape the days passed. These are all well and good, for they show us where we have been and give us pause to reflect upon the worth of our time spent. But as I head into my 58th year, dragging the “middle-aged” label behind me, with the “senior” signpost coming into not-so-distant-view, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.
And with those thoughts, come thoughts of love.
Love is a verb, and a noun. It is action, and substance. It can be created and nurtured, and lost. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. Like the time you were running into the store, scanning the parking lot for the wayward car, and your outstretched hand is grasped by that eager little mitt. Or the excitement when she walks in the door, and smiles.
Love has been the focus of many a story and song. The masters have given it some great treatment. Guys like Shakespeare and O. Henry. And fellow travelers like St. Paul. Old Billy S. gave us timeless tales of young love. Juliet and her main squeeze Romeo had it bad. And in “The Gift of the Magi”, when O. Henry has his newlyweds sell their most prized possessions in the whole world to turn into a gift for the other….well, call me a wimp, if you will. But I can never read it without that old lump coming up in the throat, as Jim tells Dell he has “sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs.”
Speaking of lumps, another one always shows up when Harry Bailey comes, in covered with snow, and raises the cup of cheer “in a toast to my big brother, George… The richest man in town.”
Brotherly love, romantic love, love of country. Love of a son for his parents.
That one has been forefront of late, with my moms latest run with illness and hospitalization. I guess it’s true that you don’t know how much you love someone until you think you may lose them. The anxiety and pain is so clear and present.
Love has been misused and abused, however
“Gee, hon, I just love that new kitchen set.” Or “try the calamari, you’ll just love it.” (Yeah, till you find out it’s SQUID!). Or “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” How lame was that one?
We know a Franciscan priest who calls Jesus on the crucifix his “Boss on the Cross”, and says “now, that’s what I call love” when he holds it up for a blessing.
The Beatles said “all you need is love. But they also said “you know, it don’t come easy.”
And both are true, as anyone who has been well-wed for a couple of decades can attest to.
Maybe the best words on the subject are those that you hear at weddings. What better time to put good old St. Paul’s lines to work.
As man and woman join to one, we hear “love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs; it is not snobbish.” He continues that “there is no limit to loves forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.”
For those of you who have more than one child, didn’t you wonder how you could love a second as much as your first? That love, it just multiplies, doesn’t it?
Paul finishes with a fine flourish.
“There are in the end three things that last. Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
Peace….and love…to you all in the New Year.

(as printed in the December 28 Suburban Journal, St. Louis, MO)


I just learned how to set up there they are on the right side...some very nice writers among check them out, if you would be so kind.
(even this old dog can learn a new trick or two)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Something I had printed in the Suburban Journals of St. Louis last week....Things are going to be going pretty fast these next few if I don't get back here before the 25th....MERRY CHRISTMAS AND JOYEUX NOEL AND !FELIZ NAVIDAD Y PROSPERO ANO Y FELICIDAD!….


Couple days before Christmas
And all through this place
We are anxiously laboring
To finish the race.
The hours of roof-time had not been in vain,
I managed to finish, in spite of the pain.
Those lights were all working, much to my surprise,
I plugged in the last strand and opened my eyes
To see the old homestead go bright in the dark.
I sure didn’t want to be like old buddy Clark.
You know, that guy who strung lights to get ready,
Only to suffer his “dear Cousin Eddie”….
That film is a classic, a holiday fave,
But let me continue with this Yuletide rave.
Kids stockings are hung by our chimney, it’s true…
With increasing grandkids, we’ve got quite a few.
There’s three scattered ‘round, with one more on the way,
And one, who calls home Californ-I-A,
Who’ll experience Christmas with sunshine and sand…
Oh, how I’d love to hold her little hand.
(Still lots to be done, can’t be melancholy,
Gotta deck all them halls with them big boughs of holly.)
But last night I lay sleeping and heard a loud crash,
Could that be a raccoon upsetting the trash?
I glanced at the missus, and she was a-sleeping,
So on down to the hallway window I went peeping.
You could scarcely believe what I saw as I viewed…
“What the heck?” muttered I. “You must be trippin’, dude!”
For out on that lawn in a Mustang bright red
Was an old guy with whiskers and a big old bald head.
He wore a red sweat suit and black hi-top “Chucks”,
And he looked like some weirdo out getting his yucks.
He said not a word, but popped open the trunk,
And the light of the moon, it showed all sorts of junk.
I had to check out what this old guy was into
So up went the blinds as I yanked up the window.
“Hey you, down there, on the yard with the stuff…
Don’t make me come down there…don’t make me get rough!”
The fellow just grinned as he turned up my way,
“Take a chill pill, there, grampa, and do not dismay.
Why, I’m just the man that you need in a pinch.
I’ll fill up your family room….every dang inch.
But I’m too old for chimneys, and it’s too late for playin’,
So give me a hand, here…You hear what I’m sayin’?”
You can guess I was dazed at the sight of this gent,
But downstairs I stumbled, and outdoors I went.
He loaded us up with huge piles of great stuff
Like toys, gifts and clothing…his game was no bluff.
He handled the big things, which was all right with me,
Already the cold was affecting my knee.
When at last as the trunk was just emptied all out,
He gave me a wink, and he let out a shout….
“Woooohoooo!” said the guy as he rose like a star,
And when he was gone…..
He had left me his car!
My best Christmas ever? Not really; no way.
Our best was our first born one past Christmas Day.
But, guess what, this here one was pretty dang fine.
Didn’t cost me no nickel, didn’t cost me one dime.
So if you see me gunnin’ that ‘Twang” through the streets,
With as many can fit in the white leather seats,
You can hear me exclaim as I roll down the way
“Happy Christmas To All…I’ll be back New Years Day!”

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Or is it? Tons of folks are in a state of near paralysis as they try to finish the shopping and wrapping and baking and cleaning and...and...and whatever else it takes to get ready for Christmas. I really have no real idea what it feels like, since, being a guy, all I have to ever do is show up when told. And that is how I like it. Still, I "angst" a bit as I see my poor wife try to get it all together. So I wrap (poorly), if asked; make the run for tape and sprinkles, know, stuff I can handle.
Is it all worth it?
The answer is an unqualified "yes!"
Being one of those Catholic-type Christians, I find that the outward signs of the season help me remember what this time should be about. The lights, for "The Light of the World"....the greenery, for new life.....the Advent wreath, one candle for each, to remind us of the Perfect Gift.....all the externals that prompt internal focus.
Take it easy this week, however. Save something for next weekend.
However. if you must, I wear a medium shirt, and can always use socks.

Friday, December 16, 2005


There is a Franciscan priest who visits hospitals in the St. Louis area by the name of Father Didacus Dunn. He wears the same jacket every day, sporting a blue longshoreman-type knit hat. His habit is the brown, hooded frock of the Franciscans. He visited my mom recently, and gave her the Sacrament of the Sick, blessing her with a few prayers.
When asked what he has been doing lately, his answer is always the same....
"My boss keeps me busy....." He is referring to God. He calls Jesus the "Boss on the Cross." Needless to say, he is one of the characters that make like so interesting. One of the most remarkable things about him is that he has an ailment of the spine that causes his neck to almost come out at a right angle to his shoulders.
But this doesn't slow him down.
His Boss keeps him busy, and safe.
He is a blessing to all he touches.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This old world has given us at least two reasons to celebrate today.
In a far away country, one said to be where the Garden of Eden was located, millions of embattled people tasted what it means to be free. Iraqis voted in national elections, amidst very little reported violence. A miracle, some may say.
And, on a much smaller but no less valuable scale, in New York, we saw on the news that a tiny baby was amazingly tossed three stories down by its mother from a burning building and caught by a very sure-handed public servant.
Child, and mother are doing just fine, thank you.
Rejoice, for a child is alive, and so is the spirit of democracy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


This is an example of my column in the weekly paper. A bit longer than usual.

“Wait a second” I had been known to say to one of my offspring in an earlier day, especially when I was trying to tie a shoe on a constantly moving foot, or pull a diaper tight on Mr. Wiggly Butt there on the bed. Unfortunately, a second was about all they could manage. For life was just too full of other interesting things to do than wait.
It doesn’t really get any better as we get older. We live in a hurry-up world, trying to pack an inordinate amount of activity into our waking hours, but still seem to get caught in the “wait zone” more often than not. Wait for that light to change, the nurse to call your name after sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like days, for the end of the work day. How about waiting for Santa, counting the days until vacation, or the seemingly interminable 9 months for little Arnold or Adelaide to decide to find their way into the light? Yeah, we do a lot of biding the old time. Why, Wilson Pickett even had to “wait for the midnight hour.” I guess that’s when he got off work, or something.
Are you a good waiter? Can you handle traffic, slow service, long lines? Patience is that one virtue that I am not genetically wired for. I guess I get it from my dear old dad, who knew every short cut known to modern man, and would drive 6 blocks in three different directions, violating most road ordinances, to avoid a main street and “that damn traffic”.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my mom gave me vitamins when I was a squirmy second grader, to the complete horror of my teacher Miss Murphy. It is a good thing there were no hot lines then, otherwise mommy would have had a visit from “the worker.”
Of course, us non-patient sorts always seem to get into situations that put us to the test. I am the guy who should wear a sign on my back in a store: “Standing behind me in line may be hazardous to your health.” I always seem to que up behind the lady who has managed to pick up the only pair of jeans in North America without a tag.
“Price check in Women’s Wear,” says the hapless clerk, to the department where everyone has just gone on break.
“Hey, I’ll just leave some cash on the counter, Ok, and you can keep the change,” I’d like to say, but of course, I seldom have that much cash. So I just try to close my eyes and imagine I am in a canoe on an ice-blue lake, miles from civilization. You know, like the self-help books say to do………
It never works.
The worst wait for me is always at the auto license bureau. Even if there are only a few folks ahead of me, I always worry that I have forgotten that one piece of paper that will require me to look like an idiot when I get up to the counter, and have to go back home to retrieve. It’s like that bad dream where you have forgotten to study for that big test, or are standing in the street in your underwear. It has only happened to me once (no, NOT standing in the street in my underwear….forgetting my paperwork!) but that is enough to raise the stress level every time I have to renew the tags. I bet the people at those offices keep a secret tally in the break room, maybe even getting bonuses for every moron whom they get to send away with the words “I’m sorry, sir, you have last year’s personal property tax receipt,” right before they break out into uncontrollable laughter.
So maybe that’s not the worst wait you can think of. Fretting out a surgery for a loved one or bad news from the accountant can be a lot more troublesome. But any way you skin it, waiting is just no fun
Maybe I’ll bide my time from now on, waiting for the promise of a new day.
Now that sounds like something worth waiting for.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


The unique position that people of my age are in was never so apparent as in the events of the past 10 days. Last weekend, my father-in-law fell and needed us to help him out. He lives alone since his wife passed away three years ago. He has been in steady decline. The in-laws and my wife are great with the concern and care. But there is always the worry.
This week, my mom had a heart attack and needed stents. At 84, she is also in decline, and may have had some small strokes that are effecting her memory for words.
And so it goes.
This is what is meant by the "sandwich generation". I have a college kid and a freshman in high school to still raise... although the older feels she is raised, and, pretty much, she is right...she has grown to be a beautiful and independent young woman. So we have it on both ends of the life pole, not to mention the ever-increasing category of "grandchildren."
The Native Americans see life as a circle, with begining and end meeting at the same place. During that journey, we are at various places on that circle.
Something that a priest friend of ours said today brings to mind that the spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is never truer than when it applies to the end of that circle. Old Elijah is coming on that fiery chariot, and we are all waiting for our ride, "comin' for to carry me home."
For our parents, that chariot, she is a-comin'.
It is up to us to us to help them prepare for that last ride home.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I mentioned at work that today was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the word "feast" hit me square in the brain. Catholics let this term roll off their tongues without even thinking about. But feast it is, in every sense of the word....
Consider Mary. A poor Jewish girl, no real wealth, but from the House of David lineage. Still, a lot of others were also from this background. But she is considered holy and venerable because she was the vessel within which God placed his son.
So she had to be someone fairly special, don't you think?
I know a lot of religions think that Catholics are idolators, worshipping saints and statues and Mary. In reality, these are just more ways to pray.
So enjoy the feast of Mary this day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Well, we finally did it.
Ever since our first three-foot tree in our first apartment (the one that Jill's brothers all laughed at because they always tried to get the Rockefeller Plaza trees twin into their small North County bungalow), we've had a real live, honest-to-tradition Christmas tree. And we have been proud of it, too. But after last years experience of the loss of multiple ornaments and tangled lights and a need to nail the dang bush into the baseboards with fishing wire.....for the second season in a row....well, we said last January that it was time to go the...the, uh...the artificial route. ( There....I said it.) Our oldest son said he was sorely disappointed in us, and that he wasn't coming home for Christmas this year. Well, he was only half kidding, because he can't come home anyway, due to work. But the message was clear.
We were "selling out."
Still, we made a couple of visits to the local family-owned hardware store display at the Otto's Handyman-True Value, and amidst some sadness for bygone days, made the move to the practical.
"It's gonna be fine," said I, to my sad wifey, as we walked to the car. "I'm so sorry," said she, to the collection of forlorn little trees out on the lot.
Charlie Brown and Linus would not be proud of me.
But as I contemplate the idea of a non-shedding, non-flammable, and best of all, non-falling-to the-floor-crashing-in-the-middle-of-the-night disaster area in the family room....well, let's just say that this idea may not be as bad as it first seemed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


In the midst of scenes of bargain hunters trampling over people to get the best deal, it came to mind while sitting in Mass today that the best deal was offered by the guy on the cross over to my right. Didn't cost me a thing, ready and waiting for the asking....I'm talking about salvation, brothers and sisters.
I take it for granted, but it is there for the taking. All I have to do is say "Yes" to the Lord....and then live my life accordingly.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


The term "Baby Boomer" has really received some play in past years. Now a lot of us are pushing the retirement envelope, having grandkids, waking up aching, looking for medical support, having parents become ill and pass away....the whole thing. Unfortunately, all this causes us to become self-focused to a large degree, just at a time when we should be stepping out of own little worlds to support our kids and our spouses and our community and churches.
Instead, we are fretting about that 401K, trying yoga and alternative therapies, hoping we can get that slice fixed before the next golf season kicks in. And while these aren't bad things, becuase we should be concerned about finances and health and recreation, we really should watch out that it doesn't overtake our life. I have fallen into this hole, and I need to crawl out.
My darling wife has pulled me up short on this lately. (Don't know what I would do without her...)
She tells me to "just get back to living...."
Great advice for us all.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Tonight our second oldest, Kate, brought over an ornament for us with five little elves on it, but the fifth one had no name on its hat.....this was her very cute way of telling us that she was pregnant with her second child, and our fifth grandchild. Suffice it to say, we were thrilled. Our kids continue to affirm their faith in the future, and in His plan for us early Christmas present, if you will.
God bless us, everyone.