Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
September 29th, 2008


The following was published as LOVE AND PUNISH in Marriage: The Magazine of Catholic Family Living in September, 1962, and later re-published as a Marriage Pamphlet titled  Discipline–with Love. Human nature has not changed much in the interim.


Should children be punished?  Why?  When?  How?  One mother, when invited to attend a lecture by a child guidance expert commented:  “I don’t need any lecture.  My kids toe the line or they get the strap.”

Another mother retrieved her two-year-old from the middle of the street and, setting him down on the curb, gave him a smart whack on his well-padded rear.  The child cried for only a minute but the mother’s whole day was ruined.  “I shouldn’t have hit him,” she fretted.  “It’s a terrible thing to strike a child.”

These two women have radically different ideas about discipline.  One considers corporal punishment a cure-all, another considers it an abomination.  One spanks often, confident she is right; another seldom, and then guiltily.  Is there a happy medium?  What have the experts to say? Read the rest of this entry »

September 26th, 2008


When I have nothing else to think about I ponder the inner life of plants.  Back in August I wrote about my petunias and promised an update.  They finally petered out in mid-September and, to celebrate the autumnal equinox, I uprooted them but left them lying there, hoping the dropped seeds would result in  many baby petunias in the spring.  The petunias next door were also finished but I’ve been wondering  why the petunias a few blocks away at my church are still in full bloom.  Were they started later?   Are they a different, late-blooming petunia?

Now, I know there are some tulips that are early blooming and others are later-in-the-spring blooming.  I know that the flowers on the hostas in my yard are already bedraggled when the hostas right next door are in their prime.  This happens every year.  And it’s not just a difference of a few days; it must be about a month.  They obviously have a different inner time clock.  They are still blooming as I write this.   Mine bloom first.  Louis’ bloom later.  That’s just the way it is.

As I also mentioned in August I planted some petunia seeds at the very end of July and I am pleased to report that now, almost two months later, I have fine healthy petunia plants, about six inches tall, that might possibly be thinking about  budding.  What is the problem?  If it were spring they would have budded at a much smaller size.  Do they know that frost (coming soon) is not good for petunia flowers?

Just to experiment on petunias as an indoor house plant I potted some and put them on a window sill.  Will they oblige and bloom in winter or are they going to say, “Silly woman.  Just who do you think you are to try to re-arrange our inner workings?”  Even with plants we have that old nature vs. nurture dilemma.  Just how much can you override their DNA programming?

While I’m talking about plants, there are still some green tomatoes in the garden but they are just about done.  I’ve never had such a bountiful tomato harvest in my life!  The freezer is full and I’ve given many away.    For those who are interested, I just throw them into a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer whole.  When I want to use them I put the frozen tomatoes under the warm water faucet and slip their skins off, then do with them what I will.  I tell myself tomato seeds are probably full of nutrients.  I will not buy a tomato all winter, and probably not until I grow my own next year.

The potatoes are not yet ready to be harvested.  The flat leaf parsley will be happy until December.  That will be the end of my garden for 2008.  Already I look forward to spring!


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted… Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

September 23rd, 2008


I scraped the remnants of my banana bread from the bottom of the loaf pan and tossed the crumbs out in the yard for the birds – or ants – or whatever small creature of God might find them tasty.  I consider it a kind of recycling, letting nothing go to waste.  One of my many memories of my mother is that she used to throw the old hard crusts of bread out into the yard for the birds.  And I wondered if, perhaps, that’s where the phrase “for the birds,” meaning “something  of no value”, originated.

On to my computer, looking up idioms.  The first site gave the example: “I think it’s for the birds — it won’t work.”  The suggested etymology was based on the idea that birds eat seed, which is not worth much.

A second site gave the example: “They left during an intermission because it was for the birds” which meant it was “totally uninteresting and meaningless.” Read the rest of this entry »

September 20th, 2008


It’s not hard to figure out why the percentages of men and women in favor of abortion are about equal, even though men can’t get pregnant. Oddly enough, men imagine that the availability of abortion will free them from having to take responsibility for the consequences of their sexual activity. They are in favor of both contraception and abortion because they give them carte blanche to fool around, pay the piper, and fool around some more. When the girlfriend becomes pregnant and they come across with the abortion money they are off the hook. They think if they can forget the fact that a baby was present, the woman should be able to likewise forget it. Then they both can go forward happily, unencumbered.

But there is another scenario. Contraception fails, as so often happens, and the woman gets pregnant. She figures a baby would interfere with her schooling, her career, her emotional or financial well-being, so she will abort the child. In this scenario, however, the man is actually glad to learn that he has sired a child. He has a sense of accomplishment and even attachment to the wee one. But in spite of the fact that he is the father and would happily step up to the plate, he has no say in the matter. Even if he is married to the woman, he does not have a legal leg to stand on. She can kill his child while he stands by helplessly. Read the rest of this entry »

September 18th, 2008


I just flipped on the 700 Club in mid-program this morning and there was an ex-convict giving his testimony.  I don’t know his crime but it seems that at a low point he decided to follow Jesus and found happiness even while in prison.   After five years of incarceration he was released and it was his prayer for a wife that moved me to put up this plug for the 700 Club.  What he prayed was, “Lord, find me a wild girl gone good!”   What a cool prayer!

Well, he found his girl, and now they have children, and now he is a barber and life is going much better.

It seems I have been watching Pat Robertson (and later his son, Gordon) on the 700 Club for ages.  I remember in 1980 thinking Pat should run for president, and praying for him in 1988 when he actually sought the Republican nomination.

The 700 Club has national and international news coverage that you won’t find anywhere else, as well as story after story of the difference God has made in the lives of both famous people and regular folks.  It is now only a few days after hurricane Ike ravaged the Texas and Louisiana coasts and already Operation Blessing, funded by members of the 700 Club, is down there with their huge trucks and volunteers helping out in many ways.  They did this immediately after Katrina hit New Orleans,  after the tsunami in  Sri Lanka, after the Myanmar typhoon, etc., etc.

For what it’s worth  I, as a Catholic,  recommend the 700 Club.  I get it twice a day on DirecTV on Channel 311 (ABCF) in the morning and Channel 372 (TBN) in the afternoon.  Enjoy.

(I really should mention EWTN which I get 24/7 and also enjoy!)


Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.  Isaiah 55:6

September 16th, 2008


In these days, can you imagine that one kindergarten teacher could not only keep sixty five-year-old children under control but actually teach them something? Things were different fifty years ago. Catholic schools typically had larger classes than the public schools.   Undoubtedly  Catholic school budgets were less than those of public schools and it is a safe bet that the Sisters who taught in them did not have comparable salaries to public school teachers.  They had to do the best they could with what they had.

I offer the following which was published in The Family Digest in 1955 for its historical interest and also for some ideas about religious education for families with small children. Proverbs 22:6 says: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Some might call that “indoctrination” or “brain-washing.”   Whatever.    I can’t say it has worked in my household.

To my knowledge my children have not read this tale from the past and it might bring back memories.


“Why spend money to send her to a Catholic kindergarten when she can go to a public school free?  It isn’t Read the rest of this entry »

September 13th, 2008


The cat is out of the bag!  Of all the bad things the dirt diggers could have found out about Sarah Palin, they’ve found the worst!  Not that she once smoked marijuana!  Not that she was probably pregnant when she married!  Not that she has a tattoo on her ankle (of the Big Dipper).  No, the worst thing that they have found out is that she might really be a serious Christian! And a Pentecostal Christian, at that!

A recent Associated Press investigative report was headlined:   “Pentecostalism Obscured in Palin Biography.”  It further read:   “Sarah Palin often identifies herself simply as Christian. Yet John McCain’s running mate has deep roots in Pentecostalism, a spirit-filled Christian tradition that is one of the fastest growing in the world.”  A CNN “expose” said that Palin wanted to hide her Pentecostal roots.

Again, CNN, just a few days ago, said that Palin was against embryonic stem cell research and wanted to censor books in the library.  It seemed they did not know if she was against all stem cell research or what books she wanted to censor and why.

Among the really “way out” things written about her is that she told the Anchorage Daily News two years ago that:

God made dinosaurs 4,000 years ago as ultimately flawed creatures, lizards of Satan really, so when they died and became petroleum products we, made in his perfect image, could use them in our pickup trucks, snow machines and fishing boats.

To their credit, CNN also presented the author of this lie who admitted he simply made it up. How sick is that?

Sarah Palin has been a member of the Assembly of God church in Wasilla and has worshipped at an Assembly of God church in Juneau.  The A of G is a Pentecostal denomination that believes in God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, heaven, hell, good and evil, most of the Christian basics.  They teach that you have to turn away from sin and decide to follow Jesus – to be “born again.”

In addition, Pentecostals believe in a further infilling of the Holy Spirit such as the disciples in the upper room received on Pentecost (hence their name). At that time the weak, frightened Christians whose leader had been crucified received “power from on high” which made them bolder, braver, and more effective in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  This infilling is called the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and may be accompanied by various spiritual gifts (or charisms) as outlined in I Corinthians 12:8-11:

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

I expect that I shall write a future post about the baptism in the Holy Spirit but for the time being it is enough to say that there are various Pentecostal churches as well as many mainline denominations, including Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Catholics, that harbor large numbers of Pentecostals or Charismatics. For more information on Catholic charismatics see the Catholic Charismatic Center or the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Charismatic Renewal.
Republican spokeswoman Maria Comella says that Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself a Pentecostal. Her current church is Bible-believing and non-denominational. We do not know how important her Pentecostal background is to her spirituality. We do know she has been called a wacko fundamentalist who wants to teach creationism in schools, thinks that homosexuality can be treated, considers abortion wrong even for rape and incest, and is against gay marriage.

I look forward to the Sarah Palin/Joe Biden debate scheduled for October 2.  Is it not odd that what Palin believes about embryonic stem cell research,  homosexuality, marriage, and abortion are exactly what Joe Biden would believe if he actually were what he claims to be, a Catholic? Joe Biden recently said  “I assume she (Palin) thinks and agrees with the same [pro-life] policies that George Bush and John McCain think,” Biden added. “And that’s obviously a backward step for women.”

I think it is time for both the real Sarah Palin and the real Joe Biden to stand up!  Which candidate for vice-president not only talks the talk, but walks the walk?  Stay tuned on October 2.

September 11th, 2008


This video has no need of additional words from the likes of me.

September 9th, 2008


A fellow blogger (Grandmas’s Musings) who recently celebrated her 80th birthday was kind enough to write me and states that she thinks blogging is what God has for me to do at this advanced age.   As I’ve said before, blogging never entered my mind until my son offered to set up a blogsite for me so I could put up some of my writings.  Well, the rest is history.  I have oodles of old stuff that isn’t up yet, and a head full of new stuff to write.  It has gotten so I’m afraid I might die before I get all of it written!

But not to fear.  I will have exactly the right amount done when I kick off (or as friend Jon says, “get promoted”).

Anyone who looks at my blog will recognize that I didn’t have a clue as to what a blog should look like when I started because I did not roam the blogosphere.  Perhaps it looks a little staid but I’ll call it “gravitas” and let it be.  Now that I do get around a bit on the net I have read some heartwarming stories and find people that I am loving from afar and praying for.  All of you folks out there, please pray for me that I make good sense.

And for those of you who don’t think I make good sense, comments are appreciated.  Who knows, I might learn something!   I think it’s still possible.

September 8th, 2008


When my daughter Peggy was killed fifteen years ago there was a mimosa tree in her yard.  We thought it was beautiful, with its delicate branches, lacy leaves, stunning pink flowers, and daughter Mary decided she wanted to plant a baby mimosa in memory of Peggy.  She found them a little hard to transplant since they had only one long taproot but eventually got a couple of them going and one found a home in my back yard.

Our tree was coming along nicely, having weathered a winter or two.  Mimosas leaf out so late in the spring that you wonder if they are still alive, but eventually leaves and blooms appeared and we were happy it was thriving in our sometimes harsh climate.

Well, the little fella must have been about 8-10 feet tall when my sons next door decided we needed to have our driveway paved.   And the next thing you know they are telling me they had to dig up my mimosa because it was in the way!  And the next thing you know, daughter-in-law Martha was on the phone to her husband at work, telling  him, “Your Mom won’t let them dig up her tree!”  And then son Dan was on the phone telling me they will dig a deep hole and replant it wherever I want it, but it has to move.  I’m afraid it will die in the process so I stay in the house crying while they go about their skullduggery.

The tree was duly moved and Martha went out and bought root toner and something to spray on the leaves to increase its chance of living. (I knew she felt my pain!)  We watched and watered (though mimosas seldom need watering) and indeed it took hold and once more thrived again.  It is truly more beautiful now than ever, graceful and tall (over our two-story housetop!)   Mimosas are said to be fast-growing and short-lived.

Well, thinking I’d write a bit about how lovely it is, I went online to study mimosa trees.   There I find mimosas right smack in the middle of the list of the ten least desirable trees–trees you should think long and hard before planting in your yard.

U.S. Forest Service in Fact Sheet ST68 says about the mimosa:    “At one time considered a choice small flowering tree, it is questionable in today’s landscapes because of its disease susceptibility.”  According to the U.S. National Park Service, “its major negative impact is its improper occurrence in historically accurate landscapes.”   It competes with native trees.  The wood is said to be brittle, breaking easily in storms, though the branches are too lightweight to do much damage.

On the positive side, mimosas are said to be handsome with beautiful silk-like flowers.  They are tolerant of drought and alkaline soils.

There is a whole site answering the question:  Are Mimosa Trees Really That Bad? Here are a few quotes from that site:

I’m just really curious about this tree as I love the looks and smell but a little scared to give it a try.

And for those of us who love the hummingbirds, there is hardly a tree around that will draw them better than a Mimosa.

If someone gave me the power to eradicate a single species in North America…I’d take out kudzu. But if they gave me TWO species…okay, Japanese stiltgrass.  But  mimosa’d be third.  Definitely.

Besides their invasiveness–which is the highest level in almost every Southern state–they are disease-prone, weak-wooded, short-lived, and messy to boot… And I personally don’t believe they’re as fragrant or attractive to hummingbirds as they’re billed. So do yourself, your neighbors, and the native plants a favor, and don’t plant this menace!!

They talk much about mimosa seedlings – they call them “volunteers” – springing up all over the place.  I can vouch for that.  Nowadays we find a number of mimosa seedlings in our yard; they do seem to be happy to be here.  But, duh! – isn’t that what plants are supposed to do?  If you don’t want seedlings, don’t plant any plants that make seeds!  And I’m willing to bet that the maple tree next door makes many, many more obnoxious baby trees than my mimosa does.

Who would have thought I’d spend hours today learning about desirable and undesirable vegetation?  These people know much more than I about Forestry and invasiveness  – but what about beauty?  How do they decide that some trees belong here and others don’t?  Isn’t that discrimination?  How about diversity?  I tend to favor the open market – let them contend with each other and thrive where they grow best.  And let people chose what they want to grow in their own yards.

Knowing more about my mimosa has made me consider problems I never thought about before.  Maybe, being a short-lived species, mine will die soon.  From what I read, they make stunning bonzai specimens.  I’ll be sure to save some seeds so I can play with bonsais should I have a long idle future.