Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm fed up.

I’m frustrated and I know I’m not the only one noticing a disturbing trend at one local church. Let’s call it the “Parking Lot Preakness” in honor (sort of) of the Triple Crown. Here’s the deal. I’ve been a cantor since 1979. I’ve sung in a lot of churches, for many things including the regular Mass: funerals, weddings, anniversaries, most holidays including Easter Vigil and Christmas. I’m there most weekends. And whether I’m at the front or the back, I notice what others have noticed, but it seems like I’m the one saying it. Stop leaving early! For heaven’s sake, Mass is what? About an hour? And yet you’re streaking out the front and side doors near Communion time. We’re singing and instead of the bass line of the music, our song is punctuated by the “whump, whump” of the doors slamming shut. Sometimes, in this particular church located in my hometown, nearly a quarter of the members leave during or before Communion. If you look at a watch, there are roughly 5 to 7 minutes from Communion to the recessional hymn. Five to seven minutes. MINUTES. The Early Birds bolt out, jam up the parking lot and are still stuck there when the rest of us leave at the proper time. So what did your early departure get you? A place in line? The theology is pretty simple. The average Catholic attends Mass once a week. Can’t you spare an hour? What is so all-fired important that you cheat God of your time, are disrespectful of your fellow parishioners, and are incredibly ill-mannered toward our priest? Look, I already make the announcement (yes, nearly every Saturday) before Mass to “please turn your cell phones and electronic devices to mute or vibrate” so that we’re not interrupted by chirps, tweets and snatches of melodies in an otherwise spiritual space. Is it too much to ask of you to stick around for Father’s final blessing? I talked to one of our Eucharistic Ministers last Saturday and he remarked, “I went back to give Communion and saw that it was practically empty back there! This must be the worst church for that.” And, according to what I’ve seen in my travels, it is. There are legitimate reasons to leave Mass early. Labor (as in giving birth). Physical ailment along the lines of violent nausea, heart attack, stroke, or other instances of near-fatality. A cranky child who is out of control. Fire in the church. Actual collapse of the building or roof. And that’s about it. At one point, I attended a military chapel. The priest there was so annoyed by people cutting out of Mass early that, for several weeks, we had Marines stationed at the doors. Father said, “Nobody needs to leave before we’re through.” Draconian? Probably. But he made his point. The same priest stopped us in the middle of the Creed and asked, “So how many of you are paying attention to what you’re praying?” I talked with one of our retired priests. He often helped out with Mass, and I mentioned how much this bothers me. He said, “My idea is to have banners placed at the side doors, and have them unfurled before Communion. They’d say: Judas was the first one to leave the Last Supper early.” Where can I write the check to contribute toward those banners?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

This has GOT to change.

So I'm reading today's Chicago Tribune ( and in the "Chicagoland" area I see an item about a man being sentenced to 8 years in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to his SEVENTH drunk driving charge. I read further. Now I'm really aggravated. "Illinois state statutes require a mandatory prison sentence from 6 to 30 years for someone convicted of six or more driving under the influence charges." SIX OR MORE????????????? This man had a blood-alcohol content of .15 - about twice the level of what's considered "legal intoxication" in this state. SIX OR MORE????????????? Drunk drivers kill people. If you drive while drunk, there is a nearly-certain chance you'll have an accident. Don't tell me you "have control" and are "above average" in your ability to drive while impaired. So, I hit MSN Live Search with "Illinois + drunk driving + accident rate." You will not believe what came up first. Illinois DUI Lawyers. A listing suggesting that one "fight your Illinois DUI." And hey, it's a free call. In an article I found at (written in 2005) it states that there are about 17,000 alcohol-related deaths per year. And it's been hard to keep that issue in the public eye. There's something to be said for good, old-fashioned letter-writing campaigns. Start with your local newspaper. Hit your state representatives. Do something toward making a change. Because the change we need is this: It should not take SIX OR MORE convictions for DUI to result in jail time. Most drunks are hard-core. They don't care if they don't have a license. They're addicts. ADDICTS. They crave alcohol. All they want are the keys to the car. So they can fulfill their craving. If you could ask them, I bet over 90% of them would say with an astoundingly clear conscience that they are "perfectly fine" driving because "they know where they're going" when they're drunk. Uh-huh. If the public has anything to say about it, where you're going is jail.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Touch Me Scarf

Here's a picture of the Touch Me scarf. It's been felted and is extremely luxurious. The color is a deep garnet.

The yarn was purchased from two sources (I didn't read the directions and had to purchase the final ball after I'd gotten the first two): Chix with Stix at and Jimmy Bean's Wool at and both are great sources!

The pattern is from Sally Melville's "The Knit Stitch" book.

My Cheese is Fried!

OK, I'm a little bit at the "fried cheese" stage... I have to stop watching the Today Show. The irresponsible mother of 14 children has her own PR person. And that PR person said (with a straight face) that "once you hear Nadya's story, you'll be inspired because it really is uplifting, and amazing." What???????????? I have close friends of mine who've been through IVF. I know what it cost them. What IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN is so "uplifting" about a woman who had health care "professionals" (quotes deliberate) who thought implanting SIX children in a single mother's womb was a good idea, and WHO IS THE STINKIN' IDIOT who did it this last time??? Sorry. I am SOOOOOOOOOO NOT carping on single mothers. I am carping on a woman who is obviously in the grip of some sort of addiction. Her own mother said, "She always wanted a big family because she was an only child and was lonely." THAT caused both DH and DS #2 to spit their respective morning beverages right thru their noses. She's "baby hungry" and now PR hungry. Corporations are NOT going to be flocking to her door. And the fertility professionals need to get a grip on some sort of ethical standard. I don't think doctors need to "regulate family number" as one expert was quoted. But they DO have a PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY to do the right thing and recognize when the situation becomes "just because we CAN doesn't mean we SHOULD."

Monday, February 02, 2009

What is THIS all about?

Ok, I like winter. Yeah, I'm odd. And I like winter sports. Particularly if I'm participating in them, and preferably when the temperatures are NOT -20! So, I ice skate. I snow shoe. I had done some downhill skiing in my youth, but decided that I really didn't need to get anywhere quite that fast. Instead, I cross-country ski, which is billed as an "all-over" workout. "All over" was about how I felt this past weekend. My hubby and I went to the path we've been using to snow shoe this past Saturday. Mind you, he's been doing this since at least college, maybe younger. We get on the skis. I immediately have trouble staying upright. Even with poles. I'm a person who can hold "tree" pose for 5 minutes without a wobble. Balance should not be an issue. We get going. I feel like I'm "shoving" the skis instead of gliding, and then we hit a nice slight downhill level so I can "schush" along nicely, using the poles to propel me along, and getting in a nice bit of upper body exercise. Then comes the first hill. I get half-way up, and I slide down. I get half-way up and slide down again. I'm stubborn. Hubby made it up there, so why can't I?? Finally, I conceded defeat and did the sideways shuffle up the hill. Went along a while further and then we hit a BIG (well, big in x-country terms) downhill. Hubby went down, and did fine. I went down and managed to over-correct slightly. Hubby says, "Aim for the trees." Is he crazy? Besides, he's got more life insurance than I do... Instead, I do what any self-respecting person would do. I sat down. It's amazing that the human butt is a great anchor. I popped the bindings, kicked the skis out from under me and walked down the remainder of the hill. So Sunday, he decides "we need to work on technique" so we head for the same area, only a soccer field that looks nice and flat. Ha. Deception abounds, my friends! It's a gentle maybe 1-degree downward slope toward the road. I did fine. I did the turn just peachy. Then I started back. Oh. My. Dig the poles deep, behind your rump into the snow. Puuuuuuuuuuullllllll with all your might on said poles to get the skis (and your body) forward. Take one pole out, gingerly and quickly - trying not to cross your skis or lose your balance. Poke it slightly ahead of yourself. Do the same with the other pole. Then, through sheer force of will, puuuuuuuuuuuuullll those legs and skis forward. Only to slide backward 6 or 8 feet. More than once. More than 4 times. Embarassingly more than I feel like it should have been. Particularly since Hubby scooted right up that hill as if it was flatter than an Illinois corn field. It took me nearly 20 minutes to "ascend the hill" - and yes, you may surely read a whole heap of sarcasm at the "hill" point. I got to the crest, popped the skis off and said, "I'm not sure why I like this anymore." So riddle me this... I can skate for a couple of hours on a thin blade. I can stop; turn; go forward AND backward. And stay upright. Even spin modestly. I can do yoga - I love balance poses. But on a 2" wide 5 1/2' piece of wood? I'm a total clod. Will I be getting back on the skis? Yep. As soon as we have more snow. I'm not going to let a skinny piece of fiberglass defeat me.