Archive for November, 2009

It’s all Latin to Me

I grew up in the Catholic Church pre-Vatican II when the mass was still in Latin. I had a bi-lingual prayerbook and followed along with it. As a kid I was always quite accepting of the status quo. I think I was just too lame to question some things. With complete faith, I merely accepted. In the matters of faith, that is not a bad thing.

Last night we attended a Latin Mass down at our church. The altar servers were a bit gray-haired, since they are the only ones of an age to remember and know how to serve at a Latin mass. It was interesting — however. . .    As I pondered it, all the elements that I found “awkward” are the very same ones that Vatican II eliminated many years ago. The priest has his back to the congregation so we couldn’t see what he was doing, and the language barrier is obvious unless you’re fluent in Latin, and then there’s the lack of “participation” by the congregation.

Additionally, Father Gaspar (from another church in our town) was the celebrant. His accent is extremely difficult to understand (and I’m fairly good at accents.) So even when he spoke English it still sounded foreign. I managed to recognize about every a third of what he said. I realize that the more frequently we attend these, the less odd they will seem. However, I now see that there is a place for both. To receive communion kneeling at the altar, rather than standing means it feels less like a “drive-thru” and more reverent, which it should. For me now to get down on my knees in public — and then back up again — it a real sacrifice. Talk about a penitential gesture.

I do know one thing. I need to do my homework and study up before we attend another one. Maybe Bruce can tutor me in Latin, or I can search the internet for more instruction. Or just go buy a new missal.


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Dry, Baby, Dry

As I got ready to go outside and hang sheets from the clothesline in the backyard the other day, my husband read me this article from CNBC.com:

Carin Froehlich pegs her laundry to three clotheslines strung between trees outside her 18th-century farmhouse, knowing that her actions annoy local officials who have asked her to stop.


Froehlich is among the growing number of people across America fighting for the right to dry their laundry outside against a rising tide of housing associations who oppose the practice despite its energy-saving green appeal.

Although there are no formal laws in this southeast Pennsylvania town against drying laundry outside, a town official called Froehlich to ask her to stop drying clothes in the sun.

And she received two anonymous notes from neighbors saying they did not want to see her underwear flapping about.

“They said it made the place look like trailer trash,” she said, in her yard across the street from a row of neat, suburban houses.

“They said they didn’t want to look at my ‘unmentionables.”‘ Froehlich says she hangs her underwear inside.

The effervescent 54-year-old is one of a growing number of Americans demanding the right to dry laundry on clotheslines despite local rules and a culture that frowns on it.

Their interests are represented by Project Laundry List, a group that argues people can save money and reduce carbon emissions by not using their electric or gas dryers, according to the group’s executive director, Alexander Lee.

Widespread adoption of clotheslines could significantly reduce U.S. energy consumption, argued Lee, who said dryer use accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. residential electricity use.

Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Colorado, and Hawaii have passed laws restricting the rights of local authorities to stop residents using clotheslines.

Another five states are considering similar measures, said Lee, 35, a former lawyer who quit to run the non-profit group.

‘Right to Hang’

His principal opponents are the housing associations such as condominiums and townhouse communities that are home to an estimated 60 million Americans, or about 20 percent of the population.

About half of those organizations have ‘no hanging’ rules, Lee said, and enforce them with fines.

Carl Weiner, a lawyer for about 50 homeowners associations in suburban Philadelphia, said the no-hanging rules are usually included by the communities’ developers along with regulations such as a ban on sheds or commercial vehicles.

The no-hanging rules are an aesthetic issue, Weiner said. “The consensus in most communities is that people don’t want to see everybody else’s laundry.”

He said opposition to clotheslines may ease as more people understand it can save energy and reduce greenhouse gases.

“There is more awareness of impact on the environment,” he said. “I would not be surprised to see people questioning these restrictions.”

For Froehlich, the “right to hang” is the embodiment of the American tradition of freedom.

“If my husband has a right to have guns in the house, I have a right to hang laundry,” said Froehlich, who is writing a book on the subject.

Besides, it saves money. Line-drying laundry for a family of five saves $83 a month in electric bills, she said.

Kevin Firth, who owns a two-bedroom condominium in a Dublin, Pennsylvania housing association, said he was fined $100 by the association for putting up a clothesline in a common area.

“It made me angry and upset,” said Firth, a 27-year-old carpenter. “I like having the laundry drying in the sun. It’s something I have always done since I was a little kid.”

These are the same people who want to save the earth by means of other activitism. Yet they can’t bear to see laundry?  Clean laundry?  I always thought that you learn a lot about people by seeing their laundry.

So, if we hang just one load a week out on the line, we are saving between $6 and $8 a month, times 12 months is between $75 and $100.  I like that.  Besides, the extra bonus is sheets crisp with wind and fresh air and sunshine.  What a little slice of heaven!  And it’s free!

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Annie Goes to the Hospital

At 5 to 6 months (we’re not really sure) she was finally old enough.  Yep, the proverbial birds and bees time for female dogs.  The old snip and clip.  She-who-was-about-to-be-spayed had nary a clue.

Annie finished her series of immunizations earlier in the week so we scheduled her to be spayed on Friday.  The last time I was involved with this operation was in 1994 when BJ got fixed.  That was a good number of years ago.  Ginger was an adult when we adopted her, so she had already undergone the knife  — excuse me — scalpel.  For those of you who  have  paid this  bill  lately will know that a “free” found-in-the-road dog becomes an expensive puppy after all the trips to the vet to get her “ready to go”.  Wow.  A laser incision?  Pain meds?  Pre-op blood profile?  Anesthesia, of course.   You name it, they offer it.    And, while we were “there”, we got her micro-chipped.  A way to protect our dog and our investment.

She came home that afternoon like a sailor after a long weekend of shore leave.  A bit wobbly in the hindquarters.  By the next day, she seemed back to normal, raring to go, wanting to drag Bruce up and down the driveway.

Her tummy stitches look like a soft toy I stitched up after it required stuffing replacement surgery — thanks to another canine.   However, the vet hospital removed rather than replaced.  And to think, all I needed was needle and thread.  Man, what a deal!  I wonder what doll hospitals charge?

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Annie Goes to Work

Annie has a job.

She and Bruce take a walk in the morning.  After their spin around the block, they stop at the newspaper holder down by the mailbox.  Bruce takes the paper out and hands it to Annie who dutifully carries it up the long driveway to the top where she hands it off, either to me or to Bruce.  The Sunday edition has been more of a challenge, heavier and wrapped in a plastic cover.  Sometimes the cover is a little bit worse for wear by the time she gets to the top.

The other day, after daylight savings time had ended, she woke up an extra hour early and we, after a late night,  weren’t really ready for  our day to start.  Annie, who doesn’t get the concept of time and the saving of daylight nor lay-abed humans, was rarin’ to go.  Bruce finally gave in and took her for a quick spin around and around out back by the cars — they were nowhere near the paper box.  Annie, true to her training, found a slip of paper on the floor in the back hallway.  I was hand delivered by mouth a copy of my Aunt Wanda’s recipe for Pineapple Cheesecake that had apparently fallen out of a cookbook and onto the floor.

Isn’t a good strong work ethic wonderful?

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A Day

One of the problems — and trust me, there are very few — with being retired is when to take a “day off.” When I worked. that was evident. Whatever day(s) you weren’t scheduled to work, is your day off. I used to run errands on the way home on Friday evenings, clean house, wash clothes, and cook on Saturdays, so that I felt perfectly free to sit on my can and read and rest after church on Sundays. Lazy Sunday evenings were special too. That was real down time. Don’t ask me to do anything — I wasn’t budging from my sofa.

Last Friday we took a day off. Bruce didn’t do any chores in the yard or fix anything in the house. I didn’t do laundry or iron or clean the oven. We didn’t even cook. Bruce brought in sausage cheese egg biscuits for breakfast. Clean-up was throwing the paper wrappers in the trash. After we got the dogs fed, peed and cookied, we were on our way.

Errands for me are pure logistical strategy, something that might parallel a device Napoleon could have used. There are all kinds of possible arrangements. Do you start with the most important or least? We must use the distance factor, of course, however, do we start at the most distant point and work our way back home or the other way around? Bruce has lived in Augusta only 5 years so he still depends on me for such strategic manuevers.

Friday we opted for the start-with-the-most-far-and-work-our-way-home method. The Book Tavern downtown is well-run place. David, the tall bearded owner, knows more about books and literary genres than I will ever hope to know. He always compliments Bruce’s taste in books. Since now I’m definitely more the “just entertain me with a tale” type, he doesn’t say that to me. I’ve already read Ulysses and Moby Dick and Remembrances of Times Past. No more, thank you. Been there, done that, and even got paid to do it. Lately, I’ve been reading Sandra Dallas. Her historical fiction is my favorite as I identify with her female characters and their struggles building new lives in the rugged West. Prayers for Sale was a special at Barnes & Noble last summer and I’ve been well-pleased with their recommendations lately. That got me started. Anyway, we have credit at the Book Tavern so, being wild and crazy kids, we were ready to spend a few bucks! I got a new-to-me Sandra Dallas and Bruce chose History of Christianity. We left after Bruce got his usual stamp of approval.

Off we went to find a Chinese restaurant where we had the best egg rolls I think I’ve ever had. I almost ordered another, however, when our orders arrived I was glad I hadn’t. They were huge! Even Bruce asked for a box, which he seldom does.

Off we went to the bank and the pet store and B&N. Two cups of coffee later we had checked out our new selections and spent an enjoyable afternoon.

Retirement is so tough.

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