Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A short note: Russell Shaw was interviewed by ZENIT on "Why Vatican II Emphasized Lay Apostolate". The whole interview is well worth reading, (11/28/05 daily dispatch). I excerpted a couple paragraphs on my other blog Catholic Laity. Of course Mr. Shaw managed to mention his new book from us - for which we are thankful.

Some days...

Some days just throw you a curve. I am beginning to wonder if chickens are worth the trouble and heartache-yes, heartache. First we had Slaughter I. More recently we had Slaughter II. Of course in between these two "events" we ate a dozen chickens and many dozen eggs from our flock.

Last night we were ahead of schedule for once. Prayers were said, the kids were brushing their teeth-when I heard the dogs barking. This is not unusual. They bark every night. But some reason, this time I decided to check....

I took our spotlight and pointed it towards the chicken tractor....Three black dogs, the biggest is inside the chicken tractor-but just walking around. One (liberated) chicken is walking towards me. One small black dog takes off. The second freezes with a chicken in his mouth and then takes off. The big dog inside the tractor is just sitting there. It isn't threatening the chickens, it just sits. We catch the liberated chicken and lure the 4 chickens remaining in the tractor out and secure these five in the abandoned coop. One chicken has been carried off and the last is laying behind the tractor, still alive but with a broken leg. Meanwhile the big dog sits in the tractor-calmly. It appears to have a collar, but is mangy-missing fur around the face.

It is unclear exactly how this dog managed to squeeze into the tractor. It is not a fortress, but the one obvious (new) breach does not seem nearly big enough for this dog-yet it must have been. Come morning, I may see if there is a tag on that collar ...

We kill the wounded chicken. For the first time I use my hatchet instead of breaking the neck. (Yes Jeff, I recall your experience and made sure mine was sharpened-a sharpened hatchet does the trick.) Once again, I forego the plucking and dressing and simply cut away the skin and take the meat directly off the bird. I think this will be my method from now on. No messing with the vent, plucking etc. It doesn't take nearly the time.

My chickens have not been so profitable....

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fr. John O'Holohan S.J. reminded us yesterday morning that we are on a pilgrimage. Pilgrims know their destination, prepare for the journey, and embark-and then they can and do enjoy the journey (telling stories and singing songs with their traveling companions). In the same way, we (as Catholics) should know our destination and should be prepared-have our bags packed as it were (even if we know not the day or the hour); then we can enjoy the journey with our companions....

Friday, November 25, 2005

Turkey Day

Krystle always made the apple pie for Thanksgiving. Of course this year we either had to make it ourselves or do without. We took the team approach. Nicholas made the filling under Mrs. Curley's step by step direction. Someone else (I really don't know who) made the crust. Yours truly rolled the crust and postioned it on pie plate and then over the filling. It was tremendous effort.

Thanksgiving day we started off with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Fr. John talked about Thanksgiving being a wonderful tradition, but pointed out some interesting facts: 1. The Indian women ate the feast with everyone else, but the Pilgrim women were not allowed to eat with the men and the guests; and 2. The Pilgrims originally left England for Holland due to persecution. Why were they persecuted? Because they accused the Anglicans of being too popish in their liturgy and practices.)

At 11:30 we played our annual Turkey Bowl. It is the only timed game of the year (1 hour with a 10 minute half-time/Angelus break included). The teams have been the same some years. The older boys, Nicholas (12) and Connor (11) take on Matthew (9) and myself. Matthew and I had been winning the Turkey bowl for several years in a row-until last year. Last year we fought to a tie-even with 2 overtime periods. This year I thought we would regain dominence because Matthew can now pretty consistently catch the ball, which adds a new dimension to our offense. (We usually run the ball about 80% of the time-while Nick and Connor throw the ball about 90% of the time). We had a secret play (a flea-flicker variation) too. However, Nick and Connor had been practicing, and Connor especially has put on some real speed. They had a couple tricks up their sleeve too. They had added a couple running plays and a fake running play-pass. Nick has the accurate arm. In the first half Connor out ran me for touchdowns twice. At halftime Matthew and I were down by 1 touchdown. Our secret play had been a bust both times we tried it. I had let down on defense twice and Matthew had dropped 2 TD passes. While we were only down by a single TD, it still looked ominous....

With thirteen minutes left in the game we had the ball, but were down by 3 touchdowns. I told Matthew, "It looks like we may not win this year, so let's start having some fun.". We scored and then switched defensive assignments. I intercepted the ball and returned it for a TD, and suddenly we are right back in the game. We traded a few scores, and then finally stopped them and scored ourselves to tie the game on the last play.

For overtime, we decided each team would get two plays from the "20-yard line" (about 15 feet from the TD). If both scored or both missed we would continue. If one scored and the other didn't, then the scoring team wins. On the first try both teams came up short. But on the second round, Matthew tossed the ball to get us on the goal line, and I ran it off tackle the next play for the final score.

My sister Rita came for the weekend (from VA) and together we had a wonderful Turkey dinner. We (actually the boys) cleaned up dinner. Then we had a talent show (poems, songs, etc.). We followed this by gathering together with each of us publically thanked God for the gifts of the past year. Finally we had desert (the apple pie was delicious); then rosary and bed

A wonderful day.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Light blogging today and maybe the rest of the week - we'll see. Am cleaning (or trying to clean) the office today. Tomorrow I will be trying to get the outside of Bethany in order. Wednesday my sister flies in from Virginia to spend the weekend.

My sound card or something hasn't been working properly for months, and I wanted to get it working today so I could hear the interview with Russell Shaw tonight over the internet (see details in the post below). Looks like it is a lost cause. This happened before and I fixed it, but I can't remember how I did it. Oh well.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Upcoming Events....

More people read this blog than Catholic Laity so I thought I would make a couple notes here about some upcoming events pertaining to Requiem Press.

Russell Shaw will be discussing this and his new book "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" on Monday (11/21) evening with Al Kresta (Ave Maria Radio). Check it out. (Local radio affiliates carrying the show are listed in the link - or I think you can listen over the internet.)

Russell Shaw will be signing his new book "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" at the Catholic Information Center in Washington DC (1501 K Street NW) at 6:00 PM on Tuesday 22 November. If you are in the area, stop by.

John Meehan will be signing his newest book, "Two Towers: the de-Christianization of America and a Plan for Renewal" on December 6th at 7:00 PM (refreshments are at 6:30, followed by talk and booksigning) in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parish hall (Louden Road, Concord, NH). If you are in that area, stop by.

(Alicia of Fructus Ventris comments in my comment box below somwhere: "anyone who is coming to Mr. Meehan's booksigning, please let me know. I would love to meet you! I'll even buy you a tea or coffee. ahuntley@interserv.com." ).

Of course if you can't make either signing, you can still get either of these important books here!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Just missed it....

Big news in Bethune today, and I just missed seeing it for myself! Here it is from the Columbia TV Station:

(Bethune) November 17, 2005 - The Sandhills Bank in Bethune was robbed shortly after 12:00pm Thursday, and authorities are still searching for the suspect.

According to Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill, a man approximately 5'10" tall, weighing about 180 pounds and wearing a black mask and black coat entered the bank armed with a revolver and demanded money.

He fled in a white Blazer that was registered as stolen from West Columbia. A citizen followed the Blazer, and as the suspect was changing vehicles, he fired shots at the citizen. The person was not hit, but his truck was. No one was injured in the robbery or shooting.

The suspect then fled in a new model blue extended cab Chevy Silverado. Authorities are still looking for him.

I drove by the bank on my way to the post office at about 11:45 AM. I almost stopped in at the bank on the way back because we have discussed switching to Sandhills Bank, as our bank is 20 miles away-but I decided to put it off as there was much to do at home and Mrs. Curley promised lunch at noontime. Mrs. Curley went by the bank at 2:00 and the police were still everywhere.

Route 1 (for those readers on the East Coast) runs right through Bethune. (For those not on the East Coast, Route 1 used to be the main route from the Northeast to Florida and saw lots of traffic in former days.) I'm sure in those days before Interstate 95 was built, Bethune was one of those Southern speed traps on the way to Florida. Speeding tickets provided the economy for the town government, but there was other income too... The building of I-95 really killed these small towns as the traffic no longer exists to support motels, restaurants, gas stations, etc. I am surprised we even have a bank in town-(I think it has 3 branches, each in one of these small towns along Route 1).

I guess it is not surprising the bank got hit. We only have one policemen in town (County Sheriff helps with these types of crimes) and the bank is on a major road.

From Bethany, the small holding outside Bethune....Oremus pro invicem!

Jury Duty Questionaire-just one more time....

A friend of mine sent me the link to this article article which appeared this morning on CatholicExchange. While the article is about the Supreme Court and Mr. Alito, it does address, in a way, "Question 45" on my jury questionaire. Here's the excerpt:

Everyone — everyone — agrees that there are times that the established law should not be respected, times when strict constructionism and a respect for legal precedent are misguided, when principle and a concern for basic human rights should trump the debate over judicial process. For example, every high school student in the country is taught that it was shameful for the Supreme Court to decide as it did in the Dred Scott decision; that returning Scott to his slave-master because he was “property” was an unforgivable adherence to the letter of the law. Similarly, we do not teach our children that the Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg trials should have been held blameless because they were abiding by the established law of the land in Germany at the time.

Let’s cut to the chase: It is not an admirable trait for a judge to state proudly that there may be times when his duty to uphold the law and respect legal precedent will make it necessary for him to decide a case in a manner that will result in the death of more unborn children. I am not saying that Samuel Alito will say anything like this in his confirmation hearings. I am confident that he will put a fine edge on this question. But many of his conservative defenders are making exactly that point.

Funny this article appeared in The Wanderer first and I missed it....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Time to sharpen the tools...

It is getting to be that time again. I posted about how we tried make many of the our Christmas presents for each other last year. Again this year....

I have always wanted to make a lap desk, like this. But we thought number 1 daughter wouldn't get too much use out of it. However, I think now there are one or two of the kids who would enjoy and really use one now. So I am planning to make a couple of them. (If they turn out okay, maybe I'll take orders...)

I can't talk about what I will doing for Mrs. Curley as she reads this blog pretty regularly. She has suggested a number of projects, but most are more expensive (lumber is pretty high right now) or will take longer to make than present time allows.

As a kid I always pictured myself making a living working with wood. I'm sure I could-but my skill set does need some work. I think I was at my peak some 11-13 years ago when I was spending a lot of time in the shop. I would also need to upgrade some of my tools if I were going to being using them everyday. Fun to think about, but I have other work to do.

Speaking of which, over at my 'other' blog Catholic Laity we have listed a couple of booksignings for Requiem Press books which are coming up. If you are in the area (DC & NH), be sure to stop by.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune....Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Random Notes

Have decided to answer question 45 (see post below) with the 'most cases' language suggested by Mr. Luse. I knew there were problems with our justice system as practiced-now I understand a little more why. It is very disheartening. It seems almost impossible to participate in a meaningful way in our justice system and in our political structures unless you compromise your conscience.

A few weeks ago I started receiving The Wanderer in my mailbox. I have not suscribed and there was no letter telling me about a trial period. (Perhaps it will come later?). I remember we got The Wanderer when I was growing up. One of the reasons why some were not surprised by either "the scandal" or the causes of the scancal is that The Wanderer has been reporting on this for years. I used to suscribe myself some years ago-but as with other periodicals, I just didn't have time to read everything coming in. James J. Drummey has a column "Catholic Replies" each week. Mr. Drummey's children went to school with my brothers and sisters in Norwood, MA. None of his kids were in my class. He has several books (CR Publications), especially his Catholicism and Ethics series with Fr. Paul Hayes are highly recommended (by me). So it is interesting to pick it up again after these years.

An article in the 3 November issue particularly caught my eye. "Whatever He Achieves on High Court...Bush Has Failed to Educate Nation on Pro-Life" by Dexter Duggan, reflects much of my thought on the matter. The President has the bully pulpit. He can lead and change hearts and minds as he does on other issues when he choses to do so-if he believes it is important. Most of his pro-life statements have been to the pro-lifers, not to the general public. ...

Finally today, here is a picture of Bethany, taken by my sister this summer. Wish I had an areil view to show off the whole property. Not too big and not too fancy, but it is home. (Requiem Press offices are on the 2nd floor to the left, as you face the house. )

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Jury Duty

UPDATE (or further study): In the comment(s) on this post, TS makes the point that only question 45 should be asked. I share his disbelief and dismay about the other questions I have to answer. But back to question 45, I wonder about this too-and would appreciate the opinions of others. Mrs. Curley and I have been batting this back and forth all day.

Scenario: You are doctor (or a nurse) in a hospital. You walk by a room where a doctor is just about to perform an abortion. You clock him to prevent the abortion at that instant. You are arrested and charged with assault and battery. I am on the jury. The judge, in his instructions, says that no matter how you feel about abortion, the jury's job is to determine simply if the You, the defendant, is guilty of assault and battery. (Or would he instruct us to dermine simply whether YOU clocked the doctor or not-two different determinations). I, on the jury, say no criminal assault and battery took place as YOU were defending the unborn baby. The law says otherwise. Yet can I send someone to prison for doing what I think is right? And if I am predisposed to find YOU innocent in this case than my answer to Question 45 would be no and therefore am theoretically excluded from any jury service.

I note that judges themselves are not bound by this as they can be activisit in making law rather than interpreting law. So why can't juries do the same when unjust laws are being challenged?


I received summons for jury service on Friday in the mail. I have served on a traffic court jury once, but this is for the United States District Court of South Carolina-that is Federal Court. They ask you to fill out a questionaire and apologize in advance for its invasiveness. Not only are they invasive (what's that about a right to privacy???????-Ah Ha! only when it suits the forces of death....) Let's see what you all think of some of these questions:

17. What are your hobbies, special interests, recreational pastimes and other spare-time activities, including sports?

18. What magazines and newspapers do you regularly read?

20. What social, political, civic, religious, and other organizations do you belong to or are you assoicated with?

22. Have you displayed any bumper stickers on you automobile in the last twelve months? If yes, please list each bumper sticker.

There are also many questions about the kinds of jobs you, your spouse and your family members (father, mother, brothers, and sisters) have held, and about any criminal offenses committed by any family members. There are also several questions on whether you could be unbiased against different in numerous situations.

Question 45 is very interesting: Regardless of any opinion you may have concerning a particular law, would you be able to set aside your feelings and follow the law as stated by the judge?

This last questions brings up many thoughts. I seem to remember reading somewhere in the last 2 years or so a lengthy article or debate about how juries should be able to nullify unjust laws. This purpose of question 45 would seem to be asked in order to disqualify anyone who had this notion. Haven't decided exactly how to answer Question 45 yet-honestly, yes-but the exact wording....

How about the others? Is it just my imagination or do these questions have nothing to do with impartiality and everything to do with trying to predetermine a verdict by ruling out certain members of the public for jury duty? I mean really, how would raising chickens or making wooden cabinets, or playing football with my kids bear on my suitability for jury service? Would like to hear the thoughts of others. Perhaps someone from Southern Appeal would weigh in?

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Land, Debt, etc.

My father (may his soul rest in peace) paid off the house mortgage in about 8 years. I remember I was in first or second grade at the time. He always paid cash for a new car. He had a credit card in later years only as modern travel dictated its necessity for car rentals, hotels, etc. We didn't have all the new gadgets. (I recall we didn't get a color TV until the mid-to-late eighties-after I was up and grown. The first time I watched the Wizard of Oz with my wife, she chuckled with amusement as I watched it for first time on a color TV. I had never known that half of it was in color, or how the reference to the "horse of a different color" played out.) But we were happy and comfortable.

Now Mrs. Curley and I can't claim the frugality that my parents had. We spent some years with a mortgage, two car payments, multiple credit card balances-the American Dream right? With all that, we still didn't rival our neighbors for material goods or new gadgets. With a large, growing family in this society, you either need a very high salary or extremely deep debt to have all those things. Yet bills always hung over our head, and caused anxiety and at times, discord in our marriage.

After hearing a friend with 11 children comment one day about his trust in God and tithing, Mrs. Curley and I decided to get out of debt, cut expenses, and increase our giving once and for all. We certainly did not do it all by ourselves, but I think (at least in this instance) we did a fairly good job of cooperating with the blessings God sent in those next 7-8 years that we worked on getting rid of our debt. By the time I lost my job 18 months ago, we still had a mortgage, but no other debt at all, plus some savings, and this with a daughter in college at the time. We didn't have everything which was 'expected' of us by friends and neighbors. (The very first expense to hit the cutting block had been cable TV. It was more symbolic at the time then substantial.)

Getting rid of the debt (even having the mortgage) gave us a real sense of freedom. Sometimes things were tight by our standards then (little did we know how tight things can really get....), but we were never happier.

When I lost my job, 18 months ago, we had little anxiety. The modest severence package seemed more of a Godsend than the loss of the job, a tragedy.

Mrs. Curley and I had been discussing moving to a small place in the country very seriously for 2-3 years. I had looked at a beautiful 18-acre farm and house (remnant of a 100+ acre dairy and potato farm) in northern (very North, 10 miles from Canada) NH several times. But we couldn't see our way to buying it. Now, with a little extra money in our pocket, and finally a plan (Requiem Press) we decided to look for a country place.

The small farm I had seen in NH was a little out of our reach, and by the way, I didn't know what I could really do with 18 acres and a still work a full-time job at Requiem Press. Personally I wouldn't mind being a small-scale farmer full-time, but here were the problems: 1. My learning curve, and thus fruits of my labor, would probably be too slow for the nutritional needs of the family (some would say this about Requiem Press too...); 2. I really do think that my God-given talents would not be best utilized as a farmer; and 3. I tend to believe you should not purchase more than you know what to do with. (this sometimes saves you some $$ too).

Thus we were looking for a place with 2-5 acres. 5 acres would allow us to have a cow or two. 2 acres would be too small for a cow, but chickens, rabbits, (maybe some goats) and a large garden would be acceptable for our needs. And this is what we eventually found. The house is more modest than we were used to. We had to part with many things to fit into the new house, [we still need to get rid of more-the "yard sale", (see below somewhere), didn't quite work out].

I guess my point is that greatly limitting or eliminating debt opens the door not only to financial freedom, but also being more open to God (The more stuff we have, the more time we spend taking care of that stuff-as opposed to taking care of our soul.) Having little or no debt of course doesn't necessarily mean financial troubles are over. You still have to pay taxes, electricity, heating fuel, etc every month-and thus you need an income to do so. But these expenses are more easily met. You can also better discern and follow you vocation if you are not hampered by the burden (both real-the necessity of paying, and psychological-anxiety) of much debt.

Agrarianism? I think there are benefits, listed on Bethune Catholic before and other places, to growing some (or all) of your own food, raising animals, and in general learning how to do things for yourself. Although I do not mean to say you should be "self-sufficient" and rely on no one else. Man is a social being. We need community and the help of others. (It is good for developing own humility and charity). But that is just the point. Our community should be smallish, so it can be very real-along the lines of Distributism and the principle of subsidiary.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


117 was the number on the house I grew up in. It is also the number of unique visitors who stopped by Bethune Catholic yesterday-prompted no doubt by my article on CatholicExchange.com (here in case you missed it). Unfortunately I didn't have any profound thoughts posted here, so most won't be back.

I promise profound thoughts tomorrow....

I want to comment fully on this post - but won't do it in Jeff's comment box as it may prove lengthy. My thoughts should appear here tomorrow. They are already in my head-I just need to transfer them to the screen.

Have been blogging very lightly at Catholic Laity also. Hopefully we can find something relevant to say over there also in the morning.


This is the 6th anniversary of my father's death. I prayed at his side holding his hand as he passed from this life. He was a good man and passed the Faith to me - and thus also to my children. He grew up without a father, yet was model of what a father should be. I thank God for the tremendous gift He gave my family in my Dad.

DEUS, qui nos patrem et matrem honorare praecepisti: miserere clementer animae patris mei eiusque peccata dimitte : meque eum in aeternae claritatis gaudio fac videre. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

[O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and mother: in Thy mercy have pity on the soul of my father and forgive him his trespasses; and make me to see him again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Amen.]

May he in rest in peace! Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday Morning Notes...

Mrs. Curley arrived home safely last night. We are whole again at Bethany...

My latest article is appearing on CatholicExchange this morning, (originally published in Heart and Mind). It can be found here. (Interestingly enough, Russell Shaw (who's latest book is from Requiem Press) has an article on Catholic Exchange too this morning also.)

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Slaughter .... Part II

I can't believe I am writing this...but I am compelled. Last year we had the Slaughter...

Sunday we attended the 11:30 Mass at St. Catherines (good news-starting on the feast of Christ the King Mass will be at 10:00 AM) . After Mass we changed into hiking gear in the parish hall. We then stopped at the local cemetary to pray the souls in purgatory. Then off to Anderew Jackson State Park as predicted in my last post. While the Crawford trail was ho-hum (1 mile of forest, no challenges, but then again I had the young ones along), the museum and tour was well done. It was obvious the tour guide loves her work, especially with children. They tried on revolutionary war uniforms, shredded cinnamon, watched an authentic 200 year-old loom do its thing, etc. The primitive group campsite was the nicest I have seen. You can fish there (we didn't) too. All in all, a great outing.

We come home, and as I am asking where dogs are (they usually run to the pen gate as soon as we pull up, number 1 son exclaims that Sheba and Lady are out of the pen. I am asking how did they get out, and getting the reply, "The gate is wide open!". [Challenger of the Slaughter fame and Bunny (don't ask) are nowhere to be seen]

Then comes the shout, "The chickens!" I look over to the coop and the door is also wide open, and chicken carcusses are strewn everywhere. Eighteen dead, one alive but barely, and one missing. (Our older 6 chickens and rooster are secure in their coop as are the six chickens in the Chicken Tractor).

While I am sure all 4 dogs participated, I am even more certain that Challenger was the instigator. It was lucky he was absent just then.

The carcusses are stiff and not warm. They are mostly intact, just dead. I am angry, but this is partially my fault (as I will explain later), as well as a general breakdown in cooperation. Since the dog pen gate was wide open and carcusses are stiff and cold, I assume that this happend soon after we left this morning (also, the dogs tend to be very lazy once mid-day heat, it was 80 degrees today, sets in). So the chickens are a total loss-except the one still breathing. It is already getting dark and I have very hungry (soon to be cranky) little children. Immediately a plan suggests itself. I kill the wounded chicken and set two boys to plucking. I start digging graves. Third son puts a movie on for the youngest three. Plucking is not going well and darkness is fast approaching. Change of plans. Two plucking sons removed for grave digging. I get my knife and slit the skin on the chicken and start taking meat off the bird directly.

Meanwhile the missing chicken emerges from the woods. It is skittish, but otherwise seems fine. We lure the chicken with feed and grab her. She has lost a few feathers, but otherwise seems intact. Put her in the pen and we resume our respective chores. Finally chickens are buried (Deep enough to keep away the coyotes? Not sure. Two six feet deep holes each housing 10 or so chickens means they aren't really buried six feet deep. Will find out in the morning), and as much meat as I can salvage off the bird in the now near complete darkness. Make and eat dinner. Finally the two wayward dogs come home. Challenger looks away when I ask him about the chickens. (I didn't even mention the upset boys. They are upset at the dead chickens, missing dogs, and no doubt my anger over it all-especially my threats on Challenger and the others.)

Now what happened? First my blame. The door to the chicken coop in question was originally well-designed and secure. However in recent weeks some sagging had set in so that the latch didn't line up. I was aware of the problem, but we were simply propping a board against the gate to keep it shut-in other words, it would keep the chickens in, but wouldn't keep a determined dog out. I should have fixed the sagging door weeks ago. My fault.

The other blame. I originally assumed that whoever was the last out of the dog pen (the feed house is in the dog pen, so all three boys had gone in and out that morning to fill their respective chores of feeding the dogs, chickens and rabbits.) simply failed to latch the gate. In part this is true; but it appears that sometime in the last day or so the latch was slightly bent so that it did not latch securely. In the morning rush to feed the animals and get ready for Mass, the defect was not noticed. If the dogs, as they are wont to do, tried to shake the gate, it is likely the latch simply released. (We do have a secondary latch and I have been admonishing the boys that I often find it undone. But by itself, it would not have held the dogs anyway.) Thus the dogs got out. Challenger, who is the defacto leader, naturally went to the chicken coop, with I'm sure the others following closely, and was able to get the coop gate open. After that it was party time for the dogs.

I'm afraid my initial reactions did not reflect a good control of temper, but I have calmed down and we have discussed the situation. There clearly was enough blame to go around-it was a general breakdown of carrying out responsibility carefully with attention to details.

I am very upset by the loss. Our plan was to depend heavily on our own chicken and rabbit for meat this winter as well as getting eggs and hatching eggs to perpetuate our flock. When Mrs. Curley returns tonight we will have some things to discuss...I don't think it would be sacriligeous to say: the Lord giveth, the dogs taketh away-blessed be the name of the Lord!

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Plumbing, Lady Bugs and Camping...

Spent a good part of the day doing plumbing and plumbing related work which was long overdue. Plumbing is not my specialty. I am generally handy but plumbing and I have never got along. With plumbing, I am usually satisfied if it works in the end-no matter how it looks. Mrs. Curley is always sceptical of my pipe, faucet, toilet repairs (although I have become quite an expert on toilets)-but she wasn't around today to critique my work. It will all be covered up by the time she returns on Monday.

After an exhausting day looking up from my back under cabinets, I stopped up in my office to check my email and found that I am infested with lady bugs. Son Connor told me, as he brought up the vacuum cleaner, that it is their migratory season. It may be, but why migrate to my office? Last year they did the same. Now every day or so for the next few weeks I will be vacuuming them up.

Tomorrow after Mass at St. Catherine's we will visit the nearby cemetary, (it is still in the octave of All Souls Day) and say some prayers. Then we will head up the road 8 miles or so to Andrew Jackson State Park for a picnic and a hike. The two trails are only a mile or so-perfect for the young ones and a warm-up for the older ones. I think there is also an old log cabin there and some other sites. We will check out the primitive "group" campsite also for a future trip. (At dinner young Thomas said that we were big enough to be a group all by ourselves. But I told him that we would get the 'Blue Knights' together for a reunion camping trip (we haven't had a meeting since we moved to Bethany.) I dislike the 'drive-up' campsites. I go camping for the quiet and solitude, (although the quiet part is hard with my crew. But I tell Mrs. Curley that their noise keeps the bears away), and also because some things just cannot be seen unless you spend a day or so hiking to them. The drive-up sites can be extremely noisy (people driving around honking horns at 9:00 at night looking for a campsite) and are often overrun with racoons. So usually we wouldn't go to a place like Andrew Jackson State Park. But we haven't gone camping in the longest time and we are all getting a little itchy for a campfire. And, the primitive group sites are usually more remote. Most of the best places in SC to go hiking an camping are 4 or 5 hours away now, and with gas prices as they are....

There is something special about saying the rosary around the campfire followed by some good songs and stories, (and a Guiness or two.) So we will check out their primitive site to see if it meets our minimum criteria.

The last two times we went camping was at Kings Mountain National Military Park (not the state park of the same name close by). The primitive site is a good 3+ mile hike if I recall correctly. But the forest there is ho-hum. Jones Gap is much better. The trail runs along the Middle Saluda River. There are a couple of spurs which have great waterfalls. The campsites are along the trail and right near the river. (Great for keeping Guiness cold and for falling asleep with the sound of running water.) From Jones Gap, you can hike across to Ceasar's Head State Park and see Raven Cliff Falls (photo in the previous link) from above the falls or across a ravine. Either way, it is the most scenic waterfall (and most photographed in SC. The trail to Raven Cliff is moderate, but can be a little long (especially on the way back) for younger ones. Table Rock is a strenuous hike, but the view from the top is spectacular and worth the trip. Here is a picture of the boys about 3/4 of the way up from a few years ago.

We have camped at the primitive group site at Congaree Swamp a number of times, but I really want to go farther in and camp near the river. The old cypress trees there are spectacular. You can camp anywhere at Congaree Swamp, but no open fires except at the group site, which is about a mile from the parking lot. The other place I want to go again (I went in college) is up near the Chattooga River. This is very quiet country. My favorite spot though is Mount Washington State Forest in Massachusetts (just on the border between MA, CT, and NY) It is also very quiet because the sites are along the trail, but several miles in. A cold river runs near the trail. I will never forget the night many years ago, my friend Tom and I hiked in after a rainy week and for the life of us couldn't start a fire with the wet wood (this would never happen now-my backwood skills are much better). We were cold and hungry. So I took our roll of toilet paper and placed a can of B&M beans on top of the roll and lit it. Those beans were the best I ever had. And, this was just enough to get our wood to light. I would love to take my boys up there some day...

(I remember our first "hike-in" camping trips when I carried all the food, and supplies and tents, and half the sleeping bags for three or four of us. Now I am a bit older (and heavier), but my boys can carry more of the load now.

We used to do just hot dogs and beans on these trips. But in recent years, we have added much to the menu: chicken (usually pre-cooked), barley, and corn (sub fish for the chicken on Fridays) mix; cornish hens, etc. We usually have oat meal for breakfast, (very hardy and doesn't take much time to cook or clean up when you want to break camp quickly.) We have started roaring fires in the pouring rain. We have learned a new skill or new way to cook in the backwoods on virtually every trip.

We've gone camping as a family twice. Once we hiked in the mile to the site at Congaree Swamp, (See picture-we are about to hike out in the morning. Most of those sleeping bags ended up on the top of my pack!) We even brought an old wind-up phonograph and one 78rpm record, (Don't Tell Me Your Worries When You're Lonesome by the Carlisle Brothers) with us. Mrs. Curley was up half the night listening for wild boar (no bears at Congaree). The other time was at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Tennessee. This was a drive-up site and now Mrs. Curley knows why (noise, drunken neighbors wandering thru your site at 2:00 AM) I prefer remote, hike-in areas. People can be worse than wild boar and bears when you're camping.

Of course now at Bethany we can have our 'campfire' in the back yard. We have an area where we have have been developing a sort of firepit. It is over grown now, but it is time to get it back into shape for fires as the colder weather is here.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, November 04, 2005

A few updates...and tyrannicide

Mrs. Curley is out of town visiting number 1 daughter, so I have a little extra time to do some housekeeping here at Bethune Catholic. I added a couple links: Southern Appeal because they have been right there the Supreme Court nominations and recent court decisions, and Dappled Things because of entries like this:

"One of my own practices, and one that I recommend to others, is to consider what particular temptations and sins we commit in life. Whether our own particular recurring sin is judgmentalism, or wrath, or pride, or this or that sin of the flesh, there are souls in Purgatory even now undergoing their purification for precisely those sins. I like to pray for those particular souls, doing my part to help them through, in the hopes that they will return the favor for me once they bask in the light of God's perfect charity. We're all in this together, and Christ has knit us together in a way that not even death can break. Our compassion for the poor souls in Purgatory is mirrored by the hope we see in the victory of the vast multitudes of all the Saints -- among whose number are those who underwent every kind of trial imaginable, every sort of temptation conceivable, and in the end, by the grace of God, conquered."

Fr. Tucker also recently posted a link about tyrannicide, here . This is of interest (to me) because something I read some time ago in Dr. Warren Carroll's book on French Revolution (The Guillotine and the Cross, Christendom Press) about the 'age-old Catholic Doctrine' of justified tyrannicide :

"If it is clear that one man rules outside the law; that he rules by terror and killing which will continue indefinitely if he is not removed; that there is no peaceful or political or judicial way of removing him; and that there is good reason to believe that his removal will bring the regime of tyranny and oppression to an end, then it is moral to kill that man by any means available." (Klaus von Stauffenberg's attempt at killing Hitler is given as an example of justifiable tyrannicide.)

The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, (here) tends to take the view that that tyrannicide (for a tyrant by oppression) is contrary to natural law.

The Stars

Most people in South Carolina have not heard of Bethune. One of the comments we get asked when our friends have visited Bethany for the first time is "How did you ever find this place?"

So it is not with a little surprise I came across an article in the county newspaper which says that amatuer and semi-pro astronomers come to Bethune from hundreds of miles away because, "Bethune is blessed with the state's most reliable dark skies."

There you have it folks. Just one more reason to come visit us at Bethany....

And yes, one of the first amazements we had here was looking up at the night skies....

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune....Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

More All Saints, All Souls, and other notes...

I have a couple of pictures for you today. The first is my gang of "saints". It is amazing that none of these showed up with a black eye this year. Note the tonsures which were requested (now removed) by 3 of the boys.

The second picture is the family gravesite in Massachusetts, taken on our last visit to MA in August. We make it a point to say the rosary at my Dad's gravesite at least once during every visit, (now rare) to Massachusetts. My father and his mother are buried here. My brother John has been keeping the site up very nicely.

Other notes of interest ....

I think I jumped the gun the other day when I said the chickens were back to laying their quota of six a day. What happened is that the person responsible for egg-gathering has missed a day here and there, making the numbers seem larger that reality. Thus, I believe our hens will start heading for the pot this coming week.

Mrs. Curley is taking a rare trip this weekend to see number 1 daughter in the convent. Please pray for her safe trip and return.

Finally, we had a serious dog-fight here at Bethany yesterday morning. We have 4 dogs. Sheba, a black lab-husky mix who is about nine months old and Lady, a lab-basset hound mix, who is about 1.5 years old. Lady was getting the worst of it. We had to physically tear Sheba off Lady. It was not easy. Lady had some wounds and was slow moving all day. All four dogs share a very large pen (used to be a goat pen). Fortunately there are a few small kennels in the back of the pen where we have isolated Sheba. We really don't know what to do about the situation. Sheba generally is a friendly dog. She is selfish with food and does aggravate the other dogs because she still acts much like a puppy while the others are calmer and older. Sheba also is not very trainable. (She is a dog with ADD). But she has never caused trouble before. Lady has always been a good dog in every way. We don't know if we put Lady and Sheba back together what will happen if anything. Will there always be bully relaitonship? Will they fight again? Will they forget about it? Any advice or experience from others on this would be welcome.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune.... Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Feast of All Souls

Yesterday's All Saints Day party was a grand success. Several parishioners joined the homeschooling families for breakfast and the children's saints pageant after Mass-making this more of a parish community celebration. After the pageant and games (Mrs. Curley has come up with a wonderful 'corporeal works of mercy relay race' which is a huge success every year-or did she get it from a book? Regardless it is fun to run and fun to watch.), we all sat together and sang some hyms-a wonderful day.

Today is All Souls Day. The Curley's post an updated list of our departed loved ones in a prominent place every November on this day. This posting does bring a reality to the need of these prayers for the holy souls-because these are the souls of people we knew and loved and who may now be suffering for our lack of prayers.

I have oft repeated to my children that I want prayers and Masses for my soul when I die, (no cancer or humane society donations...). I have also taken the oldest ones aside and asked them to talk to the priest who will be celebrating my funeral Mass, to emphasize with him that I don't want any sermon or eulogy saying how I am now at peace in the bosom of our Lord. Please tell this priest, I plead, to preach on death, judgement, and especially purgatory.

Over at my other blog (Catholic Laity) ,[by the way, it is insane to try to keep current on 2-blogs. Those others who do it well I must admire], I have posted (most) of the introduction to Requiem Press' "Daily Prayers to the Church Suffering".

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune.... Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy All Saints Day! - quick notes

Am taking at least a half-day off today. After 9:00 AM Mass, we have brunch and All Saints Day celebration at St. Catherine's. The Curley's will be contributing a St. Columba, St. Alban, St. Bernadette, Saint Francis of Assisi, and two saints I haven't guessed yet. Three of the Curley "saints" of are monks or friars, and those three boys convinced me last night to give them a temporary tonsure to make their costumes more realistic. (Pictures will follow...)

Interesting that Jeff blogs here about the 'youth culture' and the Church. Amy Welborn comes back from a youth conference in Atlanta and blogs here and here and asks:

"In short, my questions about the current state of youth ministry can be reduced to one: I am not convinced that most current (read, for the past two decades) trends in Catholic youth ministry have the net effect of rooting young people in a faith that will take them through to mature Catholic faith. It is all very much about pandering to the Teen Moment, and frankly, the Teen Moment passes pretty quickly - usually by the end of the first semester of college. And, ironically, some of the most solid teens, faith-wise, are extremely skeptical of the Teen Moment from the get-go, and are turned off by it. This is not about music, activities, etc...it's about something deeper. In fact, it's not about what's there, but about what's missing. Which is, in short, an explicit connection to the bigger, wider deeper Church that is 2000 years old, wise, rich and is the Body of Christ, for them, right now."

Finally, Requiem Press' newest release-"Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" by Russell Shaw is available today for order. Chapter 7 is one of the best guides I have read on how to discern a vocation. (And remember our special offer on prayer books for the holy souls in purgatory expires tomorrow. This will be the last plug. We certainly appreciate those who bought some of these. It helped the Curley's through an extremely tight month, and more importantly, I'm sure will help some souls get to Heaven more quickly to celebrate this glorious feast day!)

From Bethany, joyous on this feast day of all the saints in Heaven....Oremus pro invicem!