Thursday, July 31, 2008

We have been keeping Mrs. Curley pretty busy these days. As reported in this space earlier, we had high hopes for the garden this year-not just for a summer crop, but an abundance to blanch, freeze, or can for the winter. Of course this bumper crop didn't materialize.

So each week when I go into the city to work, I have been stopping at the Farmer's Market. Most of the local farmer's markets are primarily retail markets, but not the one in Columbia. It is open every day year round. Some of the produce comes from out of state, but there is a large pavilion of SC-grown produce. Restaurants and stores buy in bulk here.

So do I. This week I came home with a case each of beans, eggplant, peppers (red and green), , tomatoesand 50 lbs. of red potatoes. Some we eat right away, but most Mrs. Curley preserves for later. This week she also went to a local peach farm (for peaches) and went blueberry picking with a few of the kids in Elgin, SC.

All this means a busy next few days in the kitchen.

Mrs. Curley is now buying grain in bulk and milling our own flour (and baking our own bread.) I can't tell you how much better the bread and muffins we have taste now.

Our basic plan is to grow all our meat here (chicken, pork, and goat) and to grow (not working too well) or in this case buy our produce in bulk. This way the only trips we need to make to the grocery store are for other items-making those trips less often.

If the goat milk (or cheese) works out, then this is another savings.

Of course all this takes a lot of work. But we are working together and learning much.

I know I can successfully grow radishes and turnips on our land. In the fall I plan to dedicate almost everything to these crops-not so much for our consumption, but for the animals. The goats will absolutely devour the turnip and radish greens. The pigs and chickens will take care of the root.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Woe ...

... is me! Last week it was lightning. Today it is septic back-up (minor). I thought I had another month before pumping...

Engaging China .... Engagaing the Culture

Yesterday on my way into the city I heard a report from Amnesty International which said that in the run-up to the Olympics, the human rights abuses of the Chinese government are getting worse as they try put on a good face for the world.

About a year ago I had an article published at CE on China and the Olympics. (You can read the whole thing here). I started by saying:

When Richard Nixon "opened" China to Western trade, the argument for doing business with such an oppressive and totalitarian regime was that the infiltration of Western culture, business and freedom into China would inevitably lead to liberation of the Chinese people. Over thirty years have passed. What freedom has blossomed?

If you look at the progress (again from the article)

The Communist Government of China has managed to maintain their oppressive hold on their people by controlling their most basic instincts and rights, the very things which make us most human; that is the rightful worship of God and the procreation of new life — in effect dehumanizing its populace. And the West, which in many quarters agrees with the Chinese government control over procreation and doesn't often care about the worship of God, cannot offer hope to the Chinese because we are indifferent to their plight. In fact, the West contributes to the dehumanization because Western business leaders only see the Chinese population as a utility to make money through cheaper manufacturing. The West sees the Chinese people the same way the Chinese government does — as tools with no humanity. (Notice this very ideology is the battleground in the US regarding in vitro fertilization, human cloning, and worker issues.)

The "opening of China" to promote freedom in that nation has failed miserably. But instead of admitting that the experiment, which had goodwill in its origins, is a disaster, our nation and the world persists in self-delusion — or is it greed? Opening China to Western business has been good for our economy. We have invested in business and factories. We send our unskilled jobs there so Western consumers can buy cheaper products.

I believe the greatest fear among many US government and business leaders during the "crisis" with China over our downed military plane in 2001 was that a public outcry against China might damage our business investments.

China now exports their culture of death and oppression to us. It is ironic that when the United Nations wanted to hold a conference on women's rights they picked China. During that conference, China population control policies were praised by Western representatives. The US imports the abortion pill, RU486 from China. They export their ideology and death to us and we give them our technology and business. Who does this benefit?

I guess that it would be legitimate to say that our "engagement" of China has poisoned us much more than converted the Chinese. Deal with the Devil .....

As I thought about all this yesterday, I also thought about some combox debates I have been reading, which started with this article at Inside Catholic by Steve Skojec. The debate continues at Jeff Cultbreath's.

In some ways I think the disagreement is due to a vague definition of "engaging the culture". Sure we must EVANGELIZE the culture. And this does mean, if we make a movie, it needs to use all the best tools, actors, etc. (As Catholics, we should always bring our best to every endeavor.) However, we can't compromise. Mostly evangelization happens by example and personal relationship-and this is how most of us have the opportunity to do God's work. All of us must be careful we are not swallowed up in the culture of death. The compromises we may make (if any) must be prudential.

As an example, growing up I did not know one family (friends, school mates, relatives) who were divorced until my teenage years. This environment could not be found today. So it is an issue which must be addressed in the home, as the family encounters it in the world. But this doesn't mean watching TV and movies where broken families are portrayed as ho-hum. A broken family is always tragedy (even when it can't avoided), and while the culture doesn't recognize this, we must and our children must.

We need to be counter-cultural. The early Christians were different than everyone else. As with the example of US/China relations above, if we evangelize by going to R-rated (and most PG and some G movies) to get in with those we need to evangelize, then we are endorsing the culture and may be swallowed in it. But...

Each man has his own vocation from God. Each man has his own weaknesses and strengths. Some, with true love of God can look at current fashions etc and pity the wearer as he or she is missing the beauty and purpose of God's creation. Others can only look with lust. We must know ourselves. (Confession is great for this.)

In like respects, for any given time, each family has a vocation for a time and place. I think we must ask ourselves: What is the culture that needs to be built? and What is my role or place (my family's place) in building it? What should the culture look like? Are my compromises with the existing culture acceptable in the culture which should be built? Many other questions need to be asked and prayerfully answered when "engaging the culture". And yes, read St. Paul for guidance.

We can not cover the light under a bushel basket by a wholesale retreat to isolation (religious, excepted), but we can not either cover the light with the smog of the culture of death.

There is so much more to say and so much more to clarify...

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reading ...

... a bunch of books. You know, I was at the library last week when my Internet was down and I couldn't resist browsing the shelves-even though I have a stack of books at home. And of course, if you get a book out of the library, it immediately gets priority as the clock starts ticking on your two-week window.

So what did I fall for? The latest Grisham novel, The Appeal (where I think you finally get an extremely clear picture of Mr. Grisham's political leanings), which I have finished; and James Herriot's sequel to All Creatures....: All Things Bright and Beautiful, which I am 1/2 through (not quite as good as the original).

But I am still reading the fascinating Third Ways by Allan Carlson. In fact, I am just wrapping up a chapter which discusses in detail the history of the 'family wage'. More comment on that later.

Finally, I am reading An American Family-The Buckleys by Reid Buckley. I must admit, when I first got the book, I immediately read the chapters on Camden, SC (25 miles down the road from us). Now I am reading it in the traditional way.


I pined for the outdoors yesterday (even though it was 100 F) as I sat at the computer all day. I think I was made to work with my hands-or at least dream about it.

I am off to the city today. If you need more to read, then checkout the latest Requiem Press book excerpt posted today at The Requiem Reader .

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Weekend

Parts of the garden have seemed to come alive with the advent of a couple weeks of regular rain. Mrs. Curley's eggplants are now thriving. It looks like one or two of my cucumber plants in the back garden may just bear fruit, nothing yet, but they are flowering. I pulled a bean (the first of the year) off of one of my three remaining bean plants which survived the wilt. Maybe more will come?

My radishes, which I planted in the stead of wilted beans and others, are ready. The greens go to the goats, the fruit to the chickens. Some of my sunflowers are in full bloom too. We didn't plant many, but what we planted is generally looking good.

I started reading a loud James Herriott's Favorite Stories (compilation of excerpts from his four books) to the family Saturday night. There is something magical about stories being read in the evening.

We have a busy week. I have much to catch up on in the office, but at the same time we have some chicken pen work to finish and need to get ready to move our three "little" pigs to a new paddock (not yet completed.) So it will be busy-but much will fall on my working boys.

I took two of the boys fishing on Saturday afternoon in the drizzle. We went down to the Lynches River near where 151 and 903 meet near McBee. Not much doing. We went once last year during the height of the drought, and my youngest caught a bream-much to small to keep-but we kept it and fried it up for him. This was a year or so ago. This time my two boys both caught similar under-sized bream. We threw them back.

It was a movie weekend also. Friday night the older boys stayed up with us and watch Shane which we borrowed from the library. I have seen it some 1/2 dozen times. It doesn't get old-yet it doesn't rate with my all-time favorite westerns, Rio Bravo and The Magnificent Seven.

Sunday evening with home-made pizza (a family affair, some on the dough, some grating cheese) we watched I Remember Mama the story of an immigrant family from Norway around the turn of the century in San Francisco. Starring Irene Dunne (in my opinion one of the two greatest movie actresses, at least of the golden age) this is a delightful tale, but is of real life too, with human weakness and family drama. One scene I hoped which would sink in with my own children comes at the beginning where each of the family members, on their own initiative (but following the father's example of giving up his pipe) come up with things they can do to earn/save money so the oldest son can go to high school.

Well back to work.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Normalcy, complacency, and manhood

Everything is back to "normal". We have AC again (for what is looking like the coolest day of summer yet) and my business line and Internet are up again. We have dates for the next pig slaughter and are enjoying the bounty now.

My sons who work for neighboring farmers have come back with lots of pig slaughter stories from their employers and the men they work with.


I read this about manhood and the suburbs the other day (hat tip to Proecclesia). Here's a (rather long) snip:

But maybe the truest calling of man lies in the wilderness of life; in learning to thrive in the environments where complete control is not possible.

Think about every man you looked up to as a kid. Chances are they continually faced environments outside their complete control. Environments in which there was no guarantee of safety or success. Where one can only hope to influence rather than rule. Firefighters dueling with fire, soldiers battling the fog and friction of war, explorers traversing foreign territories, pilot’s pushing the boundaries of flight, or even the missionary working in inner-city New York. Each learning to thrive without being in control.

I know what you’re saying at this point. “Great, but I am a web designer and father of twins, not GI Joe or Vasco de Gama.” But, placing yourself in an environment outside your control does not necessarily mean changing jobs or even leaving the suburbs. It could be as simple as mentoring a troubled youth, working a few weekends each month at a homeless shelter, learning a hobby that has always seemed daunting to you, or starting the business you’ve been secretly planning during your work breaks for the past 6 years. Something that requires you to leave your comfort zone and step into unexplored territory. No guarantees of success. The hard way.

The suburbs convince us that the pinnacle of life consists of comfort, safety, and control. And the man that finally succumbs to this deadly logic is a miserable creature forced to live off the exhilaration of other men’s feats.

This last line reminded me of something I wrote in an article on manhood (yet unpolished and unpublished):

Sometimes I think that some men get a long-term depression once they realize that they have never discovered the Wilderness Trail or pitched a no-hitter in the World Series, or did anything which was heroic or adventurous from their childhood vision of manhood. This man feels ordinary. So he tries to relive the adventure he desired for himself either through his children or through entertainment offerings. Somewhere deep inside he has decided that the real meaning of manhood is watching football, drinking, beer, playing golf, burping, taking trash out, and gawking at the swimsuit issue of SI (or worse). But is this all men are destined for? Is this manhood?

I think complacency in our lives (our prayer life, our marriage, everywhere) is a real danger. And although easy to fall into, it does not satisfy the inner yearning of man.

Well, after a day of putting out fires, it is time to get back to earning some money. Always an uncertain venture around here!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


For the third time in 4 years we had a lightning strike. This time it damaged one of our tall cedar trees, took out the AC, our internet (and business phone line), our home answering machine and home portable phone. The AC is the most critical; I am at the library researching where I can get parts or service. After consultation with an AC-friend, we think it is the circuit board which went. Everything else seems in order.

Maybe its time to get a lightning rod....


Was over CT's (of pig slaughter fame) house last evening and he presented me with some brazed pig jowl (delicious) and some head cheese. We are going to have the head cheese for lunch when I get home from the library.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Last week before the pig slaughter, we frantically finished the milking shed. It came out quite well considering all the obstacles. There are some things left to do, like paint the doors, put proper latches on them, put molding around the window, etc.

This shed cost more than just the materials. Several of my tools were damaged or just plain burned out from use in the process. Most of these were pretty old.

For instance, my tablesaw was a gift from Mrs. Curley on our first Christmas married. A 8" blade Craftsman she got on sale combined with a coupon, for $79. (Craftsman and Delta tablesaws are the only tablesaws I have seen with deep throats, allowing crosscuts of wide boards.) The motor burned out cutting pallet wood. I ended up having to accurately ripping 1/4" off an 8-foot 2x4 with a handsaw-quite a feat if I do say so myself.

Then the circular saw went-its motor burnt out too. This saw was the cheapest one I could find when I got it, and it lasted some 14 or so years, so I guess I got my worth out of it.

These tools have seen more and more action these past two years-probably more action than their quality could take. They're not buried yet-I still might find some time to resurrect them


Four of our Rhode Island Red chicks were dead last evening. I don't know if the heat got to them or whether it was something else. We hadn't lost a single chick and they were a week old yesterday. None dead this morning, so we'll have to keep a watch on it.

Sunday after church a friend handed me a book: 1915 edition of The American Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association. Its pretty cool, with illustrations of every kind of poultry imaginable. Here's what a perfect Rhode Island Red hen should look like.

I have more books to report on and wrap-up, but it will have to wait. We are bringing one of the remaining hogs to the butcher to compare it with our slaughter and butcher efforts, and I have to work today on getting a transport cage finished for the truck. I picked up more pallet wood yesterday to aid in the job.

We are having some of our pig tonight. We can't wait.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Pig and I

Much has happened since my last cryptic post on Thursday. Friday of course was our planned slaughter day for the first pig. The whole week was a busy blur. We were trying to finish building and painting of the slaughter house/milk shed all week. By the time my cohorts arrived Friday afternoon for the pig slaughter we had finished all essentials but one: How to raise the pig. I had purchased a winch, but it didn't look like it was going to work well for our set up. So TS (I will use initials to protect the innocent) ran to the store to get a "come-along", and this ended up working fine.

We (or I) had had many plans over the days on how to get the pig near the slaughter house, but finally we decided to simply kill near the pigs pen in a small holding area, and then transport the carcass via my pick-up to the shed.

We lured the pig out of the pen and shut the gate. We had bowl of peanuts waiting, but the pig was more interested in the grass. Finally she came around, and I had my shot with my .22 Henry. I took it. The pig jumped back and started squealing and crying, (bleeding a bit) but didn't go down. The bruise on her forehead looked to be in the right spot, but apparently wasn't.

I retreated to the small pig pen and reloaded. The pig sounded angry, but now I understand that it was just hurt. The other two large pigs ran to the gate and cried with the shot pig.

I guess just as I took the first shot, my neighbor drove up to talk to the boys about work. When the first shot didn't take, my son asked my neighbor (whose killed hundreds of hogs in his 87 years) what to do. "Hit him again", he cried with a big grin. (I spoke with him on Saturday and he assured me that a miss had happened to him occasionally too-but he was still grinning!)

Well, that's what I did. About an inch lower, I took aim and shot. This time she went down instantaneously. TS and CT entered the holding area, and CT stuck the pig, (he was prepared to collect the blood for sausage, but we couldn't gather enough due to the first shot injury.)

We lifted the pig into the pickup after bleeding.

I had thought this pig was about 230 lbs., the smallest of the three-but I think I was mistaken. She must have been at least 250 lbs. if not more. Five of us struggled mightily.

The skinning started in the bed of the truck, with CT taking the lead. I was thankful for his leadership at this point, for my adrenaline was still going.

We brought the pig into the shed and hooked her up and raised her and proceeded with the skinning. This took longer than expected and was harder than the books portrayed. It didn't come off (and certainly didn't peel) as we expected. However, we did a good job; next time it should take half as long or less.

During this time, my boys (and Mrs. Curley) served as runners, picking up hack saw blades, ice-anything we had forgotten.

The shed is approximately 8' x 8'. I had brought out the window AC unit from our bedroom and we had a bath tub on one end with 3 fifty-pound blocks of ice. Later, we would add 100 lbs more of bagged ice. Still, the temperature in the shed, with 3 of us working stayed in the upper 70's. (At 5:30 AM the following morning with lights off and humans gone, the temperature reached a low of 66 F.) Obviously it was too warm to hang the pig overnight. So after skinning, eviscerating, and sawing in half, we wrapped each half in cheese cloth and put it on ice in the tub.

We finished at about 11:45 PM - having started with the first shot at 6:30 PM. A long day. We sat up for 2 hours drinking Guinness and re-capping the evening's events.

In the morning, after a hardy breakfast from Mrs. Curley, we butchered the pig. CT had brought a great book from the library Home Butchering and Meat Preservation by Geeta Dardick (circa 1986). It was an invaluable guide and much more detailed than the two pig books I had. This book covered goats and small game as well as pigs. It is on my short list of books to get.

I spent most of the butchering observing, wrapping meat as it became available and trimming for sausage. Mrs. Curley also helped wrap much of the meat. (We decided to butcher in our dining room after covering everything with kraft paper-having running water and utensils convenient.)

We started at 10:00 AM and my cohorts were on the road by about 2:30-not bad. A lot of pork. We didn't salt any for ham, but will do some bacon.

A book I have said that slaughter and butcher of a pig can take a family the better part of two days. It is very true.

We cooked up the small ham for dinner last night. We were excited and pleased with the results!

Earlier on Sunday a neighboring farmer came by with a truckload of watermelons he had which were smaller and too old to sell. He thought our pigs might like them!

I don't know how to end this post other than to say that God had blessed us greatly!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chickens arrived safely yesterday. All is still well this morning.

Harvested more old corn for the pigs this morning. One of them has his last meal tonight. Getting ready for this is keeping us pretty busy. Thus light blogging ahead.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clipped from the ChesterBelloc Mandate

An occasion of sin was defined by the moralists as a set of circumstances where the average man will sin, but where the heroic man will not sin. Occasions of sin must be judged not by what a minority will do, but what an average person will do. The thing we call Industrialism is an occasion of sin. If the modem industrial arrangement of the world is such that to avoid sin needs heroic virtue, then the modern industrial arrangement of the world is an occasion of sin. This arrangement has impoverished its followers. When married folk have not the house room necessary for the average family, then the average married folk will practise birth-prevention. It is impossible for the modem industrial system to give an economic wage which will pay an economic rent.

Taken from The Eye-Witness - Fr. Vincent McNabb


Youngest son and I made houses for the day-old chicks due to arrive today (25 Rhode Island Red hens for laying eggs next year & 25 X-Rocks for meat.) In the past we have put them in the coop and merely tried to make escape difficult by putting screening up at the bottom of the coop as small chicks can easily squeeze through poultry wire. But we have spent much time chasing chicks this way. So this time we made dedicated housing. They will graduate from it when they are too big to escape.

Youngest son is excited. He is in charge of raising the meat birds.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Diseases of the flesh and spirit

Several weeks ago I heard a report on the radio about the new Shingles vaccine and a new 'epidemic' of Shingle occurrences. I shook my head in wonder how these vaccine companies have us going ...

The Chicken Pox vaccine (developed using tissue from an aborted baby) came into use some 20 years ago or so? First it was optional, now it is mandatory for entrance into the school system in most states. The Chicken Pox vaccine needs a booster several years after the initial injection.

Of course, Chicken Pox is the source of shingles, and it has been found that receivers of the CP vaccine are much more likely to contract Shingles later in life. The Chicken Pox virus lives in your system for ever once introduced and may exhibit itself as shingles later in life.

The reason Shingles has become more prevalent is that adult exposure to Chicken Pox (if the adult had Chicken Pox as a child) acts like a booster vaccine itself. Now, children aren't getting Chicken Pox due to the vaccine, so adults don't get their natural booster, and the children have a higher risk of Shingles due to the vaccine itself. Thus the vaccine companies now have a reason for the new Shingles vaccine.

Here we have it: the vaccine companies develop an unnecessary* vaccine by unethical methods, lobby the states successfully to mandate it, and thus create new medical problems that require a new vaccine. How sweet a deal this is!

*Chicken Pox is largely a harmless disease if contracted as a child. However, it can be serious and even deadly if contracted by an adult.


Am reading Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. I didn't think I would like it. I have tended to find many of these recommended literary gems to be in fact, boring. But not so this one. It is a page-turner. As I read the sufferings due to sin, I am hoping for redemption-but am not optimistic for the priest at this point. We should pray more for all our priests.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Just a word ...

... on the weekend.

I picked up three new pigs on Thursday. They are from different litters; one is about 80 lbs, one is about 50 lbs, and one is about 40 lbs. This great. They will be ready at different times.

The 50 lb pig is a Duroc, a beautiful brown/red color.

One issue has arisen. The pen for little pigs borders on the large pig pen. The border area in the large pen has been the mud hole for the large pigs. But with the new pigs here, for some reason, the large pigs have started doing their business in the mudhole, instead of at the other end of the pen. This makes for messy work and it means we have to try to form a new mud hole.

We worked hard on Saturday on the milking shed/slaughter house. We have one wall to complete-then of course we have the roof, doors, painting, etc.

I also have 50 chickens coming in this week. We have some work to do to get ready for them also.

Busy days ahead.

Oremus pro invicem!

From Third Ways paraphrasing Chesterton's "agenda" for Distributism

To decentralize transportation, discourage the railroads and favor the automobile. ... after the tyranny of the railroads, "the free and solitary traveler is returning before our very eyes ... having recovered to some extent the freedom of the King's highway in the manner of Merry England."

There is much to be said, pro and con, for the rise of the automobile. Chesterton believed that the automobile would bring back some personal freedom-not just in practice, but maybe also in a way of life:

If possessing a Ford car means rejoicing in a field of corn or clover, in a fresh landscape and a free atmosphere, it may be the beginning of many things .... It may be, for instance the end of the car and be the beginning of the cottage.

And in some senses I agree with this last. But we both must remember (as Chesterton certainly does-read the paragraph preceding this quote from the Outline of Sanity) that the automobile itself is not intrinsically good or evil. And while I would be hard pressed to give up one of my automobiles, I think that looking back, Chesterton might find that the auto has done more to kill the family farm than to help it.

Here's the deal. I was talking to a neighbor farmer the other day. He is 87 years old. This area used to be full of family farms, including dairy farms etc. I asked about cotton (it is not seen too much in these parts.) He told me that this whole area was awash in cotton. I asked whether the textile mills closing (going overseas) was the cause of its demise. He said, maybe in part. But he told me that more importantly, the kids left home to work in the cities to have more cash. He told me that farming could be a hard life, but you never were in want, (you never had cash-but you had food, the necessities). But the children born to his generation wanted cash; they wanted things. So they left the farm. Without families to work the farms, especially the more labor intensive crops, the farms died.

Now is the automobile to blame? Oh not entirely, but it is certainly one of those things in life which gives you a sense of independence from everyone and anything else-and can make you want more of the like. You can make it on your own.

Sometimes one needs this, but in truth (and this is hard for Americans) we need each other, our family and our community. And for the good of our souls, we need to rely more upon each other.

Chesterton was right about the possibilities, but in our fallen human nature, he was overly optimistic about how many would see the clover and give up the car (not literally of course). In fact, it worked more often the other way.

So Chesterton saw the potential for good of the auto. And of course, Englishmen (and England) are different than Americans-perhaps this makes all the difference?

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chesterton it is! but first ...

But first, Mrs. Curley felt slighted she wasn't on my list of preview posts. So here I will oblige her briefly.

Two days ago she drove the boys back in the fields to pick the remaining corn not for the market. On her way home I got a call: "I'm stuck."

Me: How are you stuck?
Her: I'm just stuck that's all. Are you going to come and get me?
Me: How are you stuck?
Her: I'm just stuck; come up here.
Me: Where are you?
Her: I don't know! Connor will tell how to get here.

Now this isn't the first time I have got a call to rescue our stuck 1987 S10 Pick-up. Usually the boys persuade her to take a short-cut on a dirt road, and Mrs. Curley gets stuck in the sand. So this is what I prepared for. But this time it was different.

The S10 is VERY low to the ground. She got the undercarriage of the truck stuck on a hump of earth! Of course I wasn't prepared for this (and she didn't tell me on the phone.)

We walked the mile or so back there with the wrong tools and then had to send one son back for a tire iron (for some reason the truck's was in the van's. Go figure.)

We then jacked it up off the hump and than rolled it off the jack (and the hump.)

So there you go Mrs. Curley, your 15 minutes of fame!

Chesterton will have to wait til later.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I have been extremely busy on a number of fronts lately. I have several things I am anxious to post on (including for example a very rare, and possibly presumptuous, instance where I disagree with GK Chesterton-hindsight being 20/20). However, typing in the quotes and getting on the links correctly takes more time than I have available.

In some senses, I am using this post as a reminder to myself to get these items written when things slow down ....

So here's the list:

1. GK Chesterton is wrong on something?
2. A group of friends searching for truth become monks.
3. The chicken pox vaccine and the new shingles vaccine.
4. The seemingly short attention span of some blog commenters (none here-as you can see not much controversial commenting goes on at BC) or the inability of some to read carefully an article which has nuance.
5. My latest, long overdue, next chapter in the Ways of God for Fathers.
6. A quote from Fr. Vincent McNabb (with short commentary by me).
7. A wrap-up of the book Maria.
8. Progress on our building efforts at the homestead.
9. And why, despite several personal vows (used loosely) never to read another Grisham novel, I keep doing it periodically.

Call it coming previews. (If you have a vote on which I should tackle first, I may oblige.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rain, sweet rain & corn, sweet corn!

Last night I was coming home from Columbia by way of Gilbert (stopping off for a quick pig slaughter strategy session with my co-conspirators) where I had picked up 11 bales of rye straw. The weather was threatening, but I was lucky, within 7 miles of Bethany, I hadn't seen a drop...but then the torrential downpours hit-so hard I missed the short cut home. No tarp on the straw, so it go wet. We laid it out to dry today, and just barely covered it before the rain hit again tonight.

How welcome is this rain. I can't water the way a couple hours of rain can. While most our garden has wilted in the heat, what remains looks absolutely revived by last night's (and now tonight's) storm. Praised be God.

And now the corn! Of course my sons have been working a few mornings a week picking okra for a neighboring farmer. I am quite proud of them. One side benefit is that they bring home some okra which is quite good, but too big to sell. (This IS a benefit. Mrs. Curley has (finally) figured out how to cook this Southern staple, and it is quite good.)

This week the same farmer needed some extra help with his sweet corn harvest, and yes, they brought home a sack of sweet corn.

There is NOTHING like sweet corn cooked the same afternoon it is picked.

Further benefit, the sweet corn which is not fit for human consumption (too small, picked at by insects, etc.) the boys get to collect for our pigs. Wow!

And I think they are beginning to feel they are contributing to the family economy with their work.

Pig slaughter has been put off for a week as we make sure we have everything ready. We will do one pig next weekend and then evaluate how to proceed with the last two.

In the meantime, I pick up my next set of pigs ... tomorrow! And we have 50 chickens arriving in next week. We have lots of stuff to do to prepare...and oh yes, I still have to make some money ....

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Reading "Spanning the Globe" feature at TS' place I read this line (cut away from the rest of the quote):

Awaiting vacation reveals a will to live. ... -Fr. Giussani via Fred of "Is it Possible?"

It made me think about how much we look forward to and thus save for and prepare for our vacations. And thus it made me think if we look forward to and prepare with the same enthusiasm and intensity for our final destination-do we have a will to live eternally in Heaven?

Reading down in the same feature (albeit a quote from a different source), we find the means:

How do we become saints? It’s very simple: the Eucharist. Every saint has made the Eucharist the center of his or her life. If we center our lives on the Eucharist, we will become saints.... - Fr. Greg of "St. Andrew's Parish"

And isn't the Eucharist a preview of Heaven? You can connect the dots.

Oremus pro invicem!

So, just say you start a Catholic Worker house; say you have a soup kitchen a few times a week, or more. How about the kids? Certainly, participating in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy can't hurt them, (in my mind, it can only help) but what about other things?

I found an interview with Tamar Day-Dorothy Day's daughter here. Here's the (long) quote from the piece:

“I loved the Catholic Worker. It was so exciting. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it,” Tamar Hennessey told NCR in a phone interview from Vermont. Nonetheless, like her mother, Tamar Hennessey said it’s difficult to combine being a Catholic Worker with parenting. Hennessy said there may be some people who can do both, but usually people find they have to choose between them.

“I think you’ll hear a lot of contradictory stories. A lot of other children did have a difficult time being in the Worker,” Hennessy said. “I think Dorothy was very aware of the fact that you can’t do both well, and she was right.”

For herself, Henessey remembers growing up in the Catholic Worker as stimulating but physically grueling, especially with her mother often on the road.

“I was only 8 years old when it started. She was traveling a lot, and I was left to be taken care of by various people, and I got very ill. It was hard for both of us. She had her work, and yet at the same time she had me. She was very devoted. She was torn,” said Hennessy. “I did end up in boarding school for four years, which worked out well.”

Hennessy offered a sympathetic, nuanced account of Dorothy Day the mother.

“She loved her family so much, and in so many, many ways she kept me going. She missed understanding the material side of it. She expected a lot of going without. At the same time, she supported me a lot, and I can’t say enough good about that,” Tamar Hennessy said.

Hennessy acknowledged that Dorothy Day could be exacting. “She wanted everybody to be like saints. I mean, who can measure up to that?” asked Hennessy.

Married when she was still a teenager, Tamar Teresa Day Hennessy went on to have nine children and for many years led a hardscrabble existence living in the country. She was attracted to the Catholic Worker vision of rural families living on the land and tried to live that out with her own family, she said.

“I tried to hold on to those values. I tried to live simply. I tried to follow the Catholic faith. It did not turn out well. Right now I seem to have lapsed,” she said of her own religious faith.

Hennessy said people sometimes try to invent a rift between her and her mother that doesn’t exist. “I admired her overwhelmingly,” Hennessy said of Dorothy Day.

The story goes on and interviews other children of Catholic Workers. Just as interesting is the comment thread here at Vox-Nova discussing the interview (and where I originally found the link to the other article).

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, July 07, 2008

We went to the library on Thursday afternoon. We had to get some lumber and stuff in Camden, so we took everyone and stopped for a bit at the library. I got The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Have never read anything by him before. Of course, I have a few other books to finish first....

I also found Entertaining Angels - the story of Dorothy Day in the video section. Who would have figured this little library in the Bible belt, with only a few hundred videos would have this one. So we got it, and Mrs. Curley and I watched it last night.

I am always a little leery about 'saint' or political figure movies. The temptation is great (for the movie producers) to use the figure for their own agenda (even or expectedly from an entity like Paulist Films). I don't think this happened in this film.

I thought the film was good and mostly well-acted. At times it was intense and hard to watch-not your typical popcorn movie. Of course there were a lot of things left unexplored-how much can you do in 114 minutes? Dorothy Day's prayer life was mostly hidden. During her conversion she does tell God, "You certainly sneak up on a person don't you!" We also see her praying for discernment and during a crisis. But daily Mass?-not really addressed.

Yet her conversation with the Cardinal (played by Brian Keith) does highlight the fact she is not just a secular do-gooder, but trying to live the Catholic Faith. There are some unanswered questions-but perhaps it is an invitation to learn (and do) more.


RAIN! After Mass yesterday we picnicked with some friends at Andrew Jackson State Park just north of Lancaster. We packed up at 4:00 PM just as it started to downpour-but as we got within 15 miles of home, the skies cleared, and it was apparent no moisture had fallen here. But not to be 7:00 PM it was raining, and by looks of it, rained a good part of the night.

We are going to take the day off from building as I catch up on some office work (it is still overcast).

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Eucharistic Thursday (also feast of St. Thomas)

So I was finally one of the white-clad girls who made their first communion in third grade. I resolved on that day that I would never, but really never, again offend God, to whom I wanted to belong until I died.

Such were the sentiments of Maria von Trapp. (As noted in a previous post, she subsequently lost the Faith, when still a child was put under the guardianship of a committed atheist, but regained it in her late-college years.)


Commentary from our parish bulletin from our pastor (and sometimes Requiem Press author) Fr. John O'Holohan, S.J., who is home in Ireland for a bit:

In a second hand bookshop I came across a little book that delighted me. Its title is Ireland's Loyalty to the Mass by Father Augustine, O.M.Cap., published in 1933. It describes the fierce attempts to abolish the Mass in Ireland after Henry's defection from the Catholic Church. Henry VIII died in 1547. Although he rejected the supremacy of the Pope, he never faltered in faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In spite of colossal vanity ans selfishness he remained steadfast to this great "Mystery of Faith". The destruction of the Holy Sacrifice was the main object of the Anti-Catholic Reformation, but Henry remained loyal to the Mass to the last hour of his life.

In Henry's will was the following request: "We do earnestly require and desire the Blessed Virgin, God's Mother , with all the company of heaven, to pray for us ... and that there be provided, ordained and set a convenient altar honourably prepared and appareled with all manner of things necessary for daily Mass (for my soul), there to be said perpetually while the world shall endure."

It is therefore ironic that it is Henry's own break with the Church which set the wheels in motion to outlaw the Mass, and therefore make impossible Henry's own last request.

Father John goes on:

In spite of the savage persecution the Irish people remained loyal to the true Faith. They knew no theology or Latin, yet they instinctively knew that the Mass was the central act of our Redemption. They were ready to die for it. Why?

It was not, therefore anything merely human, but something really Divine that caught their eyes and gripped their souls. It was the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice that drew the Irish people, and caused them to pour out all the wealth of their hearts in the miserable hovels which He deigned to visit even for a fleeting hour or less.

Interesting that Thomas (whose feast is today) is known for wanting to see to believe-and yet the Eucharist requires believe without seeing. Thomas is a great saint of the Church.

Another Thomas, Thomas More wrote this prayer:

O sweet Saviour Christ, by the divers torments of Thy most bitter Passion, take from me, good Lord, this lukewarm fashion or rather key-cold meditation, and this dullness in praying to Thee. And give me Thy grace to long for Thy Holy Sacraments, and especially to rejoice in the Presence of Thy blessed Body, sweet Saviour Christ, in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and duly to thank Thee for Thy gracious visitation therewith.

Finally, a spiritual Communion which I learned high school: I wish my Lord to receive you with the purity, humility, and devotion, with which your most holy Mother received you; with the spirit and the fervor of the saints.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Now reading also ...

by Allan Carlson Third Ways - how Bulgarian Greens, Swedish housewives, and beer-swilling Englishmen created family-centered economies-and why they disappeared. (I haven't finished Maria, but am more than 1/2 way through-will wrap that one up later in the week.)

Here's the first quote I'll give from the book (I am sure their will be more):

Applying Rerum Novarum to English politics brought Chesterton into conflict with his coreligionists. The more conservative Catholics had taken the encyclical as "a general confirmation of the established order." They emphasized the document's condemnation of socialism and ignored its critical dissection of capitalism as well as its agrarian claims."

Funny, this is the same thing that happened with John Paul II's social encyclicals and the conservative Catholics in this country. (I have written before about National Review's commentary (under WFB-may his soul rest in peace) at the time.


Related, I was listening to NPR's Marketplace (or possibly All Things...) yesterday on the road and there was a piece on the tomato salmonella outbreak. The interviewee (I have no idea who he was, but believe he was from the council for food safety or some such organization) wants federal inspectors on the ground daily inspecting tomatoes as we do with meat. I think it misses the point. It appears to me that big agri-business is to blame for these things and expanding federal bureaucracy only enables the problems by treating symptoms.

Here's the deal. If produce was supplied regionally from local sources being small family farms, then: 1. Salmonella outbreaks (and the like) would be restricted to small areas (not nation-wide); 2. restricted to a limited population (numerically); and 3. easily tracked and sourced. But, until things crash, greed rules the roost, (which is why big government is necessary in a capitalist system), not common sense or common good.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tuesday notes

A new article up on CatholicExchange by RequiemPress author (and my sister) Agnes Penny. Here's the clip:

For a Catholic, nothing is useless. Nothing needs to be wasted. The littlest sacrifice, the tiniest good deed, and the smallest moment can be transformed into a prayer. A smile for the cashier after a half-hour wait in line may get more souls out of Purgatory than you ever dreamed.


As I went off to work this morning (on the road again), I passed my two sons working the okra field down the road. A proud moment for papa.

We are working on the milking shed/slaughter house ferociously, as the day quickly approaches. Plans have changed so many times, my head is swirling. I will post pictures when they are available (maybe a couple months???)


TS' trip to New York fondly reminds me of my forays into Manhattan in past years. For several years in the late 90's I used to spend a few days in Manhattan once or twice a year. I am a creature of habit and not too adventurous. I found a favorite place to eat (and drink) and would go there habitually on every trip. It was Jameson's Pub (on 3rd, 4th, or 5th street-my memory is hazy, but I do recall it was right next to a pub named Murphy's into which I never ventured, having found my home.)

I used to order a Guinness and a bacon cheeseburger, with the intent each time of two beers and a burger. I recall the barkeep (the same one over a number of years-and he a young man with a thick brogue) would come to me just as I was finishing my first Guinness and ask, "And how did you say you wanted your burger?". Then as I finished my second, he would ask, "And did you want fries with that?" As I finished my third, he would place my meal and a 4th in front of me. As I asked for the check, he would say, "Ah, but I just am pouring another Guinness for you." It happened every time.

Oremus pro invicem!