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Archive for January, 2011

Why doesn’t the Latin Rite Church just start ordaining married men again? If men can’t or won’t stay celibate, then why force the issue?  Well, I peeked into the future, when married priests are commonplace, and this is what I heard in the pews:

“Well!  I see the pastor’s wife is pregnant again!  What is she trying to prove?  Must be nice to pop ‘em out year after year, while the parish has to support all those brats.”

or:

“Well!  I see another year has gone by and the pastor’s wife still isn’t pregnant.  A fine example they’re setting!  I won’t have them teaching my children CCD, since his own wife is clearly on the Pill.”

and:

“I went to the rectory the other day to talk to Father about my divorce, and those damn kids of his wouldn’t shut up for a minute.  Sounded like a herd of elephants running around up there — I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight.  How can he give me advice about my family when he can’t even control his own?”

or:

“I have to talk to someone about my kids, but I would never go to Father — his kids are so well-behaved, he could never understand what I’m going through.  I swear, his wife must drug them or something — something ain’t right there.”

and:

“I see the pastor’s kids are taking tennis lessons!  I guess they’re doing pretty well– no need for me to leave anything in the basket this week, when we’re barely getting by.”

or:

“I see the pastor’s kids are wearing such ratty shoes.  What a terrible example he sets!  No one’s going to want to join a church that encourages you to have more kids than you can care for.”

and:

“I wanted to meet with Father to talk about the new brochures for the pro-life committee, and his secretary said he was busy — but on the drive home, I saw him at the McDonald’s playground, just fooling around with his kids!  I guess I know where I stand in this parish!  Harumph.”

or:

“Everyone thinks it’s so great that Father started all these holy hours and processions and prayer groups, but I saw two of his little ones sitting all alone, just looking so sad and neglected.  It’s a shame that any children should grow up that way, without proper attention from their parents.  Harumph.”

And so on, and so on.  I’m sure you can think of more.   Imagine if his wife had a job?  Or imagine if she didn’t have a job?  Imagine if his wife wore jeans?  Imagine if she wore a veil? Imagine if he got an annulment, and then started a new family?  Would the parishioners pay for alimony or child support?  Imagine if the priest could get married, but was still single?  Is he gay, or impotent?  Is he hitting on me?  Is he hitting on my daughter? [As Abby pointed out, no rite has ever allowed already-ordained priests to marry, so this wouldn't be an issue!]

I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember a pathetic prayer uttered by the semi-fictional Don Camillo:  “Please, merciful Lord, if I have to blow my nose while I’m up at the altar, let me do it in a way that doesn’t offend anyone.”

And it wouldn’t just be a matter of doing the right thing and shrugging off unjust gossip — it would be so hard to know what is the right thing to do.  I see how my husband struggles to work hard at his job,  make enough money, and strategize for the future, because we’re all depending on him — and then comes home and puts it all aside to become the sympathetic and appreciative husband and the strong but playful dad.  And he only has one family.

It’s hard enough for men to balance family and career — what if, as priests, they had to balance their biological family with a spiritual family of parishioners?  Whose needs come first?

And did I mention?  The average American Catholic diocesan priest makes between $15-30,000 a year.

Look, I know there are some families that could  hack it.   There are some that do, and I’m sure there are some that do very well, especially if the parish is close-knit and conservative, with a long, comfortable tradition of married priests.  And I know we’re likely to see more married priests soon, since our beloved (and thrilling!) Benedict XVI has so warmly welcomed the Anglicans in.

How’s it going to go?  I don’t know.  I’m not saying it’s a bad idea; I’m just saying it’s not the no-brainer heal-all for anemic numbers in the seminaries. All the hypothetical nasty comments above are things that people say about decent, hard-working, LAY Catholic couples with private lives.  Other people have no business judging them — and yet they do, all the time.  How much worse would this gossip (and the attendant protest via empty collections basket and empty pews) be if the couple in question had much less claim to a private life?  Parishioners tend to feel like they “own” their pastors.  This can take the form of befriending and loving him, making him meals, and praying for him — but it can also take some uglier forms.  I cannot imagine enduring such scrutiny as a pastor’s wife or child, especially without the graces of Holy Orders that help a priest survive his daily ordeal.

And oh dear —  I was about to ask Priest’s Wife to weigh in, and now I see that she wrote about this last week!  Check it out, and also her fascinating follow-up post on celibacy and selfishness.  She was originally responding to a post by Fr. Z, which frankly I cannot make myself read.  The commentors he attracts always make me want to hide in the catacombs, to get away from those awful Catholics.  Brrr.

Well, next time, we’ll discuss why – sigh – women priests are such a bad idea.

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Seven Reasons Why Being Fat May Be the Right Choice For You  . . . Today!

1.  You are so comfortable for the kids to snuzzle up with, especially in the winter.  As Mighty Mighty pointed out in the comments box of this post, kids always think bigger is better; and being nice and soft, with no bunchy muscles or anything, makes it even nicer.  Not only for the kids, either.

2.  Fashionwise, it’s a great time to be fat.  You have sartorial choices like never before.  Fifteen years ago, I remember our terrifyingly brilliant, consummately cultivated, frequently profound, secretly magnanimous, and very, very fat philosophy professor grumbling that, when he went shopping, he had a choice between a gigantic red polo shirt, or a gigantic red polo shirt with Tweety Bird embroidered on it.  This is a man who, when he had a fever, once stood at the podium and taught an entire phenomenology class in German without realizing it. (He’s not German.)  And everyone was too intimidated to say anything about it; we just took our notes, and liked it.

Oh, anyway, the point is that, nowadays, there are a lot more good clothes for fat people.  So  now, smart, fat people don’t have to wear Tweety Bird, unless they want to.

3.  So many American are  so much fatter than you.  If you’re feeling bad, just go the mall — you’ll feel like a slender reed in no time, because you’ll be in the minority of shoppers who don’t actually require the double door to get in.  Even when you’ve grown beyond bunchy, sailed past stout, and landed firmly in the land of lard, you will find that the hangers with your size on it are no longer the last one on the rack — there’s a whole new alphabet back there!  This is the age of the L-cup!  Boston just got a special ambulance for the obese! And look at you — you don’t even need an ambulance yet!  Have another Ring Ding — you can take it, slim.

4.  You get to discover that your husband is really, really in love with you, or else he’s a fantastic and indefatigable actor.  Just think, if I were still the proportions I was when he met me (36-24-38, just two inches away from being zoned as a brick house!), I would always wonder if he was sticking around all these years because of me, or my measurements.  Now that I’ve added the equivalent of a six-year-old child to my frame, I know it must be true love.

5.  I am so easy to buy presents for.  Look at the label of the item in question:  does it say either “nutrition information” or “XXL?”  If so, then it’s perfect for me.

6.  If I see a cookie, I can just go, “Hey, I’m gonna eat that,” and then I do.  Simple!

7.  I’d like to add more, but I’m all out of breath from typing.  Check out the other 7 Quick Takes at Jen Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary.  See you on Monday, you skinny jerks.

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Here in Topeka

Sorry for the silence, folks.  I’m suffering from 80% disease:  I have about six posts 80% written, and then I say, “Yeah, that’s pretty much it — I’ll just go back and finish it up tonight.”  And then I dye my hair, change my social security number, and move to Canada so I don’t have to deal with it.

In the mean time, I offer you this Loretta Lynn song that my mother sent me.  I’ve never heard it before, but I love it!  It’s actually named “One’s On the Way,” but I didn’t want to title the post that, because then you would think I’m pregnant, and I’m not.

It seems like a pretty good follow-up to the March for Life, doesn’t it?  You know, that day when hundreds of thousands of ninjas march to show their support of women and babies.  I say “ninjas” because they somehow slip by the attention of the media — amazing!  It’s like they were never there.  And yet they get the job done.

Not everyone marched, but many hundreds of thousands stayed at home and helped the cause in their own way:

Here are the lyrics:

They say to have her hair done Liz flies all the way to France,
And Jackie’s seen in a discotheque doin’ a brand new dance,
And the White House social season should be glittering and gay

But here in Topeka the rain is a fallin’
The faucet is a drippin’ and the kids are a bawlin’
One of them is toddlin’ and one is a crawlin’ and one’s on the way.

I’m glad that Raquel Welch just signed a million dollar pact
And Debbie’s out in Vegas workin’ up a brand new act
And the TV’s showin’ Newlyweds, a real fun game to play

But here in Topeka the screen door’s a bangin’
The coffee’s boilin’ over and the warsh needs a hangin’
One wants a cookie and one wants a changin’ and one’s on the way.

Now what was I doin’ – Jimmy get away from there  – darn there goes the phone
Hello honey. What’s that you say – you’re bringin’ a few ole Army buddies home
You’re callin’ from a bar? Get away from there
No, not you, honey, I was talkin’ to the baby- Wait a minute honey, the door bell
Honey could you stop at the market and –hello? hello? well I’ll be.

The girls in New York City they all march for women’s lib,
And Better Homes and Gardens shows the modern way to live,
And the pill may change the world tomorrow but meanwhile today

Here in Topeka the flies are a buzzin’
The dog is a barkin’ and the floor needs a scrubbin’
One needs a spankin’ and one needs a huggin’ – Lord, one’s on the way.

Oh gee I hope it ain’t twins again

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I feel so moron

what the hell is planet aid
what is the process of wearing my shoes
is it stupid to have 3 kids under 3
what time does snappy’s close

very short cut porno pants
don’t have an hourglass figure
your a wiener
snapy sex
scotch taped rabbit
dog

lori petty
lori petty
lori petty  + boobs
simcha fisher horses butt
lori petty nude

why does my guy on harvest moon a wonderfull life always look unhappy even if he isnt hungry?
simcha fisher “moral theologian”
dont ha ha
lucky charms make me fart

zimcha fisher
dont you shush me
big dog teeth
huge dog teeth

blue haired doberman spells like outside but lives inside
male hair blond and pretty
jesus is you pall
i look is happy
i feel so moron

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(cross-posted at Inside Catholic’s blog)

My heart sank when I saw this picture on Creative Minority Report:

The NAACP hid a prominent statue of George Washington inside a wooden box during a MLK Day rally, offering the terminally lame excuse that the box would make a more suitable backdrop for the rally’s speakers.   The NAACP denies any intention of disrespect, but their narrow view of history is no secret:  anyone who owned slaves is a racist, and anyone who is a racist cannot be called a great man.  This is what is taught in history class, and several generations have been nourished on these junk food ideas.

Students are taught that they must not squander their exquisite admiration on someone who owned slaves.  They are taught, by implication, that it’s not enough for a man to give up his family and his safety for the noble cause of independence.  It’s not enough to inspire and command.  It’s not even enough to triumph in a way that directly benefits millions of people today.

He must also be . . . EVERYTHING MAN.

He must leap out of his time, and see with the eyes of every possible future type of enlightenment.  Did he accomplish the massive victories that his generation desperately needed?  Not good enough.  We also require him to be the role model for solving any type of conflict that might ever turn up, or else he’s no good to us.  Into the box you go, little George.  You don’t impress us anymore.

Where else do we see this same lazy, self-absorbed analysis of history?  In the sour voices that grumble over John Paul II’s beatification.   He may have been good, they say, but oh, he was not great.  Oh, sure, he was very charistmatic and all.  He clearly prayed a lot, and that’s commendable.  But what a hash he made of the Church!  It’s all his fault!  He’s the one who wrote all those lame hymns, he’s the one who offered free butch haircuts to nuns, if you’ll recall.  And who can forget those Woodstock-style World Youth Day rallies, where he encouraged the youth to hold hands during the Our Father?  Never mind that the number of Catholics worldwide grew from 700 million to 1.2 billion while he was Pope — the guy was a squish, a pushover, a washout.

Listen to me.  God sends certain men to achieve certain great deeds while they live.  They are not responsible for what future generations may require:  that is up to the heroes born of those generations.  Great men are great because they do what needs to be done at the time.  They put their own desires and frailties aside, and they make the world new with their particular strengths, their particular form of brilliance.  Heck, that’s what Martin Luther King Jr. did.  A holy man?  No.  He was a serial adulterer.  And Washington owned slaves, and John Paul II allowed the monster Maciel to flourish.

But they were great men.  They took their personal, God-given talents and turned them into something immense — something that made the world better.

It’s not just that we should forgive the wrong they did because they did so much good (although that is also true).  No.  I’m saying that these men were good in the way that they were designed to be good, great according to their own natures.  George Washington’s great strength wasn’t as an abolitionist, you know?  John Paul II’s great strength wasn’t as a disciplinarian.  It wasn’t his calling.

Do we criticize Fra Angelico for not figuring out how to split the atom?  Or do we sneer at Herman Melville because he couldn’t outrun Carl Lewis?  I mean, what do we want from these guys?  And can’t we even imagine that whatever  heroes we admire today may someday be judged harshly by our great great grandchildren — and wouldn’t that seem unfair?  Men are men, and they live when they live.   Who is good enough for us?  Who can escape our endlessly dissatisfied dissection?

There was only one perfect Man.   The other great men of the world — Washington, King, John Paul II, and any hero you can name — are only mirrors, who catch and show to us a little bit of His radiant light.  The world is dark enough already.  Let’s not become so enlightened that we spend our time setting up boxes around the brilliance of great men.

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(This post originally appeared in my old blog a few years ago.  I know it’s Wednesday, which is not a good day for a Thursday Throwback, but at the last minute [specifically, 2 a.m., when I was up getting my son some codeine for his throat], I decided that the post I had scheduled for today was too personal, to weird, too easily misconstrued, and above all too full of lady talk.   So,  you’re welcome!  And yes, it is Wednesday.)

I’ve read a few religious mommy blogs in my time, so I know the routine. You’re doing some unpleasant task, and you hates it, you just hates it. It’s hard, it’s boring, if only you had some money you could hire someone, and why did you go to college if you were just going to end up thisaway, and you bet Julia Roberts doesn’t have to do it, and she’s not even very talented! And so on.

You go on, you go on, you’re pouting and grousing as you work, when suddenly, right in the middle of your lousy attitude, the sun comes out and suffuses the workaday haze with a glow straight out of Zeffirelli; or else your chubby little toddler toddles up and says, “You wook pwetty wiff that smudge on your cheek, Mommy”; or a triple amputee you happen to know calls to thank you kindly for the used tea bag you sent him as a Christmas gift.

Everything comes into focus. Right there on the bathroom floor (or whatever), you get on your knees and thank God, or repent, or just generally get a new outlook on it all. The rest of the day is sanctified, and as you drift off to sleep that evening, you murmur a sleepy prayer of thanksgiving for the lesson in grace.

Well, me too! Why just today, I

oh ha ha, no, just kidding. Not me.

Here’s what I do.

I start off really great. Today, the crummy job was shoveling. I’m shoveling away, and in the first four minutes alone, I thank God for, in no particular order: the fact that I have a driveway to shovel in the first place; the fact that I’m strong and healthy; the fact that it’s not icy snow; the fact that it’s so beautiful out here; the fact that my husband cheerfully got up early to do as much shoveling as he could before heading off to work; the fact that the older kids can watch the baby and keep her safe while I work; the fact that my husband gave me a lovely warm scarf just yesterday; and the fact that we found the shovel.

(And if you want to know whether 1.25 acres is a lot of land to own, picture yourself shuffling around in that 1.25 acre yard hoping to stumble over your only shovel, which the kids were playing with but abandoned somewhere before it snowed 18 inches.)

That goes on for a good half hour! I am a thanking fool. I’m Corrie Ten Boom, thanking God for the fleas. I’m Padre Pio and St. Francis. I’m the Pilgrims. (At a certain point, I tell myself to relax — it’s just clearing out the driveway, after all, and the canonization process can be extremely slow even in these lax times.)

After another 20 minutes, the industrious glow cools a bit, and my mind is more or less a blank. I advance to myself certain theories for making the job go by more quickly, such as:

–Probably this will get easier if I switch hands and start tossing the loads of snow forwards like a discus thrower, rather than slinging it backwards over my shoulder. (Ow; no.)

–Probably I will be more encouraged at the magnitude of the job still undone if I go ahead and delineate the area I hope to clear with little chops. There! (Crap; no.)

–Probably the driveway would get cleared faster if you wouldn’t dump the loads of snow in the spot you’re going to shovel next, yuh idiot.

–Ditto for flinging a giant boulder of snow on top of a peaked heap of snow, from which it will tumble down and land on your feet.

–“Hey, Eddie, Can you Catch Us A Ride,” while probably underrated in the Springsteen canon, loses some of its frisson of urban despair after about minute 46 of the mental loop that it’s playing on.

I spend a certain amount of time “neatening up” what I’ve already cleared (because everyone knows you can’t park your car on un-neatened driveways). I get a drink of water. I check on the kids. Seeing that they’re all happily trying to claw each other’s eyes out, I go back outside.

I make another stab at being of good cheer. “Thank you, Lord,” I begin, “forrrr . . . um, well, I certainly thank You that I’m not in a concentration camp in Siberia. Because I know that some people were, and that was worse than this.”

Then I think, If I don’t get mail tomorrow after expending 4,600 calories digging out the mailbox alone, I am going to assassinate that delicate genius of a mailman, who doesn’t even have to get out of his car seat, but only to stick his precious little paddy paw out the window and put the Netflix in the little box, see?

At this point, a song from Annie starts playing in my head. Figuring it for divine retribution for the provisional curse I put on the mailman’s head, I submit to the will of God and just dig, dig, dig. Don’t really care, as long as they’re miiiiiiiiiine . . . how long, o Lord?

Well, it’s done now. And thank God for that.

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Ooh, doesn’t that sound like a good post?  You can read it at Conversion Diary, where Jen Fulwiler has graciously lent me some space for a guest post today.  It’s about something I just figured out:  baby Jesus being born is a lot like a baby being born.  No, really!

If you don’t read Conversion Diary regularly, you’re nuts.  Jen is a Catholic convert from atheism, now expecting her fifth child, and always has something unusual, insightful, or funny to say about her growing understanding of the Faith — sometimes unusual, insightful and funny, all three!  Sometimes just two.  But never fewer than two, I would say.

Oh, and she is also, of course, the brilliant inventor of Seven Quick Takes, which has saved my sorry hide more times than I can count.  Probably seven!  But not fewer than seven, definitely.

Yes, yes, come see my post at Conversion Diary today.  I wrote it a few days ago, when I was able to write actual sentences.  And welcome, Conversion Diary readers!  I hope you stick around.

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I have taken up being sick and angry as a full-time job this week.  So this is what you get.

–1–

We got about as much snow as anyone did the other day, and now we can’t find our garbage cans.  Usually my husband shovels, but when his back is out and the rest of us are half dead with our post-strep throat cold which we picked up in the hospital when my son got his tonsils out – – well, then we call the plow guy.

Being a hard-working New England girl, I always feel guilty about hiring a plow until I see the work that he does, and how it takes approximately four-and-a-half minutes.  Then I think about how it would take us approximately four-and-a-half hours to do a much crappier job with a shovel, and I think, “That is what money is for.”  He’s cheap, too!  And nice.

In fact, after he plowed, he told me that if we ever wanted work done on the house (last summer he converted our old shower into a laundry area), he would be happy to do it at cost.

Why would someone do that?  I’m seriously wondering.  Does he just like being with us?  Or has he secretly spotted gold ore in the walls and wants a piece of it?  Or what?

–2–

This:

was a huge part of my childhood, along with these things:

(On the flip side of the record was “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.”  In this recording, they seem to have taken out the “Let me abos go loose, Bruce.”  I didn’t find out until much later that “abo” was offensive slang for “aboriginal.”  I always thought he was saying “elbow,” and thought it was an odd desire for a dying man.)

–3–

It’s funny enough when kids pronounce things oddly, but it’s even funnier when they used to say it right, but suddenly, for reasons of their own, start saying it in some new, strange, wrong way.  Every morning, the three-year-old asks for oatmeal.  About a week ago, though, she expressed a strong desire for “oitmeal,” and that’s what she’s been saying ever since.  And the baby, who is 21 months old, started saying “hyelp” instead of “help,” for some reason.  So we hear, in a suffering little voice, “Mama, mama, hyelp me!  You come hyelp my sock!”

She has gone back to asking to “nurse,” however, which is sad.  Originally, she said “nurse,” which transformed into “nurd,” which morphed, to my delight, into “nurdle.”  “Mama, I want to nurdle!”  And nurdle we would.

–4–

Relatedly, I’m still getting a huge kick out of having a baby who is still nursing, but can talk.  She is something of a comedian, and likes to think of punchlines while she is nursing.  Then she unplugs for a minute, makes sure I’m looking at her, and says, “Aaaa-OOOOO-gah!”  and then latches back on, grinning.  Or a couple of times, she was apparently thinking about Godzilla, because she took a break just long enough to say, “Grrrr. Aaaahhh!”

–5–

I think this machine has been around for years, but I guess it’s now smaller and available to the public?  It’s the Thing-o-matic, “a ‘factory in a box’ that claims to create any three-dimensional object out of plastic in a matter of minutes.”  You have to start with a 3-D schematic image, I guess, which apparently you can get with Google in some way.  This video seems to show an earlier version of the machine, making a model of the Statue of Liberty.

Astonishing machine, but the name needs some hyelp.

–6–

I was behind a car with so many enlightened bumper stickers, I expected the whole thing to start levitating on a cloud of self-righteousness.  The most egregious one said, “I’m already against the next war.”  Excellent!  I’ll be sure to notify the alien overlords, when they come to attack, that the occupants of that car are such fine, gentle, wise people that they do not wish to be defended.  I also wonder if they are against all past wars, as well as potential future ones?  Big fans of George III, slavery, and the Third Reich?  And whatever that French and Indian thing was about?  Bah.

I also saw another car that had the following decals lined up across the rear window:  Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, Rotary, and KISS.  I think I’d rather be friends with them.

–7–

Saw another bumper sticker yesterday:  “My other vehicle is my imagination.”  My kids asked me why I was throwing up all over the dashboard.  I guess I’m just sensitive to these things.  Anyway, my 8-year-old son offered that, when he grew up, he was going to have a bumper sticker that says, “VENGEANCE IS SWEET.”  His younger brother wholeheartedly agreed, and it turns out that the two of them were under the impression that personal and bloody vengeance is a thoroughly brilliant and moral career path.

It’s possible that our Bible readings have been a tad heavy on the Old Testament lately.

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Well, I’m happy to see (through the surveillance device I’ve had installed on this blog)

that many of you are checking out MousesHouses, the source of the picture of that nice little mouse doing the fan dance from the other day.  Now, normally a blog subtitled “Pictures from my own private mouseland” would send me screaming in the other direction, but for some reason, I really like these mice.

I am not a fan of cuteness in general, unless I gave birth to it myself

and animal-looking animals doing human things usually makes my skin crawl — at least, if the animals still look fully animal-like.  In Beatrix Potter’s work, for instance:  never liked those pictures (and the stories terrified me when I was little — all I remember is a lot of whippings, peckings, and terrified animal children hiding in baskets and watering cans. Was there more to those stories?).

Sometimes that rabbit he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a rabbit... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'.

source

I am fine with anthropomorphism, but I think the artist owes it to the viewer to put a little spark of humanity into the eye of the animal, if it’s going to be doing human things; and I also appreciate it when the illustrator doesn’t just make it look like the characters are people wearing animal suits, as in the deeply unpleasant Arthur series.

"Oh, oh, penmanship is more fun when your polo shirt is tucked in, kids!"

 

Mary Raynor is one illustrator who  does a great job of making the animals remain animal-like in their postures, even while playing with toy trains, going to the opera, or buying ketchup in bulk:

See how she’s teetering on her trotters, just like a mother pig would as she reached for a heavy bottle of ketchup.  (By the way, I heartily recommend the Pig family books by Raynor: Mrs. Pig’s Bulk Buy, Mr. and Mrs. Pig’s Evening Out, Garth Pig Steals the Show, and Mrs Pig Gets Cross.  It’s pretty much about my family, except that they’re British, and are pigs.

There was a story a while back about a recently-rediscovered collection of fanciful Victorian taxidermy.  These, at least, are well done, if somewhat, you know, full of dead kitties:

I’m not sure what drives a person to pour so much time, energy, and formaldehyde into a project like that, other than the fact that he has some time to kill while his wife is at her mother’s house, thinking things over.

In general, I think posing animals, whether dead or alive, and taking their picture is something that ought to be booed and hissed.  What do you think?  Does it ever turn out well?  The only exception I can think of is when people put a shirt and tie on labradors.  For some reason, that always gets me; and it sure looks like the dog is just glad to be getting some attention.  Harder than you’d think to find a picture online, though.

Well, now I just have to come up with a title for this post, to give the impression that it was about something.

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If, by chance, you should happen to wake up in the middle of the night and you realize you can see your breath, you may be out of heating oil.

This may surprise you, since it was only a few weeks ago that you also woke up in the middle of the night and realized you could see your breath. Yes, it’s been cold, but that is an awfully fast time to burn through that much oil.  And you were so looking forward to paying the mortgage this month!

So what you do is to pick your way carefully through the basement to check the oil tank, to make sure it’s actually empty.  Maybe it’s only that some rogue vole or porcupine woke from hibernation, stumbled into your basement, leaned tragically against the “emergency off” switch, and died.  One can hope!

While you are down there, try looking around the rest of the basement to see if anything else seems amiss.  If you see something that, in terms of heating ducts being where they should be, looks about as fine as this:

then think to yourself, “Gee, look at that.”  Then go back upstairs, make some coffee and some cream of wheat, take the kids to school, go to an appointment or two, entertain a visitor, write some emails, make lunch, do a little laundry, and then have a seat for a minute.

At this point, you should think to yourself, “Wait a minute.”

Then think to yourself, “Wha?”

Then ask yourself, “Who the HUH?”  Again, this is what you saw a few hours ago:

I'm no expert, but...

Go back down to the basement, and see if you can figure out what the hell happened here.  With some examination, you may find that the heating duct has been so fabulously, extravagantly weatherized, it’s now much too heavy for the bittle little twist of rusted wire that was supporting it, and that while one end is still connected to the furnace, the other end, which is supposed to be heating the living room, is lolling on the basement floor like a comatose python.  Yay, easy to fix!

Also, it may occur to you at this point that, if there is an 8-inch pipe bellowing hot air into the basement all month

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then that might possibly explain why you ran through that oil so quickly.  Ah so!  See how smart you are getting?  It must be the exhilarating effect of all that blood rushing to your brain from trotting up and down the stairs so many times in a single day.

From here on in, the story gets less interesting.  Pretending not to notice the pathetic little nest made by some enterprising mouse, who had clearly found a balmy but short-lived paradise inside your duct

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you just thread some wire coat hangers onto the pipe, screw a few sturdy screws into the ceiling, and hang the thing back up.

It is advisable, at this point, to email your husband several times about your accomplishment, and then when he gets home, ask him if he can go downstairs to “make sure you did it right.”  Husbands: this is the part where you’re supposed to go, “Wow, GEE, nice job with those hangers!  YOU did that with those soft, pretty little hands of yours, did you?  You realize you have saved us over $75,000 in heating bills this afternoon alone!  I also really appreciate you doing this job yourself, rather than making me go down into the basement to do it!” Then, ladies, you can let him come up out of the basement.

Stay tuned next week, when I will be offering a guide on how to keep your marriage strong and healthy by treating your husband like a real man and making him deal with that scrabbling mousy sound you keep hearing in the floor.

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