Showing posts from April, 2010

Where's the Puppy?

Here she is! Now if only I could find the genealogy of the Comneni-Angeli as easily....

The Lord's Prayer, Thanks Be to Dogs

I've never really liked the Lord's Prayer very much. It seems, I don't know, so spare, not really a prayer at all. Not like the collects that we read in church, nothing like Anselm of Canterbury's far more moving and affective prayers. Prayer should be more meditative, right? Not just a blank asking for bread and forgiveness. And yet, I know that to learn to pray, I need to learn the Lord's Prayer. It is the prayer that Our Lord taught us, after all. There must be something in it. My scholarly inclination at the moment is to start looking for commentaries. Maybe Luther's, but that's in my office on campus and I'm at home now. There's the Catechism of the Catholic Church right behind me on the cabinet that I'm using here at home as my "desk", purportedly for keeping handy the things that I most want or need to read next (like that book I'm supposed to review, you know). But then I still wouldn't be thinking about what

Baby Steps

Okay, so another week has passed and I still haven't managed to get myself to start working on those book reviews. But. No, not excuses, just but...I have started to take a few baby steps in the right direction towards, well, I'm still not sure about the book reviews, but maybe, just possibly getting out of this slump. 1. My puppy now understands "down" and tonight at puppy class we started working on "stay." 2. I have scheduled those meetings with my colleagues. 3. I read over the editor's suggestions on that paper and made the corrections that she asked. 4. I reviewed that article for the journal on whose editorial board I serve. 5. I wrote several letters of reference for my graduate students. 6. I graded that senior thesis. 7. I reviewed that research proposal I was asked to referee. 8. I have done my 300 touches/day for three days now with the new target that I have set up at home. 9. I scheduled my son's doctor's appointment so t


This is one of those place-holder posts. You know the ones where you really don't have anything to say or are too tired to figure out what it is you want to say, but haven't written anything other than, oh, I don't know, class notes and lectures and letters of reference for days and days and you are feeling the well running dry because you've been neglecting it. Or not. I don't want to complain, there have been some amazing moments this week. Last night, for example, watching my puppy play on the tennis court with the big dogs, one the burly male Cardigan Corgi who inspired me to adopt her in the first place, the other an older female dog pulling a rope with two tennis balls, one on each end, clearly inviting my puppy to play with her by catching hold of one of the balls. And after that, listening to my son playing in his school band concert in the university concert hall and remembering the first concert four years ago when all that he and his fellow 5th-grader

Zen and the Leash

Maybe it's the way I tug on the leash. Maybe it's the lean of my back or the rhythm of my feet. All I know is that if I have even the ghost of the thought that she won't walk as fast or as steadily as I need her to do in order for us to get home in a reasonable (i.e. reasonable to me) time, I have not a dog but a furry anchor at the end of the leash doing its darndest to ensure that I never move another step. As soon, however, as I let go of this thought, still not looking back but simply walking steadily along, the leash slackens and I hear instead the happy pitter-patter of little doggie feet, and there we are, walking together along the sidewalk. Who knows? Maybe she's reading my mind. All I know is, the more anxious I am about whether she will walk, the more I guarantee that she won't, but if I let go not of the leash, but of thoughts about the leash, she will walk with me maybe not to the ends of the earth, but at least--and in under an hour --home. Actua

Lake Walk

There and back again... With lots of stops along the way to behead dandelions, watch the seagulls, meet other dogs and roll in mystery scents (at least, mysterious to yours truly, if not to the Dragon Baby ). Total distance: about 3 miles. Time: about 2 hours, maybe an hour and a half, I'm not entirely sure. Dragon babies have a curious effect on time. And on distance. They are magic , after all.

How I Did It

That is, come in third in C&Under Women's Foil at the Illinois Divisional Championships today, thus qualifying for both Div II and Div III at Summer Nationals this year! Some of the things that may have helped me fence as well as I did 1. Walking home yesterday from campus with my puppy and my husband, and meeting one of the other Cardis who live in our neighborhood in the park. (You try watching two Cardis at play and not end up with a smile on your face!) 2. Checking my weapons properly last night, including cleaning and retaping several blades as well as weight-testing all of my foils. 3. Watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) with my family while I was cleaning my tips. 4. Waking up at 6am to take my puppy out for her morning toilet, spending some time listening to the birds and reflecting on what a beautiful day it looked like it was going to be (and was!). 5. Leaving home early enough to have time to get lost on the way to the venue, listening to Jethro Tull on the

Spiritual Update

One hesitates to announce instances of spiritual progress because what, after all, if they aren't? Or what if the very act of announcing them ensures that one will fall yet again back into one's old bad habits? But there is something that I've been thinking about this past week or so that does seem to indicate at least a modicum of improvement in my outlook on life and, therefore, possibly, just possibly in the state of my soul. It has to do with stuff. I've written before about how I have spent years thinking that the thing that I needed in order to feel like I had finally "made it" professionally and socially was a house . Even as I write this, the twinge is still there, and I do have to confess to a lingering sense of envy as I walked my puppy round the mansions in our neighborhood this past Sunday morning. But.... But even as I was looking just now at the photographs of the mansions for sale , what I am noticing more is not so much their size, but ra

Quote for the Evening After Yelling at My Family Because They Interrupted My Blogging with German Vocab and Plumbing and Dogs Jumping in the Bath

"True patience and humility can only be acquired and kept when the innermost heart is humble. Coming from such a source it will have no need of the help provided by a cell nor of the refuge characteristic of living alone. It does not need the protection of something exterior since it is supported within by the virtue of humility, its mother and custodian. "If we become upset by some provocation [see blog title--FB], then clearly the foundations of humility are not solidly established in us and the edifice we have raised is struck down into disastrous ruin by the onset of even a minor storm. Indeed, patience is neither praiseworthy nor admirable if its condition of tranquility remains unassailed by any hostile attacks. But it is outstanding and splendid when it remains immovable during the raging storms of temptation. The notion is there that it will be harassed and wrecked by adversity. In fact it is made all the stronger and it becomes more sharply real in a situation

Recipe for Holiness

It occurred to me about halfway through our service this morning, just after the baptisms and the Peace, but before we began preparing for Mass, that the whole point of ritual is not, pace Durkheim and therefore almost every social scientific argument since Durkheim, something to do with "making society" or, pace Turner, something to do with liminality or, pace nearly every other theory that I have read or heard about that tries to "make sense" of ritual as if it were some kind of great phenomenological, sociological or anthropological mystery, but rather and quite simply, if not also profoundly, wait for it..."making holy." Now what do I mean by that? It has something to do with power, but it's not power. And it has something to do with beauty, but it's not beauty. And it has something to do with becoming conscious of the presence of God, but it's not (or not only) the presence of God. It is a transformation of reality and the everyday

Thinking Outside the Box

I want to find whoever it was who came up with this phrase--and strangle him (probably a him, maybe it was a her). Okay, so that's a bit strong. He was probably an advertiser (how is it that we have ceded so much of our cultural conversation to the ad men?), and all he probably meant was that his copywriters and designers should try to think about, oh, I don't know, what happened to their product once someone took it out of its packaging. Or maybe not. Maybe he was a scientist and wanted his labworkers to stop thinking in terms of the protocols they were used to following and try to come up with some other means of testing material reality. Or maybe he was an editor and wanted his authors to stop thinking in terms of genres and, quote unquote, just write. Whoever he was, he has a lot to answer for. Because, you see, we need boxes, frames, protocols, genres. We can't think without them. Boxes give us context and purpose. No box, no point. Sure you may want to think

Big, Wide World

It's out there, I know it. I even occasionally catch glimpses of it as I am driving to and from fencing practice. Even so, it amazes me that some people--i.e. other writers--seem to profess to know anything about it, at least on a scale larger than, say, the several hundred or maybe even thousand people they happen to encounter on a regular basis in their everyday lives. How do they do it? I suppose, in part, I try to do the same thing, if with a time period somewhat distant from ours, but in actual fact I know (and am--I am not embarrassed to note--somewhat comforted to realize) that what we actually know about what medieval people thought, for example, about Christianity, is limited to a few dozen writers at most, tops a few hundred. Indeed, if one spent one's lifetime reading nothing but the works of these authors, it would probably be possible to read almost everything they wrote, that is, insofar as it survives. Nobody could do that with even what is published in a s

How Fencing Is Like Leading a Discussion Class

You have to have a plan, but you cannot expect the plan to go the way you have written it out. You need to know what questions you are going to ask, but you cannot know what order is going to be best in which to ask them. So you read the primary sources and make notes on their structure, but you know that whatever questions you ask, the students will come at you with answers that you do not expect. You need to be able to take their answers (read, actions) and guide them to the answers that you wanted them to give in order to bring out the main points in the argument that you are trying to make. So, feint, ask a question, see how they respond. Oh, they don't see to know this or that fact. Tell them. Ask the question again. Laugh when their answer takes the conversation a whole other way. Nudge the answers back to the question you initially asked, until they are ready to hear what it is that you wanted to say. But don't press it: simply telling them something won't

St. Thérèse and Me

It is difficult sometimes to feel like what I am doing with my life--reading books, writing the occasional blog post, teaching history--is at all important in the grand scheme of things. Why am I not, for example ,* pushing the boundaries of our knowledge about the human genome forward or filling auditoria with young people to celebrate the wonders of mathematics (with, of course, the implication that science and mathematics more or less by definition matter more than history or prayer, never mind the history of prayer)? Why am I, rather, spending my life studying ideas that have been available in the tradition for hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years? Why am I even studying a tradition rather than creating something entirely new? Because, I now realize, this is my proper work. Or, at least, thanks to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I think that I understand how it may in fact be my proper work. As usual of late, I'm not saying this well. Things have been simply too hectic the

Good Friday, And Then Some

I know what I am supposed to be writing about today, it being Good Friday and all, but for some reason, I just can't.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm simply not in the mood.  Maybe it's because I missed going to church this past Sunday and so missed Our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst the waving palms, but I was there last night at the Maundy Thursday service.  I even had my feet washed and washed someone else's feet in turn.  But when the meal turned from a happy feast together with friends to the singing of Psalm 22 (or 21, as we say in the Vulgate numbering), there was none of the wrenching sadness that I felt last year, perhaps because last year I did at long last skip fencing practice in order to attend the Maundy Thursday service and was simply struck by the novelty of the contrast. See?  I'm even having trouble writing about the absence of a strong response, so weakly has my attention been focused on the events of this holiest of we