Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today I went to Confession!

I DID IT: I went to Confession!

I will spare you of the feet-dragging and nail-biting. It took me eight months, while it had used to take me thirty days as a freshmen Catholic. And I knew, did I ever, know, that Graces and wonders flowed from that little room, that little kneeler, behind the screen, and these words: "I absolve you..."

Resurrection, multiplied.

It will be easier from now. If I've gained any insight this Lent, it's the new comprehension of  praticing faith SIMPLY. Staying on track is impossible without well-ordered and routined devotions. Anyone who attempts otherwise is too proud, and must be humbled.

I want to get back on track very badly. I really do.

latest painting is a still life

Untitled, oil on canvas, 16"x20"

Still wet. Fruit of three day of labour, doubt, irritability, disgust, despair, change-of-mind, illumination...

At the end of the first day, I thought it was a mistake and had a flat and defeating sensation in my stomach, the kind you have when realizing that you may have just made a mistake too unpleasant to correct. Among other issues, I realized that I'd used a regular incandescent light bulb in stead of the day-light type for the still life, and it casted over everything in a light too yellow for what I intended.  I didn't know if I'd take down the whole setup the next day and redeem the canvas by turning it into a portrait of a ghost buster.

The next day came, after having my coffee, I sat down on the same stool, picked up the brush, began by tidying up the vase behind the flowers which was in dire need of a better proportion. I continued to paint, ignoring the yellow cast. Nothing exceptional, stomach still flat, though less defeated. Then came yesterday, the third (didn't paint on Sunday). In the morning the painting still had a measuring cup placed to the left, and in front of the bottle holding the flowers. I scraped it down, painted the foreground (table top), and in stead placed a small wooden container toward the back. I thickened the paint in every part of the painting, worked and re-worked the color values and intensity. The bottom edge of the table was an after-thought, sorta, because I decided the lower part was too spare and in need of a division.

You may have spotted the signature. I'm usually negligent about signing my paintings, to the much annoyance of KDM's. I often got calls from patrons asking me to sign a picture they'd bought. It's not that I thought signing one's work is vain, I simply couldn't decide where and how to sign it without unbalancing the work's organization. Recently I began to correct the situation, especially having discovered that signature was an effective way to put a full stop to a work in danger of being over-worked.

I'm glad that I resisted giving it up, resisted saying "that's good enough." Just the opposite, several times I said to myself "That ain't (excuse the hicky voice - I'd been thick into Flannery's stories) good enough", and went on with little assurance, a stoic face plus some "intestinal fortitude" (KDM lingo).

It was the first painting I've done since the December exhibit. A new start.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prayer to St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings

Prayer to St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.
Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.
Remember the weak, you who are strong--you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Updated: You Don't Wanna Slander Saint Joseph

(Oops, just noticed that I left out the second paragraph of the Anchoress' post, the best part with choice words)

Today the Achoress has had it, she let it go, unleashing fury and eloquence. I've never been much for cheerleading, but I feel like doing just that. I want to hold up my McDonald drive-through coffee and say "Go Anchoress -I'm lov'in it!"

The pen which she had so long labored to tame and constrain turned into a speedy sword tearing through falsehood and shattered it into a thousand glittering shards.

If she's risking the sin of anger and uncharity, like she confessed in the same piece, she's suffering with and on behalf of the rest of us. For that, dear Achoress, I will return the favor with extra prayers, mental kind to boot, no kidding.

For a headstart, this is how she began (for the video of the Pelosi, object of her demolition, you have to click the link above to see. I can't figure out how to embed it onto Blogger):

I’m sorry. Almost nothing that has come from this woman’s mouth has infuriated me like this.
This woman is a profound grotesque who gets virtually everything wrong here, from what feastday it is, to the kinds of Catholic religious sisters supporting her monster’s bastard of a bill.
Note, because it is important in the face of her stupidity, her mendacity, her slander and her willingness to use any-and-all means to achieve her ends, the Catholic sisters who vehemently oppose this health care bill, and are not considered news-worthy by the media, or relevant by this glammed-up guttersnipe, Pelosi.
First off, Nancy, this is not the feastday of “St. Joseph the Worker.” That feast day is May 1, and it is a simple (and optional) memorial. TODAY is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, in his role as the Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Provider and Guardian for the Child Jesus. A solemnity is not an optional feastday, and Pelosi, who was educated by religious sisters and went to a Catholic college, should know that.

Her ignorance is almost sublime. “Italian Americans” certainly do honor St. Joseph, but they do not “pray” to him. They ask him to pray for them, before the Throne of his most holy and almighty step-son, the Christ.

It is highly doubtful that St. Joseph, who was faced with an unimaginable event, one fraught with challenges, things unknown, social questions, difficulties and sacrifice, would be a happy endorser of a “life-affirming health care” bill that includes the federal-funding of abortions, sterilizations, contraception – undoubtedly, down the road- euthanasia.
You want to read the rest, if only to learn how to make words of bile do martial art.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

some update

Second day of spring cleaning - all started with the cleaning out of my studio yesterday. The daffodils are already blooming, weathers have been ideal for outdoor painting ( I just don't like to say plein air, and I do all I can to avoid saying it). I'm not ready to paint outside yet, but I take advantage of the good feelings I get from the sun and all things springy. I think KDM is on the same frequency since he's taken up building the corral he'd been planning along all winter.

Our dogs must be on the same frequency as well. Scooter in particularly, has resumed her routine of chasing bugs in the pasture. She does this hours on end and runs in circles of no bigger than 20 feet diameter. When summer comes in full swing, she will do this with flies and butterflies. She's like the kid who says to herself, "Do it again!" over and over.

I'm throwing away things cluttering my studio including chairs, table, hinged doors with mirror on them, cans and bottles, old paint tubes. I've even burned some of my older paintings and drawings. I've asked KDM to agree with me on the necessity of another hefty metal storage shelf, and pretty much let him know I WILL have it whether he agrees or not (he thinks such requests are little more than thinly veiled pre-conditions for being artist, which, I admit, is at times true. Not this time, the shelf must be there, I've already picked out a spot.

I have not painted since the last exhibit. I'm ready again. My hands are happily itchy. Let's start with some still-lifes.

Good news via the Cardinal Newman Society: Pope Benedict XVI will beatify Cardinal Newman later this year. The society offers this prayer as part of its campaign for the cardinal's eventual canonization:

"Eternal Father, you led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he labored to build up your Kingdom.

Grant that through your Vicar on earth we may hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the kingdom of the canonized saints.'

May you manifest your servant's power of intercession by even extraordinary
answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord. Amen. "

Monday, March 8, 2010


Just added someone to my blog roll, dieciocho, whose author has become one of the biggest threats of my life - who, when pushed hard, threatens to adopt me to be her mom. In other words, I'm dealing with an obstinate, crafty, devious, wheelin-n-dealin menace of a teenager.

BTW, you can also find her in the slide show on this blog under "My People." But I warn you not to be fooled by the angelic face.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Margaret, Are you Grieving?

This is the second time I'm dying with Flannery O'Connor - the first time when I was reading her letters in The Habit of Being, now her biography by Brad Gooch. I've come to the place where she wrote a friend from her hospital bed, dying of lupus. After thanking the friend for a Byzantine mass offered for her, she closed the letter with the first two lines from this poem (italics mine). This post is in honor of Flannery and my second dying with her, much regard to mortality:

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Spring and Fall

to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday gibbers

Some stray thoughts, quote me not -

*I have a friend who is easily hurt, to whom I would like to advise: "Stop being hurt, start being." But I'm not giving that advice because nobody has asked me to, not even his self.

*KDM hasn't been to see a commercial barber in a year because I have been cutting his hair. He doesn't mind my using him to learn the trade, a free haircut suits him fine. To make the routine more agreeable it is usually carried out near the kitchen window on a bright day, where his coffee-filled belly meets the stroking fingers of the sun seamlessly, and he promptly dozes off to a distant mental plain amongst the monotonous snipping of my scissors.

*KDM and I went chair shopping today. It occurred to me that I never buy household furnishings by myself because I don't have firm opinions for what's best for our abode. But if he presents two or more options then I often come to a quick decision, with which he almost always concurs. I wonder if it says something about my originality, or, the lack of it.

*Saint Patrick's Day is very near. My husband is big part Irish but hardly Irish-like. This frustrates my romantic longings and tender conceptions for the tribe of Kelts. My findings in him for some hints or representations for the Emerald Islander limit to a short tamperer and a positive disposition for potatoes. The latter, I have come to realize, is rather more of the disposition he shared with tribesmen of a different sort: those who tinker with earth or otherwise work with their hands.

For that matter he's not even very well informed about his ancestral roots. His consciousness for being Irish is rather of a diffused type. His only emotional allegiance seems to be completely to the country he was born into: America, where he needs not to be overly conscious of his older roots and won't get in trouble for being tribally agnostic, where the number of tribes frustrates anyone's need to be tribal.

*I heard that some big city people who don't believe in God are staging campaigns on public buses with slogans that say something like "We don't need God to be good." There's truth in that statement, as in "virtuous pagans," and Communists preach morals and have their version of saints. But my second thought is that it really is a comment on what they deem to be the creed of religious people. Christians are notoriously "nice people," Christian children endlessly told to be "nice" with one another, and many a Christian evangelists paint Jesus the quintessential "nice guy." So if the pagans think our objective is no more than "to be good," we can't really blame them.

Is that all there is to it?

I would think the ravishing beauty and prospect of being face to face with a Triune God, its unfathomable matrix of joy and ecstasy that the saints have written and told, that, I would think, is our reason to be Christian.

*Next time I give Thanks, I'll thank God for making me a creature capable of being "shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter." (GKC)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

art of the day

Sometimes I see things on the web that I REALLY, REALLY like -

New York Has Two Feet of Snow, Via: The Worley Gig, via First Thought

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday morning Flannery

Why is it almost poignant to read the biography of Flannery O'Connor (by Brad Gooch), a woman writer whose lack of sentimentality sometimes reads like a deficiency?

But who raised peacocks?

And who responded to a certain fellow Catholic literary luminary's conclusion that the Eucharist was "a symbol, and a very good one too," with a "well, if it's a symbol, then to hell with it" ?

And who said that she'd rather die for her Catholic faith than taking a "bath" for Her at Lourdes?

The poetry of Flannery O'Connor, I suspect, is sealed in that statement she made about herself that she really is "a hill-billy Thomist."