Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

...is a good day to skip reading the newspapers.
Why?  Because today is Annual Look Back Day.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would read that kind of article.

"It's so much fun.  Let's all look back!" 

Who died in 2014?  Gotta keep up with the dead guys.  It's so embarrassing when you think somebody's dead and he's still alive.  And I always think people are dead.  I know Abe Vigoda is still alive- glad we got that one ironed out!- but otherwise I tend to get a little confused.

Then there's Obamacare.  Let's look back on how Obamacare came to be.  On second thought, let's not. Let's concentrate on praying the Supreme Court throws the damn thing out next year.

Grubergate?  That can be kind of fun to contemplate this New Year's Eve.  Mostly because just the fact that I am not him, or related to him, gives me a sense of profound peace.  Desperate Irish Housewife may have her failings, but being Jonathon Gruber is not among them.  Thanks, God!

Celebrity weddings?   Yawn.  Get back to me after 30 years together, Mr and Mrs. Clooney.  Maybe then you'll have some interesting thoughts.

Celebrity divorces?  Isn't that half the reason they get married in the first place?  Twice the ink, baby.  Twice the ink.

Sure, there were plenty of genuine tragedies.  Murdered cops, murdered children... plenty of reasons to lie awake at night.  Here's a tip:  keep your rosary handy on your nightstand.  That way at three in the morning  you can actually do something for those poor people.

No, I think I'll skip the papers this morning.  Maybe tomorrow, too.  I don't want to read any articles about how nobody keeps their New Year's Resolutions, either.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Feast of Stephen

So!  How was everybody's Christmas?

We mixed it up a little this year.  For the first time in I don't know how many years we decided not to go to the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve.  Rumor had it a bishop was going to show up and you know what that means:  A looooooong sermon.  And we just weren't feeling up to it.

We did observe our Christmas Eve tradition of going out for Chinese food.  This was also a little different this year.  I should have been suspicious when I was able to get a reservation a little too easily.  We sat down at our table at 6:30, just as agreed, a server took our order and then said, "You do know it's going to be an hour and fifteen minutes before the food is ready, right?"

He wasn't kidding.  Note to self:  try another restaurant next year.  Make the reservation weeks earlier.  And make sure the place has a full bar.  That would definitely have come in handy the other night.

My daughter and I hit the 11 am Mass on Christmas morning while the spouse stayed home with a fever. (Hey, it's Christmas, somebody has to be sick, right?)  Completely different crowd from the Vigil Mass.  I hardly knew anyone there.  Out of town relatives, maybe?  People who only come to church on Christmas?  No way to be sure.  But I did learn another thing:  the last mass of Christmas can be kind of relaxing.  After vigil masses and midnight masses and masses at dawn, everyone is too exhausted to go overboard.  And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

FROM St. Peter's Complaint, 1595      
THE BURNING BABE.
By Robert Southwell

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How Irish Is This?

My father had a health crisis last week.  He is 86 and was hospitalized for - well no one was sure at the time.  They thought at first he'd had a stroke.

It turned out that what he had was some kind of simple viral infection.  In a younger person it would have been a cold.  At 86 it was enough to send him into a tailspin

He is fine now, and back home after 2 nights in the hospital.  His only complaint now is visitors.

"I know what they're all thinking," he told me over the phone.  "They're thinking, Jeez. poor guy, he's had the course.  Better go see him now before he buys the farm.  It's so annoying."

We initially thought we should drive to the Est Coast to see my dad, but after that conversation I realized if we did, my father would add us to the list of "people who think the poor guy is dying."

So we are staying put for Christmas.  We will plan a Spring Break trip to New York, though.  Sneak up on him.  "Hey, we didn't come to see you, we came to see, uh, a play or something."

That will work, I am sure of it.

I'm glad we are Irish, but man, sometimes, it's too much.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Movie NIght?

The daughter finishes her final exams today, and that means one thing:  movie night!

I've put off watching any Christmas movies until the last week of Advent.  This was dumb since it means I missed TNT's broadcast of "The Lemon Drop Kid" starring Bob Hope which I've never seen and can't find on video.  Note to self:  pay more attention toe TV schedules next Advent.

But tonight all that changes.  I have Netflix, I have DVDs--what could go wrong?

This:  apparently we now have to consult North Korean butcher Kim Jong Un on what moves we can watch.
Turns out he's touchy about movies.  So thinkg twice, America, before you settle in with the eggnog and enjoy a holiday flick.

"Elf."  A movie about short people.  Short.  As in, Aren't all Asians....?
GASP!  Out it goes.  So sorry, Dear Leader!  Never again, I promise!

"Miracle on 34th Street."  About Santa as a mental patient.  Just like that lunatic who's running North--OH NO!  I DIDN'T MEAN THAT!  HONEST!

"A Christmas Carol."  One rich man lives in comfort while all around him people are sick and starving OH MY GOD!!  HIDE, EVERYONE!  HIDE!

Oh dear God.  That was close.  Better scratch Christmas Movie Night this year, maybe watch some reruns of "Law and Order" where- Americans have the balls to put bad guys where they belong-

NO NO NO!  I DIDN'T MEAN THAT EITHER!!!





Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fear the Hacker!

LOS ANGELES — Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday dropped plans for its Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” a movie that depicts the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after receiving a terror threat against theaters.  (New York Times)

HELL- "I don't know why I never thought of that,"  Satan, in a rare interview, discussed the Sony decision.  "And I'm a little ticked off at Kim, too.  I thought he and I were buddies.  But he comes up with a gem like this and doesn't think to share it with me first?  I'm gonna remember that.

"Ok, well, granted, some of the pictures I wish I could have pulled predate my favorite dictator.  'The Exorcist,' for instance.  Look what that sucker did to the sale of Ouija Boards!  And all of a sudden everyone's believing in me again.  I spend centuries convincing them I don't exist, and boom!  all that work goes out the window in one screening.  I had to start all over again.  It's a lot of work, you know?

"End of Days.  That turkey with what's-his-name, Arnold.  It made me look ridiculous!  One little terror threat and bingo, Universal would have caved.  You know it's still out there on DVD?  Sure, watch the damn thing.  Go ahead and laugh.  I'll be taking names.

"And remember Devil's Advocate?  Al Pacino made me look like a moron, sticking my finger into holy water fonts just to see the water bubble.  Hey, news flash, Al- you ever see The Exorcist?  They use holy water to run me out of town.  Everybody knows that.

"Seriously, I am going to get into the computer hacking game.  If Kim can do it, well, I taught the kid practically everything he knows, I ought to be able to mess with Hollywood's emails.  I've already got half their souls right here, baby.  Emails are nothin' compared to that."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Heightism Straight Up

Michelle Obama recently complained that once when she was in a Target store, some woman had the nerve to ask her to get something down from a shelf.

Mrs. Obama, who is 5'11, relates the story here:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/michelle-obama-i-was-asked-take-something-shelf-target_821756.html#.VJGSpmQUaA8.twitter

"This kind of thing happens in America every day,"  she told DIH.  "Really, it's a national disgrace."

"Tall women are constantly being subjected to heightism," Rev. Al Shrimpton added.  "'Get me this.' 'Get me that.' 'How's the weather up there?' Where is the outrage?  Where are the protestors?  And where the hell are the stepladders- can't people just use a stepladder?"

"Mrs. Obama is First Lady of the United States," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today.  "That some shopper had the nerve to ask her to reach something, well, it's- um, nervy.  The First Lady has more important things to reach for than a box of Root Touch-Up."

"She should've dropped it on the little runt's head!" Venus Williams, at 6'1", says she's had similar experiences.  "I took my niece's kindergarten class to an apple orchard once.  Can you believe some of those kids wanted me to pick them an apple from the top of the tree?  Obviously they're being raised to believe this kind of thing is completely normal."

Blogger Desperate Irish Housewife, 5'2, has issued an apology to the First Lady on behalf of all short women.  "'Petite Privilege has no place in America,"  she said today.  "We the five- foot- four- and- unders deplore that shopper's lack of sensitivity.  Tall women face serious obstacles today.  Low ceilings, short pants, and of course there's no such thing as free alterations.  We are glad the First Lady has brought the public's attention to this important issue.  We applaud her bravery as well as her height.  And we urge her not to give up the fight for height equality. Stand tall, Mrs. O! Keep looking down on the rest of us!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tree Stall

This year I decided to be smart and order my Christmas tree online.  I di dhtis because for some reason I just couldn't face buying one at Home Depot or Costco this year.  I don't mind buying the tree.  It's getting it into the car and out of the car and into the house and into the stand.  That was the deciding point for me.

So, I ordered a tree.  It came.  Gorgeous. Perfect shape, fresh. lovely.

I had paid extra so that the guy who delivered it would also put it into its stand (purchased form teh same company).  This part was news to him, but he was happy to oblige.

Two days later I think, That tree is drying out.

I call the company.  Turns out Delivery Guy was supposed to saw off the end of the stem before putting it in the stand.  He didn't.

Don't worry, said the Tree Lady.  We'll send another tree, we'll do it right this time.  And we]ll take the old one away.  Can you leave it outside?

So -- the best laid plans and all that- I wrestle the tree out of the stand and drag it outside.
The next day I find a new tree on my porch.  And the old one still lying there.

Long story short: thanks to a friend who seems to be  a Tree Rescuer , I now have two trees.

I thought it would be nice to have two trees, one in the porch so I can see it when I'm coming in the back door, one in the living room so I can see it from the sidewalk.  That part is, indeed, very nice.

But between the hassling and the wrestling and the "is-it-straight-oh-god-I-hate-this-part," followed by the "we- don't- have- any- lights, what- do -you -mean- we- don't- have- any- lights, I -mean- none- of- our- old- ones- work- so- now- someone- has- to- go- to -Home- Depot- after- all- oh- surprise- surprise- that's- me,"  plus the "you-know-we've-never-had-two-trees-maybe-that's- why-we-only-have-enough-ornaments-for-one -tree,"

Between all that my tree decorating is stalled.  I got the lights on them last week. But no developments since.
I gotta rev up my holiday spirit.  It seems to be fading fast this year.

One Last Walk?

I took my labrador for a walk around the lake yesterday.  I was determined to do this, since according to the weather forecast yesterday had the last decent weather we'll see for a  while.  Which is to say it was 40 degrees and foggy.  Today we have 25 and light snow- still mild by Minnesota standards, but not by mine.
I have two dogs.  The lab, Bella, is around ten years old, we think- she's a rescue so we're not sure when she was born.  The other dog, Mitzi, is a chihuahua mix, we think part min-pin.  The lab is a sweetheart.  Mitzi is ferocious.
I don't take Mitzi for walks very often.  I figure she gets plenty of exercise digging under the fence and bolting whenever she can.  Bella does her share of bolting too, of course- her previous owner gave her up because he was sick of picking her up at the city shelter and paying her fines.  But she has a badly arthritic knee so I try to keep her exercise as regular as possible.
There is a purely selfish motive in all this, of course.  I bought myself a pedometer a few weeks ago.  I heard  somewhere that if you walk 20,000 steps a day you can drop a few pounds in weeks.
 I think I may have actually made 20K once.  Hard to tell since my pedometer has this annoying tendency to shut itself off in my pocket. It's like it's reading my mind.  "Oh come on, Desperate, you seriously thinkg you're going to hit 20K today?  Give me a break.  I'm going back to zero."
Technology is not my friend.
Now we have fresh snow on the ground.  Bella would love a chance to go out on the leash once more.  Unfortunately the wind is picking up and the weather is going to feel even more rotten than it looks in a little while.
Maybe I'll take the dog for a drive.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feast Day! ALLRIIIIIIGHT!

Dont' you love a feast day int he middle of a penitential season?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Flu Day 2

The daughter has the flu.  She is miserable.  But we both agree, better her than her dad.  That would be a lot harder to take.

http://youtu.be/VbmbMSrsZVQ

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sugar Plums

I should have known.  Yesterday was our parish's annual "Sugar Plum Days" event.  the ladies of hte Altar and Rosary Society hawk Christmas cookies and evergreen wreaths in the church basement after Mass, St Nicholas shows up and distributes chocolates, and the next day, you guessed it, half the kids in the parish come down with the first flu of the season.

Or at least mine did.  But given how many of her friends she hugged and took selfies with, I'm guessing there'll be a few more casualties before too long. Oh how the other moms will thank me.

So daughter home sick and miserable.  How can I bring Christmas cheer to our abode?

I thought I might start stringing the lights on the tree  But here's the truth:  Stringing lights?  Not my strong suit.  Actually nothing involving a sense a balance is my strong suit.  To say nothing of anything that requires balancing while standing on a ladder.

Hm. 
I could continue addressing Christmas cards.  I did all the "Merry Christmas" ones last week.  Now I'm down to the "Seasons Greetings" set.  This could be a little tricky as the only cards I have left have pictures of St Patrick's Cathedral on them.  I'm  thinking I could get a metallic marker and point out the corner of Saks across the street. Everybody likes Saks.  They have great Christmas- uh, holiday window displays.

In other news, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of  "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."  In honor of the anniversary I bought my husband a Wally the Moose glass. Last night we broke it in with a couple of eggnogs.  With a little splash of rum, of course.  And a scrape of nutmeg.

Which is sounding good right about now.






Thursday, December 04, 2014

Five Star Christmas Tree

But first, what say we all take the Christmas Season Laziness Test?

Question #1.  You are giving a holiday party.  Do you ignore wine with corks, and buy only bottles with screw-off tops?
Question #2.  On the subject of exterior lighting- do you hang lights along the roof line, or is one lighted wreath on the door enough of a statement?
Question #3.  Holiday baking.  Do you try out the tempting new recipes that won this year's newspaper Cookie Contest or do you stick with the same ones you've been making for years- you know, the one you can practically make in your sleep?
Question #4.  On Christmas cards.  Do you buy only the ones that say "Merry Christmas" and not "Happy Holidays," not just because "HH" is bs but because you don't want to have to add "Merry Christmas" in handwriting to every damn card?

If you answered "yes" to the above questions, congratulations!  You are every bit as lazy as Desperate herself.  This is a classy club, people.  Wear your badge with pride.

The reason I bring this all up is I have received my Christmas tree.  This year, for the first time, actually ordered it online.

Why, you ask?  Because Desperate is done with buying the tree from the lot, bribing someone into loading it into her car, and dragging it out of the car, into the house and then spending a perilous hour trying to get the damn thing to stand up straight in the tree stand.  Oh, and with cleaning al the little needles out of the car before they harden into tiny spikes and make their way to the driver's seat where they lie in wait to bite her in the butt.
No.  This year, Desperate said to herself, all that fun is OVER.

Anyway I found this company online called Five Star Christmas Trees.  You give them money, they bring you a tree. You give them a little more money and they'll even set it up in its stand for you.  In a fraction of the time it would have taken me to do it, of course.  These guys are pros.

On Monday a man showed up at my door with what looked like one of those tall, skinny cypress trees you see in Tuscan landscapes.  "Give it a couple of hours,"  he said, "it just has to loosen up a bit."

Well.  The next morning the tree was gorgeous.  Full, not a bare patch anywhere, perfectly shaped, just beautiful.  I was thrilled.  I still am thrilled, with the tree.

The trouble is the company keeps sending me confirmation notices.  "Your tree has been delivered!"  I get why they do this. It's good business practice.  I respect that. But as of this writing-- I am not exaggerating- FSTC has sent me over one hundred "confirmation" notices.

At first I thought it was my fault. Maybe they were waiting for a "thank you."  So, I sent them an email.  "Thanks for the tree, I love it, it's beautiful," yadda yadda.

"You're welcome!"  they emailed back.  "Enjoy your Five Star Christmas Tree!"

But that wasn't the end. Within minutes a dozen more "Your tree has arrived!" notices cropped up in my mailbox.  It's like the Sorcerer's Apprentice is their IT guy or something.  Now I'mnot sure what to do.  I've already begged them to stop.  But they are unstoppable.

Bottom line is, if you want a tree without the hassle of either lugging one home from a tree lot or dragging ye olde fake tree out of your attic, Five Star will deliver a honey of a tree.  Whether or not your email program will survive the experience I can't say.

CORRECTION:  I take it back.  Five Star has nice trees but atrocious customer service. They screwed up the installation of the first tree, promised a second one and then just dumped it on my porch.  I can't get it into the stand.  So it will probably die too.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

My daughter is 14.  That is to say, she is at an age where the thought of Black Friday shopping is still exciting.
Desperate, of course, is not burdened with this excitement.  But I am the Mom, so I agreed to take the kid to the mall.
We got there about 10 am.  Already it had the feel of the VFW Hall after the party's gone home.  Tired, empty, only a few diehard bargain hunters still around. 
We came armed with a list, and actually got one or two of the items.  Mostly we bought stuff for our Samaritan's Purse / Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
I do the shoebox thing every year.  I start out with the best of intentions, bring a little smile to some impoverished kid's face, etc.  And then before you can say "feelings of guilt and inadequacy" the whole thing spirals out of control.  Did I get enough stuff?  Will the age 5-to-9 girl I'm packing a box for like the sweatpants I bought?  will they fit?  will they be too small? omg they're going to be too small and the poor kid will be heartbroken that she's the only one who went home without new clothes!
Over and over again I have to tell myself to get a grip.  One little shoebox isn't going to ruin the kid's life, I tell myself. Besides, I put in other stuff besides the sweatpants.  Candy, for example.  And covering my bases, I add a toothbrush and some Hello Kitty toothpaste as well.  Little dolls, headbands, girly stuff.
It won't change the world but it will make one little girl smile.  That's worth a hundred Black Fridays.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election Day

Today is the midterm elections.  The front-page headline on the New York Times:  "GOP Confident on Election's Eve, With Voters Sour."  They wanted it to read"Voters Who Write For The New York Times"  but they ran out of space.

I live in Minnesota where Al Franken is up for re-election to the US Senate.  He will likely win. Six more years of probing questions like "Did you watch 'Perry Mason' when you were a child, Ms. Supreme Court Candidate?"  Yeah.  Minnesotans can be proud.

Then there's our governors race.  The incumbent, Gov. Dayton, is famous for approving a gazillion-dollar "light rail" system that so far at least 12 people have used.  Oh, and this morning one of their trains rammed a police car.  Again, Minnesotans can be proud.

I love Election Day.  I love going to the polling place and seeing people I only see every two years, meeting their new dogs and spouses/significant others.  I love the idea that some of these people might actually know what they are doing.  That's probably optimistic, but I like to look on the positive side.

Which is what I'll be doing tonight, with my fingers crossed and a Memorare on my lips, as I watch the returns come in.  God bless America, and God help us all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

#MondayBlogs

I just posted a link on #Monday Blogs.  Hello everybody!  Welcome to Desperate Irish Housewife.  This blog is supposed to have some fancy things on it- e.g. I was invited to the Vatican Bloggers' Conference a couple of years ago, they sent me a tag but I couldn't figure out how to use it.  Sigh.  Now I'm supposed to get another fancy tag, this one from Writer's Digest.  My book "Breakfast with the Pope" won First Prize in the 2014 Self-Published Book Awards.  And they're sending me a special little computer badge!

Oh, and I'm entering NaNoWriMo and I think they do the fancy tag thing, too.  I gotta figure out this tag thing. Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo this year?

I live in Minnesota, where we spend a lot of time deliberately not thinking about the coming winter.  We are enjoying a gorgeous fall, and I have never worked harder at "living in the moment" in my life.  Because I know- we all know- what's coming next. Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it.....

I'm not a native Mineesotan. I've been here about ten years.  And I still have not accepted the winters.  My Minnesota friends are very amused by my reactions to the cold.  Me, I'm not so amused.

Hope y'all enjoy the blog.  Come again soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Feast Day ST John Paul II!!!

Just a reminder, #JPIIWeLoveU Twitterstorm is scheduled for 4pm Central time today.  Make the Holy Father a trend!

A New Face

DIH supposes she must weigh in on the subject of Renee Zellweger's new face.

One question:  Why?

I always thought Renee was pretty cute.  Those crinkly eyes, those apple cheeks!  She was adorable!  And come on, those runner's legs?  The face she may have been born with, but she earned those legs.  A lovely woman, head to toe.

And now?  Well, now she pretty much looks like anyone you might meet in a dentist's office.

DIH has no beef with anyone who chooses to spiffy up her appearance, especially after 40.  You got the dough, you get to spend it however you want.  And don't kid yourself, actresses work hard for their money.  As far as I'm concerned if they want to buy themselves new eyelids it's ok with me.

But why did Rene- cute, cuddly, adorable Renee- decide to water down her looks?  I don't get it.

There's an old saying that after a certain age, a woman has to choose between her face and her figure.  Maybe that's what was behind Renee's decision.  But I will miss that face.  I just hope she doesn't, because it's probably to late to go back to it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

YIPPEEEE!!!!

And YIPPEEEE again!  It is PARTAY TIME in Desperateland!

Why?  Because a few days ago yours truly got an email from Writers' Digest Magazine.  My book "Breakfast with the Pope" won First Prize in this year's Self-Published Book Awards.  It's in the "Life Stories" category.  I am sooo happy!

Here's the Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/Breakfast-Pope-Susan-Vigilante/dp/0980076382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395933599&sr=8-1&keywords=Breakfast+With+the+Pope

And here's my website:
http://www.breakfastwiththepope.com/

If any of you out there have ever self-published a book, you know what a roller coaster the adventure is.  When BWP came out I made the rounds of Catholic bookstores here in the Twin Cities, asking if they'd please carry my book.  I will never forget how one bookstore owner declined to carry it because she found some of the material "unsuitable for my store."  Go figure.  Like I said, it's an adventure. 

Writers' Digest won't be publishing the list of winners until late February, but hey said I could talk about it on social media all I want.  So I'm talking.

Oh- and Bookstore Owner who called my book "unsuitable?"




Monday, October 20, 2014

Ladies' Weekend

My husband took off for Tyringham, MA a few days ago.  He went to visit our friend George Gilder, who had a manuscript he wanted Richard to read.

They've been doing this for thirty years.  George finished a book, and Richard disappears into the Gilder's basement to read it before George sends it off to his publisher.  I have diaries going back decades with passages like "Richard was going to help me with [whatever] but he's working with George instead."  Story of my life.

But I am not complaining. Oh no.  With Dad out of town my daughter and I go wild.  We go out to lunch.  We order pizza.   We break out the ice cream.  We watch network TV.  Yeah, it's go crazy time.

In addition to being a "dad is out of town" weekend it was also the MEA break- a four-day weekend, woo hoo!  My daughter hosted a sleepover in the porch.  The next morning I found little notes all over the place with intriguing items like "DID SHE BUY IT???? " and "TELL HER I WILL KILL HER!!!"  It was a learning experience for me.   I learned how to identify her different friends' handwriting. This could be a valuable skill in the future.
We went to our favorite apple orchard and bought this year's supply of Haralsons.  My hands are raw from peeling and slicing but we got a year's worth of apple crisp in the freezer, baby! 

Sadly our favorite orchard is closing down for good after this season.  Fall Harvest Orchards was a great place.  Not Disney-fied, not overpriced, but truly kid-friendly-- they let the kids bottle-feed the baby goats, stick their hands under the chickens to retrieve eggs, and learn which angry chickens were best to avoid.  (Seriously, they had one that was a real monster.)  There was a hayride that made a stop to let the kids pick free Indian corn for popcorn.

I will miss Fall Harvest Orchard.  I don't know where I'll get my Haralsons next year.  And I dread the thought of paying supermarket prices for butternut squash.  By this time next year I expect the acres that were FHO will be developed into "Executive Estates."  I dont' think I'll drive out there to see that.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Home Again

I'm back from the Writers Digest Novel Writers Conference '14 in LA.  Note to self:  ask the WD people if they could shorten that title next year.

Writer's conferences are amazing.  As one writer I talked to put it, "They put two hundred introverts in a hotel ballroom and expect them to 'network.'"  Given the cultural norm, after a while I didn't feel so bad about my networking spiel:  "Hi.  Um.  I have cards.  Do you have cards?  We could trade.  We're supposed to trade.  Someone just told me that.  Oh-- I have to fix that email.  I guess I need new cards..."

My plans for the week are retype my notes, come up with new plots, and become a great writer.  Should be a piece of cake, no?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feast of the Assumption! Strange City! Angry Cabbies!

Today I am in Los Angeles for a writers' conference, the Writers' Digest Novel Writing conference. Today is the 15th of August, the Feast of the Assumption. HD of O.

I thought I had it all planned.  I looked up churches, checked out mass times last night, set my alarm at the hotel.  There's a line of cabs out front.  How hard could it be, right?

Plus I made sure it was a well-known church. The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.  (I should probably point out that I've never been to LA before and all my knowledge ofhte place is from movies.)  Alfred Hitchcock's parish, if I 'm not mistaken.  I ask you, could it get any more iconic?

So the doorman gets me a cab.  "Church of the Good Shepherd, " I say.

Cabbie glares at me.  In a rich accent- I'm guessing Iranian?--"Where is that?  What is the address?"

"Um.. I don't know."  Now I'm at a loss.  "I could go back inside and ask."
Cabbie starts yelling at doorman.  She doesn't know the address!  Door man starts yelling back.  You mean you don't know where it is

DIH tactfully slips out of cab. Heads back into hotel for the address.

Doorman yells.  Wait!  This next guy knows!

Another cab pulls up.
First cabbie:  (furious) Just give me the address!
Doorman:  (pissed off) I don't know the address!
First cabbie:  (Really furious) I will take her!
Doorman:  Well she doesn't want you!
Second cabbie (same accent as first cabbie but not as angry, which at this point would take a lot):  Miss, miss, I know where it is, I take you.
DIH slips into second cab.  Cab starts leaving hotel driveway.Second cabbie:  I'm sorry, what was the address again?
DIH:  I'm outta here.  (Exits cab)

OK.  Call me a cynic.  But one of  my rules of life is never get into a cab with an angry Iranian if he doesn't know exactly where he's going.  Trust me, budgets have been blown that way.  And worse.

Now my only problem is getting to church later.  I believe Good Shepherd has a 7:30 pm. mass.  I wonder if the cabbies will have mellowed by then.  And I will definitely have the address with me next time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams

Suicide.  What a tragedy.
I went to a university that was notorious for its suicides.  The most spectacular form was called "gorging out."  It meant jumping from one of the bridges into one of the gorges.  It was even a common joke: "If I don't ace this exam I'm gonna gorge out."  Ha ha.

During my years in college there were several suicides.  A graduate student hanged himself;  the body of a young son of a professor was found in a gorge;  there were others. 

One day I heard that an undergraduate I worked with at a part-time job had attempted suicide.  This was my first personal encounter with suicide, and I was amazed at my reactions.

My first reactions was horror and grief.

My second reaction? I wanted to slap him.

"You idiot!  What the hell were you thinking? You think anybody's life is a bed of roses?  Did you ever once think of that?"

That was decades ago.  Then, a few years ago, I learned that a good friend had killed himself.  This time my reaction was different:  I just felt sick.

I'd always thought of my friend Tom as a survivor.  He survived a horrendous childhood under the thumb of a violent, drug-addicted mother, the deaths of all but one of his siblings, and a stint in Viet Nam, and he had overcome his addiction to alcohol.  Twice married, the first time to a girl he'd gotten pregnant, the second time to a woman he met in AA.  Twice divorced. 

We met when we were both training for our black belts in tae kwon do.  Tom helped me a lot, just as he helped everybody in the dojang.  The kids loved to work with him.

He was remarkably gifted.  He restored furniture for a living, and he was an artist in his work.  An artist in other ways too; he painted, he carved.  As I discovered after his death, he was a gifted writer, as well.  And he was funny, too.

But in the end the darkness overcame him.  Hopelessly in debt, mostly because of one of those rotten mortgages, he isolated himself more and more.  He went back to drinking.

In the end the darkness overcame him.  Tom hanged himself in his home.

My friend Tom, whom many people loved and respected, thought he was alone.  I honestly don't know if anyone could have convinced him that wasn't the case.

I imagine Robin Williams thought he was alone, too.  In spite of family and friends and countless fans, he must have felt terribly alone.

That's the real tragedy here, I think.  That so many people think they are alone.  When all the time Christ is calling to us, "Come to me, and I will give you rest."

Robin Williams, like the rest of us, was not perfect.  He cheated on his wives, did drugs, was vilely anti-Catholic (look it up on Youtube).  But his life had meaning, and his death was a tragedy. 

I'll be praying for his soul tonight.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

At the Beach

I am at the beach in South Carolina for a week.  Working on my new novel when I'm not walking up and down the shoreline or scarfing down crab cakes.  This is the life!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Want! Want! WANT!

http://www.1500espn.com/link/comments.php?lp=the_mayor_needs_the_squirrel_launcher

Friday, July 25, 2014

Congratulations Madonna Badger!

Anyone who follows NYC news will never forget this horrible Christmas Eve tragedy.  Good news:  Madonna Badger, who lost her parents and three young daughters in that fire, got married earlier this week.

As someone who has been praying for Ms. Badger since that Christmas, I just want to say WAY TO GO, MADONNA!!

http://nypost.com/2014/07/25/mom-whose-kids-parents-died-in-christmas-blaze-finds-love-again/

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Twitter

I have recently started  tweeting like a maniac.  I guess I need to get one of those "follow me on Twitter" gizmos added to this website, but while I'm working on that, I thought I'd let everyone know.  It's Susan Vigilante on Twitter.  Cool pic of me high-fiving the Holy Father.

Paperwork

I love paperwork.  Don't you?

I love it when your insurance company asks for more paperwork.
I love it when your new mortgage company asks you to submit  all the insurance paperwork you already submitted t your last mortgage company.  I love the way it make my head spin and my blood pressure go up,  Really, it's so exciting.

I know there are people in the world who are absolute whizzes at this sort of thing but I have never been one of them.  Weirdly, people who don't know me well tend to take one look at me and think "well-organized."  I'm not sure why this is so. Maybe because I'm a relatively small person, and thy think compact=organized.

Today I am attempting to do a truckload of paper work.  If I can make it to the end of this pile without completely freaking out I'll know someone out there is praying for me, a lot.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Pentecost and Captain America

I finally watched "Captain America" last week.  Gotta say, loved it.  It had everything a movie should have:  superheroes, overblown musical production numbers, little-guy-gets-big stuff, and beating up on Nazis.  I couldn't have asked for more.

Now before I go on with my sure-fire, can't fail blockbuster idea, I have to ask you to watch the transformation scene. This is where little Stevie from Brooklyn becomes Captain America:



So he's infused with super strength.

My idea:  what about a little dweeb from New York who becomes infused with the Holy Spirit?

"Five- four- three... Now, Mr. Stark.
WIDSOM!
UNDERSTANDING!
COUNSEL!

"That's forty percent!"
FORTITUDE!
KNOWLEDGE!
PIETY!
"and finally-- NOW, MR STARK!"
FEAR OF THE LORD!

"Mr. Stark?"
Cue the music!  Open the capsule!






And there he is.  An ordinary man, ordinary no longer, because he's got them all, all seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Did you ever wonder what that would  look like?  Last week I found myself wondering if anyone could withstand being filled with all seven, or even survive it.  What kind of a new creation would that be?

So here's my idea:  "Captain Spirit!"

Or maybe Captain HS. Or Captain Third Person.  Still working on the title.
Oh, yeah, this is good.  He's the SUPER Superhero.  As in literally above all the others.
OK, so all I need now is some screenwriting software.  Hello, Hollywood?  Have I got a winner for you!
Happy Pentecost, everybody.  Happy Birthday,  Church!


Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Happy Gardener

I have spent much of my time lately sticking plants into the ground.  This, I believe, is called "gardening."

It happens every spring.  I start thinking how much nicer my front yard could look.  Then I think, Hold on, there, Desperate.  Remember what happened last year.  Three hundred buck on plants and mulch and all that stuff and all you got was renewed buckthorn.

I have tried to accept the fact that I am not a gardener.  I have, with considerable effort, stopped buying those big bags of bulbs Costco sells every fall.  (The squirrels are angry, of course.  "Hey. where's the buffet?")  I stay  away from the "lawn care" aisles at Menards.  I never look at the "You can have this gorgeous outdoor retreat" articles in the checkout line.  It's all over, that dream.

The only plants that reliably grow in my front yard are the ones the previous owner planted.  Which got me to thinking: if those things come up year after year all on their own,t hey must be pretty nearly indestructable.

So... I could just plant more of those, right?

So that's what I've been doing.  Drought-tolerant salvias- perfect since I never water anything anyway- and hostas. I love hostas. They don't give a damn.  They're never leaving, no matter what.

You know what else never dies?  Irises.  Only I think I was supposed to water them.  Oh well.  Next year.

And then I got a little crazy and had the "lawn" hydroseeded.  Covered with a thin layer of light green mulch it now looks better than it ever has.

And right now it's even raining. 

This could turn out better than I hoped!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Play Ball!

Or not.  That is the question.

Softball season got off to a soggy start here in Minnesota.  The Our Lady of Peace Through Strength 8th grade girls were rained out all opening week.  Then we had one day of play and lost miserably. It turned out the other team had been practicing in their gym for weeks. 
Honestly.  I can't believe that sort of thing is allowed.

OLoPTS, of course, does not have a gym.  Ever since I can remember the kids have been raising money for "athletic equipment."  Still no gym.  There are OLoPTS alumni about to graduate college who raised money for the gym that never appeared.  I fully expect my kid will be one of them some day.

Then we had a makeup game, on Sunday.  Sun, breeze, dried-out field, and another loss.  We were doing okay until the last inning, then things kind of fell apart. But it was a huge improvement on the first game.  So no complaints.

Yesterday's game was cancelled due to shortage of players.  You need nine, we only have ten, so if one kid gets sick we forfeit.  One kid puked in the cafeteria, and that was that.

We have another game scheduled for this afternoon.  Fans are keeping their fingers crossed.

Monday, May 05, 2014

This Should Help


Jack Is Back!

"24" reboots tonight on Fox.  I can't wait.
As in, Ohboyohboyohboy, a whole new round of Jack Bauer!  I can't believe the tv gods have smiled on us again!
I have to admit I came pretty late to "24" fandom.  I never saw the first seasons on broadcast television.  I had to catch up via Netflix.  Every time I heard the V.O. of Jack saying, "Previously on '24,'"  I heard it as "Six years ago on '24.'"  But that's all right now. As of tonight I'll be right on top of things.
So, important things to do today:

1.  Thank Jack Bauer for letting us live another day.
2.   Remember that every time you hear JB say something like, "Look, I sympathize.  I do,"  it means he's about to throw you under the bus.
3.  A bus he is probably driving.
4.  '24' is often not suitable for children.  Blindfold your kids and watch it anyway.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bob Hoskins

One of my favorite British actors, Bob Hoskins, has died at age 71.

In this country he may be best known for playing private detective Eddie Valiant in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"  I loved him as the kick-ass priest in "A Prayer for the Dying."

But my favorite Bob Hoskins performance of all time was playing Arnie Cole, diamond-in-the-rough filmmaker star of "Flickers."  "Flickers" was a  series about the early days of picture, and hardscrabble Arnie Cole was determined to make it big in the business.  Of course, he didn't have any money, which made it an even bigger challenge.

My favorite line from the series was when Arnie and his partner are trying to come up with a script, but since neither of them can write,  they decide the best thing to do is steal a plot from  "Literature."  (I wish I could reproduce that word in Arnie's Cockney accent. ) The line was, "The thing about literature is, there are lots of great stories in it--"  (beat)  "...if you can get through all this crap!"

I looked on YouTube for bits of "Flickers" but all I could find was this bit.  Stay with the opening credits to get a glimpse of Arnie Cole, cinematic auteur.


Monday, April 28, 2014

What A Weekend!

St. John XXIII!

St. John Paul II!

Man, I wish I could have been in Rome for the canonizations.  I was lucky enough to make it to John Paul II's beatification, so I suppose I should be grateful.  And I was luckier still- no, beyond lucky all the way to truly blessed- to have met John Paul II many times.  I wrote about all that in "Breakfast with the Pope,"  which if you haven't read yet you really should.

Yes I'm tooting my own horn here.  But really, it's a terrific read.  Give it a try.   You can read a sample here:
http://www.amazon.com/Breakfast-Pope-Susan-Vigilante/dp/0980076382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395933599&sr=8-1&keywords=Breakfast+With+the+Pope

So I've been incredibly blessed and should not be at all jealous of those lucky devils who got to be in Rome yesterday.  No.  Should not be jealous.  Not a bit. 

 But I have to admit to a little- no, make that a lot-of Rome envy.

I always have Rome envy, of course.  I love fountains and cobblestones and St. Peter's Square.  I love gorgeous churches and  sublime architecture.  I love the Italian language.  I love pizza.

So I'm up for a trip to the Eternal City any time.  But a double canonization? Of two popes, no less?  What a party.

Sigh.

I will probably be looking at photos and videos on the Twitter feed for at least a week.  And I will be praying to our new saints for all of us.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quote of the Day for Writers!

"It wasn't easy for Roberto Abruzzi to begin.  No one in Santa Vittoria had written a book and not too many people had read one, but everyone knew how this book should be written.

"'Put down anything, put down a lot.  Long books are better than short ones,'" Vittorini, the old soldier and the most cultured man in Santa Vittoria, told him.  "Say anything just so as you say it beautifully."

The priest Padre Polenta, handed him this note one morning:

      Remember this, Roberto.  One's words must glide across the page like a swan moving across the
      waters. One must be conscious of the movement without a thought of what is causing it to move.

It was enough to stop him for a month."

Robert Crichton, "The Secret of Santa Vittoria"

Too Beautiful. And They're Adorable!


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Just So You Know....

...my book "Breakfast with the Pope" has a Facebook page now.  So go like it, OK?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Brithday to Me

That's right, today is my birthday.  I can't bring myself to say which one.  But I thought I'd indulge in a little birthday fantasizing.

What do I want for my birthday, you ask?  Here's a short list.

Spring
A new mortgage rate, without the annoying paperwork
The end of the entire squirrel species
A lovely sea breeze, a sandy beach...
Ten pounds vanished, without the annoying dieting
To discover a slimming clothes color other than black
Or to look good in black, either one
Never again to be the only one asking, "What's that smell?"
A perfect lemon drop martini

Ah, dreams.  Anyway.  Wishing everyone a happy day on my birthday. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reading the Classics

My daughter has been sick for ten days now.  As it's a virus, there's nothing much to do about it except sleep a lot, drink fluids and try not to watch too many hours of Netflix.

I am hanging with her, listening to every cough, trying not to freak out over the word "pneumonia."  I never should have read "Studs Lonigan," or any of that other Irish stuff I grew up on. 

To pass the time I have decided to actually read some of the books I have in the house.  Specifically:

The Harvard Classics of Fiction.

You've probably seen the set, somewhere.  Somewhere old and dusty, where old and dusty and basically untouched collections of books go to die.  We bought this set of 20 books for 20 bucks ina barn somewhere.  Well now, by gum, I'm going to read them.

I started -- Saturday?  Don't remember.  I am now halfway through Volume One, which is Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones."  A book which, I discovered to my dismay, takes up two volumes of the set.

You can follow my reluctant but determined progress on Twitter at

#desperatereadsharvard

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Few Days Late, But....

... a belated St Patrick's Day gift.


Oh Why Not?

The classic.


Seriously, Does Anybody Get This?

Movie star Russell Crowe finally met with Pope Francis.  Well,  him and about 10,000 other people.




You've all followed this one, right?  Crowe stars in the movie "Noah" which opens March 28.  For weeks now Mr Crowe has been trying to get the pope to come to a screening of the film.  Now, great idea, right?  Get a real live pope to watch your movie!  Better yet, get him to give his blessing to the movie!  A PR masterstroke!

One problem:  the Holy Father doesn't go to the movies.  And come on, Crowe-- you really think the head of the Church Universal on earth has time for this kind of thing?  The guy's busy, Russ.  Really, really busy.

But for some reason the producers of "Noah" just couldn't let it go.  They finally settled for a spot in a general audience.  You know how that goes. You show up in St Peter's Square in the predawn darkness to try to get a good spot.  You're surrounded by thousands of pilgrims, some of whom just got off the plane from Taiwan and barely know where they are.  There's a lady yelling at you in a language you've never heard before and a mob of teenagers singing "Ave Maria" at the top of their lungs, over and over and over again.  Granted, the "Noah" crew got seats in the VIP section. But still.  I can't even find Russell Crowe in the picture, can you?

I can't wait to see what kind of hay the "Noah" set tries to make out of this "meeting."  Remember when a pretentious neighbor told Tony Soprano he'd had an "audience" with the pope, and Tony replied, "Oh yeah?  What row were you in?"  I'm waiting for Mr. Crowe to try using that line. 

Seriously.  Does anybody get this? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy St Joseph's Day

Today is the Feast of St Joseph, and we all know what that means:  cannolis.  Ricotta pies.  Maybe a couple of eclairs.

Which brings up the question:  how will the White House celebrate this momentous day?

I mean, their pastry chef just quit.  He says he's not going to "demonize" eggs, cream, butter and sugar any more.  He's done with the forces of evil and is rejoining the ranks of the truly happy.  By which I mean the people who eat cannolis.

Mr. White House pastry chef?  May I issue an invitation?  Check out the Catholic churches in DC that will be offering a St Joseph's Table this week. Picture a regular fiesta of tasty pastries.  You know who I bet has a great one?  Santo Rosario, over by the FBI.  They have a killer coffee hour after the 11:00 mass- I'm talking cappuccino and espresso, baby, sometimes even a decent glass of wine.  Their San Giuseppe celebration must be awesome.

Happy feast day, St Joseph.  We will celebrate your greatness with deliciousness.  Maybe the White House crowd will sneak over to Santo Rosario and celebrate, too.  I'm sure they'd be gald to see you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Happy big day, my fellow Irish Americans.  Happy day of crowded pubs and bad-weather parades, of silly hats and loud neckties, and vacuum-wrapped briskets of corned beef on sale at Costco.  Did I leave anything out?

Man, this holiday has changed since I was a kid.  Anyone else remember the St Patrick's Day parade on Fifth Avenue, when they still painted the lines in the middle of the street green for the day?  Those were the days.  I wonder when the decision -makers at GLAAD will demand the street lines get painted in rainbow colors.  Especially in front of the cathedral, maybe?  Yeah, that day's coming soon.

Meanwhile, let's enjoy this famous scene from "The Quiet Man."  Bar towel!


Friday, March 07, 2014

Sleet At Last!

The prediction for the weather  today is "wintry mix."  I love that expression, "wintry mix."  It sounds like it could mean anything from Uggs and leggings to beef burgundy and apple crisp.

Alas, it means rain and sleet.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining;  this is a huge step up from 20 below zero and two feet of snow.  It's nasty, but at least it's nasty in a whole new way.  The sub-zero bit was getting really old.  We could use a new kind of misery.

There's something appropriate in getting a new kind of nasty weather on the first Friday in Lent.  Underscores the whole "we are in a new season" thing.  Also underscores the "and it won't be much fun" bit.  Lent it not fun.  It's good, but it's not fun.

But let's focus on the "good" part.   Is there a better time to roll up your sleeves, take a hard ook at your life, get some clarity, even if it might be  painful?  There is not.  And I'llt ake clairty over fun, any day.

Happy First Friday, everyone.  Skip the bacon and the burgers and get some clarity in you life.  It's a good thing, really.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

It's That Time Again

Hello and welcome to this year's grand opening of the season of Lent.  Got your ashes yet?  Not me, I'm planning on hitting a noon Mass somewhere.

I live in Minnesota, but I'm a native New Yorker. There are lots of things I miss about New York, but one of the things I miss most of all, this time of year anyway, is the Subway Ashes.  One day in early spring I was riding the escalator up from my train to the surface, and at the top of the escalator was a young man in a clerical collar, with a dish of ashes in his hands.  He was ashing people on their way to work.  There were more priests stationed at the turnstiles.  I thought it was brilliant.   New Yorkers are the most rushing people in the world, but everyone had time to get smudged in the subway. It was awesome.

Nothing like that here, alas.  Hard to even find a church where you can zip in for a quick smudge- notice I said "quick." For impatient types like me that's important.

So what are your plans?  Giving up chocolate, or coffee, or Facebook?  Fasting from your iPod?  Making a serious attempt to get to daily Mass more often?  I've already signed off Facebook for the next six weeks.  I feel better already.  Maybe I'll stop plugging my ears every time that annoying "Kars for Kids" ad come on the radio. 

Whatever you've decided to do, I wish you the best of luck in sticking to your Lenten resolutions.  Remember it's only for a few weeks, and at the end of it all is the Resurrection.  Let's get ready, people!

Friday, February 28, 2014

How Cold Is It?

Yesterday at the gym.  A young woman was using a hairdryer to warm up her running shoes.  "I left them in the car overnight.  They froze."
 It's getting tougher to find a spot in the steam room.  Ditto for the sauna.
Two days of trash piled up in my garage because my trashcans were frozen shut.
My nose doesn't run in the cold any more. It can't. 
Every time I drive my kid to school in minus-teen temps I congratulate myself for not bursting into tears.
Wearing mismatched gloves no longer bothers me. I'll take anything.
I have actually read every single "Last Minute Getaways"  in my mailbox.
I have absolutely no interest in seeing the Oscar-nominated "Frozen."


Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's Raffle Time Again!

Every October, Our Lady of Peace Through Strength grammar school holds a fundraiser,  It's a marathon. The kids pledge to trot around a small lake, we pledge to pay them.
Every year we are told. "And remember-- this is the only fundraiser we have!"

Then in February every kid comes home with a pile of raffle tickets.  At five bucks a pop, every kid is expected to sell at least 80 tickets.

Somehow this doesn't count as a fundraiser. 

Having no family for a thousand miles to unload them on, my daughter looks to me to buy them.  Four hundred bucks.  Best of all, I get to fill out all the stubs by hand.  It takes days.

The grand prize for the raffle is a car.  Now, I could certainly use a new car.  The old '02 Subaru is starting to feel her age.

So last night I took pen in hand and starting filling out raffle tickets.

How do you  know you're a Catholic when you're filling out 80 raffle ticket stubs?  If your thoughts run this kind of course:

Tickets 1-10:  Hey, what am I complaining about?  I could win a car!  I'd love to win a car!  I can see myself pullling into the carpool line now, dazzling the other moms with my shiny new car glory!

Tickets 11-20:  I probably won't win, though.  I didnt' win last year. Or the year before that, or the year before that....

Tickets 21-30:  Besides, I don't really need a new car yet.  And think of all the people who really need one.

Tickets 31-40:  Those poor people!  What was I thinking?  They need to win, not me... Oh, dear God, Avarice must be my middle name....

Tickets 41-50:  I am a terrible person. 

Tickets 51-60:  My hand hurts.

Tickets 61-70:  My hand really hurts.  Fine, I'll offer it up for the souls in Purgatory.  Who better remember what I did for them, because this is a major pain in the neck and four hundred dollars is a major chunk of change!  The things I do for the Purgatorians.  And what have they done for me lately?  Hey guys, here's an idea-- why don't you see if you can help me win a new car?

Tickets 71-80:  BECAUSE I WANT THAT CAR, DAMMIT.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Olympics

Plough and Shovel Side-by-Side.  The intrepid woman who shovels her walk every snowstorm is matched against the b*stards next door who hire a guy with a plough.  The plough, by virtue of its superior horsepower, attempts to leave a barrier of solid ice and snow just over the intrepid shoveller's property line.  The shoveller, by virtue of her ferocious chihuahua companion, attempts to scare the plough off before he can do so.  (Odds heavily in favor of the plough.)

Milk Dash.  Contestants vie to buy the last gallon of milk from the convenience store.  Disqulaifiers include payment by check, Slurpee spills, and hoodies.

Redbox Relay.  One of our favorites.  Contestants try to keep a steady supply of halfway decent rented movies in the house until the storm subsides.  Bonus points if you actually return the films.

Citation Sweep.  Who can collect the highest number of city-issued tickets for failure to keep his sidewalk sufficiently clear?  Who gets the prize for Snow Emergency Route violations?  Who gets no tickets at all?  All members of the last category automatically disqulaified, as they are obviously cheating.

(Youth Division)  Snowbank Tongue.  See who can keep his tongue stuck in a schoolyard snowbank longest.  Contest ends when Latin teacher sneaks up from behind and shoves students' heads into snow.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Boycott Girl Scout Cookies

A number pf pro-life groups have announced their intention to boycott the annual Girl Scout Cookie drive.  Since the Girl Scouts are now officially in bed with Planned Parenthood, this only makes sense.

But what about the other groups who should be boycotting the GSCs?  Where are their voices?

You may be wondering who these other folks are.  It's very simple:

ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY  LIKES COOKIES.

Have you eaten a Girl Scout cookie in the last ten years?  Dry.  Boring.  Tasteless.  Mint Thins?  Don't make me laugh.  You get a mintier experience out of toothpaste.  Tastier, too.

"Samoas."  Oh yeah, right.  Throw in a couple of flakes of coconut and suddenly you're in Polynesia.  It's a joke. Not to mention an insult to Samoans everywhere.

The butter cookies might still be okay.  Not that there's much-- or any- real butter in them.

All in all, even compared to your average storebought cookie, the Girl Scout products are the worst. 

Do you love cookies?  Then stand up for them!  Stand up for cookies!  Mix up a batch of Toll House, or buy a box of Oreos.  Tell the Girl Scouts of America you've had it with tasteless treats that people only buy because they feel guilty about not helping the Brownies.  Tell them you're not going to be pushed around any more!  No more Girl Scout cookies!

Until they at least LEARN HOW TO BAKE, damn it!


Monday, February 03, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman

What a tragedy.  Rest in peace, Philip.

A great, moving speech from "Almost Famous."


Monday, January 13, 2014

Top Ten Good Things About the Polar Vortex

Now that it's gone away, let's look back in appreciation.

10.  Sure your neighbor has a snazzy Mercedes.  But whose crappy ancient Subaru actually started every day?  Ha ha.

9.  You spent quality time with your family.

8.  After a few days even your family admitted they were done with quality time, so you all got to watch Netflix for hours.

7.  You  made enough soup to last until the spring thaw.

6.  You made enough soup to last until the first snowfall of 2015.

5.  Way too cold to open attic door.  Guilt-free slow Christmas cleanup!

4.  Next time you bring up the subject of going someplace warm and sandy, spouse will actually pay attention.

3.  32 degrees feels like a vacation!  Go out and walk off those Christmas cookies!

2.  22 degrees doesn't feel so bad, either!

1.  IT'S OVER!!!!!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Quote of the Day

Sitting in the Barnes and Noble Bookstore Cafe.  Two twenty-somethings are having lunch with their grandparents.  They discuss vegetarian and Kosher lunch options, then settle down to eat.

Someone mentions the author of a popular book.

"I know something about that family,"  the grandmother says.  "The youngest son converted from Judaism to Catholicism."

"Really?  That's unusual,"  replies the granddaughter.  "Why would anyone want to go out of the frying pan and into the fire?"

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Vortex!

The much-vaunted Polar Vortex is supposed to be ready to subside.  As of tomorrow we will have above- zero temperatures and SCHOOL WILL RE-OPEN AT LONG LAST!  YEE- HAH!

Not that I'm complaining. It hasn't been all that bad.  My daughter and I decided to cook our way through the cold.  She looked up the Jamie Oliver videos and we'd cook 'em.  Let's just say I now know what Marmite looks like, although I'm still not exactly sure what it is.

(Funnily enough there were two British guys watching me as I found the stuff in the supermarket.  I noticed raised eyebrows.)

We made "Brown Windsor soup," because we heard about it in an episode of "Poirot." We made split pea with ham soup because we had to get rid of the last of the Christmas ham somehow.  We were about to tackle "Steak and Guinness pie" when we ran out of steam.

So what shall we have for dinner?

I want pizza.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Batten Them Down Again! We'll Show Those Hatches!

It seems to Desperate she has spent a lot of time battening down the hatches lately.  We've been in quite the deep-freeze here in Minnesota lately, and according to the National Weather Service it's only going to get worse over the next few days.  I'm talking wind chills of 60 below, people.

60 BELOW.

So I've stocked the freezer, filled the gas tank, sealed off the semi-heated porch. I have also taken the very Little House on the Prairie step of covering the walls of my bathroom with plastic sheeting.

I did this because the plaster in this particular bathroom was ripped off the walls a couple of weeks ago.  We had an in-house flood, and the plaster got soaked, so it had to go.  Unfortunately this left us with nothing but exposed lathe and tar paper to keep the chill out.

I can't just close the bathroom door, as the pipes will freeze.  On the other hand the draft from the bathroom is bone-chilling. So I covered the walls with old plastic tablecloths.  I hope it works.

Now back to thinking of other things to batten down.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Welcome Annie Moore

I just learned about Annie through a Tweet from Lifesite News.  On January 1, 1892, 14-year old Annie Moore, from Cork, Ireland, became the first woman to be processed through the newly opened Ellis Island immigrations center in New York Harbor.

Welcome Annie!

Some 22 years later my grandparents entered the US through the same station.  Welcome Harry and Sadie!

And many decades later, Desperate herself was there.  At the time Ellis Island had been closed for years and was nearly a ruin.  It was just beginning its huge restoration to make it the museum it is today.

I was there as part of a team that was making a documentary about immigration in America.  The host for the show was an American blueblood, scion of an important New England literary family.  The rest of us were immigrant stock- our director was an Italian-American kid from upstate New York.

One day during a break we were talking about what Ellis meant to us as Americans.  I said my grandparents had come through Ellis;  my husbands had as well.  So had the grandparents of several crew members.  Our director added that when his grandparents arrived at Ellis from Italy his grandmother was pregnant with his father.

It was just an ordinary conversation, but there was real magic at work for us there that day. All our grandparents were from very different parts of the world, but here we were that day, and we had this in common:  Ellis Island was part of what made us all Americans.  It was almost as if we were all related. And Ellis was our old family home.

Happy Opening Day, Ellis.  Thanks for being there to welcome all of us.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year

So, it's 2014.  The fireplace is on, the dogs have gone back to bed and it's 6 below zero outside, wind chill minus 20.  Happy New Year!

It was a quiet New Year's Eve for the Desperate household.  Spouse is down with the flu, and 13-year-old daughter was at a sleepover.  When last seen the young ladies were heating up the curling irons.  Gotta start the New Year in style, am I right?

Right now I'm at the kitchen table, surveying the wreckage of the holidays.  The piles of Christmas china, waiting to be put away for next year.  The punch bowl that still hasn't been washed-- man it's a pain fitting big things into a small sink.  The shards of glass that are all that's left of the antique oil lamp from the guestroom that some kid broke at our post-Christmas dinner party.  (Note to whatever kid broke my lamp:  I will find you.  Oh yes.  I will.)

And just like every other year, I'm asking myself:  Why do we do all this?  Why?

And I remember a moment of amazing grace.  It happened more than 20 years ago.  Was I in church?  No.  I was standing on line in the men's socks department of Macy's on Queens Boulevard.

I was buying a Christmas present for my father. He always wants socks.  So there I was, waiting on line with about twenty-five other people, who were also buying socks for their fathers.  Merry Christmas, Dads of American, your tootsies will be warm again!

It must have been towards the end of the day.  Macy's was a madhouse.  A loop of Christmas music you've hear about seventy times playing on the sound system.  Everyone in front of you wants to pay with a check.

And I asked myself, Why am I putting myself through all this?  What could possibly make me do this kind of exhausting, mind-wearying, money-worrying thing every year?

So as I stood in line I took a little mental quiz.  Would I go through all this for anything less than to celebrate the birth of God on earth?

And I realized the answer was NO.  I wouldn't do this for the dearest friend having her first baby.  I wouldn't do this for the dearest friend getting married.  I wouldn't do this for anything less.

In our little household the celebration of Christmas has always been my job.  I get the tree, I put up the lights, I bake the cookies, I hang the wreath...

And the truth is I'm happy to do it.  I'm happy to welcome the newborn Savior with as much fanfare as I can muster.

Happy Birthday, God.  And a special shout-out to Mary, the Mother of God.  It's her feast day today.  Happy Feast Day, Mary!  I know all the holiday preparations were your job, too.  We're a tough crew, we wives and mothers, are we not?