About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

St. Rock and His Dog

Readers have pointed out to me that I mention St. Rock and his dog all the time. To be honest that's because the story of St. Rock and his dog is the perfect metaphor for the oft asked question: Does Lassie get to go to heaven?

Now before I give you that answer, which is a flat out, "NO," I feel compelled to mention that some very great thinkers disagree with me. I know this because I often hang around at the Catholic Online Forums, in particularly one called "The Lion's Den." This is a place where some very brilliant but somewhat humorless people debate questions of political, social and theological importance in great depth. They are highly intelligent smarty pantses all. To my great surprise, there was a big argument going on there one day about animals in heaven and there were actually some people arguing that, since to them it wouldn't BE heaven without animals in it, animals must be there. They posited this theory without a shred of irony.

The premise was that since God can do whatever He likes with heaven, he could fill it with animals of all kinds, including your childhood companion, now unmashed from his foray across the highway. These people could not be swayed.

In the interest of full disclosure, nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church does it state that "animals do not go to heaven".

Also in the interest of full disclosure, I was taught by every nun and priest I ever had as a teacher that animals do NOT go to heaven. At age seven, I thought that was very sad. But even at age seven I accepted the news because I was a tough bird even as a child and because I understood the difference between people and animals.

People have immortal souls. Animals do not. Hence there is no soul to go to heaven. Need further proof? We don't baptize the rottweiler "just in case."

The argument back in the ironically named "Lions' Den" was that God would put animals in heaven to make nature lovers happy, since heaven is a happy place. Clearly, God likes animals. He sure made a lot of them. My rejoinder is that, without an immortal soul, the animals in heaven would have to be some sort of virtual animals, not animals who had lived on earth. God could do that without a laser machine to generate holograms, the people who work at Pixar, or even Photoshop. Or, I guess He could just make some new animals to make a mess in heaven and chew on things. If they were just a bunch of animal copies, which they'd have to be, they'd be sort of depressing, don't you think? So animals wouldn't go to heaven, but there would be animals in heaven, which defeats the whole purpose, I think, of hoping that animals go to heaven.

Which brings me to the story of St. Rock (aka Roch, Rocko, Roche), that patron saint of dogs and dog lovers. Anyone could have guessed that Rock would end up a saint because he was born with a cross-shaped birthmark on his chest. Rock was a nobleman, born to a wealthy family, but he went off to work helping plague victims. He managed to do that for a long time until he finally became ill himself. Being saintly and not wanting to trouble anyone, Rock crawled off to a cave to die.

But every day a dog showed up with food for St. Rock and licked his plague sores. That's always pictured right on his holy card. (A dog's tongue is hundreds of times more germ free than that of a human, which is why your dog, Rollo, can eat garbage with a relaxed smile.) St. Rock survived.

St. Rock was eventually thrown into prison. He could have gotten out of prison, because he could easily have proved he was a nobleman, what with his famous birthmark and all (they didn't have fingerprints and DNA and the like back then). But, of course, being a saint and possessing heroic virtue, he stayed and helped the other prisoners. St. Rock died in prison.

So, St. Rock arrived in heaven, looked around and said, "Where's my dog?"

God said, "There are no dogs in heaven."

And St. Rock said, "Then I'm not going."

So God said, "Oh, alright, you can have your dog."

And that's how St. Rock's dog got to heaven.

This was my very favorite saint story when I was a little girl.

Clearly, this story is made up. Not the first part about St. Rock's heroic virtue. But obviously someone made up the dog in heaven part for people who just can't let go of the idea that, in heaven, you won't need a dog to lower your blood pressure or keep you company or make sure you're walking enough. You'll be one with God in ecstasy and adoration, not knitting fancy socks while the cat bats at the yarn.

The story is a perfect metaphor, the truth about a saint, a ray of hope for the innocent and simple minded. Recalling the story is the perfect answer to, "Does Lassie get to go to heaven?"
The answer, "You can pretend she does and we don't really mind, you poor thing."

God won't be mad if you go to your grave hoping to see Fluffy sitting on God's lap covering God in cat hair. He understands that once you're with Him you'll be glad not to clean the cat box.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jesus Loves You, Michael Vick

Isn't Soledad O'Brien a pretty girl? She just has to be Catholic,too, with that name! She was on CNN explaining to us about the football player, Michael Vick, who tortured dogs and killed them. She showed us a video tape of Mr. Vick apologizing for his inhumane activities and, much to my surprise, Mr. Vick explained that he won't be torturing dogs any longer, because he has found Jesus.

That's good news! And lucky for him, because Jesus is just about the only person (who also happens to be God) who is forgiving Mr. Vick and doesn't mind having His name associated with a dog torturer.

Be honest. If your name was Mary Smith and you turned on Soledad O'Brien to hear Michael Vick saying, "I'm sorry I tortured dogs, but don't worry because my new best friend is Mary Smith," you would be appalled.

But Jesus doesn't mind having dog torturers at his table.

Jesus has that in common with the NFL.

Except for those players who are actually still in jail and can't attend, which seems to only be one or two, the NFL, who some merrily call the National Felons League, welcomes all manner of criminals to their party. I remember reading years ago that there were enough convicted felons playing in the league that if you so desired, you could form a whole team of just felons with them.

Their crimes include drug possession, drug trafficking (in one case $25,000 worth of heroin...that would be 5000 pagan babies worth!), "child enticement", armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, weapons charges, aggravated assault, domestic abuse, rape, DUI, vehicular manslaughter (that's when you kill someone with your car, in this case also while DUI), domestic violence, solicitation (of prostitutes, this from a receiver of the Bart Starr award from Athletes in Action), obstruction of justice and murder. The murdered woman was pregnant. The child, born prematurely, has cerebral palsy.

Miss O'Brien had another gentleman on who explained that while the NFL was very embarrassed about how Mr. Vick treats dogs, he would still be allowed to play football after he gets out of the pokey, unless Mr. Vick was gambling. The NFL doesn't like gambling.

Jesus doesn't mind gambling so much. At least, according to the Church He founded here on earth, gambling is not a sin. (Gambling in excess is a sin and not giving some or all of your winnings to charity should be a sin but it isn't.) NFL players and everybody else can go to Vegas and have a good time, they just can't start a giant brawl, hit a waiter in the face with a champagne bottle and threaten to come back later and kill the bouncer, as one NFL player has recently done. Jesus never said word one about gambling, that I recall, not even when the Roman soldiers threw dice over his poor sad clothes. Maybe Jesus was just too tired at that point to say anything, but I doubt it. Jesus was never one to shirk His responsibilities.

Hopefully, the dogs that Michael Vick tortured got to go to heaven with the only two dogs in heaven, St. Rock's dog and Katmir, the dog of the Seven Sleepers. I'm sure they'd be happy to have to other dogs to play with.

And they would forgive them if the new comers were a little 'nippy' at first.

* Jesus and his dog is from a T-Shirt design by Threadless

Thursday, August 23, 2007

High Definition Sin

Sister St. Aloysius is on the roof. The house is so old and termite ridden we mapped out a path for her to walk up there so she won't come crashing through the ceiling. Meanwhile, I'm moving Sister Mary Fiacre around down here in her wheel chair to everywhere Sister St. Aloysius is not, lest Sister St. Aloysius crashes through anyhow right where Sister Mary Fiacre is parked and lands in her lap. The insidious morning glories have wrapped themselves around all the wiring coming into the house and are making their way up the phone line from the house to the alley. If we don't stop them, they'll go up the phone lines and cover the planet.

This is our high tech work of the day. Which brings me to today's question:

Sister, I hope you can help me with a moral dilemma. We have satellite tv at our house and a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). We recently purchased a new HDTV and I wanted to upgrade our satellite receiver to HD also. The satellite company offers specials deals and discounts to new subscribers only. We had an unrelated problem and called for a technician to come fix it. While he was here my husband asked him if there are any "deals" for existing customers. The technician stated that he had an HD-DVR in his truck that he could sell us at half price. When my husband came and told me this (I was busy in my sewing room and had left tv matters to the menfolk) I was delighted and got out the checkbook and gave it to my husband so he could pay for the HD-DVR. Several minutes later my husband came back and said the technician can only take cash. I thought that was odd but, since there is an ATM at the corner, not a problem. After the technician left my husband told me the technician explained that his boss had given the HD-DVR to him and he didn't want it so he was selling it to us. My husband thinks the technician stole the HD-DVR (he also charged us for the service call and we later noticed the receipt he gave my husband said "N/C", so we know he is dishonest). Now my husband wants to "make it right". My question is: How? Call the police and turn ourselves in for receiving stolen property? Turn in the technician? My husband wants to give the satellite company a money order for the full price amount without explanation. What do you think?

You certainly have fallen short. You should have pressed him for some free channels and TiVo.

I'm kidding.

Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas believed that the worst sin is that of dishonesty. St. Augustine in particular thought that no type of lie was okay, not even the answer to, "does this dress make me look fat?"

I haven't entirely wrapped my brain around why St. Augustine thought that lying is the worst sin. My puny understanding is that in some way lying is involved with just about every sin. Certainly you often have to lie to yourself in order to march headlong into sinning. If you never lied (which also involves lies by omission), you might not sin so much. Maybe.

But in your case it could be that nothing bad happened here at all.

You didn't set out to buy a stolen HDTV receiver or cheat the DishTV people, so you didn't have the intent to sin in the first place.

I think there might be a logical explanation for the whole event that doesn't even involve sin: TV installation guys often have stuff left over to sell you at half price. He can't take a check because the money is going to him and, well, you might be dishonest and write him a bad check. Maybe he needs the cash to give to his drug dealer.

I'm kidding. But it's not particularly odd that he's ask for cash.

A smelly rat tip toes in when the Dish TV guy charges you for installation. Was that cash too? Because if it was, the rat just sat down to supper. If you made out a check to the satellite company for the installation then nothing bad has happened.

He sold you some equipment he had, charged the fee from the company for the installation and wrote "N/C" on the receipt because you weren't charged for the equipment.

If you handed that guy cash for the installation, I'm not sure you sinned at all. You were just suckered is all. Maybe you'd rather feel like a sinner than a sucker.

Here's where St. Augustine comes in. If you are handing that guy cash for installation, you've smelled the rat and kept your yapper shut...maybe that's a sin.

If you paid cash for your installation, call the company and tell them the story. I imagine you have a nice telephone, since your lovely high definition TV comes in through your phone line.

If you still feel like you've sinned, go to confession. Give some money to the poor who don't have big fancy high definition TV's.

I'd be interested in discussing St. Augustine's point of view if anyone is up for it. Here are the two main points:
1. Lying is the worst sin.
2. No lie is okay because if you can make an excuse for lying you can make an excuse for, say, murder.

I want St. Augustine to tell me how to answer the question, "Is the Frank family hiding in your attic?"

Otherwise I'm on board for, "Your dress isn't very flattering, dear."

By the way, can we all come over and watch "Harry Potter"?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Me and My Big Mouth

When I was little girl going to Catholic school, as well as when I began my teaching career, there were 60 children in each of two grade levels. Sometimes a few more. Six rows of children sat ten deep. We put the tall kids in the back, but sometimes we rotated the entire row from one side of the room to the other so that each child sometimes got to sit next to the clanking radiator heaters during the winter where they would alternately boil and freeze.

Sixty children X 2=120 children in each grade level. 120 X 9 (grade levels because we even had two full kindergarten classes) =1080 per year, give or take a kid or two or 12. One Catholic school for one year. In my home town there were 6 Catholic schools. There were actually five, but by the early sixties, we had to add an entire school in the suburbs. All six schools weren't quite the same size, but for the sake of arguement, let's not even add in our suburban school and say we taught over 5000 children per year.

In one town. A small town at that.

Year after year, kid after kid. The dim bulbs and the smart alecks, the wall flowers and the show boaters, skinny and fat, cute and homely, little saints in knee socks, little devils with torn shirts.

We dealt with blood, upchuck, tears, bullies, laughter, gigglers, upchuck sawdust, missing janitors, windows that couldn't be opened, windows that couldn't be closed, chalk dust, pointer sword fights, months of indoor recess during the winter, beautiful First Communions, proud Confirmations and prepubescent young people.

Folks often ask me if I have hair. I do. But I don't know how I hung onto it.

Nuns were at the helm of these huddled masses yearning for no home work for the over 100 years. No more. If you can walk into a Catholic school today and find a nun, you are a lucky person. If you walked into my school and tried to find me you'd have trouble. I'm in the basement, sorting things. I'm a floater. You might run into me while I'm floating if you happen to be walking in the same hall at the same time as I.

I can tell there are no nuns anywhere else because of this note in my blog mailbox, during our discussion of Harry Potter:

from "s":
"The Devil doesn't exist either...right?

You don't have the patience for the whole argument regarding Harry Potter...that's because you don't care. You don't care! Maybe if you had children, whose souls were given specifically to your charge, you would care, but you don't. You were kind to bring some soup to sick kids...how about a little soup for the soul?

Well you know what...I'm sick and tired of "so-called" religious spouting off about something they have no clue about. You haven't read a word of Potter, so keep your mouth shut before you give advice that could be detrimental to the soul. That's right , the soul. The soul, the soul, the soul. Sorry for my disrespect to your position of authority, but please quit misusing it."

Clearly this person has never had a nun for a teacher.

I think I crossed the paths of roughly 10,000 children during my career. I was indeed responsible for their souls, their education, and the education of their souls. That's my whole job. The souls of your children. And second grade math.

The Devil does exist, but unlike God, he is not everywhere all the time. And God is much stronger than the devil.

Here's my advice: Be on guard against the devil, because he is really, really trying to get your soul as soon as you are over age seven. Before that you don't have to worry about it. Your mom, your nun, your big brother, your God Parents will worry about that for you. Once you're over age seven, look out.

But don't spend all your time looking.

Spend your time looking for angels. You don't have to look far.

I'm sorry I can't keep my mouth shut. It's MY JOB not to keep my mouth shut.

But don't worry. Because the clergy is indeed responsible for your soul, they get punished the very worst in Purgatory for their failures, if they make it that far. I'm sure this also extends to 'so called clegy". And I've always believed that nuns who fall short are on stools at their feet in the fiery pits. That should put your mind at ease.

Unless you're a parent. You'll be on the next rung up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Now that everyone in the world has read the entire Harry Potter series whether it was evil to do so or not, I'll weigh in with my two cents.

I haven't read a word of it. I did see a moment or two of one of the films when I went to deliver some chicken soup to the neighbor's children when they had chicken pox. Sister St. Aloysius made the soup, but she's never had chicken pox, so I had to go. I had chicken pox when I was five. I remember an enjoyable 10 days away from the rigors of kindergarten, although I was thrilled to return to school. One can only color so much.

It seemed awkward giving people chicken soup for chicken pox. If they would have gotten the joke I would have shouted merrily at them, "Hair of the dog!"

What was I talking about?

Oh, yes. This question we got some time back:
I was wondering if I could ask you a question from the comment area? I'm a thirteen yr. old Catholic and my parents are letting me read Harry Potter. I am wondering what you think of that whole controversial topic.

I say, enjoy your book! Honestly, my dear young person, I have no patience for the entire argument. To be perfectly frank, I feel that if reading Harry Potter could turn you to the dark side (which is what the argument is all about), you already have much bigger issues than what goes on at Dumbelldorf, or whatever it's called.

I just don't have a problem with children, or adults for that matter, having a fantasy life as long as they realize it's fantasy. We don't want to do away with fantasy. I don't anyhow. I really can't stand to listen to all the whining about 'witchcraft'. There are no witches. Is everyone afraid of leprechauns, too?

There are people who think they are witches. They have a mental problem. Mental problems come from having terrible parents, bad wiring, chemical imbalances, traumatic experiences...not from the Harry Potter book series, even if you read them all twice, see the movies at the theater and then see them again at home on video tape. Possibly there are better things you could do with your time, like delivering soup to sick people who are watching Harry Potter on DVD.

Should we dump "The Wizard of Oz", too? He was after all, a wizard. Okay, he wasn't a wizard. But there were some powerful witches in that story. I don't remember anyone ever being worried that a Scarecrow stuffed with straw that could walk and talk...and actually dance pretty well...would drag anyone to Satan's embrace. If that was the case, Buddy Ebsen sure dodged a bullet.

And while we're at it let's dump anything magical: unicorns and giants, Carebears (please, let's dump them!), Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White...all the fairy tales with witches in them.....and Alice better not go to a place called "Wonderland". Goodbye, Middle Earth.

On Halloween we'll dress as the food groups. What fun!

Enjoy your book, my dear. We're so glad you like to read. No doubt that's due to your solid Catholic upbringing.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Past Imperfect

I understand many of you are very hot. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring yourself into communion with the Church Suffering, better known as the Poor Souls in Purgatory. You know what I'm going to say now, so let's say it all together, shall we?

"Offer............ it .................. up!"

If the Poor Souls in Purgatory are not your cup of tea, you can offer up your misery for the 87 year old lady roasting in a nursing home in Dallas.

Or, you can concentrate on how hot Jesus must have been dragging his enormously heavy cross beam up the street. He would have been hot even if it wasn't actually hot outside. But today, in Baghdad, which is not far from where Jesus lived, the temperature is 115.

Still complaining?

Some of my readers have taken exception with my admonishment that you can't offer your suffering up retroactively. I stand by my warning. I don't get why you don't get it.

Perhaps you can offer up your past suffering even though all you did at the time was grouse. I think you shouldn't.

Offering up your suffering is all about your state of mind during the offering up part. It's about being in communion with the suffering of the world, the suffering of the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and/or the suffering of Jesus Himself. Take your pick. The idea here is to build the character of your soul. How do you do that if you are whining and moaning and then later say, "oh...all that yowling? That was for you, God."

God says....thanks ever so.

Let's say I decide to bake you a birthday cake because you are my friend and I love you. But I hate cooking. Hate it. So the whole time I'm baking you this cake I am miserable and angry. I'm complaining about what a mess I'm making of my kitchen. I call the recipe stupid. I'm slamming the cabinets, I'm cursing you for having a stupid birthday, I blame you for the third degree burn on my thumb because, since I never cook, I don't realize that if the pot holder is wet, the heat will transfer right through the pad to my fingers. Eventually, my whole family (all eight children and Dad) flee the house so as not to get slapped by the wet rag of my frustration and anger. Now I'm mad that Dad will waste money buying all the kids ice cream that they shouldn't even be having so close to the dinner that he should get back here and start cooking, since he has to do all the cooking.

I'm so disgusted with the whole process I only ice the top of the cake. I throw on a candle.

Then I bring it to your party. You say, "Oh! You baked me a cake!" And I smile proudly and say, "It was my pleasure!"

What if someone than gave you the video tape of me making the cake and cursing you and your lousy birthday the whole time? "Geez, Louise," you would think. "Don't do me any favors."

Well, God has the video tape.

I just don't see how one can drop the 8 oz. can of Del Monte tomatoes on one's bare toes, take the Lord's name in vain, feel self pity and put upon, and then later offer that up. Offer what up?

The idea here is to drop the 8 oz. can of Del Monte tomatoes on your toe and, whatever else you may be feeling, find it in yourself to do one or all of the following:

1. Realize that a lot of people are in constant pain all the time.

2. Keep in mind that a lot of people can't feel anything when they drop the 8 oz. can of Del Monte tomatoes because they have no feeling from the neck down.

3. Remember that some people don't have toes. They have a hard time balancing long enough to get the tomatoes out of the pantry.

4.Get it in your brain that, for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, dropping the 8 oz. can on their toe would be bliss compared to being on fire all the time.

5. Meditate on the fact that Jesus never had canned tomatoes. If tomatoes were out of season, He was out of luck.

6. Live with the idea that if you didn't feel pain, you'd have no appreciation for pleasure whatsoever.

7. Take into account that God loves you and the pain of being separated from God is much worse than dropping tomatoes on your toes, canned or otherwise.

Now, smile and say, "I don't mind, God. You're really good to me. I'll take this one for the team."

I fail to see how one does any of that retroactively, except that perhaps on some level you accept the suffering that you had as having been a good thing and thank God for it then.

Better than nothing. But not the spirit of the thing.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Aunt Bee

Sister St. Aloysius is an...unusual...person. I've mentioned that she is a brilliant mathematician, sought after by think tanks. You'd think someone like that would know the difference between a black can full of worms and a green spinny thing that is a compost heap.

But she didn't. So today I had an "Andy of Mayberry" moment with my own personal Barney Fife in a half habit.

I've been in a bit of a slump. I'm turned around from the change of time zones from my long trip. I'm not done cleaning the house, even though at this point we've found both Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart. I fully expect to walk into the bathroom and find a bespectacled man in a safari hat. "Doctor Livingston, I presume, " I will say to him. And my poor worm farm is a beehive. I've barely had the wherewith all to offer the whole thing up for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Too bad one can't to that retroactively.

(One can't. Don't even try it.)

That's why it took me nearly a week to suddenly have my light bulb moment. "The compost heap!" I thought to myself, like Archimedes in the bathtub! "I don't have to toss out the table scraps! I'll put them in the compost heap!" In my mourning for the worms, I had forgotten it completely.

So out I danced with a handful of strawberry tops and shriveled blueberries.

The compost heap is not a heap. It's a round drum sitting on a little base that has rollers on it. You open the lid, toss in the garbage, close the lid and give the whole thing a spin. Then, when you want to use the compost, you can actually roll the whole thing into the garden. (If you don't mind getting gooey goo and mud all across the floor on the way. Why should we mind that? Jimmy and Amelia never complained.)

I opened the lid. How is it that the mind goes so slowly when bizarre things are happening? I know there is a scientific explanation. No doubt, Sister St. Aloysius has told it to me. I was amazed that the compost drum was so full that as I cracked the opening, compost began to spill out. And at the same moment I realized that I wasn't looking at compost and all, but at a lot of angry bees. In the next millisecond, they were pouring out of the crack in the drum door. I can't remember when I started hearing the buzzing. The air was full of buzzing.

For another moment there, I thought about how strange it was that we have two beehives in our front yard that's not a yard. Our front blacktop. Our driveway. And of course, then I realized that somehow my PhD Sister in Christ didn't know the difference between the worm farm and the compost heap.

"You beat everything, you know that, Barney?" Isn't that what Andy used to say?

I marched back into the house, still holding the strawberry tops and shriveled blueberries. No bees followed.

"Sister St. Aloysius," I said, "the beehive is in the compost bin."

"We have two beehives?"

"No (Barney)," I said, "They are only in the compost bin."

"They moved?"

"No," I explained, "they were never in the worm farm. That green thing is not the worm farm(,Deputy Fife). The black thing is the worm farm."

"Black thing?"

"Yes, the black thing that we park the old lady shopping cart behind." We have one of those carts you drag behind you to the store so we can walk there sometimes, to help make up for my Dad causing Global Warming. (Why, just today, my Dad caused a tornado in Brooklyn.)

"I haven't seen it."

"You beat everything, you know that, Barney?" I didn't say that. I was thinking that. That and some other things that I'll confess on Saturday.

I marched back outside with the strawberry tops and the shriveled blueberries. I prayed for the intercession of St. Therese the Little Flower, the patron saint of people who are annoyed by the annoying habits of other people. The truth is, the worm farm is covered in MORNING GLORIES. So is the old lady shopping cart behind it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Bee's Knees

I haven't really scratched the surface cleaning our house, as we have so many duties over the weekend. It was First Friday. Saturday is pew dusting day, now cut short by 5 o'clock Mass for the lazy. And of course, The Lord's Day.

But I did make a dent in the kitchen. And I found Amelia Earhart. She was in the back of the frig all this time. The shriveled pineapple and a dead aviatrix.

Today's question from our readers:
I am sorry about your worm farm. Is it a total loss? Why do you have a worm farm? Is it for your gardening? How do you manage a worm farm? Do bees kill worms? I hope you are not allergic to bees. Maybe you could become a beekeeper.

I am...or at least, I was...very excited about my worm farm. We have a pesky bug here called "white fly" that is just about impossible to get rid of. We tried praying to St. Dominic Silos, the patron saint against insects, but he was busy with his other patronage, helping with pregnancies. We really felt we had to leave him alone.

Then I read somewhere that worm castings will get rid of white fly. Well, glory hallelujah!

A quart of worm castings costs about $45. Even the Infant of Prague isn't going to spring for worm castings for us. Hence, the worm farm. Now I know why a quart of worm casting is $45. It takes hundreds of worms about a year to come up with...a bag full.

It works! No white fly! Plus, we get rid of garbage that way. In fact, in order to have the worm farm, I had to read a book called, "Worms Eat My Garbage". I can make up for my father causing Global Warming.

It's not really a 'farm'. I'm not out there in overalls from Osh Kosh with a weed hanging out of my mouth. It's a worm casting factory in a layered trash can. It's a worm internment camp. At least they were safe from birds.

I don't know if the bees killed the worms or the worms are just hiding lower in the can, waiting, like the British during the Blitzkrieg. One day while I was away I got a message from Sister St. Aloysius. She said, "I have some bad news. Well...strange news...about the worm farm." I had asked her to be sure and throw some garbage on them, since they hadn't had any trash since I had left. I thought she was going to tell me I had waited too long to remind her, and all the worms had perished.

I wasn't expecting, "The worm farm is a beehive." When Sister St. Aloysius lifted the lid, a cloud of bees blew out. Two chased her into the house.

There are a lot of bees coming and going.

We're going to have to call a bee removal...company? Person? I will not be a bee keeper. Although, when you think about it, I'm pretty much dressed for it already. Nonetheless, I'm not standing out there with a fog machine trying to make the bees leave long enough for me to harvest honey. The Infant of Prague has provided us with enough to get some honey if we really want it.

I miss visiting the worms. I miss throwing garbage at them and shredding newspaper for them to bed down. They are an exercise in not expecting any response or gratitude from those you serve.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Trash Heap of History

Remember the other day, when I mentioned that nuns used to have three habits in the closet? The Sunday Best, the Pew Duster, and the Everyday? Be happy for me! Over the years I've collected a few Pew Dusters. I have more than my share. It must have been a plan from heaven for this day.

I've been gone from our house for six weeks. While I was away, Sister St. Aloysius informed me that she was busy cleaning, throwing away piles of papers and junk that had collected. I was happy to hear it. I know, for example, that we have one whole cabinet full of gallon size almost empty paint cans, the idea being that we would always have the matching color for touch ups. We need to do a lot of touch ups because of Sister Mary Fiacre's wheelchair dinging the walls. (Somehow, we never get around to doing it, so there the paint cans remain.) Everyone always tries so hard to be careful pushing her around our tiny house. But the truth is, when you are standing at the back of the chair to push it, it's very difficult to see anything but Sister Mary Fiacre. She rather obliterates one's view of the floor, or the chair bottom's proximity to the walls.

While I was away, I was heartened to hear about Sister St. Aloysius' cleaning efforts.

I don't know what went wrong. So very, very wrong.

Here's my theory: In her zeal to throw things away, she spent all of her time loading the dumpster. She may have had to load up Sister Mary Fiacre in her wheelchair, pile junk on top of her, and wheel the whole mess down the block in the dead of night, to take advantage of the giant dumpsters parked outside of the McMansions under construction.

She may had had to avoid our own trash cans because of the cloud of bees around them, now that the bees have taken over the worm farm. The worm farm was next to the trash cans and the compost bin.

At any rate, it was obvious to me when I re-entered the house that no cleaning of any kind, other than trash removal, had taken place. It was difficult to tell Teddy from the floor, awash in a sea of his own cat hair. Our terrible plumbing has left the two sinks and the bathtub kind of gooey. There is a layer of dust over every object. The spiders are in spider heaven, undisturbed in every corner of every ceiling.

All of the indoor plants are dead. The outdoor garden, although thriving, has returned to it's overgrown state. The morning glories look like a plant alien from space about to devour the rest of the house.

Sister Mary Fiacre's cap was askew. When I put her to bed I found a Moon Pie, out of it's wrapper, underneath her.

The stove is clean. How did that happen? The refrigerator has food in it that was there when I left. A whole pineapple, as shriveled as the house plants, for example.

I don't know where to start. I can't even unpack. My Sunday Best and my Everyday will touch the air here and be reduced to Pew Dusters.

It's good to be needed. And it's good to have extra Pew Dusters.