Category Archives: Really random

Monday’s random bits: file cabinets, root beer, and sinners who keep on going

1.  We have a new addition to the family: a lateral file cabinet!  Hurrah!

Office furniture normally doesn’t send me up the river, but I’m thrilled about this acquisition.   Our filing system (I use that term very loosely) was a mess of the first order, and we desperately needed more drawer space.  The cabinet came in a box, of course, so Scott had to channel his inner carpenter and put it together.  I have to say, there is nothing more attractive than watching your husband competently assemble a piece of furniture you have wanted for a very long time (unless, of course, you are watching your husband uncomplainingly wipe up your child’s vomit in the middle of the night in a tent in a state park.  On the scale of spousal irresistibility, that’s hard to beat.)   I had  a very happy busy night labeling hanging file folders and organizing and sorting and recycling.  It was a long process (I went to bed after one — aiee!), and in the process of shifting folders around I managed to pull some muscle in my left shoulder, but it was worth it.  I’m not going to say that this is the magic bullet  that suddenly makes my life a model of order, but I do feel that if I needed to find some paperwork from my past (my S.A.T. scores?  A resume from 1998?), I’d stand a fighting chance.

2.  I’ll admit that I’m struggling a bit with it being August already.  (How did THAT happen?).  One of my teaching colleagues used to say that June is like Friday, July is like Saturday, and August is like Sunday … and she’s right.  Sigh.  I really do like my job … but, like most working folk, I like vacation even more.

3.  Culinary observation of the day: root beer floats are really, really good.  They scream “summer,” even when it’s freezing cold  (the Bay Area seems to be the only part of the United States that has not received the “Summer of Sweat” memo).

4.  I was a very happy gal at Mass yesterday, because the choir sang this arrangement of the Litany of the Saints.

I adore this piece, and when there is a trumpet player adding his lovely embellishments (as there was yesterday), it’s enough to make me want to weep at the beauty of it all.  It reminds me of my boys’ baptisms, and of my changing attitude towards the  saints, whom I’ve come to think of as my homies — people who weren’t perfect, but who managed to integrate their quirks and struggles into an overall search for goodness.  As Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, “Saints are sinners who kept on going.”  

Amen to that.


Friday’s random bits

1.  Oh, goodygoodygoody!   I just got the galleys (unpublished review copy) of  Mary Curran Hackett’s novel Proof of Heaven, to be released this fall by HarperCollins!  I am enormously excited to get an advance peek at this book, which deals with themes of motherhood and faith.   Check back in the coming weeks for an interview with Mary herself.   (So many things on my to-do list  in the next few days … must … resist … diving in … )

2. I was cleaning out my desk area (newsworthy in and of itself) and came across this great quotation by E.B. White: “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”    Boy, I can relate.  The answer, I guess, is to find the job that lets you do both …although even the jobs that are a helluva lot of fun (teaching, writing, and parenting, to name three that I know well!) have periods where they are a helluva lot of yuck.  That’s just life.

3.  I’m still in “aw, shucks, thanks” mode  at having been mentioned on Mike Leach’s blog.  Mike, the publisher emeritus of Orbis Books (and author of the  terrific book Why Stay Catholic?) is giving a shout-out to his favorite Catholic websites/blogs (I was mentioned in connection with  Check it out, and keep going back for Mike’s posts, which offer tasty and deeply satisfying bits of spiritual wisdom.

4.  Every day, when I look in the mirror, I seem to find another gray hair.  Is this happening to anyone else?  My husband swears he can’t see them, which means he is either 1)  more chivalrous than even I could have imagined, or 2) going blind.   I am approaching the crisis point of having to make a decision about whether I will fight them or let them be.  A larger blog post on this very topic will surely be coming soon.

5.  File this under “Moments to remember.”  I was in the car yesterday with two-year-old Luke in the backseat.  Catching his eye in the rearview  mirror, I smiled at him and said, “I … love …”

Before I could get to the “you,” he grinned at me and filled in the blank for himself.  “Mommy,” he said.

You can’t really beat that feeling.

What’s on YOUR t-shirt?

My husband has had an unusual career trajectory, to say the least.  After many years in software programming, he got a theology degree and now works in ministry.  And when you are a techie who works in a no-tech environment,  you get a lot of requests for computer help.

“How was your day?”  I’ll ask.

“Well, it didn’t quite go as planned,” he’ll say.  “The church office harddrive crashed, so  I spent about two hours working on that, and then someone else got a new laptop and needed help installing a few things ….”  and so on.

So for Father’s Day, I got him this shirt, from the Signals catalog.

He loves it and has already worn it twice, including once to work, where everyone apparently laughed at it good-naturedly before asking him to fix a virus problem.

I’ve got my own favorite shirt.  This is a few years old and has some mystery stains at the hem (coffee?), but I love it like crazy.

If you’ve read Mary and Me, you  know that there’s a woman in there who talks about seeing a shirt like this on a guy in a San Francisco parish.  That story was all it took for me to Google the phrase and find this (it’s from, if there are any other Mary nerds out there).

Great slogans are not just limited to clothing, of course.  A student of mine gave me this bag as a gift (also from, I believe), and it made my day:

Even my boys got into the slogan game.  When they were infants, they sported  two very cool onesies, both gifts from my uncle.  Matthew got this one:

… and Luke got this one:

This may seem like a frivolous topic, but in fact, fun t-shirts can be a great point of connection.  I was wearing my Mary shirt to a local café a while back, and the barista behind the counter  saw it and grinned from ear to ear as he poured espresso. “That’s an awesome shirt,” he told me.

Who knows?  If I hadn’t been in such a rush, we could have gotten talking about all kinds of things, like faith and the general fabulousness of Mary. T-shirts like this help you out some part of yourself, whether it’s your identity as a computer geek, an English teacher, or a Catholic who believes that Mary has a pretty great sense of humor.   And when you do, you discover that there are a lot more of your kind out there than you thought.

I like [Mike and] Ike

1.  Well,  it’s the Memorial Day weekend.  This is a great weekend if  you are a teacher, because it’s a little whiff of the summer vacation that is just sitting out there waiting for you, if you can make it through the next few weeks.  At the same time, it’s a terrible weekend if you are a teacher, because it means that the end of the semester approacheth and your days for procrastinating doing your grading are numbered.  I will be celebrating Memorial Day in the time-honored way: hacking  through dense jungles of projects and papers, armed only with a pen and my own  grim resolve.

2. As I type this, I am eating Mike and Ike candies, which I bought on a rare impulse at the grocery store.  I don’t mind admitting that I am finding them to be really, really good.  Candy snob I am not.

3. This is a lovely image of Mary, isn’t it?  It’s a holycard I bought on eBay a year or so ago.  It’s remarkably soothing to me, during a week that has been filled with grading, some work drama, very sad news from Joplin (oh, those poor people!), and a few rude awakenings by Matthew, who has been getting spooked by vivid nightmares featuring mosquitoes (yes, really).  Our Lady of Peace:

4. Scott just moseyed over to table and picked up the Mike and Ike box  — which, it must be admitted, is now empty.  He looked so crestfallen that I offered him my one remaining Mike (or was it an Ike?  How does one  tell?), as well as a green one that I retrieved from the floor.  He declined both.  (In my defense, it was a very exhausting week, and they are a fat-free food.)

Happy long weekend to all.

This phrase brought to you by the Bible


On my Good Friday meditate-a-thon last week, as I read the Gospel of John, it struck me once again how many well-known phrases and expressions the Bible has given to us.

This first came on my radar several years ago, when a colleague at the public school where I teach was developing a Bible as Literature course.   He was creating a poster to advertise the class, and wanted to highlight common sayings that have their origin in Scripture, sayings that people would know even if they weren’t Jewish or Christian.   I had a blast brainstorming with him.  Alas, I’ve since forgotten most of what I shared, that brain space having been given over to remembering to bring Luke’s backpack to daycare.

But here are some that leap to my mind (and to Scott’s):

*Saying that someone walks on water
*“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
* Calling someone a Good Samaritan
*  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
*The last shall be first, and the first shall be last
*The blind leading the blind
* having the wisdom of Solomon
*reading the writing on the wall

What am I missing?  (I could look it up online, but I’d rather ask you!)