"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann, Part 2

I am thoroughly enjoying Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, and I gave some initial thoughts on the work about a month ago, here.  

I was only about a third of the way when I wrote that post, and today I’m nearly 60% (430 of 731) complete.  The father of the family, Johann Buddenbrooks (JB3), has long passed away, and the children have reached middle age and manifested their dysfunctionalities.  Tom, the oldest, vain and consumed by profit, has taken over the Buddenbrooks business, Christian has developed into a hypochondriac and fails at every endeavor he’s put to, Tony has married and divorced twice to horrible choices for husbands, and despite her saying she is now a mature woman is actually quite childlike in her naiveté, and Clara, the most religious of the children, has married a poor pastor and decided to live a simple and humble Christian life. 

As I mentioned in that July post the key I think to understanding this novel is to arrive at a reason for the family decline.  It’s there in the subtitle, “The Decline of a Family.”  I gave a list of possible reasons for that decline in that July post, and one of them was the “breakdown of the family.”  It is true that the children’s families are not anywhere as strong as their parent’s.  Tom marries the reclusive Gerda, whose sole passion in life is to play the violin; Christian has not married so far but has had affairs with loose, theater women, even a married woman, and even fathered a child.  Tony has been divorced twice, first to a scheming swindler and second to a lazy philanderer.  Clara has married far below her station, but in accordance to her faith and heart.  Perhaps her name, “Clara” which means “clear, bright” is a hint toward the theme of the novel—the name also famously belongs to St. Claire of Assisi, who is often depicted as holding a light— and let us remember that Clara is the child who we see Johann the father bless her at birth, as I quoted in the Part 1 post.  

But Clara the character is a relatively minor character, and if Thomas Mann were trying to bring this point to the fore he would have integrated her more into the narrative.  She is not dysfunctional as the other three; she is not as attractive as the other three, and her personality is introverted and muted.  Those are all contrasts to the other three, and that is something to take note of.  Still the dysfunctionality of the children does not really get to the heart of the question.  Sure the dysfunctionality somewhat leads to decline, but why are they dysfunctional to begin with?  Why would the children of JB3 and Elizabeth, from a wealthy and loving family, be lesser people from their parents?  While I’ve added to the list of possible causes, I’ve yet to feel I’ve come to the theme. 

I want to conclude this post with an extended quote from a scene between the two brothers, Tom and Christian, where Christian is pushed out of the Buddenbrooks business because of his incompetence and the embarrassment he has caused the firm while joking at the town Club the night before.  Here we see Tom the hard businessman and Christian the irresponsible fool.  Christian as usual has come in late to work the next morning.

He [Christian] was smoking—he had just finished breakfast and a quick game at the Club.  His hat was cocked a little low and he was swinging his yellow walking stick, the one from “out there,” with the carved ebony bust of a nun on the knob.  He was obviously in good health and the best of moods.  He was humming some melody or other as he came into the office, said, “Morning, gentlemen,” although it was a lovely spring afternoon, and added as he strode to his seat, “Have to get  bit of work done.” 

But the counsel [Tom] stood up and as he walked past he said, without looking at Christian, “Ah—a couple of words with you, my friend.”

Christian followed him.  They walked rather rapidly through the outer room.  Thomas had crossed his hands behind his back, and involuntarily Christian did the same and turned his head toward his brother, so that his large nose, its bony hook set squarely between his hollow cheeks, jutted out above his drooping reddish-blond English mustache.  As they moved across the courtyard, Thomas said, “I’ll ask you to accompany me while I take some air in the garden, my friend.”

Let me just break in here and tell you that for quite some time, Thomas has been repulsed and frustrated with his brother.  They are complete opposite in nature, Tom the disciplined businessman, Christian the devil-may-care bohemian.  Tom is seething within, and yet he is controlled and calls his brother, “my friend,” which he is clearly not.  Let me resume.

“Fine,” Christian replied.  And then came a long silence, during which they followed the outside path, passing the rococo façade of the “Portal” and skirting the garden, which was just coming into bloom.

Finally the counsel took a quick breath and said in a loud voice, “I am terribly angry—on your account.”

“My account?”

“Yes.  Someone at the Harmony told me about a remark you made yesterday at the Club—a remark so out of place, so indescribably tactless that I cannot find words for it.  And the fiasco was soon complete—you were given the most dreadful dressing-down on the spot.  Do you care to recall the incident?”

“Oh, now I know what you mean.  Who told you all this?”

“What does it matter?  Döhlmann.  And, of course he told me in a voice so loud that people who perhaps hadn’t heard about it yet could gloat over it, too”

“Yes, Tom, I must tell you, I felt quite embarrassed for Hagenström.”

“You felt…That’s really too much.  Now, listen to me!” the counsel shouted, stretching both his hands before him, palms up, and he tilted his head to one side, giving it a demonstrative and excited shake.  “There you are surrounded by both business and professional men, where everyone can hear you, and you say, ‘Seen in the light of day, actually, every businessman is a swindler’—you who are a businessman yourself, a part of the firm that strives with might and main, for absolute integrity, for a spotless reputation.”

“Good heavens, Thomas, it was a joke.  Although, actually…” Christian started to add, wrinkling his nose and thrusting his head forward at a little angle.  And, holding this pose, he walked a few more steps.

“A joke!  A joke!” the counsel shouted.  “I think I can take a joke—but you saw for yourself how your joke was taken.  ‘Well, I for one think very  highly of my profession.’  That was Hermann Hagenström’s answer.  And there you sat—a man who has wasted his life away, who has no respect for his own profession.”

“Yes, Tom, but what does one say then?  I assure you that the whole mood was shot to hell.  People were laughing as if they agreed with me.  And there sits Hagenström, all dreadfully serious, and says, “Well, I for one…’ What a stupid fellow.  I was truly embarrassed for him.  I thought long and hard about it lying in bed last night, and it gave me such a strange feeling.  I don’t know whether you know it, it’s…”

“Stop babbling, I beg you, stop babbling,” the counsel interrupted.  His whole body trembled with anger.  “I will admit, yes, I will admit that his answer perhaps did not fit the mood, that it was in bad taste.  But one seeks out the proper audience for saying something like that—if it really must be said.  But you don’t lay yourself open to such an insolent dressing-down.  Hagenström used the opportunity to get back, not at you, but at us, us.  Surely you realize what he meant with his ‘I for one,’ don’t you?  He meant: ‘Apparently you come by such notions in your brother’s office, Herr Buddenbrook.’  That’s what he meant, you ass!”

“Well, ‘ass’ is a bit…” Christian said with a chagrined, anxious look on his face.

“In the final analysis, you don’t belong just to yourself alone,” the counsel continued.  “But I assure you it is a matter of total indifference to me if you personally make a ridiculous fool of yourself.  And when don’t you make a fool of yourself?” he shouted.  He was white, and blue veins were clearly visible on his narrow temples, from which his hair fell back in two waves.  He had lifted one pale eyebrow, and even the stiffened, long ends of his mustache showed his anger; and as he spoke he flung his words with dismissive gestures on the gravel path at Christian’s feet.  “And you are making a fool of yourself with your little love affairs, with your buffoonery, with your sicknesses, with your remedies for your sicknesses.”

Tom claims an important point, which highlights the internal tension within the family: “In the final analysis, you don’t belong just to yourself alone.”  Each of the family members belongs to the firm, and so have an internal tension between their individuality and the family identity.  We saw this earlier when Tony felt it impossible to marry man she first loved because he was outside the business world.

“Oh, Thomas,” Christian said, shaking his head very seriously and lifting an index finger rather ungracefully, “as far as that goes, that’s something you can’t really understand.  The thing is—a man has to come to terms with his own conscience, so to speak.  I don’t know if you know the feeling.  [Dr.] Grabow prescribed a salve for the muscles here on my neck.  Fine.  And if I don’t use it, forget to use it, I feel quite lost and helpless and get all nervous and anxious and unsure of myself, and when I’m in that state I can’t swallow.  But if I use it, then I feel I’ve done my duty and that everything is in order; my conscience is clear, and I feel calm and content, and swallowing is absolutely effortless.  I don’t think the salve itself does it, you see.  But the main thing, you understand, is that one idea can only be canceled by an opposing idea.  I don’t know if you know the feeling…”

Oh yes, yes! the counsel shouted and held his head in both hands for a moment.  “Go ahead and do it!  Do what you must, but don’t talk about it.  Don’t babble on about it.  Leave other people in peace with your disgusting sensibilities.  You make a fool of yourself from morning till night with your indecent babblings.  But let me tell you this, I’ll repeat once more: I could not care less if you personally make a fool of yourself; but I forbid you, do you hear me, I forbid you ever to compromise the firm in the manner in which you did yesterday evening.”

Christian offered no response to this, except that he slowly ran his hand through his thinning reddish-blond hair and his face turned serious and anxious, his eyes drifting about absent-mindedly, seeing nothing.  He was doubtless still preoccupied with what he himself had last said.  There was a long pause.

Let me break in here again.  Both characters dysfunctions are apparent here.  Yes, Christian by making that “All businessmen are swindlers” comment was degrading to the firm, and Hagenström is a company rival who will try to make hay from it, but in the end it was just a joke, and nothing does come of it. Christian is seen as an unserious dilettante, but Thomas is overly effected by a joke.  He’s over reacting, because his character is vain and can’t accept a smudge to his persona.  Plus he has come to hate his brother.  Let me continue because this reaches to a very important point.

Thomas stalked away in quiet desperation.  “All businessmen are swindlers, you say,” he began again.  “Fine.  Are you tired of your job?  Do you regret having become a businessman?  You once convinced Father to allow you to…”

“Yes, Tom,” Christian said pensively, “but I would have much preferred to study.  It must be very nice at a university, you know.  You go to classes when you feel like it, quite voluntarily, you sit down and listen just like in a theater.”

“Just like in a theater.  Oh, you belong in a café chantant, as the comedian.  I’m not joking, I’m in dead earnest.  I am quite convinced that that’s your secret goal in life,” the counsel asserted.  And Christian certainly did not contradict him—just looked wistfully about.

“And you have the audacity to make such a remark, when haven’t the vaguest, not the vaguest idea of what work is.  Because you fill up your days with the theater and strolling about and buffooneries, creating a whole series of feelings and sensitivities and conditions to keep yourself occupied, to observe and nurse them, so that you can shamelessly babble on about them.”

“Yes, Tom,” Christian said, a little morosely, running his hand across his head again.  “That’s true; you’ve put it quite accurately.  That’s the difference between us, you see.  You enjoy watching a play, too, and you once told me, just between us, that you had your little affairs, and there was a time when you preferred reading novels and poems and such.  But you’ve always known how to reconcile that with regular work and a purpose in life.  That’s what I lack, you see.  I get totally used up by the other things, all the junk, you see, and have nothing left for the respectable part of life.  I don’t know if you know the feeling, but…”

Perhaps Christian has articulated another reason for the family’s decline: Christian lacks a purpose in life, and perhaps while the business world might satisfy some people, the children of the owner of the Buddenbrook’s firm may not have the inherent disposition to carry on his business, and therefore their directed purpose is in opposition to their natural inclinations.  Still, while we might see this with Christian, and perhaps Tony to a lesser extent, but Tom is clearly in a life that is congruent with his natural inclinations, and so is Clara’s.

“So, then, you do understand!”  Thomas shouted stopping in his tracks and crossing his arms on his chest.  “You admit it to your own shame, and yet you go on in the same old way.  Are you a dog, Christian?  Good God in heaven, a man has his pride!  One doesn’t go on living a life that one wouldn’t even think of defending.  But that’s what you do.  That’s who you are.  It’s enough for you just to perceive something and understand it and describe it.  No, my patience is at an end, Christian.”  And the counsel took a step backward, lifting his arms violently so that they stood straight out at his sides.  “It’s at an end, I tell you.  You draw your salary and never come to the office—although that’s not what exasperates me.  Go ahead and piddle your life away, just as you’ve done so far.  But you compromise us, no matter where you are, where you go.  You’re an abcess, an unhealthy growth on the body of your family.  You’re a scandal to the whole town, and if this house were mine I would turn you out, I would show you the door!” he shouted, gesturing wildly across the garden, the courtyard, the large entryway.  He could no longer contain himself—it was an explosion of all the rage he had stored up inside him.

“What is the matter with you, Thomas!” Christian said, now seized by a fit of anger himself—which looked rather odd on him.  He stood there in a pose not unusual for bowlegged people, bent in a kind of question mark, his head, belly and knees shoved forward, and his round, deep-set eyes, as large now as he could make them, had a flush around the edges that spread down to his cheekbones—just like his father when he was angry.  “How dare you speak like that to me,” he said.  “What have I ever done to you?  I’ll go, all on my own, you don’t need to throw me out.  Shame, shame!” he added as a heartfelt reproach and accompanied the words with a quick snapping movement of one hand, as if he were catching a fly.

Strangely enough, Thomas did not react with a more violent outburst, but silently lowered his head and started slowly back on the path around the garden.  It seemed to have satisfied him, to have actually done him good, finally to have made his brother angry, to have at last enabled him to react vigorously and raise some protest.

Tom has reached a point where the conversation is gravitating to where he wanted to go, that is, finding a way to push Christian out of the firm.  His anger and repulsion now transitions to Machiavellian reasoning.

“Believe me,” he said quietly, his hands crossed behind his back again, “when I say this conversation has been painful for me, Christian, but it had to happen sometime.  There is something awful about such scenes within a family, but we had to have it out once and for all.  And now we can discuss these matters quite calmly, my boy.  You’re not happy at your present position, I see, right?”

“No, I’m not, Tom.  You’re right there.  You see, at the start I was really quite content, and I do have things better here than I would in a strange office.  But I lack independence, I think.  I always envy you when I see sitting there and working, and it isn’t really work for you.  You don’t work because you have to—you’re in charge, you’re the boss, and you let others do your work for you.  You make your calculations and supervise things and are quite free.  That’s something very different.”  (p. 312-17)

I won’t quote any more.  It goes on to where Christian is pushed out of the Buddenbrooks firm and set up as a partner in another firm in Hamburg.  Later, we find out he’s a failure there too. 

Fantastic scene.  This is one of those passages I wished I had written.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Music Tuesday: “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits

I don’t think I’ve had a Music Tuesday post in a while.  I’ve had this song in my head for a week now, and I’ve got to post it.  The song is “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits.  I wanted to fill in my music collection on the British Invasion groups outside the typical Beatles, Who, Stones, and I realized I didn’t have anything by Herman’s Hermits.  I had heard of the group but other than this particular song I didn’t know much about them.  I wound up buying one of their greatest hits compilations.  They’re not a great group, but I was surprised at how many top ten songs they recorded.  Perhaps one might consider them a lesser Beatles, whose sound and style they sort of share, at least with the early Beatles’ songs. 

Mrs.Brown You’ve got a Lovely Daughter was one of their two number one hits in the United States (the other being “I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am” which I don’t like) and I’ve been trying to figure out why this song was such a hit.  Musically I really like the rhythm guitar that accentuates the melody, and the lyrics feel quite honest, mostly I think because they’re so humble and restrained.  It sounds like the fellow has really lost this girl.  And yet, it’s overly melodramatic: Who is actually going to open up his heart like this to the girl’s mother?  It’s almost absurd, and yet it feels honest.  And that I think is because of lead singer Peter Noone’s vocals.  It’s a sort of weird, off-beat voice that seems to have echoes of puberty still in it.  At the time of its release, Noone was remarkably only eighteen years old.  In his Wikipedia bio entry it says he studied voice growing up, and yet no one would say the singer of “Mrs. Brown” sounds like a mellifluous crooner.  In addition to the restrained lyrics and adolescent voice, Noone’s Mancunian dialect adds to that honesty.    

And yet, when you read the Wikipedia entry for the song, it says that no one on the Hermits wrote the song, and it wasn’t even an original recording.  The song had been around for a few years and was a song that British bands in the day played at girl’s birthday parties, replacing the name “Brown” with whatever was the birthday girl’s name.  So there is no actual honesty in the song.  It never happened to Noone or anyone else, actually.  Noone just happened to hit the right vocal articulation.  That and the nice guitar work with a pleasant backup vocals make the song very appealing.  Listen:

What do you think makes this song so appealing?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Notable Quote, Faith Filled Friday: The Love of God by St. Augustine of Hippo

I came across this great quote by St. Augustine and it should be memorized.

"There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world. If the love of the world takes possession of you, there is no way for the love of God to enter into you. Let the love of the world take the second place, and let the love of God dwell in you. Let the better love take over."

-St. Augustine

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Poem: To See the Summer Sky by Emily Dickinson

I was perusing Emily Dickinson’s The Complete Poems and came across this little one.  Well, just about all of Emily’s poems are little, but this is especially so: just three lines and seventeen words. 

To see the Summer Sky 
by Emily Dickinson

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie --
True Poems flee --

You may not notice it, but there’s craft there.  The first two lines rhyme with sky/lie.  Then there is the rhyme of syllable in “poetry” to the closing word, “flee.”  Six syllables in the first line are followed by a doubling of twelve syllables in the second line.  This sets up the really curt three syllables of the third line, which punctuates the central thesis, which is that nature itself is the truest poetry.  So she builds the lines on multiples of three syllables: 6, 12, 3.  That’s not an accident.  But also notice how, though not a rhyme, there is a sound relationship between the “lie” and flee.”  Both have that strong “l” sound in the opening consonant and both are monosyllabic.  The sound “ei” shifts to “ee” making it appear as a sort of sound inflection, such as sing/sung.  “Lie” appears to inflect to “flee” which gives the summer sky movement.  Excellent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Literature in the News: Reading Books Leads to Longer Life

Well this is good news for me and probably for readers of this blog, who I assume are avid readers.  From The Guardian

Flaubert had it that “the one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy”. It turns out that reading doesn’t only help us to tolerate existence, but actually prolongs it, after a new study found that people who read books for 30 minutes a day lived longer than those who didn’t read at all.

The study, which is published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, looked at the reading patterns of 3,635 people who were 50 or older. On average, book readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers.

Respondents were separated into those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who didn’t read at all, controlling for factors such as gender, race and education. The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.

So it’s not exercise that leads to longer life but reading!  Three and a half hours per week is not exactly a lot of reading either.  Three and a half hour per week is just half an hour a day.  Would you read half an hour per day to reduce your risk of dying by 17%?  The article continues:

Overall, during follow-up, 33% of non-book readers died, compared to 27% of book readers, write the academics Avni Bavishi, Martin Slade and Becca Levy from the Yale University School of Public Health, in their paper A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading With Longevity.

“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” write the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”

Bavishi said that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but that “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival”.

Twenty-three months longer life is almost two years longer!  So why do you think this might be?  Certainly if you’re home reading books, you’re not climbing Mount Everest, hang gliding off a cliff in Rio de Janeiro, or some other high risk activity and getting killed at a premature age.  That will skew the average life span, but only slightly.  The people wo performed the tst point to increased cognitive ability that one gains from reading.

In the paper, the academics write that there are two cognitive processes involved in reading books that could create a “survival advantage”. First, reading books promote the “slow, immersive process” of “deep reading”, a cognitive engagement that “occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented”.

“Cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books,” they write. Second, books “can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival”, they say.

Well, as much as I would love to believe this, I have my doubts.  That’s not to say that those who read don’t live longer.  I believe that, the data doesn’t lie.  But the study doesn’t control for possible causations.  All it does is show correlation.  As they say in the world of statistics: Correlation does not prove causation. 

Still go ahead and read your four hours per week.  It will be better for you than taking vitamins.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Matthew Monday: Matthew’s First Chewing Gum Bubbles

Matthew’s had a fascination with chewing gum for a while, but when I introduced him to bubble gum and blowing bubbles, he was hooked.  For the longest time he tried to blow a bubble, but it’s not easy to teach someone.  You got to put it on the tip of your tongue, spread it out, slide the tongue out, and then blow air to inflate.  Sounds easy until you’ve tried.  And then trying to get those instructions across to a six year old is not easy.  He tried and tried for days.  Finally on the evening of July 8th he runs over to me and with a bubble on his lips mumbles, “Daddy, Daddy.”  Luckily I had a camera nearby, and snapped a picture.  Here’s his first bubble, but by the time I had turned the camera on and focused, the bubble had deflated somewhat.

And then minutes later he ran back to me with another.

Ain't he precious?  He’s been blowing bubbles ever since.

PS, he’s nearly recovered from the pneumonia.  He’s not even coughing any more.  He goes back to the doctor on Wednesday.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Personal Note; Rosie’s Second Birthday

Our Black Lab Rosie today, August 12th, turned two years old.  Wow, it feels like such an eternity…LOL.  No question that a Labrador pup is a high energy dog, but Rosie combines that high energy with a persistence that is downright frustrating.  She was so head strong and persistent that we actually had to hire a trainer.  We’ve had dogs before and we’ve gone through dog training, and we even took Rosie to a dog training class.  She learned the usual “sit, stay, come” commands, but her problem was not learning.  She’s a smart dog like most Labs.  Her problem was she felt entitled to the same comforts as the humans in the house, such as use of the couch or use of all the rooms. 

To some degree we were way more lenient with Rosie than our past dogs.  We did not use a training collar up front, otherwise known as choke collar.  My wife got this gibberish from the training class she took her.  In fact we didn’t even have collars.  We used a halter at the beginning.  And we let her lay on the couches and pretty much have her way.  We started with Rosie where we had left off with our previous dog, Brandi, which was a mistake.  Dogs have to earn privileges and come with maturity.  Starting with privileges only leads to being in command, and Rosie must be an alpha dog by nature.  Also we were fooled.  The breeder told us she was the calmest pup out of the litter.  Maybe so, but we found out the breeder breeds for hunting dogs, and hunting dogs by nature have an excess of energy.  It wasn’t before long we saw just how much energy Rosie had.

All I can say is there were shouts of frustration that came out of my wife’s mouth on a regular basis.  “I hate this dog.”  “She’s ruined my life.”  “This dog is the worst.”  “One more week of this and she goes.”  LOL, and the thing that got me was that she ate a hole into our couch.  Yes, a large hole and she would keep going there no matter what we did to stop her.  She just enjoyed doing that too much.  I can stand insubordination but I can’t stand destruction.

So we got the personal dog trainer.  Save your money on personal dog trainers.  There’s not much they teach you in addition.  Yes, you need to perform your discipline exercises, and you need to be as persistent as the dog.  But she did recommend three things which did help in the long run.  (1) She recommended keeping a training leash on her in the house which we give her a correction with when she does something unwanted.  (2) We use a dog pinch collar which is a choke collar with prongs.  (3) We take her for at least an hour walk in the morning and a half hour walk in the afternoon.  All three of these things worked to some degree—she’s still a persistent little bitch—but that last one does bite into one’s personal time.  However, it does give us exercise as well, and we can always use more of that.

Here are some movie clips of Rosie.  I took them a few months ago in the spring.  You can see some of the trees blooming, and it was cold enough to see Rosie’s breath.  While our previous dogs loved to play fetch with a tennis ball, I found that Rosie prefers a hard ball baseball.  In this first clip, you’ll see me throw one out and she run after it, and then wait for me to throw a second ball and go after that.

It took a long time for me to trust Rosie off the leash.  She wouldn’t come back.  She wouldn’t let me clip the leash back on.  I had to tackle her a few times to get her where I could put the leash on.  You’ll see her fully retrieve in this next clip.  That also took some work.  She would run after the ball and then wonder off on her way.  She was just so headstrong in her ways.

And finally in this last clip you can see the joy she has in running in an open field.  There are ticks in this field, and so we put the tick oil on her.  She needs to do this to tire her out, and I take her almost every weekend morning if the weather is not bad.  This is the one thing I couldn’t take away from her.

Slowly she’s getting to be a good dog.  Happy birthday Rosie. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Personal Note: Matthew’s Pneumonia

Wednesday (August 3rd) evening I noticed Matthew felt hot to the touch.  I took his temperature and while I now don’t remember what it was, it was elevated..  We held him back from camp on Thursday, and he still had fever, and so Friday my wife took him to the pediatrician.  He had fever there too but no other symptoms, no strep throat, and so they assumed it was just a viral infection.  They don’t give you anything for that any more.  They don’t want people getting immune to antibiotics, so they have reduce the usage.  They sent Matthew home without any prescription, just told to alternate between children’s Tylenol and children’s Motrin to keep the fever down.

His fever was somewhat under control, but Saturday night it skyrocketed to 103.7 degrees and my wife wanted to take him to the Emergency Room.  I dissuaded her, arguing they’re not going to do anything there either.  I said that if it reached 104 degrees than we would go.

It came down and for most of Sunday it was reasonable, though above normal.  Then Sunday afternoon it spiked up to 104.3, and at that point we decided to go to the E-R.  At the hospital, Matthew again didn’t seem to have any other symptoms, and the doctor was about to release us when on intuition he decided to send Matthew for a chest x-ray.  Well, x-ray showed a good size pneumonia in his lower left lung, and so we got to the bottom of it.  He prescribed Matthew an antibiotic.

Matthew’s temperature was still going up and down, again spiking over 104 degrees, but coming down.  Today (Tuesday) he had a follow-up with the pediatrician, and she now only heard the pneumonia in the left lung, but said he developed it in his right lung as well.  So she then doubled up on the antibiotic and Matthew has to breathe with a nebulizer three times a day.  Today the fever has been close to normal all day.  I think we’re over the hump, but I’m still guarded.

Here’s a picture of Matthew with his kangaroo nebulizer.  LOL, they’ll do anything to make kids enjoy their medical treatments.

Your prayers for Matthew are certainly welcomed. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Faith Filled Friday: “Go Away, Satan”

From LifeSiteNews

Father Jacques Hamel’s last words before two Islamic State terrorists slit his throat, after forcing him to his knees before the altar where he had been saying morning Mass, were “Go away, Satan!”

And as the 85-year-old priest tried to push the attackers away with his feet, he repeated again, “Begone, Satan!” recounted the archbishop of Rouen during his homily for Father Hamel’s two-hour funeral Mass on Tuesday.

Enough said. 

Father George W. Rutler, one of the most brilliant essayist in contemporary writing—the general public has no idea how great a thinker and essayist this good priest is—commented on Fr. Hamel’s slaying:

The slaying of Father Jacques Hamel at the altar of the church of Saint Etienne-de Rouvray in Normandy should be the envy of every priest: to die at Mass, the holiest hour of the world.

If you’ve never read a Fr. Butler essay, you can read that essay, “Tolerating Terror,” at Crises Magazine, here.  

Father Hamel, priest and martyr, pray for us and for this world from which you have been so rudely removed.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Matthew Monday: Future Lazy Slob

We were getting ready to go out to a little cousin’s one year old birthday party, and I was pushing Matthew to get ready.  I don’t know if all children do this, but Matthew dilly-daddles  (slang, I know, but defined here) and takes the longest time to do things.  He needed to brush his teeth, and so I put toothpaste on his toothbrush and he climbs onto his stool we keep in the bathroom for him. 

“I can’t wait to grow up,” he says.

“Why,” I ask.

“Because then I can do whatever I want.”

“No you can’t.  You’ll have to go to work, you’ll have to clean the house, you’ll have to do all sorts of things you won’t want to.  It’s not fun to be an adult.”

Matthew is brushing his teeth and looking in the mirror and thinking.

“We don’t get play time or go to camp for the summer,” I continue.  “It’s much more fun to be a kid, so don’t wish for things you won’t want.”

Matthew continues brushing.  Thinking that I’ve cornered him I say, “You’ll have lots more things to do that you don’t want to when you’re an adult.”

Matthew then takes the brush out of his mouth and declares, “I won’t do them.”

That response actually surprised me.  “What?  Then how are you going to earn money so you can have a house and food?  Who’s going to get everything done?”

And with dead pan timing, Matthew says, “My wife.”

I stared at him for a second and then doubled over in laughter.  And he starts laughing too.

Which reminds me of a really good Rolling Stones song, “Hang Fire.”  Here’s the song: 

Here are the lyrics, if you can’t quite make them out:

(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

In the sweet old country where I come from
Nobody ever works
Yeah nothing gets done
We hang fire, we hang fire

You know marrying money is a full time job
I don't need the aggravation
I'm a lazy slob
I hang fire, I hang fire
Hang fire, put it on the wire

We've got nothing to eat
We got nowhere to work
Nothing to drink
We just lost our shirts
I'm on the dole
We ain't for hire
Say what the hell
Say what the hell, hang fire
Hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire
Doo doo doo

Take a thousand dollars go have some fun
Put it all on at a hundred to one
Hang fire, hang fire, put it on the wire

I love that song, but I hope Matthew doesn’t grow up to be a lazy slob.