My New Favorite Folk Album: Interview with Jack Baumgartner, Part I

Original art by Jack Baumgartner

May I recommend that if you like acoustic, bluegrass, or folk music, with vibrant, honest layers of banjo, accordion, penny whistle and acoustic guitar--or even if you don't much care for it-- that you go right now to Jack Baumgartner's blog or directly to Itunes, and avail yourself of his new album, Cry the Blood, just released by his one-man band, "i am erth."He's good--very good-- at what he does, which is compose all original music, play a variety of instruments, layering his own voice tr … [Read more...]

Birds of the World: In Praise of the Homing Pigeon

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My dad kept homing pigeons when we were kids. On Saturdays, he entered his best birds in races with the local pigeon club. The president of the pigeon club, as I now see things, was a bit of a Renaissance man--robustly expressive and artistic. His children were named Dante and Leah. But when I was younger, everything related to my Dad's pigeon operation was an ocean of lameness."Good morning, pigeons!" my dad would sing in a halting tenor beginning around 6:30 a.m. His intention was to rouse … [Read more...]

A (Mother’s) Brief Meditation on the Sport of Wrestling

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Wrestling season has started again. Took the kids last night to watch a meet. There's always some hot dog wrestler who gets up to wrestle 160 or something relatively brawny but lean, and his opponent, usually from our own team, clearly weighs the same but in unequal distributions. For instance the hot dog wrestler is shaped like an inverted triangle, and our wrestler is shaped, well, like a hot dog, in a bun.The match ends in a swift pin, the referee slaps the mat, and then the inverted … [Read more...]

How to Like Jesus

In college, after my faith had been through the ringer, I wasn't yet in love with the Jesus of the Gospels, but I held onto a collection of feelings I "should" be feeling towards him, and towards his Father. Frankly, the Holy Spirit wasn't anywhere on my radar."I'm just not much of a Jesus person," I told a friend of mine. "I tend to pray to a nameless deity, God the Father maybe. I'm not really sure."My friend agreed. She wasn't totally into Jesus either, though we both identified as … [Read more...]

Forcing the Changes

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Around my living room, one child is sitting very smugly sucking on a candy cane and reading 39 Clues, because he called his new friend this afternoon, "Just to talk" and ended up with an invitation to go play. He's happy. I'm happy for him, even though I wasn't excited about making any plans yet. He risked his trump card, and he won. I have respect for that.And my oldest son is on the phone with a toy company, trying to get a replacement for the RC helicopter he bought with his own money. … [Read more...]

No One But a Mother…

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Throughout the years we've been friends, Pedge has groaned through each of her pregnancies claiming she'd have her tubes tied after delivery, but she didn't, and after each of her babies was born she said, "What would our family ever have done without this baby?"Still, pregnancies are challenging, and one day she said, "If I am going to make peace with God's plan for me not to mutilate my body and get sterilized, it's going to be with the help of the Blessed Mother." So she invited me to … [Read more...]

Lives Lived Before Sunrise

In Chicago we did a lot of walking, a lot of eating and browsing, and a lot of Churching. Saturday night during the Festival of Lights when thousands of people roamed the closed-off streets and shops, trying to catch sight of a Mickey Mouse Float on parade, my husband and I dodged into Holy Name Cathedral for Confession—to see holiness more clearly, in one another, in all of these people around us.The stores and all the walking can gradually suck a little something out of your soul, if not f … [Read more...]


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