Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thanks For Nothing, SCOTUS

It's happening again . . . .

"You and your class have 'given in,' as you rightly call it, because the religion of this country means nothing to you, one way or the other!"  ~ Paul Scofield as St. Thomas More

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Tattoo Explained

Yes, I finally got a tattoo.  The artist in me has always wanted one, but I probably wouldn't ever have actually gotten it if I hadn't gone with friends.  It isn't huge, it is discreetly placed, and it is awesome.

I chose the Santiago Cross.  I knew I wanted something Catholic, and I've been fascinated by the Santiago Cross ever since some friends and I made the cheaters' pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostela in November of 2006.  (We took a plane rather than walk.  Give us a break; we only had one weekend to spare!)  Our family history of sixteenth century conquistadors and eighteenth century Canarian colonists was all the excuse I needed to adopt this militant-looking Spanish cross.  I've been wearing it on a chain for years now.

My research into the symbolism behind it is concisely summarized by Wikipedia:

"The Cross of St. James is similar to a Cross flory fitchy and is formed by a cross flory, where the lower part is fashioned as a sword blade (rather like fitched or fitchee or fitchy) - making this a cross of a warrior. It was popularized then due to its resemblance to a sword, symbolizing in a sense taking up the sword for the name of Christ. . . . This form is said to have originated at the time of the Crusades, when the crusaders carried small crosses with pointed lower arms, capable of being thrust into the ground at a time of daily devotions."

"The insignia of the Order of Santiago is a bright red cross simulating a sword and has the shape of a fleur-de-lis on the handle and on the arms. . . . The three fleurs-de-lis represent spotless honour (an honour of having defeated an enemy without spilling blood), which makes reference to the moral characteristics of the apostle St. James.  The sword represents the knightly character of the apostle and refers his martyrdom, since he was decapitated by sword."

I have a feeling the persecution is coming, and in light of that I am perfectly happy to brand myself with a crusader's cross.  However, the tattoo process is not something I am keen to repeat.  Ouch.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Balloons Don't Stand a Chance

Thinking about our imaginary rural utopia last week really put me in the mood to do something outdoors.  Fortunately the weather was gorgeous last weekend while we were visiting my family in Virginia, so I went on a quest to dig out all my old archery equipment.

Since I am an admitted Tolkien nerd with a weakness for superhero movies, I may be accused of picking a trendy hobby.  But in my defense, I requested a bow for my birthday at least a full year before I had even heard the name "Legolas."  I spend a lot of time in the sweltering heat of our barn in Texas developing my own technique since formal lessons weren't part of the birthday package.  I was just starting to contemplate shooting from horseback when we had to pack up and move to a more suburban environment.  With all the distractions of the recent past, I thought I had given up archery for good.  I couldn't practice at our apartment, but suddenly I realized nobody was stopping me from indulging in a little target practice at my parents' house.  It took some sleuthing to find the quiver and finger-guard, and there were only two arrows left in serviceable condition, but in the end we had fun shooting at helpless balloons downrange.   It had been six years since I had practiced at all, but I wasn't as rusty as I had expected to be.  Even the husband, who had no archery experience outside boy scout camp, racked up a few respectable kills.

While we're on the subject, I should note that the skill seems to run in the family.  My grandmother was apparently an exceptional shot.  As the story goes, the man at the carnival archery booth finally offered her as many free arrows as she wanted so long as she left his balloons alone.  I can hit every target if you just give me long enough.  However, my baby brother (12 years old now) is currently the undisputed archery king of the family.  I don't know if he has defended his title lately, but this video was taken when he was 7.  Un-freaking-believable.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Newest Addiction

My long-time readers may recall my depression-induced addiction to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups two years ago.  The good news is that after putting myself through a domestic rehab program called Don't Buy Any, I have fully recovered.  The bad news is that I have just discovered a replacement.

I've been much more picky about cereal recently in my quest to avoid overly processed food and those two supremely evil ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and vegetable oil.  Barbara's brand usually fills the bill.  I had to settle for the corn-based Puffins because the store was fresh out of the Original Shredded Oats.  I almost picked up the Cinnamon Puffins, but upon closer inspection they were found to contain "expeller pressed high oleic oil (canola and/or sunflower)."  My aversion to suspicious vegetable oils carried the day, and the peanut butter variety was the winner, containing only nine ingredients.

I expected them to be kind of ho-hum natural, like the shredded oats.  That is absolutely not the case.  Dry, they taste like a corn chip collided with a peanut butter cookie.  I'm anxious to find out if they improve when paired with almond milk, but in the meantime popcorn now has some competition for the title of favorite movie snack.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wishing For a Pony

Yesterday, while visiting our friends Sean and Didi, we hatched another implausible but delightful plan for our local circle of college friends.  Someday, when they perhaps move to a more rural area, we and as many others as we can get involved may possibly collectively buy a horse.

Growing up in Texas, my family was well aware of the stereotype that all proper Texans either own horses or at least know how to ride.  Although that certainly isn't the case in practice, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the horse experience for a few years before we had to move further north.  That was ten years ago, and I've been craving a horse fix ever since.

Me and Chili, winter of 2000.

Even now I can't quite believe my parents let me saddle up Chili Muchacho and wander all over the county at the age of 14.  There's nothing else quite like it.  My husband has been around horses in the past when his brother was receiving hippotherapy, but he's never actually ridden one.  I've tried going on organized trail rides, but it just isn't the same when I'm strapped into protective gear and treated like an idiot who's never so much as seen a horse before.  Besides, never accelerating beyond a plodding walk can be supremely dull.

Someday, when the majority of us aren't just scraping by, paying off our student loans and mortgages, we can pitch in and turn somebody's rural homestead into a weekend getaway for the rest of us.  I know somebody who wants a cow.  We could get a horse, some dogs, and have space to practice some of the other pursuits we've had to give up since moving into more constricted neighborhoods, like archery.  It will be like having the best of both worlds.

That obviously isn't likely to happen anytime soon, but we can dream.

Teaching my baby brother to ride in 2001.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Case In Point

Last month I posted a short rant about not feeling safe enough to use the neighborhood walking trails by myself.  People have called me paranoid for years, but what happened this morning seems to illustrate my point.

The husband and I were out for a brisk morning walk, trying to cultivate healthier habits.  Now that I have a large companion, we weren't afraid to venture into the wooded byways.  Watching crime shows in my spare time seems to have made me generally more observant, so when we passed a discarded hoodie sweatshirt in the weeds, I pointed it out and said (rather facetiously), "Ah, crime scene."  We thought nothing of it.

Returning home, we were approached by a police squad car creeping along the path.  The officer was anxious to know whether we had seen a fugitive wearing a grayish black hoodie sweatshirt with red lettering.  We hadn't seen the guy, but I was absolutely able to direct him to the sweatshirt.

You never know who you'll meet in the woods.