Saturday, August 25, 2012


For most of my life, I thought that I was born in a boring in-between time; three years after the end of World War II, two years before the uneventful nineteen fifties.  Just since I began to teach that Mod Civ course, I have realized how significant 1948 was… not just for being the year I was born ( as if the world revolved around me)

I was just preparing to teach Shirley Jackson’s endlessly disturbing story “The Lottery”  for perhaps the tenth time. 
She wrote a passage later, called “The Morning of June 28, 1948” about the reaction to her story when it was first published in the New Yorker. I was distracted by the thought that I was just two months old when that story was first published.  That led me to my 1948 meditation:
The State of Israel was formally created in 1948

The Marshall Plan was created and implemented in 1948

The UN created the World Health Organization in 1948, and The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Gandhi was murdered in January of 1948

In Germany, The United States and Great Britain began a massive airlift of food, water, and medicine on June 26th to the citizens of West Berlin following the Soviet Blockade.

The Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.

In the US Presidential Election , Harry S. Truman (Democratic) Defeats Thomas E. Dewey (Republican) and Strom Thurmond (States' Rights Democratic) and Henry A. Wallace (Progressive/Labor)

T.S.Eliot won the Nobel Prize for Literature that year.

Lawrence Olivier won the Oscar for “Hamlet” and “Hamlet” won for Best Picture.

Cortisone was introduced as an arthritis treatment.

Alan Paton published his novel Cry the Beloved Country.

Al Gore and Prince Charles were also born that year. So was Henning Mankell, a favorite murder mystery writer.

The Summer Olympics was held in London!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Preparing for the Freshmen

The members of the Class of 2016 arrive tomorrow. I'll be meeting with the 17 of them that will be my students on Monday and Tuesday for some orientation work, and then, for class on Thursday, from 12:30-1:45.

I've met most of them already, on two Saturdays in June, but that was too quick to get much of an impression of them. 

Our Core Curriculum has been extensively revised, so I'll be teaching them for one semester instead of two, which grieves me.  I'll also be teaching completely different texts, which excites me.  Teaching the same ones for thirteen years, I am ready for a change. 

First , we will be discussing three essays/excerpts they were supposed to have read over the summer:
"Naturalist" by E.O.Wilson

the conversion passage from Augustine's Confessions

an excerpt from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

These are included in the anthology we are using:  Being Human: Core Readings in the Humanities, which was compiled and published by the President's Council on Bioethics in 2003.

Then, we'll read and discuss another essay: "Curiosity and Smartphones" by Douglas V. Henry.

I'll talk more about these, how they introduce the course, and how the discussions went, next week.

The long text we will read after these essays will be Aldous Huxley's  Brave New World. I re-read it this summer, and was more horrified by it than I ever was when I read it at sixteen ( or thereabouts).
I wonder how they will take it. 

Recently I've been reading the book the class will cover in late November: Wendell berry's novel Hannah Coulter. It couldn't be more different from Brave New World.

More about that later, too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Update on the Cornell Hawks

School starts for me tomorrow with an afternoon of faculty meetings. These meetings precede the arrival of the freshmen on Sunday, followed by Freshman Orientation, followed by the first day of classes.
I will probably not be posting regularly once school gets into full swing... but then, who knows?

Anyway, I've decided to post some photos of the three "Chicks" from the nest at Cornell. They are all fledged and hopefully hunting well. These are fairly recent shots:
C1, taken June 24:

C2, July 3:

C3 - don't know the date:

They are truly breathtaking creatures. And just this past week, the nestcam ( which is still up and running) captured the parents, Big Red and Ezra, on a return trip to the nest. The video filmed them rummaging around for about nine minutes; looked like some bonding and some remote preparations for a nest there again in 2013:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vows for Sister Liz

In my  community, the Daughters of Charity of St.Vincent de Paul, sisters never make what in religious congregations is known as "final vows" or "solemn profession."  All of us make what canon law calls "simple vows" and we make them for one year at a time, from year to year, all our lives.We do this each year on March 25. We make them silently, during Mass.

 For the first five or so years in the Daughters, a sister doesn't make vows at all. So the first time she does this is a special occasion, and she pronounces them out loud.  We had one of these holy moments today at Sunday Mass. Sister Elizabeth Ann Sjoberg, age 30, pronounced her vows to the Lord. She did this in the pew with the sisters of her local community surrounding her, and her parents and friends looking on:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Really, it is Midsummer

Doesn't feel like it, since school starts in about ten days.  But if the first day of summer is June 21, and the first day of autumn in September 21...yes.  I tend to label the long vacation from school as summer, though this year it started in mid-May.

Anyway, after my road trip, I came back to a somewhat weedy but alive garden, thanks to Dan, the grounds manager, who kept it watered when rain didn't do the job:

He also planted some lovely perennials around the statue of St.Louise de Marillac:

Right outside the door, however, in addition to two volunteers:  a Milkweed ( host to Monarchs) and a Cleome, flourishes a mountain of weeds. I've begun to pull them up, but more needs to be done:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Road Trip Report

NB: My camera's battery ran out, so ,with the exception of the people photos, all the photos came from Google images.

On July18,  one of the other sisters and I drove out to Indianapolis Indiana -- 11 hours across Pennsylvania , Ohio, and Indiana --

 to a Daughters of Charity meeting which was held at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis:

Stayed in this place  --- so unlike anything I am used to --- from Wednesday until Sunday. Attended great meetings and liturgies, and saw many friends from all over our Province:

Left Indianapolis at noon on Sunday, July 22, driving by myself from here on. Drove to Erie Pennsylvania --- about 7 hours--- until I was too tired to drive any further--- and stayed overnight in a Comfort Inn by the side of Interstate 90. Started out on Monday, driving I 90 along Lake Erie:
Drove I 90 across New York State to Syracuse, to Christ the King Retreat House, where I spent the next eight days in a silent retreat with about 20 of my sisters. It's a lovely spot.:

On Wednesday, August 1, I left Syracuse and continued across New York State( a four hour drive) to Adirodack NY, a village in the huge Adirondack Park . I've learned that this Adirondack wilderness is protected land ---3 million acres of it:
I stayed with my friends in their house in this beautiful country, not far from Schroon Lake , one of the hundreds of lakes in the region:
While I was there, I began to read a book about one writer and his hike from his home in Vermont to his former home in the Adirondacks. It's a beautifully written and illuminating book about the region at the present time:

Then, on Friday, August 3, I drove from there, along the scenic Rt.8 and Rt.9N, and crossed the new Crown Point Bridge across Lake Champlain in to Vermont:
I continued on this two hour drive into Middlebury Vermont, where I stayed with my cousins and visited with them and their daughter and grandchildren:
Then, on Sunday, August 5, I drove four hours south along Rt.7 through some more beautiful scenery, shouldered by the Green Mountains of Vermont
to Albany, New York, where I stayed overnight with our sisters. Monday morning, I headed back south via Rt.787, 87, 287 in New Jersey, to Rt.78 across Pennsylvania:

Seven hours later, I was home in Emmitsburg: