Wednesday, March 23, 2011


What do you think of when you see a fence? To me a fence represents a challenge, something blocking my way from where I want to go, something to be climbed.

In my lifetime I have climbed many fences, both metaphorically and physically. The first time I climbed a fence that I remember, I was eight years old. I was in the yard of my elementary school and saw the tops of trees from the neighboring sump. I was so curious I had to climb the chain link fence to see. My adventure ended in the nurse’s office with butterflies on my left hand. I still have the scar.

Flash forward thirty years.

I am at my daughter’s softball practice and a ball goes over the fence into the neighboring golf course. This time it is a seven-foot tall chain link fence. But no matter. Thrilled to have something to do, I jump over the top of the fence. As I bring my left leg over, I discover that I am caught in some brambles. I try to disentangle myself and wind up putting my hand through the top of the fence. This time it is my right hand. It has gone straight through the webbing between my thumb and forefinger, and I can see the muscles in my hand.

One of the coaches is trained in first aid, and wraps up my hand. “Do you need a ride to the hospital?” he asks.

“No, I’ll be okay,” I say, trying to put a brave face on things.

I leave my one daughter in the coach’s care and stop home to tell my oldest daughter what has happened. I ask her to let her daddy know what happened but not to alarm him. I am feeling a little light-headed. Attributing it to my lack of dinner, I grab a canister of almonds and make my way to the hospital.

On my way, I yell at myself for being so stupid. The pain is really getting to me. I start shaking and I don’t know why. About halfway there, I feel really woozy. I think I am going to pass out. I signal to the driver to my right to let me in, drive myself off the road, and call 911.

So the ambulance comes and I humbly repeat my story several times, although I can barely speak. On the way to the hospital, the shaking gets worse. My blood pressure is up to 160. “What is happening?” I ask the kind EMT.

“You are going into shock. You have to think happy thoughts. Put yourself in a good place.”

Shock? I don’t even really understand the concept, but it sounds scary. “Can I die from shock? I have 4 kids at home!” I exclaim. I am making things worse, knowing (with my psychology degree) that I am making things worse, and I feel helpless to stop it.

Now I’m in the emergency room, and several professionals take a look at my hand before I get the same doctor I had four years ago when my infant scratched my cornea!

“Have you been here before?” asks the tall, gaunt Russian doctor.

I nod.

“I never forget a face…you had a corneal abrasion.”

I’m impressed.

He inspects, confirms no nerve or muscle damage, and guides the physician assistant in stitching up my hand. Seven stitches (and four hours) later I am ready to go but still haven’t been in touch with my husband. My cell phone won’t work and there is no public telephone. I walk to the lobby, where someone lets me use the courtesy phone.

“I need you to pick me up,” I say.

“Didn’t you drive?”

“I’ll explain later.”

A half hour later, my husband is relieved at my explanation, and I am relieved that the reason he hadn’t come was that my daughter had misunderstood the story and told him I just had a small scratch from a rose bush!

“What, do you think you’re 14?” he jokes.

One week later, I am on the mend, now able to type again. The stitches come out in another week. Over the weekend, I resisted the temptation to go over a few other fences to fetch errant balls, finding my way around or through a few.

Romans 8:38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

**These are the times when you hope that your doctors are well-trained and the nursing assistants have completed CNA certification courses.**

Petition against Statue Offending Our Blessed Mother

Mary was pure and courageous enough to give birth to Jesus, who gave his life that we might live.

Along comes artist Soasig Chamaillard who blasphemes the names of Mary and Jesus, turning Our Blessed Mother into a vampire. Vampires represent the anti-Christ; they suck the blood and life out of people while he gave his blood that we might live. In the form of a statue, Mary is also represented as My Little Pony and Superwoman.

Note that while I am for free speech and expression, we also have the right to express outrage when Our Lord and Our Lady are attacked. If you are horrified by these misrepresentations, please take a moment to sign a petition to remove this exhibit from the Albane Art Gallery in the city of Nantes, France.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I felt the pain when I tried to cut my daughter’s English muffin in half. As I brought my arm back to perform the cutting motion, the ache throbbed from my neck to the back of the upper arm.


How many grounders had I tossed during the live draft of the minors baseball division the previous day? Three to a boy, for about 90 boys…270. That could do it.

The most fun was when my own son came into the gym. I grinned wide.

“Watch, I’m gonna throw them really fast to him,” I said to his friend, who was catching the balls that the boys would throw back.

“Don’t throw it too hard!” his friend called across the gym to my son.

I threw the first one really hard, and bouncy, so he’d have to watch for the hop. Then one fast to the right, so he’d have to shuffle his feet and move to get it. The last one was fast to the left.

I threw them like that to all the boys that came out looking confidently athletic. Slow to the boys who seemed hesitant or undeveloped.

When they were all done, I drove my son home, took the temperatures of two daughters who were not feeling well, administered medicine, made sure my eldest daughter was ready to be picked up by her teammate for travel softball practice, grabbed a handful of almonds and a banana, and drove back to the high school to sign in the boys in the majors baseball division.

The inclusion of women in sports can only have a positive effect on society. Males admire athletic females; today they are not afraid to admit if one is stronger, faster, or more skilled in a sport. At the leadership level, they respect their input, organizational skills, and the “female intuition” they can bring to the table.

As a mother, getting involved in your child’s sports beyond the spectator level can be extremely rewarding for both you and your child. Your child knows that you share his passion; he learns more about you as he sees how you interact in a different sphere from home; and he may admire and respect you even more as you surprise him with what you can bring to his favorite sport.

“Because of the global dimensions this activity has assumed, those involved in sports throughout the world have a great responsibility. They are called to make sports an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture. Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love.” – Pope John Paul II, Jubilee of Sports People, Homily, Oct. 10, 2000

I came across a terrific document, a special edition of “The Living Light” that includes several essays about “Sports as Religious Education”. You can download it here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet: A Movie Review

Who could forget the story of Romeo and Juliet? Anyone who had this story overanalyzed in their high school literature class will remember the tragic events leading to the deaths of both young lovers. Here we have a retelling with a happy ending. The other major difference is that the characters are played by garden gnomes.

With very little prologue, the audience is taken to the front yards of the Capulets and Montagues. The owners of the houses hurl insults at each other as they leave for work. Once they are gone, the garden gnomes come to life, revealing the materialistic and antagonistic tendencies they have inherited from their owners. The Blues (Montague) and the Reds (Capulet) are obsessed with outdoing the other’s gardens.

While on a mission to obtain a beautiful flower from the top of a greenhouse for her family’s garden, Juliet Capulet meets with Gnomeo Montague. He is on a revenge mission and they are both in disguise. It is love at first sight, and they play-fight over the flower until their disguises are removed and they discover they each come from opposing families.

With the help of a frog gnome, who plays the nanny to Juliet, and a pink flamingo, who serves as a sort of chaperone during their trysts, Gnomeo and Juliet meet several times. In the meantime, the war between their families continues. Ben Montague loses his tall blue hat in a fight with Tybalt Capulet. Gnomeo attempts revenge through a mower race with Tybalt. Tybalt loses, crashing his mower into a fence and getting smashed. An angry crowd chases Gnomeo into the street.

It appears that Gnomeo has gotten crushed in the street, but actually what they see is a broken teacup that has fallen out of a truck. With Gnomeo missing and taken for dead, the war between the houses escalates, with the purchase of an upscale tractor mower. Juliet’s father glues her to a pedestal at the top of a fountain so she can stay “safe” at home.

I love the part where Gnomeo converses with a statue of William Shakespeare, asking him how his story ends. Shakespeare found it both suitable and satisfactory that they both die in the end. Gnomeo is determined on a better fate. He returns just in time and, although both gardens are ruined by the upscale tractor mower that has gone into “destruction” mode, the two families decide to end their feud and forgive one another.

The movie ends with a wedding. The flamingo finds his long-lost love. Tybalt even gets glued together and is seen dancing at the wedding.

A few parts that parents may find objectionable include a garden gnome in a revealing bathing suit that shows his entire backside, a joke about a squirrel losing his “nuts”, and a flashback scene in which the flamingo is showing how he lost his true love due to the separation of the couple who owned their house. In my opinion these are trivial issues that don’t take away from the overall charm of the movie. Parents may want to discuss the fact that Gnomeo and Juliet sneak out to court without the permission of their parents.

The message of the movie is a Christian one of love and forgiveness. Courtship and matrimony are also shown in a positive light.