Monthly Archives: March 2020

Diptheria, Measles and TB! Oh my!

My mother recalled the quarantines of her own youth:

She remembered having diptheria when she was about 3 years old and an official coming and tacking a pink quarantine sign on the front door. She couldn’t go out of the house but she didn’t remember it affecting anyone else.

She remembered that when she had measles it was important to keep the blinds shut, as there was a danger of blindness. She recalls being sick in bed and the first steam shovel was rolling down the road to a new mine, and she was so excited to see this novelty, but her mother only let her watch for a moment, because it was not good to allow light to hit her eyes.

She remembered that her brother had gone to a TB sanitarium when he was six years old and he was there for a year. This had happened before she was born, but she saw pictures of him from that time, and remembered how forlorn he looked.

She remembered that a girl she knew in high school was sent to a sanitarium for a year, too, and eventually recovered. She heard that a couple of her mother’s brothers died from TB, and another was sent away to a sanitarium, but being already an adult at the time he moved on from there after he recovered and never returned home.

When she was in grade school she remembered an itinerant family arriving in town for a while, and their three children came to school and had lice, and had to hang their coats on hooks away from the other children’s coats. She remembered getting lice once and her aunt washing her hair with kerosene in the laundry sink to get rid of them. And she remembered a lot of kids having ringworm, and having a bandage on their heads for this reason. She said they didn’t tease the kids with ringworm, but knew to stay away from them until it was cured, as it is highly contagious.

Oh thou work of art

I once wept, looking at an x-ray of my foot. It’s a work of art, a bit mangled from a ski accident, but with a beauty in the mere flow of the lines of the bones, tendons and flesh. Remember gazing at an infant’s hand with the same wonder? What tiny fingers! What adorable rolls of fat! The tired faces on the train, the bravado on the sidewalk, the swollen ankle of an elderly lady limping to her pew are the same. Each one made with tenderness.

Today I got the MRI for my shoulder and delighted in the spray of white and gray on black, like some avant-garde artist’s photography.

God be praised for His beautiful work, for the miracle of life and breath and touch.

God be praised for the laughter of words like subacrômiodeltoideana and glenoumerais and espessamento. Every week brings new vocabulary. This will probably not be remembered, as it is of little use outside the doctor’s office.

At the brink of an End

Most of my acquaintances think the End is Nigh. Some attribute it to the ‘wrath of Gaia’ or the ‘wrath of God’ or to some sort of conspiracy involving biological weapons, global politics, and the shenanigans of the very rich and powerful.

It’s rather odd to have a potential disaster actually happen. How bad the pandemic will be and for how long it will last remain unknown. But all the other disasters I was told to prepare for in the past (from nuclear war to asteroid strikes) never occurred. This potential pandemic virus is actually pandemicking and virusing enthusiastically.

Two weeks ago there was already some forecast of losing easy access to the Sacraments, so I made a good Confession and received Communion, with some sense that it might well be the last time. My sense that things are over has been right before, so I listen when it kicks in. God provided for one or two more opportunities, but from here on out I don’t know what will happen. As someone remarked, in a twist I hadn’t considered, taking away our access to the holy Sacraments can be in itself a divine chastisement. The very fact that this outbreak of disease has had a disproportionate impact on shutting down public religious life adds to that sense.

As I quipped to a friend, this Lent is certainly turning out to be extra-Lenty.

May God have mercy on us and Our Lady and all the saints and holy angels intercede for us.

A little plague project

A month or so ago I decided to just pray Matins every day, no matter what time of day it happened. It was the one hour that was always skipped because I was hanging on to “if you can’t pray it at 3am, you don’t get to pray it.”

Having abandoned that rule, I now am indulging in “Matins any time!” And it’s such a treasure of prayer! The very opening is a petition and a prescription:

Oh Lord, open thou my lips.

And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

I am also learning to chant Matins, since my love of music is rooted in a desire to chant the Office. Matins is new, so still a bit bungled. Again, the rule that encourages: “Sing what you can, read what you can’t.” And slowly I discover the unfamiliar hymns, the haunting invitatory, and an array of unknown antiphons.

With that as a starting point, off we go, attempting to blog again, hoping not to throw it all away in horror in a few weeks, as has happened to so many previous attempts. Given the quarantines perhaps I’ll keep at it a bit longer.

For a really funny previous attempt, check out, my first blog, which still happily serves dozens of horse lovers a day but hasn’t been updated in seven years.