Monthly Archives: June 2021


The in-laws house is carpeted almost wall to wall. With the exception of the bathrooms, kitchen and dining room, and, oddly, the formal living room, there is only plush, soft, beige carpet.

I was raised with an inexplicable loathing of rugs and carpets. Small rugs existed solely to slip or rumple at an inopportune moment, casting you to the floor writhing in pain from a sprained ankle or broken limb, or perhaps scalded near to death by the hot tea you were carrying when you fell. I have never seen this happen, but it must have happened to someone in my extended family for the fear to be so strong.

Larger rugs, including wall-to-wall, served to collect dirt, fleas, and other disgusting things, and were to be avoided at all costs. This made little sense. For millenia the peoples of northern cultures have counted on carpets of various sorts to protect ones poor toes from frigid floors, to keep out drafts, or simply to make a room beautiful. From whence came this 1970s counter-counter-culture that rejected traditional rugs along with trendy shag carpets, insisting on slick wood or tile floors? Or linoleum, in a pinch? I have no idea.

Rugs aren’t common in places I’ve been in Brazil, excepting small area rugs that can make a sitting area more luxurious. We covered the painted concrete floors of our apartment with colorful rugs, and that has been great for acoustics as well as pleasant bare-foot walking. One learns where they are and doesn’t trip over them. Besides, they are heavy enough to stay in place.

In some places it has been the custom to drape tables with heavy carpets. Here’s Saint Jerome at a table covered with a carpet. Not so common these days where I’ve lived, though I’ve come across it now and then!

Saint Jerome, by Domenico Ghirlandaio


I don’t like truffles. Norcia, Italy reeks of them. It was an awesome town to visit. I think I recall they even sold honey with truffle in it, which is either an offense against the honey or the truffle, but seems to have enough popularity to warrant keeping in the shops. In any case, go one day if you can, and enjoy the thick odor of truffles, wild boar sausage and aged cheeses while walking in a medieval village. Here are some examples:

For that matter, I don’t like seaweed in my egg, which I encountered in Wales. If you do like that sort of thing here are some great recipe ideas:

Things I didn’t used to like but now do like: olives, brie-family cheeses.

Things I didn’t used to like and still don’t really like very much, but can eat if necessary: okra, sushi, seafood in general.

Italy, Villanova, Etruscan, 7th-6th Century BC - Vessel in the Shape of a Wild Boar - 1977.42 - Cleveland Museum of Art

Midwesterners’ storm sense

We were visiting the in-laws. The weather forecast a severe storm in the next few hours. The horizon was already darkening and the topsy-turvy gusts that precede storms were ringing the neighbor’s wind-chimes and rushing through the maples.

There was another tumult besides this: the in-laws out in the yard bringing in the trash cans and the patio furniture. The flurry of activity subsided after 20 minutes, and we laughed about how if you grow up in the tornado states you get things organized fast when a storm is coming and get down in the basement while it blows over.

I remember many summer afternoons or evenings huddling in basements, bathrooms or under tables.

Jesus sleeping in the storm, from the Hitda Codex


I started out making a conscious effort not to ever wear liturgical colors. Every parish I went to had some lady neatly turned out in a red, green, or purple outfit to match the season and the feast. I remember being self-conscious enough not to wear purple when it wasn’t Lent. But then when it was Lent I also didn’t wear purple, so as not to match. Green was even easier, since I didn’t have any green clothes. For Saint Patrick’s day I put on a ceramic brooch with a green flower on it.

Red was my downfall. I love red, and have lots of red clothes. Sometimes I’d accidentally wear red on a martyr’s feast, but I was rarely caught off guard by the seasonal cycles and deliberately didn’t wear red on Pentecost or the feast of the Sacred Heart.

I must say the effort put into the outfits by those matching ladies I’ve seen was remarkable. It wasn’t a matter of a red tee-shirt or purple dress. It was in every case complex outfits comprising blouses, skirts, jackets, hats, shoes and purses. The style was a rather indeterminate early to mid 20th century. It was both very self-conscious and also admirable for the effort.

I don’t imagine I’ll ever reach those starry heights, but today, despite it being the feast of the Sacred Heart, I found myself reaching for a red blouse and heart necklace. Whatever reticence I used to have has been replaced by a cheerful sense of fun.