Life is Worth Living

Cocktails, the End of a Successful Hunt, and the TLM

The other day, well, I mean the other month, my husband made a few drinks.  I meant to share them with you then, but I forgot because I was busy.  So, I’ll share them today because they’re good, and we’re celebrating the end of a successful Hunting Season.

Now I’d like to share a photo of my husband’s dead deer too, but there isn’t one.  You see, he had a Doe Tag and according to him, “Does are hardly worth taking photos of.”  So not only will there be no photo of him with his deer, but there will of course be no antlers to mount on the garage walls.  The boys were seriously disappointed.  One can never have too many antlers on one’s walls apparently.

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Some antlers on our garage wall.
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A pile of antlers that haven’t made it to the wall yet.

 

Brandy Alexander & a Sidecar

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Which one is mine?

On to drinks.  As I said, we’re celebrating a swift end to the Hunting Season, and I’d like to highlight two of our favorites: a Brandy Alexander and a Sidecar.

The drink on the left is a Brandy Alexander.  My husband and I began drinking these after reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, in honor of Anthony Blanche.  Those of you who have read the book or watched the (good) version of the movie (with Jeremy Irons) know what we’re talking about.  There’s a scene wherein Anthony Blanche downs three of them in a row, which is a bit reckless, no?

Normally a Brandy Alexander is made with cream, but as we never have any on hand, my husband makes them with whole milk, which of course is not as creamy, but still good.

Brandy Alexander:
Equal parts Brandy, Creme de Cocoa, and Cream

Sidecars are way too strong for me, but my husband insists that they’re classic and tasteful.  I’d probably be rather drunk if I attempted one.  Nevertheless, here’s how they’re made.

Sidecar:
3 parts brandy, 1 part lemon, 1 part triple sec

Enjoy!

And lastly,

The Traditional Latin Mass

A good friend of mine sent me an article written by Jake Neu and published in Crisis Magazine this morning.  It’s excellent.  (Click HERE for it.)  It’s also interesting that more and more people are choosing to attend the TLM.

A big Thank You to Jake Neu.  Your sentiments are mine as well.

Book Review

G. K. Chesterton and St. Francis: Book Review

St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton

The other day I picked up a G. K. Chesterton book that I hadn’t thought of in ten years: St. Francis of Assisi.  I remember enjoying it then, if only understanding a 1/3 of it.  Now, that I’ve reread it, I understand more.  I love books that one can return to, because there’s such great depth.

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G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936).  Intellectual Powerhouse.  Catholic Convert.  Terror of Heretics.

My problem ten years ago was that I had little understanding of the history of the Church, and that’s the great strength of this book.  Chesterton doesn’t just start by saying Francis Bernardone was born on a rainy day in Assisi in 1181.  Nope.  He devotes the first couple of  chapters to describing the world in which St. Francis was born.  He answers such questions as, what was going on in the Church?  Or, why was there a great need for a man like St. Francis anyway?

St. Francis of Assisi is just as relevant today as when it was published in 1923.  In fact, it is probably more relevant as our culture has completely forgotten its roots, and if it remembers St. Francis at all, it remembers flowers and birds.  Nothing really of the man Francis – of his uncompromising holiness.  He didn’t just preach to birds and admire the flowers.  No.  This was the man who willingly embraced a leper because he wanted to overcome his cowardice.  This was the man who walked straight into the heart of the Crusades and demanded to speak to the notorious Sultan to tell him about Jesus Christ.  This was the man who bore the Stigmata and asked to be moved to the bare ground to die upon, in nothing but his hair-shirt.

Chesterton does an excellent job of startling our drowsy senses into wakefulness with this book.  He clears up our dull and hazy vision to reveal a truly great saint.

If you’re in need of a good nonfiction book, get this one.  But be warned, even though it is meant only to be an introduction to St. Francis, I found it helpful to be somewhat familiar with a basic outline of St. Francis’s life, as Chesterton seems to take that for granted.

Chesterton for Kids

If you’d like to introduce Chesterton to your children, check out these excellent readers put together by Nancy Carpentier Brown.  My children love them.

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Nancy Carpentier Brown takes G.K.C.’s Father Brown series and adapts it for children.

Want More For Yourself?

There is an excellent magazine that my husband and I have been enjoying for years.  It’s called Gilbert!  Perhaps some of you may be familiar with Dale Ahlquist?  He’s the publisher and editor.  Subscription to the magazine comes with membership to the American Chesterton Society.  I strongly recommend it.

This magazine features various essays from Chesterton and other current writers such as  Dale Ahlquist, James V. Schall, and my favorite, David Beresford.

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Here’s our latest issue.  This magazine is truly a gem.  I look forward to it every month.  (Even though I think there are only 8 issues a year…)

If you’ve never read Chesterton before, begin now.  And don’t be intimidated by him.  Many start with Orthodoxy or his Father Brown series.  Both are excellent.  If you love fiction, go with Father Brown.  If you’re a lover of nonfiction, go for the former.

4 Parting Smidgeons

  1. Since I’ve recently mentioned Evelyn Waugh on these pages…Chesterton wrote a scorching review of one of Waugh’s early books, Decline and Fall.  (Waugh wrote that book prior to his conversion.)  At the time, Waugh thought it was hilarious and put Chesterton’s condemnatory remarks on his 1929 Christmas card.
  2. After Waugh’s conversion, he became great friends with Hilaire Belloc, who happened to be best buds with Chesterton.  I’m not sure, however, if Waugh and Chesterton ever met.  (If anyone knows the answer to that, drop me a line.)
  3. In England, the Church is investigating Chesterton’s life with a view for opening his case for canonization.  This is only the very beginning stage of a long, long process.  Read about it HERE.
  4. What’s my favorite Chesterton book?  Everlasting Man.  And I recommend THIS copy because it contains Everlasting Man, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Thomas Aquinas – three of my favorite Chesterton books.
Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Pull-ups & Kiddie Pools

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine:

  1. The boys have been doing daily pull-ups on the swing set.  The other day, they challenged me to a contest to see who could do more.  I lost.  I mean, I lost big time.  I couldn’t even do one.  They made me start from a dead hang, and I couldn’t even pull myself up halfway.
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The twins can do six.  I was impressed.

2.  Speaking of pull-ups and other impossible things, apparently it’s impossible for my children not to put things in their mouths.  Do you remember how my son swallowed a penny a few weeks ago?  Well, my 2-year-old girl decided to do that too.

But now that I have experience with the matter, I’ll have you know that I completely kept my cool.  I observed her for a whole five minutes before I gave up.  The first minute she cried.  The second minute she started wriggling around again.   The third minute she was off playing.  And the final two minutes I just watched her from afar.  She’s fine.

3.  It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

4.  Since the temperature rose above 80 degrees the other day, I thought I’d check out the kids’ pool in the backyard.  (This is what you do, when you live nowhere near anything cool, like an ocean.)

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It was a bit tricky trying to float on their little floaties, but I managed.  Does my neck look red?*

The children were so excited that I was joining them that they even promised to not splash me so that I could read.

And what was I reading?  Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate.  Mitford was one of Evelyn Waugh’s friends.  He even proofread her stuff for her.  But this book was marginal.  Waugh is a wayyyy better writer.  (If you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, pick up Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.)

Notice the brown water in the pool?  Yuck, huh?  But that’s just because the sandbox is a few feet away, not because, well, you know.

5.  The prairie roses are in full blown.  They are the best smelling flower in the whole wide world.  They also happen to be our State Flower.

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The children keep a fresh supply for me on the table.
*I’m afraid that floating around in the kids’ pool makes me a Red Neck, if you know what I mean.

 

Book Review

A Tempestuous Evelyn: Book Review

Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been reading lately?

Christopher Sykes’s Evelyn Waugh: A Biography.

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This is a thick book – 450 big pages.  Totally worth it.

Before reading this  book, I had a good idea who Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was, but now I’ve got a lovely, full, and ferocious picture him.  He was no sweet pastel painting of flowers either.  No.  I’d compare him to a Jackson Polluck, which he’d probably hate, as he detested modern art, but maybe I could say he was like Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire?

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The old and famous Téméraire is solemnly being towed to its death.  The scrapyard.  Waugh was like that old ship – magnificent, famous in his day, and not afraid of a good storm.

Now I’ve always liked Waugh, as I was introduced to him in grad school with Brideshead Revisited and some of his short stories.  I knew that he had a fiery personality and was a bit eccentric, but wow did I underestimate him.

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He’s in the middle, looking good.  He thought it deplorable to not dress well.

Prior to converting to Catholicism, he was a rowdy, drunken homosexual.  After his conversion, he was a rowdy, drunken Intellectual.

Let me quote a passage from the book:

‘Do let me’, he [Waugh] wrote to his young friend, ‘most seriously advise you to take to drink.  There is nothing like the aesthetic pleasure of being drunk, and if you do it in the right way you can avoid being ill the next day.  That is the greatest thing Oxford has to teach.’

Not only did Waugh drink excessively and raucously in Oxford and beyond, he was also a melancholic insomniac.  In fact, it was likely the drugs he was taking for insomnia that killed him at the fairly young age of 63.  For you see, these medications were not to be mixed with alcohol, and he just couldn’t not drink.

And then, can you imagine how cranky he was after not sleeping?  (I know how cranky I am after nights of insomnia.)  His friends remember him saying repeatedly,  “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic.  Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”

But for all his raw and rough behavior, he really was a good man.  He fought in WWII, traveled all over the world, spoke multiple languages, and did a lot of good.  For example, he would go out of his way to help fallen-away Catholic friends recover their faith.  He also quietly, and unknown to anyone at the time, gave all the profits from his book on Edmund Campion to Oxford specifically for the building of Campion Hall.

Waugh was also funny and witty.  When he was courting his wife, he wrote the following in an attempt to convince her to marry him:

I can’t advise you in my favor because I think it would be beastly for you but think how nice it would be for me.  I am restless & moody & misanthropic & lazy & have no money except what I earn and if I got ill you would starve.  In fact its a lousy proposition.  On the other hand I think I could do a Grant and reform & become quite strict about not getting drunk and I am pretty sure I shall be faithful…

In the end, she did marry him, and they had seven children, with one dying in infancy.  But this biography doesn’t get into a whole lot of family life; rather, this biography focuses more on his literary life.

Conclusion

If you’d like a good picture of what kind of man produced such famous novels as Brideshead Revisited or A Handful of Dust, check out Sykes’s book.  But be warned.  Most of the novel discusses Waugh’s literary endeavors.

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Here’s a few more Waugh books.  Read ’em all.  Especially Brideshead Revisited, Edmund Campion, and Helena.  Now I want to get my hands on his War Trilogy, as Sykes insists that it’s his best.  (But Waugh considered Helena his best.)