Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reflections on the Last Full Day of Winter, 2017

Boise: where it's sometimes hard to tell which
season it is.
-- This winter we got more snow in the Treasure Valley than we have ever had since I moved down here in 2003.  All the years I lived up in the Idaho panhandle taught me to deal with huge amounts of snow (though winter is still a huge trial for me, even 21 years after leaving southern California); but up there, the local authorities are pretty good at snow removal.  Down here, we are pretty clueless as to how to deal with even a little snow.  Even busy thoroughfares go unplowed and untreated during snowfalls, so if you work in downtown Boise, and it's been snowing, it might take you an hour to an hour and a half to travel the five miles from there to the Bench.  The great winter avalanche of 2017 was such a disaster, and the local highway district was so unprepared to cope, that they had to suspend their red-tape requirements for private snow removal contractors (question: why should we ever have red tape for such a thing?) and even bring in the National Guard to remove snow.  Still, it was days before any residential streets got plowed, and the local schools quickly exhausted their quotas of snow days for the year.  A lot of people ended up getting stuck in various places; I personally had to be rescued twice.

-- In the wake of all of which, the (already-much-despised) local highway district backed a bill in the state legislature that would limit highway districts' snow removal responsibilities.  You have to hand it to them for their sense of timing.

-- I have spent the last couple of weeks of winter battling a viral infection that started in my sinuses and settled into my upper respiratory tract.  It couldn't have come at a worse time from the point of view of my work calendar.  There is not a lot you can do about viral bronchitis except treat the symptoms, get as much rest and fluids as you can, and ride it out.  I have drunk gallons of black tea with honey and lemon (and occasionally rum).  I cut out the rum when I got a prescription for codeine cough syrup, and cut out the lemon when it started to give me a sour stomach.  God bless whoever invented codeine cough syrup.  It is worth all the money in the world not to be up all night coughing your brains out.

-- With the end of winter comes the beginning of Lent (at least this year, when Easter falls a little on the late side).  I am making a terrible Lent.  My whole life has felt like one long Lent for the last couple of years -- especially last year, with the death of my mother, hard on the heels of the death of a dear friend, in turn hard on the heels of the death of my grandfather.  There is nothing messier than life; it does not seem that one can become a saint by avoiding the mess.

-- And there does not seem to be a greater mess than the mess that is currently the Catholic Church.  My own diocese feels like the most God-forsaken one on the planet.  Every parish is so busy doing its own thing that one is reduced to finding the least-offensive Mass possible on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  Long gone are the days when you could attend Mass anywhere in the world and it would always be the same, always Catholic and always familiar.  I have news for priests: idiosyncrasies in the liturgy -- including tinging it with your malodorous personalities -- was never, ever something the laity in the pews clamored for.  This is something you wanted, because you forgot who you are and who God is (hint: you aren't Him) and why you are there at the altar, and you were therefore becoming bored with the whole affair.  Now you have succeeded in making several generations of Catholics forget it, too.  Congratulations.

-- Part of the mess in the Church is the idiotic idea that rules are bad (except of course any rule that prohibits the traditional Mass), and that Jesus did away with rules.  Set aside for the moment the irony of holding this view during the reign of perhaps the most autocratic, authoritarian pope in recent history (who himself ridicules people who pursue private devotions according to rules).  The reality is that if you take away rules, you kick out from under a lot of people a much-needed support for their weakness.  Rules give people clarity and certainty.  Some people need these things, even if you think they're stupid.  And if you think something is stupid that legitimately serves the needs of your fellow man, and you don't care what effect depriving him of it might have, then maybe you have not made as much spiritual progress as you think.

-- On the political front.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news to liberals (well, maybe not so much), but: all the stuff President Trump is doing that you think I should find outrageous, from knocking the media to cutting funding for PBS, I actually enjoy seeing him do.  In fact, these are things I have wanted to see for years and years -- and so have plenty of other Americans.

-- And while we're on the subject of Trump, the media just can't stop lying about him -- like the latest wholly-manufactured firestorm about how he is going to eliminate Meals on Wheels.  But even if Meals on Wheels were a federal program (which it isn't) and Trump was going to abolish it (which he isn't), what is to stop all these reporters from reviving it and funding it on a private basis?

-- In fact, where does the idea come from that, unless the government confiscates our money and does "charity" for us, we in the United States are going to leave old people to starve in ratty, run-down apartments or die in the streets?  It's true that in a lot of ways, we Americans have our heads up our butts; but it's also true that Americans are some of the most generous people in the world.  We have an all-volunteer military, so everybody who joins up -- especially when we have troops committed to various hell-holes around the world -- has demonstrated a willingness to give up creature comforts and even their lives for their fellow Americans.  The same goes for those who voluntarily join police departments and fire departments.  Whenever some disaster strikes on the other side of the globe, we are the ones who rush to the scene with rescue personnel and equipment.  And we Americans contribute substantially to charities.  We even found charities.  We are the ones who gave the world the Red Cross.  The Christian spirit -- which liberals have worked so hard to undermine and destroy -- is nevertheless still so potent that even in its diluted form, it is powerful enough to motivate Americans on behalf of the needy.

-- Back to the seasons.  Now that the end of winter is only about 12 hours away as I write this, we are swiftly approaching another harbinger of the change of season, namely, the roaring back to life of the irrigation works.  We southern Idahoans know spring is well and truly under way when the sluices are opened and the irrigation canals fill up.  Northern Idaho doesn't need irrigation, so they miss out on this minor spectacle.

-- Meanwhile, we look for another sort of spring in a world that seems hopelessly messed up -- a spiritual spring; the real springtime the fathers of the Second Vatican Council thought they were ushering in, though the hopes of those who acted in good faith were cheated.  There have certainly been plenty of changes on the political front, over which all the right people are dismayed.  I hope this represents a real sea change, and more than a mere temporary reprieve from the disasters we had previously been hurtling toward.  


  1. I certainly hope you shake off that viral thingy real soon, Anita.

    Trump makes me smile. My stupid commie brother decided that Trump wants old people to die. Yeah - right. Nothing like thinking you're the smartest person in the world and not even understand where the funding for Wheels on Meals comes from. Dope! This November will be 8 years since I've spoken to him. Good riddance.

  2. And I meant to say that if I can't attend a FSSP Mass - I attend no Mass at all. Thank goodness we have a thriving FSSP parish in Coeur d' Alene. They'll also be building their brand new church, are you ready????????? - just spitting distance from my house in Post Falls. Whoa!

  3. Woo-hoo! FSSP needs to be spitting distance from MY house. Unfortunately, my only options are among various Novus Ordo circuses. Not going to Mass is not an option. When I have to listen to Broadway show tunes poorly executed, or campfire ditties, or praise lavished on the Protestant revolt, or quotes from Marianne Williamson, I offer it up for the intention that the traditional Mass be established here, soon.