Saturday, December 1

Tennessee 34, Florida 32. Unbelievable. Michael has said all season that Tennessee plays at the level of its opponents - witness the Kentucky and Vanderbilt games for evidence. It was true tonight as well, but this time to Tennessee's benefit.
Well, David's finally risen, so I suppose it's time to journey forth. Later.
The ubiquitous Orbitz pop-up ad has a new twist today. They're giving away meat (Omaha steaks) if you book through them. What the heck is that? Since when is the promise of meat going to move me to book an airline ticket? Shouldn't the come-on be something like: no hassles at the airport, on-time flights and decent food on the plane? Everyone's saying it, and it's true: the airline industry hasn't a clue.
Some New York City Catholic school teacher are getting ready to strike. Here's an article. Do you know what I say? Good for them. I taught in Catholic schools for nine years, and in most places, the pay is scandalous. When we were in St. Louis in June, where I was speaking at the Eucharistic Congress, teachers were handing out flyers outside of the convention hall, detailing their particular complaints, complete with a graph containing the pay scale. I should have kept it - it was really shocking how little they were paid, and a friend of mine who used to teach in that diocese confirms it, saying, as I recall, that when she moved to Florida, her pay increased by something like $10,000. Everyone loves Catholic education. Catholic leadership should put their money where their mouth is and let the teachers feel the love by paying them decent salaries.
I said a couple of links down below. Here's the other one: Radio talk-show host Neal Boortz' web page, updated daily with outrageous and enraging political news from around the land. Lately, the focus, besides the War, has been on the joke of airline security, and the stories listeners send him are enough to keep you on the ground forever.
A couple of links: A pretty good one for children's literature is Eagerreaders.com. Speaking of children's literature, Katie is currently racing through Eleanor Estes' series The Moffats, which is one of the most charming set of children's books ever written. (Estes was a remarkable writer - there's not a modern children's book written for the purpose of helping children to be "tolerant" [and there are many] that does so with the subtlety of her The Hundred Dresses). I love the Moffats books - they are simple, funny and truthful.

My favorite part of any of the books is from The Middle Moffat, in which Janey, one of the sisters, watches with increasing concern in the weeks before Christmas as her little brother Rufus repeats his determination that he wants a pony for Christmas, and he knows Santa will bring him one. He'd wanted a pony for years, and had been given all variety of toy ponies to meet his desires, but this year, he had been quite specific in his letter to Santa, making clear that what he wanted was a real, live pony. Janey knows this is just not going to happen, but she doesn't want to see Rufus disappointed. So very early on Christmas morning, she creeps downstairs and scribbles a note to put in Rufus' stocking. The note reads: Dear Rufus, All the ponies are at the war. Love, Santy Claus

Of course, the effect is even better than Janey could have realized: Not only is Rufus' lack of a pony reasonably explained to him (World War I is "the war"), but he has the quite exotic honor of having received a note from Santa himself. I love that little tale not only because it's ingenious and moving,but because it points to a truth that I've observed among my own children: Despite the squabbling and the competitiveness, there's a real care and concern that does come out when it's really needed.

This leads me to other thoughts. Books featuring the children of relatively big families sharing adventures used to be standard reading for children. It probably reflects the reality that for much of our history, especially before urbanization, your brothers and sisters were your primary playmates. You don't see many of those books written anymore. Modern children's books tend to feature solitary children, children cut off from family, children who relate the world as individuals, not as part of a group of siblings. (I muse on all of this as an only child, but still....)

So if you've a child looking for reading material try The Moffats. Also good in the same Adventurous Siblings genre are:

the All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sidney Taylor, The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, the wonderful Half Magic books by Edward Eager, and Five Children and It and subsequent books by E. Nesbit. All great books and all, in their own ways, better than Harry Potter.

Hope I'll get some more meaningful blogging in on and off today. Although it will be busy. The children and I are going to do some Christmas shopping and surveying this morning, then it's back home where we hope the baby will nap and David and I will devote ourselves to lessening our respective workloads - he's got a short paper on the Buffalo Soldiers due on Monday, plus he's got to finish reading The Fountainhead by then, as well. I have an approximately 3000-word article due on Monday. I did a third of it yesterday, and hope I can keep up that pace over the weekend.

Then comes The Game, plus Katie has a little friend coming over to spend the night. Tomorrow morning we get up, Katie and her friend go to sing in the children's choir, the rest of us go sit in the pews at Mass, and then, maybe, we can do some sabbath resting. Except for me and that pesky article, sadly.

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