Short Trip to Gulf-of-Mexico-bound Water

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, Va., pullulated with through-hikers today, until the afternoon rain set in.  Everyone heading north, two months or so into their trek.  One particularly pensive, another looking for a party, and a couple interested in telling me all about their breakfast.

“You don’t get an indulgence for hiking the Appalachian Trail, like you do for completing the camino to Campostella,” my priest friend commented to me.  “Well…I think if you offered the hike to the Lord as a sacrifice, He would be pleased.”  “How very ecumenical of you.”

Praise God, I have covered a few miles of the Appalachian Trail in my days… In northwest Massachusetts.  Maryland.  Harpers Ferry, WVa.  Northern Virginia.  Near Charlottesville.  Pretty much every way you can hike it anywhere near Roanoke (which is a lot of ways).  Further southwest, too: Damascus, Va., and a few miles in North Carolina, years ago…

What if we didn’t have the Appalachian Trail?  If it didn’t exist?  God save us.

Here’s an old favorite of mine by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Came to mind because our Holy Father will soon give us an encyclical about caring for the environment.


I wore the cassette down to ribbons listening to this album. (Scenes from the Southside) The Church has been an environmentalist since way before this song came out (in 1988).

P.S.  Totally on the USA Women’s World-Cup bandwagon, thanks to the world-famous WorldCupSoccerDad, who works at Roanoke Catholic School!

Sicut Transit Gloria Mundi

amd_thrillerPerhaps, dear reader, you remember that we have touched on our love for Michael Jackson before.

The album “Thriller” was fun in just about every way–all the songs were good, the videos were delightful, the Vincent-Price cameo was priceless.

Human Nature” is on my iPod perennially. I liked the album “Bad,” too. “Man in the Mirror” was a great song.

Also, let’s not forget that M.J. was acquitted of all charges.

May the King of Pop rest in peace.

mt olivetSpeaking of death, today I drove past the one small piece of real estate I own.

It is only a few square feet.

But it will be more than big enough, when the time comes.

Act V, Scene 1 of Hamlet opens with two gravediggers joking with each other.

The one asks the other, “What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?”

The other replies, “The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.”

The other replies:

I like thy wit well, in good faith: the gallows
does well; but how does it well? it does well to
those that do ill: now thou dost ill to say the
gallows is built stronger than the church: argal,
the gallows may do well to thee. To’t again, come.

The second one can’t come up with another witty reply, so the first one says:

Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull
ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when
you are asked this question next, say ‘a
grave-maker:’ the houses that he makes last till
doomsday.

The entire scene is very long. Here is the second part of it, worthily done by Kenneth Branaugh and our old buddy Billy Crystal, from the 1996 movie version.

Then, later on in the scene, my favorite phrase from all of Shakespeare makes its appearance. Laertes is bickering with the priest. Laertes thinks his sister Ophelia’s funeral has been too short.

Laertes. What ceremony else?

Priest. Her obsequies have been as far enlarg’d
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful;
And, but that great command o’ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodg’d
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is allow’d her virgin rites,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.

Laertes. Must there no more be done?

Priest. No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead
To sing a requiem and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls.

jozy-altidore-2Laertes. Lay her i’ th’ earth;
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
When thou liest howling.

“Churlish priest!” Maybe, after this Year of the Priest is over, we can have a Year of the Churlish Priest, and I will be the poster-child.

…P.S. How about our soccer team!

And the Natinals just shellacked the Red Sox! (Not that I am in favor of inter-league play.)

Washington Wizards in Europe

The Wizards’ pre-season trip to Europe, including Spain, reminds me of when I played international ball back in 1986.

My tenth-grade Spanish-class teacher was a Spaniard. He was kind enough to take some of his students on a trip to Spain, including Barcelona, which the Wizards will visit this week. One of the most beautiful places on earth.

During our trip, when we (fifteen cheeky St.-Albans’ boys, full of swagger) were walking through the Parque de Buen Retiro in Madrid, a group of Spanish teenagers challenged us to a basketball game.

We schooled ’em. I mean, we whipped them. It was wonderful. I think I even had a dunk. (There was a brief, precious period of my life when I could dunk a basketball. Just barely–no monster jams–but I could do it. I pray that I get to heaven, and then the good Lord will let me be able to do it again, and I will be throwing down tomahawks in the everlasting five-on-five.)

Anyway…After the basketball game the Spanish boys challenged us to a re-match, but in soccer. We thought: Soccer? Kicking that little ball around? No problem. You’re on! Si, si, amigos!

It was not pretty. They made us look like a bunch of flat-footed girls. What goes around comes around.