Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Painting by Marten de Vos
Nativity (1577, 106x75cm) _ Three little angels kneel with Mary and Joseph in worship of the newborn Child. The ox and the ass stand behind them. Other angels in the distance announce the birth of Christ to a group of shepherds. The ruin behind Joseph symbolises the defeat of paganism by the coming of the Saviour. The artist has made the symbolism even plainer by including a relief in the classical ruin - a recumbent female nude, possibly Venus, and several playful little naked figures. These represent the pagan world and 'impure', earthly love, as opposed to the divine love in which Christ was conceived.
Marten de Vos spent some time in Italy, where he familiarised himself with the new art of the Renaissance. This is apparent in details like the lively poses, the realistic approach to the anatomy and the references to classical antiquity. The divided upper zone, one half containing an architectural setting and the other a deep landscape, was also typical of 16th-century Venetian art.
Click on the photo for the credits, both for the painting and the information.

I love paintings from this time period. May God bless you all this Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008


This is appalling. I just heard of this and would like to pass it on to everyone. Google has a new feature, phone mapping. If you type a phone number into the search bar, it will come up with the name and address of the people who have the number. Then you can click on the word "map" next to the listing and it brings up the map of the address. If you want, you can do a satellite image and see the property. HOLY COW, BATMAN! This is scary! The good news is that you can google your number and if your personal information comes up, you can click on the line which reads "Phone book results for..." right above your information. You are then brought to a screen where you can opt out of the program. Go and Google your phone number now! Decide for yourself if you want to lead strangers to your door, do not let this happen to you unaware.

Imagine what could happen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obscure Music Friday

My first and likely only entry into Obscure Music Friday...h/t to Digital Hairshirt.

SONG: 12 Days of Christmas

ARTIST: Straight No Chaser

: These guys are fantastic! I love their sound, sense of humor and performance style. I chose this one because it is a "12 days of Christmas" medley, um, sort of. I hope you enjoy it!

In the Doghouse

Advice for husbands:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Plays at School

This one just tickled my funny bone. I thought you may enjoy it.

"Why isn't she Mary?" The perils of being a nativity play mum...


Many primary school age children don't know the story of the Nativity. But fear not - help is at hand. As reported in today's Times, new comic books, and indeed, an instant nativity play, can be downloaded to fill in the gaps.

But many children do still have nativity plays at their schools, and for some, parents as well as children, they are the highlight of the year. One mother I know still hugs herself at the thought of her son dressed as a snowflake, while another is put out that her school only has a Christmas concert, not a play.

My friend and colleague Jennifer Howze, editor of Alpha Mummy, is currently gearing up for her daughter's first school nativity play. And she's trying hard not to be a pushy nativity mum...

"It's happened. The note came from school saying my daughter needed a long-sleeve gold shirt, sparkly tights and some bits of tinsel for her hair. The nativity play had arrived, and she was going to be a star. With no lines. And I thought, Why isn't she a wise man or an angel? Why isn't she Mary? I had become THAT mum.

I would have let it drop. Except when my daughter and I talked over breakfast the next day, planning where we could find the tights and the bit of tinsel, another bit of information came to light. "The star is a very important part of the nativity play!" I said, in my best game-show host voice. "I'm not the main star," she replied, eating her toast. "That's Thomas. I'm another star."

Not THE star; A star. So she was not even the star that mutely waves over the wise men, but part of a star posse that stands around in the background, presumably making calls on their mobiles and ensuring the limo arrives.

She is, of course, perfectly happy being *another* star, along with her friend Frances. I was the one morphing into Gypsy Rose Lee's mother.

Which explains why I found myself in front of my daughter's teacher actually asking her, in as nonchalant a manner as I could muster, how they assigned the parts. And, erm, why didn't my daughter have any lines? She smiled sweetly. "Oh all the ones that take ballet classes are stars. We did that because they perform a dance in the play."

Oh. A dance. Well, that's pretty good. Especially considering how she loves to boogie around, pointing her toes and doing "floaty" arms.

So I calmed down. I chuckled to myself on the walk from the school gate - how silly, worrying that my daughter was somehow overlooked, her talents not appreciated, her star qualities relegated to "star" qualities. I vowed to put more faith in her teachers for recognising her abilities.

That night my daughter proudly told her father she was in the nativity play as a star. As she danced off across the sitting room, he turned to me and in a low voice said, "A star? Why isn't she Mary?"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Petition to the Bishops in the UK

I am pleased to know some of the originators of this, and though I do not live in the UK, we need to support the efforts of Christian parents everywhere. I have been told by my friend in the UK that in the first four days they've received 250 names including prominent priests and educators. She wrote in an email, "If you have signed, perhaps you would consider sending the link to as many people as you can think of in order to gain more support. The more names the better! Please note, too, that this petition is not only open to Catholic parents but to anyone who wishes to voice a protest as to what is happening here." This fight belongs to everyone, we all need to protect our innocent children.

Petition to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales

Do you wish to sign this petition? Add your name to the list here .

We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to protest in the strongest terms against the latest Government proposals which seek to make sex and relationship education compulsory for children from age 5 upwards. We believe, in line with the constant teaching of the Church, that such education at so early an age could only have a severely detrimental effect on the children involved, on family life and on society in general. We call upon you as our Shepherds in the Faith to issue an authoritative statement on the Church's teaching on this matter, and to declare that you, as our Bishops, oppose any attempt to undermine the sanctity of the parent-child relationship, the innocence of the child, and our God-given parental authority in such crucial matters.

Download a copy of the petition.
Download a copy of the letter we are planning to send to the Bishops.

Thank you for your support.