Monday, December 31, 2012

Rome - Toronto - Buffalo - Baltimore

December 31, 2012 This is my second post for the day because I messed up and never posted the December 24th one until this morning. Christmas Day was nice and peaceful in Rome. The meals were incredible. The Italians go all out for their Christmas meals, and this year was no exception. The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, I travelled from Rome to Toronto. (It is called Boxing Day because in England the servants could not celebrate Christmas on December 25th because they were on duty. They got the next day off to open their Christmas boxes.) My brother Tom and sister-in-law Nadine picked me up at the Toronto airport and drove me to their home in Buffalo. Of course, it was snowing. We got about 12 inches that evening. We also all came down with the flu. It seems as if I am very healthy with all the travelling I am doing, but then when I slow down I get a cold or a flu. There must be some psychologial basis to that. The 30th I flew down to Baltimore to visit some good friends and I will fly back to Buffalo later this evening. (Thank God for frequent flyer tickets - the trip cost $5.) It has been good to get a week away before the beginning of our General Chapter. When I get back, we have one more week of Definitory, then a week off, and then it is time to go to Assisi. I finished a few books. The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan This book is about the founding of the national forests and the opposition that Theodore Roosevelt received from the robber barons who wanted to be able to exploit its resources without any regulation. He created a huge forest system, but as soon as his chosen successor, President Taft, takes over, the system is systematically looted. This comes to an end with when there is an apocalyptic forest fire in 1910. An area the size of Connecticut burns and many, many people are killed. The fire was fanned by hurricane force winds. Town after town were burned to the ground. The fire became the clarion call to America to protect its resources. After this time, the forest service which was bound to protect the forests is taken more seriously. Unfortunately, the message which is learned is also flawed, for they adopt a zero tolerance policy on forest fires (which is not healthy to the forest for it allows the underbrush to accumulate instead of being periodically burned out). Up Country by Nelson Demille This was a truly excellent book. The hero is a retired army crimes investigator who is called back to investigate a possible murder that occurred over 30 years ago in Vietnam. The clues come from a letter from a North Vietnamese soldier to his brother in which he describes the murder by a US captain of a US lieutenant. The investigator must go to Vietnam and try to find this witness and find out what is happening. A woman helps him in the investigation and one wonders what are her motives. Likewise, everyone around the investigator is hiding something. There is plenty of action. The sex scenes are handled discretely (at least in the version I listened to). The picture of how Vietnam now runs is enlightening. I truly recommend this particular book. The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman This is another of the stories about a police force on the Navaho reservation. The hero of the story is Lt. Chi, and the elder wise man is Joe Leaphorn. A body is discovered upon a high sacred peak. It turns out to be a man who has been lost for the past ten years. There are questions of an inheritance of a ranch. In the meantime, there is a sub-story of a love affair between Lt. Chi and a lawyer, but there are complications for he is fully Navaho (which looks down upon ambition) and she is half Navaho but very ambitious for herself and for him. Furthermore, there is a cattle thief in the neighborhood. This series gives a great insight into the cultural difference between an anglo culture and a native American one. It is very enjoyable. Shalom fr. Juude


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