Betty Duffy

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quicks: Au Naturale

Hosted at Conversion Diary

Of all the varied fragrances of Spring, the smell of Skunk ranks among my favorites. It’s so chocolaty, so coffee-ish, so brisk. I’ve been walking every day past a corner marked by skunk and the pungency never wanes. Each day is just as crisp as it was the day before, and each day I think, “Someone just brewed some strong coffee.” But no, it’s skunk. If that quality of long-lastingness, could be bottled, though not necessarily the specific fragrance, I think someone could make a killing.

Today we took the kids to Wright Patterson Airforce Museum for their Spring Break. I didn't expect to be as interested as I was in looking at three hangar's worth of airplanes, artifacts and flight paraphernalia. The museum is not only a history of flight, but a history of the wars of this century. And I think that recognizing how quickly air machines metamorphosed, from a flight of fancy for men who wanted to touch the sky, into an angel of death to those on the ground helped me to identify in myself a latent fear of flying.

I have always felt anxiety when flying, not just from a fear of crashing, but from an innate feeling that there is something unnatural about being untethered in the air. I've never thought of flight as being something inherently evil, or something that God would not allow--and yet, there is such a strong connection between flight and deadliness. A one-man bomber can take thousands of lives. Commercial jets... well, we've seen how those work.

My anxiety about flight prompted me to call Dr. Laura several years ago for advice on whether or not to travel with my husband on a business trip to California. I was pregnant with our second child, and nursing our first, and the hormonal combination intensified my anxieties so that getting on a plane seemed an impossibility. Not to mention that only a couple of months had passed since 9/11. My husband and I were in the car hashing out the reasons for me to go or stay, and we decided to let Dr. Laura settle it.

I don’t know what made me think the Dr. would side with me. She’s never met a caller she liked. She tactfully suggested that I wean my baby and face my fears for the benefit of our marriage. I hung up the phone and tactfully suggested to my husband that Dr. Laura is full of sh__ and that we were perfectly capable of making decisions that affect our marriage and children on our own.


Inspired by the beautiful photos that many of my friends take, I have been doing a little dabbling in artsy macro photos. Here is proof that if you have the right camera (in this case, my parents' cannon elph) you could probably transform the darkest corner of my bathroom floor into a thing of beauty.

This has nothing to do with nature, but I remember saying the Rosary with my husband's family before we were married, and all the boys in the family, in an attempt to make the decades go faster, would say their half of the Hail Mary as fast as they could. My Mother-in-law, who always led the Rosary, would compensate for their speed by saying her half of the Hail Mary as slowly and expressively as possible. No one would openly acknowledge the tug-of-war that was taking place. My Mother-in-law wouldn't even open her eyes, she just slowed down in equal relation to their speed.



For Lent, my husband and I have been trying to say the Rosary with our kids at night before bedtime, and my boys are doing the same thing that their uncles did. I, however, am going with it. They want to go fast? We can go fast. In fact, in my private prayer, I prefer to say the Rosary at a nice clip, in order to get into the rhythm of it, so I can concentrate on the meditative aspect of the Mysteries. I know my kids are not meditating at this point, but rather, reciting. But I hope that the speed and rhythm will make the Rosary a soothing experience for them at the least.

Several years ago, I planted somewhere around thirty trees on our property. Some of them were fruiting trees, some flowering, some were hardwoods. I joined the Arbor Day foundation under two different identities so that I could get the ten free trees twice over. I spent all of October digging holes in the yard in which to plant my trees. I spent a fortune in mulch, bark wraps, weed circles and time release fertilizers. I trudged through the snow in the winter months to be sure the trees were surviving. For a few moments in my twisted consciousness, the trees were my children, the offspring of my tender love and care that required protection from my biological children.

My sentinel was not constant enough, for one day, I looked out in the yard, to see my sons with a visiting chum, waving the orange handled fiskars over one of my trees. I ran out to survey the damage, and they had cut every last tree down to the soil. The wrath that played out in my brain was worthy of an R rating and trip to Confession. But I recovered and the children were not harmed.

I ordered some new trees, not saplings this time, but some more established fruit trees. I joined Arbor Day two more times and put all of the saplings together in my flower garden until they get bigger. This year, there are buds on the fruit trees, and God willing, there will be fruit.


There are few offenses that make me angrier than plant vandalism. Our old house was on a corner in a neighborhood where there were regular break-ins and petty theft. I parked my car on the street, and rather than replacing the window every few months, I just left the doors unlocked. Occasionally, I'd get in my car to find that the glove box had been rustled through, but I kept nothing of value in there. I felt like I had a friendly relationship with the thieves--here's my open car and my spare change, if I'm stupid enough to leave it, it's yours. I didn't get angry about it.

But one day I was talking on the phone and I looked out the window to see a rusty van pull up by the house, and a washed-out hippy sort of man jumped out, ran to my garden and yanked out my poppies by the root. He then ran back to his van and drove off.

"I've been robbed! I've got to go!" I said to whomever I was talking to. I hung up and immediately called 911 to report a property theft. Needless to say, the police had better things to do with their time, but I felt like my time--the time I'd spent cultivating seeds, watering, mulching, dividing and admiring--had all been stolen along with that plant.

Said a priest in regards to my flimsy Lenton practice: "Through sacrifice, we die to live. Don't sacrifice, and you just die."


mrsdarwin said...

Are you guys near Wright-Pat? We're coming out to the Cincinnati area in late April-early May; want to meet up? If so, drop me a note.

Jus said...

aaaaah, I feel all fluttery inside from being linked to ;)

I especially like the small bit of barbed wire, in my experience the way to get beautiful photos of life is to never go too wide angle in the home - at least not in my home ;)

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

Two of my favorite things:

1) The smell of skunks

2) Photography

I, too, love the barbed wire. My favorite of the series. I have an unnatural addiction to taking pictures - and looking at others photos.

Emily said...

Nice photos, Liz. You're really branching out. Punny, get it?

jenX67 said...

i'm a sucker for photographs. while the rest of the world rots away on facebook, you can find me having a fantastic time on Check it out. $25 a year, but really, the bathroom will never get cleaned and the meat will never be thawed.