Monday, May 31, 2010

Long Weekend Fun

Mr. Higgins had the pleasure (ahem!) of meeting my parents months ago. Now, it's my time. His parents in town for a week and there's lots of quality time slated for the four of us.

The fun began with dinner last night, followed by a movie. It was fun and very cool meeting the two people I'd heard so much about. What struck me the most, however, was watching the parent/grown child dynamic between the three of them. I remember Mr. Higgins commenting on this after meeting my parent sand I can only imagine what it must be to watch the three of us. I know that I slip too easily back into the role of child, but half of that is the way I'm treated by my father.

Anyways, the real fun happens tomorrow when we all head out to East Texas. Yep, the parents are meeting Mr. Higgins' parents. For those of you wishing for more dating news, that should tell you a lot!

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Excommunication

The Church has done it again. This time, in a case having to do with an abortion, a nun, and a hospital. Sister Margaret McBride, administrator of a hospital in Phoenix, allowed an abortion to be performed on a pregnant (11 weeks) mother of four, whose life was in danger due to a complication, pulmonary hypertension. The only way to save this woman's life was to end the fetus'.

Sister Margaret McBride was excommunicated by the bishop of Phoenix for her choice to save a woman's life, and forced to resign her position.

I would think it to be rare that the Hippocratic Oath and the dogma of Catholic faith would disagree, but apparently here, they do. An 11-month-old fetus cannot (I would think) live without it's mother. The only way to save the mother - caretaker and supporter of four other children - is to abandon the pregnancy. To me, and I would think to a doctor, this case would be an easy, though painful, decision to make. I've always been taught that abortion was permissible within the Church in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment to the mother. Dogma, however, states that no harm should ever come to a fetus upon creation - no matter what, even to the detriment of the mother. Nature, not science, should determine who lives.

All that aside, the Church excommunicated a woman who dedicated her life to helping others. A bishop, who spent his life learning dogma in a library, excommunicated a woman who practiced what he only read about: a Christian life, a selfless life. Pedophile priests are transferred, defrocked, but rarely excommunicated. Where, exactly, is the Church's priorities - in saving the lives of mothers or sheltering male criminals? Go here for an editorial.

The Church needs to regroup. I'm trying to stand behind it but I can see this case in too many ways, and very few of those ways revolve around dogma written by Augustine in the fourth century. Much like this author, I'm pro-life at heart but pro-choice mentally. Reconciling the two is not something I can do as a woman.

I see no way to save the Church from a collapse from within - especially with Benedict at the helm - but I can say this: excommunicating nuns who do the hands-on work that priests never see, is not the answer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Settling In

I'm slowly getting settled into my new place. I've unpacked, except for a few odds n' ends, and I'm gradually finding a new routine to fit my new responsibilities.

The biggest thing has been the cats... my cat and Dr. S's existing cat who lives at the house. His name is Doug and he's a sweetheart. He and Sybella are slowly getting introduced to each other but Syb is getting restless while confined to the bedroom. Her nighttime antics are keeping me up and, at times, I'm at my wit's end with her.

But it's good to be back to the place I've called home since grad school. And it's great to be near my friends and Mr. Higgins. Things will settle down soon; I just need to have patience.

Unfortunately, I'm not so big on patience. Ha!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Religious Tolerance

In light of my work and religious interests, I give you the following editorial on the similarities of religions. Gyatso says that we cannot "let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion." After all, Christians have been very violent on occasion.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mahler's 2nd

This weekend was an exciting one for several reasons, not the least of which being my first full weekend back in the big city! About two months ago, Mr. Higgins and I bought tickets to see one of my favorite symphonies, Mahler's 2nd "Resurrection" symphony, on Saturday. The date fell very close to our four month anniversary so we used this outing to celebrate.

Mahler's 2nd means a lot to me. It was the first piece I sang with a "real" chorus back in college and it was the first time I sang with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at the spectacular Bass Hall. For five years, I've been dying to see it performed again! I would have preferred seeing it with the FWSO at Bass, but I settled for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Meyerson.

The performance was, without a doubt, breathtakingly superb. I've never seen such attention to detail by a conductor. Jaap van Zweden was meticulous in handling this huge orchestra. The chorus sang without sheet music and were very good. Not perfect, but definitely above average.

But I missed Miguel and the FWSO. Jaap van Zweden lacked the warmth and charisma that Miguel infuses Bass Hall with in every performance. I've sung under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya and he's truly a pleasure to work with and for. Jaap conveys....pompousness. Indeed, the performance by the DSO was one of gloating. The DSO knows it's good, Jaap knows he's good, and they seemed intent on proving it. Even the chorus showed pomp when they made an unnecessary dramatic entrance. (Someone should tell them that their consonants were weak throughout. I've sung this piece and had to strain to understand them. German or no, diction is necessary.)

I'll concede that it made for a wonderful concert...but I'll stick with the FWSO. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas but this is one area where I can see just how much the cities differ.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Backyard Garden

Dr. S, whose house I'm staying in while she's globetrotting, has quite the backyard garden, full of fruits and vegetables. I've been doing a lot of watering lately and it's good to see that the plants are happy and healthy....and productive! Above are the blackberries that are ripening.

These are the grape tomatoes.....

And these flowering vines will eventually produce beans, I think. How cool is all that?!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crazy Cat!

My cat, Sybella, has moved with me, though she now has a roommate. She doesn't know she has a roommate, though, as she's been confined to the bedroom this past week. She's itching - and clawing - to get out but I have no idea how she's going to react to Dougie. She's a bit of a spitfire - though really sweet - and Dougie is just plain sweet.

Having to sleep in the bedroom where the cat is confined - with food, litter box, and toys - is not always easy. Last night, around eleven, Syb decided to start playing with the blinds. I was having none of it. Don't mess with me after a week of restless, interrupted sleep! I squirted her with water and she bolted.

I was finally able to sleep last night, after that. Sure, I woke up at 4:30 - again - but I went back to sleep until the alarm went off. Yay! Sleep is awesome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Personal vs. Work

There are now cruise pictures on my desk..... Pictures of Mr. Higgins and me. At work.

I'm always hesitant to display too many personal items at work. Work is work. Two prints of the Vatican and the Pantheon, sketched in the sixteenth century, sit on my bookcase and a calendar, given to me by my boss, hangs on the hall. That's about as personal as I get, unless you count my coffeemaker as personal!

The cruise pictures have already caused quite a few questions. I've had to explain the cruise, Mr. Higgins, our relationship.... Geez! People are so nosy!

Everyone seems to agree, though, that we make a good-looking couple. I like that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Good Cry

Yesterday was rough. A combination of multiple sleepless nights, the stress of the move, and the stress of a deadline at work spelled disaster for my day.

The rough days have been few and far between while working mainly from home. Now that I'm back in the office, the potential for such days has risen. Maybe I thought I'd get a grace period or something. Instead, I was hit with one thing after another, before I even stepped outside the house.

Everyone has these days but this is the kind that comes along rarely, at least for me. And, after the stress that had built up for two weeks prior to the move, I was already on the verge of an emotional collapse. Yesterday was the catalyst. Afterward, I went home, watered the plants and then turned into a puddle myself. I had a good, long cry. Ok, several good long cries over the course of the evening. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Conversations and events played over and over in my head and would not stop. There was no one to talk to - no parents or friends - only the cats and few suitable distractions. I'm pretty sure I scared my new roommate - Dougie the Cat - to death!

Did I feel better afterward? No, just drained. But a good cry like that only comes around once in a blue moon. It's like a natural emotional progression.
Today promises to be better, though. And now that I can finally settle into my new home, my stress level will decrease exponentially. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Around the Corner

I had a lovely first evening back in the big city with Mr. Higgins on Saturday. After I finished shopping and doing a bit of unpacking, Mr. Higgins arrived and we walked to dinner.

Let me see if you read that correctly... We walked to dinner.

I've never walked to dinner before! Well, on vacation, sure, but not from my home! It was amazing and cool and utterly addicting. There are numerous restaurants within walking distance and I can't wait to go again!

It turned out to be a really good thing as I had the strongest margarita of my life that night. Yep, one little margarita and I could barely walk home! It was a bit scary.....and addicting. It's rare that you get your money's worth with margaritas but that $6 was worth three run-of-the-mill margaritas! Awesome!

So, in case you haven't picked up on it, I'm enjoying my new abode. More on the cats later!

Monday, May 17, 2010


A short post for this Monday....

I'm settling into my new home in the big city. It's a slow process but it's going as well as can be expected. It's definitely exciting to be back in the place I've considered to be home for four years now. And it's super nice to be close to Mr. Higgins.

More tomorrow as I'm unpacking and settling in today!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Storm Damage

While I was in the Caribbean a few weeks ago, there was quite a storm in East Texas. Trees, limbs, and signs were all blown down and around. My parents were without power for over twenty-four hours. Some say it was a tornado.... I have no idea but for the first time we had real damage.....

A section of our fence at the front of the property was brought down - crumpled, really - by a tree. My parents found it blocking the driveway and had to chop it up before they could leave the house!

I didn't notice until several days later that this tree - already dead - did not fall down at the base. Instead, this part broke off from halfway up the tree! So half the tree is still standing.

The tree is now gone - hauled away, in part, by yours truly - and the gate is also gone and soon to be replaced. I love trees but they're quite a pain in the butt when they topple over.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In lieu of....

I have a few pics to show you but I'm having issues getting those pics off my camera. Sigh.

Instead, I give you this editorial on the crisis in the Church. It's a few weeks old, but still pertinent. And yes, I'm still attempting to come to grips with all this. It's not an easy process.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Moving Day!

I've waited a very long time for this day....the day I get to move back to the big city.

Starting on Friday, the craziness of moving will begin, though, truth be told, I've been stressed out about the upcoming move for a week. My schedule has been crazy, work has been crazy... When will it end?!

If all goes according to plan, it will end on Tuesday when I will wake up in the big city and go to work like a normal person. My commute will be ten minutes. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible

It took me a while, but I finally finished Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible last week. It was an epic tale and a brilliant story.

It begins when a family from the southern United States moves to the Congo. The preacher father has decided to become a missionary to the peoples of Africa. From the start, I knew I wouldn't like this guy and I didn't....but, then, I'm not meant to like him. His four daughters and wife must completely change their way of life when they move across the world....but in end, Africa changes them. The trials they encounter and unlike any they have known - starvation, poverty, wild weather, death, malaria, polygamy....

Kingsolver tells her story mainly through the varying eyes of the four daughters - each one altogether different but all impacted by their childhood experiences in the Congo. In the end, two will stay in Africa indefinitely while two will drift away...and back.

I'd never read much fiction about Africa but this was a great place to start. Here I was avoiding Oprah's Book Club picks, but she did well with this one. It was a captivating read and the end left me truly speechless. I highly recommend it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Castillo

After a week on the cruise ship, we were back in San Juan. We had the day to spend there before we could even check in to our hotel, so went to see some forts. The first was Castillo de San Cristobal.

This fort was massive and the views were incredible.

San Juan, and the capital building, were on display for us.

I don't know what these round look-out towers are called but they were awesome. A great place from which to shoot arrows....or guns.

We tried but were unable to make our way to the other fort. Having three cruise ships in port really makes for a busy, congested city. Public transportation was maxed out.

The water, even as close as Puerto Rico, was some of the most beautiful I'd ever seen. I can't wait to go back. My sunburn is still peeling and I'm ready to plan the next cruise. Ha!

Friday, May 7, 2010

St. John, Part Two

Of all the beaches and bays St. John had to offer, Maho Bay was my favorite. It was the most secluded, the most private, and the loveliest.

Here it is from an overlook - just gorgeous!

I'd never seen trees so close to the water but the effect was incredible - and picturesque. The sand and water were perfect - there was nothing marring their natural beauty.

After swimming at Maho, we headed to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins. These were really neat, especially for someone like myself who likes old stuff!

There were some awesome views here but I was also fascinated by the trees and flowers....

Talk about a perfect flower! I wish we had these at home!

We continued our drive around the island and our next stop was an overlook above Coral Bay.

And another view of Coral Bay and the other US Virgin Islands. This was truly a magical place! I've rarely seen such beauty!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

St. John, Part One

On the morning after our second Sea Day, we docked at St. Thomas. Instead of exploring that island, Mr. Higgins and I hopped on a ferry to St. John. This jewel of an island took my breath away. The ferry docked in Cruz Bay (above) and I immediately fell in love with St. John.

Unlike St. Thomas, St. John is completely undeveloped. Cruz Bay's downtown was tiny and quaint - picturesque and perfect.

Our first stop on our tour of the island was Hawksnest Bay.

We jumped out of the car to take pictures here but not much else. Better beaches awaited us!

Next up was the popular beach, Trunk Bay. We only took pictures here.

The day began with scattered showers but my spirits refused to be dimmed. The scenery was just amazing!

We stopped at the more secluded Cinnamon Bay and had a lovely swim. Mansions dotted the hills surrounding this bay. What I wouldn't give for one of those! To wake up to this every morning would be heaven!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Dominica (dom-in-ee-ka) was our next stop and was definitely unique. Gone were the deserts and dryness of Aruba and Curacao. Dominica is a rain forest and reminded me greatly of Hawaii.

Once we got off the ship, we met up with our local tour guide and headed to Emerald Pool, about an hour's drive from Roseau. We hiked through dense forest to get to the pool and it was absolutely beautiful.

The pool and waterfall were stunning - like something out of a dream or movie. Just gorgeous! Thankfully, we beat the crowds and had the place mostly to ourselves.

It was definitely strange to go from beaches to waterfalls and this island really brought back memories of Maui and the Road to Hana.

Our next stop was Trafalgar Falls - two waterfalls at this one spot. It was really crowded here - the typical tourist spot - so we didn't stay long. It was beautiful, but would have been better with fewer people.

Our final stop on Dominica was a look-out point. Roseau and the Caribbean was spread out before us and the water never looked so gorgeous!

As we left Dominica, the peaks on the island (the highest is 4500 feet!) were so dissimilar from everything we'd seen so far..... I was mesmerized. Now, I'm really wanting to do a Hawaii cruise!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Second Sea Day

Once we left Curacao, Mr. Higgins and I went in search of the sunset. Though it was cloudy, this sunset actually became quite beautiful.

And it just kept lighting up the sky long after the sun had set. It was gorgeous!

So, what do you do on a day spent at sea? Well, these are days of rest after busy port days, so you sleep in. And then you get coffee! Ha!

Then you lay out by the pool....or you do my variation - lay out by the pool, in the shade, with a book. Perfect!

When you need to stretch your legs, you take a walk around the ship, camera in hand. We were still amazed at how calm the waters were - like a lake!

And, finally, you watch another sunset. That's a full day onboard!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Curacao was a really cool place - cool port, cool vegetation, and awesome beaches. Also....flamingos! Look closely above....those are real-life flamingos!

Our destination for the day was Playa Porta Mari - a beach with crystal-clear water and fantastic snorkeling. It was definitely one of the most spectacular beaches I've ever seen.

We camped out in some shade and this was our view for the day. Not bad, eh?

We hiked up around the beach and this was our reward.... A wonderful view of Playa Porta Mari. I've never seen anything like it!

Back on the ship - where I discovered I had a nasty sunburn - we watched our sail away. Curacao had interesting Dutch-influenced architecture but the rest of the island was not all that pretty. The beaches were great, but the land itself was like a desert.

It was a wonderful day and the snorkeling was amazing. We must have spent about three hours in the water. Awesome!