The Invisible World: a book review

Last December I reviewed a children’s book by Anthony DeStefano, Little Star.  Several months ago, Mr. DeStefano sent me another of his books to read.  I just pulled out the letter he sent, and I’m happy to see it doesn’t have a date on it, so I don’t know how embarrassed I should be about how long it has been sitting on my desk, waiting.  I read the book right away; I just didn’t blog about it.

Unlike Little Star, The Invisible World is not a children’s book.  Subtitled Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us, this book explains the Catholic Church’s teachings of God’s other creatures who were given free will.  Although I do not consider myself ignorant of the world of angels and demons, Mr. DeStefano managed to keep my attention, present new information, and provide a unique perspective on topics to which I had merely given cursory thoughts.  For example, although I pray daily to my guardian angel and have some very concrete examples of times he has helped me, I really had not considered that he would have a unique personality, just as we humans do.

I especially recommend this book to anyone who has little knowledge of angels and the spiritual world and who would like a reliable, Catholic resource.

If you would like to get a free copy of the book for yourself, leave a comment and I will select one person randomly.  Mr. DeStefano offered me a copy to one of my readers, but if that had a time limit which has expired, I will buy a copy myself.

Updated to add a deadline to leave a comment: I’ll randomly pick a name on Thursday morning, Sept 1st.

The Adventures of Beer Man: a book review

It’s not very PC to consider yourself a drinker.  Alcohol has a bad rap, and its consumption is best kept to a minimum in public and polite society.  Think I’m joking?  Not too long ago, at a military ball, an official announcement was made that anyone who had had anything at all to drink had better not be driving.  In part, perhaps, it was done to legally cover their rear ends in case someone was irresponsible and reckless.  But honestly, I get the sense that many people really mean it.  It didn’t matter that dinner was served and possibly hours would pass from the time one might imbibe and one might then drive.  The implied rule is that your BAC had better be ZERO if you intend to drive.

I’m certainly not in favor of drunk driving, and I think we need to be cautious and responsible.  But Bill and I went to dinner last night and each of us nursed a drink – he had a Bass Ale and I had a Strongbow Cider – and I didn’t even consider that he wasn’t fit to drive.  I certainly felt fine myself.  But more often than not, if out with others, I drink water and he hands me the keys.

In The Adventures of Beer Man, Eric Scheske tackles this neo-Prohibitionist mentality with humor and logic.  Roy Tate seems like a nice, mild-mannered fellow.  Secretly, though, he battles the forces of Puritanism, Debauchery and Rastafarianism disguised as Beer Man, who hands out free beers at social events that need a little kick in the pants.  Beer Man doesn’t want everyone to get drunk; he merely wants everyone to have a good time. 

This is not a message in favor of hedonism, a self-gratifying indulgence.  Rather, Beer Man shows that the art of drinking leads to good for others as well.  Drinking a few beers will make you more charitable, less likely to quarrel with your neighbor, more likely to sit a spell and have a pleasant conversation, and more likely to be friendly with strangers you would otherwise ignore.  In other words, proper drinking makes you more sociable and being more sociable means being a better neighbor and being a better neighbor means being more the way God intended us to be.  Drinking makes us virtuous.

It’s a message that won’t sit comfortably with the prudes among us.

I really enjoyed this book and found it to be easy, fun reading.  It is self-published via Kindle which means it is not available to sit on your shelf.  I downloaded it to read on my iTouch, which was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I did have to flip pages every 3 seconds or so, but I got used to it.  I also downloaded the Kindle software for PCs to my husband’s laptop so he can read it, and there is definitely more of a page to view through that medium.  It’s also available through Smashwords, although I’m completely unfamiliar with this site.  The book is only $0.99, and I did pay for it, so I am not making even that money in exchange for this review.

Eric Scheske blogs at The Daily Eudemon, and I’ve been reading him there for years.  If you like The Daily Eudemon, you’ll like The Adventures of Beer Man.  Scheske’s voice is prevalent in his novel.

More photos

After this blog post, I have three book reviews to do.  If you don’t hear from me for a year, it’s because I have vowed to not blog again until they are done.

I want to post some pictures form my camera before I never get them up.

This one is of Fritz and my brother, Glenn.  They had been doing that guy-thing of exchanging smacks and punches and obnoxious insults which men-folk consider signs of affection.  When I brought out the camera to catch them in the act, they decided to pose with smiles and hugs.

This is birthday baklava.  Yummy.

My sister and her family (except for the deployed husband).  You can see (if you look closely) the tinsel in my sister’s and my niece’s hair.

Not a great shot, but shows the tinsel in my hair.  We have the same parents.  Why does she get the easy-to-tan complexion?  Compared to her, I look like a ghost, but I’m tan, I swear.

Barb and Mary.

Katie’s birthday cake, before the meltdown.  TEN candles.  {sigh}

 Peter threatens to help her with the candles.

 But she gets them all in one shot. 

We’re supposed to be moving away in about 6 months.  Fritz’s Scout shirt, which he got as a Webelos II (age 10), was getting a bit small.  I forbade him to grow until we moved, but he did not listen to me.  So, new shirt and lots of patch sewing for me: council patch, troop patch, Arrow of Light, purple world crest patch (why do they not put this on there already??).  All of these were done on the sewing machine.  But two more to go were his rank and his position, both of which go on pockets.

“Do you want to use the pockets?” I asked him.  Of course he did, and he knows the rule: hand-sewn patches are done by the Scout, not the Mom.

I couldn’t get a good (non-blurry) photo (he wasn’t being very patient), but he did the sewing.  Trust me, it’s obvious.

I’m proud of him, even if it looks like a 13 year old boy did it.  I’ll do his Eagle rank, if/when he gets there.

We are a bit disappointed that Hurricane Irene chose to bypass Georgia…by hundreds of miles.  Last night, though, we got to see some of the outer bands zooming by, north to south.  We didn’t get a single drop of rain, but it was neat to see.

Even more neat was that ten minutes later, the sky was clear.

And now it’s just hot and humid.

Working weekend

Ever notice that men write the biggest tear-jerkers?  What is up with that?

We got burnt to a crisp on Friday at Jekyll Island, GA.  It wasn’t a pleasure trip; we were there “on business” at a mandatory fun, family event for my husband’s unit.  Bill had to twist my arm to attend (NOT).

The event was hosted by local businesses and groups, and the media was present.  Here is one article:

Sense of Normalcy

It’s touching.

He still likes me, usually

Last week, there was a mandatory parent-child meeting for 8th grade confirmation students.  We missed it, being in Alabama.

Last night, there was a make-up meeting for the half dozen of us who didn’t make it.  It began at 6:15, 45 minutes before the start of the first class.  Yes, things are in full swing here: football, Scouts, CCD, ballet, piano.  We are back to school.

The meeting covered all the basics that DREs, unfortunately, need to cover: class attendance is required, Mass attendance is required, etc.  We went over the no-electronic-devices policy and the consequence of immediate confiscation until a parent asks for the return if a student is texting or surfing the web during class.  To help keep temptation at bay, they have a basket in which students can place their phones at the beginning of class.

Immediately after the DRE went over the cell phone rules, my cell phone rang.  Small room, and I was right in front of the DRE.  It was Bill, and I was able to quickly “ignore” his call and put my phone on vibrate, which was good because after I failed to answer he called again.  The timing was perfect. 

After the meeting, I called him back, and he was very apologetic having remembered where I was and why I wasn’t answering.  The whole thing was too funny for me to be annoyed.


Class goes until 8:30.  I went to the grocery store and got back a few minutes early.  Like any good Catholic parking lot, cars were backed into spots or lined up ready for a quick getaway.  Since Fritz did not attend CCD last year, we didn’t have a pre-arranged pickup plan.  I decided to go into the parish center where the classrooms are, and wait for him there. 

As he came out of the classroom, the pastor and the teacher were reminding the students: “Don’t forget your phones!”

“Don’t forget your phone,” I said to Fritz.

“I didn’t bring the phone,” he said, looking at me as though I had lost my marbles, since, of course, I knew he didn’t have the “kid phone” we finally broke down and bought.

“Would you like to bring that phone every week so that you can drop it in the basket like everybody else?”

“No.”  Now he was sure I was crazy.  But I moved the conversation along.

“Do you want me to come in when I pick you up?” I asked.

“Into the classroom?”  I detected a note of worry.

“No…into the parish center.  Or would you prefer that we figure out a meeting place in the parking lot?”

“Oh, I don’t care,” he said, relieved that I wasn’t coming into the classroom.

“I’m just asking because lots of kids your age are embarrassed by their parents.  Do I embarrass you?”

“Not all the time,” he said.

Aha.  This is the first time he admitted being embarrassed at all.  I have tried really hard not to be too kissy/huggy at drop offs to camp, but he seriously can’t expect his mother to not tell her son she loves him before he goes away for a whole week, right?

I’m just happy that I only embarrass him some of the time.  I’m also happy I wasn’t the only parent going inside for pickup.

Waste not, want not

I’m working hard to downsize our liquor supply.  It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.  (Why, you may ask, must I do such a thing?  The main targets are a few of the duplicate bottles we happen to have, gifted to us, or accidentally purchased.  I have two bottles of Jaegermeister, enough to last several lifetimes.  I’ll happily give one away as I do not see me using it in any way, shape, or form.  Any takers?)

One very large bottle of Kahlua is almost empty, and it is the main focus of my energies since I have a smaller bottle almost full, and since tall bottles do not fit well in the cabinet we use for liquor storage.  I can fit some tall bottles in the front, but the rest need to clear the shelf and tuck underneath.  I try to save the tall storage space for things like vodka or rum which are used frequently.

The Kahlua bottle has recipes on the back for White Russians and Mudslides.  I tried a White Russian, and it was ok.  I really wanted to try a Mudslide, but you need Irish Cream for it, and we had none.  So I bought Irish Cream (in a short bottle) to help use up the large bottle of Kahlua.  Does that make any sense?  No, I didn’t think so.  I did like the Mudslide, though.  And it’s always nice to have Irish Cream on hand.

Then I found this recipe: Aunt Eileen’s Kahlua Dessert.  It uses a whole cup of Kahlua.  I think I need to have a party just so I can make this dessert.

I’m also wondering if this recipe for meatballs, which uses Guinness, wouldn’t also taste good with Kahlua.  Any thoughts?

Here’s another potentially good recipe: Easy Sweet Potatoes with Kahlua.  And sweet potatoes are healthy, too.  Really, how could I not try that?

After the Kahlua is gone, I’ve got a bit of tequila to finish off.  I have been negligent in making margaritas this summer.  Bill is off next week, so that seems like the perfect time to chill out.

No top cover

Reforming military pensions is suddenly at the top of the news.  Of course this interests my household since the promise of a pension is a good deal of why we put up with this life.  We also put money aside using the Thrift Savings Plan (like a 401k for federal employees), so the “matching funds” suggestion really has us smiling.

I see, though, that perhaps the government has figured out a different way to reduce pension benefits.

Pentagon: Army improperly tested body armor plates

 I don’t even know what to say. 

Baklava Birthday and other new experiences

“Typing” blog posts on an iTouch is tedious.

I’m celebrating my sister’s birthday with her this week by doing all sorts of new things.

I had my eyebrows threaded. I think it pinched more than waxing. They say it’ll last longer. Since I have fair eyebrows, I only do it a few times a year anyway. Maybe I won’t look as wild the next time I think of shaping them.

I had eyelash extensions done. I looked like a trollop. They were supposed to last up to three weeks, but they were off the next morning. The adhesive was irritating my eyes, so I rubbed them, which loosened the lashes (and got more adhesive in my eyes, making me rub them more). I think they might have been nice if I was going out and was all dolled up, but I just don’t think I can pull off heavy makeup.

I took a zumba class. It’s like aerobics to salsa music. It’s fun, and I would go again with my sister or a friend, but on my own, I prefer the solitude of running. I can see why the classes are popular: it’s great motivation if people know you and expect to see you, or if you pay for a class and you don’t like wasting your money. If you’ve never done it and think you want to try it, I will warn you there’s a learning curve. Expect that it will be 3 or 4 classes before you get the hang of it. I was very happy I was in a back corner, out of the way.

I went to a yoga class. It made my arms sore. I think I need to incorporate more stretching into my weekly exercise routine. I did not worship any false gods while at this class.

I went to a Pilates class. My sister is a YMCA groupie. This class was fine, too. I didn’t mind going, but I don’t see me doing it on my own. At least not at this point in my life.

I had a pedicure. This is not a new experience, but what is new is that I was very very careful with my toesies for a full two hours, so my polish is still mainly intact.

I had tinsel put in my hair. Have you seen this fad? It’s cute. It’s inexpensive. It’s temporary. It’s instantly reversible.

I had baklava as birthday cake. What the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets.

Tomorrow we go to my parents’ house. The kids will hang out with my dad while my sister and I go and play bunco with my mom as part of a church fundraiser. I have played bunco before, but not before noon, which I suspect means there will be no alcohol served, making the event, likely, a bit less rowdy than other bunco events I have attended. Mom promises great prizes, though, and she made potato salad for the luncheon, so I don’t think I’ll miss the adult beverages.

Plus I have a husband at home waiting for me. After all that exercising and late nights watching Downton Abbey with my sister, a single glass of wine at lunch would have me pulling off the road for a nap long before the Georgia state line.