Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet our new priests

This is the story I wrote about our three new priests, ordained last Saturday.

Three to be ordained priests May 27

On Saturday, May 27, three men will be ordained priests in the Diocese of Lincoln. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz will celebrate the Mass of Ordination at 11 a.m., during which Deacons Lothar Gilde, Lee Jirovsky and Nicholas Kipper will become priests.

Deacon Lothar Gilda

The son of Hans and Shirley Gilde, Deacon Gilde and his two older sisters were raised in Saint Teresa parish in Lincoln. He was in seventh grade at the parish school when his science teacher asked the children to consider their future careers. First on Deacon Gilde’s list was “astronaut.” Second was “priest.”

“I had this idea that I could be the first priest in space,” he laughed.

Instead, Deacon Gilde graduated from Pius X High School and studied engineering at college. The summer before his sophomore year, he toured Saint Gregory the Great Seminary and was asked when he would be enrolling. “Maybe in a couple of years,” he answered.

However, home on break less than a year later, Deacon Gilde served with Father Ryland (then assistant pastor of Saint Teresa parish), who encouraged Deacon Gilde to consider the priesthood more seriously. The young man soon found himself telling his parents he would be applying to seminary.

“There was a moment of silence,” he remembered. “Then they said I had their blessing.”

Deacon Gilde found the formation process to be humbling in some ways. “The Church is so rich, even someone who has been studying the Church for seven years can’t understand all of it,” he admitted.

He is eager to serve as a priest, especially, he says, “celebrating the Mass with fervor…It’s the greatest prayer and greatest activity that can take place at any moment, the most exciting moment of our day. I just hope I can communicate that.”

Deacon Lee Jirovsky

For Deacon Lee Jirovsky, the call to the priesthood came with a mop and a bucket.

He was the Newman Center’s part-time janitor while studying engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There was something about this role – not to mention the example and encouragement he received from both Msgr. Leonard Kalin and his successor, Father Robert Matya – that led Deacon Jirovsky to understand, “God was calling me to a life of service.”

The news was something of a surprise to his parents, Carl and Ellen Jirovsky of Saint Vincent de Paul parish in Seward.

“They did not see the conversion that had taken place while I was at school, but they were open to it,” Deacon Jirovsky explained. When he enrolled at Saint Gregory the Great Seminary, he was able to interact with his parents and two younger siblings more frequently, and their support continued to grow.

“Our relationship grew deeper, too,” Deacon Jirovsky said of his parents. “Faith in the vocation has to be given to parents, too, because it is a sacrifice for them as well.”

He compared his formation process to the forging of a sword, a painstaking process of furnaces and grinders. Now he is anxious, “to being the good work that God wants me to do. Whatever the Bishop wants…anywhere in Southern Nebraska.”

For his own part, he hopes he will be able to “maintain a good balance of zeal and contemplation. It’s important to stay close to our Lord and draw from His strength.”

Deacon Nicholas Kipper

Growing up in Cathedral of the Risen Christ parish, Deacon Nicholas Kipper looked at the example set by many fine priests over the years and always thought, “I want to be like them.”

The oldest of Dennis and Maureen Kipper’s four children, he attended Cathedral school and Pius X High School, where he started to pray the Rosary more regularly as his teachers instructed him about the spiritual benefits and graces received from the devotional.

Through this practice, he believes, “The Blessed Mother guided me to see the possibility of this vocation…I really felt I had this call to the priesthood to help souls reach fulfillment in Christ.”

During a year at university, where Deacon Kipper spent a great deal of time at the Newman Center, he discerned his calling more clearly and soon enrolled at Saint Gregory the Great seminary.

His parents met the news with great support. “They were a big part of my vocation,” he explained. “There was always a kind of openness to vocations – wherever God led any of us.”

Though there are aspects of the priesthood that Deacon Kipper finds daunting – “Being a priest is really about acting in the persona of Christ,” he said – he is overjoyed at the prospects of being able to offer Mass. He enjoys teaching and hopes to do that in the assignment he will receive from the Bishop following his ordination, but he welcomes any task. “Just to be out there and to help people grow closer to God.”

All three ordinands hope the people of the Diocese will remember to pray for them.

“Priests need a lot of prayer,” Deacon Gilde said.

Deacon Jirovsky also asks for people to pray “for more men to answer God’s call to the priesthood.”

Becoming a priest, added Deacon Kipper, “…really changes who you are. My weaknesses are always before me. I have to rely on God’s grace to always be with me”

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I was completely horrified to read that a Nebraska district judge refused to send a convicted child molestor to prison because he was TOO SHORT. She felt he couldn't survive prison, she said, so she sent him home with an electronic monitoring device and told him not to hang out with kids under 18 and to discard all his porn.

ExCUSE me, what planet is she from?!?!?!?!?!

"I truly hope that my bet on you being OK out in society is not misplaced," she told the CONVICTED sex offender.

None of us will know...until he hurts another child. Why is THAT okay?


UPDATE: Our attorney general, Jon Brunning, has pledged to make sure this fellow really does go to jail. I heard him on the radio last night saying, "We've already got people under 5'1" in the state penn, and they are surviving just fine."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Give me your tired, your poor...

In the release of President Bill Clinton's papers, apparently, there is a letter begging him to promote RU487 as a means of eliminating poor people

I wonder why sharing our excesses with them so they can eat, find shelter and be educated was out of the question?


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Happy Camper

I had a photo shoot and interview with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz this a.m. (I'll post the story here after it is published.) He was kind enough to give me a copy of his book, A Shepherd Speaks. I was audacious enough to ask him to autograph it for me, and he did.

Made my day!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

For the "Stuff I'd Rather Not Know" file...

Sparki (reading to the girls): ...People who fish for sharks need to be careful. Sometimes a shark can look like it's dead, but then it will wake up and bite!

Edyn: Like Lola? She wakes up and bites, too.

Sparki: [siiiiiiiiiiiigh]


Monday, May 08, 2006

Pray for vocations!

I meant to post this yesterday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, but I was awfully busy. So here it recently published article about the life of three religious sisters in our Diocese.

A Day in the Religious Life

Sunday, May 7, is World Day for Prayer for Vocations. Pope Paul VI designated the Fourth Sunday of Easter as an opportunity to remember and pray for those called to the priesthood and consecrated life, and to encourage and pray for those whom God may be calling to serve.

Among the religious sisters serving in the Diocese of Lincoln, Mother Agnes of the Cross, O.C.D., belongs to the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a contemplative order in Valparaiso. Sister Kathy Ruzicka, M.S., works as a certified nursing assistant at Saint Joseph Villa in David City. Sister Vilma Loquez, F.A.S. teaches religion at Saint Joseph School in York. Each shared her daily schedule to provide a glimpse of what it is like to serve Christ and His Church as a religious sister.

4:00 a.m. Sister Kathy’s alarm rings. She starts her day with a holy hour.

4:30 a.m. Mother Agnes awakens.

5:00 a.m. The Carmelites begin Lauds. Afterwards, they spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. “What makes our order different from others,” Mother Agnes says, "is the fact that we actually live with our Lord."

6:00 a.m. Sister Vilma awakens and enters her morning hour of prayer. Meanwhile, Sister Kathy arrives for work at Saint Joseph Villa, where she is assigned to the unit for residents with dementia. She helps them dress and fixes their hair. “I see Jesus in them so much,” she says.

6:40 a.m. Mother Agnes says Primes.

7:00 a.m. Mass begins at the Carmelite chapel, followed by Terce, then breakfast.

8:10 a.m. Sister Vilma attends Mass.

8:30 a.m. Mother Agnes beings a work period. Each Carmelite will do housework, care for the farm animals, sew or make scapulars in silence so as not to disturb one another’s prayerful focus on the Lord.

8:45 a.m. Much of Sister Kathy’s day is spent helping the residents feel comfortable. They sing, stroll the corridors, discuss Bible passages, pray the Rosary... Often, Sister Kathy simply holds their hands and listens. “We go into their world,” she explains.

She recounts the time a former resident wanted her to help him plow a field safely. “I just sat next to him on the couch doing my charts, and I’d look up now and then and say, ‘Watch out for that log,’ or something.” The gentleman would thank her and continue “plowing” happily.

9:00 a.m. Sister Vilma takes her desk in the school library, where she selects hymns for the next Mass, prepares art materials or completes other tasks for the teachers.

10:30 a.m. Sister Kathy accompanies residents to Mass in the chapel.

11:00 a.m. Sister Vilma eats lunch. Mother Agnes begins Sext, followed by another visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Then she examines her conscious before proceeding to dinner.

12:00 p.m. Sister Kathy assists residents with lunch. She watches how much they eat, since patients with dementia often have trouble consuming enough calories.

The Carmelites have dinner, which according to European custom is the biggest meal of their day.

12:15 p.m. Sister Vilma teaches religion to third-graders.

12:20 p.m. The Carmelites begin an hour of recreation, during which they circle together to chat while doing handiwork. “Sometimes it’s as if the floodgates open,” Mother Agnes reveals. “We make a lot of noise!”

12:45 p.m. Sister Vilma enters the sixth grade class, where she relies on her story-telling ability to capture the students’ attention.

1:20 p.m. Mother Agnes and the other Carmelites begin a quiet hour of siesta.

1:30 p.m. Sister Vilma teaches religion to second-graders, who received their First Communion this spring. She loves answering the questions these children pose.

“Once,” she confides, “I was talking about how something that would be a venial sin for them might be a mortal sin for me, because I am a sister, and one of the children said, ‘But you don’t sin.’”

She giggles at the memory. “I told her, ‘I am not an angel!’”

2:20 p.m. Mother Agnes says None, followed by the Rosary.

2:30 p.m. Sister Vilma heads to the fifth grade room. Sister Kathy signs out for the day, but she often remains at the Villa or the annexed Saint Joseph Assisted Living Center, chatting with residents before heading home to rest.

Caring for people afflicted with dementia all day is strenuous – and in fact, it was the one task that Sister Kathy had hoped never to be given. But she honestly loves her job. The residents, she says, “are carrying Christ’s cross now…It’s made me realize the awesomeness of Redemption.”

3:10 p.m. Mother Agnes reads the Bible or other spiritual works for about a half hour. One afternoon a week, Father Christopher Goodwin treats the sisters to a Latin class.

3:15 p.m. School ends in York. Sister Vilma leads choir practice once a week. Other days, she heads straight outdoors to garden. She and Sister Mercy have planted flowers everywhere they can, which are used to decorate the altar for Mass. “I love to garden,” Sister Vilma exclaims. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, she takes some time to clean house, handle personal tasks or rest.

3:45 p.m. Another work period begins for Mother Agnes.

4:00 p.m. Sister Kathy prays the Rosary and examines her conscience.

4:20 p.m. Mother Agnes instructs her nine novices, who are from all over the country. “Something resounds in their hearts and they find themselves at our doorstep,” Mother Agnes says. She remembers how she herself was “really attracted to prayer…It’s like staring into the heart of our Lord, and doing good works for the Lord over the whole world. It’s really very exciting.”

4:30 p.m. Sister Vilma fills her afternoon prayer time with adoration, the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.

5:00 p.m. Mother Agnes says Vespers. “More songs, more Latin,” she laughs. Afterwards, the Carmelites go before the Blessed Sacrament for another holy hour.

5:15 p.m. Sister Kathy joins the other Marian sisters for evening prayers.

6:00 p.m. Dinnertime for Sister Vilma and Sister Kathy.

6:20 p.m. A small evening meal is served at the Carmelite.

6:30 p.m. Sister Vilma often spends her recreation time reading spiritual writings.

7:00 p.m. Sister Kathy begins night prayers, except on Wednesdays, when she teaches CCD in nearby Dwight and prays after class.

7:15 p.m. Another hour of recreation for the Carmelites. They have no newspapers, television or radio, but their prioress will occasionally read aloud from the Bishop’s weekly column or an address from Pope Benedict XVI. They learn about major world events when people call the Carmel to request prayer. Without news photos and video footage, Mother Agnes says, they are better focused in prayer.

8:00 p.m. Sister Kathy enjoys recreation with the other sisters or a free night on her own.

8:15 p.m. Mother Agnes begins Compline.

9:00 p.m. Sister Vilma says night prayers. Sister Kathy and the other Marian sisters enter Grand Silence until after morning prayers the next day.

9:15 p.m. The Carmelites say Matins.

10:00 p.m. Mother Agnes retires to her cell for a half hour of personal time before bed. Sister Vilma turns in “when I’m sleepy.” Meanwhile, Sister Kathy makes herself turn out the lights, in obedience to her superior and her spiritual director. She’ll only get six-and-a-half hours of sleep, but she gives the impression that if she could stay up later and do more, she would.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Fast Food Horror

Jeff was kind enough to send me this link about what I would call the hidden dangers of fast food. He suggests that we read all of it – I agree. A few excerpts with my comments follow:

"Children are important because they not only represent a significant percentage of our customers," a Burger King spokesman said, "but they also have an incredible influence on what fast food restaurant their parents will choose."

Not in my house, they don’t. My husband and I are the parents. Our kids get what we decide they get, and that includes the realms of food and toys.

We don’t have to give into our kids, really. We don’t get a lot of fast food because it’s (a) not healthy, (b) expensive and (c) usually more time consuming than staying home to make a nutritious sandwich. We do, on quite rare occasions, go to a fast food store when we are out, Lola’s blood sugar is running low, there are no lines and we can buy healthy options off the menu. That’s less than once a month. (And my husband just called after reading the article and said “We’re never going to a fast food restaurant again!” So maybe it will be never from now on.)

The average American child now spends about 25 hours a week watching television. That adds up to more than 1.5 months, non-stop, of TV every year.

My kids spend MUCH less time than that – I would say maybe 2-3 hours a week watching public TV (no commercials) and another 2-3 hours a week watching videos (also no commercials).

The commercials are designed to pique a child’s desire. The fewer commercials they watch, the better.

During the course of a year, the typical American child watches more than 40,000 TV commercials. About 20,000 of those ads are for junk food: soft drinks, sweets, breakfast cereals and fast food.

All the more reason to NOT let kids watch television with commercials!

"The key to attracting kids," one marketing publication says, "is toys, toys, toys."…Children's meals often come with different versions of the same toy so that kids will nag their parents to keep going back to the restaurant to get a complete set.

Again, not in my house! I hate those little toys. A couple of our local fast-food chains no longer give toys, but ice cream or points to ear a prize like a t-shirt. That’s where we go, if we go.

On the bottom of these toys you often find the phrase "Made in China". Too often the lives of the workers who make Happy Meal toys are anything but happy.

More evidence we should all boycott fast food restaurants!

McDonald's now tries to ensure that children aren't employed to make its toys. But the company hasn't done much to increase the wages of the workers at Chinese toy factories. Low wages are one of the things that keep Happy Meal toys so cheap.

In fact, low wages are at the heart of the whole enterprise…

…Between 1968 and 1990, the years in which the fast food chains grew at the quickest rate, the real value of the minimum wage fell by almost half.

This disdain for employees really is evil, and I don’t use the word lightly. I am proud to say I have not eaten at McDonalds for many years, and I don’t plan on ever eating there again.

…if you wanted to make a strawberry milkshake at home, here's all you'd need: ice, cream, strawberries, sugar and a touch of vanilla.

Now take a look at the ingredients you might find in a fast-food strawberry milkshake: milkfat and nonfat milk, sugar, sweet whey, high-fructose corn syrup, guar gum, monoglycerides and diglycerides, cellulose gum, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, citric acid, E129 and artificial strawberry flavour.

And what does that "artificial strawberry flavour" contain?

Just these few yummy chemicals: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl- 2-butanone (10% solution in alcohol), ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, undecalactone, vanillin and solvent.

If that doesn’t scare you off a fast-food milkshake – or fast food in general -- nothing will.

Parents, please, please, PLEASE look out for your kids. Skip the fast food. Eat at home. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it tastes better and you can teach your kids to help.


Texas Ranch House

Did you watch this series on PBS? If not, they’re probably replaying it on your local station sometime this weekend.

I’m a sucker for shows like that. I love American history, especially when delivered in interactive form (which is why I love visiting historic sites). I have often wished I could step into a time machine and head back to a given era, just so I could see if I could hack it. And that’s what this “house” series is like on PBS.

“The 1900 House” was the first edition, and I immediately fell in love with the format of the show. A modern family is “sent back in time” to live as our ancestors did, with period clothing, food, tools, etc. It’s interesting to see how different people struggle with different aspects. Invariably, modern women feel oppressed by the roles of their historic forebears. They resist the clothing, the relentless housework, the social morés, etc. I’d like to think that I could deal with the social mores and even the housework (seeing as how I don’t have a dishwasher or a garbage disposal in my 21st century life!), and that I’d adjust to the clothing, but it’s not something you know unless you get out and do it.

See why I like the series so much?

Spoilers will follow, so stop reading if you want to see the series for yourself before reading my opinion!

In “Texas Ranch House,” we have 15 people living as an 1867 ranch family and workers. Five are the family; the other ten are the workers. One woman is a servant; the other four are family. One man is family; the other nine are workers.

I know they typically get lots of applicants for these programs, and the producers do seem to take care in casting people who are eager for the experience as well as articulate enough to give good interviews. They also seemed to gravitate toward people who have a connection to the era – in this case, one of the ranch hands was a descendant of one of the founders of the Pony Express. The ranch owner’s wife was the descendant of a Texas ranch family whose mother was brutally killed by Native Americans, retaliating against the intrusion on their land.

In modern times, Mr. Bill Cooke, the ranch owner, has some sort of upper management position in a Southern California hospital (I’ve seen it listed as two different things on the Internet, so I’m not going to claim one or the other). Mrs. Lisa Cooke is a stay-at-home mom who runs the drama program at the family’s Baptist church. The three daughters – all quite beautiful -- were aged 19, 17 and 14 during filming. They are Vienna, Lacey and Hannah.

For their housekeeper, a young anthropology student who is all about “gender issues” was hired to be the “girl of all work.” I got the feeling that she was kind of set up to feel oppressed and rebellious. Had they hired a demure girl who embraced tough labor without caring whether or not she was doing “girl” tough labor or “guy” tough labor, it wouldn’t have made for very interesting footage. Sorry, Maura Finkelstein – I know you thought you were out there blazing trails, but you were really just the producers’ pawn, and you fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

The ranch staff included a curmudgeonly former military guy as foreman who was rapidly fired for picking a fight with the cook. The bunkhouse cook, who is a trained chef from New York, crumbled under the pressure of everybody expecting fantastic food while he had no clue how to manage in the rustic outdoor kitchen. (Honestly, I wouldn’t either. The only successful cook in this entire series of programs was the French chef who was hired to run the kitchen on "Manor House". He had done his homework before showing up and knew what to do. Consequently, he did a very fine job, even though he annoyed the heck out of everybody. The "1940s House" women learned to cook in the long run, which was great, but they were really unprepared.)

The bunkhouse cook was also fired rather quickly, and Shaun Terhune, the youngest cowboy, was forced to hang up his saddle and take to the kitchen.

After the foreman was fired, the only guy in the bunkhouse who had a clue, Robby Cabezuela, was promoted to foreman. He did a fine job training and leading the ranch hands, a motley mix of a couple of immigrants, a couple of local guys. One poor fellow, Ian Roberts, ended up leading the program early when he was sent news that one of his best friends was tragically killed back home.

The cowboys were far from perfect. They had moments of laziness. And how hard is it to build yourself a three-sided cart and wheel the manure away so that you don’t have a major fly infestation that endangers the health of humans and livestock alike?

That leaves us with the Cookes. They are a very nice family, the type you would love to have as your neighbors. They are all intelligent, articulate and loyal…to each other, anyway. I was appalled at their treatment of the ranch hands. When the Cookes arrived at the ranch, they directed the hands to carry their belongings a mile up the road to the house without so much as a how-do-you-do, let alone a glad-to-be-working-with-you. They completely ignored the men as if they were not men, but robots or some other sort of mindless machinery that served a purpose. That was a bad way to get started.

Unfortunately, it got worse. Mr. and Mrs. Cooke were consistently condescending to the ranch hands, and to Robby in particular, even though he was running a successful operation. They made promises and broke them. They showed amazing favoritism toward Maura and complete disdain for the work accomplished by the ranch hands.

Oh, once in a while they took little stabs at being nice to the ranch hands, but it was always in such a condescending way.

The worst of it all was what Mr. Cooke did to ranch hand Jared Ficklin. Toward the end of the project, Jared approached Mr. Cooke about wanting to buy the horse he had been riding. Mr. Cooke had bought the horse for $24. Jared wanted $25 deducted from his one and only payday in exchange for the horse. Mr. Cooke thought about it, consulted with his wife, and agreed to the deal. On payday, the horse would become Jared’s. They shook on it.

Not long after that, Robby and Jared were riding the line when they stumbled upon a Comanche camp and a couple of horses stolen from the Cooke Ranch sometime earlier.

Now, back in 1867, the Comanche were so angered by the invasion of their territory by white ranchers, they would have killed Robby and Jared on the spot. But today’s Comanche are more peace-loving. Michael, the Comanche chief, sent Robby back to Mr. Cooke to set up a negotiation for cattle vs. horses, keeping Jared hostage.

When the negotiations came, Mr. Cooke knew he was over a barrel and begrudgingly settled on trading 25 head of cattle for 4 horses. Then Michael wanted to negotiate for Jared, but Mr. Cooke refused.

Did you get that? Mr. Cooke refused to negotiate for Jared’s life, even though Michael made it plain that Jared's life with the Comanche would be very short. Mr. Cooke’s position was that he didn’t “negotiate with terrorists” (a HUGE insult to the Native Americans, since they were here first and could easily make a case that Mr. Cooke was invading THEIR nation, not the other way around).

The ranch hands were torqued. After all Jared’s hard work, Mr. Cooke didn’t care one iota about the man’s life. That’s just wrong.

In the end, the Comanche liked Jared so much (he seems to be a very nice guy), they just let him go. He returned to the ranch and completed the cattle round-up and drive successfully.

Mr. Cooke pulls some other numbers, too. When he made Shaun cook, it was on the understanding that another cook would be found so that Shaun could do the cattle drive as a cowboy. Instead, Mr. & Mrs. Cooke promote Maura, the maid, to cowboy. So all of Shaun’s hard work is rewarded with – nothing but a broken promise. That’s bad management. If your employees work hard, you reward them by upholding your end of the deal. Not that the Cookes care about honoring their promises!

Mrs. Cooke shows so much disdain for Shaun when he approaches Mr. Cooke and asks him to uphold his promise, she refers to Shaun as a “19-year-old boy…” I’d lay money on it, had anybody referred to her daughter as a “19-year-old girl” with the same amount of disgust, Mrs. Cooke would have been all over them, demanding that they recognize Vienna is a “young woman, not a girl.” But no similar respect for Shaun.

On payday, Mr. Cooke, who didn’t want to play hardball with the Comanche and didn’t want to play hardball with the Army’s cattle buyer (that guy totally gave in and gave the Cookes a smokin’ good deal that they didn’t deserve, just so they could be successful) – Mr. Cooke suddenly wanted to play hardball with the ranch hands! You know, the guys who had just made the ranch’s first cattle drive successful!

Note to managers everywhere: when your employees do a good job, you reward them. You don’t try to bilk them out of what’s coming to them.

So, the price of horses went up, way up, and Robby’s prize mount was offered at $60. Robby balked and took a lesser horse for $30. One by one, the cowboys went to see Mr. Cooke and were flabbergasted that the price of horses had gotten so high.

Then it was Jared’s turn. Remember now – Jared had a sealed deal to buy his horse on payday for $25. Remember also that Mr. Cooke had refused to negotiate for Jared’s life when he was held hostage by the Comanche, and the Comanche just let him go.

Mr. Cooke sits Jared down and tells him the deal on the horse is off because Mr. Cooke had to “buy” Jared and the horse back from the Comanche.

Are you following this?!?!?!? Unbelievable, isn’t it? Mr. Cooke refused to negotiate for Jared’s life and now he is telling a flat-out lie that he had bought Jared back! He also said something stupid about how since he bought the horse back from the Comanche, it was his horse again.

Uh, no, Mr. Cooke. It was your horse the whole time, up until payday. The day the Comanche took it, it was your horse, not Jared’s, because the deal was that Jared was buying the horse for $25 on payday. But Mr. Cooke is living in a fantasy world, and he threatens to “beat the s*** out of” Jared if he tries to take the horse. Jared says go ahead and try.

So Jared is fired, takes no money and rides away on his horse (because that was the deal – he got his horse on payday for $25). The Cookes call him a horse thief, but there is no beating the s*** out of anybody. There was never any reason to suspect that there would be, because Mr. Cooke is not a man who keeps his word. Mrs. Cooke calls him her hero and gushes about how manly she is. Good gravy -- manly?!?!?!? To treat employees so badly, to break so many promises, to threaten another human with bodily harm and then cower on the shady porch rather than stand up for what you believe in??!?!? That’s not manly, that’s pathetic.

All the other ranch hands except Maura (who is favored among the others) quit and walk out with Jared. Mrs. Cooke says, “They don’t understand – they would not have jobs if it weren’t for ranch owners.”

How can she be so clueless? It’s a two-way street, Mrs. Cooke! You wouldn’t have a ranch without ranch hands, either.

My assessment of the situation is that the Cookes are elitists. They think they deserve everything. They treat their hard-working employees like dirt. They are the type of people who look upon a waitress as somebody who brings food, not somebody who is a daugher, sister, wife, mother, student, etc. They are they type of people who ignore how busy the store clerk is and gripe about not being served properly. They are the type of people who make nasty calls to customer service, cheat their way through this and that, and then go home and say, "We are not bad people..."

Mrs. Cooke, in articles published on the Internet, said she returned home and “hugged her dishwasher.” But the men who worked their tails off all summer to make her ranch a successful one? She has nothing but disdain for them. And when the independent panel of historians assess the ranch and give her objective feedback on where she succeeded and where she failed, Mrs. Cooke just says, “Why are we reading this?” You know she’s just going to toss it off and ignore it, because that’s what elitists do.

It’s a huge problem in this country. Managers, typically in the baby boomer age bracket of 45-60, consistently treat their employees this way, offering rewards and then backing out of the deal. Demanding loyalty, but refusing to show it to the employees. Taking credit for success and refusing to properly compensate the employees who made the success possible.

I used to work for a Mr. Cooke, who suggested I wasn’t doing my job properly when he really had no clue how the job was done – which is what Mr. Cooke did to Robby and the ranch hands. My former boss promised me things and then backed out at the last minute, just like Mr. Cooke did to Shaun. In the end, he decided to get rid of me and trumped up fake charges against me, just like Mr. Cooke did to Jared. I left with my head held high, knowing that I had behaved honorably; I just was working for a bad manager. He’s the cowering one – saw him at a wedding reception last fall, and he couldn’t get out of there fast enough once he saw me. I think he knows that he did not behave honorably, and that’s why he can’t look me in the eye.

My hope is that the Cooke family will have watched themselves on television and realized their folly. I mean, how could they ignore the FACT that Mr. Cooke told the Comanche he would not negotiate for Jared’s life and then turned around and lied to Jared that he had? How could they not see the contrast between Vienna saying they were all lazing around in their underwear taking many naps during the cattle drive and Lacey crying that the men thought they didn’t do any work during the cattle drive? How could they not see the silliness of Vienna complaining that the ranch hands didn’t talk to her when Mr. Cooke had told the foreman himself that he didn’t want the hands socializing with his daughters?

And if you are a manager and watched this program, I hope it will help you gain the objectivity to step back and examine your own dealings with your staff. If they are working hard, are you acknowledging and rewarding them for their work or are you taking credit for yourself? Do you try to "get involved" and end up causing more work because you really don't know how to do what your employees do, like Mr. Cooke did on the cattle drive? Do you recognize that each employee has a life outside of the office – a spouse, kids, a home, bills, interests, etc? Do you uphold your promises or try to weasel out of them when it’s time to make good? Do you foster loyalty by taking the lead and being loyal to your employees? Do you foster respect by showing respect?

The Cookes and any of the other participants in Texas Ranch House are more than welcome to comment here, should they stumble across my blog. Not that they are likely to do so -- I'm just saying.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Best laid plans...

My plans -- and hope -- that praying an abbreviated Rosary as a family during Lent would become a permanent habit came to...well, nothing. We actually quit doing it during Lent and don't ask my why because I have no idea how we fell out of the habit.

Anyway, these words from Archbishop Comastri have spurred me on to resume a daily family Rosary. We've been more "definite" in our encouragement to get Lola to actually kneel down and pray the Our Father with us (as a family) during bedtime, so maybe this round with the Rosary will go a little bit better than our Lenten experience.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Many thanks to God!

I have had the pleasure of hearing great news from some lovely couples who are all expecting babies.

Mr. & Mrs. Rankinstein will have their second baby sometime in late December or early January.

The C family (one of my husband's best friends) are also expecting a second child, a little boy to be born in late August.

And Pansy Moss announced the arrival of baby #6, sometime in mid-to-late December. She's thinking boy, I'm thinking it's about time for another girl. :-)

Prayers continuing for those among us who greatly desire to have another child but as yet have not been so blessed.


Late Breaking Update: Also, many, many, many thanks to God for the arrival of L&L's twins this week -- twins who were very nearly aborted last October, because both mother and father thought that's what the other parent wanted. It's a very long story, but at the last minute -- as L&L were standing in the parking lot of an abortion clinic -- they were stopped for a different reason and eventually came to find out that neither one of them actually wanted the abortion. L&L are both madly in love with the babies now and immensely grateful. God is GOOD!