Sunday, March 17, 2019

We're Moving to Maryland! Plus, PHOTO SLIDESHOW!

Our new house in Maryland with Em and Scott and kids. Click the photo for a tour.

It's fitting that my first blog post in awhile feature the house we're moving into very soon. Em and Scott bought this great place at 120 Ballantrae Drive in Elkton, Maryland and moved into it while we were here in Alabama. There's an in-law suite for us and we'll be moving into it posthaste.

Meanwhile, I created a slideshow for Gerry's birthday and posted it to Facebook. But some family members don't use FB so she asked me to make it accessible to them. Brother Wally, this one's for you!

50th Wedding Anniversary Photo. Click to see Gerry's Birthday Slideshow.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Does SB5 permit elective third-trimester abortion in Delaware?

A full-term infant. Third-trimester elective abortion is currently
disallowed in Delaware. Passage of SB5 will change that.
Folks, legislative language is annoyingly tough to suss out. It is easy to misinterpret.  If you've ever watched your legislature debate a bill, you will know how hard even to agree on what the language of the bill means.

That brings us to SB5, the late-term abortion bill up for vote in Delaware. The bill's supporters say there is no late-term abortion bill, that this is just a wee attempt to bring old fashioned language into compliance with federal law.

I don't buy it. I think the abortion industry in Delaware intends to permit elective late-term abortion in the state.  Late-term abortion is already permitted in this state if certified as necessary by either two physicians (medical necessity) or a physician and a psychiatrist (psychological necessity).

I've got no patience for trying to mount an argument. So I'll just let anybody who is interested read the following exchange between a pro-SB5 person (Rep. John Kowalko) and an anti-SB5 person (me, Rae Stabosz). Make your own judgment if you're even patient enough to look for truth. IMO there's very little search for truth in these legislative battles. But in case you want to delve a little.

I. My original post to Representative Kowalko, who favors SB5:

Rae Stabosz

12:11 PM (4 hours ago)
to John.Kowalko, bcc: me
Dear John,
Paul Baumbach, you, and other Delaware House Democratic Caucus members insist that 
SB5 does nothing more than bring DE abortion law into compliance with federal law.
This is false:

1. Federal law allows states to restrict third-trimester abortions.

2. The Delaware code currently allows third-trimester abortions for cases certified medically 
or emotionally necessary. It disallows third-trimester abortions for elective reasons.

3. SB5 removes the requirement for two licensed medical doctors, or one medical doctor and
 one psychiatrist, to certify a third-trimester abortion as necessary for medical or emotional

4. SB5 permits elective late-term abortions in Delaware.

WHY would the Delaware Democrats want to pass a bill allowing late-term abortions for 
reasons of personal choice rather than for medical or emotional necessity?

In poll after poll,  voters say they want reasonable restrictions on abortions done in the third 
trimester of pregnancy. And US voters have long memories.

PLEASE reconsider and change your vote to NO to SB5. 


Rae Stabosz - Newark, DE

II . John Kowalko's reply:

Kowalko, John (LegHall)

Attachments12:56 PM (3 hours ago)
to me
​I want to share this with you.
John Kowalko

From: Deborah Hamilton <>
Sent: Saturday, May 6, 2017 2:06 PM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Cc: Lisa Goodman
Subject: SS1SB5 & late term

John,  I wanted to keep you up to date on the substitute bill that was drafted 
to provide reassurance with respect to informed consent and parental notification
 - SS1 has language that explicitly references the location of existing language that 
remains elsewhere in the Code and is unchanged (not in Title 24, Chapter 17, 
Subchapter IX).  SS1 also adds language to clarify fetal anomaly.

“Late term” abortion question:  SB 5 makes no change regarding the legality or 
practice for late term abortion procedures in Delaware that have been in place
since the Delaware law was ruled unconstitutional per U.S. Supreme Court decisions
of Roe v Wade (1973) and later again in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern 
Pennsylvania v Casey (1992). These cases both require that post-viability exceptions 
be made for the life and health of the mother. Current Delaware law has outdated 
language struck in SB5 “permanent physical deformity or retardation” 
(lines 19 & 20 in SS1) - clearly out of date replaced with updated language regarding
 exception for serious fetal anomaly with the clarifying language below.


1. Inserts reference in SS1 to the existing informed consent language 
in Admin code [lines  84 & 85]
2. Inserts reference the SS1 that SB5 does not change  Tit 24, Chapter 17 
Medical Practice Act, Subchptr VIII Parental Notice of Abortion Act [lines 86 & 87]
3. Adds language in SS1 to further clarify on lines 31-34 “fetal anomalies” - added language
in SS1 displayed in red for you here. [lines 33 & 34]

b) A physician may not terminate, attempt to terminate, or assist in the termination or attempt at 
termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth after viability, unless, 
in the good faith medical judgment of  the physician, the termination is necessary 
for the protection of the woman’s life or health or in the event of a fetal anomaly for which 
there is not a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’s sustained survival outside 
the uterus without extraordinary medical measures.  

III . My reply to Representative Kowalko:

Rae Stabosz

3:29 PM (1 hour ago)
to John

I would like to reply:

I. In the existing Delaware Code, the following language remains intact:(b)  A physician may not terminate, attempt to terminate, or assist in the termination or attempt at termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth after viability, unless the termination is necessary, in the good faith medical judgment of the physician, to protect the woman�s life or health or in the event of a serious fetal anomaly.
However, this language is removed by SB5:

In no event shall any physician terminate or attempt to terminate or assist in the termination
or attempt at termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth unless:
(1) Not more than 20 weeks of gestation have passed (except in the case of a termination
pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section or where the fetus is dead); and
(2) Two physicians licensed by this State, 1 of whom may be the physician proposed to
perform the abortion, certify to the abortion review authority of the hospital where the procedure
is to be performed that they are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that 1 of the circumstances set
forth in subsection (a) of this section exists (except that no such certification is necessary for the circumstances set forth in paragraph (a)(3)b. of this section); where the personal physician of an
expectant mother claims that she has a mental or emotional condition, a psychiatrist licensed by
this State shall, in addition to the personal physician, certify to the abortion review authority of
the hospital where such procedure is to be performed that the physician is of the opinion, formed
in good faith, that 1 of the circumstances set forth in subsection (a) of this section exists (except
that no such certification is necessary for the circumstances set forth in paragraph (a)(3)b. of this
section); and
This means that there is no longer a requirement for two physicians (in the case of medical 
necessity) or one physician and one psychiatrist (in the case of psychological necessity) to 
certify that abortion during the third trimester is necessary.  After these clauses are struck out,
the only requirement is that a single physician--and this can be the prospective abortionist-- 
certify this necessity.

Can you tell me specifically when and where " the Delaware law was ruled unconstitutional per U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Roe v Wade (1973) and later again in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey (1992)."  There may be a presumption that it could be found unconstitutional, but please cite the ruling she refers to above where DE code is explicitly found to be unconstitutional.

I believe the intention behind this bill is to insure that elective abortion is available up to and including viability in Delaware, should it happen that a future Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade as unconstitutional.  

There is NO NEED for this bill at this time. Third trimester abortion is already available for necessity. This bill intends only to bring elective third trimester abortion to Delaware.

^^^^^^^    So there you have it, folks. Legalese doesn't make it easy. But all you    ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    really have to do is ask, "Why amend the code if third trimester abortion ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    is already legal for medical necessity? Unless it is to bring elective         ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    abortion to Delaware?                                                                                       ^^^^

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Eyewitness Account

Hot off the press from the Pauline Laity Blog:

Meister der Braunschweig-
Magdeburger Schule
Public domain, The Yorck Project
Tradition holds that St. Luke used eyewitness testimonies for his account of the Good News. The author makes this perfectly clear in his opening paragraph:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”  (Luke 1: 1- 4, NASB)

First, a confession.  Until (very) recently, and although I have read Luke's Gospel many a Christmas Eve, I never noticed this important opening sequence to his Gospel.  Eyewitness accounts change everything!  Especially when one realizes WHO he was interviewing!  Luke's rendition of Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel, her journey to Bethlehem, and Jesus' birth were not his piecing together of what might have happened but what truly DID HAPPEN!  Before now, I never realized that his use of eyewitness accounts meant that what we are reading is truly MARY'S ACCOUNT of the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity!  This was not someone's idea of what may have occurred but comes from the very source of these precious moments–Mary.  

Anyone who has ever listened to a proud mother share stories of her children, can know and believe the accuracy of Luke's retelling.  This understanding completely transformed how I engaged with Luke's Gospel–and brought me to an even deeper encounter with Christ.  Scripture is so filled with grace that with every reading we are never left the same. As Blessed James Alberione writes, "The Gospel is something divine; it corresponds to all minds; it is capable of meeting all demands, [encompassing] the full embrace of the two sisters in Christ-God: reason and faith.[1]" 

Human artists too help us to encounter Christ.  Visual and creative representations of the Word of God appeal to the senses.  They too raise us to the contemplation of the sacred mysteries.  "By means of visible things we come to the knowledge of God who is invisible," wrote Blessed Alberione, who urged his Paulines to embrace the creative arts: "Dedicate yourselves to embroidery, painting, sculpture, and make progress.  Oh, if only you had skillful painters, skillful sculptors.[2]"  "There is never piety or truth alone, but all things connected together.[3]"

In light of this revelation, I invite you to read Luke's account of the Annunciation below, broken down into dialogue from the Word of God and visual representation from artists through the ages– including the self-portrait the Blessed Virgin herself gave to St. Juan Diego.  Later, consider reading the rest of Luke over this Advent or Christmas season.   Allow yourself to be transported back to Nazareth and Bethlehem: peeking into Mary's world–and the most amazing moments in all of history.  Let these be your Advent reflections as we all await the coming of Christ, both in the season of Christmas on December 25th, 2016 … and in His second coming on a date yet to be revealed.

The Annunciation:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Public domain, Google Art Project.
28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Sandro Botticelli - Annunciazione
Public domain, The Yorck Project
30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.
Hubert van Eyck - Annunciation
Public domain, The Yorck Project
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

Antonello da Messina - Virgin Annunciate
Public domain, The Yorck Project

35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.
Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo - The Annunciation
Public domain, The Yorck Project 

William Brassey Hole, The Annunciation
Public domain,

38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 26-38, NASB)
Photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe tilma
Public domain, uploaded anonymously to Wikimedia Commons
Thoughts to Ponder:

                     The angel appeared to Mary amidst the ordinary of her everyday life.  Jesus wants to come to us not only in the special appointed times we set aside for him; but in every moment of our lives.
                     Mary does not doubt what God can do; but how it will be.  Her question is for clarification although she has already assented to God's Will. Mary's response allows her to be filled with God's grace and peace.
                     Verse 37 – "For NOTHING is impossible with God"such a powerful statement of faith! What in your life do you need those words spoken over?  Where do you need this reminder to restore you peace, so you too can assent to the Will of God in your life? 

May the grace of the mystery of the Annunciation come into your heart as you prepare for the coming of the Lord. May the grace of all the profound mysteries found in St. Luke's inspired recounting of Mary's holy recollections help you this Advent as you make your way to the celebration of Christ's Nativity.

[1] Alberione, Giacomo. Abundantes Divitiae Gratiae Suae, (English title: Charismatic History of the Pauline Family), 198.
[2] Alberione, Giacamo. Ipsum Audite I, 114-115. 
[3] Alberione, Giacomo. Prediche V, 119. 

Allison Gingras is the founder of (RTY); and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the "Words with" daily devotional App Series: Words with Jesus and Words with Mary. Allison offers retreats and talkson: Forgiveness; Works of Mercy; Tru

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Phage -- Do you know what's in the air you breathe or the food you eat?

Go ahead & check it out!
How safe is our food supply? How hard would it be for someone with nefarious intent to infiltrate that food supply at any point along the way?

PHAGE is a bio thriller that speculates on these questions. The answers are not encouraging. Mark Tamplin is an author-scientist whose specialities are microbiology and immunology, and whose vitae include work with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Org. He scares up a nifty little tale about how easy it would be for a bio terrorist to use the technology of gene manipulation to contaminate the nation's food supply in a catastrophic way. 

Far-fetched? I wouldn't say so. As I am writing this review, on May 5, 2016, the FBI reports that it has in custody a man who entered several grocery stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan to spray mouse poison on produce and good bars. That was a localized incident. This past year, national restaurant chain Chipotle has suffered outbreaks of illness caused by e-coli whose origin is still being investigated. Cruise ship populations regularly break out in ship wide mini-epidemics caused by the noro virus. So far, these incidents seem random and easily controlled. But what if a dedicated bioterrorist put his or her mind to the effort?  Could we escape so easily?

Tamplin presents a plausible scenario with enough detail about how to create and disseminate a bio weapon to keep the reader fascinated. 

The opening chapters take us into the guts (sic) of a factory farm in the small town of Wilmer, Alabama. Here, pigs are born, housed, raised, slaughtered and processed in close confinement, all in the service of the most intensive production possible of pork products. This is contemporary agribusiness, the type of animal farming most prevalent in developed countries like the United States. We follow one worker as she goes through a typical day on the job, not knowing that as she sprays water to clean the areas where the pigs are confined, she breathes in a microscopic droplet of water containing a genetically mutated E. coli bacteria that had been purposely merged with DNA from a highly toxic pathogen and left to reproduce. I might not even have the terms right. It’s a fascinating but complex process Tamplin describes. But it only took me a little googling of the CDC to find out that he is right on the money when he writes about the ease with which a pathogen can be introduced to a human population through normal factory farming conditions.

The mutation jumps the factory inside its human host. A small microbial outbreak in Wilmer brings the attention of the CDC, the USDA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA.  We meet Dr. Sam Townsend, academic and professional consultant/troubleshooter of microbial outbreaks, and follow him as he puts together an investigative team from his young graduate assistants. We watch our governmental and scientific bureaucracy in action as key players jockey to advance agendas and politics while Sam tries to get to the truth of the situation. Is this a random event, or is a more nefarious scheme at work?

I am an inveterate reader, and the digital publishing revolution has provided such a profusion of fiction that it would take several lifetimes to read all the novels a real book addict might want to read. This is a blessing and a curse. Part of the curse involves the deterioration of grammar and writing skills among published authors, as well as the lack of real editing from even the biggest publishing companies. I am happy to report that Phage does not suffer from these difficulties. Tamplin knows his way around the English language. The book is tightly constructed, well-written, and bears the marks of professional editing.
Buy it with confidence and have yourself a thrill. And a chill.  

Oh, and another thing I like about this book that is purely personal?  I know and love the locales in which the action takes place!

1) My permanent home is in Newark, Delaware, and I worked for 27 years at the University of Delaware where a main character in the book studied. The Philadelphia area, where I grew up, is the site of a lot of the action. 

2) I have a small second home in Selma, Alabama, near my daughter. The book opens in the rural Alabama area and stays there for its entire first section.

3) My husband and I, now retired, cruise the Caribbean as often as we can, several times each year. The book sends its protagonist to the the Bahamas and the warm islands of the Caribbean!

And I didn't even know any of this going into the book blind. What serendipity!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Steel Cross: The Massacre of Fr. Sebastién Râle and the Indian Chiefs

 In the Shadow of the Steel Cross


By Louise Ketchum Hunt

Reviewed by Onalee McGraw

In this inspiring historic narrative, Louise Ketchum Hunt captures the story of Father Sebastién Râle. Father Râle and the Indian chiefs who tried to protect him were martyred on August 23, 1724 at the site of Louise Ketchum Hunt’s Norridgewock ancestors. In the day there was a raging conflict between England and France for control of the North American lands that belonged to the indigenous Native American tribes. The English put a price on Father Râle’s head because he kept the Native Americans loyal to the French who were headquartered in Quebec. Father Râle was determined to stand by his people, the Wabanackis tribe of what is now the state of Maine.

Louise spent the first twenty-one years of her life growing up in the parish of St. Anne’s Catholic Church on the Penobscot Indian Reservation located at Old Town Maine She learned from her grandmother abut Father Râle and the Norridgewock massacre as the story was passed down through her family’s oral tradition. 

Louise highlights what she remembers her grandmother telling her:

“Our ancestors, a young girl and her brother, escaped the massacre. They made their way to a mission village near Quebec, Canada. Father Râle was not buried at Norridgewock.” Louise recalls her grandmother saying that Father Râle’s body was scalped and desecrated.  Her grandmother said, “The people took Father Râle and buried him in a faraway place where none would ever find him.”

What emerges from this narrative of heroic fidelity to Christ and his Church is a message for our own time.  We are reminded that in days of darkness and of light, this world is not our home. Father Râle gave his life to serve a people, the Algonquin and Wabanackis tribes of the northeastern American continent who were completely dependent in their surroundings on the whims of nature. Father taught them and learned for himself the mystery and beauty of spirituality and nature. He stayed with his people for thirty years, living among them as friend, fellow laborer, teacher, spiritual leader, and giver of the sacraments.

Louise Ketchum Hunt makes the story come alive with her interesting and believable characterizations in this true story. In particular, her account of two young people who find each other while in the grip of the deadly conflict between the English and the French is a warm hearted diversion that blends well with the main story. The author has woven her narrative into a seamless tale of great heroism and sacrifice. 

Buy this book:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book reviews: Strange Worlds + The Devil's Auction

STRANGE WORLDS by Paul Clayton is a fine collection of SF/fantasy stories. Damn fine!

When you load up your Kindle with freebies from unknown authors, you get a mixed bag. You wind up reading a lot of enjoyable but shallow page-turners whose authors you forget immediately. But every now and then, you experience the thrill of discovery. A real writer!

Paul Clayton is that thrill, a writer with chops and depth. In STRANGE WORLDS he spins yarns of future worlds just a heartbeat away from our own. Funny yarns. Thoughtful yarns. Disturbing ones. In this eclectic collection you will find cautionary tales of a future sprung organically from our own technologically rich, spiritually impoverished 21st century.

The cover art for STRANGE WORLDS mimics a classic SF magazine from the 1950. These stories are popular, not esoteric. Like the best classic SF, they speculate about science and culture. This is not an exercise in nostalgia. Let me run through them. The stories vary in length, in tone, in person. There is something for everyone , adding up to a very satisfying experience that you will want to repeat. These stories bear rereading.

"Triumph" is a classic monster tale, but it gets the book off to a slow start. An amorphous Thing has trapped a small town's population in the high school gym and is siphoning off their life's blood. A Catholic schoolgirl and an observant Jewish scientist are the only townspeople left free. What will it take for them to fight It?

"Dog Man" - In life, you've got your dog people and your cat people. Vietnam vet Steven "Cap" Crowley is a dog man. There's just something devious about cats... A nifty creeper folded into the story of a good man trying to be his brother's keeper in one little corner of the world.

"The Thing in the Box" - The UPS man delivers a package to six year old Danny's house. An unforgettable slice of family life that takes place the day after tomorrow. I can't get this one out of my mind.

Day, or Two, of The Dead - a wry take on the zombie tale.

About Our Cats - short and pithy; reminiscent of those Twilight Zone episodes wherein the universe metes out karmic justice.

Remembering Mandy - What is it like to be old and wrinkled in a world where no one ages, with a coveted memory trove from a more leisurely time?

Jimmy Jon and the Avengers - a children's zombie tale.

A Working Man - In a world of casual terrorism and easy sex, what's a girl gotta do to find a boyfriend she can tolerate?

Amything - Cybernetically Assisted Persons (CAPS) represent a technological alternative to the deterioration and death of the physical body. But at what cost? One couple in love find out. A disturbing story about choice and relationship.

The Great Leap Forward - A time travel story about jealousy and gender in the academic world.

The Last Raft - Apocalypse now. Who is the enemy when most of the world is gone?

Christland - Come visit Christland, entertainment park of the future! See the legends and rituals of Christ worshippers!Thrill to the weird rites of now-defunct Christianity reenacted in all their primitive splendor!

Gentle One - a poignant story of function and gender in a tribal world. This one reminded me of a futuristic one-act play from my own Catholic schoolgirl days, when our all-girls school had to choose plays with mostly female roles.

2038: San Francisco Sojourn; The Wrath of God - What if God WASN'T one of us? But something a little more Old Testament-y? Broad and goofy satire of our PC society.

The Devil's Auction by Robert Weinberg

The Devil's Auction is a fast-moving horror tale of the occult arts and the modern sorcerers and sorceresses who use them. It will appeal especially to horror fans who like true historical lore mixed in with contemporary greed and lust. Published in 1988, it was the first novel of author and editor Robert Weinberg, first brought to my attention when he edited what is arguably the best collection of vampire tales ever, Rivals of Dracula. I read The Devil's Auction awhile back and meant to review it, but never got to it. I re-read it recently, enjoyed it all over again, and thought better late than never.

A mysterious Invitation shows up in the mail of a handful of the world's most astute practitioners of the occult arts. Jake Lancaster is one such invitée. Those who do not receive this Invitation, like the seductive Countess Marie Lamont and her savage servant Hannah, will stop at nothing to obtain it. Why? The possession of this Invitation admits the holder to the private auction of an unknown occult item of unimaginable power, bid for and paid in kind with magical objects rare and powerful. Held once every generation by a mysterious sorcerer said to be centuries old, this is The Devil's Auction. The rumors surrounding it are all secondhand. For every participant of previous auctions has subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth.

When Jake Lancaster receives his Invitation to The Devil's Auction, a horrific presentiment of death accompanies it. Soon his good friend, Vietnam vet Alex Warner, is drawn into the intrigue. Two beautiful women seek to enter Alex's sphere of influence: hi-powered fashion model Valerie Lancaster -- Jake's daughter -- and the Countess Lamont. Both exude a dangerous sensuality. What do they want with Alex, a staid professor of history at a Midwest university?

If nobody has returned from The Devil's Auction, why would anyone want to attend? The motives are mixed. Revenge, curiosity, lust for power, and a drive for dominance in the field of sorcery -- all of these play their part. Above all there is the promise that winning the auction will give access to an obscure occult treasure hidden from the time of the Christ-- possibly the secret of immortality itself!

Weinberg takes you on quite the enjoyable ride. The plot is fast moving, the characterizations light but memorable. We follow the action from the points of view of a bunch of different characters, lending poignancy to the fates of even the obvious villains. At several points you want to shout out to the characters, "No! What are you doing? You are courting death!" Luckily, these fictional folks aren't scaredy cats and pay you no heed.

A very satisfying read.