Daily Update: Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Francis of Assisi (Francis in Meditation by Zurbaran) and 10-04 - World Animal Day

Today is the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, Religious (died 1226) and the anniversary of my granddaughter’s baptism (2015). And today is World Animal Day, and the birthday of our friend and co-worker Sue (1948).

Today’s Saint was born in 1181 in Assisi, Umbria, as Francis Bernardone, and was the son of a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father’s business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth, becoming a street brawler and then a some-time soldier. Captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, he spent over a year as a prisoner of war. During this time he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon his release Francis began taking his faith seriously. He took the Gospels as the rule of his life and Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance by stripping off the garments he was wearing that had been paid for by his father before the bishop. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings. He began to attract followers in 1209, and, with papal blessing, founded the Franciscans based on a simple statement by Jesus: “Leave all and follow me.” In 1212 Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. He visited and preached to the Saracens, composed songs and hymns to God and nature, lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans. While in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. He was canonized six years after his death; not the fastest canonization in history (the record for that is held by his disciple, Saint Anthony of Padua), but pretty close. In the Middle Ages people who believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of Saint Francis, the theory being that he was the demon’s opposite number in heaven. He is the Patron Saint of animals, the environment, merchants, stowaways, and Cub Scouts, and of the country of Italy and of the city of San Francisco, California (which was named after him). Today is also the anniversary of my granddaughter’s baptism (2015). And today is World Animal Day. It was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy, as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. It takes place on October 4th, chosen because that is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment.

I woke up half an hour early, did my Book Devotional Reading, and posted to Facebook that today was World Animal Day. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and once at the casino we signed the Early Out list as the first and second dealers. In ADR I was not hungry, but Richard used my Birthday $10.00 comp card (which was going to expire tomorrow) to buy breakfast for him a few other people. When we clocked in, Richard was on the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack Table, and I helped change Blackjack cards. We got out at 3:45 am and headed home; I then went back to bed.

Waking up again at 11:00 am, I started my laundry, then read the morning paper. At 12:00 pm Richard and I drove to Rocky’s Cajun Kitchen, where we ate the lunch buffet of chicken (baked and fried), butter beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and a few other items. When we got home Richard and I penciled out where and what for our vacation (now a scant four weeks away; I was surprised to find that I do not have any of the National Parks Maps in my bag of National Parks stuff (more anon). I then continued reading Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde, took a break to watch Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, then finished reading Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde; I then did my Book Review for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for the book. I will now finish this Daily Update and go take a bath and continue my reading of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. And in a Preseason NBA home game our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing the Indiana Pacers; I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Priest (died 1867), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, Virgin (died 1938). Tomorrow is also World Teachers’ Day. I will do the Weekly Computer Maintenance and finish my laundry when I wake up, then Richard and I will head for the Hub City, where we will see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and eat dinner; we will also stop at the Lafayette Public Library so that I can pick up a book, and stop at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Acadian Cultural Center so that I can get some National Parks maps and the 2016 Sticker Set for my National Parks Explorer Edition Passport book. When I get home I will select and order my Christmas Cards.

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Mercedes Sosa, Argentine singer. Born as Haydée Mercedes Sosa in 1935 in San Miguel de Tucumán, in the northwestern Argentine province of Tucumán, she was of mestizo, French, and Quechua Amerindian ancestry. In 1950, at age fifteen, she won a singing competition organized by a local radio station and was given a contract to perform for two months. She recorded her first album, La Voz de la Zafra, in 1959. A performance at the 1965 Cosquín National Folklore Festival (where she was introduced and brought to the scene while seating among the public by fellow folk singer Jorge Cafrune) brought her to the attention of her native countrymen. Sosa and her first husband, Manuel Óscar Matus, with whom she had one son, were key players in the mid-60s nueva canción movement (which was called nuevo cancionero in Argentina), which blended traditional folk music with politically-charged lyrics about government brutality and the poor. Her second record was Canciones con Fundamento (1965), a collection of Argentine folk songs. In 1967 Sosa toured the United States and Europe with great success. In later years, she performed and recorded extensively, broadening her repertoire to include material from throughout Latin America. Sosa released two concept albums in collaboration with composer Ariel Ramírez and lyricist Félix Luna: Mujeres Argentinas (1969) and Cantata Sudamericana (1972). She also recorded a tribute to Chilean poet Violeta Parra in 1971, including what was to become one of Sosa’s signature songs, “Gracias a la Vida”. She also improved the popularity of songs written by Milton Nascimento of Brazil and by Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez of Cuba. After the military junta of Jorge Videla came to power in 1976, the atmosphere in Argentina grew increasingly oppressive. At a concert in La Plata in 1979, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage, along with the attending crowd. Their release came about through international intervention. Banned in her own country, she moved to Paris and then to Madrid. Her second husband died in 1978. Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Falklands War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, where she invited many of her younger colleagues to share the stage. A double album of recordings from these performances, Mercedes Sosa En Argentina, became an instant best seller. In subsequent years, Sosa continued to tour both in Argentina and abroad, performing in such venues as the Lincoln Center in New York and the Théâtre Mogador in Paris. In a poor condition of health for much of the 1990s, in 1994 she played the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, and she performed a comeback show in Argentina in 1998. Sosa participated in a 1999 production of Ariel Ramírez’s Misa Criolla. In 2002 she sold out both Carnegie Hall in New York and the Coliseum in Rome in the same year. She won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2000 (Misa Criolla), 2003 (Acústico) and 2006 (Corazón Libre), as well as many international awards. A supporter of Perón in her youth, she favored leftist causes throughout her life. She opposed President Carlos Menem, who was in office from 1989 to 1999, and supported the election of Néstor Kirchner, who became president in 2003. Sosa was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean. In a career consisting of four decades, she worked with performers across several genres and generations. Her song “Balderrama” is featured in the 2008 movie Che, starring Benicio del Toro as the Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Her album Cantora 1 won two awards at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2009. She won Best Folk Album and was nominated for Album of the Year, and the album was also awarded Best Recording Package. Upon her death, her body was placed on display at the National Congress building in Buenos Aires for the public to pay their respects, and President Kirchner ordered three days of national mourning (died 2009): “When you are in exile, you take your suitcase, but there are things that don’t fit. There are things in your mind, like colors and smells and childhood attitudes, and there is also the pain and the death you saw.”

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