Today is the Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious (died 1821). Today is also the Eleventh Day of Christmas (pipe up!). Today is Earth Perihelion, the point at which the Earth in its orbit is closest to the sun, and the annual Quadrantid Meteor Shower is today. And today is the birthday of Richard’s sister Juanita (aka Nita) in Georgia (1959).
Today’s Saint was born in 1774 in New York City as Elizabeth Bayley into a wealthy and influential Episcopalian family and raised in the New York high society of the late 18th century. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three years old, her baby sister died a year later. Elizabeth’s father then married remarried to provide a mother for his two surviving daughters; the new wife participated in her church’s social ministry, and often took young Elizabeth with on her charitable rounds, as she visited the poor in their homes to distribute food and needed items. However, the couple separated, and in the ensuing breakup the stepmother rejected both Elizabeth and her older sister. In 1794 at age nineteen she married the wealthy businessman William Magee Seton. About ten years into the marriage, William’s business failed, and soon after he died of tuberculosis, leaving Elizabeth an impoverished widow with five small children. For years Elizabeth had felt drawn to Catholicism, believing in the Real Presence in the Eucharist and in the lineage of the Church going back to Christ and the Apostles. She converted to Catholicism, entering the Church on March 14th, 1805, alienating many of her strict Episcopalian family in the process. To support her family, and insure the proper education of her children, she opened a school in Boston. Though a private and secular institution, from the beginning she ran it along the lines of a religious community. At the invitation of the archbishop, she established a Catholic girl’s school in Baltimore, Maryland which initiated the parochial school system in America. To run the system she established in 1809 a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland dedicated to the care of the children of the poor. It was the first religious community of apostolic women founded in the United States, and its school was the first free school in America. The order was called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. The remainder of Elizabeth’s life was spent in leading and developing the new order, which expanded to include the Sulpician priests of Baltimore. Today, six independent religious communities trace their roots to the humble beginnings of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She was canonized in 1975, becoming the first native-born American to be canonized, and is the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, of Shreveport, Louisiana, and of the State of Maryland. Today is also the Eleventh Day of Christmas, with all those pipers piping. Today is Earth Perihelion, or the date when the Earth comes closest to the Sun in its orbit. According to Kepler’s First Law of Planetary Motion (1619), all planets, comets and asteroids in our solar system have approximately elliptical orbits. When Earth is closest to the Sun, it is winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere. Thus Earth’s distance from the Sun does not significantly affect what season occurs. Instead, Earth’s seasons come and go because Earth does not rotate with its axis exactly upright with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. Earth’s axial tilt is 23.4 degrees. This puts the Sun farther south in December and January, so the north has winter and the south has summer. Thus winter falls on that part of the globe where sunlight strikes least directly, and summer falls where sunlight strikes most directly, regardless of the Earth’s distance from the Sun. Today is also the annual Quadrantid Meteor Shower, and today is the birthday of Richard’s Sister Nita in Georgia; I met her at LSU in 1977, met her parents in 1978, and did not meet Richard until 1982 (1959).
Earth Perihelion occurred at 8:00 am; I did not wake up until 10:00 am. I put up my new wall calendar in the kitchen, then ate my breakfast toast while reading the morning paper. I then started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, and was able to finally bring in the LSU flag and put out my Christmas Flag. I finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance and did the Weekly Virus Scan.
Leaving the house at 2:15 pm, I ate lunch at McDonald’s and continued reading March by Geraldine Brooks. I then went to Wal-Mart and got another 6-hour light string and ribbons (more anon). I then went to the Post Office and got a fresh stock of If It Fits It Ships boxes.
When I got home at 4:00 pm, I watched Jeopardy! with Richard at 4:30 pm. I then put the new sets of 6-hour lights on the Christmas wreaths (they are brighter than the other ones I purchased were). I was then going to work on putting new ribbons in my Sunday Missal, but found that I had instead purchased cords, which I did not want (I will exchange them tomorrow). I then started working on Advance Daily Update Drafts. At 7:00 pm we ate spaghetti with meat sauce – or at least I did, until my Esophageal Dysphagia kicked in. It did not ease up until about 9:00 pm. Richard bagged up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. And our LSU Tigers beat the Missouri Tigers in their College Basketball game by the score of 88 to 77; our LSU Tigers (9-4, 1-1) will next play a Home College Basketball game with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1) on Saturday, January 7th. And I will now finish this Daily Update and get ready to go to bed.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint John Nepmucene Neumann, Bishop (died 1860), and the Twelfth Day of Christmas (drum roll, please!). I will go to the post office to mail off Liz Ellen’s athletic pants, and to Wal-Mart to get my salad supplies. The First Quarter Moon will arrive tomorrow at 1:48 pm. I will make my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday. And tomorrow evening is Twelfth Night. Our LSU Lady Tigers (11-3, 0-1) will play a Home College Basketball game with the Florida Lady Gators (9-5, 0-1), and our New Orleans Pelicans (14-22, 1-6) will play a Home NBA game with the Atlanta Hawks (18-16, 3-4); I will record the scores of both games in Friday’s Daily Update.
Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Michele Serros, American author, poet, and social commentator. Born in 1966 in Oxnard, California, she grew up with her older sister in the prominently Hispanic community of El Rio, a semi-rural, unincorporated community on the northeast edge of Oxnard, Serros was a latchkey child due to the arduous, burdensome work schedule endured by both of her parents. She spent her free time reading, watching TV game shows, digging holes in the backyard, and skateboarding. When Serros was eleven years old, her parents separated. Feeling overwhelmed with fear and confusion she wrote to the only person she felt would understand, young-adult author Judy Blume. Blume wrote back suggesting that she keep a diary as an outlet for her emotions, thus inspiring a foundation for Serros’ writing career. She had an active social life, and her mother moved her to a private Catholic school after her sophomore year. Upon her 1984 graduation, Serros attended Ventura College for two years before transferring to Santa Monica City College. While a student at Santa Monica City College, Serros’s first book of poetry and short stories, Chicana Falsa and other stories of Death, Identity and Oxnard, was published in 1994. After Lalo Press, the original publisher, ceased business, she continued to sell copies from her garage while maintaining a devoted following of fans as well as a place in academia where Chicana Falsa became required reading in many high schools and universities in Southern California. With the success of Chicana Falsa, Serros was selected in 1994 as one of twelve poets to travel nationally with the touring music festival Lollapalooza. In addition to reading her poetry in the festival’s second stage arena, she inspired Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins to accompany her on bass guitar as she read, ‘Mr. Boom Boom Man,’ from Chicana Falsa. Alternative rock band Rage Against the Machine featured a photograph of Serros’ first book of poetry, Chicana Falsa, on the fold-out sleeve of their 1996 Grammy Award winning album Evil Empire. After an additional six years of sporadic study, she graduated cum laude from UCLA with a degree in Chicano Studies in 1996, and later that year the spoken word label Mouth Almighty issued an audio version of Chicana Falsa. She married musician Eugene Trautmann, a member of seminal rock bands Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, and whom she had met eleven years earlier backstage at the Leave Your Mind at Home music festival in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1997, after learning of an extensive Life and Styles feature of Serros in The Los Angeles Times, Julie Grau (then an editor at Riverhead Books) phoned Serros to inquire about the rights to Chicana Falsa. The following year Riverhead Books (Penguin/Putnam) reissued Chicana Falsa as well as published a book of short stories, How to be a Chicana Role Model, in 2000, which became a Los Angeles Times Best Seller. Upon her separation and eventual divorce from Trautmann in 2001, Serros moved to the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. In early 2001 Serros’ work caught the attention of Ann Lopez, wife of comedian George Lopez. Following an interview with George Lopez and Warner Brother Studios producers, Serros, who had yet to write a script or screenplay, was hired in 2002 to write for the ABC television sitcom George Lopez. In 2003 during a Christmas visit to her home in New York, Serros realized that she missed writing for her own audience and for her own therapeutic peace of mind. Consequently, she did not renew her contract for a second season. During the summer of 2003 she saw the surfing documentary Step into Liquid and was floored by the film’s tanker surfing segment shot in Galveston, Texas. Upon returning home from the movie, she emailed one of the surfers featured in the film, award winning filmmaker James Fulbright, and asked for the opportunity to experience firsthand what she had seen in the movie. In 2004 Serros was invited to tanker surf with Fulbright and his crew in the Gulf of Mexico for a featured segment of The CBS Evening News. She continued to work diligently as a motivational speaker, and was invited to deliver commencement speeches and attend book fairs all across the country. In 2005 Serros was approached by Alloy Entertainment to create a “Latina version” of their hugely successful Gossip Girl Young Adult Book Series. In 2006 her first young adult novel Honey Blonde Chica was published followed by its sequel ¡Scandalosa! in 2007. In the summer of 2010 she met restaurateur Antonio Magaña. After learning that they attended the same high school and were from the same city, he asked her for a lunch date. They were engaged on Christmas night later that year and were married in the summer of 2011 in New York City on the rooftop of the judge’s chambers. They then made their home between California and New York. In addition to her books, she wrote for the Los Angeles Times, Ms. Magazine, CosmoGirl, and The Washington Post, and contributed satirical commentaries for National Public Radio (Latino USA, Morning Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, Anthem, Along for the Ride, and The California Report). Serros was selected by The Getty Research Institute and Poetry Society of America to have her poetry placed on MTA buses throughout Los Angeles County. She was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary gland in 2013. The cancer had metastasized and she died during chemotherapy (died 2015): “[In young adult Latino novels, it was] the three Bs. It was always about barrios, borders and bodegas, and I wanted to present a different type of life, a life that truly goes on that we don’t always see in the mainstream media.”