Daily Update: Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

James the Greater (Rembrandt) and Christopher (Titian)

Today is the Feast of Saint James the Greater, Apostle (died 44) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Christopher, Martyr (died about 251). Today is the birthday of Richard’s cousin Lele here in town (1947).

The son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of Saint John the Apostle, James may have been the cousin of Jesus. An apparent disciple of Saint John the Baptist, he was a fisherman who left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men. He is called “the Greater” simply because he became an Apostle before the other apostle of the same name (Saint James the Lesser).  He was present during most of the recorded miracles of Christ; after the Resurrection, he preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. The Acts of the Apostles records that Agrippa I had him executed by the sword, making him the first Apostle to be martyred. The pilgrimage to his relics in Compostela, Spain, became such a popular devotion that the symbols of pilgrims have become his emblems. For centuries, the Spanish army rode to battle with the cry “Santiago!” (“Saint James!”) He is the Patron Saint of pilgrims and pharmacists, and of the countries of Spain and Portugal. We also honor on this day Saint Christopher, Martyr (died about 251). He was a third century martyr in the persecutions of Decius. His fame derives from the pious legend of him being a “Christ-bearer” (Christopher). Legend states that he was a powerfully built man named Offero who wandered the world in search of novelty and adventure. He came upon a hermit who lived beside a dangerous stream and served others by guiding them to safe places to cross. He gave Offero instruction in the truth of God. Offero took the hermit’s place, but instead of guiding travelers, he carried them safely across the stream. One day he carried a small child across the stream; the child’s weight nearly crushed him. When they arrived on the other side, the child revealed himself as Christ, and he was so heavy because he bore the weight of the world on himself. He then baptized Offero with water from the stream. Christopher’s service at the stream led to his assignment as the Patron Saint of travel and travelers, and of those whose jobs involve heavy lifting and carrying. While the Roman Catholic Church still approves devotion to him, listing him in the Roman Martyrology among the saints venerated on July 25th, it removed his feast day from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969. Christopher is still a very popular saint; and I have medals of him in both of our vehicles, and carry a medal of him on my key chain. Finally, today is the birthday of Richard’s cousin Lele here in town (1947).

I woke up half an hour early, and did my Book Devotional Reading. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. In the fullness of time, we signed the Early Out list. When we clocked in, Richard was an Extra (unassigned to a table), and I was on Blackjack. We got out at 3:15 am, got home at 4:00 am, and I was back in bed asleep for 4:30 am.

The alarm I had set for 7:30 am woke me up (again), and I started my laundry. I then packed my stuff and read the morning paper, and Richard took the car to Valero for gas and a car wash. Finally, I finished my laundry.

We left the house in the car at 9:15 am and headed for Baton Rouge; along the way I read the July 24th – 31st, 2017 issue of Sports Illustrated. At 10:30 am we ate a very good breakfast at Louie’s Café (and I got my semi-monthly fix of their hash browns). At 11:30 am we went to see Butch for a few minutes before he went to lunch; Richard then took care of some Butch stuff at a finance office and Butch’s doctor’s office. From 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm we put in some comfy chair time at the Barnes and Noble on Corporate Boulevard, and I continued re-reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. We then got some supplies at Walmart, and checked in at the Comfort Inn on Constitution at 3:00 pm. We got settled in, and I read the USA Today. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy! I then finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Richard and I then went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse, and we stopped at Walmart on our way back to the motel. I then did my Book Review for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz got this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts. And I will now finish this Daily Update and go to bed.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saints Joachim (died first century B.C.) and Anne (died first century A.D.), Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tomorrow is also the birthday of my cousin Richard in California (1953). We will take Butch to see Dunkirk, and then meet with Richard’s sister Bonnie for supper.

Our Tuesday Evening Parting Quote comes to us from Bel Kaufman, German-born American author and educator. Born as Bella Kaufman in Berlin in 1911 (where her father was studying medicine), her parents were born in Russia, and her mother was the oldest daughter of famed Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. The family returned to Russia, and Kaufman was raised in Odessa and Kiev (in present-day Ukraine), with Russian as her native language. She published her first poem, “Spring,” in a magazine in Odessa. In 1922 the family moved to the United States; the family lived in Newark, New Jersey, where her father practiced medicine. Her mother initially composed works in Russian after their move, but went on to write sketches and stories in Yiddish that were published regularly for many years in the Jewish Daily Forward (Forverts); she also translated some of Sholem Aleichem’s works from Yiddish into Russian. Upon entering school in New Jersey at age twelve, Kaufman was placed in classes with first graders hindered because of language problems. She credited a teacher who helped her learn the English language with her love of English literature. She attended Hunter College in New York, graduating in 1934 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1936 Kaufman graduated with a Master’s degree in literature from Columbia University. She married in 1936, and she and her husband had two children. She began work as a teacher in various New York City high schools, while also working part-time as a writer (including writing articles for Esquire magazine under the name Bel Kaufman, shortened because Esquire only accepted manuscripts from male authors). She and her husband divorced in 1961. In 1965 she published Up the Down Staircase, a novel about an idealistic young honors college graduate who becomes an English teacher in a New York City high school and deals with the gritty realities of her colleagues and students. The book was based on Kaufman’s own teaching experiences. Up the Down Staircase became an enormous success, remaining on The New York Times Best Seller list for sixty-four weeks. In 1967 the book was adapted into a film of the same name. The book was also adapted into a play, which was staged in over one hundred Broadway, off-Broadway and road stage productions, and became popular as high school and college productions. In the 1970s she married Sidney J. Gluck, an acclaimed writer, photographer, China expert and public interest advocate who ran the Sholem Aleichem Memorial Foundation. In 1979 Kaufman published a second novel, Love, etc.,which was not a critical success. She later wrote several short stories and continued as a teacher and lecturer in New York City. In February 2011, at age ninety-nine, she was hired by her alma mater Hunter College to teach coursework on Jewish humor. In 2010 Kaufman celebrated her 99th birthday at the annual memorial to her famous grandfather, Sholem Aleichem (died 2014): “I do not like writing; in truth, I hate writing, and would rather do anything else. But the joy comes when, almost in spite of myself, I come close to what I want to say. A sentence or an insight leaps from the page.”

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