Friday, June 27, 2008

To St. Thomas Aquinas

My grandfather was talking, the other day, about how few people realize how many great and wonderful people came out of the Church. This sonnet to one of them blossomed from that conversation.

O Thomas, you did never doubt at all
The truths God gave to you to understand;
You wrote with skill and wisdom at His call
And He did guide your never-faltering hand.
You spoke but seldom, so men called you dumb -
Not one to waste your breath on useless speech;
But when at need you spoke with great wisdom,
Albert did say your words all men would reach!
You wrote of God, Whom you did love so well;
You wrote for God, and thus so well did write,
Since He gave you the grace His truths to tell,
And made you wise enough to choose aright -
So when He asked, "What wouldst thou have of Me?"
You answered, bold and wise - "Lord, only Thee!"

--June 25, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Second and Third Adventures

On Thursday we walked out to the Recoleta cemetery. It is a city of the dead - there is no other word for it; a city that, in Lu's clever phrase, will be very busy at the Last Judgment! - six acres of monumental mausoleums, once an orchard belonging to the Padres Recoletos (we couldn't figure out what order that translates to!) We also visited the church beside it, Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar, which is very beautiful. Then we wandered out toward the Museo de las Bellas Artes, but ended up backtracking to a restaurant Tata had recommended for lunch and then walking back toward home, leaving the museum for another day and visiting one more church, San Agustin, on the way.

Today was very busy in terms of walking! Lucia, Rocio and I walked over to pick up Ignacio and Francisco, and we all took the Subte up to Congress, a beautiful building (which we only admired from the outside.) In the plaza everything was chaos because two opposing groups have been camping out in it to protest. What I gathered is that one group is the people from the farms, who are opposing the government's taking almost half their profits; and the others are for the government. So it was all big tents and microphones blaring and crowds of people from both groups and the media. We moved away down the Avenida de Mayo to the Avenida 9 de Julio, where we visited the Obelisk that is set up where the flag was first raised. From there, after eating some hot dogs by a fountain, we went to the Teatro Colon, which unfortunately is under intensive restoration so we couldn't go in. But we did visit the museum downstairs and saw the tiny models of the sets for previous operas, and the magnificent costumes and props, as well as a short video detailing some history and behind-the-scenes views.

From here we walked up to the Cathedral, where we scattered for a bit. I looked at the side altars and paused to say hello to Our Lord, and then we all went out and walked all the way around the Pink House. Francisco pointed out the President's office, and we saw the changing of the guard. Back where we had started, we crossed the Plaza to the Cabildo (the old government house), where a guided tour was just starting, so we attached ourselves to it. The guide took us up into the conference room and showed us a big painting of the open session in which Argentina decided to break away from Spain, because Napoleon had taken over and the last thing they wanted was to be under the French. The tour done, we boarded the Subte for home and tea. Tata is coming over in a while for dinner.

Tomorrow we are going to Tia Emi's house, and then Sunday we move to the de Erausquin side of the family, beginning with Alba's birthday party, and Week One will be over! Tempus fugit...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The First Adventures!

Well, my friends, now we've actually done some stuff I can tell about.

On the 23rd we landed and had a day of rest, basically, no real action. On the 24th, however, we walked down to the Abasto. This big building used to be the public market and it was nearby that the great tango singer Carlos Gardel grew up, the reason he got the nickname "el morocho del Abasto". When Buenos AIres grew bigger the place was shut down, but when there was a threat of tearing it down the city decided to turn it into a shopping mall. The ornate exterior was cleaned and the inside was completely gutted and rebuilt into a huge, modern mall. We saw some of the outside and went in to see an exposition called "DaVinci: The Genius". There were models of many of his inventions. Some you couldn't touch, but some actually worked and you could play with them. There were complicated systems of levers and pulleys to lift heavy weights, ball-bearings to reduce stress on wheels, and a room with mirror walls that reflects you infinitely, as well as musical instruments of all kinds. There were also a couple of videos, one on his life and one on the Last Supper.

Last but most impressive to me was the series of digital photographs of the Mona Lisa taken by a French photographer, which range from ultraviolet to infrared. He digitally peeled away layers of old varnish and paint to disclose the original colors Leonardo used. There were huge enlargements of sections in infrared, ultraviolet, current color, and true color, and finally a wall with the picture in real size, in the same series of color. The Mona Lisa now seems almost monochromatic - greens and yellows predominate. It wasn't always so. The sky, painted with lapis lazuli, is a gorgeous blue; her dress is a vibrant red with gold undersleeves; her hair, too, is shining dark red, which surprised me. Her face is rosy and fair, not the rather yellowish tinge it has now. If you think the Mona Lisa's beautiful as is, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Hopefully this exhibition, which is traveling the world, will come to St. Louis. It would be great to have it at home for a while. It was well worth the thirty pesos each (about ten or twelve dollars) for the Mona Lisa pictures alone, if you ask me.

Then today we walked to the Botanical Garden - pretty, but very small; the Zoo, with ducks, geese and things that looked like big rabbits wandering everywhere; the Planetarium, which we didn't go into; the beautiful Rosedal, which simply means rose garden, with a profusion of different roses and a nice big lake with boats (we considered renting one, but decided not to in the end); and last, the lovely Japanese Garden, with streams and waterfalls and curvy bridges. In the middle we stopped for lunch at what would be a hot dog stand in the US, but here we had the most delicious bratwurst, or chorizo in our terms, for little over a dollar apiece and well worth more. We have another path all planned out with the Cathedral, the Pink House (Argentina's Presidential Palace), and some other buildings nearby, but I think that's for Friday; so we shall see what we'll do tomorrow!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Adventure Begins...

not very adventurously, I have to say.

Ignacio, Lucia, Rocio and I were in plenty of time for our plane from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. The thing was (and well we knew this!) that we had only a forty-minute margin between the landing in D.C. and takeoff for Buenos Aires. We had no problem with that; we have eight perfectly good legs between the four of us, and we could have made it easily, despite the fact that the plane was already twenty minutes behind schedule when we checked in.

Twenty minutes became forty. I began to pray that our flight to Argentina would be late taking off.

Forty minutes became an hour and no sign of the plane. I still thought, "Well, we might be incredibly lucky..." but I didn't really think so any more. I went to sit by Lu and Ro, who were talking to a gentleman from Korea who is a professor at one of the universities in D.C. He was really sweet and funny. He said to Rocio, "You so beautiful, like an angel. An angel from Argentina, Buenos Aires," and went off into chuckles. Before we boarded he gave us his card and said, "You come to Washington, you call me. I give you free guided tour." We bade him a cheerful goodbye and went to get in line.

Two hours and twenty minutes late we took off at last, and landed in D.C. about half-past eleven. We went to get rebooked, and found United had already done it for us. The gentleman at the desk treated us royally, giving us seats together in a row near the front where there is lots of room. Silvio, Dad's friend, called and told us where to meet him, and we got home about half-past midnight, had dinner (we were starved!) washed up and went to bed.

Today we got up, went to Mass, got lost on the way home, and napped or read; not much done. Silvio went to an archery tournament early, and won first prize; when he came back he showed us his bows, and soon we will have dinner and be on our way. The flight leaves at 9:45, but though we have no luggage to check, we are taking no chances!

When we get to Argentina maybe there will be something more fun to post. Meanwhile, God bless all readers!

The Argentinian Adventuress, A.R.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Unsolvable Mystery...

A man walking on the beach one day found a bottle washed up by the waves. Curious, he opened it, and out popped a genie.
"You have freed me, master! Now I will grant you three wishes, whatever your heart desires."
The delighted man said, "Well, I want to have all the money in the world," and it was done.
"And I would like to be the President of the United States."
And it was done.
"Now... there's one other thing. I would really love to go to Hawaii. But I'm afraid of flying, and boats make me seasick. So can you build me a highway from California to Hawaii?"
The genie looked dismayed. "That's a lot of work. You can't think of anything else?"
The man looked thoughtful. "Well... I have always wanted to understand women."
"Two lanes or four?" gasped the genie.
Inspired by this joke my brother told me, I wrote the following poem.
An Unsolvable Mystery

There's something about women
That the men will never get;
Although their brains they cudgel
They haven't got it yet;
The mystery of woman,
The answer none can find,
That makes them both the plague
And the delight of all mankind.
They cannot understand us -
Our ways, our trains of thought,
Our passions and emotions,
Men comprehend them not.
And though the wisest teachers
And doctors of the land
Have studied and have lectured,
They cannot understand;
And though to fathom women
They try and try again,
We will remain forever
A mystery to men.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Indeed, I do wonder... how do people not believe in God?

Who looks upon the sunset sky
Aflame with violet, rose and gold
And, as he gazes, can deny
The One Who made this sight unfold?

Who looks upon the rushing flood,
The glory of the waterfall,
And says that no Creator could
Exist? How else could it befall?

What fools - what fools these mortals be
That gaze on all these things displayed
And say they "happened" randomly,
When only God could such have made

So wondrous, and so wondrously?
O mad men, creatures of the sod,
How can ye see eternity
And yet exclaim, "There is no God?"