Ladydale Diary

St. John Joseph of the Cross 2021

The birthday season continues. Having celebrated my birthday on Shrove Tuesday, we took a little break from our Lenten penances to celebrate Evangeline’s birthday this past Monday, which, as all good Welshmen will know, was St. David’s Day. Evangeline is actually a leap-day child, being born on February 29, which means that her birthday has something of the elven magic about it, appearing only occasionally and remaining invisible the rest of the time. This year it did not appear on the day after the 28th, remaining coyly absent, so we celebrated on St. David’s Day instead. And, as the saying goes, a birthday by any other date is still as sweet.

In actual fact, the festivities on St. David’s Day was the second party that Evangeline had enjoyed to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. The first party was held on the day before the 28th, the feast of St. Anne Line, the English martyr who was hanged on February 27, 1601, 420 years ago, for sheltering priests during the reign of Bloody Bess. This noble saint probably knew William Shakespeare who seems to refer to her enigmatically in his poem, “The Phoenix and the Turtle”.

But I digress.

Evangeline’s first birthday party, last Saturday, was celebrated with eight of her friends. There were all the usual trimmings of such a festive occasion. Snacks. Party games. The opening of presents. The cake bedecked with candles. The singing of “happy birthday”. The blowing out of the candles. The singing of “for she’s a jolly good fellow”. Needless to say, the more subdued family birthday party, two days later, could not match the rumbustiousness of the earlier occasion. Nonetheless, Susannah had cooked Evangeline the meal of her choice, a curry, her latest favourite, as well as baking an additional cake. Chocolate of course. With more candles. The opening of more presents, those received from her parents, as well as from her relatives in California and England. Et cetera.

Next is Leo’s birthday, which is under two weeks away, on the Feast of St. Patrick, the next oasis in the Lenten desert.

On the wildlife front, I’m looking down, as I write, on a meadow vole, eating the corn and sunflower seeds that I put out for the chickens and ducks this morning. Just beyond the rodent, I can see the ducks dabbling in the mud. A downy woodpecker has just arrived at the birdfeeder to eat the suet. Such feasts for the eyes are on offer all day long but I seldom look up from my computer to enjoy them. One must earn bread for one’s own table before one is able to share it with the beasts of the field.

The course for Homeschool Connections having been completed last week, I am only currently teaching two courses. On Wednesday, I gave a two-hour seminar for Memoria College on Eliot’s “The Waste Land” as part of the five-week course on “Poems Everyone Should Know”. This morning (Friday) I gave the third of four lectures on Homer’s Odyssey for Red Cultural in Chile.

As for writing, I’m between books, having completed my history of England a few weeks ago and not yet having started my next book. I am continuing to write for online journals, however, and have written an essay on “Shakespeare in Public Schools” which was published today by the Imaginative Conservative. I’ve also written something connecting philosophy to St. Patrick’s Day (the mind boggles!), which I hope will be published on the feast day itself. I’m also about to embark on a new series for Crisis Magazine putting the great works of literature “in a nutshell”. Last but not least, I’ve almost finished my editorial for the next issue of the St. Austin Review, which will be a Tolkien theme issue.

And speaking of Tolkien, my weekly live interview this morning for the Son Rise Morning Show on Sacred Heart Radio focused on the unlikely connection between Solzhenitsyn and Tolkien in which I remembered Solzhenitsyn’s response when I read him some quotes by Tolkien during my meeting with him in Russia back in 1998. And then, to bring the week almost up to date, I gave a podcast interview on Brideshead Revisited this afternoon before recording this week’s three podcasts for the Inner Sanctum. As soon as I sign off, I’ll be uploading these podcasts, as well as this Ladydale Diary to the website.

Thanks so much for being a part of the Inner Sanctum. Your support for me, my family and my work is very much valued. Lenten blessings!