Saint Clement of Ochrida, 2021
This is being written on Saturday morning, a day or two later than the customary day on which I write the Diary and record the podcasts for the Inner Sanctum. This is due to the past week being taken up with extensive travelling.
Last Friday, I flew to Chicago to give talks on Friday evening and Saturday morning at a Catholic parish in Oak Park. I met so many good and interesting people and sold out of the books and copies of the St. Austin Review which I’d had shipped ahead of time or had brought with me. Staying at the priory with a community of priests, I was able to go to confession and Mass and to enjoy convivial conversation, and a couple of glasses of gin an tonic, in the company of these fine and faithful men.
Returning home late on Saturday, I enjoyed our traditional family Sunday: a relaxing morning, including some playtime with my son; noon Mass; and an equally relaxing afternoon.
At 8am on Monday morning I was interviewed on Archangel Radio about my essay, “The Canterbury Tales in a Nutshell”, which had recently been published by Crisis Magazine as part of the “Great Literature in a Nutshell” series that I’m in the midst of writing.
On Monday afternoon, as usual, I recorded the FORMED Book Club with Father Fessio and Vivian Dudro of Ignatius Press. We’re still focusing our discussion on the best of Chesterton’s essays and will continue to do so after a six-week summer break. It will seem odd over the next several weeks to not be bantering with Father and Vivian during our weekly discussions.
On Tuesday morning, bright and early (too early!), I left for the airport to catch an 8am flight to Louisville, via a brief layover in Atlanta. The purpose of this trip was to give three talks at a conference organized by my friends at Memoria College, for which I am teaching online classes. It was a weeklong event, beginning with a homeschooling conference on Monday and Tuesday and then continuing on Wednesday and Thursday with a conference for teachers at classical academies around the country.
Although my first scheduled talk was not until Wednesday morning, I arrived early enough on Tuesday to attend a wonderful al fresco soirée at a hilltop house which afforded wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The food was wonderful. The grilled ribs were out of this world and there were three different Kentucky desserts: Kentucky butter cake, Kentucky Derby pie, and (my favourite!) bourbon bombs. The first was a sort of very buttery pound cake, the second a double chocolate pecan pie, and the third a dark chocolate bite-size “bomb” filled with bourbon. I felt compelled to try all three desserts and to help myself to three of the bombs!
On Wednesday morning, I gave a talk entitled “Is Literature a Science?”, answering in the affirmative and explaining why. In the evening I spoke of “Great Literature and the Problem of Pain”. After my talk, I went with a small group of people to an Irish steakhouse for a steak dinner. This time, after my excesses of the day before, I had no appetite for dessert. When the waiter asked me whether I’d like to try the restaurant’s house-maid Irish whiskey cake, I responded that I’d like the whiskey without the cake. My choice of Irish whiskey was Bushmills, my favourite of the Irish whiskeys that I know, which is by no means all of them. After the meal, when we were dropped off at the hotel, a fellow speaker suggested that we have a nightcap in the bar. We tried samples of three different bourbons: McKenna, Old Forester and a third, the name of which escapes me.
On Thursday morning, bright and early (too early!), I was picked up from the hotel to give a talk, scheduled for 8:30am. My topic on this occasion was “G. K. Chesterton and the Key to Happiness”.
Returning home on Thursday evening, I spent some much-needed downtime with the family.
Yesterday, I hit the ground running. Apart from the mountainous backlog which had built up in my absence, I gave an interview via Zoom for an Irish online media entity. The person who was interviewing me is a former IRA prisoner and former Marxist who is now a Catholic. We talked about our respective prison experiences, our former enmity as opponents in the civil war being fought in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s, and our shared love for Solzhenitsyn, Chesterton and others.
Following the aforementioned interview, I had an online meeting with a film production company to discuss the possibility of making a film adaptation of my verse drama, Death Comes for the War Poets, which enjoyed a brief run off-Broadway in 2017. It’s too early to know whether anything will come of this but I’m gratified that there is at least some interest in adapting the play as a film.
I hope that this exhaustive (and exhausting!) catalogue of the week’s events will serve as an excuse for the delay in posting this week’s podcasts and Ladydale Diary to the Inner Sanctum. I’m going to spend time with Leo now, while Susannah takes Evangeline to taekwondo to do some board-breaking. When they return, I’ll record and then post the podcasts. Better late than never!
As a postscript, here’s a brief note on the photographs illustrating this week’s Diary which were taken, as is usually the case, by Susannah. The first is a picnic we had recently on the lawn which we laid last month on the edge of the fairy wood, creating an additional space for enjoying the outdoors on our property. The praying mantis was photographed by Susannah while I was in Kentucky. The tomato was photographed to show the heart-shaped image in its core. As Susannah said, when she showed it to me: Tomatoes often reveal surprising art, such as faces, if we take the time to look.
With reiterated expressions of gratitude for your joining me in the Inner Sanctum, I bid you adieu until next time.