Friday, November 10, 2006

The Cheese Nun

My sinuses are still out of whack. It will be a near record high temperature here today, projected to be 87 degrees. And humid, of course. Yes, still running the air-conditioning because my menopausal body insists on it.

My husband is at the doctor's office, awaiting a cure for his ills. He wasn't feeling too great after the journey home from China and then he realized an eye infection has set into his right eye, so he's home again today. He took my car and is having it's turn signals repaired as he waits to be squeezed into the doctor's schedule.

It's always something.

Last night I watched a PBS documentary about Sister Noella in Bethlehem, Connecticut. She lives in a cloistered nunnery of Benedictine sisters with emphasis on the benefit of physical labor. She has an interesting story.

Half way through the show I realized I had already seen it. I must have missed the beginning before, though. Yeah, it's been that kind of week.

Anyway, Sister Noella is the youngest of 6 children and was a student at Sarah Lawrence College in 1969 when she realized how disillusioned with life she had become, mostly due to sentiments about the Vietnam War. This group of nuns were criticized for taking in hippies and she was drawn to them.

In 1969, my husband was in the Air Force, stationed in Taiwan and flying missions into Vietnam. I was in my freshman year of high school. To save you the math, he's 7 years older than me!

Sister Noella had an interest in making cheese and that operation began with a single cow, Sheba. Sister Noella won a Fulbright Scholarship to study cheese manufacturing in France for a year.

The sisters make it in a very primitive way, stressing physical labor as is their belief, and it is done by hand. The milk is not pasteurized.

The Mother Superior there, Mother Anastacia, is a blacksmith. She does not look like a nun I would like to be on the wrong side of. After my three years in a Catholic girls' high school in Shreveport, there are lots of residual feelings about nuns remaining! Too many memories of kneeling for uniform inspection - our hemline could not be more than two inches above our knees, in the days of the miniskirt - and it yours was too short the ruler was brought out and your knuckles were whacked.

Ah, good times.


colleenR said...

Interesting story! I was raised Catholic too but went to public school. We had to kneel to make sure our skirts weren't too short and would hit the floor!

Thanks for your encouraging words at LL this morning. Whew, that piece took a lot to write, but I'm hoping to submit it to the local paper. Every time my son calls I get some notebook paper. It's so hard to keep up with and remember all his changes unless I write them down!

Jennifer said...

I hope the husband feels better soon and that the tide toward less stressful days turns soon for ALL of us.

Me said...

I remember the skirt thing - luckily we only had 1 year that they were strict about that. Cuz... my family didn't have a lot of a money and I have a Mom who loved raising boys MUCH more than girls and hated shopping in any way, shape or form. So around 5th grade when I was still wearing the uniform skirt she bought me in 2nd or 3rd, it was now about the length of a cheerleading skirt... short!

I would have been getting rapped knuckles every single day - and it would have been my lazy Mothers fault!

srp said...

Hope your husband feels better, those long flights can be brutal. My bother has an ear that is acting up and he had to fly to Montreal today, rehersal starts tomorrow and performances start on Friday I think.