Signe and Binky capture Oak Park

Signe Heart and Binky Stephenson, sisters, sell craft items in their Forest Park store, open since April of ’11. 

“We find the stuff at the cool and funky craft fair,” Signe told the Oak Leaves.  The store is Pretty Little Things, at 7324 Madison Street, a block or so west of Oak Park.

“Love is put into everything we put into our shop and you can feel that,” said Binky, an Oak Parker.  Prices range from $10 to $100, for “hand-knitted sweaters, hats, T-shirts with funky silk-screened designs, homemade candles and necklaces,” to quote the article.  “We’re trying to make a little money and that’s the hard part.”

They believe in recycling and using things that people may discard to create new things.

They are proud to note that all of their merchandise is made in America. [Signe] said she hopes it takes [a] child laborer off the assembly line in an overseas sweatshop.

Nothing “pre-made” is offered, nothing “from Wal-Mart,” said Signe.  “We pride ourselves in that.” 

She and Binky “inherited their way of doing things from their parents, who were hippies and raised them in an unconventional way,” says the article.

They are looking for customers who are looking for “something different, all natural, made with pride and not on an assembly line,” says the article. 

“We have to live with ourselves,” Signe said.

On Friday evenings shoppers receive free champagne.

Clean copy throughout, captures Oak Park.  I love it.

I would, of course, like to know where the child laborer works once the sweatshop job is gone.  And maybe a few other things.  Later.

Goal for preacher: less preaching (time)

Last night ashes at 7 pm mass.  Priest blesses them on the spot, which I do not remember from other years.  So freshly blessed ashes on one’s forehead.  I got mine at a noon Liturgy of the Word at another parish, where the pastor said the old line, Remember (not man, he knows me and said Jim), you are dust and to dust you shall return.  Far better than years ago at Old St. Pat’s west of the Loop, where the lady said something akin to Have a nice day, whatever she said, it said nothing about my returning to dust some day, as if let’s not think about that, if you don’t mind.

At our church the priest, who also knows me and I him, lo these 62 years, said a few words at sermon time.  He gave a sermon, that is, but shorter than usual because he had ashes to bless and paste on foreheads.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt when he finished in one-third the time or the usual, and he’s a very good preacher!

What if sermons were in general half the usual length?  Would they be twice as effective?  Assuming the roughly twice the time put into preparation to make the point clear and punchy in the shorter time, yes.

Why assume twice the preparation for half the time preaching?  Well, the old, oft told story of the preacher asked how long it would take to be ready to preach, beginning with a very short sermon and moving to the very long one, saying he needed lots of time and less as the length lessened, until finally given no time limit and announcing, “I’m ready right now!”

So what about it?  Sermons so well constructed they take half the usual time?  (Good idea, Jim!)

Mandate rubs Catholics’ noses in it. Yuck.

Responded last week to especially provocative local-paper column about the HHS mandate, “Who controls birth control?”  But no letters in the paper this week.  Thin paper and all.  A pity, that.  Here’s my letter, which addresses some more than parochial concerns:

2/17/2012 3:54:03 PM


Ken Trainor, my excellent editor for many months of Wednesday Journal columns, laid an egg in his Feb. 14 column about the HHS mandate, ignoring the governmental intrusion-coercion factor in favor of lambasting bishops.

In so doing, he soared over the top, even for this sometime critic.  The bishops were “beside themselves with outrage” over the mandate.  They “thundered,” calling the issue “a matter of religious liberty!”  It’s time for them “to grow up.”

Plus, he makes a bit much of the “people of God” argument, as if the Vatican Council meant to dismantle or otherwise negate the church’s entire governing structure.  Where’d he get that idea?

Basically, he wants a referendum about what’s sin and what isn’t, something not even the pace-setting reformer Martin Luther had in mind.

Failing that, he wants bishops to shut up about some things, which is apparently what the feds want also and have hefty fines in store if they don’t.  Refusal to participate has an estimated $10 million a year fine for an institution the size of Notre Dame, for instance.  Not even the bishops have that kind of power.

The whole thing is really a rubbing of Catholics’ noses in the weltanschaung, a German word for the whole damn contemporary dumb view of things.  Ken doesn’t mind, because he stepped in it and can’t get himself out.

Before I go, one of Ken’s arguments has me fascinated.  It’s this: “The hierarchy doesn’t like the U.S. government telling them what to do. The Catholic laity . . . has refused to allow the hierarchy to tell them what to do.  What works for the hierarchy, . . . works for the [laity].”  Which I find as mysterious as a papal encyclical.  Can’t a good editor do better than that?

— Jim Bowman