Thursday, December 31, 2009

Car Recovered

A good way to spend part of one's new year's eve is to get the call that your car which was stolen almost three weeks ago has been recovered, and then go to the tow yard to pick it up.

I won't think too much about the $106.91 towing and storing bill, nor that the spare tires were stolen from the trunk, nor that the key ignition will do the beeping sound when you open the door, even when you remove the key.

No one urinated inside the car: positive. (Though I will still be cleaning the interior because otherwise it would feel too much like I simply lent the car out to strangers.)

There are no dents, no scorch marks, no scratches, no ripped interior: positive.

There are no broken locks or trunk hatch: positive.

The "Jesus, I Trust in You" decal on the back was not vandalized, nor the Holy Face pamphlets inside: positive.

I believe the RCMP officer on the phone even told me they found the car with the doors locked: bizarre.

From Seinfeld to The Office

I really like Kevin O'Brien.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Still Life with Apples and Tea


The tea still has to be poured, and a few other things need doing, like the designs on cup and saucer and some more detail on the apples and wood table top, yadda yadda. Oil on linen canvas. 20 inches by 16 inches. Price: one million dollars. Cheques, credit card, gold, whatever will do. I will accept the equivalence in old jewelry as well. Or if you can only acquire around, say, $10, 000 worth, say, from your mother's or grandmother's jewelry drawer, that's fine. Just stuff it into a manila envelope(s) and send it to my address. You may or may not receive the painting of course; it will be according as my whims and moods determine. If you do receive the painting, the painting you receive may or may not be the same one as pictured. Though it may be of apples and tea. Then again, the painting may be of a Tyrannosaurus Rex hysterically demanding ridiculous tax sums of a Brontosaurus for taking a dump while volcanoes in the background spew a century's worth of auto CO2 into the atmosphere. You never know.

Krull

The ways in which a lame B-movie like Krull turns to relative dust the best efforts of some of today's most serious and "visionary" filmmakers (fantasy or otherwise), who come a dime a dozen, packed with dexterous imagery, fully aware of every cliché in their path and who steer accordingly, is something worth pondering.

In 1983, in the midst of the Star Wars inundation, when successive films were being turned out ("Let's start production and write the plot later!") that would typify the 80's as belonging enormously to fantasy/sci-fi, a very derivative (as though Star Wars itself were not derivative), unremarkable, badly acted but earnest film called Krull was released.

Columbia Pictures put approximately $50 million into it, and lost approximately 35 of that cost at the box office. Most of the movie was made in England, directed by Peter Yates with a mostly British cast. In the summer of 83, and ever thereafter, it hardly made a sound.

Talk to some people who grew up in the 80's and you might catch one or two who has memories of this film. I was a fan of it as a kid, and even remember having some of the memorabilia. For a number of years I had no idea what the name of that film was of which I could only remember certain moods, and one scene in which a man reaches his bare hand into lava to retrieve a powerful weapon, his hand remaining unscathed.

Only recently have I discovered what that film was. Some dear person has posted the movie in full on youtube, and I watched it the other night. Many memories came back to me.

There was the obligatory wincing over how corny was something you did not find corny as a kid. But what came as something of a quiet shock, after starting to actually enjoy the cheesiness, was how much of this film is actually not all that bad, and in fact, kind of stumblingly well done. I was quite surprised.

Krull is the name of the planet on which the story takes place. The planet is invaded by the Beast via his galactic spaceship which is also the Beast's fortress (once it lands), called The Black Fortress. He has his minions called Slayers. There are two rival kingdoms on Krull. Prince Colwyn, from one of the kingdoms, and Princess Lyssa, from the other kingdom, are to be married, which will bring the two kingdoms together; it is foretold that their child will rule the galaxy. Hence the reason for the Beast to attack the wedding and steal the Princess (after the nuptials have been made), so he can rule, somehow believing that he will marry the Princess. After the wedding is attacked and the ruling kings killed, Prince Colwyn, awaking from unconsciousness, must set out to rescue the Princess.

By well done, do not take it to mean in terms of any outstanding artistry or of a full-orbed mythology. Make no mistake: the film is unabashed B-grade, cheese-ball-o-rama, full of loose ends, plot holes, contrivances and the whole bit. But it happens to be there wherein the charm lies; not as self-conscious camp, but a kind of four-square forthrightness and onward plodding. (Some would simply describe the quality as being that of a markedly English [U.K.] production.) And if its sources of derivation are good, then they will eventually speak, through most bumbling obstacles, even in glimmers anew.

The good to be found is not so much in the individual parts - though it's sometimes there too - as it is in the linkage; the way a certain nobility starts to come through, to lend the props and prosthetics, the ham acting and special effects a sweeping pardon: the need in us for a king and chivalry are pronounced unhurriedly, and the characters develop an unselfconscious way of free-play. The film, for all its nonsensical eclecticism, is straight-laced (in a light manner) and has what is today the unique strength of remaining an actual story through to end; the filmmaker does not attempt to bridge the natural gap between storybook and storybook reader. Krull would rather look stupid and silly than try false assimilation.

That is the challenge of fantasy: how well and complete and vivid can you render your sub-created world without at any point trying to gainsay the mere fact that the viewer is just watching a movie - or reading a book (I'm not saying film and literature are the same or even similar). The object is to tell the story and everything in the film must be brought to bear within the hierarchal fact of the story. When a character moves he cannot just move; he must move in middle-earth. This must be the way of good fantasy as a kind of Rule #1 - unlike, for instance, what is seen in the bloated soap nonsense of Lynch's Dune.

And that is one thing that Krull has going for it, in the midst of everything else that would detract. In addition to this, Krull puts me in mind of T.S. Eliot's response to a friend who asked what he thought of Chesterton's poetry: "He reminds me of a hansom cab driver who beats himself to stay warm."

As cutting as Eliot's statement may have been, the truth in it is apparent. Chesterton was God's Tumbler, and thought of himself as such. He was obviously, as with every person, a whole lot more than anyone's summation of him, but for the matter of Krull we can take along this tumbling, rollicking vigor that looks out for the actions of the figures and not their presentment; looks for the cumulative (and gently kinetic) word of the parts and not the parts themselves.

Or take this more exaggerated comment made by one fan at badmovies.org:

Reply #14. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Derek

This movie is killer. It's really really bad and so excellently cool that i love it! :) The guy who plays the "old one" is probably one of the worst actors i've ever seen! He sucked in dune and he sucks in this movie too. The princess is about the wimpiest woman alive, the prince is blind in his goal and pig headed as hell, the "army" are about as incompetant as can be, and the slayers fight with the collective intelligence of a junior programmer. Nothing, but NOTHING makes sense in this movie! I absolutely love it!
Krull is lame by most means, but it is dogged. Take this doggedness and bring it to partake even just a little of Tolkien's "stewing pot", and you start to get something. In fact, I wonder if the stewing pot for Krull were given a little more time to cook (okay, a lot more time) it would be something of a great film today. The Star Wars elements are there superficially (and to me frankly could have been done away with), that is, nothing's there to do with the Force and its Gnostic baggage, but there's the laser beams and planetary context (the film even opens with a big "spaceship" coming into the picture plane from behind); while the earthier Excalibur/Arthurian legend and Robin Hood elements are the film's defining characteristics and general morality.

And the film does have the sparks and beginning fire-crackles of, the musterings of, mythology. Take for instance the Cyclops. The old man of the mountain, Ynyr, (Freddie Jones hamming it up juicily) explains some of the Cyclops race's story after Ergo nearly gets killed by a Slayer:

"A Cyclops."

"He was aiming a spear straight at me."

"Had that been so you would now be dead. He was aiming at a Slayer, for they have ancient hatred between them. Long ago his ancestors lived in a world far from Krull, and had two eyes like other men. Then they made a bargain with the Beast who was the leader of the Slayers. They gave up one of their eyes in exchange for the power to see into the future; but they were cheated. And the only future they are permitted to see is the time of their own death. They're sad, solitary creatures; born to know the day they will die."
I don't know how much or where it takes from (a bit of the palantir comes to mind), if at all, but dang, that has some meat to it! The problem is parts like this sort of just sit there in the movie; they lack cohesion of more fully developed myth.

There's also the Widow of the Web. But one of the scenes especially drew my memory to an image or idea I seemed inherently attracted to as a kid, which is the king with the key.

As Prince Colwyn travels with his two first companions, they are waylaid by a gang of merry outlaws. But Prince Colwyn, who looks an unlikely king, enlists the gang of robbers into his service. Taking a key from his glaive-medallion as a sign of his kingship - a key in the shape of a cross - he unlocks one of the robber's shackles, and offers to unlock all the shackles on their wrists if they promise to help him in his hopeless quest (sound familiar?).

What film today would even dare to approach such unabashed symbolism as a king carrying a master key in the shape of a cross that can unlock all the robbers'/outcasts'/sinners' manacles (or any lock on the planet) after calling them on his quest? Even Peter Jackson's last installment floundered in failing to adequately portray Aragorn's fearless and authoritative rousing of the cursed dead (yes, Krull's is better). What is it about such an archetype that even in its most meager, tossed-on-the-table, unadorned state it remains resonant, rich, ponderable - that is, something with a deep well of Real-History-within-our-small-history behind it?

Watching this scene on youtube, something like 26 years after the last viewing, my mind strove back to try and reclaim something just on the border of memory; again, something I was struck and enamored with as a kid and which still greatly tantalizes (and in the same degree eludes me) to this day: it is Christ as Trailblazer and Christ as Warrior-King, who also happens to possess the master key and, what is more, actually uses it; unlooked-for but suddenly appearing.

Can there be such a thing as a master key? Isn't that the stuff of…fairy tales? A king who we "waylay" who calls us to his quest is one thing in itself, but one who also carries a master key? "But," the child wonders to himself, "what if there really was? After all, it seems there would be if it's something so seared in my imagination."

With the incarnation of Christ there is. He goes before us, and has gone before us. His mercy is bestowed in a reckless yet seeing manner in rousing the outcasts to Himself, not as a tyrant, but as one who has become one of us, and as one who, being more than us, has an enormous task Himself to accomplish (the essential core of which He has already accomplished) and wants us with Him in that task. His sights are on us but also beyond us towards His end, His goal (which is completed) that subsumes us. How penetrating, how "lawless" is His calling and releasing of the outlaws! He is both king and rebel (rebel to the powers of tyrannical darkness).

What is this wonderful characteristic of Christ that He doesn't want us to be somehow chained to always recognizing his unchaining of us (No, I'm not a fan of the song Amazing Grace), as though that were the sole end of everything, but lifts our sights up to the distance He Himself is looking towards, the very helix-center of His quest? (Pope Benedict put it somewhere that Christ does not want us to be the "mere objects of His mercy". It goes without saying, we must recognize His mercy, but His mercy is not quantifiable; it's endless.) Therein lies our freedom; our freedom takes place within a larger task. We join Christ on His quest: thank God, it's not all about us. And yet within this larger picture we gain our true form, our true name; somehow miraculously our own small part is a very big part.

With an Apostolic echo, at the end of the movie, Prince Colwyn gives the master key over to the leader of the outcasts. Some criticisms of the movie are aimed at Ken Marshall's acting as Prince Colwyn (too shallow), but I like the bright lightness in how he both rouses the outlaws and gives the master key to Torquil (Alun Armstrong).

There's also the score by James Horner (who most recently scored Avatar). You can probably hear like-sounding elements from Krull's score in a number of scores throughout the 80's (many by Horner himself). The difference between them though is that Krull's score came first, and is easily one of Horner's best. Here's a good chunk of the score in the following scene. Prince Colwyn and his gang of merry outlaws are riding the Fire Mares over one thousand leagues to the Black Fortress; having disclosed its location from the Widow of the Web, they are trying to reach the fortress before it teleports to another location at sunrise in order to rescue the captive princess (yes, I liked writing that sentence):



"There it is."

"Yeah, and only a madman would want to get this close to it."

"We're going to get a lot closer. And quickly; it's almost dawn; we must get inside before the twin suns rise! Haw!"


Come on, you know you love it.

As for the way the film ends - not the very ending, but the defeat of the Beast - it is lame to say the least. In fact, just when you think the movie has expended itself in the matter of cheese, it takes a turn and seems to re-double the quantity in an amazing feat. But even in this lameness there is a noble recognition of the sacramental union of marriage and its power, whence the Prince derives his power to defeat the Beast.

And who really gives a shit about Avatar and its "new era" omni technology.

If you wish, you can watch the entire movie right here. Have a good time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Cloud Mystery - or That Inconvenient Universe











Charcoal Trees

Ink Trees

Christstollen


I made stollen (German Christmas bread) for the first time on Christmas Eve. It turned out excellent. I love the fact that you soak the candied fruits (cherry, citron, dried currants, almond slices, sultana and golden raisins) in dark rum overnight. I put marzipan in the center of three of them.

I can eat fruit cake; I can appreciate it, but typically it's just too overbearing. Stollen though is pitch perfect; more evocative than those hefty fruit bricks. Is it cake or is it bread? I guess one would call it a sweet bread.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Prose Poem

Wood and rock-hearted pagans, unless transformed
by the child in the blooming desert, cannot change
their own hearts to flesh. Only the child does this.
No development but newness can deal our fullness,
and the newness brought to the shepherds in the night
is the new that is not comparatively new;
is the new that makes no sense and makes all sense;
is the new that makes of the old an unknown precedence:

Every heart is of wood and rock, and to hear the news
of the child in the blooming desert is to be stricken dumb
and emptied, as the soul becomes a cosmos that holds the child;
a desert that painfully blooms, and tenderfully, in the night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Support Dappled Things

The following is a letter from Dappled Things who are in financial need to the tune of an Al Gore luncheon. Surely we can muster up that much. If you are familiar with Dappled Things, surely you would not want to see it go under.

And if you are not familiar, go there and familiarize.

Dear Friends,

No doubt at this time of the year many organizations are approaching you with appeals for your financial assistance. I will be brief, therefore, in explaining why you should support the work of
Dappled Things today. This year, more than ever, we are in special need of your help.

The current economic crisis has left no one wholly untouched, but its effects have been particularly severe on us. Our work depends primarily on donations and advertising revenue, but our income from these categories has declined significantly this year. Almost as a rule, companies are slashing advertising budgets and it is uncertain when they will be able to expand them again. Many individuals are likewise limiting their charitable giving. Since we are still a fledgling organization in terms of our financial resources, these developments have placed our work in serious jeopardy.

But why should you give to us in particular? For better or worse,
Dappled Things is the only nationally (and internationally) distributed magazine that not only speaks about the importance of transforming culture through the riches of the Catholic faith, but actually tries to do so with creative work informed and inspired by the Church’s tradition. A concrete image or story has greater power to affect a life than an abstract philosophy. Consider that Jesus spoke in parables, not syllogisms. Yet the stories our culture tells itself today are increasingly defined by narcissism and despair—is it any wonder our civilization turns increasingly desperate and narcissistic?

Dappled Things seeks to tell a different kind of story. Do not let it remain untold. If we do not receive enough support during this campaign to ride out the storm, it is a real possibility that Dappled Things may founder. Yet all we need is $10,000. Please help us continue our work by giving today. A gift of $75, $50, or $25 would go a long way in supporting our activities. Think of it as a Christmas present to our impoverished culture. Even $15 or $10—the cost of a visit to McDonald’s—would be a big help.

In a year when your ability to give may be limited, a donation to
Dappled Things is an excellent way to make a serious difference with little money. Despite our small budget, new readers consistently tell us how impressed they are with the magazine’s design and production value, not to mention its content. We can do so much with so little because Dappled Things is produced entirely by volunteers. All our resources go to printing and promoting a journal that, even in its physical design, reflects our commitment to spreading the True, the Good, and the Beautiful amid a culture in which falsity, evil, and ugliness abound.

Financial difficulties will keep many from giving this year. We will need larger donations to make up the difference. If you can, please consider supporting us as a Saint Francis De Sales Society donor. A donation of $1000, $500, or $250 would make a crucial difference to Dappled Things. Members of the Saint Francis De Sales Society will receive a high-quality, autographed, limited-edition print of Matthew Alderman’s
Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles, with an Attendant Angel, a sublime illustration featured in our Mary, Queen of Angels 2008 edition.

Please contribute today to this vital campaign. You can make your secure online donation via PayPal by visiting
www.dappledthings.org/donate.html. You can also mail a check or money order, payable to Dappled Things Magazine, to:

Dappled Things Magazine
c/o Katherine Aparicio
2876 S. Abingdon Street, C-2
Arlington, VA 22206

I thank you in advance for your generosity, at whatever level you can give.

Wishing you a blessed Advent and Christmas,

Bernardo Aparicio García
President,
Dappled Things

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XVIII. A brother asked a certain old man, saying, "There be two brothers, and one of them is quiet in his cell, and prolongs his fast for six days, and lays much travail on himself: but the other tends the sick. Whose work is the more acceptable to God?" And the old man answered, "If that brother who carries his fast for six days were to hang himself up by the nostrils, he could not equal the other, who does service to the sick."

Monday, December 14, 2009

How Cold Is It?

My Friend John writes the following:

Edmonton −60°c

The forecast for Edmonton was about −40° celsius, −50° Celsius with windchill. Today Edmonton reached −48° Celsius without windchill, −60° Celsius with windchill!

Let’s discuss that for a moment, shall we? How cold is −60? Edmonton’s temperature, −60 Celsius, is the Eutectic Point for all biological life. The Eutectic Point is the point at which all entropy (activity) stops in molecular biophysics. All activity stops in biological molecules. That includes decomposition. That includes oxidization. That means whatever biological material is −60 will no longer be alive, but also not decay or change in any way due to internal activity (there is none). Commercially, it’s the lowest temperature used by mankind in practical application. It’s used for “superfreezing” foods. It’s so cold that meat a foot thick will “freeze to the bone” quickly. Super-frozen foods don’t discolour and look as fresh as when they were super-frozen once thawed. That’s not subjective, it’s fact. There will have been no ability for any decomposition, decay or oxidization to change the biological matter. Science uses temperatures lower than −60, but they are uncommon and not commercial in nature. Most frozen foods are actually done much warmer than −60 as well. −60 is the premium of flash freezing.

For all intents and purposes, −60 is as good as anything colder. Anything colder really makes absolutely no difference to any form of life. Activity in molecules stops and from there it only effects atoms. That’s cold! Finger skin starts freezing at −10° Celsius. At −30° Celsius, any exposed skin freezes in 20 minutes or less. If a person’s core temperature reaches 23° Celsius, they will have a heart attack, respiratory failure, pulmonary edema and die. Edmonton is very cold! I’ve been there at −30 or so (without windchill). I can’t imagine −50!

--John Taschereau

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monckton Interview

What is revealing about this street interview is not Lord Christopher Monckton's facts (facts, not all of which I can say that I abide by) that he states, but the woman's clear and pretty much uninhibited expressions about how she has based her actions (campaigning or otherwise) on preconceptions which she retains through "faith".



Now picture millions like her.

Bird and Fish

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Twilight Series

"Here, then, is the embedded spiritual narrative (probably invisible to the author and her audience alike): You shall be as gods. As with Harry Potter, you shall be as nice gods. You will overcome death on your own terms. You will be master over death. Good and evil are not necessarily what western civilization has, until now, called good and evil. You will define the meaning of symbols and morals and human identity. And all of this is subsumed in the ultimate message: The image and likeness of God in you can be the image and likeness of a god whose characteristics are satanic, as long as you are a “basically good person.”

In this way, coasting on a tsunami of intoxicating visuals and emotions, the image of supernatural evil is transformed into an image of supernatural good."
From The Twilight of the West, by Michael D. O'Brien.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Journalism Snuffed in Copenhagen

You may remember Phelim McAleer from this "Question and Answer" at an Al Gore gig:



The same journalist went to the Copenhagen Thing:



One could ask oneself a basic question, like: does this conduct of shut-him-down-and-shut-him-up look like the kind that would be assumed by those who bear and proclaim the truth and have an investment in it, supposedly for all of our sakes?

Would it be especially the right conduct in response to questions raised towards that scandal which definitely needs answering to by said "truth bearers" and which was brought up by the journalist?

Have $60 million-a-year earners (I write "earn" in the most derogatory way) typically been those throughout history who were the prophetic voices, or even the scientific voices of truth?

Chapters: get some real books

The "Christianity" book section at the Chapters store I visited today has finally triumphed (the last time I visited was around a year ago) in being rid - as far as I could see - of anything remotely resembling actual Christianity and its plenitude of literature. Last year there was at least something like one third of the section that was reasonably solid. By lord, there was even Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth - and faced to the front!

Going over the section with wrathful scrutiny, my eye took in nothing but that which is new and already old: clichéd controversy, leftist garbage. Paul Was Not a Christian; Jesus in the Lotus; The Gnostic Gospels; With or Without God, with the ridiculous subtitle: Why The Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe. As if the two were ever at odds.

Why What We Believe Determines The Way We Live more like it. Oh, what lameness! like the one that blurbs about its title, Paul Was Not A Christian: because there was no verifiable religion at that time called Christianity! Wow, you mean the first followers of Christ hadn't yet adopted the name Christian? My mind has been blooooown awaaay! What a bunch of pathetic, perfumed rat shit.

There are a whole lot of variations on the same tired post-worn post-this and post-that titles: how to be "spiritual" without, you know, a church. As if a church is there to make you "spiritual".

But C.S. Lewis is still there. They don't mind having him in prominence, and Thomas Merton. There's just enough - just enough - in those two writers to lend themselves to the abovementioned Give Me Jesus Without The Church Please. Oh, and please can Jesus also be left-wing?

Just enough - together with a lot and a lot of twisting and outright ignoring by said I-won't-have-no-church ignorant reader - or I should say, just enough in Old Merton (this cheese is starting to get to me...hey look, zen!), whereas in Lewis it is more like merely enough.

Are you a Climategate Denier?

Something that annoys me very much: the oh-so-balanced folks who in response to the justifiably alarming - and angering - disclosures of Climategate are afraid that they might look like conspiracy theorists - and who thereby (while conceding that this issue is something bad) only help the more to douse the glowing iron before it even gets hammered.

Go grow a pair.

A pair of eyes.

An Erasmus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, the world's true sun, always rising, never setting, whose life-giving warmth engenders, preserves, nourishes and gladdens all things in heaven and on earth, shine into my soul, I pray: scatter the night of sin and the clouds of error; blaze within me, so that I may go on my way without stumbling, taking no part in shameful deeds done in the dark, but ever walking as one born to the light. Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Prayer

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to life immortal. Amen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XIII. The abbot Agatho said, "If an angry man were to raise the dead, because of his anger he would not please God."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nocturne

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) Nocturne in E minor Op. Posth. 72 nr. 1 from ingvi on Vimeo.

Advent Prayer

Grant the will, we beseech you, almighty God, to your faithful people, that, running to meet the coming of your Anointed with the gift of good works, we may be found worthy to be gathered at his right hand and thus possess the heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Listen Up

Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off—

those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale.

For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction." --Isaiah 29: 17-24

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Desert Fathers

I. The abbot Anthony said, "There be some that wear out their bodies with abstinence: but because they have no discretion, they be a great way from God."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" is not a pro-life film

"Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu depicts with bleak accuracy and wry observation what it's like to navigate the back alleys, easy cruelty and sheer pettiness in a totalitarian society in "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days." This is not the stuff of concentration camps, strong-arm tactics and vicious repression, but rather a society's complete indifference, absent even the slightest human empathy, toward two hapless young women trying to resolve an unwanted pregnancy. Yes, the ostensive portrait is of the final years of Communist rule in Romania, but the film speaks to the banality of evil in all political systems and the contemptuous creatures more than willing to exploit the vulnerable in all societies."
From Reuters Top Ten Movies of the Decade.

Yes, the fact that pro-abortion advocates would find the film supportive of their view does make the film not very pro-life. No, the fact that the film is disturbing about the procuring of an abortion does not mean that the film is pro-life.

As far as, "Well, it's neither you see, because it's a work of art and art is not supposed to bash us over the heads with messages..." and so forth, well, it's not that great of a work of art to begin with. And art that sucks, sucks about life.

I saw the film and found the content obviously repulsive. Yes, the film is harrowing and disturbing and bleakly gritty and grittily bleak and yadda yadda. The film "accurately" depicts a night of nightmare. So what? But not one minute of the film did I find to be engaging with the lineaments of life, not with life in its suffering, not with life in its absurd distortions; in fact, if it weren't for the unflinching gritty harrowing disturbing bleakness, what you have here is an after-school special. So lets replace this regime with another regime (not with one of those bad regimes of course, but the good ones that have safe legal abortions and have done away with all that back alley lack of empathy) why don't we? The film is a clunker.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Prayer

Stir up your power, we beseech you, O Lord, and come, that we may be protected from the dangers to which our sins expose us, and thus we may be saved. Amen.

A Poem for the New Liturgical Year

Around for silent miles, the cleaned trees go in
to some listening state, as would appear
hibernation to their bud break, shade-making
prime and dispossession, flurried ember-rot.
But no: new eyes open this ashen afternoon,
stealth-hearing ears and stillness like a rock.

Each lineage of emptied stems becomes
a nest's vigil waiting, receiving from
the sky, portents that are also presences.
The ages are done and their terminus
is set within each bridge's time and length:
the end of all time has been fixed within

the center of time. Stripped is all in all,
and all-in-all's a vigilance. Darkest depth
has housed a frightful liberation whence
the spillage poison may freak and foment,
may drive up to the very heaven's stars to shake;
and while it happens, deemed to overtake,

creature man will have free, terrible space
in which to lift towards his birth his face.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XXVI. An old man said, "The ancients did not readily remove from place to place unless it might be for three things: that is, if there was any who had a grudge against him, and he could not pacify him do what he would: or again if it befell that he were praised by many: or if he ran into temptation of fornication."

Prayer for the Deceased

O divine Lord, whose adorable heart ardently sighs for the happiness of your children, we humbly pray that you remember the souls of your servants for whom we pray; command that your holy angels receive them and convey them to a place of rest and peace. Amen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Prayer for one Recently Deceased

Grant your forgiveness, Lord, to the soul of your servant [N.] that, being dead to this world, he/she may live now to you alone, and whatever sins he/she committed through human frailty, do you, in your mercy, absolve. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XXVIII. And again the abbot Macarius said, "If in desiring to rebuke any one thou art thyself moved to anger, thou dost satisfy thine own passion; in saving another, lose not thyself."

Monday, November 23, 2009

An old drawing


Some drift wood. I came across the drawing going through a sketch-book from awhile back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Perverse Christmas Lights

Driving home from Adoration I noticed a few homes already have their Christmas lights up. But every one of them has these lights that, to me, are kind of ghastly. I don't even know what colour they are; something between a vague light blue and a vague light violet. For some reason they have caught on in the last few years.

They look like those lights that forensics teams use at the scene of a crime. They're so cold.

You want to put up your Christmas lights too early, fine. But at least have colours that are not thoroughly anti-symbological.

Saturday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood which gushed forth from the sacred Side of Thy divine Son Jesus in the presence and to the great sorrow of His most holy Mother, deliver the souls in purgatory and among them all especially that soul which has been most devout to this noble Lady, that it may come quickly into Thy glory, there to praise Thee in her, and her in Thee through all the ages. Amen.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holy Dream


Garden Sprawl Friday

We've been having wind storms here. This time of year it is typical to get wonderful, deep-roaring winds.




This is our backyard willow. Both leaders snapped. Just this past spring I pruned it along its sides, shaping and clearing the way for it to put its growth towards the top. This allows steady sunlight to get into the gardens. I had yet more plans to do further pruning higher up, and keeping the leaders. The willow was looking quite nice, with a good upright form and tapering off into its natural ends. Usually you see willows that get truncated every year, then resprout like a mad Madusa.

And now the beautiful leaders are broken. So, what I'll do is this: I'll go ahead and prune the branches I was going to prune anyway, in addition to cutting clean the broken ends where the wind had its way. From those clean-cut ends, in spring, will sprout multiple branches. I will then prune all of them out but one. This one will become the new leader. I will select the one branch that has the most upright form.

Now this branch,




from one of the apple trees, broke not from winds but from being so heavily laden with apples. That's what I like. There's some kind of metaphor there.

The four back garden beds:








I covered the two beds that have growing things in them with leaves. There's carrots, onions, cabbage, rutabaga, lettuce, garlic and leeks growing (or at least not dying) in these beds. Soon I will need to rig up some sort of cold frame for some of the crops; though I would like to see what I can get away with just by piling more leaves.

I have the leeks in three different areas, each group a successive size, according to the time that I took them out of the mostly shaded greenhouse (perfect for germinating and keeping young crops for transplanting where they won't grow too much) and planted them in the garden. Here are the ones I first took out:


A number of them (the largest) have been pulled up for cooking. These variety (Bandit) are not a giant leek. They are a moderate size (but not small) with a nice buttery, tender white portion; lots of flavour. But their even better trait is that they are a work-horse. They are very cold hardy.

Growing out of the bed at the farther end of the pictured pole beans (the ones that are all now dead) is this singular pumpkin:


That area is where the compost bins used to be. A stray pumpkin seed from who knows when decided to sprout. It must have come from an hybrid pumpkin, of the typical grocery store variety for Halloween carving. An hybrid seed will not grow true to the parent. It "reverts", or does unexpected things. I am going to save the seeds from this little guy, and grow them in the spring and pollinate it with the pollen from a Rouge Vif d'Etempes variety, then see what happens.

And these are some of the well-aged beans from the pole that I marked off in the spring, for saving for seed:




I left them too long, out of laziness, and some of them I threw away as some of the mould had penetrated through the skin to the seeds inside; though it was minimal, I don't want to take any chances. The others were quite clean. Its amazing how a plant will develop all these protective measures.


As for the beans that are still on the dead vines (lots of them) and which are matured but still in the green stage (not the brown stage as pictured above), I am going to pick all of them and perhaps save only the most matured for future growing and see if I can use the others in a slow cooker.

I transplanted kale (which I had grown in the back) into the front bed a little while ago. Kale is another work-horse.

Friday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood which Jesus Thy divine Son did shed this day upon the tree of the Cross, especially from His sacred Hands and Feet, deliver the souls in purgatory, and particularly that soul for whom I am most bound to pray, in order that I may not be the cause which hinders Thee from admitting it quickly to the possession of Thy glory where it may praise Thee and bless Thee for evermore. Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Desert Fathers

IV. A brother asked an old man, saying, "What shall I do, Father, against thoughts of passion?" He answered, "Pray to the Lord that the eyes of thy soul may behold the help that is from God, that doth go round about a man and keep him safe."

Four Mazurkas

Victoria Smus, Chopin Recital. part 2 (2) from Eugene Nizker on Vimeo.

Thursday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Body and Blood of Thy divine Son Jesus, which He Himself on the night before His Passion gave as meat and drink to His beloved Apostles and bequeathed to His Holy Church to be the perpetual Sacrifice and life-giving nourishment of His faithful people, deliver the souls in purgatory, but most of all, that soul which was most devoted to this Mystery of infinite love, in order that it may praise Thee therefor, together with Thy divine Son and the Holy Spirit in Thy glory for ever. Amen.

The NeverEnding Story

The NeverEnding Story is one of the most depressing films of all time. Yet it is the more so when it tries not to be. And where it reaches for profundity it becomes shallow and desultory. There are many films that are deliberately sad; among them many that can be depressing as a lingering offshoot; lots of them films from the 90's, and of course none of them belonging to the fantasy genre: that genre of the 80's, to which The NeverEnding Story can be counted as one of many unfortunates that further tarnishes it.

Rather, the movie is utterly unique in achieving a virulent hangover through the sheer sincerity of the filmmakers' and writers' drive to make this fantasy world believable (a noble intention), but 'believable' in a way that, straining and overbearing and with nothing to really earn it in the first place, turns this alternate world (Fantasia) into the very pulpit from which they expound the absolute necessity of believing in it. Talk about getting ahead of yourself. And as the flipside to this Very Necessary Belief they pit The Nothing. You must buleeeeeeeeeve! Or else!

"But father, what must I believe in, and why?"

"Well Johnny...it's like...well, uh oh, I think I hear The Nothing coming."

"No! No! I believe! I buleeeeeve!"

"That's a good boy."

I put myself through the painful experience of watching it the other night, and, having grown up in the 80's, obviously not for the first time. I remember as a kid in particular the ending portion of the movie that left me indifferent and empty (not to mention the sinking of Atreyu's white horse in the muck of sadness; a scene that absolutely petrified me with sadness as a kid. The white horse is a biblical symbol of Christ. And later his steed is replaced by a good-luck dragon, also white). Now it is possible to see why: the grubby, self-aware markings of stupid adults who want to really show, nay, tell, nay, dictate to children the importance of believing in their dreams and wishes and their own worth (which they must really, really, really believe, instead of humility and self-abasement, as they pass between the two laser-eye sphinxes with the amazingly anti-gravitational breasts) and how the whole world is completely dependent on their own powers (and they better have one of those talismans of two snakes eating one another; and a good-luck dragon to boot) because it is wholly one-dimensional and is at the mercy of The Nothing if they don't just simply, you know, wish, or something.

Puleeeese Bastian! You must! You must give me a name! Your powers are to be wielded in this world, in other words, as having no place and proportion in the hierarchy of creation as created by the One, not as gifts, but at your own service, having no recourse to any wisdom but your own as it seems these powers are nothing more than your own autonomous will.

Your own autonomous will and a one-dimensional, or two, or three-dimensional world and The Nothing pitted against it all: that this sort of thing has long infested that most pure and rich of genres, Fantasy, is perhaps not surprising, given that we know the Great Plagiarizing Feign always goes after the sanctuary.

There is one effective part in the movie, and that is when Atreyu comes upon the drawings on the stone wall showing some of his lame-ass journey in retrospect, and then (the good part) comes upon the drawing of the wolf's face, snarling. It is quite creepy. The wolf itself is also well done.

I didn't know this film was based on a book. And the theme music at the beginning and end of the film is worse than Abba.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood of Thy divine Son Jesus that was shed in the streets of Jerusalem whilst He carried on His sacred shoulders the heavy burden of the Cross, deliver the souls in purgatory and especially that one which is richest in merits in Thy sight, so that, having soon attained the high place in glory to which it is destined, it may praise Thee triumphantly and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hardy

A Night in November
By Thomas Hardy

I marked when the weather changed,
And the panes began to quake,
And the winds rose up and ranged,
That night, lying half-awake.

Dead leaves blew into my room,
And alighted upon my bed,
And a tree declared to the gloom
Its sorrow that they were shed.

One leaf of them touched my hand,
And I thought that it was you
There stood as you used to stand,
And saying at last you knew!

Tuesday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood of Thy divine Son Jesus that was shed in His bitter crowning with thorns, deliver the souls in purgatory, and among them all, particularly that soul which is in the greatest need of our prayers, in order that it may not long be delayed in praising Thee in Thy glory and blessing Thee for ever. Amen.

A Nocturne and My Favourite Ballade

Victoria Smus, Chopin Recital. part 2 (1) from Eugene Nizker on Vimeo.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood which Thy divine Son Jesus shed in His cruel scourging, deliver the souls in purgatory, and among them all, especially that soul which is nearest to its entrance into Thy glory, that it may soon begin to praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Prayer for the Faithful Departed

O Lord God omnipotent, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood, which Thy divine Son Jesus shed in the Garden, deliver the souls in purgatory, and especially that one which is the most forsaken of all, and bring it into Thy glory, where it may praise and bless Thee for ever. Amen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Nocturne and a Ballade

Victoria Smus, Chopin Recital. part 1 (3) from Eugene Nizker on Vimeo.

Prayer for All the Deceased

By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer hath dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servants in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham's bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and brothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

Friday, November 13, 2009

After Meal Blessing

We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, Who livest and reignest forever. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Acrostic Poem - On Root Canal

Recline while the numbing freeze reaches to the eye,
Ossifies the face's left side; read a bit
On melting ice caps, poor polar bears, while freeze sinks in.
Then 'tis time, just when you relax: nurse comes in.

Confine the tooth in screw device and rubber shield
Against the mouth; rubber wedge into the other side.
Now the unyielding tooth-grate, shooting rills, drilling filling
Astoundingly, your jack-hammered head; now tell us,
Lift your hand if you taste something really awful.

A Ballade

Victoria Smus, Chopin Recital. part 1 (2) from Eugene Nizker on Vimeo.

Heroic Act of Charity

From fish eaters:

An "Heroic Act of Charity" is the offering of the satisfactory value (not the merits) of all of our sufferings and works of our rest of our lives and of any time we may spend in Purgatory for the relief of the souls in Purgatory. We do this by first deciding to do so, and then praying (using our own words or the more formal prayer below) to offer these things to God through Mary's hands.

Doing this is not a matter of taking a vow; it doesn't bind under pain of sin, and it is revokable (unless one vows never to revoke the Act). But it is a tremendous sacrifice, hence the name. It is truly heroic, a giving up of one's own earned relief from the temporal effects of sin -- even relief of the sufferings of Purgatory -- for the good of others.

In addition to asking God to use their satisfactory works for the souls in Purgatory, those who make this Act also receive a plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) for the souls in Purgatory each time they receive Communion, and each time they hear Mass on Mondays for the sake of the departed. Words to a formal Act of Heroic Charity are as follows:

O Holy and Adorable Trinity, desiring to aid in the relief and release of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, through my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cede and renounce, on behalf of these souls, all the satisfactory part of my works, and all the suffrages which may be given to me after my death. In their entirety, I offer them to Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God, that she may use them, according to her good pleasure, for those souls of the faithful departed whom she desires to alleviate their suffering. O my God, deign to accept and bless my offering which I make to Thee through the most august Queen of Heaven and Earth. Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XLIX. The abbot Moses came to the well to draw water, and he saw the brother Zachary praying, and the Spirit of God resting over him.

LXX. The abbot Poemen said with a groan, "All virtues are gone into my cell but one, and by it doth a man stand." And the brethren asked him what that great virtue might be. And the old man said, "That a man should ever be rebuking himself."

LXXXIII. An old man said, "See that thou despise not the brother that stands by thee: for thou knowest not whether the spirit of God be in thee or in him."

XCI. An old man said, "There is no stronger virtue than to scorn no man."

XCIV. An old man said, "The man that every hour hath death before his eyes, will conquer meanness of soul."

XCV. An old man said, "Be a free man in thy speech, not a slave."

Prayer for Deceased Veterans

O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Desert Fathers

LXXIII. When the abbot Marcarius was in Egypt, he had gone out of his cell: and returning found someone stealing whatever he had in his cell. So he stood by as if himself had been a stranger, and helped load the animal with all stealth and led him out, saying, "We brought nothing into the world. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: and as He willed, so is it come to pass. Blessed be the Lord in all things."

Prayer for Mercy on the Souls in Purgatory

My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christ Healing


Ball-Point and Mirror


Prayer of St. Gertrude

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Four Mazurkas

Victoria Smus, Chopin Recital. part 1 (1) from Eugene Nizker on Vimeo.

Chichikov

ARTISAN
By Pavel Chichikov

Everything You touch becoming royal,
Pearl of frost enamels trampled leaves,
Someone has encrusted winter cinquefoil
Artisan, my innocence believes

Only this, by crossing through the green,
Craftsmanship that no one can deny,
And if a random handiwork be seen,
What may be the secret of the eye?

Answer goes to answer—man, look down,
There is no low or high but only this:
Everything with majesty is sown,
Everything returning to its bliss

Only this, look down and you will see,
Wake from heaviness and come with Me


GRAIN OF SAND
By Pavel Chichikov

The creek has not yet frozen
But shaven winter vines
Naked since October
Tangle their designs

Arching wooden bridges
Slippery with snow
Jump between the edges
The running stream below

Freezing water crystals
Around a grain of sand,
Makes a river metal
A running river stand

I saw a bird of winter
Flutter on a perch,
Snow descending gathers
An ivory winter church

Everything that’s needed
Except a sacrifice,
And then will be completed
Solemnities of ice

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Desert Fathers

CLVII. There is by the Dead Sea a mountain called Mardes, exceeding high. In that mountain hermits dwell: but they have a garden at the foot of the mountain about six milestones distant from them round the margin of the sea and there they have a serving man. So if at any time they wish to send for vegetables, they saddle the donkey and say to him, "Go to the garden to the serving man, and bring us vegetables." And he goes off by himself to the gardener, and stands in front of the gate, and knocks upon it with his head. And straightway the gardener comes out and loads him with vegetables, and sends him away with his load. Daily you may see the donkey climbing up and coming down and ministering to the old men, but he will obey no man else.

Garden Sprawl Friday

Seeds and stringy pulp from around nine pumpkins.


I tried an outside method of cleaning and separating over a screen with the hose, but the holes in the screen were too big and the seeds kept falling through. So I did the washing inside in the sink.


Lesson: don't wait any number of days before separating pulp from pumpkin seeds. Do it as soon as the stuff is taken out of the pumpkins. The strings will cling too much to the seeds otherwise. I had to do numerous washings.

After washing I got some window screen and put the seeds on it to dry with a fan at medium speed and oscillating at enough of a distance to move the air around but not blast the seeds with air.


They should dry for up to three weeks. Even if they look and feel quite dry, one should leave them for the three weeks.


Of course not all of them are viable. Some are empty, which can be told by the flatness of the seed and the give when you press it between your fingers. Do not use the floating test for squash seeds (where you put the seeds in water to see which ones float and which ones sink; the sinkers being the viable seeds and the floaters being duds), as viable squash seeds can both sink and float. This may hold true for other seeds as well. The float test should be used only for those kinds of seeds which for a certainty only sink when viable.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Desert Fathers

CLXIII. The abbot Alexander, father of the monastery of Calamon beside the Jordan, used to tell this story. "One day I was with the abbot Paul Helladicus in his cave, and behold one came and knocked, and the old man went out and opened the door, and bringing forth bread and peas that had been steeped, set it before him and he ate. Now I thought it might be a pilgrim, and looking through the window, I saw it was a lion. So I said to the old man, 'Tell me, father, why dost thou give him to eat?' And he said to me, 'Because I admonished him to do hurt to none, neither man nor beast, and said to him, "Come every day and I will give thee thy food." And behold this is now the seventh month since he hath come twice in the day and I give him to eat.

"Again after a few days I went out to him to buy a wine jar from him, for that was the old man's trade, and I said to him, 'What ails thee, Father? how goes it with the lion?' And he said to me, 'Badly.' And I said, 'How?' And he said, 'The other day he came here that I might give him to eat, but I saw his chin stained with blood, and I said to him, "What is this? Thou hast been disobedient to me, and hast eaten flesh. Blessed be God, I shall give thee no more, a devourer of flesh eating the bread of the fathers: begone." But he was unwilling to go away. Then I took a rope, and trebled it, and gave him three blows with it, and he went away.'"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It breaks the heart

to see the desolation in the variety of Halloween candy. When I was a kid, not too long ago, you simply did not know what you were going to get, from house to house. Nibs, twizzlers, wagon wheels, tootsie rolls, toffees, assorted suckers, cracker jack boxes, candy corn, sweet tarts, little chocolate bars, and even little toys, like glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth, and various other obscure candy that I can't remember the names of. The open-air magic would set in upon visiting the houses of the neighbourhood and further, along the familiar streets now like new; houses that you were familiar with, but only from a distance; now going up their driveway and seeing their jack-o-lantern up close then the door opening and seeing the inside of their house, then the bestowal of Lord knows what kind of candy; and the candy having some sort of associative virtue as to what kind of person it was that gave it out: I found all this so exciting and so much damn fun that I would almost pee myself.

And now what is it? Everyone has bought their damn candy from Wal-Mart, and it's all the same - mostly little chocolate bars. This is seriously wrong. And when I go to plunder my nieces' or nephews' Halloween hoard - when visiting a sister's house - I want variety damn it, variety.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XXIV. A certain old man lived in the monastery at Cuziba, of whom the old men of the place told us that when he was in his own village it was his custom if he saw anyone in the village unable through poverty to sow his field, he would go by night, carrying seed with him, and sow the poor man's field, the owner knowing nothing of it. And when he came to the desert and lived in the monastery at Cuziba, he did the same works of compassion. For he would go along the road that leads from the Jordan to the Holy City, carrying bread and water. And if he saw someone growing weary, he would shoulder his load and climb as far as the Holy Mount of Olives, and return again with others by the same road, carrying their burdens as far as Jericho. You might have seen the old man sometimes carrying a huge bundle and sweating under his load: sometimes carrying a youngster on his shoulder; sometimes two. Sometimes he would be sitting patching the broken shoes of some man or woman: he used to carry with him whatever was needed for the task. He would give some a drink of the water he carried, to others he would give bread; and indeed if he should come on any naked, he would give him the cloak that he wore. It was sweet, to see the old man toiling day after day. And if he found one dead on the road, he would say over him the wonted psalms and prayers, and give him burial.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Time


I have a thing for owls in trees. There's this experience I had one evening a while back in the woods...a memory.


The pumpkins were gathered up today. There were fourteen of them in the garden. I think there are four left out there (not the ones in the picture; those were grabbed).

Here's me bringing in the kill:


With the pumpkin slicked from the rain and from washing it down with the hose it looks like I just gave birth to it. And the labour was so intense it caused my hairline to rapidly recede.

The membrane, the actual meat of these Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkins, is so incredibly thick and sweet smelling. You really have to put some effort into carving these ones.

Here's a couple more shots:



Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Desert Fathers

OF LOVE

VII. At one time the abbot John was climbing up from Scete with other brethren: and he who was by way of guiding them mistook the way: for it was night. And the brethren said to the abbot John, "What shall we do, Father, for the brother has missed the way, and we may lose ourselves and die?" And the old man said, "If we say aught to him, he will be cast down. But I shall make a show of being worn out and say that I cannot walk, but must lie here till morning." And he did so. And the others said, "Neither shall we go on, but shall sit down beside thee." And they sat down until morning, so as not to discountenance their brother.

Cranberries

The importing/exporting, shipping and packaging of produce mystifies me.

These cranberries are a "product of USA".


This can mean one of two things. Either the berries were grown here in Canada,


and then shipped to the U.S. to be packaged and then sent back to us (Canada), or it can mean simply that the berries were grown in the U.S. and shipped to be packaged in Canada, Nova Scotia.

I know the former is what happens to a lot of the cranberries grown here in British Columbia. They are grown here and then sent to the Ocean Spray company in the U.S. and then shipped back to us as a "U.S. product".

I'm sure there's a name for this, but don't know what it is. Boomerang exports?

It's strange, but at least not as bad as having the wherewithal to grow some of the finest, tastiest garlic in your own province, and instead importing the blandest, most pathetic garlic from China. (I'm sure China is capable of growing good garlic but shipping that distance requires produce that can endure the travelling. The more like styrofoam the better.)

There's a name for that and I know it. It's called profit margin.

By the way, tomorrow, October 12th., is Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

I'm grateful for a lot of things; things that, once I start counting, shed all their relation to numbers, for I see the things expanding out to eternity, and gaining a value that I cannot comprehend.

Damien of Molokai canonized today

Therefore I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.

Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem, because all gold is but a little sand in her sight, and silver will be accounted as clay before her.

I loved her more than health and beauty, and I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases.

All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth. --Wisdom 7: 7 - 11


And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'"

And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth."

And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"

And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

Peter began to say to him, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you."

Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,

who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. --Mark 10: 17 - 30

Saint Damien of Molokai,


Pray for us!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kurosawa's Dreams

If you find Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990) at the rental store give it a try. I watched it several years ago and remember the evocative power of these 'dreams'. The film consists of eight different segments, each one a dream; Kurosawa's own dreams. Whether dreams he dreamed in his sleep or dreamed while awake we don't know.

The following one, 'Crows', is probably the film's weakest segment (the part where the aspiring painter walks through the painting stills looking for Van Gogh is cringe worthy, and are those commercially pre-stretched canvases that Van Gogh is carrying?), but interesting nonetheless. George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic provided the visual effects.

And Scorcese as Vincent Van Gogh...bleh. Bleh. Bleh. No thanks.

Dreams - Van Gogh from Thiago Barbosa on Vimeo.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ink Drawing - Cloth and Potatoes


Garden Sprawl Friday

In this post from August I wrote about two projects for the front and back. The back still remains the same, but the front (planned as a B.C. native garden),



I have been working on:






It's a start. There's much more to be done. Salvaged stone and brick will be used, and the garden will be extending further both ways - actually three ways, as the front part, curving along the path-to-be, will be coming further out and more bushes planted.

Those wood and foliage chippings,


were all used up.


I'll re-seed that grass.

I mixed sand into the chippings, as well as some of the native soil that I originally dug out. And where I put the plants in (the ones that I have put in so far), I did a mix of the same but with peat and saw dust as well.

Here's some of the plants:

Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea).




I hope to have the lingonberries as the main planting.

Here is Bearberry (Arctostaphylos), or Kinnikinnick:


And this one I am looking forward to:


It is an evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum - var.‘Thunderbird’) found in Tofino on Vancouver Island.

Here's an interesting one I found at the nursery:


It is Gaulnettya wisleyensis (Wisley Pearl). It is a cross between gaultheria (Salal) and pernettya.

And my favourite of all, the red huckleberry - Vaccinium parvifolium - (not a true huckleberry):




You have to go into the woods for them. As I said before, there's a reason why you do not see them in cultivation. They only grow on the decomposition of evergreens, mostly douglas fir. I need to find rotting material and some douglas fir stumps/logs. These two specimens I took from Redwood Park. I made sure to take some of the deep red, long advanced wood-rot of the fallen tree they were growing on.

Taking bareroot specimens of red huckleberry is difficult. It is impossible if you try and take one that is a big bush, or even a medium bush, as the roots go out far and you cannot dig up the entire root system to support that large a plant. So you find the smallest ones, and dig up as much root as possible; then when you plant it you clip off some of the stem and leaves. The ones pictured above have their native soil beneath the peat moss that I put on top.

I took them from the woods about three weeks ago, or more. They seem to be doing alright.