Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't put it off

This evening I dragged my sorry carcass into confession. I hadn't been in something like six months.

When you put confession off, thinking you will go when you are more recollected and can peacefully examine your conscience, you are not just putting it off for the day or number of days that you think. It doesn't work like that. You are in effect choosing to let a torrent of uncertain time go by, like pulling up a watergate; time that will accumulate strength, body, and most especially, a will of its own - within yourself.

With every hour and day you let more of that weight onto yourself, whether you feel it or not. That makes it that much harder to get into confession. Can you imagine a lifetime of that...and then on your deathbed?

You want to know why deathbed conversions are rare?

Maybe if I did not go this evening another torrent of six months would have cascaded by.

Don't put it off.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pumpkin drawing

I figure this drawing can double as a GSF post as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


""Lift up thy head, and confidently quit
Thyself! For whatso mortal dares to soar
Hither, our rays must ripen and complete.""

St. James to Dante in Paradiso
Canto XXV.

Two Interviews

There are these two interviews at smallpax: an interview with Timothy Jones and an interview with Daniel Mitsui.

I like how both talk quite practically about their art.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


By Pavel Chichikov

Why can’t you look and see?
I give you other eyes,
Can’t you see the risen bread
As it multiplies?

O no my loving Master
Nothing like that here,
I’ve never seen You breed Your bread
Although my eyes are clear

Nor multiply the fishes
Nor raise the dead to breathe,
Water is still water here
And sorrow still must grieve

The demons still inhabit
Where none can root them out,
And all must die and vanish
Even the devout

What have you done My children
With the eyes I gave?
We thought those eyes were pebbles
And threw them in a grave

Then I must now retrieve them
For My sons and daughters,
Into death I will submerge
As if it were in water

Here they are, new eyes
For which you must exchange
The duller eyes of death—
But they are fearful strange

They are fearful strange my Lord
And if I put them in
May I reserve those other eyes
Through which I see to sin?

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Three figs left

A friend of my mom's gave her seven figs from her tree.

Fortunately, I'm the only one who appreciates them.

Little gifts from friends,

make your day.

Giving small gifts is what good gentle Hobbits do.

Photo Allegory

You figure it out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Forlorn Riches and the Wayside Rich

First corn country, then cougar country. The past month has been an hour's drive in the morning - not me doing the driving - east to Chilliwack's mountains to work a defunct property, now up for sale, belonging to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

It's just within the mountains and the view of the higher, farther mountains while working is enough to make the most strenuous labour a breeze. Though the heat of summer sinks in around us, there are, up at their peaks flush against the cobalt, the small open faces of the snow fields.

The property has six hundred feet of snaking driveway and it and the rest of the place was overgrown with grass and weeds. So it was mowing and weed-whacking and heavy pruning; tearing out huge shrubs from the front of the house.

Swallows are everywhere, lunging in and out of the vacant carport and equipment barn (equipment no longer there). On the low branch of an old Japanese maple there is a robin's nest with wan fledglings in it. On the open ground, a sudden toad appears, like a cake of dirt only a minute ago woke with life and legs. Snakes in the folds of grass.

While the immediate grounds assure one of their year or more of emptiness, with the drowsing back porch and lichen-ridden trees, bushes, the rotting fence posts, rusty water from the outside tap and vestiges of forgotten children's toys, there is a redounded age to the estate, in the way of outliers; in the realm around the failing fences, like border watchmen looking in upon the land's core of abandonment: they are the massive red cedar stumps. An archipelago of them throughout the nine acres, among the waist-wading waves of the field grass. Huge trees long ago cut down, their vast rooted seats still annunciate, through the decades of decay, the clear steeple-flow, fissured shape of their living years, widening in great girths towards the veiled floor.

And from each one of them, from the truncated top of each, a whole new, slender tree stretches up - or a clump of them - and sends down tethering roots like fossilized tentacles, along the fodder walls of the stumps.

Some are hemlocks that grow on the old red cedar stumps; some are alder or birch. Some are of the same kind they grow on. A few have virtually encased their pedestals.

At this terrible thickness of the Old, and not knowing how much of it and what of it has vanished, and not knowing how old exactly is the New that grows on it: this is where you arrive at life.


The other night I had a dream in which it was discovered that I had not the full amount of credits necessary to my high school graduation, and that I had to go back to high school, strangely almost eleven years now after the fact, for half a year to make them up. But at school there was of course none of the people I knew in my secondary school years. Even the ones who I was not on acquainted terms with would have been preferred. For all the people were somehow fallow and insubstantial, and none of them breaking, either desirably or undesirably, into the sphere of my own little world.

No wonderful sense of having attained seniority after the initial years of abject fear, when the old high school was still standing next to the newly built one, not yet being torn down, and which was still used for gym. The one which we walked to - from the new to the old - where the locker room was permanently permeated with decades of dirty sweat smell from countless teenagers and young men before us, and which was home to certain horrors: the towering seniors having their raucous ways. While I managed to escape for the most part their showmanship of strength, I still remember the awful sight of one featherweight kid receiving such a bad wedgy that his head pushed up the ceiling tile.

No gawky, zitty tall kid giving you your weekly Charlie Horse passing by.

No occasional thrill - and nicotine rush - at the smoke pit between classes.

No sense of emergence after the first early dark years.

No headlong crush on a girl who was so mature you thought for sure she was two years your senior; and then the smiting of bewilderment on discovering that she was in fact one grade below your own.

No quiet chuckling with friends in class over the physical habits and body language of the woodwork teacher, having discovered that all of you have observed the same thing for some time; and then the teacher doing that very thing you were chuckling about in front of you and your friends right there and then, seeing it all at the same time, and then the bemusement turning into louder, quaking laughter; and then the teacher continuing in his observed habit before you all for an extended period of time, unaware that he is becoming timelessly burned into your faculty of pure observation and giddy awe, as grand and clear-cut as any renaissance painting, and then the laughter so full and so hard it was like your guts were going to split open.

No sense of first time achievement in school history, when, behaving so badly as a whole class on one of those musky rainy afternoon's, the substitute teacher simply abandoned ship and went home, thereby forcing the principal himself to take over.

No discovery that you actually love English class - and Shakespeare.

There was, needless to say, none of this, nor the accompanying feelings, in the dream, as everyone in the dream seemed very conscious of not doing anyone offense, though not in any sensitive neurotic fashion. All the foibles of my own soul and personality that normally would butt against the foibles of others were, through the very absence of that ordinary jostling, not thereby dissipated, struggled with, or grown out of, but imprisoned within me and focalized so acutely it was as if everyone was aware of the aspects of my inner being. But they regarded it silently amongst themselves, coldly; not conspirationally and maliciously, but with common, steadfast indifference.

It was like they had attained to something we have been seeking which we need, and attained it with some kind of horrible perfection, but everything else about them, at some point in time, had been completely sucked out. And so, in spite of this emulative unity, there was through it all a sense of a great watchfulness, closing in.


As I drove home one night after Adoration I turned onto a four lane highway; two going in one direction, and two in the opposite. I was in the fast lane doing 80 (that's kilometers) steadily. It is the posted speed limit. A truck had come to behind me, tailgating.

Typically I pull into the right lane, if I'm not already there, which I usually am, but this person was pissing me off. So I stayed in the left, and kept it precisely at 80. There was a semi-truck in the right lane beside us, (which was part of the reason why I was not in the slow lane, as I was originally trying to get around the truck, possibly without speeding) so the truck behind me couldn't pull out and get around me.

The driver flashed the high beams, filling the rearview. This only hardened my will and I slowed down, a bit, and then went back to 80, keeping it there, on the nose. The driver flashed the high beams a second time. Still I didn't budge. The whole time the driver was behind me, he was tailgating in a way one would call aggressive, interrogative and endangering; the driver was as close behind me as any tailgater could get. He punched the high beams a third time. I refused.

Then, instead of high beams, police lights exploded in the rearview. I pulled over, fighting off a jab of panic and fear. Strangely as I waited for the cop to come up to the car I was quite at peace. The cop came up to the right side of the car and tapped hard on the passenger window. I opened the door.

He asked for my license and after some words which I forget, started on the reasons why he pulled me over. He was a medium-weight cop, with a certain nasally tone; but these two characteristics did not in any way subtract from the sense of power he wanted to exude. He talked quite loud in what was something between an air of tamed devil-may-care and aggression:

"You didn't like the way I was driving behind you like that, huh?"

"Well uh…"

"Is that why you slowed down like that, you didn't like the way I was driving behind you…why didn't you pull into the right lane?"

"Well, I was going to, but the semi-truck was there and I was waiting to get behind him…"

Which was sort of a lie. Though the fact is, once I had turned onto the highway my intention was indeed to get in the right lane, which is the lane I always drive in, detesting the ludicrous speeds which people drive at.

At no point did I even attempt to mention that I was doing the maximum speed limit and that if I had sped past it he could have given me a speeding ticket instead, and are you just pulling me over to show me who's boss, and are you saying that I should have gone over the speed limit? Okay, okay, I could have gone into the right lane after slowing down to get behind the semi-truck, but what, may I ask, was with you doing the endangering driving right up my rear, when I was in fact doing the maximum speed limit? That is after all what the fast lane is for: doing the maximum speed limit, without going over it, though nowadays doing the ultimate posted speed limit in the fast lane doesn't cut it for most drivers who I mostly regard - as far as they are in their vehicles - as batshit nuts, animalistic and oblivious in their squint-eyed minds. I had no reason to do anything to correct the situation since I was doing the maximum speed limit in the left lane, while it was you who needed to correct the situation by slowing down - sir.

I'm not that stupid.

When he had gone through all the motions of authoritative power and found that I was not going to offer resistance to that power, he went into soft lecture mode, once of course asking me where I was going [home] and where I was coming from [White Rock] and- White Rock? Were you drinking tonight [no] and what was I doing in White Rock?

"I was at church."

Four syllable terms for worship of the Blessed Sacrament that resides in perpetual exposition would simply have prolonged the ordeal.

"Yeah? The church is open this late?"


The adoration chapel is part of the church, not separate from it. You get to the chapel along the side of the church, going under eaves that look east on slightly down-gradating grass, almost a knoll, dotted with evergreens, and after the sward there is a forest.

There have been many nights in recent weeks when a little coyote would run about on the grass, sometimes keeping his distance, sometimes coming up to the eaves warily and the lights under them, before darting back quickly to the cool darkness under the shades of the spruces to resume his skipping.

The coyote would prance about, suddenly doing hairpin turns, then springing back again in a hopping romp, beyond the St. Anthony statue, seemingly loathe to leave.

One time it looked like he had a bird in his maw, and seemed truly delighted, skipping about with his prize, or his toy, forgetting it was also food.

I like to think of that coyote by the adoration chapel at night, while the neighbourhoods that surround the church grounds remain so, so silent and empty. Rich homes; furnished homes; newer homes; homes with expensive cars and television lights; homes deathly silent under the streetlamp light.

I like to think of that coyote because he makes me think of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, having made Himself so small and accessible, abiding in the remotest corners. That institution of His Eucharist with his apostles in the upper room goes to the furthest corners where He knew He would be most abandoned, neglected; not just in missionary shacks being visited by the clutch that lives there, but the greatly populated places where He would desire the greater number of souls, and yet receiving so few.

Those neighbourhoods! He Himself, the body and blood and full presence of Jesus Christ is just down the quiet street! And the stupendous silence of the tomb that greets Him in return!

The power of He who boomed the top of the sacred mountain that struck anyone dead who touched it; that power diffusing itself so to reach our own human hearts, instead of that mountain top - our hearts taking the mountain top's place!

After the sacred thunder: the silent gift of His own real flesh for us to eat and adore that is even more a mystery of increase. Does this shock you?

It receives an impotent, barely audible guffaw from the suburbs; and the distracted mind thinks elsewhere, lest it be thrown over in the face of reality.

So I like to think of that lone, lean coyote, dancing before Our Lord.

Garden Sprawl Friday

There are two projects pending for the front and the back.

In the frontyard I am planning a native garden, along this side area that curves around and along the front:

It gets afternoon to late afternoon sun. Being a native garden, it will consist of lingonberry, wintergreen, huckleberry (both red huckleberry and a 'cultivated' huckleberry from the wilds of Tofino on Vancouver Island, called 'Thunderbird'), salal, beach strawberry, blueberry, and whatever else that takes my interest that is a native species.

The soil will be raised, which will make it somewhat easier to amend the soil. I have to scrape some of the dirt off and border it with layers of rock. The soil must be very acidic. Fortunately some of the trees along the property line are spruces. Basically any evergreen is good since it sheds its needles which are acidic. But the soil as it is, is clay alkaline.

Wood shavings, cedar bark mulch, saw dust, coffee grounds; all of these can go into building up a good acidic base. It's not so much a "soil" as a loam in the process of decay; there must be lots of that wonderful bacteria, like you find in a forest floor.

Take the red huckleberry. There is a reason why it is not cultivated. It will generally only grow from decaying stumps or from the bases of living trees. I am going to try my best to imitate these contexts.

One thing I will be using is this:

It is two pick-up truck loads of the material I salvaged from one of the sites I was working at for my landscaping job. There were at least several more truck loads I never got. It's the chippings from various trees and bushes, both living and dead and rotting material. The property sold before I could get back up there to get more.

I know someone though who has lots of forest land, and I'm going to ask him for anything he can give; chippings, rotting logs, whatever.

Being a B.C. native garden, it is good that it will get some shade for part of the day.

The other project is in the backyard. This shade-loving bush,

will be coming out from that corner, which is northern exposed and gets no light, except for the first dawn light. The reason is I plan to dig two dug-outs, for root cellars. This project is actually probably going to be more difficult than the other one. My concerns have to do mainly with: will there be flooding? I want to dig them pretty deep and have cement walls, but with the bare earth floor; then devise some kind of system where two levels in each root cellar are involved for storing. One level can be pulled up at a time.

I don't know.

I will be updating as the projects progress of course.


Sunday, August 9, 2009


By Pavel Chichikov

The Lord God is trusting me with trouble:
If you have none, you may borrow it,
A loan for you, return it, it will double
Interest-bearing trouble

With Me there is a bank account
In which you may deposit all your grief,
Anyone who puts it there may count
On interest-bearing trouble

Then at last the day of payment comes,
And when the Lord consults the final ledger
There’s nothing there to count, there are no sums,
There is no interest-bearing trouble

I am no merchant banker and no usurer,
I paid for you in full—they beat Me like a cur

By Pavel Chichikov

From the southeast driven clouds
Northwest is the lightning flash
When the two of these converge
Archangels of the night will clash

They have room to clap and storm
Light and wind, rain and fire
Tumult underneath is warm
Bolts of ice are burning wire

Wing on wing, spear on spear
They will set to and twist about
Until the crown of midnight wear
A diadem of thunder-shouts

Those who think the storm far off
Will be confounded by surprise
To see Saint Michael raise his staff
And dash the stars in Satan’s eyes

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Friday, August 7, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

The second beet harvest. These also were pickled. Some big ones were saved from the batch and I made Borscht yesterday - for the first time. It was quite good. Cabbage and onions happily were some of the other ingredients used that were from the garden.

And there are still beets left:

Going through and pulling beets I began to notice the pumpkins that had been growing among them. I knew there were pumpkins in that area of the garden, but didn't really pay them heed, as I have been noticing the other pumpkins, and these ones were quite hidden by the beets. Out of sight, out of mind. It made me realize how the growth and development of things - seeing the pumpkins suddenly like that - is magic. Come up with all the science you can; at bottom it remains magic.

I've counted around 18 altogether. They are a French heirloom variety, called, Rouge Vif d'Etampes. Their colour will become dark orange/red. I had to carefully turn the pumpkins so they would not be growing on their sides, which means turning the whole vine. I guess it's best to do that early, as I learned the vines at intervals send down roots into the ground, which you have to carefully pull up, as well as the tendrils that grasp the grass and other vines.


Some russet potatoes I pulled up the other day.

By the time I took these pictures ten had already gone into making fries. And they were really good.

They are from this section of the potatoe bed, not including the section where it narrows in, where that lone Cos lettuce stands, about to flower. (Hopefully I will collect seed from it. Lettuce, like beans, don't need another pollenizer to produce viable seed.):

Further up are some red chieftan potatoes and beyond those ones, more russets, of a later maturing variety. I've read so many contradictory 'facts' about potatoes on the internet that it is enough make one go bonkers. You should rotate potatoe plantings every year so they are never in the same bed as last year, or for even three years. You can plant potatoes in the same bed for years and years as "I've been doing" for the past nine years and nothing bad has happened; in fact, it's what the old timers used to do - save one special place just for potatoes. You should always buy new, certified seed potatoes for planting. "I've been planting potatoes" from my own harvests for years and nothing bad has happened. You should hill up the soil a lot, mounding more soil as the plant grows; that way you get more potatoes; in fact, buy one of our potatoe-growing bins and get huge harvests! You cannot get more potatoes from hilling up the soil, as potatoes only grow from between the bottom root and where the potatoe seed is, and never along the stem. Go ahead and mound up that soil; you're just going to get a lot of stem. You should not let your harvested potatoes cure in the sun, as they will go green; you should cure them in the shade. You can cure the potaotes in the sun on the soil you just took them out of for one to three days. In fact, that's what the old timers did. They dug up the potatoes and let them sit on the soil for some days and then the other workers would come and gather them up. Nothing went wrong with the potatoes.

And so it goes. While I am not sure about the first two arguments, I am pretty sure that you definitely cannot get more potatoes by hilling up the soil. You only want to hill once so that the growing potatoes don't get exposed to light. And I am pretty sure that you can cure them in the sun after digging them up, but carefully, not overdoing it. I let the ones above cure in the sun for one day on the soil. Of course I would be wary of doing it with the red ones that have thinner skins.


The pole beans:


Cos lettuce is coming up:

The rutabagas:

The muskmelons:

The sunflower: unfortunate symbol-victim of the vampiric vegan movement. Three of the four sunflowers have put out their flowers. The other one is content to keep growing taller first. You can see the beads of sap. (Click on all photos to enlarge.)