Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Or' Meme

I started writing some 'either/or' questions. You can be memed if you want. The gist of it is you have to pick one without giving any explanation, quickly; like you're going to a desert island and you have to pick one. Picking one over the other doesn't mean you hate the other or that you like both, nor does picking one state what you're present situation in life is; that's not the gist. You just have to pick one over the other(s) - that's it. Though I cheated on my own meme and sometimes said, 'both' or 'neither' or simply gave different answers altogether, which you're free to do, it is recommended that you choose one or the other.

You can add some of your own too if you wish, but none can be removed.


Tail-gated or cut off? Cut off

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Dog or cat? Cat

Radio station or buzzer? Buzzer

Cezanne or Van Gogh? Cezanne

Tom and Jerry or Wile Coyote and Road Runner or Sylvester and Tweetie? Tom and Jerry (the classic ones that is; the ones they won't show on t.v. anymore, most probably because of the Aunt Jemima nanny)

Big Trouble in Little China or Evil Dead II? Evil Dead II (Though admittedly B.T.I.LC. is more fun to watch while drinking beer with a friend)

Laughed at or screamed at? Laughed at

The forest and then the ocean, or the ocean and then an island? The forest and then the ocean

Twenty acres and a shack or ten acres and a mansion? Twenty acres and a shack

Jaded cool-head or kooky wing-nut? Kooky wing-nut

Doctor or dentist? Dentist

New Catholic Literary Revival or T.O.B. Time Bomb? Go to hell

Wordsworth or Keats or Byron or Shelley? Keats

Heavy metal or rap? Eaten by sharks

Pro-life dinner or pro-life picket? Pro-life picket

Oar or Ore or Or? Ore

Linen or cotton? Linen

Vizzini or Inigo or Fezzik? Inigo

Pizza or pizza or pizza? Pizza

Time travel into past or into future? Into past

Hysteria or depression? Depression

Treasure or dinosaur bones? Dinosaur bones

Misjudged or flattered? Misjudged

Caught talking to yourself with great emotion, or someone with psychic abilities reading your mind? Caught talking to yourself with great emotion

Ear ache or tooth ache? Tooth ache

The A-Team or MacGyver? The A-Team

The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock? Dang it Paul, you ask some tough questions, don't you?

Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries or Bob Saget on America's Funniest Home Videos? Both too scary

Thomas Hardy or John Steinbeck? Both

Blake's pictures or Rousseau's? Rousseau's

Forced to do two hour's worth of dish-washing or forced to do five minutes of stand-up improv in a heavily peopled venue? Five minutes of stand-up improv

Handle a snake or a bullfrog? Handle snake

The mummy or the wolf man or Dracula or Frankenstein's monster? The wolf man

Watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind or arguing with a Jehovah's Witness? Arguing with a Jehovah's Witness

Cotton candy or caramel apple? Neither

Read Camus or push a big rock up a mountain again and again? I choose neither. Why choose neither? Because…[profound pause] because I choose to. Oh right, that's The Matrix part Three, never mind.

Marriage proposal in the sun or rain or snow? Rain

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nobody knows, but me

Long Black Veil is such a sad song. The sadness does not come from the obvious imagery of death, such as the grave or scaffold, or the mourning woman in the veil and the night wind.

Rather, there's a deeper sadness about sin. It bears down on the listener. The song touches upon this original condition within us, in its ontological reality: the universal condition of us all. The song grieves with this heavy weight - not laying it on with garbled and overwrought emotions - but it does so in simple terms, the meanings resolving in their own good time, and with an almost upbeat rhythm, which only goes into making the song that much more deep-reaching.

It is about how sin closes in, and closes us in; it is about the awful claustrophobia of sin. This sense is most imparted by the refrain: "Nobody knows, nobody sees; nobody knows, but me".

The narrator is referring not to some special knowledge that makes him higher than others, but to something of which he is ashamed and cannot admit, so he hides it, even if it means that hiding it will get him executed for another's sin of murder of which he (the narrator) is innocent.

There is something inexpressible in that the narrator's sin comes to haunt and condemn him through another's completely unrelated sin and that the two sins are very different; that it is not necessarily the external perversity of sins that make one ashamed, as much as a deep knowing within the soul that it has commited an offence that is contrary to its ingrained dignity.

On a more lofty level there is perhaps a notion in the song that before the Eternal Judge not one of us has an alibi.

The song wasn't originally written by Johnny Cash, but clearly Cash took the song and made it his own. I haven't heard covers of the song by other musicians, and don't really care to. The song was written for Johnny's voice.

The Desert Fathers

XIII. There once came thieves into an old man's cell, and said to him, "Whatever thou hast in thy cell, we have come to take away." And he said, "Take whatever you see, my sons." So they took whatever they could find in the cell, and went away. But they forgot a little bag that was hidden in the cell. So the old man, picking it up, followed after them, shouting and saying, "My sons, ye forgot this: take it." But they, marvelling at the patience of the old man, brought everything back into his cell, and they all did penance, saying one to another, "Truly, this is a man of God."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

This Cos lettuce that I let grow,

has spent itself completely,

giving all these seeds:

It gave out little yellow flowers, and the flowers turned to these white fluffs,

at which point I simply plucked the seeds out by grabbing each fluff ball (the seeds are attached to the fluff) with finger and thumb and putting the clumps in a bag. That way I usually lost a few seeds each time, so I also tried plucking the stem off then shaking it in the bag.

Once I had all the seeds in the ziplock bag I gently shook it around and the fluff would gather together, and I could remove it in bits. Then holding the bag open, and while shaking it, I gently breathed into the bag, and all the bits of fluff and chaff would come out, leaving the little seeds behind.

Today I cut one of the sunflowers. The inside of the stalk looks and feels like styrofoam.

I put it up to hang and dry and do its last ripening in the kitchen. So far the birds have not been going after them, which means they are not yet at their peak of ripeness. But you can still harvest them a bit before that, when the backs of the heads have turned a light lemon yellow colour and the seeds can be somewhat loosened without much effort.

These seeds are delicious by the way. These sunflowers are called 'Russian Mammoth'.

The muskmelons that I was growing did not even reach half the size they normally reach. Two of them reached the half way point - like really large golf balls. But all of them ripened well and were sweet, with the exception of a few bland ones. Taste-wise they were fine, it's just they were small. Next time I'm going to grow them in beds and not pots. I'm pretty certain it was the pots that prevented full size.

Nonetheless, I collected seeds from some of them; the best ones, not all of them:

You just wash them in a strainer and put them on a sheet to dry indoors. Don't put them in the oven.

The pole beans have been very, very productive. You just keep picking and they just keep producing. I tagged one pole to save seeds from. You just don't pick from the pole you tagged and the vine will put all its strength into the beans already on it. They've already become dried husks with the seeds inside and I'm still debating whether I should take the seeds now, or wait even longer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Isn't it so cute? Don't you just want to kiss it on the lips?

Sky Sequence




In one eve's span.

Encounter in the Woods

Yesterday I was in Redwood Park, down in the middle-woods, painting.

Whenever I leave the park with my painting I always carry the canvas in such a way that it is hidden as much as possible. I'm not scared of what others may think of me, going into the park to paint, but for some reason I don't like the actual painting, the results of my labour, to show to anyone who may be passing by. Since I cannot cover the newly painted canvas without wrecking what I just painted, I have to carry it as it is.

Having come out of the hill's woods I headed through the main trails past the redwood grove. There were three people sitting on a log bench in front of the grove: two young women and a man who was rather rotund with a cane. The man was eyeing me as I approached, and eyeing me even as I looked at him, longer than people usually would when their stare is being returned. But then he looked away.

Coming close I saw he had Down's, and the two young women certainly had something - a milder form of Down's, or some form of autism, I don't know. I greeted them, saying hi, and passed in front of them, trying my best to hold the canvas with my left hand at my side so that it didn't show, as they were seated on my right. Suddenly I heard from one of the girls a voice that was totally un-premeditated, unafraid, unmannered and totally natural - almost a shout:

"Did you paint that?"

Dang it.

"Yes," I answered, as I kept walking, and she called after to come back and let's see it. I turned back, went up and showed it to her. A small square canvas.

It was a strange thing. Something like an electric bubble of awe settled instantly around her as she looked at it, carefully holding the stretched canvas by its sides, as she said, in the same spontaneous way, "Wow, that is so good." But all the 'o's in the exclamation were extended.

Now, I'm well aware of my limitations. I know I'll always be learning and that until the end of my life my own achievements will always have something beside which to dwindle in comparison - but that this fault-filled faltering is the unfathomed, bottomless deep from which all great work springs.

The reason I was moved was that there was something in her reaction that was so pure, such that to think about it I am somewhat ashamed to call myself a painter - that is, one who professes to look and observe. She had a special way of seeing that seemed to be at one with some "disability".

Nothing about style or anything like that. She simply took full delight in the painting, and it was deep delight. But again, she took deep delight not in order to satisfy the one who painted it, but according as something had been given to her for the moment and she was taking what beauty or permanence of it that she could: the eternal moment.

I lived with my friend in a basement suite for two years, and the Hungarian family who lived above us has a son with Down's; the youngest in their family of eight, and last to be living at home. What I am getting at is something you can only begin to see after being with them for some time. They're sitting off to the side of the trail, quite content in the surrounding quiet, and they have very keen sight. They rejoice in things - nothing can be too small - with a full-fledged plunge, and the water-graces from the plunge splash onto other people who are standing around.

What a lot of people do not see about them is that they are already deeply immersed.

She asked how long the painting took and I said this was my second sitting and it wasn't yet finished, and she abruptly wished me a good day and I said the same and went away. Something about the encounter nagged at me as I kept on through the trail:

Why do I not take the same delight in my painting?

In a few seconds that girl infused my canvas with its true potential, causing me in turn to see it.

C.S. Lewis came immediately to mind:

"'What fountain’s that?'

"'It is up there in the mountains,' said the Spirit. 'Very cold and clear, between two green hills. A little like Lethe. When you have drunk of it you forget forever all proprietorship in your own works. You enjoy them just as if they were someone else’s: without pride and without modesty.'"

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Christ on the Cross -- Diego Velazquez

"When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." --St. Paul 1 Corinthians, Chapter 2

"We all have to become saints before we get to heaven. That is what purgatory is for. And each individual has his own peculiar form of sanctity which he must achieve or perish. It is no good my saying: "I wish I were like Joan of Arc or St. John of the Cross." I can only be St. Evelyn Waugh - after God knows what experiences in purgatory.

I liked Helena's sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as sanctity. She wasn't thrown to the lions, she wasn't a contemplative, she wasn't poor and hungry, she didn't look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it. And she snubbed Aldous Huxley with his perennial fog, by going straight to the essential physical historical fact of the redemption." --Evelyn Waugh

"And men who have loved a crucified God need never think of torture as all-powerful." --Waugh in a letter to Orwell

Photo Courtesy here.

St. Helena of the True Cross,
pray for us.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Red Potatoes, Onions and Water

There still many things to be done and adjusted. The glass container (which belonged to my Granddad, who used it to hold water for his whiskey) has only been placed in and not yet developed. Same for the table on which the "cutting board" is sitting. Some more graduation is needed in the lights of the cloth. And various other details - like one of the dried-up onion leaves coming down into the foreground and casting shadow on the outer edge of the cutting board - need to be put in.

At this point in time I am largely working from memory and from the forms already put down on the canvas, for while I still have the vegetables arranged on the board (they have a longer life than fruits) the onion leaves have all dried up and shrivelled and the onion bulbs have all changed from the fresh-from-the-dirt white-green to a cured yellow, and the potatoes have shrunken.

Keep in mind the picture has been taken with a camera that focuses on some areas while blurring other areas. You are looking at an image of an image, and then one more for it having to pass through the computer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

See these young rutabagas?

See how the tops flourish?

See this beautiful artistic rendering of a white root maggot?

See this bucket with water, vegetable oil, vinegar, dish soap and cayenne in it?

See how every one of the rutubagas goes into the bucket?

Well, you don't need to see that.

If you can't get your harvest you got to at least have fun killing the little sons of bitches.

Oh, night more lovely than the dawn!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama talking to your children

White House spokesman says, "I think it's a sad, sad day that the political back and forth has intruded on anyone speaking to schoolchildren and teachers and parents about the responsibilities that they have as we enter a new school year."

The White House spokesman bewailing the sadness of the "political back and forth", and how it has intruded - did you get that? Intruded - on the big O of the White House going about his usual cunning ways of persona politics, this time with school children, which many would regard as a very insidious form of intrusion.

Doesn't the blatant perversity and reverse politicizing of that spokeman's statement just make you want to puke?

Go and listen to this sermon on the matter. What a wake up call. Hat tip to St. John's Valdosta Blog.

All of this also puts me in mind of this post by Jim Janknegt on why he homeschools.

Friday, September 4, 2009

To the forest, to the forest, to the forest

Garden Sprawl Friday

I am wondering if vining pumpkins, as opposed to bush varieties, are more resilient, having a longer life. By which I mean the plant itself. The fruit from both varieties, being a winter squash, lasts for months if not exposed to frost.

The reason I wonder is because along the farmlands I see the pumpkin fields - of a bush variety that is grown for Halloween jack-o-lantern fare - and the plants are yellow and pretty much dead, the pumpkins having ripened three weeks earlier this year.

It was on the news the other night. They were talking about how they haven't seen this early a pumpkin crop in, well, ever or something. Right now the pumpkins ought still to be green; then they ripen in time for use on All Hallows Eve. It could be a problem for the farmers if we get early frosts, but I think it will be alright.

But I wonder about my pumpkins, which are a vining variety:

As you can see, they have ripened in this wonderful summer we've had (and I have a feeling they will redden more, according to their French name) but, unlike the pumpkin plants I see in the farmers' fields, these seem to be holding on for the most part, albeit clearly on their last legs. The first leaves at the beginning of the vines have of course died off, and the others have that late powdery mildew (not really a problem for the pumpkins themselves), but they seem, well, pretty decent for the energy they have been expending all summer.

I wonder if open-pollinated, vining type pumpkin plants hold up better than the others.

One thing to be sure; these ones are going to be richly flavoured. There are now twelve pumpkins altogether. When I counted last (eighteen) some of the pumpkins were smaller in comparison to the others that had taken off exponentially. Naturally the bigger pumpkins take the energy and the smaller one gets starved. I waited a bit to see if the smaller ones would grow more, and at a certain point I snipped them off. I also snipped the ends of all the vines, which tells the vine to stop growing. You don't need to do drastic pruning; you just need to snip a few inches off the end of each vine, including the secondary ones.

Nor do you want to cut off any leaves. The leaves are essential for gathering energy from the sun that goes into the growth of the pumpkins.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Continue in what you have learned

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." --2 Timothy, Chapter 3