Sunday, May 31, 2009

O

"At some point, it would seem, people will stop looking to Oprah for this kind of guidance. This will never happen. Oprah's audience admires her as much for her failings as her successes. In real life, she has almost nothing in common with most of her viewers. She is an unapproachable billionaire with a private jet and homes around the country who hangs out with movie stars. She is not married and has no children. But television Oprah is a different person. She somehow manages to make herself believable as a down-to-earth everywoman. She is your girlfriend who struggles to control her weight and balance her work and personal life, just like you. When she recently related the story of how humiliated she felt when she arrived for a photo shoot to find that she couldn't fit into the clothes she was supposed to wear, she knew she had every member of the audience in her hand. Oprah's show is all about second and third and fourth chances to fix your life, and the promise that the next new thing to come along will be the one that finally works."

From Live Your Best Life Ever!, a Newsweek article by Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert, May 30, 2009

Clockwork

Two weeks to the day after Obama gives his "lets dialogue because pro-aborts are so reasonable, unlike you pro-lifers who need to stop demonizing us" speech at Notre Dame, George Tiller, the infamous late-term baby killer gets shot dead in Kansas.

The Old Dragon runs a tight ship.

Too tight.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On the eve of Pentecost...

In case you were thinking the world wasn't teeming with misery - maybe because you don't see ragged people in your front street wailing their guts out or some man or woman in the same street getting stomped to death by militia - I was beginning to type some words into the Google search engine. The words I was beginning to type were:

"How to kill aphids"

Since I found some aphids on a few plants of mine today, I was wanting to get the exact measures for liquid soap and vegetable oil to use in water.

You know how Google throws down its scroll now with a list of things that people search for that might be what you're looking for. As I was typing, How to kill...Google throws down a list and on the top of the list is:

"How to kill yourself" 21, 700, 000 results.

and another:

"How to kill a person" 79, 600, 000 results.

another:

"How to kill someone" 20, 800, 000 results.

We can look at this full-square in the face.

We can, because the descent of the Holy Spirit ensures that we can plumb the depths of the world's misery without flinching, with a bold and scanning eye, and proclaim truly that the world is sadder, deeply sadder than we know.

And then with an interior movement that is like the hurled gyrations of the discus thrower, and which feels like the holocaust of our own selves, we turn to the mighty renewal at hand, coming like a coruscating sun from under an unknown horizon; a renewal whose one and only commonality with our misery is that it is also beyond all fathoming.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

The swallows are back. Sheesh, they love to chatter.




The potato plants are putting out their buds. Time to keep them watered.


***


I would like to make a good analogy for the use of planting herbs around one's garden, like: "Herbs are to your garden what something is to something"; but I can't think of any, so there it is.

Herbs are not essential to your garden per say; you could grow crops without them. But I can only make that statement because the relationships of diverse flora do not operate under terms of "essential" or "useful" or "beneficial". The aim should not be what you can do without, but how much you can include. How much flora can you get in around your gardening space and landscape (without turning it into a haphazard jungle of course; modesty and sparing does fix into this), while at the same time considering use of space, light, companion planting, aesthetics and so forth. This brings me to the point I wanted to make about really successful gardening: you need to have so much going on that whatever failures may occur, they will not spell Total Failure.

A garden ought to be made to develop a rhythm of its own; a flurry of interchanging and limitless propositions that relieves the gardener of the utilitarian approach. With all of the gardener's new trials and experiments, there ought to be a concomitant drive towards permanence for those trials and experiments to take place in, as one builds up the space one has. The prominent term for this is permaculture, which seeks to create an environment that is basically its own mini eco/climate system, rather than merely a bed that one plants with one kind of crop one year, another kind another year, and nothing much else going on besides.

It seeks to include everything. It wants birds and butterflies and flies and bees. It wants moisture retention and shade in the right places and rocks and shrubs and trees. It wants every nook and cranny incorporated in the whole. The gist is that the more seemingly unrelated flora you grow around each other, the more you have a protected home for your crops; and things need a home to thrive. Even the big monoculture fields need to utilize trees along the edges of fields to protect from winds eroding the soil and damaging crops.

There are many things that go into making this; and all of it is, to my mind, mere common sense, carried through to its mad, joyful conclusion of simply doing it, according to one's dreaming, thinking, and sane encounter with what is at one's disposal. I would rather call permaculture Sprawl, but for the sake of this post I will call it permaculture.

This is nothing new. People in the old days had at least some kind of grasp of it, having profuse borders of crowded herbs and flowers; a corner occupied with a tree; rocks placed so as to create a heat sink, or alternatively a cool place for storage.

When seeking permaculture, herbs are a good place to start. One question is how vigorous and invasive are the herbs you want to plant and how much and what kind of space do you have. Adjust accordingly. Be shrewd. You can fit herbs in the tightest corners. Thyme thrives in bad soil; it hates rich soil; perfect for rocky ground and in between rocks. Worried about certain herbs, like mints, naturalizing a little too much and taking over? Devise a "half in the ground/half potted" system around borders using brick or rock, forming a bowl in the ground and planting in there. This can allow for easy pull-up for root pruning and replanting; it's both permanent and controllable.

Some herbs I'm growing, mostly from seed, some from store bought plants:

Mountain mint.
Korean mint.
Peppermint.
Cat mint.
Thyme.
Sage.
Greek oregano.
Winter savory.
Tarragon.
Goldenrod.
Yarrow.
Hyssop.
Bee balm.
Lemon balm.

The fact is, having herbs around your garden is indispensable. There are some, like yarrow, that merely being beside other crops helps them to grow better and taste better. Some confuse pests that detect your crops through smell. Some repel pests. Most do all these things together, as well as attracting beneficial insects. Many can be ruthlessly harvested for mulch and "green manure", and they'll spring right back again. Often the most common ones, stuff you see growing in roadside ditches, like yarrow, are the best all round ones.

And call me crazy, but I noticed when I placed all those mints in and around the cabbages, it was like the cabbages just got real perky. You can just tell that the cabbage loves having the mint around.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

AntiChrist

After watching Dogville some years back (and some of Breaking the Waves years before that) I had promptly forgotten about that snooze of a bore of a yawn-inducer of an I-have-absolutely-zilch-to-say wannabe controversialist, Lars von Trier.

But now he's back and he has shocked, shocked, shocked people at the Cannes Film Festival! Wow! I want to be controversial too! Pretty please, can I?

His excuse for this film's more-than-his-usual grainy fornication is that this new film was made to deal with the depression he went through a while ago.

Awww. You see? Isn't that excuse enough - you dastardly insulated gomers - for von Trier to show William Dafoe cutting off part of his female co-star's genitalia with rusty scissors; or Dafoe nailing his own leg to a rock after his female co-star masturbates him?

The film's about husband and wife going to a cabin in the woods to patch up their marriage and who end up brutalizing each other in various ways - and the horror! [In your best Marlon Brando voice: The Horror!]

But what's the film really about? I haven't seen it and never will. But I'm willing to bet it's really about Lars von Trier…jerking you off. That's about it.

What's the matter Trier, you can't get people to watch your films so you need to resort to the antics of a school boy desperate for attention? Don't have the nerve for actual, you know, art?

And how pathetic then are those who follow you and watch your films?

Oh, that's right; you're into producing pornography - the anti-thesis of art - and you "made history" by having your film company be the first to produce "mainstream hardcore porn"; but hardcore porn mind you, "made primarily for a female audience".

Hmmm, who wants to bet what the men to woman majority ratio is, of those who view these "female porns"?

Why do I even bother doing a post on this and draw attention to him and his "work"? Mostly because I notice, for some reason, the word "Catholic" likes to slip, from time to time, into the phony culture surrounding his films. I once read the homily of a priest who recommended his parishioners go and watch Breaking the Waves. Wiki says von Trier is a convert to Catholicism. In one press release, von Trier said he was considering releasing a "toned down" version of AntiChrist, calling it a "Catholic version".

Uh huh.

Oh, and if you have a conscience, don't bother looking up previews for AntiChrist, as they are not appropriate. And besides, you would only be tool to do so.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

By Wayside and High Spire

The silent world of blooms
shares in the world of bells;
for sky-large sound, fainted smells.

Along some woven paths,
in the quiet-down of dusk,
meek starlight in the underbrush

releases little scents:
the wood's twice hidden flowers.
(Once by size, then by mingled towers;

then the fragrance given-
if sought- is the thrice thing hidden.)
And what but air-carried clang-ridden

swing of bells should match them?
Each pouring out what bees and souls
hone back to a source: one faints; one tolls.

But now few bells are swung;
and the wood's profuse with blooms.
And their scents, spun from ageless looms,

are still quaintly, faintly flung.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday






This is what the backyard soil looks like here without being amended. Once it has been in the sun as pictured it can look deceiving. Put a shovel down in there and you'll turn up quite black, heavy, alkaline soil. Beneath that, about a foot and a half down, you get the straight grey clay. I dug this patch by hand down to where the two feet of clay starts to give way to something else beneath it. It's like your hitting hidden springs. At some points I noticed beneath the grey clay there is a stratum of extremely black, beautiful silt, some even with as yet-not-decomposed dead grass and wood in it. I guess under all that clay no air can reach, and thus no decomposition.

Anyhow I dug down that far simply to bury the turf I peeled off of the surface. I threw a bunch of compost in as well, digging in sections, then burying it, then digging up another section and so on. [I don't have a backhoe or a rototiller] Useless labour? Bah; how else does a garden get blessed? So, as you can see there's now lots of the pure clay brought to the surface, broken up. This will be amended over time, to which end I will go to the beach and harvest lots sea weed. In autumn the obligatory leaves will go in; throughout summer, lawn clippings (we don't use any chemicals on the lawn, so it's fine to use them).

Oh, and there was lots of rocks; wonderful rocks that can be used in landscaping.

Cucumbers and pumpkins and sunflowers will go in here. I'm just sort of regarding it right now as 'the fun patch', since it wasn't really planned; I just started digging it up.



The ever-reliable, first-to-pry radish. Even radishes require a bit of vigilance. If I had simply gone outside one night (when the slugs come out, especially after or during rain) and skewered the bastards - instead of skewering (and salting) them one night later - then some of the radishes' root tops would not have been chewed away.


Nonetheless, even those you can still use, just cutting off the eaten portions a bit below the chewed sections. I've heard things about snails and slugs carrying bacteria, so I would make sure to cut well below the eaten parts, though at the same time not waste any.


These radishes are an heirloom variety, called French Breakfast. If I had left these in the ground a bit longer (which I would have were the tops not eaten by slugs) the radishes would have actually been longer yet, with more blunted tips, and a greater portion red, tapering off to the white.

As far as radishes go, they taste good. They're milder than your usual radish. Though they are still radishes. The only thing radish goes well with is salt.

Getting back to those slugs. I've noticed a less pervasive presence of them this year. By the way, where I live is slug central. Up through Oregon, on through Washington, into British Columbia: slug central - at least the parts near the coast.

Big ones. You'll be walking through the woods on a wet day and: hey ho- watch out for that big piece of dog crap - oh wait, that's a slug…

I've been trying different methods. I will list them. First, you can't beat simply killing them when you see them; taking just a few minutes at night to go out and kill them as you see them. Second, there is copper. Copper stripping, copper wire, copper: it causes some kind of electric shock to slugs. It really does. I tried it. That slug went off of the copper strip as fast as you'll ever see a slug move - which was still pretty slow, but you get the picture. Problem with copper is the cost; but if you have coils of copper wire you can use it, like a border around whatever you want protected. Third, coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are by no means a mighty slug killer, but more like slug prevention. In fact, I think, and intuit, and observe, that coffee grounds are just a real good all round pest deterrent. I should emphasize: it is not full-proof, but it certainly does something. Ask yourself: who likes the smell of old coffee grounds? I know I'm not terribly deterred by the smell; I actually kind of like it. But really, no animal or insect is going to be attracted by the smell - though I've heard fruit flies can hover around them. I scattered many used grounds inside the small greenhouse late winter/early spring. Once that sun starts pounding into the greenhouse you can bet the smell of old coffee grounds fills it like you wouldn't believe. I have read that the caffeine in the grounds will poison slugs or any other creep-crawly dumb enough to eat it. But that's the other thing. You do have to be careful about what you put the coffee grounds around, if you decide to use them. I have raised beds, and I scatter them also around the outside of the beds. I would not put it among the crops I grow. I understand that there are select plants that like having coffee grounds in their soil - rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, lilies - but not all acid-loving plants like coffee grounds. If you don't drink coffee and want to use coffee grounds, or if you do drink coffee and want more coffee grounds, go to a Starbucks and ask them for theirs. They should oblige you with big bags of the stuff for free - lots of them. They overprice their unused grounds, but the used ones are free.

Where was I? Slugs. Number four: slug bait; the kind you buy at the nursery. It goes without saying, if you have dogs or cats, do your research before laying the stuff out. There are chemically harmful ones, and ones that are safe to use, including around plants; though I still would not use the safe stuff on the same soil as edible crops. Does the slug bait work? Hell yes it does.

Five: I haven't tried the beer method. The money that could go into purchasing cheap beer could be used instead to buy good beer that I would drink. Never used it; probably never will. Besides, you can make the same trap using yeast/sugar water. There are simple recipes out there.

On to other things. The Nordmann fir seeds, the ones that I did a post on last year, found right here, have been exciting to watch do their thing:





Here are some beach strawberries growing from seed that I planted last year. Keeping an eye on the wee guys (they were quite smaller than pictured here at their latest) through winter was a little strenuous. [Are they really going to make it? I can't believe they're still green…]


The plants will get larger and produce small strawberries, unlike the ones we see at the market. But their taste is ten times better. This strawberry actually was one of the ones that went into making the hybrid we buy at the market.

Now I could easily buy these same strawberry plants from a nursery, fully grown, and get berries sooner. But from seed is better. Why? Because whenever you grow something from seed, you are "imprinting" on that plant, from its embryo stage on, the gist of your regional climate and conditions. It thereby becomes more resistant to certain diseases and does not require any adjusting stage, which stresses a plant.

From seed is also the 100% guarantee that you are not bringing diseases to your neck of the woods from the nursery - or from the place the stuff grew at before it came to the nursery. Plants are grown to sell, and they are grown under the most "favourable" conditions, that is, greenhouses that are monitored for temperature control, dryness and humidity. Where profit is concerned, you do not have the time to start everything from seed and grow it slowly, slowly under more natural conditions. It is grafting, cuttings, tissue culture, and favourable conditions.

There's nothing wrong with grafting, cuttings, and tissue culture per say. But there is a reason why so many species produce seed - and produce so much of it. There's something even to still be learned, I think, from species that produce seed that "reverts" when germinated, or doesn't come true to type. After all, isn't that the process from which all our varieties of apple came from, or has as its foundation?

That long, rambling, rollicking process by which the fruits we take for granted came about has been largely forgotten.

It is obvious, I think, that we have strayed away from the obvious: the key to "improving", or honing a fruit or crop - which is something I believe God left in His creation for the participation of man - is found not in cold genetics. It is found by submitting in wonder to the process itself by which species reproduce.

We make the symphony better, not by rewriting the score, nor in fact by trying to make it "better", but by hearkening to it and giving ourselves over to it in worship of its composer, whose creation does not require the utility of our improvements, yet is wholly open to the otherness of further creation by our joining in as His creatures. It is within that submission that our craft produces the unforeseen yet deeply desired fruit.

Next week on Garden Sprawl Friday: I don't know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Out of Bed


I've spent around 34 hours bedridden with some kind of body cold and fever. Throbbing congestion in the head and the whole body aching, as if from the bones, together with the chills and hot sweats; this all went into preventing any lengthy rest. I don't remember my blankets ever being sopped so much from sweat.

Today was largely regaining strength; and there's still a bit of sinus congestion.

But the worst thing about illness like this is the mental stuff. What you do with your mind as you lay there tossing and turning or trying not to toss and turn; as the light you saw rise through the blinds at morning slowly goes dim again and into another long night. We always like to think that when things come down to the nitty-gritty we will have the grace in us to pray through whatever it may be. Sure, we do, but the grace doesn’t look like we think it would. The grand heroic pain-offering, like some final symphonic crescendo; the theatrical interior orans of the soul going up to God, having crossed the threshold of pain to ecstasy...is simply not there. If one chooses, if one even remembers, it is given up in the most feeble, inarticulate manner - and even then, in retrospect, tranquility and abandon were sorely lacking, and as for praying continuously…yeah, right.

You don't have recourse to the faculty of imagination in its healthy state. The imagination becomes the prey of insanity. Really, what were those insane half-dreams I had that caused literal pain, that wouldn't stop?

I'm not complaining, nor, I hope, being self-indulgent; just trying to write about stuff, and say that one learns. I got up this morning and fed my growling stomach with delicious granola cereal, half a mango and tea; went and looked at the garden; went and picked up some picture hanging wire (painting goes to the judges tomorrow evening); pulled up the first humble radishes before supper.

The Voice of Saruman

A reader at WDTPRS quotes this from The Lord the Rings as a really good analogy for the Jenkins/Obama duet at Notre Dame:

"Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spake to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler’s trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and its commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it." --J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, May 18, 2009

Destruction comes on the heels of the silver-tongued

The comments people make on blogs are interesting for the most part, and occasionally hilarious. Rarely there will be one that is better than the post itself. This one is not of the latter, but I just found it interesting, and want to quote it here. It's a comment left by one 'AlwaysCatholic' at this post of Creative Minority Report. It is concerning Obama's speech at Notre Dame:

Yesterday I performed an experiment. I read the text of the speech after it had been delivered because I was at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 2 to 4 pm.

I, like yourself, Matthew, didn't want to hear or see something I can see or hear everyday on the mainstream media if I didn't have a life. but I do.

I asked a Catholic I know that believes himself to be faithful, attends Mass on Sundays and Holydays, loves Benedict etc. etc.professes a Pro-Life belief, to watch and listen to THE SPEECH.

We then agreed to meet afterward to discuss it.

This faithful Catholic was so happy to hear that Obama seems to be softening towards his stance on abortion, open to listening to others and mentioned several other key phrases that convinced this person that well, maybe he (Obama) isn't that bad.

I chose to stay cool, logical (like yourself Matthew) and to the point.

I asked this person to read the text of the speech that he had watched and listened.

The result: The person looked at me with a confused look and said, "I don't understand. Are your sure this is the actual text of the speech?" I, however, was not confused. I was'nt even surprised.

I was once again witnessing a phenomenon some people say is akin to NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming, I think that's correct). NLP is used by motivational speakers, "life" coaches, moneymaking gurus and the like. It seems to be a subtle form of "persuasion" that has great results for these people because it helps drive their dvd sales through the roof.

Now I didn't say this was a scientific experiment, just sort of an observational one.

The language, tone and body language that Obama uses is the same as these "self-help" characters. Everything is couched in flowery, romantic language that mesmerizes the listener into a feel-good stupor. The listener feels at this point that ANYTHING is possible because of what they are hearing.

The person that had watched and listened to the speech was acting and responding in that manner until he read the speech.When he read the text he became disturbed by the same phrases he had just thought were wonderful.

What disturbed him most was that he had been drawn into this "intellectual ponzi" scheme as he described it when he came to.

I smiled, thanked him for being part of experiment and told him, "by the way, do not feel bad". "There's probably hundreds of priests including Fr. Jenkins and the usual suspects, that have been swayed to Obama's side and they are much more educated and proud to be in deliberate defiance of Rome".

He said, "Yeah, but that doesn't help me when I stand before Christ at the end of my life. Mea culpa".

As I said goodbye, I assured him that I would keep him and Fr. Jenkins et al. in my prayers.

As I thought back on this interaction, I realized that being a Catholic in our world is not easy, unless of course, you believe the true Messiah and not the deceivers that cross our path.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A slick, grandiose speech white-washes well

After reading Obama's speech that he gave at Notre Dame, I have to say this:

They are the 'fair-minded' words that precede the onslaught of a major persecution.

His words are the 'fair-minded' solidification of pro-life, anti-abortion traditional Catholics and Christians as not only holding absolutely untenable 'views', but an irrational force standing in the way of collective peace and harmony. Oh no, it's not there explicitly; he leaves that for the listener to develop within the context of his speech's presentiment of a fuzzy world where the 'crossroads' of conflict don't ever, well, conflict.

As absolutely as the sacredness of every human life, born and unborn, being protected by law is the basis for all other law and debate thereof, so Obama absolutely solidifies his pro-abortion 'inflection' and pro-abortion 'laws' in the elusive sleight-of-hand that there exists some equal neutral ground where we simply just don't agree. Uh, no. Remember, uhm, you guys are the ones enforcing and keeping in practice abortion? You guys get what you want while you tell us about some common ground where we just don't agree?

Is the arrogance for real?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

I've noticed on other blogs that Fridays are held for something ceremonious, like Belloc Friday at The Blue Boar, or Foodie Fridays (I think) at Amy Welborn's.

Not that I'm one to jump on bandwagons; not that there is any bandwagon to jump on, but I've given thought to what I might post on every Friday, and have come to the conclusion of gardening. I know, it's not terribly light, but I couldn't think of any other.

But not just any gardening. Anyone can easily get a thousand different books on the subject and promptly ignore what this writer has to say about it. Plus, I don't have years of experience.

There has to be a certain slant to it. I want rough and ready gardening. Sensitive but barbaric:

"Can I direct seed this one outdoors?"

"Well, yes, but it is better if you start it indo--"

"No. Then I will direct seed outdoors. What about this one, can I direct seed this one?"

"Well, it is emphatically recommended that one be started indo--"

"No. Then I will start it in the unheated greenhouse."

I notice on the internet when searching for various tips and techniques and how-to's, I inevitably come across a sanctimonious tone in articles or posts, on top of which will sometimes be this ridiculous overabundance of almost morbidly detailed instructions - and on the most simple things, like composting. Real complex, that.

I hate, hate, hate how so many gardeners write as if you've never seen or heard of an onion before. They start off their article with something like, "Onions have been a great boon for cooking in the kitchen, and you can't beat a good fresh onion…" Blah, blah, blah. On they go for three paragraphs.

Then there are the earth worshippers. Ironically, I find many of these provide the best tips. If they just weren't so pagan. And sanctimonious.

Of course, there are good ones out there. You just have to wade through the rest. Good ones are people who give freely of their information and experience without trying to look like a wizard; but they also inspire you with desire. They're easy-going in their tone and lightly tell of huge harvests one can reap without going overboard. They don't talk to you; they give you hoards of wonderful information off the cuff.

The other problem about writing about gardening is regional. Some on the internet write as if everywhere were the same. I will hopefully avoid this simply by not getting too technical. Everyone already has their own local sources anyway.

My posts will be, well, simply me talking about what I do, or what I've done; how things turned out; together with my ideas. The title will be Garden Sprawl, which takes as part of its inspiration the poem by Les Murray: The Quality of Sprawl.

It will hopefully be the center of gravity for my posts, so that they don't just become generic gardening posts. I've decided on three principles that will be my general guide:

Sprawl.

Shrewdness.

Sparing(ness).

You'll notice the first and last are sort of contradictory; but they need each other. I'm sure they don't need much explaining. For sprawl you can read Les Murray's poem. I will talk not just about gardening but also tree growing.

So, today, the feast of St. Isidore, I'll just say a few words about pole beans. Here in the northern hemisphere the cool season (spring) is starting to wrap up - though other places not yet. It's still not consistently hot enough to plant pole beans in the PNW. The book says mid-May through to the beginning of July. Which means, it could be consistently hot enough at any point during that time to plant beans, but you have to use your common sense; that is to say, you have to see for yourself within that time period if it is consistently hot enough. It has to be warm enough that the soil is warm. Good rule of thumb with pole beans for those in the more northern parts: don't rush to plant. A little late better than a little early.

Why speak of beans? Because there are people out there disillusioned with gardening. They've planted this and that and everything and it didn't turn out, and so on. Problem is, they started out with too many different things and planted it like they were following model airplane instructions.

Good way to get a firm grasp on gardening: Pole beans. Just pole beans. Other stuff can come later. But you say you have space for other things as well? Just plant pole beans. Fixate on the one thing. When you go to the seed store or nursery go straight to the packages of beans. Open-pollinated (they are all open-pollinated) beans. Just you ignore all those other seeds calling for your attention and walk straight to the cashier - with of course more than one bean package.

Find something for the pole beans to climb on. Anything thicker than a shovel handle is probably too thick. This is where shrewdness and sprawl come in. Neighbour down the street has a thicket of six foot or higher bamboo that is just getting out of hand? Go to his place and ask him if you can cut some of it out for yourself. Use anything. Devise an ingenious trellis system; the more suited to your uses and not for another, the better.

The soil for beans need not be too fertile. It should be relatively rich and loamy of course. Legumes are nitrogen fixers. They put nitrogen back into the soil and they hate being fertilized. When they're done producing (that is, when the frost kills them) till it all into the soil.

With pole beans, you have to keep picking the beans as they form, or else the vine will stop producing new beans and simply put its energy into the beans that are there. And once the beans get to a certain late growing stage, they are not so edible or tasty or tender or crisp. The bean seeds inside keep growing, and the outer husk, which in its earlier stage we eat together with the undeveloped bean seeds, becomes more and more fibrous.

But here's the thing: You select and tag some vines in your patch which you will not pick from. You leave these ones while picking your edibles from the rest. The ones you've tagged will be the beans you save for seed - for next year. You just let them grow. Depending on your climate, you can let the beans fully mature outside on the plant until it dries, or, if rainy, damp weather threatens when the beans are in their maturity, wait as long as possible then pull up the entire plant and hang it in a garage or shed or whatnot.

Use your good discrimination in selecting which bean plants you will use for seed. First producers; quickest growers; no disease; vigor, yadda yadda.

Make sure you have your poles and/or trellis system in the ground (firmly fixed) before planting the seeds around.

I am perhaps a hypocrite in saying just plant pole beans. Since I'm growing other things myself this year. And it is of course always good to purchase lots of seed (open-pollinated only; not F1. Garden Sprawl Rule Number 1 of Self Limitation and Sticking to It) for next year; though they say onion seed does not remain viable for more than a year, though I've heard some say they've grown onion from older.

But as a self-imposed limitation to stick to: going all out with nothing but pole beans, and putting all your effort into caring for them (and not thinking you can treat them like rhubarb) is a good place to start.

Next week on Garden Sprawl Friday: I don't know.

Let us...

not partake in gossip, whether among people or by reading celebrity rags/gossip stories. Please take the time to say a prayer for Farrah Fawcett who is dying of cancer.

There are no ideal conditions

One has around thirty to forty five minutes to get in the light and shadow before a dramatic shift occurs - if that. Sometimes it seems shorter. I've been hauling this 30 inch by 40 inch sheet of illustration board into Redwood park to draw the above tree in the meadow. And then I have to go back on a sunny day at the same time of day to continue the drawing, and so on until it is finished. It doesn't mean every sitting can only be half an hour; one can remain and draw areas that are concomitant with the dramatic shifts.

This was started just when the leaf buds were unfurling, and they are now full leaves, which I don't know how much will affect the drawing, though I'm hoping it will be a good thing; I can erase parts and have leaves which will add further interest.

What I did not count on was the grass. When the drawing was started - about two weeks ago - the grass was below knee height. Yesterday I came into the park - without the drawing - and saw the grass was about as tall as me. The problem is, that is where I sit to do the drawing. I can't go to another position. Perhaps I'll bring along a machete.

That's the way things grow here in southern B.C. When they grow, they grow fast. So fast, I've been told even our hardwood trees aren't very hardwood. And I would have gone back sooner if it hadn't been raining so much.

Happy Feast of St. Isidore!


Litany of St. Isidore

Litany in honor of St. Isidore the Farmer, patron of farmers and workers. This litany can be prayed in conjunction with the Novena to St. Isidore.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.

St. Isidore,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, patron of farmers,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, illustrious tiller of the soil,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, model of laborers,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, devoted to duty,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, loaded down with the labors of the field,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, model of filial piety,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, support of family life,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, confessor of the faith,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, example of mortification,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, assisted by angels,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, possessor of the gift of miracles,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, burning with lively faith,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, zealous in prayer,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, ardent lover of the Blessed Sacrament,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, lover of God's earth,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, lover of poverty,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, lover of fellowmen,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most patient,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most humble,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most pure,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most just,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most obedient,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most faithful,
pray for us.

St. Isidore, most grateful,
pray for us.

Jesus, Our Lord,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to protect all tillers of the soil,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to bring to all a true knowledge of the stewardship of the land,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to preserve and increase our fields and flocks,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to bless our fields,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to preserve all rural pastors,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to grant peace and harmony in our homes,
we beseech You, hear us.

That You would vouchsafe to lift up our hearts to You,
we beseech You, hear us.

Be merciful,
spare us, O Lord.

Be merciful,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

From lightning and tempest,
deliver us, O Lord.

From pestilence and floods,
deliver us, O Lord.

From winds and drought,
deliver us, O Lord.

From hail and storm,
deliver us, O Lord.

From the scourge of insects,
deliver us, O Lord.

From the spirit of selfishness,
deliver us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Let Us Pray:

Grant, O Lord, that through the intercession of Blessed Isidore, the husbandman, we may follow his example of patience and humility, and so walk faithfully in his footsteps that in the evening of life we may be able to present to You an abundant harvest of merit and good works, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.


Hymn for the Novena to St. Isidore

O Lord, as You have made the earth,
To man and beast have given birth
Have given sun and rain that thence
The soil might give them sustenance:

We beg You make us willing to
Perform the law we get from You,
That work of ours and grace of Yours
May bring the increase that endures.

Through Jesus Christ let this be done
Who lives and reigns, our Lord, Your Son,
Whom with the Spirit we adore,
One God with You forevermore.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Robert Bresson Interview

I have no idea what's up with the woman interviewer (interrogator) but it's an interesting interview. Take note of Bresson's answer at 5:37. Since this has got to be some time in the 60's, what he said was fairly prescient - especially in regards to what he says about technique.

Robert Bresson (interview) from Marienbad on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

High Maintenance


In the woods


Redwoods Close to Eve (better, but not done yet)

Fragrant

The salve of newly growing things and moon raised,
when blown ships of clouds have borne away the rain,
quells like mercy the maddened senses
with undreamed filling, quiet powers, pure
perfume: the lilac bushes' green shingled roofs
decked with purple spires all atilt - nose pushed
into wet leaves, or passing, puts question - for what
do they exist? They answer: naught but perfume.

Night of spring comes incensed; the loosened smells
from an opened window in a home beyond the world,
put into passerby blooms, moments of petals,
when stranded clouds, winnowed white; tatters left
from the moved on ships, make a monstrance of the moon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sirach

Do not give in to sadness, torment not yourself with brooding;

Gladness of heart is the very life of man, cheerfulness prolongs his days.

Distract yourself, renew your courage, drive resentment far away from you; for worry has brought death to many, nor is there aught to be gained from resentment.

Envy and anger shorten one's life, worry brings on premature old age.

One who is cheerful and gay while at table benefits from his food. --Sirach 30:21-25


Keeping watch over riches wastes the flesh, and the care of wealth drives away rest.

Concern for one's livelihood banishes slumber; more than a serious illness it disturbs repose. --Sirach 31:1-2

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Hunt for Tolkien

So, the forty minute film. I hope it is the start of further free, independent internet films that adapt the work of The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion, but, I hope, without the lame patterning after Peter Jackson's films.

The Hunt for Gollum mostly sucked rotten eggs. Frankly, there is nothing there that is Tolkien. Or rather, it is Tolkien thrice removed.

The film runs like a studio plug, saying, "Hey all you big executives out there who we hope are watching this: look, see, we're just, you know, doing this as an "amateur production", we're just having some fun, (to which imagined executives hopefully respond: "Well, for an amateur production it really is awesome! I then wonder what you geniuses can do with a large scale production! Here, have some money for a big film!") and well, oh gee, we know how to make an action scene like this and we can do this and this- oh, and we can also do this…"

The editing is horrendous. There's no rhyme or rhythm or reason. There is one good scene that gave me hope. It is when Aragorn meets the other ranger and they talk together in the night by the fire. In fact, my friend who I watched it with suggested the other ranger would have made a better Strider. I agree.

The film isn't about Aragorn hunting Gollum. It's: obligatory orc scene. Second obligatory orc scene. Obligatory Strider/Arwen flashback crap. Obligatory black riders. Obligatory Gollum soliloquies.

And if anyone would suggest that such criticism is unwarranted because the film is made "by fans for fans", then I would say that the criticism is warranted precisely because of that.

These filmmakers are coming out with a second one. This time it will be an hour: Born of Hope. The story will be generally (I'm snobbishly presuming more like 'vaguely' rather than generally) concerning something about the Dunedain.

You know, even if The Hunt for Gollum were not as technically slick as it was, but they used every frame as a sincere portrayal of Aragorn and actually exhibited soul and some degree of plumbing of the appendices upon which the makers claim it is based, then it would have been - with clunks adding to its charm - deserving of fan excitement.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

About that Hunt for Career Advancement--er, Gollum...



Concerning the on-line film, The Hunt for Gollum, a reader sends an interesting link with the following:

Here's something you might want to link.

That Lord of the Rings prequel just debuted online Sunday called "The Hunt for Gollum." But one blogger has discovered clues suggesting it's professional film-makers masquerading as amateurs...


Rather than being true-believer fans, Diehl argues that "It's pretty clear that crafting a traditional, if low-budget, piece of cinema was the driving factor in making this film."

The director's previous movie? A conventional zombie movie called "Human Residue."

The blogger that the reader links to does bring up a viable point; one that was obvious at the outset: what if these guys really aren't LOTR/Tolkien fans and are just ambitious wannabe filmmakers trying to ride Peter Jackson's coattails to some kind of recognition - and are thus rather insulting Tolkien fans, not to mention Tolkien and his work?

It's truly possible. Of course, judging if they really, truly are Tolkien fans is something of a sketchy thing. Jeff Diehl, the writer of the article linked above, says this:


It's pretty clear that crafting a traditional, if low-budget, piece of cinema was the driving factor in making this film. This is supported by the fact that Bouchard's been occupying his time in recent years making independent, low-budget zombie movies, not learning Elvish or arguing online about whether Tolkien was a racist.

First, there is nothing wrong - there is no contradiction - with striving to craft a well-made, traditional film and at the same time crafting it "as fans for fans". And, again, discerning whether someone is a true fan? What's the standard? You mean they don't know how to speak Elvish?! Harrumph!

It is entirely possible for the filmmakers to be inspired by Tolkien's work and doing it as "a labour of love" and out of love for Tolkien's work and for likeminded fans, and at the same time have both craftsmanship and a certain ambition for "career advancement" in the mix.

But I think such an ideal balance unlikely. I fear the latter in this case outweighs the rest, and that Jeff Diehl's speculations may be justified. You can bet that after The Passion of the Christ announced its box office earnings there were executives in studios throughout Hollywood looking to make deals on The Religion that Sells. So it goes for others.

To say these guys have no motive for career advancement would be naïve. To say these guys have no other motive but career advancement would perhaps be a cynical and rash judgment. But if career advancement is outweighing the rest, to the point that it is indeed the driving force, then it would be rather despicable - for in such a case they would truly be exploiting true fans. To question whether they are true fans or not is not to witch hunt; because, well, the filmmakers are totally billing this thing as "fans for fans". And the world of Tolkien fans...that's a pretty large base in which word gets around like the speed of light. You better make damn sure you're not exploiting that.

I haven't yet watched the film, but am going to watch it tonight. Perhaps the actual meat of the film will let us know what the case is. But if the film is quite good and yet the motives of the makers were exploitative? Well, I don't know.

Read Good

I once threw a book
by Anthony De Mello
onto a fire and looked
at the flames blaze bright yellow,
sulphuric tinged; then a bluish dirty green
shot up hot and hissed real keen.
Someone might say it was the gloss
of the paperback cover
and the binding's glue that tossed
up flames of suspect livid glow,

but I don't think so.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Hunt for Gollum


Sweeeeet.

The Hunt for Gollum.

A low budget but high quality 40 minute film made just for on-line. Made "by fans for fans", the film is adapted from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and follows that very intriguing story of Aragorn tracking Gollum at the promptings of Gandolf when the shadows in the East have been stirring; the story which Aragorn generally recounts at the council of Elrond.

The film does not infringe copyright laws since it is making no money and no one was payed in the making of the film; since it is not a commercial release. The premiere of the film is tommorrow, May 3.

The film can viewed at the site that is linked above: The Hunt for Gollum.

A much appreciative hat tip to Sean at The Blue Boar.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker


GLORIOUS ST. JOSEPH,
Model of all who are devoted to toil,
Obtain for me the grace to toil
In the spirit of penance,
In order thereby to atone for my many sins;
To toil conscientiously,
Putting devotion to duty
Before my own inclinations;
To labor with thankfulness and joy,
Deeming it an honor
To employ and to develop by my labor
The gifts I have received from Almighty God;
To work with order,
Peace, moderation and patience,
Without ever shrinking
From weariness and difficulties;
To work, above all,
With a pure intention
And with detachment from self,
Having always before my eyes
The hour of death
And the accounting
Which I must then render
Of time ill-spent,
Of talents unemployed,
Of good undone
And of empty pride in success,
Which is so fatal to the work of God.
All for Jesus,
All through Mary,
All in imitation of you,
O Patriarch Joseph!
This shall be my motto
In life and in death.
Amen.