Friday, July 24, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

The other week I harvested piles of beets for canning. They were at a perfect stage of tenderness and roundness; and it looks like they were barely half of the patch.

Beets are the epitome of abundance. The seed of the beet is actually a bunch of tiny little flowers, and each flower grows into a beet. Hence the reason why they require lots of thinning. One beet "seed" grows into a bunch of beets, not just one beet.

But even then I have found that once your early obligatory thinnings (thinnings go into salads) have been done, you can leave them for a bit and they seem to find the wiggle room. On the first harvest you get nice smooth round beets excellent for canning. This further thins the patch so that the ones left will grow to be the big[ger] ones.

I was also left with a huge heap of beet leaves. They went into the compost, and a few into the garden beds. Beet leaves are even more nutritious than the roots. After four inches (after salad stage) they are good to be cooked. If you throw them in the compost it's not a waste, as those nutrients and minerals in the leaves will go into your soil.


Today I pulled the walla wallas to cure in the sun. The weather forecast seems to be sun for a while, and no rain. You can't leave onions to cure in wet conditions. After three days of curing (maybe two for these since they smaller) they will go inside to dry for a couple weeks.

I'm pleased at the size of the onions, since they were started late from seed. I was thinking they were only going to get golf ball size at best.


Here are those leeks that I transplanted into two areas of a bed. I still have more left in the greenhouse to be transplanted.

If I didn't know any better I would be despairing that they didn't make it past transplanting, but that's just outer leaf die off; and in this hot weather it is inevitable. The leeks will do fine.

They are in those trenches so that as they grow, you fill in the trench a bit each time just to the first leaf joint so that the leeks get blanched - without getting dirt in between the layers, or at least not much.


Attack of the pumpkins! The flowers this morning were filling the air with their fragrance and the patch was swarming with bee (various kinds of bees) activity.

You see those flowers with the ovary on the bottom.

Those are the female flowers that grow into pumpkins after being pollinated by the males that are discernable by the absence of any ovary. The pollination is by bees - obviously. Some bees look like they fall asleep in those pumpkin flowers, like they're drunk.


They also like the muskmelon flowers, but those are smaller. I think the muskmelon has got to be the fastest thing I've seen growing, by which I mean the actual melon.

I swear, in the evening they will look noticeably bigger than they were in the morning.

Forest Drawing (part of beech grove)

 Click here to see all drawings

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dappled Things SS. Peter and Paul, finally.

And I'm just going to have to wait even longer for it to come in the mail to read all of it.

I have to say that I quite like James Dean Erickson's paintings. He picks up on a light in his subjects' faces; people from common walks, and street walks, of life.

I was jiving and swimming along nicely with the feature piece, Restoring the Fresco of Progress, by Wilfred M. McClay, right until it got to this part: "We now understand the peril."

Fiddesticks. What is meant by progress now is radically different from what was meant by progress in the 19th. century - not only what was meant, but the very form and dynamic of the progress itself. Now this is obviously part of the writer's point; that our notion of progress gets purified, indeed, progress itself gets purified; and this by no means assures us that we are not contributing to some even greater darkness, which again, is part of the writer's point, as he states how careful we must be.

But my beef is this: that none of this really goes into assuring that "we now understand the peril"; for we don't know precisely what is germinating in our present progress - indeed, what is already being delivered. That is to say, the telltale warning signs we should know from the 19th. and 20th. century forms of progress may be either completely absent or perfectly assimilated so that we don't see about them what we are supposed to see. After the first act of clunky deception and the second act of brutal horror, there is always a cumulative third false past participle, that very persuasively acts as both closure, catharsis, and new beginning; generally it is the devil's masterstroke, which of course blooms from out of all that preceded it.

The devil does not come along only after some particular manifestation of progress has been made and then screws with it and perverts it; what he does is quite different. He slips unnoticed, into the germination stage. Like the way the Elves are aided by Sauron in the forging of the seven and the nine rings; and then the three alone by Celebrimbor, though with knowledge obtained from Sauron. These rings remain of themselves, good and beautiful, because of the virtue of the elves (a smaller incarnation of what happens in the Music of the Ainur when Melkor's dissonance is used as something to create something even more profound) that went into their making; nonetheless something of Sauron's imprint is mixed in. And Sauron at that point had not yet made his one ring.

McClay does mention a Doppelganger, just before dropping it as pessimistic. But I think when McClay says, "We understand the peril", what he should be saying is that we only understand the peril of 19th. century progress, as gleaned from the consequences in the 20th. century, and gleaned only in looking back from a very, very tectonically-shifting, technologically-expanding, accelerating present; our present.

And God, Our Source, is not some Grand Dispenser of our self-understanding and consequent progress; and He would rather not that we approached Him so.

Anyhow enough of that; I'm just throwing my own slop.

There is poetry, which is typically what I read first, though you wouldn't think it. Easily my favourite is one that I've read before: Meredith Wise's Roman April. For a poem I had read before on her blog, I was taken by how it flowed anew.

"Daybreak: the streets are empty for archangelic hours,
And the dark domes rise in rank on the tide of wonder."

Dear Lord is what I say to that, and to lines like:

"And we remembered you, Zion, fearful city of lightnings,
Fearful city of victorious beauty and everything in an instant;"


"Quiet city of perfect waters and white courtyards;
We longed to wake in the sweetness of your gaze."

Well, to the whole poem. It ain't no mere stockpile of images. Within this praise of Rome there is a Biblical thrust, or parrallel, to all the keen emotions and airs felt in a single day, in Rome, that goes from the noon's judgement to a night that seems even more new than the morning. The thread especially starts to become apparent in the last stanza where the night's closure to the events of the morning and noon is envisioned, in part, as a victory dance after battle in triumph (over Egypt's plunder), rather than wistful retirement. I like how this present-to-past connection is not on the face of the poem; it's behind it, very naturally.

Go read Dappled Things.

Bobby Jindal

"Despite the best efforts of certain liberal Catholics to convince me otherwise, I sensed that Catholicism requires some form of submission."

From Gov. Bobby Jindal's From New Delhi To Rome: Reflections of a Seven-Year-Old Catholic, re-printed at St. John's Valdosta Blog.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saintly Quotes

We should offer ourselves and all we have to God, that He may dispose of us according to His holy will, so that we may be ever ready to leave all and embrace the afflictions that come upon us. --ST. VINCENT DE PAUL.

It is true that God promises forgiveness if we repent, but what assurance have we of obtaining it to-morrow? --VEN. LOUIS DE BLOIS.

It is the key of obedience that opens the door of paradise. Jesus Christ has confided that key to His vicar, the Pope, Christ on earth, whom all are obliged to obey even unto death. --ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA.

Is there any one in the world who has invoked thee, O Mary, without having felt the benefit of thy protection, which is promised to those who invoke thy mercy? --ST. BERNARD.

From Father Anthony Ho

"News" Headline: "Supermodel looks...

don't attract guys anymore: study."

Anymore? They never did.

It is not so much that supermodel looks say, "Unapproachable", it's that they say, "Already Complete", or, "Hermetically Sealed".

These keep-you-up-to-date-on-new-discoveries studies only become evidence of how sluggishly behind the times they are, and how out of touch with life they are.

And it will be twenty years from now that the latest keep-you-up-to-date-on-new-discoveries studies will say, "Women who want to procreate are found to be more sexy to men than women who don't: study."

Or maybe thirty years.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I just came across this poem by Robert F. Murray at Fr. Z's. I don't think I've read it before.

By Robert F. Murray (1863-1893)

Fain would I shake thee off, but weak am I
Thy strong solicitations to withstand.
Plenty of work lies ready to my hand,
Which rests irresolute, and lets it lie.

How can I work, when that seductive sky
Smiles through the window, beautiful and bland,
And seems to half entreat and half command
My presence out of doors beneath its eye?

Will not the air be fresh, the water blue,
The smell of beanfields, blowing to the shore,
Better than these poor drooping purchased flowers?
Good-bye, dull books! Hot room, good-bye to you!
And think it strange if I return before
The sea grows purple in the evening hours.

Garden Sprawl Friday

Today some trees.

I planted more Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) seeds I think in the late winter. You can see them coming up. Pawpaws are fairly slow. They send out a taproot first before popping up. (Click on all photos to enlarge)

From seed you don't know what quality of fruit you will get. It could be bad, it could be awesome. I bought two cultivars from the nursery:

One is a 'Davis'; the smaller one is 'Sunflower'. I haven't tried Pawpaw yet. I've read different takes on it. It seems you either love it or hate it. Here's two seedlings I have that were started last year:

There is one other that has been chewed down by slugs I don't know how many times and it just keeps coming back up from its taproot. The slugs aren't as profuse now as in spring, since its hot; in fact, it seems they are nowhere to be seen this time of year. But also on the 'sunflower' cultivar, which I bought before the 'Davis' when its leaves had not started coming out yet, the slugs devoured every leaf that came out in spring. I tried something that may seem somewhat gross: I took my facial shavings (I usually let a short beard grow and then shave it clean and repeat the process) and put them around the standard of the tree. The slugs won't go over stuff like that. If it's itchy to us, it's sort of like glass shards to them.

Two other seedlings I had I gave away to someone who gave me this medlar tree (Mespilus):

It was only recently grafted, and on top of that was the transplanting, so though it started to put out what looks like the beginnings of flower buds, it just didn't have enough in it for this year. I'm sure the tree is going to do very well. Medlars are tough.

Here's the Monkey Puzzles (Araucaria araucana):

You may remember them from this post.

And here is one I grew from a seed I found in Redwood Park:

There are two soaring Monkey Puzzles close to one another that the Brown brothers grew. The trees are near to the place where their tree house was. I had been wondering for a while if they were male and female (which is required for seed production, and even then, only when they are around the 40 year mark) as I would never find any seeds at their bases. But of course the squirrels take the seeds. They are very edible and part of the staple diet of the native people of Chile whence the tree hails. I found three seeds. Just one made it. I think the animals can sense if the seed inside has started some beginning germination process. Though of course the seeds would never take hold here naturally on the forest floor like firs or pines.

Or maybe they would. We haven't really had the time to see yet. The Monkey Puzzle trees are more hardy (cold-wise) than people give them credit for.

Hardier than these:

Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). I have three left, from these.

Here's the one Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) I have left, a lone survivor, which I germinated from seed scrounged in Redwood Park:

Previous pics of the Giant Redwood can be found here.

Here's another lone survivor:

He is likewise from Redwood Park, as you can see from this post and this post.

These Chinese Dogwood (Cornus Kousa) seedlings need to be put into individual pots:

After flowering, these trees have edible fruits.

Two Holly seedlings (Ilex aquifolium) I found growing under the spruce and hawthorn behind the compost bins:

Cool cat keeping cool:

Bottleneck the common people; grant access for the rich

Nationalized healthcare in pratice is probably the best example of how all government is in so many respects fundamentally limited in its actual abilities; and that all programs thus brought about, seek, by their very nature of ineffectiveness, to severely limit actual people in order to make the program "work", rather than changing the program to make people "work".

All protocol, or what have you, is merely an extension of that inherent limitation.

Really, "nationalized" and "healthcare" is an oxymoron. How can a system, a bureaucratic system, ever hope to meet the unforeseeable, multiple and ever multiplying, changing, immediate, ongoing health needs of human beings, and that effectively?

The only system capable of that task is no system at all; and not only no system but the instituted assurance that no system will ever take over; that it is continually broken down into ever multiplying, and thus healthily competing, enterprises of self-reliance.

Canada is proof that nationalized healthcare (go to Steve Crowder video) not only does not work but creates a worse situation than before.

Dark Ages: full of colour

"These magnificent buildings retain their grandeur, but their walls, faded to plain gray stone, would have been unacceptable to mediaeval men. Sadly, the monochromy of surviving Gothic architecture has given many contemporary men the misconception that Gothic architecture is not supposed to be painted. A Gothic church in full color is difficult to find nowadays; those that exist are so striking as to be presumed exceptional." --Daniel Mitsui, who has posted photos of the High Gothic Amiens Cathedral, its facade bathed in spotlights and laser beams to give us a vivid jolt as to what such cathedrals would have actually looked like in their day.

Mitsui also has an earlier post on the Priory of St. Mary at Binham, in Norfolk. There was a rood screen and its panels were painted with holy images of Our Lord and His saints. Then reformers whitewashed them (typically they would just tear out the rood screen altogether), and over the whitewash they painted biblical texts (because the reformers were so fecund with creativity). Now some of the whitewash has been peeling off over time, revealing images of rather buoyant verve; images light and deep and alive, some of their colour still intact.

One wonders if the Protty whitewash inadvertently helped to preserve some of the images.

Be sure to go also to the Norfolk Churches website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Irish Monk

"The canonical investigation of Andersen’s healing will be the first such inquiry ever held in the history of the Vancouver archdiocese — founded in 1863 — and could lead to the canonization of the monk as a saint.

“In fact it will be the first time such an inquiry has been held in Western Canada,” said Horgan, pastor of St. Peter and Paul’s parish in Vancouver."

The healing (an understatement) took place just last year. The monk in question is Blessed Abbot Marmion. The "miracle" in question you just have to read to believe.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More to simplicity

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." --St. Thomas More

Friday, July 10, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

""It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet Syme. "If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry and prose; let me read a time table, with tears of pride."" --G.K Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

Or let me shed tears of pride (and gratitude) reading over this:

No nonsense guide to winter gardening, with charts, times to do the planting, and so on; all of it geared towards growing in southern B.C. It is a product of civilization. I really like West Coast Seeds.

So yes, I have been starting the fall-to-winter garden. Today I planted rutabagas in this empty space at the back of one of the beds:

They are planted on the right side, with a small patch behind them planted with lettuce (the Paris Island Cos lettuce that I started in spring has been really satisfying). On the left (you can see how it's divided with the sticks) will go these leeks,

which were sarted from seed in the greenhouse in early spring. Leeks are very slow growing at first; but then after a certain stage, they grow rapidly. These will probably be harvested late fall. At least that's what I'm hoping. And I will be starting some more leeks (of the same winter variety called 'Bandit') tommorrow, which will be for late winter to spring harvest (overwintering), though for that harvest I am starting them just a weeny bit late (considering their initial slow growth); I'm sure they'll do fine.

August is for planting winter/spring onions (seeds). That is good because it will coincide with the harvesting of the potatoes and other vegetables, making the room I'll need for the winter gardening. It's nice how it works like that. I'll also be trying more carrots, more lettuce, beets ('Winter Keeper'), and of course more cabbage.

I'm also going to get a hold of garlic and horse radish. On top of this all I'm looking to grow for seed saving. Gardening doesn't seem like real gardening until you're attempting a winter garden. And in the meanwhile, the summer has just begun her gravid train.


I've made one discovery, after trying a number of times with different plants and seeds. Tin cans, with bottoms punched with holes, don't work very well at all.

Plants hate them. There's something about them that holds too much moisture and then they get way too hot when the sun hits them. It is unfortunate, because I thought it was going to be a great way of re-using all those tin cans we go through.


Here's some winter savoury I started from seed:

And some thyme:

The little guy in the tin can I found growing in the greenhouse when I was pulling up some weeds. I noticed a real nice fragrance all of a sudden and located it coming from this 'weed'. I have two of them planted now. It has to be some herb, but I don't know what kind.


The pole beans doing their thing:

The pumpkins, doing theirs,

together with the beets (three different varieties, and they obviously require thinning even though I've been thinning them) and the sunflowers, which are going to get a whole lot bigger than they are:

The Minnesota Midget Muskmelons (which yes, are not just little people who hail from Minnesota) are flowering in all that tangle:

All previous photos of beans, beets, pumpkins and muskmelons can be found here.


Here is a part of the front yard:

My Dad had been shaving the soil level down since it was too high, and the grass was only starting to reclaim its turf when I came along:

I'm sick in the head.

Same method of digging as found here. There are yellow bush beans and cucmbers started there (click on all photos to enlarge). The cukes might be a bit too lately started, but we'll see.

Next week on Garden Sprawl Fri--oh crap, did I forget to write about kiwifruit again?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

By the Creek

Or more like glorified run-off.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


By Pavel Chichikov

They played gin rummy in a yellow room
While snow built up the fire escape—
Cold canvas of it, stuffings of it
Soft and lofting piles of it

On the wall the steel-hulled Pruessen sailed
White sails on prussian blue
And a white clock turned black hands
Within a wheel of arms

All four were there—two sisters and two husbands
Though three are dead and one is very old
And the room and the snow
Are in my mind

The duvet, the feather comforter of snow
The bars of the iron stage outside rimmed up and down
With freshly fallen heaven feathers
The cold street with planes of pavement rising

Did they think: the cold year passes, I shall die?
The cards were rosy, slick and thin
Stiff and square—they slapped them down—
How young the old and dead can be

Night the window covered black and red
Shrunk and filled with spinning wheels of snow
Round lacy hexagons
Dissolving sharp and cutting on the tongue

How can I remember, hold, the dead ones here?
Capacious memory, round theater in a sack
I see them play—how lovely that they lived
And lovely too the ship, a white-winged sea bird

For one of them had sailed the south for coal
Aboard the last great ship of trade
To use the wind across the sails as wings—
Then let another wind, great bird, be with him now

By Pavel Chichikov

Dim woodland of the summer evening when
High foliage and deep conceals the sun,
So that a dream-like dusk invades the wood
Where earlier thick columns burned and stood

Who’s running down the path behind
Where humid dusk begins to mount and form?
A leaping-forward metaphor of storm?
Not yet, the sky is clear and still defined

Now the gentle deer unfearfully
Step and move aside to bend and browse
Where aisles of sapling beech and oak allow,
As animals of Eden to befriend me

As if from some unwalled protected cell
They let pass through a son of the expelled

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Life Drawings

Yes, I realize that I need a scanner.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Desert Fathers

XVI. The abbot Serapion said, "I have given myself far more travail of body than my son Zachary, and I have not come to the stature of his humility and his silence."

XVIII. The abbot Pastor said that when brother Zachary was dying, the abbot Moses asked him, saying, "What seest thou?" And he answered, "Naught better, Father, than to hold one's peace." And he said, "It is true, my son: hold thy peace."

Day Lilies and Our Lady

Garden Sprawl Friday

I said in my last Garden Sprawl post that I was going to do a post on kiwifruit, but it can wait.

On Wednesday, Canada Day, I was in the woods and saw lots of the berries ripening, and while I ate some, I came back Thursday to do some foraging. Mainly the red huckleberries (click on any photo to enlarge),

and some Indian Plums:

I may have tried red huckleberries before, but I'm sure yesterday was my first time trying Indian Plum, or Osoberry. It's not a real plum, but has a stone like one. The Latin is Oemleria cerasiformis. It's a native shrub here along the pacific west coast, and is the first to bloom in early spring, with lime green, lance-shaped leaves. In the cold, stripped woods you will see these green bursts opening like lots of stars. They are followed by white/green hanging dioecious flowers, the female flowers smelling nice, the male ones smelling not so nice. The flowers are followed of course by the fruit.

The taste of them is definitely wild, not in the extravagant sense of the word, but you know it's from the woods. They have a watery kind of intense sweetness and with a certain other flavour that seems for a second to be just a little too much until it suddenly dissipates.

I could eat them, but I'm not going to be claiming every one that I see, like I do with thimbleberries:

The red huckleberry bush that I did most of my picking from was in a swampy region, and fortunately there was a big moss covered rotting log with ferns growing out of it that I could stand on to get to the very top of the bush. A bird perched itself somewhere close by and poured out all manner of profanity on my head as I harvested. I left a good deal on the bush for the birds.

Thursday was my night to make dinner, and there's something about bringing a bit of wild food in from the woods together with the other food you are preparing, some of it from the garden.

I pulled a bunch of carrots

and a bunch of pacific scallions,

the ones that form these little bulbs that can be made into sweet pickled onions. These went with some new potatoes from the store around a pork roast. I pulled some beet thinnings, the leaves of which went with the romaine, some scallions, some carrots, some red huckleberries, and some orange pepper into a salad. The new roots of the beet thinnings I didn't waste but threw in with the vegetables around the roast and olive oil.

The red huckleberries,

were cooked down and slightly sweetened into a sauce that went on top of ice cream for dessert.

A little searching and time in the woods. A back garden. One roast. Good grub.