Friday, December 31, 2010

Faith




And meanwhile we talk and talk about what the new school of fusion is going to be, presuming that we own the ages past, simply because we make the mistake of thinking in some linear-historical process (the Pure Medieval turned into the Vile Renaissance and that turned into the Viler Mannerist Period!), and that we can therefore build some Great Cultural Renewal merely by taking parts here and there from said past ages (just like that!), as though Art were merely a sort of intellectual choosing of foods from a buffet, or chemist's mixing of test tube chemicals - both of which remain, in the end, completely in the mind.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.


Note: I realize the cathedral doesn't necessarily qualify, either in artistic terms or practical structural terms (though that may not be so: it's not finished; it also still stands after fifty years) to be compared to the great cathedrals and such, but that is not the point.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plug


New scapulars came. I figured if I'm ordering one I may as well order a couple more at the same time.


The oldie (it lasted years),


goes to the garden.

***

Good Brown Scapulars

made by the sisters at Sisters of Carmel.

Christstollen, step whatever

So there's the dough, doubled in bulk after two hours:


What, am I going to give away all the secrets? Okay, the recipe is largely from inmamaskitchen.com. But there are my own variations brought to it, and which I will hopefully develop further. Spread the flour out on your kneading surface:


Punch down the dough:


Now comes probably the most difficult part of the entire process - kneading the fruit mixture into the dough:


The difficulty is twofold. First, it requires lots of labour simply to get all the fruit kneaded into the dough - which requires three hands. Second, you must knead the dough as little as possible while carrying out the above. It would be relatively carefree if one could knead the dough for however long one wanted to get all the fruit in there; but do it too long and the dough will go "grey".


Molly likes raisins that have been soaked in rum by the way.


Some smaller loaves and some bigger ones is good. Don't muck around trying size them up equally.

Grease baking sheets with butter:


Each part of the dough that has been cut (the six pieces) gets rolled to a slightly oval shape, then folded lengthwise - but the edge of the fold you are bringing over top doesn't line up exactly with the other edge. It stays about an inch or so within. The ends are pinched, and some pinching goes along the entire edge.

You put your loaves onto the greased baking sheets and brush them with clarified butter:


The clarified butter goes on the loaves before they get baked and after they are baked, just as they have come out of the oven. You want to clarify the butter first because it cooks better that way, and because with the milk solids gone it won't go rancid. Of course, even if one used butter without clarifying it, it would take a long while for it to go rancid - I would think longer than the shelf-life of the breads. But who knows. Clarified butter is just good in many ways for this type of use.

Then the loaves get covered and are allowed to rise for something like 45 minutes to an hour. It is double-risen bread.



And of course, after all that, you better watch those loaves in the oven like a hawk and not let them over-bake. Keep an eye on the undersides as well as the tops.



Dust with icing sugar after they've cooled. You'll need to dust them later as well, maybe several times, if you want the white.


Alright, all this baking blogging makes me feel weird now, and I probably won't be doing it ever again, or for a long while, but then again, this blog is mostly just about filling in the gaps with stuff. Eclectic is my middle name.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Peach Pit Carving - Bee on Flower

I carved this one as a Christmas tree ornament. I didn't take photos with a camera that does good close-ups, so a series of much the same type of photo will have to do, with the hope that each shows a bit of variation. One can see two previous peach pit carving posts here and here.

I applied walnut stain selectively on different parts of the carving, rather than staining the whole thing, so as to bring out parts that I wanted brought out. I stained in between the petals of the flower, the center of the flower, and the "stripes" of the bee's abdomen, as well as the portions of the bee that are receded, to make them look more receded - so as to make the wings for instance look more like distinct wings. The stain in combination with carving the sections of the abdomen (if you look closely at a bee, the "stripes" are not due to colouring alone, but are also the result of sections protruding out of each other) looked quite sharp, but when I applied the finishing oil (just a clear "food grade" oil) on the peach pit, the sharpness was blurred. Maybe later it can be remedied.

It's all one peach pit. As with the others, nothing was glued on. The only time I'll glue is when putting two different peach pits together, which can be seen as such.




The backside:


Initially I wanted to carve the backside to look like the underside of a flower, but I feared taking too much away from the peach pit, so just carved it relatively smooth, but so one can still see it is a peach pit.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Medium: Pencils 2H and 3B

Christstollen, step 2


So I left the peels to firm up over a couple of days, just with some wax paper lightly placed over top.

Then I picked a day, a couple days before I made the stollen dough, to mix all the citrus, raisins, almond slices and currants together. I cut up the citrus:




And mixed everything.


Something about the dried currants. I bought a bag of them from the grocery store. The bag said "Currants", but I did not pay attention to the words beneath it that said: "Raisins de corinthe". When I ate some of the dried "currants" upon opening the bag, they tasted just like raisins - just smaller. The use here of "Currant" is some corruption, presumably by the French, which they use for a different kind of grape. This pissed me off a little. No matter. To me there just has to be currants - the real black currants - in stollen. No matter, there were simply more raisins. No major harm done.

What you do is take some rum,


and do the right thing:


Some say do this a few hours before making the dough, some say over night. I say a good couple days - and after the first day, pour a little more rum into the mixture, and some more the next day, and a little the day you make the dough. Of course, throughout the days, you want to be mixing the stuff around on occasion. There ought to be some rum left over in the bowl after the mixture is drained. It was not so this time around. For all the rum I poured in, the mixture absorbed it like a sponge.

It's good to have leftover rum that doesn't get absorbed because it goes into the milk which you scald for making the dough.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Final part and a few thoughts



I have to say that I am now more fond of George C. Scott's Scrooge than I am of Alastair Sim's. (I've only seen these two Scrooges on film.) Scott's is a more...carnal sort of Scrooge, both before and after his conversion. Whereas Sim juices it up real good with the pre-conversion money-pinching hard-heartedness, Scott entrenches it: something that's been done in his Scrooge especially through routine.

You can imagine Sim getting converted later on as you watch; Scott though seems more at risk of being damned. And as much as I like Sim when he awakes on Christmas morning, Scott both stills the exuberance, slightly, and makes it more reckless, in the meaty pleasure he derives from giving his money and presents to people. You can't help but smile (watch him from 5:00 to 7:20).

He was a damn great actor.

Forest Drawing


Medium: 3B Pencil and other pencils I can't remember

Christstollen, step 1

Make the candied citrus peels. I used approximately a dozen lemons and ten oranges. I got the simple recipe from Market Manila, a very nice food blog.





For the lemon peels I made a 2 cups water to 2 cups sugar ratio. The same also for the orange peels. This was the first time for me making candied citrus peel. Last year when I made stollen (for the first), I bought the candied citrus from the store. I won't be buying it from the store any longer.

Getting these,



is very simple. So what that it is time-consuming? It's a rather leisurely process. (Those bowls behind the trays are holding the leftover syrup, which one shouldn't throw away as they are flavoured with the citrus, and can be used for other things.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Goat and trees and tall rotting stump drawing



This drawing was continued in several sittings (or rather standings) at the field where the boss and I have been growing crops this past summer. It is not finished, but I intend to finish. Started one afternoon when the sun had just hit south-west, the shadows made a definite cut, and so the drawing can only be continued in the same light and time, and not, for instance, on a grey day, or earlier in the day. And the field is a 45 minute drive from where I live, so even on suitable days if there weren't other things one could go out that way for, like some field work in addition to the drawing, it didn't happen. Hence its being not yet finished.

The spot is at the eastern end of the field where the forest starts to run up in a hill, the parameters through which the landowners let their goats roam (in addition to letting them roam in many other places) to keep the wild growth down. The goats do a magnificent job. They also keep together, untended, in an orderly fashion that is always a pleasure to see.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Merry Christmas to thee



My Christmas prayers to those who come to this blog. May the Christ Child bypass all our defenses, facades, habitual sins; may we encounter Him anew with our interior being; may we find Him there and be docile to Him who is Himself the most docile.

I wonder what the waking up was like for the three wise men when they came to the Star of Bethlehem, and knew that their physical journey was a small thing. T.S. Eliot visualizes their journey and homage of the Child as something that impacts them mainly in retrospect, while the journey itself - both the 'there and the back again' - bears every semblance of the ordinary, with weariness and discomfort. I concur with with his inner vision, yet I think there was a moment, when they were with the Christ Child, that they knew - like a private apocalypse, a moment of fearful respite - that their old lives were gone, that their journey had carried them to a blissful point of no return. And they dwelt deep in glorious peace, far from home.

Oh, but that's for the Epiphany Feast isn't it? All aspects of the same single Christmas, pondered in the heart.

Of course, I couldn't post this without some Roger Whittaker, in memory of my mom. (Mourning, though not like the sort immediately surrounding her death, does go on, in tandem with so many things, equally interior, often hardly even apparent, but there, like the Christ Child.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let's play simile

Tra -la-la

OMG! OMG! Tomorrow is the day before the day before the day before the day before Christmas!

Everyone! Run around in circles real fast! Panic! Panic!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Here comes the Ghost of Christmas Present

I came down to earth to know suffering...

"When the moment of death comes for My friends, you believe, don't you, that I come gently, with all the delicate touches that you know, to take their souls into My kingdom? You would do the same if you were taking someone into one of your beautiful homes. You would want to feel the joy of their surprise, wouldn't you? Then I, God, who love more and own more, how could I fail to be interested in the passing of My friends from time?

Nothing that you may possibly have imagined of the love of My heart comes anywhere near the reality. Remember that I wanted your joy so much that I came down to earth to know suffering. And when I see you suffer, and suffer for Me, I gather each of your sufferings with great love, as though yours were greater than Mine, and had a value that My heart would like to make infinite. And this is why, when you allow Me to do so, I merge your life with Mine." --He and I

Friday, December 17, 2010

But you did forget - often

Garden Sprawl Friday



The West Coast Seeds 2011 catalog came in the mail the other day. That means dreaming about growing things as winter descends.



This one has, as usual, new seeds among the ones they always have; not new in the sense that they are new hybrids, but new in the sense that they haven't been featured before by the company. I've only browsed through it briefly, but already know I want to try those Cipollini onions in the bottom left corner:

All Hail WikiLeaks!

Michael Moore - the guy who insulted and demeaned the elderly and dignified Charlton Heston in Heston's own home after being allowed in (by Heston) under the pretense (put forward by Moore) that he was a gun-affiliate, all the while filming his shameful denigration of Heston for his own pathetic grandstanding in his so-called "documentary", and yet didn't consider himself lucky for not getting escorted from the premises with a loaded rifle at his back (probably would have pissed his pants) - has helped to bail out Julian Assange.

Makes you think twice about Assange, doesn't it? Hell, if I got thrown in jail for being homophobic or for protesting outside an abortion clinic and Michael Moore came to bail me out, I would think twice about myself too.

In a statement to his official court statement, Moore said:

"I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI?...

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?"

Right, 9/11 would have been averted and the Iraq war would not have been started - says Moore. Because WikiLeaks has omniscient access to all information ever yet to be formed. Dream on, fatso.

But let's say WikiLeaks would have averted such horrors, had it been around ten years ago. Why, then Moore would not have been able to make millions off his baloney documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, would he? Oh, that's judging rather harshly, isn't it? Of course Moore would trade every single dollar he made from Fahrenheit 9/11 for the lives of those lost in the Iraq war if he could - right?

Right?

Stretching his stupid Utopian pseudo-righteousness even further, Moore went on to state:

"What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today."

In further statements, Moore said, "If WikiLeaks had been around earlier we would all be driving electric cars." He also said, "If WikiLeaks had been around earlier, my ass would not be so fat right now!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Father Christmas uses the palantir and breaks into peoples' homes

Far be it from me to criticize what parents decide to tell their children about Santa Claus. I am not married and don't have children, but I know I would tell them - if I did have children - straight up, that Santa Claus is real - real, real, as in coming-down-the-chimney-flying-reindeer-eating-the-cookies-and-chugging-the-eggnog real, without addenda about the "truth of his spirit" incarnating every time we give a gift, or any of that.

Is it a very prottie thing to think that this is lying? I don't know, probably. To think it lying is definitely starved logic - sort of like Lewis quipping that myths are lies breathed down silver tubes, to which Tolkien responded that myths are not lies. Especially with the reality of Christ's incarnation, which is something that cannot just be intellectually grasped, there is something about it that involves deep story, in the present. Thus the enactment.

If parents wish to tell their children "the truth" about Santa - that is, that he "isn't real", that's their right, and I have no scruples with it. Worse things happen. What I find weird though - and this is something quite removed from whether or not parents do the Santa thing - is thinking that playing up the Santa Claus story is to risk causing your child disillusionment with the faith of the church, or cause rupture in parent-trust issues, later down the road, as per Mark Shea's line of reasoning.

Let's look at what really happens: there is no "realization" or shattering epiphany that the coming-down-the-chimney Santa is not real, that it was your parents all along putting presents under the tree. There is no realization. What happens is the child grows up. Once he was a child who effortlessly believed; then in growing, belief in the coming-down-the-chimney Santa simply becomes impossible - in practical terms. There is no disappointment, no cheated feelings. As for believing in Santa/St. Nicholas, the wonder-worker, later on, I can only see the Santa "lie" nurturing a child to believe these things later on. I agree with Terry's post on the subject.

What about Irish fathers telling their children some leprechaun tale in the first person to make it sound as though it really happened?

Some Scott instead of Sim


Medium: 3H Pencil

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010


Medium: HB Pencil

Would a God who became a child not know?

"Why do you sometimes think of me as a severe master waiting for a chance to find fault with you? Wouldn't you rather see in Me a very loving Friend, ready to make excuses for you if you fall? The Friend who keeps watch over you. Don't you think I'm like that?

Wake up your tenderness. Live in love's trust. Ask Me for your God's science of love, the love He gives you and the love you owe Him." --He and I, Gabrielle Bossis

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Mom has gone to God

My mother died last Friday in the early evening, at home, with family, in God's pervasive peace. The prayer service for her was tonight, and the funeral Mass is tomorrow.

The past two and a half years of her suffering, in which the family shared, more and more intensely as her body succumbed, are now as gone-by as an arrow from the bow. And the passion-stations of bodily deterioration were all at once vanquished like smoke when she went to her Maker, vanquished by the simple, smiling tranquility in her face. She has gone to the place prepared for her. She no longer has cancer.

She decided long ago that she would offer up everything that happened - I know this. I know simply by contemplating everything in retrospect; a task which has only just begun.

I do not wish right now to contend with facts, biographical information, and bringing it together in a way that would bring out a little of who my mother was, and who she was to me. Maybe I could, later down the road. But now, perhaps I could tell about one night and leave it there.

This was in fact just a few weeks ago, after my mother had her three seizures and was unconscious most of the time. There were rare windows of time in which she was awake, and actually quite lucid, though incapable of any speech beyond short, barely audible fragments. One night my youngest sister was at her side, holding her hand, and my sister was crying. No new thing, that. At that point crying was pretty much business as usual all around.

But when I came near she said that mom was awake, and she asked mom if she wanted to see me, and mom responded, "Sure" - a response which my sister found kind of humorous. It was when I came around to the other side of the headboard of the bed, so that I could see my mother's face and hold her hand, that I understood fully what was making my sister cry.

When someone smiles at you, intently, in the prime of health, and full of life, it is naturally a pleasing thing to receive. It can make one's day or week, and even alter the course of one's life.

But when someone smiles at you - a mother smiling at her child with a mother's love - through the crucible of disease and imminent death, a smile not in the least bit fazed by the fact of bodily suffering, it absolutely pierces you through like a bullet. And any hesitations, any fears, doubts, concerns about the past, though these instances were long healed over - like the few times in which I made my mother cry (oh, how things come around) - if they weren't fully gone before, they're now gone in an instant. They no longer matter compared to love's assurance, being reciprocated, and you're in tears, and everything is pure compassion. Not that it wasn't ever before...but love does not stop.

In the economy of love, assurance is piled on assurance. What can I say better than that my mom was a mother? Oh, she was many other things besides - but now, that will do.

May she rest confidently in His peace and light.