Friday, July 18, 2014

Drying Lavender

I've got 2 lavender plants out front, and until now have never picked any of the flowers. But this year I decided to harvest some and dry the flowers because I saw an interesting recipe for Lavender Jelly.

The instructions for drying lavender are pretty simple: tie the flower stems into bunches, then hang in a warm, dry, airy, dark place. Unfortunately, finding that combination of characteristics in our house isn't that simple.

The kitchen is warm and airy and, away from the sink, dry, but it isn't dark. And the inside of a cupboard is dark, but not airy. The cellar is dark, but in the summer it's damp, cool and with little air circulation. So I came up with a compromise.

I hung the lavender bunches on a hook hanging from a shelf at the far side of the kitchen, away from the sun. To make it dark, I covered the hook with a large colander. Now it's dark, AND the air can circulate through the flowers!

I already tried it with one batch, and it worked fine:

That's 1/4 cup of flowers, about the same amount that the bunch I'm hanging now will produce. It takes about 2-3 weeks to thoroughly dry the flowers. When I have my full 1/2 cup, I'll try the recipe.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Setting records wherever he goes

First openly homosexually partnered homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church! First homosexually married bishop in the Episcopal Church! And now...

First homosexually divorced bishop in the Episcopal Church!

Yes, folks, it's himself, multiple winner of the Golden Hairshirt Award - Gene Robinson!!!

Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life—coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom’s first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles.

I notice that neither his marriage nor his divorce to his female wife (the one he had several children with) made that hit parade, but he's a busy man. Those merely normal events don't typically result in headlines or your photo in the paper.

as I tell couples in pre-marital counseling, “Marriage is forever, and your relationship will endure—whether positively or negatively—even if the marriage formally ends.”

So marriage is forever... even when it ends. Oh, silly me... "formally ends." Which means what, exactly? That divorced people still have to live as though they're married, because the divorce isn't a "real" end of a marriage? Well, no, I don't think he means that. I'm pretty sure that once the divorce is final he's going to consider himself no longer married, or else what would be the point of doing it? That the marriage will still exist in the Next World, and when he gets there he'll find he's got multiple spouses stacked up? That seems a little primitive for an Episcopalian, though C.S. Lewis might have agreed. He actually thought that merely having sex with someone set up an eternal relationship between 2 people, which would have to be endured or enjoyed forever after death. I've never detected any such suggestion from Robinson, however.

Maybe after death we live in multiple dimensions, where every failed marriage exists as a success, completely separate from all the other marriages we may have contracted, and we can happily live in all these marriages simultaneously. If Robinson needs an occupation now that he's retired, perhaps he should try writing science fiction; that might be the basis of a darn good fantasy tale.

My newest, most favorite piece of bumper-sticker wisdom which I will hold onto in this in-between time is this: “In the end, all will be well. If all is not well, it is not yet the end.”

Actually, my current favourite is from 'King Lear': The worst is not, so long as we can say, "This is the worst."

(So who gets custody of the bulletproof jacket?)

(Thanks to Threadless for the great T-shirt design, which may be obtained at their website)

Monday, January 27, 2014

"I went to a funeral and all I got was this lousy Body and Blood of Christ!"

That seems to be the sentiment among Ottawa Catholics, as the Archdiocese implements new rules restricting eulogies at Catholic funerals.
The archdiocese of Ottawa will make it official next month — no more eulogies at funeral masses. A spokeswoman said the news was true, but no official comments would be made until February. A short explanation of the decision appears in the fall-winter Catholic Ottawa newsletter, written by Father Geoffrey Kerslake. He argued eulogies or words of remembrance are not an official part of Catholic funeral rites.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, not to mention emotional.
Brad Lindahl contacted the Sun when he heard of the upcoming announcement. “I went to my grandfather’s funeral and there was no eulogy,” he said. “It was just basically a mass. It upsets me a bit. It’s supposed to be a celebration of life, but it just left me with an empty feeling.”

"It's supposed to be a celebration of life"? Where did that come from? It's a mass where a particular sacrament is given; it's not "supposed to be" anything other than what it is. But this is what nearly 50 years of woozy sentiment has bought the Catholic Church: a rock-hard certainty on the part of Catholics that they go to church for emotional goodies.

What isn't "a celebration of life" in the Catholic Church nowadays? Baptism, communion, wedding, RV-blessing: "Hurrah for us! We're alive!" Pope Jar-Jar has even forbidden us to be sad here in the Church of Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy!!! So I suppose it's no surprise that people are now convinced that a funeral is supposed to be some sort of performance with audience participation.

Oddly enough, people don't insist upon getting up and speaking at weddings or christenings. They know that the reception or dinner is the right place for all those reminiscences and speeches. But funerals have to allow audience participation.

The Citizen had a complete opinion piece on the subject today, and it nicely summed up the "pro-eulogy" argument.

It started off with a hagiography of the writer's late mother, just to shame anyone who might disagree with her position. If a person with these exemplary bona fides wants something, how can a mere archbishop contradict her?

Then, on to the business of the funeral eulogy itself:
My speech was not long. I didn’t cry. It was an incredibly therapeutic experience for me and my siblings, and a rare opportunity to pay real tribute to a woman of great faith who grew up in poverty and overcame it, doing much to make the world a better place.
Well, if we wait until a person's funeral to "pay real tribute" to him or her, I guess it will by its nature be "a rare opportunity". But in fact, there's no reason why appreciating a person has to be a rare occasion, and I'm sure it wasn't. I'm sure all this lady's children appreciated her very much and told her so throughout her life. What was rare was the chance to do it publicly in a church, and that's what the writer is determined to hang onto. Because it's "therapeutic". The other stuff that's supposed to be going on at a funeral, the solemn reflections on the person's journey to live with God in eternity, the things that ONLY the Church can provide, don't even appear on the radar.

The final ironic comment comes at the end:
Like many in this city who were baptized and married in the Catholic Church, I stopped attending Mass regularly years ago. I have many wonderful friends who are truly people of God — they’re the main reason I had not entirely ruled out going back to the Church. Now I have.

So although the Church did things "her way" for decades, it wasn't enough to get her to go to mass. Now that they're changing back to the way things used to be, it will effect whatever on her. She's going to keep doing what she's always been doing, only now she feels that she has an excuse.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Riding on the Humblemobile

Pope Jar-Jar gives friend a lift in the Humblemobile.
Coupled with this:
I'd say it's a good thing Father Fabian came to visit in January instead of April. It would be hard to fit two on the back of the donkey.

(Hat tip to Mundabor's Blog for Little Lambkins above)


Friday, December 27, 2013

Funny Metropolis thread

Last month, someone asked a question on the IMDb discussion board for 'Metropolis'. It didn't seem that funny, and it just sat there for over a month, until someone picked it up, and then it finally took off:

QUESTION:   Who saw this in theatres back in 27? What was your 3d experience like???

Settler11:   I still have the headache from that 3D. I think it's just a fad.

paulgray_461:   Those mahogany 3D specs weighed a lot, my friend opted for the 3D monocle which of course proved utterly pointless.

Rosabel:   Well, I wasn't there, but my friend told me that Fritz Lang himself invented the 3D effect by mounting the entire auditorium on a hydraulic platform and zooming the audience forward and backward while the action played on the screen. It's why UFA practically went bankrupt.

Spirit_Of_The_Drum:   There was a guy sitting next to me and he was using a telegraph machine, sending and receiving messages throughout most of the movie. I mean how rude! I hope he won't start some kind of ugly trend...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Liberal women and their unworthy families

Stuart Schneiderman at "Had Enough Therapy?" writes about the latest affront among indignant feminists:
A woman wrote to Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post with this problem:
I was at a wedding recently where family members kept coming up to me and asking me why I wasn’t married and if I had a boyfriend. I’m a 34-year-old single woman and these relatives hadn’t seen me in a few years. I was really uncomfortable with the incessant questioning. What is a good response when people ask intrusive questions regarding your relationship status? I am really still angry at how rude and insensitive the relatives were and I don’t really plan to go to another family wedding because of this. Am I being too sensitive/overreacting? I see no excuse — I have never gone up to a married couple and asked them why they didn’t have children or something similar, so I don’t see how this behavior is excusable and why I should have to put up with it.
Here, a number of this woman’s relations, people she never sees outside of weddings, ask her why she is attending the event unaccompanied. The woman in question believes that the questions are intrusive. She is so angry and offended that she plans to boycott all future family weddings.
As the doctor points out, the "Am I overreacting?" suggestion is just a rhetorical feint, to establish the writer's bona fides as a thoughtful type who's willing to look at things from all sides and give the benefit of the doubt. It certainly doesn't extend to disturbing the satisfying halo of aggrieved resentment hovering over her head.
One hates to mention it, but these relatives—I suspect that they are female relatives—are asking these questions at a wedding. At a wedding one’s thoughts often fly ahead to the next wedding. It is not abnormal or insulting.
That was my first thought. "Spread the wealth!" Instead of demanding an explanation for her singleness, they're trying to stretch the good-luck mantle to cover her too. "One wedding leads to another" is an old saying. She's assuming that they know the truth already, when they really might not (she doesn't see them very often). They might be expecting to hear her say that she DOES have a boyfriend, and then they can happily start speculating on when the next family wedding might happen. Once all that enthusiasm has been revved up, people want to keep the party going. Of course, instead of boycotting family events altogether, she might decide to just restrict herself to funerals. That gives rise to a different set of assumptions and trains of thought, and she might be spared her relatives' impudent wishes for her happiness.
Her relatives are not intending to pry. They are expressing concern about her singlehood and would prefer to hear some good news about her. To their minds that means hearing that she has a boyfriend, or a reasonable facsimile. Within a certain culture a woman’s being single is a sign of independence and autonomy, something to be celebrated. Within most cultures it elicits expressions of concern.
I remember the leadup to my sister's 25th highschool class reunion. She was telling a coworker - a lady from the Philippines - that she was a bit nervous about going back and meeting all the people she'd known in high school. She was wondering how her life would compare to that of the people she'd known as a kid. "Ah, yes," her friend sympathized. "You nervous. You no married, no children..." My sister was stunned into silence. "At least you not fat," added the lady comfortingly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Decembertime!

My sister sent me this link to a very funny CBC radio satire on politically correct people who are always offended at this time of the year (5:08 mins):

I was thinking that this COULD be a jab at a current campaign to bring back the "Merry Christmas" expression instead of the insipid "Happy Holidays" that's replaced it. But let's face it, we all know who the people are who are ALWAYS finding something to feel offended by at Christmas, and it's not people who like to say 'Merry Christmas'.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Emma came into our room today to tell me about a phone conversation she'd just had with her friend Oliver.  They'd been discussing feminism, and she was assuring him that she was NOT one of those women who see men as the enemy.  Why, some of her best friends were guys! 

"And then there's my dad..."  She was trying for a word between "definition" and "illustration" and came out with "... who's the ideal defecation of a decent human being!"

After I'd laughed long and hard, she said to me, red as a peony, "You're going to tell Dad about this, aren't you?" 

"Of course I have to tell him," I answered.  "He'll probably want to use it himself!"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Damson plums again

We finished picking the damson plums today.  I'd picked about half the plums on the tree during the past week, and just kept them in the fridge.  Today we got out the ladder and climbed up to get the rest.

It came to 10 lbs altogether, which is much better than I expected.  Last year, the tree was badly afflicted with canker and plum cucurlios, so I pruned it back HARD, by about 1/3 at least.  I wasn't really expecting much of anything from the tree this year, thinking it needed to recuperate.  But considering that last year we got 18 lbs., this is a pretty good yield.  And best of all, the tree is pretty healthy this year, with just a few small growths here and there, and not much fruit drop.

It's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, so I think I'll make the jam then; might get about 2 dozen jars.  If we ever have to go survivalist, we'll have lots of plum jam and marmalade to survive on!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Age of Miracles and Wonders

I read this story a day or two ago, and am not sure just what to make of it.

"God told me" to step down, the pope emeritus was quoted as saying by a visitor who met him recently, Zenit said in a report in Italian media on Wednesday.

The 86-year-old Benedict XVI, who has retained his papal name, now lives in a former monastery inside the Vatican walls and has made no public appearances.
He only very rarely meets with visitors, Zenit said.

But Benedict was quoted by Zenit as saying he had a "mystical experience" in which he received a divine message that fostered the "absolute desire" to be with God in private prayer.

Read more:
I've never approved of Benedict's resignation, and the idiocy of his successor has done nothing to reconcile me to it.

But I can't outright dismiss this story; there must be some basis for it, as I don't think any reporter would fabricate such a claim. 

So Benedict may have made such a claim.  Did it really happen?  I don't know.  He really wanted to resign, and people can convince themselves that what they want is what ought to be.  A Pope should be able to distinguish his own wishes from God's will, but humans are fallible and he may have talked himself into thinking that God was telling him to resign.

On the other hand, he might have received a vision of some kind; it's happened before.  However, I don't trust this report's interpretation of the matter, as it is clearly proposing a cause and effect situation:  "God told me to quit.  I did.  Francis is such a dazzling success that it proves that my resignation was God's will.  Hurrah!"

God could have told him to quit, but it doesn't follow that it was to shower the Catholic Church with even greater blessings.

I think the mystical message from God was "Time's up."  We've squandered our last chance, and now we're going to suffer.  It starts with the election of Francis, the Gutter Pope, and it will end with the collapse of the Church and its return to the catacombs.

And Benedict will have to suffer too, for his shrinking and dilatoriness.  He was made Pope to do a job, to conquer the evil that started with Vatican II, and he flinched.  He wanted things to be done pleasantly and politely, with gentle suggestions and loving hints.  The Enemy just laughed at him and refused to play along.  Now time has run out.

This is why God didn't do what he usually does when it's time for a new pope: end the life of the incumbent.  No, Benedict has to pay for his failure, and it's already started: he's seeing the destruction of even his rare success, Summorum Pontificum and his attempt to restore the liturgy.  Typically, it was done in a cautious, tentative manner, in the vain hope that softly murmuring instead of forcefully commanding would reconcile the modernist maniacs to losing.  Nope.  They waited him out, and now they've got the pope they want, who'll give them back everything Benedict tried to take away, and more.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

One man's trash...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You'll never guess what's now on the endangered species list

Monday, July 22, 2013

Congratulations, it's a boy!

There are very few things I miss by not having TV anymore:  Phil Mickelson winning the British Open was one; I would have liked to have seen that.  And another is the breathless wait for the news of the new royal baby.

I still found out almost as soon as everyone else, via a banner headline on, but I missed the party atmosphere that comes from dozens of newshounds desperately filling hours of air time with chatter as their cameras remain focused on the front door of a hospital.  Oh well, I DID witness the election of the Bishop of Rome, as he calls himself, and considering what a dud he's turned out to be, maybe it's just as well I didn't get too involved in all the anticipation.

Still, good news - and a boy too!  Now I don't have to worry about all the ponderous declarations of how wonderfully modern and advanced we are because we've changed the traditional rule of succession to let girls inherit the crown ahead of their brothers based on seniority.  There are 3 generations of males to come first, so I doubt I'll live to see the change.  I've never liked meddling with ancient traditions, and especially not to oblige feminists and deracinated liberals.

No idea what the name will be yet, but I wish they call him Richard.   In honour of the discovery of the body of Richard III last year, which was a great archeological moment. 

Actually, I remember when Prince William was born, in 1982. It was right at the end of the Falklands War, and the British had retaken Port Stanley. Some people suggested the new royal baby should be named "Stanley" in honour of the victory. But the prospect of "Good King Stan" didn´t seem to be enough for the royal family to break with tradition.        

Friday, July 05, 2013

Great classics of literature - minus one letter

At Buzzfeed, this guy created book covers for the best titles in an online game: taking titles of famous books and removing one letter.

I thought of one: "Little Omen".   And "Lord of the Lies", but that would only require a photo of Obama on the cover - not very challenging.

Actually, this is similar to an old 'Spectator' issue I remember with a Jaspistos competition on the back page: people were asked to CHANGE a single letter in the title of a book, play, song, etc. My favourite was "'Wein Kampf' - The inspiring story of Hitler's struggle with alcoholism."

Earlier this year, I did an interesting DOUBLE subtitle job for a 1933 movie by Curtis Bernhardt called 'The Tunnel' (Le Tunnel). In those early sound days, before they'd figured out the technique of dubbing films in different languages, European filmmakers sometimes tried to widen the appeal of their films by filming a second version of the same film in a different language. This required a different-language cast and a translated script, but it would be shot exactly the same way, on the same sets.

 It wasn't every film that got this treatment, because it was pretty expensive. Fritz Lang's 'The Testament of Dr. Mabuse' was filmed this way: the original was in German, and then a second version was shot in French with a different cast. That also happened with 'The Tunnel' - it was filmed both in French and German.

I wanted to translate the French version, but when I watched the German version I realized that they really were almost identical, and I figured I knew enough German that I could also produce English subtitles for that film once I had done the subtitles for the French one. It was cheating a bit; I couldn't translate a German film just relying on the audio, but with an English script of the parallel version, I could pull it off.

Anyway, there's one scene in the German version where the hero, the brilliant engineer Mac Allen, who's also a worker like the men he leads, has to face down an attempted strike instigated by saboteurs. He addresses a big meeting of the miners, who are hostile and upset, and gives them a rousing speech about the dignity of their work, and how they can't abandon their comrades, but must struggle through all the dangers and difficulties to victory.

Considering the era (1933), I don't think it was too difficult to see why the new Nazi government would have approved of this film: charismatic leader, man of the people, solidarity with the working class, shadowy plots by bankers and speculators. You get the picture.

Well, during this speech (which I had to listen to quite a few times), Mac Allen several times uses the word "Kampf" in a very passionate way. Dean was starting to make some cracks about it, and I said, "It's a perfectly good word! It just means "struggle", and he's talking about how hard their lives as miners are. There's nothing more to it."

"Yeah," said Dean, getting ready to imitate Mac Allen. "'Work is a struggle! Life is a struggle! Why, let me tell you about MY struggle...' 'Noooooo!!!!' moan workers. And six hours later, he's just getting warmed up..."