Friday, December 31, 2010

This was me in the German snow

I really like snow. Quite a lot.

I have lots of Germany pics to give y'all, but you'll have to wait till I get into town to pick up the cable. Left it in the office.


h/t to Vicky for the penguin vid

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hey, my birthday is coming up

I think I want a pink rifle.


Christmas week

Over the next few years the Christmas week feasts are going to be increasingly appropos, I think...
The Vatican estimates that from Egypt to Iran there are just 17 million Christians left. Christianity is on the verge of extinction in the ancient lands of its birth. In short, a creeping religious genocide is taking place. Yet the West remains silent for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities.

Non pacem sed gladium.

St. Stephen, St. Thomas Becket and the Holy Innocents, orate pro nobis.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It snowed!

Made this video by holding my Mac up to the window.

I was just sitting in the kitchen, watching the soup and idly surfing around doing important internet research, when I happened to glance out the window.

Yoiks! Not what I expected to see!

And it stayed!


By the way,

Merry Christmas, everyone.


The Source

I've found the Source of All Stuff.

Il Mercatino dell'Usato, a national chain of shops selling, well, cheap antiques.

It's Value Village (this is only for Canadians of a certain socio-economic category) if Value Village were jammed with decent antique Roman furniture, china, silverware, pictures, lamps and chandeliers, traditional Italian kitchenware and fabulous vintage clothes.

The one I went to today is ideally located about a block away from the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Ideal because it is on a bus route that takes me straight back to the office and to the train station to go home with my loot.

As y'all know in April I got freakishly lucky and scored the apartment of my dreams (the dreams that didn't involve a working hot water tank, slope-backed, claw-foot bathtubs or fireplaces...oh well) and discovered that My Stuff was nowhere near big or elaborate enough to properly furnish such a place.

I, and later my kindly and stoic roommate have been living since in a place that more closely resembles a cavern, sparsely furnished largely with an incongruously English arm chair and two-seater sofa "three piece set" that I brought with me, and little else. My pictures, of which I have quite a few, are all of a scale more suited to a tiny country cottage in Cheshire, and even the largest of them are somewhat forlorn on the great white expanses of the walls.

Before I moved in, I had asked the landlord to remove the mountain of egregiously horrible cheap and nasty modern furniture (two large and very worn faux leather sofas and assorted bits of appalling rubbish furniture that looked like rejects from a garage sale c. 1976) on the principle that it is better to sit on the floor than have to look every day at stuff that would crush the spirit. We kept the beds, the wardrobes, (never yet seen any closets in an Italian residence) the very large dining room table and the table-shelf-thing the TV used to sit on before I asked them to take it away.

(The very nice agency lady was horrified I didn't want that mountainous TV. I'm sure it was supposed to be a big attraction of the place. She said even if I didn't want to watch TV, what about my friend who was going to come live with me? I refrained from explaining that I could not possibly live with anyone who would want to watch Italian television.)

But indeed, though we have stuff to sit, sleep and eat on, the place is sparse. Cold, even.

There are no carpets, as is also usual in Italian homes (what these people have against domestic comfort is beyond me) and the very high-quality marble flooring is quite as icy at this time of year as I had anticipated. The place echoes like a warehouse in an economic downturn and is about as homey.

But I had more or less despaired of ever finding anything I could afford to make it nicer, warmer and more cozy. Furniture in Italian shops is of a style that would do little to create "cozy," (a concept for which there is no Italian word). The antique shops in Rome are so wildly overpriced that there seems little point in complaining that they are filled with furniture that would affront the aesthetic sensibilities of the most vulgar spenders of new wealth. "Overwrought," "overdone," "over-the-top" are also not really concepts that have Italian words attached to them. What they have plenty of are faux marble and gold-painted curlicues... dear God!

Italians like to boast about how much money they've spent on things and aren't big on admitting to having "previously owned" things in their homes. If it ain't obviously new and expensive they don't want it. Which all means that there really aren't any places where people with an abundance of taste and a shortage of funds can get nice things for their homes.

We foreigners aren't really expected to be setting down roots here and the places we are offered for rent are routinely furnished cheaply and hastily with the basic stuff. We're a mendicant race, we ex-pats, and tend not to be interested in becoming heavily domesticated.

I was trying to make my Brain get into the idea of a kind of "high austerity" as a new domestic aesthetic, but it wasn't buying it. It would often whisper whinily of an evening about how cold and unappealing the place is.

But things are looking up. I have found the Source of All Stuff and bought a carpet.

[photo to follow...sorry, I forgot to bring home the cable for my camera]
My first since Halifax, 12 years ago.

It's not huge (I was able to take it home on the train, rolled up very tightly in my wheelie shopping cart), but it's a start. It hasn't done a great deal to dampen the echoes, but there was more in that shop. And there are several other outlets around the City. And they deliver.

I'm going to go there and buy one or two bits of things at a time, and they said they will hold on to them until there is a truck's load worth and will charge me a flat €100 to deliver everything out to the seaside in one go. Cheaper than renting a van myself. And cheaper than Ikea's delivery rates out here ... and when I'm done I won't have to look at Ikea, I win!

You will note in the photo above the two book boxes that have served the last few months as an end table for my tea cup and toast plate in the mornings. The next thing on the list is going to be a pair of book cases, but clearly I'm going to have to get an end table at the same time. I have had my 18 boxes of books stacked up in the spare room - and making shift as furniture - since I moved in, boxes that have not been unpacked since I moved to Italy over two years ago. I've recently realised I don't remember what books I have.

I figured that I might be happier if I felt more like I actually lived here instead of just camping temporarily. A big part of that is going to be to buy Heavy Stuff. Stuff that will require a lot more thought before moving it again. Especially to some other country.

I've got my eye on this giant sofa and ottoman thing. (The awful little round chair doesn't come with it) the price has gone down. I looked at it in the shop today and they are asking €560 now, which I might be able to do next month. Forgot to ask if they take deposits.

I think people unjustly malign Getting More Stuff as a source of happiness and security.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking some time away.

See you guys later.

Time has changed me

and left me full of doubt.

It was strange seeing pictures of Jon Laursen the other day.

I've changed so much. It seems like the world has changed too.

Things are so different on the inside now. It's hard to imagine that I'm really the same person. It's a bit of a shock to be reminded that things weren't always like this.

I don't know that I will ever trust again
It's a price I must pay for all my sins
Time has changed me and left me full of doubt
And my heart may be lost never to be found


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little more man-music for ya


Here's someone who gets the philandry thing

Things women will never understand about men

I understand it. Maybe I'm weird.


One of the things I like about country music

it's for men.
Took the bus today down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele past dozens of shops and banks with windows held together with tape. The riot temper tantrum started down near the Piazza del Popolo where Andrea has her studio. She told me she went outside to find the students spoiled brats busting up the terracotta flower planters, swinging from the downspouts and attacking shop workers who were out trying to get the metal blinds down.

Remind me again,

when did we stop caning in schools?

Is there some reason these people should not all be automatically expelled from their universities?

Oh, and a tip for the Rome riot cops...

two words:

Fire. Hoses.


High Praise Indeed

This just in from Scotland...

Someone just emailed
to say that LifeSiteNews is in real financial trouble. My correspondent didn't even say "Sister, do you have a dime?" He just asked me to blog on their financial plight, and I said yes. He asked me to tell other bloggers like Andrew Cusack, and I said yes.

LifeSiteNews fights the good fight for the rights of unborn babies, the disabled, the aged and women who don't want to share their bathrooms with men dressed like women, and it collects a lot of news items of interest to Catholic and other Christians that you can't easily find elsewhere. It is quite unabashedly pro-traditional this and that, and it blew the lid off the Development & Peace scandal, which my Canadian readers may have heard about.

LifeSiteNews is more-or-less associated with The Interim, [actually, not so much now. Not for a decade or so. Paul Tuns never calls, never writes...HJW] Canada's pro-life, pro-family print newspaper, which has managed to stay in print for so many decades, I'm starting suspect divine intervention. LifeSiteNews is also, IMHO, the most wide-reaching, influential thing the pro-life movement in Toronto has ever done, and I know what I'm talking about. It also employs Hilary White, who is a very good writer, I must say. She's got a tongue that could shave a hedgehog and has denounced me once or twice, but the woman can write.

If you happen to have $5 or more that you can spare on a needy internet newspaper, I suggest you send it to LifeSiteNews.

Gosh! I'm blushing.

Yep. It's that time of year again. When we engage in what I like to call our Keep Hilary in Tea and Biscuits campaign.

It's a matter of public safety really. I have had many people shudder at the thought of what sort of damage I could do if I were out there runnning around the world unsupervised doing freelance.

LifeSite, in fact, does something no one else in the world does. We have pioneered the work we do and have come a long, long way in ten years. But as you can see, there is still a long, long way left to go.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Classical painting techniques

Some time ago, I fell madly in love with the Dutch still life genre. I went to the National Gallery in Washington and was mesmerized by them. I wondered if anyone is doing anything like that. Turns out yes.

I have come to the conclusion that the quality of a painter can be judged most easily by his still lifes. If you can paint an onion and make it interesting, you can do anything. But if your paintings are only interesting because of the subject matter, you're cheating the viewer.

My current drawing project, which I expect to take much longer than any of the previous ones, is a still life. Simple: I draped a chair with a white cloth and placed a silver teapot on the cloth. I expect it to be very difficult, but once I've got the knack of doing things from life, the sky's the limit.


Oh man! I LOVE kung fu movies

For all the years I lived in Vancouver, I was the world's biggest Sinophile. I shopped in Chinatown all the time, and learned to eat all the weird stuff that none of the white people ever ate. I haunted Chinese bookshops with their mysterious red wax seals and chops, and scrolls, ink and brush paintings, the Sun Yat Sen gardens, the Chinese bakeries, the Chinese Catholic parish with its gorgeous paintings of the Virgin and Child in the traditional Chinese style.

I went to the kung fu and wushu demonstrations too, and went through a very long kung fu movie period with Vicky.

If only the Chinese had gone for Christianity instead of Communism...

Oh well...

Monday, December 13, 2010

A little perspective

I've had a lot of nice comments about my drawings, and I'm appreciative, believe me.

But I've got a ways to go.

Marina Dieul, "Philippe" in charcoal and sanguine.


The thing with Tony

that no one seems to want to say is that he's really just not that bright.


Sounds good to me

Where do I get one?


What's missing?

This report on the Swedish bomb scare has left me rather puzzled...

Didja catch it?

What wasn't mentioned?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh science!

Thou art just so awesomely, amazingly cool!

Made. Out. Of. Legos. !

If logic (that is, science) didn't require the existence of a Prime Mover, I'd cheerfully worship you, Science.

If my fellow-worshippers weren't all jerks, that is.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

I don't know. These PRI guys keep telling people to "think about it".

Not sure that's really a helpful suggestion in our times.


I really have very cool friends

And I really want one of these.

But there's only one in the whole wide world.


And here she is done...

Finished the drapery this morning.

The original, for comparison

The face was the most difficult bit, of course. As you can see, it took several tries.

But determination triumphed. The idea of collecting the sanguine dust in a jar and applying it to the finished piece with a brush to give the whole thing an even tone, seems to be working. Though I had to go over the lighter bits with the kneaded eraser to bring them back up to contrast.

And before you ask, yes, I did her boobs just a little bigger than Michelangelo. What is it with that guy? All his women look like high school PE instructors.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Odd artist

One man defies the modernists...

Yes, they're disturbing. But there is something about them. Something that reminds me of all my own darker thoughts about the world. Obviously we see Bosch, Caravaggio, Rembrandt. But as someone said, imagine those painters, instead of looking back at the Christian story, had lived in our time and faced our nihilistic post-Christian future. As though Rembrandt had met our modern apocalypse of despair and lost his faith in both man and God.

His admirers praise him for his superb Old Master technique, while his critics condemn him as hopelessly reactionary.

Sounds like my kind of guy.
The Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum is one of the greatest painters of the century. Unfortunately, according to his detractors, the century in question is the seventeenth. Thus Nerdrum has emerged as one of the most controversial artists of our day.

Nerdrum’s career thus presents a challenge to the modernist establishment that still dominates the international art scene. He refuses to paint like a modernist, but thematically he seems to be responding to a crisis in the modern world; indeed he seems to be coming to grips with the spiritual state of modernity in a way far more profound than that pursued by most modernist painters.
Not that much of a challenge, one would think...

As a result, few contemporary painters have managed to enrage the modernist establishment as much as Nerdrum has. The artists, critics, and curators who comprise the modernist establishment somehow sense that if Nerdrum is right, then they must be wrong.
I wouldn't be so quick to grant them so much intelligence. The logical principle of non-contradiction is the foundation of all rational thought, not a strong suit of theirs.

By returning to the Old Masters, Nerdrum is violating what has come to be the fundamental convention of modernist art. Thumbing his nose at the whole art establishment, Nerdrum used the occasion of a series of exhibitions of his paintings from 1998 to 2000 in Norway to proclaim himself publicly the King of Kitsch...

...One must wonder about the insecurity of modernists who feel it necessary to insist that their art and only their art is “the art of our century” or “the art of the future.” Do the modernists fear the challenge traditional art still represents to the triumph of their own aesthetic?

It all sounds just so...ahem...oddly familiar, doesn't it?

Some day I should write a book or something about the connections between the artistic modernist movement and the Catholic modernist movement.


Sun Snake

Holy cow!

can science get any cooler than this?

A magnetic filament snaking around the sun’s southeast limb just keeps getting longer. The portion visible today stretches more than 700,000 km–a full solar radius. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory took this picture during the early hours of Dec. 6th. The STEREO-B spacecraft, stationed over the sun’s eastern horizon, saw this filament coming last week. So far the massive structure has hovered quietly above the stellar surface, but now it is showing signs of instability. Long filaments like this one have been known to collapse with explosive results when they hit the stellar surface below.

From NASA's Goddard Flight Center Science-Is-Most-Awesomely-Cool website.

Go there and be boggled.

Did I ever tell y'all about the time I called NASA in California? I was trying to confirm some information I'd been given about someone who had worked for them. I got hold of some bigwig who was very nice but asked if I could call back in a couple of days. They were launching the space shuttle that day, so everyone was really busy.


Monday, December 06, 2010

More on sanguine

It's a naturally occurring mineral, mined for centuries in Italy (natch), that can be used straight in chunks, or combined with other things like oil and other coloured chalks to produce things like this:

Apparently, my instinct to save the powder from the sandings was a good one. (It comes of having been raised by a post-war baby who grew up in England during rationing. You never, ever throw anything away that might come in useful). You can combine the powder with water to make a sort of ink that can be used with a brush. I haven't done very much ink-and-brush work, but the little I've done has been with the el-cheapo big plastic bottles of water-based calligraphy ink I used to buy in Chinatown in Vancouver. Great fun, and because it's so cheap, you can be pretty lavish with your experiments and not feel guilty.

Of course, now I'd give my eye teeth for just one bottle of the stuff, since Rome has no Chinatown.

Anyway, sanguine pencils apparently have quite different properties from the pure mineral. You can cut little bits of it, put it in a metal holder and get some very fine lines. You can use the powder dry to dust over a bit that you want only slightly toned (I already figured that one out all my myself! Woo!) and it does all sorts of interesting things on a wet canvas or paper ground.

I wonder if anyone has any tips for the Amazing-Disappearing-Sanguine-Line problem.


Sanguine ink drawing by Stephanie Goldman.

Must try this!


Almost finished another one this weekend

A study by Michelangelo for one of his ignudi for the Sistine Chapel.

I've solved the problem of finding inexpensive prints of the great painters to copy. The ones in books are fine but they tend to be very small, and small is difficult.

Solution? Calendars. There are a lot of Italian art calendars around this town.

My idea lately is to try to learn to eyeball as much of it as possible, using the plumbline to plot points as little as I can. I started the contour outline with just about ten plotted points.

Then as the contour line was finished, I mostly did the halftones and cast shadows by eye.

The face will need some serious point-plotting however. I had to re-do that mouth about three times, which in sanguine is really problematic, since once you have erased it is very difficult to get the pencil to lay down a mark over the erased bits.

The suddenly-disappearing-line: one of the exciting quirks of sanguine pencils. Scrub at it as much as you like, no line will appear on any surface that has been interrupted with erasing, or has had too much oil rubbed into it from your fingers.

I think I'll be buying a mahl stick soon too, since I ended up using a square of tissue, held in the crook of my little finger so I could rest my hand on the page without marking it or smudging.

I toned the lighest parts, the left forearm, the right thigh, where the light fell, using sanguine powder I collected when I was sharpening my pencil with sand paper. I just took a little watercolour brush and dusted it as evenly as I could. I found that with the lighest parts, the untoned paper left too high a contrast and the cool tone of the greyscale paper looked just a little odd with the warm tone of the sanguine. I tried it at first just because it seemed a shame to throw away all that sanguine powder. Now I think I'm going to collect it in a little jar and keep it around.

I found that I just couldn't get a dark enough mark with the sanguine pencil for the darkest shadows, so I cheated a little and shaded in the darker contrasts with an HB. I wondered how Michelangelo managed to get such dark lines but thought he was probably using a stick of pure sanguine, rather than a modern manufactured pencil and that I had no idea how big the original was. For all I knew, the original was big enough to use a sanguine stick as thick as my thumb that would make very dark marks. Or maybe he used a bit of charcoal on the darker bits and blended them together.

Going to try to finish tomorrow.

I've discovered that sanguine is an incredible pain in the butt to work with, but I like the results so much that I think I'm going to stick with it. Graphite is easier but not nearly so pleasing.

My pencil collection. I go through odd phases where I obsessively buy HBs.

Andrea working. She hates having her picture taken, but I thought this was a good one. And it gives a nice idea of the calm and quiet atmpshere in the studio. Outside, the Big City roars and rages; inside all is calm and good sense.

The tomb of Blessed Fra Angelico in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, my favourite of the Big Churches in Rome.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Dawn over the Med last month.

Nice, isn't it?


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Much like the new Mass,

one might venture to say...

Benedict is reforming the penal code of the Church to reflect...errr...current historical realities:
Other areas of canonical discipline at the time could be assessed in the light of practical ecclesial reality by evaluating positively or negatively the results of various norms ad 'experimentum' when it came to drawing up the definitive norms of the Code. The new penal law system, however, being "completely new" in relation to what had gone before, or almost so, lacked this "opportunity" for experimental evaluation, and so it was established practically 'ex nihilo' in 1983.

Something of a recurring theme when talking about things that came directly from the recommendations of the Second Vatican Asteroid Council.

Hermeneutic of rupture anyone?


Sent by one of my LSN colleagues, who triumphantly shouts, "I've found you!"

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

So, tell me if I've got this right

It's discriminatory to refuse to allow homosexuals to adopt.

(But of course, it's not discriminatory to force all the Catholic adoption agencies in Britain to close because they disagreed with the above.)

It's discriminatory to refuse to allow unmarried, cohabiting couples to adopt, even though it is statistically provable (and freaking obvious!) that they tend to break up and that it's proven that such break-ups are bad for the kids.

Now because it's discriminatory to refuse to allow homosexuals (whose "relationships" have...ah...a somewhat higher rate of "break-down", but never mind that) and unmarried cohabiting couples to adopt children, even though it harms kids,

now we have to allow convicted sex offenders to adopt.

Because avoiding discrimination is more important than children.

Did I get it?

What do I win?


Not Ashamed

Well, they're not, anyway.

Protestant evangelicals and Anglicans in Britain have today launched a campaign to show that Christianity, the person of Christ, is not merely the solution for our personal lives, but for the nation.

The Church (the real Church, that is,) used to have a specific doctrine about this.

It's called "the social reign of Christ the King". One of those retrograde pre-Vatican II popes even instituted a feast day, the Feast of Christ the King, to try to get people to remember this. This doctrine is probably the most significant point of departure between Catholics (particularly American Catholics) who identify themselves as "conservatives" and us. Trads are usually Trads not because of the old Mass. They're Trads because they believe that democracy isn't going to work until it is under the reign of Christ (if then). We are believers in the Catholic confessional state.

And when we start talking about it, you can see the neo-cons just starting to burst...that faint popping sound you hear...

Certainly the doctrine of the social reign of Christ is one that most Catholics, and nearly all Churchmen, (yes, right up to the very top) are deeply ashamed of. But it is interesting that this group of prots has just figured it out, all by themselves. Just through the use of reason.

So maybe it is not much of a wonder that there doesn't seem to be a signficiant Catholic contingent in this campaign.

I wonder how many of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have signed on for the Not Ashamed campaign.




Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yeah, that'll bring in The Yoot, fer sherrr...

New statue for Den Bosch cathedral:

Sculptor Ton a working on a statue of an angel with a cell phone.

The angel is to replace a worn out statue in the cathedral of Den Bosch.

The cell phone will have just one button: for a straight line with God.


But it could have been worse...
According to Mooy, he also wanted to give the angel jet engines, and a skirt instead of pants, but those ideas went too far for the church’s art committee...
Oh yes. It's always possible to make it worse...

One small thing about this confuses me. How does a statue in a church get 'worn out'?

What were they doing with it?

Actually, never mind. I don't want to know.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Death, be not proud

No wonder I had such a crush on him.

This is my old friend, and briefly "boyfriend" Jon Laursen, as he was when I first knew him when we were about 17 or so. I remember Jon very fondly. It's odd, perhaps, that he was one of the very few people in my adult life (what passes for it) who met my grandparents and visited their home with me.

I had word yesterday that he died of cancer on Friday. A lot of people loved him over the course of his life, including me. It was a long, long time ago, half my lifetime, but I am not forgetful.

I know there are some people who stay put, more or less, in the place where they were born. They hang about, in general, with the same people all their lives. A lot of the people I went to school with still live in BC; most of them still live on the Island.

I left them all behind. Have, in fact, left a trail of people behind me that is now 6000 miles long. When I look back on my teens and childhood, it is almost like remembering a film or a book I read once. Like something that happened to someone else. In my mind, these old friends of mine will forever be 17, 22, matter what happens to me. No wonder I always have a strange feeling as though I am a replicant, grown in a vat and implanted with false memories.

I can say one thing for death, though, it makes you remember that you really exist.

But I have to say, I'm getting pretty sick of effing cancer. Nearly all the people who have died, whom I have loved in life, have been taken by cancer.

John Muggeridge
Joan Reid, my mother's gentle friend
my grandfather, Norman White
and now Jon.


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy'or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

You're letting the Belgians run Europe?


Old Lizard-face doesn't look too happy...



A classy dame

Barbara Billingsley died last month.

The world will not see her like again...

My mother hated Leave it to B. but I would watch it after school before she got home and I was getting the dinner on.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Better out than in

Someone (other than the British people, that is) is FINALLY saying it.

But did it have to be the Daily Express?

Senior MPs, peers and campaign groups acclaimed this newspaper’s stand against the sprawling Brussels super-state as a turning point in the battle to win back Britain’s independence.
And Eurosceptic critics of UK membership said the growing financial crisis among the euro nations this week – threatening to cost British taxpayers billions of pounds – has overwhelmingly confirmed the case for British withdrawal.


What I want to know...

is he married?

I have GOT to have one of those Simon's Cat food dishes for Winnie!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Every time the Pope makes the sign of the Cross, an African baby dies of AIDS

On Spiked...

the relief of those with rosary beads to stroke was as nothing compared to the excitement of those with an axe to grind. ‘Pope Benedict’s XVI’s change of heart on condoms marks a significant break with the damage done by one of his predecessors’ most romantic, wicked and wrong-headed policies’, enthused Andrew Brown in the Guardian. Over at the Telegraph, another commentator saw it as an undoubted positive move: ‘Yes, we secular liberals can hope that this is the start of a greater change, and we can regret the lives lost while we waited for it. But we should also recognise that it is a great change already, and that it will start to save lives now. And, however much some people will struggle to praise the pope, we should swallow our pride, and give credit where it’s due.’

The New Humanist, a vocal opponent of Benedict’s visit to the UK in September, felt confident enough to state: ‘There does appear to have been a change in tone from an organisation that has long given the impression that it is opposed to condoms in all circumstances.’ Such has been the near tectonic shift from blaming the pope for killing Africans to praising him for rescuing them that even the continent itself piped up: ‘Africa welcomes pope’s comments on condoms’, ran a Agence France-Presse headline.

Yet just as it was absurd to blame leaders of the Catholic Church for the problem of AIDS/HIV in Africa, so it is equally ridiculous to see the pope as the continent’s redeemer. In both cases there is an idealism at work, an idealism that would embarrass the most immaterial of philosophers. For in this idealism, ideas – Catholic ideas – are all that matter. The pope articulates one idea, people die; he articulates another, people live.

'Cause he's magic...


Trivial pursuit

Did you know that Mark Twain invented the internet?

Me neither.
Twain dreamed up an invention called the "telelectroscope," which used the phone system to create a world wide network of information-sharing. Basically, Mark Twain invented the Internet. Keep in mind that he wrote this in 1898, when telephones were still fairly new and rare.

But Twain didn't stop there. His story describes "the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too, by witnesses separated by any number of leagues." Mark Twain is talking about goddamn social networking. He didn't just predict that the Internet would unite the world, but also that people would immediately clog it up with trivial bullshit.

Oh. Right.

Trivial bull....
"Day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people. ... He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement."

Sorry. I'll go do something useful now.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Queen of England

A friend of mine goes to the Rome Pub Quiz most weeks, and he was in a round in which the question was, "What is the most-Googled search term used this week with the words 'Kate' and 'Middleton'?"

The people in the round gave their guesses as

1) underwear

2) skank

3) tart

the correct answer was "bikini".


She's going to be Queen. Of. England.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Chopin Day

I just have this weird feeling all day, from the Crazy-Brain I guess, that if I stop listening to Chopin for more than a few minutes, The Bad will come out from under the Thing and get me.

Crazy-brain - 1

Chopin - 10

Hilary - 0

Tomorrow I have to go to a press conference where I'm fairly sure they will not be playing any nocturnes and there will be a lot of shouting and awfulness.

Maybe I should buy an iPod.


Here's something to cheer y'all up

Ok, well, not really, I guess. But it's sort of fun in a nostalgic brings-you-back-to-Saturday-morning-cartoons sort of way.

Imagine how awful the world must be for us to look back on the '70s with a kind of fond nostalgia for lost innocence...

The '70s!

I guess if your name is Evgeny Kissin ... and you've got hair like that ... you're pretty much obliged to become absurdly famous for your unbelievably amazing talent,

just to stave off a lifetime of bullying.


"La Blabbatore Romano" ... hah! I laff

" would be kind of weird not to acknowledge the brouhaha about the Pope’s comments that L’Osservatore Romano leaked, apparently following its mission to act as the poorly-informed, half-senile uncle who blurts out crazy stuff and makes things so awkward around the holidays. Sorry about Uncle Romano — he . . . he doesn’t really represent our family. Just give him some more pie, and maybe he’ll be quiet..."

I don't know who you are, Simcha Fisher, but you're funny.

Funny star for you.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

More minor key for a failed Sunday

(Plus Antonio Canova bonus!)


Men, dress like a grown up

Put this on

And shave every day. Make sure your hair and fingernails are short and clean all the time.

Don't go getting all Italian on us, mind you. There's nothing more revolting and effeminate in a man than physical vanity. A man who cannot pass a mirror or plate glass window without glancing into it, is no man. But do make the effort to be neat, clean and properly dressed. The right sort of woman will notice. Trust me.

Also, I recently had occasion to compliment a young man of my acquaintance on his corduroy trousers.

I didn't realise that there is such a corduroy following out there...

An Address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to the fifth annual Grand Meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club on November 11th, the date which most resembles corduroy. Below is the text of my address. Hail the wale...

I came to this beautiful hall in a soiled subway car, but I might as well have travelled in a grand carriage. As I walked down the street I drew sidelong glances. “Who is this man,” they seemed to say. “A man at home where-ever he travels. A man of refinement. A man of elegance. A man of corduroy.”


This is not some fabric reserved for oily diplomats, or gentrymen of questionable morality. Corduroy is not weak! It is not effete or innefectual or elitist. Corduroy is a fabric built to take on the world. Tuck your corduroy trousers into your boots and feed the pigs. Roll up your corduroy sleeves and bring in the harvest. Put on a corduroy field jacket and go outside to build something.


We join together because there is one danger so clear, so present that without the efforts of those tonight assembled we might be subsumed by evil. Consumed by that inky darkness.

While I am hesitant to even speak this evil’s name, I must, and I will.

Tonight, friends, we join together to battle velvet.

Velvet is the fabric of evil.

Confidence men and crooked bankers join together nightly in velvet-fueled bacchanalias, laughing at their latest swindles. Sickly courtesans don velvet codpieces and drink champagne toasts to their dominance of the common man. Third-world dictators rub themselves with velvet swatches while firing squads execute dissident leaders.

Louche, lude, lascivious velvet is our enemy, and there is no one to fight against it but us.



God's gift to the Melancholic



As I indicated below, I recently had occasion to re-take the old 4 Temperaments personality test and came up with what I usually come up with. But this time there was a difference that rather surprised me.

I wonder if I might be mellowing in my old age but I as somewhat surprised to see that my spread was 85% Melancholic and only 15% Choleric.

Good grief! I thought, what has happened to my cheeful, bloody-minded fightyness? Am I depressed or something? Is it the weather? The short daylight hours at this time of year? It's been stormy and windy and rainy out in the last few weeks, unusually so for this part of Italy, getting pretty dark and gloomy by 4 o'clock. Is this putting me into a Gormenghast sort of mood?

I admit that I did attend a Hallowe'en party a few weeks ago dressed entirely (and quite elegantly I might add) in black. People asked me what I was dressed up as. I managed to resist the temptation to reply, "my mood".

But being professionally Emo is just sooo 1980s. Didn't that guy from the Cure actually have the eyeliner tattooed onto his eyelids? Or was that just a rumour?

I have to admit to having admired the Goths when I was a teenager. I would have gone in for it myself, but I thought to do the thing properly you really had to be wraith-thin. We've all seen it done badly, but I thought I could do it justice. I think I just had too much of a sense of sense of personal irony to go for it though.... But really, deep down inside, I always wanted to be Morticia Addams.

A while ago, a friend was talking about her ideal wedding. The usual thing really. White fluffy dress, orange blossom, one of Rome's gorgeous Baroque churches... I will cherish the look I got when I said I'd always dreamed of an Addams Family wedding. "All the bridesmaids can wear black satin, I'll carry a bouquet of rose stems with the flowers cut off...We can have Faure's Libera Me for the processional..." She thought I was joking. (People often do.)

I can't help but think there's something more fun about the Goth subculture than we usually give them credit for. John Zmirak recently delighted me when he wrote that the appeal of the Addams Family was that they were really Goth Trad Catholics, afloat in a sea of suburban banality.

It's our very comfort with the queerness and creepiness of the whole soul-body mystery that marks the Catholic faith off from its closest competitors. I grew up loving The Addams Family, without knowing quite why, until one day as an adult I realized: These people are an aristocratic, trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb! Shunning the utilitarianism and conformity that surrounds them, they face the Grim Reaper with rueful good cheer, in a Gothic home stock full of relics. Indeed, I think I might have spotted several Addamses at the indult parish in New York City...

I thought he hit on something there. Goths are outsiders, like us, and they are people who know instinctively that they have been robbed in the sterile materialist "real world" of something that we all have a rightful claim to.

Beauty, mystery, transcendent Reality filtering down through the sacraments, through painting and music and sculpture, into our banal little material world.

Why do we think everyone went mad for Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code?

We need secret meaning. And we have a right to the sadness that permeates life in this world.

And what's not Goth about the mummified incorrupt head of St. Catherine displayed in a silver reliquary? In fact, I'm surprised there aren't armies of Goths coming into the Church since Summorum Pontificum just for the Requiem Masses. Memento Mori and black velvet and gold thread vestments with banks of candles and skulls and crossbones everywhere? They should be like ants at a picnic.

Anyway, maybe the solution to being mildly depressed, (or maybe even seriously depressed) is to embrace it and laugh at it a bit.

Finally, we know that such things are not of The Real anyway.

To paraphrase Aristotle, if you can't get out of it, get into it.


Just add a tiara

Introducing Princess Kate.

I wonder if she's going to ask this designer for help with the coronation gown...


Friday, November 19, 2010

And with thy spirit

It's coming up...

Let's practice. All together now,

one, two, three...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eric Sammons asks, "Has the New York Times ever written an article about the Catholic Church that didn’t sound like the plot for Star Wars?"

"Small Band of Rebel Freedom Fighters Fights Evil Galactic Empire Catholic Church"

“Who takes this bread and eats,” he murmured, cracking a communion wafer with his wife at his side, “declares a desire for a new world.”

With those words, Mr. Delsaert, 60, and his fellow parishioners are discreetly pioneering a grass-roots movement that defies centuries of Roman Catholic Church doctrine by worshiping and sharing communion without a priest.

Don Bosco is one of about a dozen alternative Catholic churches that have sprouted and grown in the last two years in Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium and the Netherlands. They are an uneasy reaction to a combination of forces: a shortage of priests, the closing of churches, dissatisfaction with Vatican appointments of conservative bishops and, most recently, dismay over cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests.

Ok guys. Let me explain how it works.

When you decide you don't want to be in the Catholic Church any more and you go out and start your own garage church, you don't get to hang the "Catholic" sign in front of the door.

Think of it like a corporate logo. Pepsi doesn't go around calling itself Coke.

"The churches are called ecclesias..."

Actually, they're called "Protestant".

Trust us, we've seen this sort of thing before.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The last nail

Well, that's it then.

The monarchy is finished.

William has just announced he will be marrying that shameless tart he was shacked up with at Uni Kate Middleton.

Oh well. It was inevitable, I suppose.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Space hippies are evil

Even Gene Roddenberry knew it.


Because it's just worked out so well everywhere else...

There's a new group for priests in Ireland.

Betcha can't guess what they want to do...

Oh, come on.


Full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council, with special emphasis on:
#61550; the primacy of the individual conscience.
#61550; the status and active participation of all the baptised.
#61550; the task of establishing a Church where all believers will be treated as equal.

A redesigning of Ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.

A re-structuring of the governing system of the Church, basing it on service rather than on power, and encouraging at every level a culture of consultation and transparency, particularly in the appointment of Church leaders.

A culture in which the local bishop and the priests relate to each other in a spirit of trust, support and generosity.

A re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognizes the profound mystery of human sexuality and the experience and wisdom of God’s people.

Promotion of peace, justice and the protection of God’s creation locally, nationally and globally.

Recognition that Church and State are separate and that while the Church must preach the message of the Gospel and try to live it authentically, the State has the task of enacting laws for all its citizens.

Liturgical celebrations that use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all.

Strengthening relationships with our fellow Christians and other faiths.

Full acceptance that the Spirit speaks through all people, including those of faiths other than Christian and those of no religious faith, so that the breath of the Spirit will flow more freely.

Go ahead.

Tell 'em what y'all think.

I won't stop you.

Brendan Hoban
Tel: 086 606 5055

But don't be mean. I think they know their revolution is over and they seem a little down about it.

The organiser described his type of Catholic as "an ageing and diminishing coterie of Vatican II aficionados huddling together for warmth"

oh... poor little guys...

So try to be nice, OK? Tell them about how great the Latin Mass is and how glad we all are the Good Pope Benedict has finally freed it for everyone to enjoy, and about how lots of Trads are so glad to be let out of the catacombs and about all the happy young people going to it, and how they are all getting married and having ten kids.

That'll cheer 'em up.




I wish I weren't enjoying this quite so much

Remember this? "Lisbon will save us! We must vote Yes on the Lisbon Treaty!"

Ireland fights to stave off £77 billion bail-out
Ireland was fighting for its political and economic independence last night as secret negotiations began in Brussels over an international bail-out of up to £77billion.

THE BIG PICTURE: Ireland is effectively insolvent – the next crisis will be mass home mortgage default.

Ireland has been betrayed by its EU 'friends’
The country is now effectively bust – its brutal cuts will have been in vain, says Jeremy Warner.

Schadenfreude is a sin. It is bad. I will not climb up to the Cupola of St. Peter's and yell "I told you so," down into the Piazza.


"...the perpendicular pronoun".

A great Humphrey moment to brighten up your Monday.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

"We wouldn't do that for money..."

"The first bishop to accept a government grant was Bishop Judas Iscariot." (starting about 1:38)

Kreeft and Spencer discuss Islam.

The video is almost two hours long, which is odd for Youtube, and it takes an age to download, but it's worth the wait.


...I've listened to about half of it so far, and I think I am coming to the same conclusion that I have come to before. If Dr. Kreeft were right in one of his major premises, that the god of Islam and the God of Abraham are one and the same, then his arguments would be correct. He says that the Muslims worship the same God, but they understand Him imperfectly, and therefore worship Him imperfectly, but that this imperfection is merely a lack of understanding of the true nature of God.

This would support the theory that Mohammedans who behave badly, by Christian standards of morality, are being "bad" Muslims, in that they understand the nature of God even less perfectly than their slightly more enlightened co-religionists who do not behave badly. Dr. Kreeft then goes even further and says that in the areas where the Mohammedans are correct about God, they are better "Christians" than most Christians because they are more "pious" in their behaviour towards the things about God that are true. In these areas, he posits (and bizarrely, he presents their sexual morality as an example) that we lapsed and modernist Christians have "much to learn" from our Mohammedan friends.

But the entire argument rests on the assumption that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Mary and John the Baptist and Jesus, is the same as the one the Mohammedans call "Allah".

But Dr. Kreeft has failed to establish the truth of his greater premise.

If we say that our pet is a mammal because it is a cat and all cats are mammals, we have started the syllogism from the bottom and worked up. In the case of Winnie's species and phylum we would be correct. But starting the syllogism upside down in the case of Islam is dangerous.

He says that the basic premise of Islam, the total submission to God is the same as that of the saints. The Catholic Church knows that total submission to the God of Abraham turns a person into a saint. The greater the submission, the greater the saint.

What we have seen from the evidence of the last 1300 years, however, is that total submission to Allah turns men into monsters. And the greater the submission the greater the monster.

How then, can this be the same god?

Islam is a heresy. One of the things it is doing for our times is re-teaching the Church just how dangerous heresy really is. It is only too easy to chastise the nasty old imperialist medieval Church for the violent opposition to heresy. But if we look back into that history with the eyes newly cleared by our contact with Islam, we will come to understand why it became necessary to stop the spread of Catharism with force of arms. If we look at the videos of men and women being beheaded, of buildings being blown up, we come to understand just how deadly a thing heresy truly is.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Who does this sound like?

The Melancholic / Choleric

The melancholic-choleric is also a leader with the potential to accomplish great works. However, where the choleric-melancholic is driven by the challenge and the opportunity, the melancholic-choleric is inspired more by the nobility of the task. The introverted nature of the melancholic, combined with the focused and unempathic nature of the choleric, can result in an individual who is highly motivated by noble ideals (even humanitarian ones), but who prefers to work alone, rather than with people. The melancholic side of both temperament mixtures results in the project being organized, ethical, and high-minded, while the choleric aspect is the driving and demanding force.

If you are melancholic-choleric, you are somewhat less pragmatic (or utilitarian) than a pure choleric, just as persevering and determined, and with a greater emphasis on the ideal. Likely to be motivated by the most noble and demanding of causes, you are capable of founding a humanitarian society, composing a symphony, founding a school, or discovering a cure. You are organized, perfectionist, introspective, driven, and moody (though less so than a pure melancholic). You will be less active than a choleric-melancholic and less extroverted, more internally focused.

But your weaknesses include a tendency to excessive self-criticism and criticism of others, being dismissive or overly judgmental, exhibiting a tendency to self-absorption, and possessing an untrusting and controlling nature. You tend to be inflexible, can bear grudges for a long time and may be prone to discouragement. A melancholic-choleric who is not attentive to his spiritual life, and does not keep his eye assiduously on the truly important things of life can become a cross to those around him, through his nit-picking, perfectionism, disdain, bitterness, resentfulness, spitefulness when crossed, and even haughtiness.

If your temperament is melancholic-choleric, for a better understanding of your temperament it is recommended that you read the full descriptions of the melancholic and choleric.

Yep. And I get the same result every time I take one of these Four Temperaments things.

Those medieval guys must have known a thing or two.

But it makes me sound like such a prat!


Thursday, November 11, 2010


In memory of the deceased servicemen William Doloughan, my great grandfather, Norman White, my paternal grandfather, and Herbert Edward Burkett, my maternal grandfather.

Requiescant in Pace

and may we never forget.


The Adventures of Ensign Toast

Just for the sake of historical accuracy, if you were a Redshirt in Engineering, you were usually going to be ok. Might even make it into the movies.


Liturgical Awesomeness

I love the look on Benedict's face.

If anyone ever asks you why the Catholic Church is not only the true religion, but the best one, you can say 'Because we've got Botafumiero.'

If they ask you why we have a five-foot tall thurible, you can say, 'Because it's so cool!... duh!'

But I have always sort of wondered how come they've never decaptitated any pilgrims with that thing.


A friend says he is "speechless"

I wish I could say I were even surprised.

Her Majesty doesn't look too happy about it...

I commented:

I remember once reading that the local demon worshippers in Oxford wanted to put loudspeakers on the outside of their minarets to broadcast the call to idolatry all over town. There was a big controversy about it with some people wanting it stopped and others saying we have to be "culturally sensitive".

I wrote in to the paper suggesting a solution.

There are a LOT of bell towers and more than a few still-functioning bells in the city of Oxford. At the appointed time, when the heathens started howling over their loudspeakers, coordinate all the bell-ringers in the city to ring EVERY SINGLE BELL in town for the duration of the caterwauling.

All for the glory of God, of course.

Oddly, my suggestion was not printed.

H/T to John B.

Let them live

Nearly all babies with Down's syndrome in western countries, and many who are only suspected to have the extra chromosome, are killed before they've taken their first breath, or seen their mother's faces.


"As I would for any suffering thing..."

Almost a throw-away line, don't you think?

But it certainly illustrates where the abortion mentality comes from.

It is utilitarianism that looks up on human beings as "things". No different from putting down a suffering dog.

"I think any good mother would..."

Did you notice the little moment of horrified silence there? It lasted for at least three beats. I think even the camera man was too shocked to remember to switch feeds.

The show asks, "Can abortion be a kindness?"

If I were a person who believes in killing people to stop them suffering, I might be inclined to answer yes, but only if we agreed to treat the unborn child with the same amount of kindness as we do suffering dogs.

That is, if we killed them by a painless injection of soporific drugs.

Instead of tearing them apart, limb from limb, with a pair of forceps or burning them to death by saline solution.

Just sayin'.


For some reason...

The Catholic archbishop has been killed. Priests have been riddled with bullets upon leaving their churches. Ordinary Christians, trying to live a quiet life, have been subject to harassment, threats and violence. Iraq in the aftermath of the American invasion has been particularly dangerous, but antiChristian violence stretches across the Islamic world.

"Christians are slaughtered in Iraq, in their homes and churches, and the so-called 'free' world is watching in complete indifference, interested only in responding in a way that is politically correct and economically opportune, but in reality is hypocritical," said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan after these latest killings.

Indeed, the international community issued the usual boilerplate condemnations, most of them refusing to identify those responsible. The same statements could have been used had the Rotarians decided to massacre the Salvation Army. In the Church, too, there is often a reluctance to support vigorously Christians under attack, and to call things by name.


And why, Fr. Ray, do you imagine that might be?

The blood on the altar makes it clear. No amount of goodwill, no amount of dialogue, no amount of circumlocutory evasions, no amount of supine prostrations – nothing will dissuade the jihadists. So let us not abnegate ourselves over the dead bodies of our fallen brethren in Christ.

Let us speak frankly of those who want to kill us.

Yes, please. Let's.

The jihadists respect neither man nor God, not even their own. They have killed their fellow Muslims and bombed mosques.

Because, really, the main point here is that it is only people who misunderstand Islam, true Islam, the Religion-of-Peace Islam, who become bombers in the name of Allah.

Yes, please. Won't SOMEone please "speak frankly" about those who want to kill us. And why.

Indeed, I agree. Let's "call things by name". Their proper name.

Close to 60 Catholics were killed. In their cathedral. At Mass. It has now come to this, where Christians are killed at prayer by Muslim fanatics.

Christians have been in Iraq from the earliest centuries, long before there was an Iraq or, one might note, there was Islam. Jihadists have launched a campaign with genocidal intent, aimed at driving out every last Christian from what they consider to be an Islamic land. It is now clear that the only place such jihadists envision for Christians in Iraq is the grave.

Maybe I can start with a question. Who, Fr. Ray, are these "Jihadists" you keep mentioning?


I have a question for y'all

What is the difference between being a "good person" and being a sinner?

Is there any such thing as a generically "good person"?

What do we mean by the expression? Does it have any theological reality?

Chancellor Palpatine President Van Rompuy warns that the Separatist movement Euroskepticism will lead to war.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Before the dark times, before the Empire.

I hear rumours that the EU is talking about creating a military.

It doesn't remind me of anything.

Not a single thing.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A real man

I had a very interesting conversation with a young man this weekend. He's from Scotland and he told me the story of his child, how he was almost aborted. He said something that I could not resist putting in the story.

He seemed a wonderful fellow. I don't know if he is married now (at 26) or has a girlfriend, but I would certainly recommend him to any young woman of the right age and correct intentions.

Towards the end of our conversation, he said something that I thought appropos to our discussion last week about marriage and its current state of decay...
“There’s a contradiction when a man is looked down upon if he’s not going to be there when his child is born, yet he’s told he has no part to play in this whole thing.

“He’s vilified for not playing a part in the child’s life, for not supporting him, whereas that’s positively encouraged from the very start of the child’s life. So it isn’t a surprise that we see men abandoning children.”

He added, “I know we’re not supposed to judge people, but I really think that what a man does in relation to his children is a way in which we can sort of measure if he’s a real man or not. Because if a man abandons his own child, then he’s not a real man in my eyes.”

How hard it is to find a real man.

Today, I found my mother's 'blog. She died in Vancouver in June 2007, a few months after I had gone to see her in April. She was not a happy woman, as I have written here before, but she found the right sort of man. Things ended tragically for her and for Graham, a story I will not tell here. But they had some years of happiness together.

Judy posted this on September 7, 2006.

Twenty-seven years ago today, on September 4, 1979, I sat on a log on Dallas Road Beach in Victoria, BC, Graham beside me. It's a day I will never forget.

That morning, I had woken up at eight, after a bad night. I'd tossed and turned and dreamed and lain awake because the only thing in my mind was the man I had so recently been introduced to. I dreamed of myself in a white wedding dress and veil—and black rubber boots, feeding chickens. That's the only memory of that dream that I still carry with me. When I woke, on that cool, sunny day, still with those images in my mind, I wanted to see him but it was a Tuesday, the day after Labour Day, and he had to work.

As I lay there, after having fed breakfast to my daughter and then having gone back to bed, though I was awake, I thought I heard a knock at the door. It came again, not loud, though firm.

My daughter and I lived on the top floor of a house, while Brenda, the landlady, lived on the lower, street-level floor. There was an outer door to my apartment and a staircase. I went to my inside door and opened it, wondering who on earth wanted to see me at that time of day but I called down the stairs, "Come in." It opened and there was Graham's face looking up to me.

"Can I come in?" he asked.

I was speechless. I stood there like a dummy until I found my voice. "Sure. Come on up."

He came up the stairs and saw that I was still in my dressing gown over my nightie. He said nothing but the ball was in my court.

"Would you like some tea?"

"Yes, that would be nice."

I led him to the kitchen at the back of the apartment, put the kettle on and bade him sit at the table. "I'll just go get dressed," I said.

By the time I was dressed, the kettle was boiling. I made tea and we exchanged some small talk over steaming cups.

"Would you like to go out?" he said. "Drive around, maybe?

I said that I would. We left the apartment, got into his little Toyota, as he called it, and drove through Victoria. We ended up at Smitty's and I ordered a bowl of soup, since it was early lunch time. I toyed with the soup, not really hungry, wondering how I could possibly tell this man that I was in love with him. He told me that he had left work because, as chief engineer, he had that privilege and they didn't really need him because they were in a mini-refit. They weren't sailing around Vancouver island that week. Eventually, we got back into the Toyota and drove to Dallas Road Beach.

Dallas Road is a long, winding road that skirts the edge of Victoria as it follows the coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The scenery is gorgeous with the Cascade Range visible on the other side of the water, one patch always with snow. At various points, you can climb down to the beach, with its sand and pebbles and various sun-bleached logs, escapees from log booms or deadheads that came ashore.

We stopped at one of those places in James Bay, the original part of Victoria. I went ahead of him, picking my way down to the sand, then toward the logs. I felt his hand on my back.

"Do you think I don't know?" he said.

I turned to look at him. My feelings tumbled around in my head, not sure which way to land. Should I be happy (why not?), disappointed (in what?), happy (now you're getting it)... I just smiled, feeling almost embarrassed (Oh, Lord). We put an arm around each other, saying nothing, and walked to a large log and sat on it. He put his arms around me, I looked up and gave him a light peck on the cheek (It had been a long time!). We clung to each other, both lost ships in the night, holding onto each other to weather the storms of our lives.

"We'd better do it," he said.

I knew immediately that he meant marriage. My heart leapt in my chest, my spine tingled and I gave him a much better kiss. I don't know how long we sat on that log, but the grey sky split open and a shaft of sunlight came on us. That was always his strongest memory of that day, that the sunlight opened up for us alone, two souls finally joined as one. "And the two shall become one." [Jesus — the Gospel of Thomas.)

He was a very religious man, in the sense that he saw God everywhere, lived as good a life as he could. No fundamentalist he, nor I. I've always wanted to see that as God, too. Perhaps it was. Eventually, we got up, walked up to the street again and walked, my hand clutched to his chest.

I'll never forget the look on his face as we walked. He shone, a smile on his lips, his eyes open and looking ahead, his body upright, chest out. He was a man again. His previous wife had left him for a boyfriend and all Graham's money. He was a big man, very strong. He wore a full beard and had a full head of brown, curly hair. He was very handsome to my eyes. And now he was complete as a man as he had never been before.

All through the brief time we had together, I never wavered in my love for him nor he in his for me. It was the kind of love that knows no limits; it took me wherever he wished to go without question. There was never a time when I had to wonder whether I loved him or not. I suggest that a woman who asks herself this is not in love; a woman who does not wish with her whole heart to go wherever he needs to go, be what he wishes to be is not in love. A man who does not wish to support his wife in her goals, so long as those goals do not compromise the marriage, is not in love. If I had wanted to move back to the coast, he would have come. I knew that. I also knew that he loved the Arctic and I would never have asked him to give it up for me.

He changed my life. I gave him years of happiness that he could not have hoped for as he had been living. I think of him every day, though he has been gone from this Earth for seventeen years. He waits for me.




not often, mind you, the hippies get something right.

Hands up everyone who always wanted to live in Bag End.


Just when you thought you couldn't like him any more

Shatner does the Psalms. With Raymond Burr...

and oddly, also George Lucas.

This DVD was based on a series of interpretations of 7 Psalms from the bible in 1962. The 5 minute adaptations include a then new comer William Shatner along with Raymond Burr. In another very odd twist of fate the camera man on some of these pieces was George Lucas (of Star Wars fame.)

Once thought to be lost forever these pieces are available on DVD for the first time ever!

The lineup of the DVD includes:

By the Wayside – Psalm 2 The Soldier, featuring William Shatner – Psalm 41 The Crowd, featuring William Shatner – Psalm 3 The Lord is My Shepherd – Psalm 23 The Escape – Psalm 1 His Dwelling Place – Psalm 83 Once Upon A Morning – Psalm 139 The Search – Several Psalms, reflection by Raymond Burr

If you are a William Shatner fan, then this DVD needs to be in your collection. This DVD may never be available again.

Hollywood is definitely weirder than the real world.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I win

So, I figure I totally won the "Better Weekend than You" prize.

This is what my weekend sounded like.

Towards the end, someone asked me, "So, which part of the conference did you like best?"

I said, "The Ceili!"

I think I was supposed to say which speaker I liked...


Irish person fun-fact

The Irish have a second person plural.

I heard it all weekend. They say "Ye" for when they're talking to a group.

No kidding.


It's just like England,

only without all those annoying English people.

Hilary + Guinness

x fun Irish people

x Ceili band


= Smiley-face


Friday, November 05, 2010

Got here just in time

A flood warning has been issued as the remnants of Hurricane Thomas head for Irish shores.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Well, Chickadees,

I'm off again for a few days. I'll be in Dublin til Mon.

No comments like, "Wow, Dublin. That's cool" if you please.

I would rather gnaw my own leg out of a steel trap than get on a plane right now. Just at the moment, I'm more in a mood to hide under the bed, so really...

Don't know how much posting I'll be doing, so play nicely.

Anyway, here's a few random pics to amuse you.

Finished my second Bargue drawing today. It didn't take nearly so many hours to finish this one as the last and she was more complex. It's going well, I think.

From this

to this

to this

to this

e basta.

So I started on the Horse head right away.

Found this neat store that sells and repairs casts of famous things. Just up a bit from Piazza della Republica, on the way up to Santa Susanna.

Visited the nuns at San Vincenzo last weekend.

They have donkeys. They loved to be petted. When you go up to the fence, they come right over to have their ears rubbed.

Got along with the cat pretty well too.

The "new" monastery is fully restored. Built in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Little bits of the old monastery of San Vincenzo can be seen all over,

as well as plenty of old Roman columns from the Roman villa the first foundation was built on.

This thousand year old stone lion still guards the front gate.

along with a slightly newer friend.

When the nuns (from Regina Laudis in the US) first arrived in 1990, a lot of it was in ruins. It had been abandoned for 200 years.

The nearby towns, this is Rocceta al Volturno, were all built in the 9th and tenth centuries after the Saracens destroyed the old San Vincenzo monastic city. The people all literally took to the hills in a process called "encastellation".

Then... the "new" Romanesque church of San Vincenzo, built in the 10th century. The old one (8th century) was burned by the Mohammedans.

...and now

The church as it has been restored since the nuns arrived.

A bit austere for my taste.

The stones, still being recovered, from the old San Vincenzo, some of them still bearing the faint traces of the frescoes for which the monastery was famous.

From the olive groves. The nuns have over 400 trees, and could use a little help in harvest time.

As I was walking through the olive groves, I was wondering if I ought to have been wearing boots, against snakes.

Sure enough...

We also heard wolves at night, and I was told that since the population has been falling, the wolves are getting bolder. The monastery lost a sheep one day some years ago, right out of one of the front fields in broad daylight. I was told not to take walks at night, or even go out into the courtyard.

The newly restored church, behind the apse, with some of the ancient masonry.

Another nearby encastellated town.

One of the monastery's old outbuildings. Restored to serve as the nuns' pottery. One of the sisters,

Mother Philippa, is an archaeologist and she was fascinated by some of the ancient Samnite tombs they found while digging in front of the Church. They date to the 6th century BC. She started studying the pottery techniques and has made a lot of Samnite pottery.

Mother Philippa, the potter, in a rare moment when she was not smiling.

And the fruit...

I picked and ate a lot of figs.

And took home about 5 pounds of crab apples.

As well as about the same of rose hips.

They said I could come back and pick sloes. They're best for gin if you wait until the first frost.

And I said I would come back and help with the olive harvest.

The dogs and I went for a walk along the ridge, and came across this hut. Something to do with sheep, perhaps? Heaven only knows how old it is.

"Listen my son, and incline thine ear..."