Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama's VP Choice

Kim Gandy's discussion of Obama's VP choices.

I've rarely been in the position where my dreams and values were represented by an elected official. I can't imagine what it might feel like that my point of view is valued and championed by my "representatives" in Washington. Although I'm scared to invest too much in this, I admit to hoping that Obama might speak for me. If he chooses a VP based on, as Kim Gandy wrote, a "misguided attempt to reach out to evangelicals and socially conservative Democrats," I will truly be afraid they "might ignore us [women] entirely in the future, while trading away our rights."

Mr. Obama, "it was the first time in a long time that we've been talked to by a candidate who wasn't talking down to us," as Kim Gandy says. Please don't break my heart.

Bella and All Her Pups

Bloom like a Rose

Your heartrending fire
made me bloom like a rose.

I died at your feet
and returned fast to life.

My inborn freedom
offered nothing in profit;
but now I am free,
since becoming your slave.


They just get cuter!

The puppies at 3 weeks!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

German Wire-Haired Pointer Pups


These are the 5 girls of the litter at two weeks. One is ours, but which one?!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Writing as I

"I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives..."

-Thoreau, On Walden Pond

Monday, July 28, 2008

Love Existed

Love existed before heaven or earth.
Love's presence is not from our time.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flowers amidst my Veggies

Here's the best reason to let my vagabond flowers grow among the vegetables, images like this! In the pictures below, swiss chard, snake gourd, green peppers and plenty of flowers, only a few of which I planted. Most volunteer from seed or are perennial. But even the veggies are starting to come back on their own now. I had one tomato and 4 pepper plants volunteer, so who knows what the garden will be like in ten years. I might have to give up the entire concept of rows and wander about as though it's Eden.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Papilio Polyxenes - Black Swallowtail Butterfly

I didn't plant parsley this year, just let last year's plants come back from the root. I didn't even cut it, just watched it grow and bloom. This morning, after fierce rains, I found these caterpillars munching on it. I've seen them in years before and watched them strip the parsley down to the stems. Usually by the time I see the caterpillars it's so late in the season that the parsley is tough and bitter anyway, so I leave them. Besides, they're pretty.

I googled them and discovered they're the caterpillars of the black swallowtails we enjoy around here so much, so I'm glad I didn't smush 'em.

The Craze for Egyptian Walking Onions (EWO)

Enough already! Fully 35% of the specified pages read on this blog are a post about Egyptian Walking Onions. Apparently, there's a craze! I added a list of EWO links to my right column (waaaay down at the bottom). There are pictures, places to buy them, recipes for cooking them and tips for cultivation. Go crazy, eh.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Antheraea polyphemus

Antheraea polyphemus - I discovered two of these mating on my walk this morning. I took their pics then released them again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sonnet to Orpheus I, 5

Email Reply to: Dad
CC: my nephew in Chicago, my uncle in Columbus

[Dad wrote: Day in Autumn

After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness,
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter,
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Translated from the German by Mary Kinzie

Source: Poetry magazine, April 2008]

It's not autumn yet! Nevertheless, I see your Rilke and raise you another. Love, your second daughter

Ranier Maria Rilke from The Sonnets to Orpheus I, 5
(trans. Stephen Mitchell)

Erect no gravestone to his memory; just
let the rose blossom each year for his sake.
For it is Orpheus. Wherever he has passed
through this or that. We do not need to look

for other names. When there is poetry,
it is Orpheus singing. He lightly comes and goes.
Isn't it enough if sometimes he can stay
with us a few days longer than a rose?

Though he himself is afraid to disappear,
he has to vanish: don't you understand?
The moment his word steps out beyond our life here,

he moves where you will never find his trace.
The lyre's strings do not constrict his hands.
And it is in overstepping that he obeys.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"cut the rose"

I'm really getting worried about the rose now. Fair Welcoming has been imprisoned in the tower with guards set around, and our hero has once kissed the rose, but he can't get near again without Fair Welcoming. In despair, he's turned for advice to Friend, and I'm not sure I like Friend's advice at all! I'm almost afraid to read on.

From Romance of the Rose (Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, trans. Charles Dahlberg), lines 7669-7694. My italics below.

And if you can come to the point where you might keep them [the guards] apart, so that the place may be so convenient that you need not fear that anyone will come up unexpectedly, and if Fair Welcoming, who is now imprisoned for your sake, may escape, then, when he has turned on you the fair appearance that he can--and he knows very well how to receive handsome people--then you should cut the rose, even though you see Resistance himself, who receives you only to abuse you, or even though Shame and Fear grumble at your deed. They only pretend to get angry, and they defend themselves lazily, since in their very defense they give themselves up conquered, as it will then seem to you. Although you see Fear and Shame blush, and Resistance become agitated, or all three lament and groan, count the whole thing as not worth a husk. When place and time and season occur, cut the rose by force and show that you are a man, for, as long as someone knows how to exercise it, nothing could please them [?] so much as such force.

Scottish Energy and Independence?

Scotland continues to lead the way in renewable energy conversion and plans to meet, rather exceed, their 2011 goals. That's only 3 years from now, by the way, for anyone who thinks it would take too long to convert away from oil in the US. This article, reporting the announcement of construction of Europe's largest windfarm, notes that energy from Scottish renewables already exceeds that from nuclear. Today, not ten years from now, Scots are getting their energy from wind, water, etc. Is there anything the Scots can do that we, Americans, can't?

For more articles reporting the dynamic conversion in which the Scots are engaged, check the links in my right-hand column, Scottish Links.

The article I linked above mentions Alec Salmond, and it's improbable that American readers know who that is--here's his brief from Wiki. There's an interesting situation brewing between the Scots and the English. When I first started seeing this idea in the news, I thought it was just references to antiquated ideals of Scottish independence, but as I kept reading, I began to realize there's a real sentiment in Scotland, some in England, for the Scots to go it alone. (This article gives a brief review of events leading to today's position.) Naturally, not every Scot is in favor of independence, but the party headed by Alec Salmond continues to spearhead the effort.

The Brits and Scots have an interesting parliamentary arrangement (devolution) in which the Scots convene a kind of Scottish sub-parliament under the umbrella of the greater British parliament. The Scots hold seats on both, and Scots vote on both, but only Scots can vote in the Scottish parliament, although they receive general monies.

The Brits complain that they don't have a say over what happens to that money, because only Scots get to vote on Scottish-only affairs. Scots, though, also get to vote on English-only affairs. In effect, the Scots (if they had enough power) could block funding to an English program, yet approve it for a similar Scottish one. See the problem?

The parliamentary organization of Great Britain is wa-aa-aay over my head, so I'm in no position to judge, but it's fascinating to watch this ancient, historical dispute continue into modern times, played out in national politics.

Even if Scotland remains tied to the government of Great Britain, they will soon be energy-independent, relying on their native, renewable resources, and that is a far greater independence in this energy-crazed world.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last Night and To-night

I added the blog Inspiration and Creative Thoughts to my blogroll on the merit of this poem posted there.

Last night, from the palm of the love-selling beauty,
I drank the wine of union until the morning.
Tonight, with a hundred thousand screams and cries,
I wait--when will there be another night like that?


The above is by a Persian poet, but it reminds me of one of Emily Dickinson's poems, equally heart-rending.

Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, --
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

What do you think? Does Emily have the heart of a Persian poet? I think so.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tribute to my Neighbor's Mimosa

I don't know this neighbor except by sight and that he stands in his driveway and talks on his cell phone in the summer. And why not; it's very pleasant in the yard. He and his partner plant a lot of flowers in their front yard each year. They are a bit adventurous in their choices, which is fun for all the rest of us as we watch these unusual plants grow up. This year they were relatively conservative and planted bunches of bold, yellow marigolds, but so pretty! Their most magnificent display, though, is this fabulous mimosa tree, and this year, nurtured by perfect conditions, it has bloomed more beautifully, longer and more abundantly than ever. The birds are thick in it. Every morning there's a mockingbird nearby, singing his crazy choruses. This morning, I saw wee bits of birds flitting through its branches, possibly attracted to insects attracted to the nectar, but possibly attracted themselves to the blossoms. When I'm coming home from a morning walk, I can smell the sweet fragrance of its flowers three or four houses away. This picture doesn't do justice to the ethereal quality of the mimosa's blossoms, nor, of course, to the sweet smell. (The next neighbors, as might be discernible, are Obama supporters. That makes our neighborhood the only enclave--two whole households--in Kansas voting for Obama.)

In addition to the fragrance of my neighbor's mimosa, this is the other sign that I'm nearly home from my walk, this clump of pink at the end of my driveway, which I can see from a great distance. Despite our most flagrant neglect, these phlox continue to spread and bloom every year.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dylan Thomas, Author's Prologue

I dreamed a poem by Dylan Thomas last night, which seems a bit cold and stuffy as far as dreaming goes, but not when considering that Dylan is my own poet, my favored, my Beloved. The impression was, actually, dramatic, as most of my dreams are.

I've always had poignant dreams. I enjoy sleeping, because of the anticipation of a dream, which is as enjoyable, or more so, as any waking event for me. My dreams fall into categories and maybe this is typical of dreaming--I don't know. I have what I call...

baby dreams--in which an infant with need upon me figures prominently. Sometimes the dream centers around the baby and sometimes it is just an element, but its need is always important.

tornado dreams--in which I'm struggling to gather a missing family member(s) and reach shelter. I've heard from other Kansans that they share this tornado nightmare phenomenon.

sex dreams-in which the dream-lover is always intensely supportive in an emotional sense or he is not. Most of my dreams have a sexual element.

flying dreams--in which I'm bodily capable of flight. I had these frequently when I was young, but the frequency trailed off as a young adult, and I don't experience flight anymore except in a clunky kind of way which isn't worth the effort.

adventure dreams--in which random events and images string together in an epic adventure. These are the kinds of dreams in which I see stone giants and buses and landscapes and go on fantastical journeys with various people I know.

bad dreams--These can be any of the above, and they wake me occasionally in order that I can escape them.

I suppose most people can, but I can also meta-dream, by which I mean observe the dream from outside it, and, sometimes, control what happens. (Note: After writing this post, I googled this phenomenon and discovered it's called lucid dreaming.) This is particularly true in adventure dreams when I accidentally face death, for example, if my bus runs off the road and hurtles off a cliff. In that case, my meta-dream function snaps on and causes the bus to drift through the air to touch harmlessly down in the valley. I can meta-dream other times, but imminent death never fails to trigger it, so I suppose meta-dreaming is my brain's built-in safeguard.

The only time my deathguard was off was during three nights I was taking a prescription medication. The resulting nightmares were so horrifying that many years later they still make me flush with fear. I had to stop the med because of it.

I used to meta-dream a lot when I could fly, and I exploited the meta-dreaming for a while to induce flying when that ability began to tail off. I can still meta-dream to fly, but, as I hinted earlier, it's not worth the effort.

So around 3am last night, I heard a voice with rich vowels and mellow, deliberate consonants, reciting with a rhythm like a thunderstorm, rolling thunder, flashes of lightning and all that. Falling up out of dream, I tried to recall who it was, because I felt I recognized it. I thought of Jim Corbett's Man-Eaters of Kumaon and Whitman's Leaves of Grass, but neither of these was quite right. Then as I woke, I realized it was my own Dylan. (For an example of what he sounded like, you can hear him recite Do not go gentle into that good night here.)

In honor of Dylan's visitation last night, I was going to copy out Fern Hill, the first, sometimes only, DT poem most people read. It was my first, too, but also the beginning of a life-long affair. Unfortunately, Blogger's formatting is limited, and much of the rhythm of that poem is crucified when I type it out. I will, instead, invest the time in copying Author's Prologue from The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, 1934-1952, one of the most vivid, lyrical, intricate and beautiful poems I know.

Author's Prologue

This day winding down now
At God speeded summer's end
In the torrent salmon sun,
In my seashaken house
On a breakneck of rocks
Tangled with chirrup and fruit,
Froth, flute, fin and quill
At a wood's dancing hoof,
By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and sails,
Out there, crow black, men
Tackled with clouds, who kneel
To the sunset nets,
Geese nearly in heaven, boys
Stabbing, and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas,
Eternal waters away
From the cities of nine
Days' night whose towers will catch
In the religious wind
Like stalks of tall, dry straw,
At poor peace I sing
To you strangers (though song
Is a burning and crested act,
The fire of birds in
The world's turning wood,
For my sawn, splay sounds),
Out of these seathumbed leaves
That will fly and fall
Like leaves of trees and as soon
Crumble and undie
Into the dogdayed night.
Seaward the salmon, sucked sun slips,
And the dumb swans drub blue
My dabbed bay's dusk, as I hack
This rumpus of shapes
For you to know
How I, a spinning man,
Glory also this star, bird
Roared, sea born, man torn, blood blest.
Hark: I trumpet the place,
From fish to jumping hill! Look:
I build my bellowing ark
To the best of my love
As the flood begins,
Out of the fountainhead
Of fear, rage red, manalive,
Molten and mountainous to stream
Over the wound asleep
Sheep white hollow farms
To Wales in my arms.
Hoo, there, in castle keep,
You king singsong owls, who moonbeam
The flickering runs and dive
The dingle furred deer dead!
Huloo, on plumbed bryns,
O my ruffled ring dove
In the hooting, nearly dark
With Welsh and reverent rook
Coo rooing the woods' praise,
Who moons her blue notes from her nest
Down to the curlew herd!
Ho, hullaballoing clan
Agape, with woe
In your beaks, on the gabbing capes!
Heigh, on horseback hill, jack
Whisking hare! who
Hears, there, this fox light, my flood ship's
Clangour as I hew and smite
(A clash of anvils for my
Hubbub and fiddle, this tune
On a tongued puffball)
But animals thick as thieves
On God's rough tumbling grounds
(Hail to His beasthood!).
Beasts who sleep good and thin
Hist, in hogsback woods! The haystacked
Hollow farms in a throng
Of waters cluck and cling,
And barnroofs cockcrow war!
O kingdom of neighbours, finned
Felled and quilled, flash to my patch
Work ark and the moonshine
Drinking Noah of the bay,
With pelt, and scale, and fleece:
Only the drowned deep bells
Of sheep and churches noise
Poor peace as the sun sets
And dark shoals every holy field.
We will ride out alone, and then,
Under the stars of Wales,
Cry, Multitudes of arks! Across
The water lidded lands,
Manned with their loves they'll move,
Like wooden islands, hill to hill.
Huloo, my prowed dove with a flute!
Ahoy, old, sea-legged fox,
Tom tit and Dai mouse!
My ark sings in the sun
At God speeded summer's end
And the flood flowers now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Creator

Then the sun shone after the rain, because She willed it, and She looked at the garden She had created, and She saw that it was good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blog Stats

I keep a hidden stat counter on my page, in addition to feedjit, and I like to see where my readers are from and what they read. It's pretty surprising, though. I cranked a few numbers to clean up the raw scores, and here's the result from the last three months. Craziness.

32% Egyptian Walking Onions (I and II)
15% German Wire-haired Pointer
11% Stream of Life
48% all the other stuff with less than 1% each

Who would have ever thought so many people would look up Egyptian Walking Onions!? Certainly not me.

Update: I corrected the links on my post, "Over the Top" or "Nature of the Beast," so they connect directly to the stories and not the blog's homepage, except for The Wild Hunt, which doesn't allow that feature. For the story at The Wild Hunt, read the 7.14.2008 entry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mary of Nijmeghen

Anna Bijns' (attributed) play, Mary of Nijmeghen (trans. Eric Colledge), read it over a week ago and am still dwelling on it. I'm wholly sympathetic with the devil, and what a fine time we would have had if I'd been lucky enough to be in Emma's shoes. O, Emma, Emma, what a life you could have led, if only...

  • Where it Began

Emma's aunt, when the girl is alone and in need of shelter: You have been busy sitting somewhere in a corner drinking your fill. Niece, there are Tom and Dick and Harry who all know how to walk you country girls down into the cornfields, and when you play games in the evenings, Betty will always find a Jack to treat her. Yes, niece, you know all about it, for where you live there are plenty of lively lads.

Emma, wounded by her aunt's attack: Why do you talk like this, Aunt?

Emma's aunt, merciless: Ah, you two-faced thing! Even if we must not say the truth, you have danced many a measure for which the piper was not paid in money. You may play this game for a long time yet: we are all virgins till our bellies swell.

Emma, quite rightly, because she's innocent of her aunt's accusations: It wounds me to the heart that you should say such shameful things which I do not deserve.

Emma's aunt, who will not let up, although her language for modern readers is great fun!: I have talked to people who will swear that they have seen you doing things with your own uncle so shameless that it would be disgraceful for me to repeat them. You are bringing our whole family into disgrace. You will become a byword, you wretched creature, and I cannot bear to look at you.

Emma's aunt goes on with more colorfully, worded vitriolic, and our author explains the aunt's outrage as she had a bad day. Finally Emma is driven away to sit outside of town in "great sorrow," where she calls for help, equally from God or the devil, "Come now to me and help me to lament, God or the devil, it is all the same to me," and "I would as gladly entrust myself to the devil as to God, for I sit here half mad."

From our first meeting with the devil we see he's a clever guy and likable! With sweet words, he soothes our Emma, "Pretty child...I shall avenge you, as any decent fellow would." "Pretty child, do not fear any harm or sorry. I shall do you no injury nor trouble you." With promises, he wins her over,

The Devil: If you would give your love to me, I would teach you the arts as no one else could: the seven liberal arts, rhetoric, music, logic, grammar, geometry, arithmetic and alchemy, all of which are most important arts. There is no woman upon earth so proficient in them as I shall make you.

Emma accuses him: You are the devil out of hell.

But the Devil knows the promise that stirs a young girl's heart: Whoever I am, I shall always be good to you.

What's more, he is, and we know he will be! If, at this point in the play, you're not in love with the devil, then his cleverness will surely win you over later. When he meets Emma, her name is Mary, but naturally the devil cannot tolerate this name! He urges her to take another, though Mary is reluctant. Finally, he convinces her to give up all but the letter "M" and so she becomes Emma to the Devil. They travel to Antwerp, as the Devil promised her they would, where they enter the "The Tree for a pint of Rumney," apparently to Emma's delight, because after the Devil describes what they'll find within, "all the spendthrifts who waste their lives, all the daughters of joy and the whores who gamble with their lives," Emma's response is, "That is the life I love to see; nothing pleases me more."

For seven years, they live the high life, Emma singing her songs of rhetoric to their drinking companions and the Devil plying his clever trade. Among his accomplishments, his devilry, is this jewel,

The Devil: ...And now I am beginning to teach people how to find hidden treasure; and only yesterday it cost one of them his life. I told him where there was a treasure hidden and growing mouldy, in a stable, underneath a beam on which the whole weight of the stable was resting. I told him that he would have to dig deep into the ground, and he would find pound upon pound of the hidden treasure. At once he started to dig there, but as soon as he had dug so far that he undermined the beam and the posts supporting it, the beam fell to the ground and crushed this poor idiot under it!

Who doesn't admire a clever fellow...and conscientious, too, for when Emma takes a fancy to visit her family (and we can't understand why after her aunt's tirade, nor why she'd leave the good life), he sends Emma to pay the bill before they leave, "Do that, my darling, pay everything they ask, down to the last halfpenny."

In Nijmeghen, the Devil and Emma come upon a "pageant on wheels," but the Devil is worried the message of the play will lure Emma away from their good life. He says, "It is all a lot of nonsense. Do you really want to listen to such drivel? We had far better go look for a roast and some wine."

Now here is the point where I'm wholly on the side of the Devil, and where I, unlike our fatuous Emma, would have quite gaily walked away from the moral-play and gone with the Devil for roast and wine! Knowing the outcome of the play, I'm even more of the mind to skip away with the Devil right here and now.

Here's how it goes on. "Emma, listening to the play, began to reflect with sorrowful heart upon her sinful life..." How is the Devil, who has wined and dined and loved and fulfilled every promise to Emma, supposed to react when Emma betrays him for God? Like any jilted lover would, of course!

The Devil: eyes grow fiery with rage! This girl is getting a bellyful of repentance. Let us go off to some pleasant part of the town and drink a pot of wine.

Notice he's still trying to save their relationship, poor demon, but Emma, ungrateful girl that she is now revealed to be--probably a family trait--refuses and says, "Leave me alone, and get away from me, you evil, cruel devil!" It's really only after Emma's heartless betrayal that the Devil becomes angry, but it's obviously a painful and regrettable condition for our lover.

The Devil: Lucifer's liver and lungs and spleen, help me! Now may I well curse and shoot flames from my eyes and howl, for all my plans are going astray.

He flies Emma up into the air above the town and drops her, where she plummets to the street and is seen by her uncle. Now, this uncle was, indirectly, the cause of her woes at the beginning, because he was the one who sent her off to Nijmeghen in the first place to "buy there the things which they needed," and told her to solicit the aunt for a place to sleep if she were in town too late.

Once the uncle determined that the fallen woman is actually his niece, he bemoans his suffering in looking for her the past seven years. Notice his belated realization of his niece's fall from grace, dramatic and not much to his credit, because the Devil has to fly her over the rooftops and practically drop her on the uncle's head to get him to notice.

There's no confusion here, either, with the prodigal son story. No fattened calves are killed once the Devil's been sent packing and Emma firmly back in her uncle's control. Rather, her return to the straight and narrow consists of a series of visits to priests who "however learned, however experienced, however holy or devout, once he had understood the case, dared [not] in any way be so bold as to absolve her or impose on her any penance for her sins, which were so dreadful and so unnatural..." Apparently, consorting with the Devil is too heinous a crime, even for penance.

They finally end up in front of the pope in one of the best lines of the play, over which I chuckle with glee. The pope asks, "But how could you have commerce with the devil when you knew who he was?" And Emma replies, "Father, it was the good times..." *cackle! cackle! cackle!*

The end is sad and regrettable, and I mourn for the good, old days with the Devil. She receives her penance,

The Pope: ...Look there, at those three iron rings. The biggest of them you must lock round her neck, and the other two, without further delay, fasten tight and firm round her arms; and she must wear the rings until they wear through or fall off of their own accord.

With her uncle's aid, Emma becomes a nun in a convent of converted sinners, and "he took his leave of her and travelled to his own territory, where he lived for another twenty-four years." The author seems to think that the uncle's subsequent, yearly visits to Emma are a sign of devotion--Pfft. I couldn't help but remember the Devil's attentive and amorous devotion in contrast.

The play doesn't say how long she lived " holy a life and performed such great penances that the merciful Christ forgave her all her sins, sending His angel to her...who took off her rings," but she only lives two years after being freed. I'm a little sickened by her profuse thanks to God for removing the rings, considering that He (via the pope) put the rings on her in the first place.

The moral of the story (admittedly my version) is beware the wiles of the Devil and good times because God will put iron rings around your neck and arms if you happen to stray from your lover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Over the Top" or "Nature of the Beast"

This story is so over the top that I sat here stunned for a while as I passed through stages. There was disbelief (at which I searched the blogosphere to corroborate), maniacal laughter (at the insanity of it), vengeful satisfaction ("Bout time they experienced what it felt like! Amirite?), frustration (No, they don't get it, and they won't.) and resentment (...and yet they govern, marginalizing all the rest of us). I think I've finally settled on defeat and resignation, where I've accepted that I'm not mainstream; they are, and they set the rules, the norms. They reserve the right to indignant, self-righteous outrage. For the greater good of "God", they are blind to hypocrisy, and there's nothing anyone can do about it, because that's the very nature of the beast, hypocrisy; he's blind to himself.

For an explanation (and some comment) of this confusion and soul-searching, see these sites, which carry the story.
And Little Fishes
The Wild Hunt
Bartholomew's Notes on Religion
My Fox Houston and the video

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Manila, Getting Smart

Check out renewable energy bill in the Phillipines.

Uhgh, Rushdie

Uhgh. It's not often I can't gut out a book, no matter how poor, to the end, but I've been defeated by Salman Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence. I keep telling myself I can do it, but it's been days since I picked it up, and it's glaring at me like some evil beast of trivial literature. I am halfway through, but that doesn't lay any obligation on me, correct? Am I right? I mean I don't HAVE to finish every book. Today, I free myself of guilt, and I declare that I'm NOT GOING TO READ IT!

Funny, though, that Guignebert, whom I'm reading at the same time, formidable and dense, hasn't gotten me down. I'm nearly done, and as the timeline approaches the Enlightenment, with which I am naturally more familiar, it's becoming more, not less, enjoyable.

So scat Rushdie! I've got two books to choose from for my second reading--I always read two at once, because I leave one book upstairs and one down--The Romance of the Rose and The History of Scotland, both of which I'm itching to get my hands on. I expect The Art of Courtly Love to come in the mail today or tomorrow. I might wait to choose once I've sifted through that.

Ah, it's wonderful to be free again!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Corner of the Universe

Welcome to my niece's blog and her Corner of the Universe, from where she rules the world.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lucilio Vanini

I'm so frustrated! I can't read Lucilio Vanini's works because they're in Italian and haven't been translated! How can that be in this age? Someone translate for me!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hole in One!

Phil Mickelson got a Hole in One at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond!

A Walk in My Neighborhood

A pretty walk in my neighborhood, flowers in bloom, with my nieces.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Garden in Early July

Perfect weather continues--sunny skies, mild temperatures, rain just when we need it, then sun again. We haven't had hail here, yet, although I probably just hexed us by saying it. The garden, naturally, is running rampant. Here's a picture update of where we are in early July. Poppies were harvested, leaving this bare patch, so I sowed soybeans as a cover crop to control weeds and enrich the soil for next year. Aren't they cute!?

Here's a beauty, a lovely hibiscus-like okra blossom.

Jalapenos! Yes for hot pepper jam and for salsa, I say.

Not really part of the garden, but the frequent rains scheduled right on time to water my garden continues to produce this rotating crop of mushrooms, which is living off a dead stump. I finally remembered to take a pic.

Morning glories are a weed for me, but they're lovely in bloom.

Here's what I mean by a weed. The tendrils you see in this pic are morning glories reaching from the fence to engulf my okra. I have to cut them back every day. I don't know the growth rate, but it's FAST.

One of my snake gourd vines trained up onto the marked post. Now that I have it where I want it, I can determine at a glance, roughly, how many inches it grows each day. Notice the painted stripes? Years ago, we marked this post in one foot intervals before we set it in place.

This area isn't in the veggie garden, but thought I should get a pic up now in case I forget later. The garden phlox are juuuust beginning to bloom, and the tigerlilies are starting. They make a crazy-lady, purple and orange combo in the front yard when they get going. In a couple weeks, scarlet hibiscus will bloom next to this clump, and it gets pretty wild as far as color goes. This year (and last) I planted hot pink petunias nearby. Something wrong with my head, I guess.

Also not in the veggie garden, but these luxuriant clumps of bittersweet berries are indicative of the fantastic, gardening weather we've had and a promise that autumn will be beautiful. I'll post these again when they turn to a luscious, burnt orange.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Renewable Energy II

If you're still campaigning for exploration of oil in Alaska, for off-shore drilling and for coal, then you're behind the times, a dinosaur, and you're, frankly, bringing the rest of us down. Our future and independence is in renewable, energy resources. No more of this archaic, messy, expensive, wasteful, poisonous gunk. From now on, America will use geothermal, wind, wave, solar and biomass resources to generate energy.
The Pickens Plan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Montana, Solar Energy International, North Carolina, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey
There are just a few of the news articles I found in a quick search. Americans are getting with the program! We can do it!

Renewable Energy

The only thing slowing down our conversion to renewable energy in the U.S. is the whining. Conversion is happening in Europe RIGHT NOW. Read Scottish Links on Energy I-V in the column to the right. These are articles about how Scotland and other British Isle nations are already setting up their grids for renewable energy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Chuckle at NASA

Here's just one of the amazing NASA photos from and the comment below which made me chuckle.(fifth picture from the top)

Comment from Matt: those old pictures are amazing, thanks!
I like that in the fifth picture from the top, you can see deployment of the latest NASA camera tether technology, also known as a piece of string. heh heh.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bella and Puppies!

Seven males and five females. One of these little sweeties will soon be ours to love. Happy Day, hey!

Darkling Plain

Welcome to a new blog, Darkling Plain, on my blogroll. I expect only good things to come.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

--Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Gender Genie

So much fun! Try it for yourself, the Gender Genie. I came out, correctly, as female on several tries. Thanks to Pete Rahon at Live Life! Love Life! for turning me on to this.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Goya's Colossus

After years of doubt, the Prado says that Goya's Colossus is not Goya's.

I don't even like Colossus, which, among his war paintings, doesn't make any sense. I'm also not a big fan of his so-called Black Paintings, especially his Saturn, which doesn't make much more sense than this Colossus. I do like his tapestry cartoons and some of his portraits. I especially like his portraits that feature dramatic reds. The only one of this type that I don't care for is his washed-out Duke of Wellington, which doesn't count for red anyway.

Portrait of Don Manuel Osorio de Manrique Zuniga, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Love this gem of a portrait. The boy's face is ordinary, but nothing else is. The little drama of cats and bird is suspenseful, and the flamboyant costume of the boy is delicious, especially set against the fantastic light display. Gimme this for my wall!

Count Floridablana , Banco de Espana, Madrid

Here's another portrait in red costume, also against a dark, but dramatic setting. When your eye wanders away from the count, there are several more faces to be seen, including a clock face and Goya himself.

Mourning Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, The Black Duchess, The Hispanic Society of America, New York City

The red in the costumes ties these two paintings, one black and the one below, The White Duchess, together. These reds and others he uses, like in the portraits above, can't possibly be unintentional.

Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, The White Duchess, The Alba Collection, Madrid

Old Men Eating, Prado Museum, Madrid

Here's one of Goya's Black Paintings. They're mostly of these dreary and macabre figures. One exception is Asmodea, which features--significantly!--a figure in scarlet costume.

*All these pictures, except Colossus, are copied from Goya Artwork. Thanks for putting together such a nice page.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

History Repeated

In his chapter, The Origin of Papacy, Guignebert outlines the historical rise of the pope in the Catholic church, providing discussion of inside and outside influences that defined and legitimized the pope's power. It didn't happen overnight, but over a few hundred years and through several generations of bishops of Rome, the office of pope evolved. Here's the passage in that chapter, which struck me, if not like a thunderbolt, at least with a sizzle as I recognized the repeat of history.

The second of these favoring outside influences was the Crusades inspired by him, which clearly set him from the beginning of the eleventh century at the head of all the Christians fighting the infidel. The Crusades did not succeed, but their early ephemeral triumph, and the years they lasted, and then too the hope, always springing up again after each setback, of a forthcoming new crusade, enabled the Pope to keep up indefinitely his attitude of supreme head of all believers, and the active champion of the faith. ...the Crusades enabled Western peoples to rediscover the East.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This Shouldn't Be

Brandywine, an heirloom, should be plagued with diseases and pests, right? And my Celebrity and Beefsteaks should have a few resistances bred in, right? Bah.

Here's my star Brandywine. Link to how it looked as a baby. This is all one plant. It bears, at the moment, 25 tomatoes, and there are many more blooms ready to form fruit. In comparison, my Celebrity, at next best, currently bears 12 fruit, and two of those are damaged by insects, whereas every Brandywine fruit is large, perfectly formed and unblemished by either disease or insects. Go figure.
Brandywine is the first of my reds (I have a couple yellows) to begin ripening. It's not obvious in this picture, but one familiar with the hues of ripening tomatoes can already recognize this as a Brandywine and not an ordinary red.
Oops, at the cleome in the bed next to my Brandywine, a wasp adds excitement to my photography session with the tomatoes.Here's my pathetic Celebrity, which slumps during the brighter part of the day. Bah.

From the Roof

Admittedly, I do a lot of my garden planning while looking out the window. Consequently, the best views are from the windows of my house. One of the more spectacular views this time of year is from the bedroom window on the second story, looking toward the front lawn. Unfortunately, we have screens on our windows--we're not barbarians--so I couldn't take a picture of the crepe myrtles from there, and those I took from ground level didn't do justice to these tall bushes. To solve this problem, I went on the roof!

Here's a morning shot, taken from the roof, of the front yard, a little as it looks from one of my windows.

The Odyssey for Fun

Aagh, I've been reading so much literature about Christianity that it's starting to weigh me down--Guignebert is not for the faint of heart. Although the mystics are refreshing, it's no substitute for getting away from it altogether. For fun, I picked up The Odyssey (trans. Fagles), which I read through with a study group about twelve years ago. Take my advice--don't read it the first time like that--boring. I since had the good sense to read it on my own, as it should be read once, as a rollickin' adventure story! The whole epic is one exciting scene after another, plots and hunts and monsters, daring escapes! There's even a loyal dog.

Here's an example of what I mean in this scene shortly after Odysseus lands at the island home of Circe, a scene that might as easily have been written by Jack London or Jim Corbett as by Homer.

I was well on my way down, nearing our ship
when a god took pity on me, wandering all alone;
he sent me a big stag with high branching antlers,
right across my path--the sun's heat forced him down
from his forest range to drink at a river's banks--
just bounding out of the timber when I hit him
square in the backbone, halfway down the spine
and my bronze spear went punching clean through--
he dropped in the dust, groaning, gasping out his breath.
Treading on him, I wrenched my bronze spear from the wound,
left it there on the ground, and snapping off some twigs
and creepers, twisted a rope about a fathom long,
I braided it tight, hand over hand, then lashed
the four hocks of that magnificent beast.
Loaded round my neck I lugged him toward the ship,
trudging, propped on my spear--no way to sling him
over a shoulder, steadying him with one free arm--
the kill was so immense!

After the successful hunt, what do you think Odysseus' men do when they see the stag? Pfft. No, they don't sacrifice it to the gods.

My hardy urging brought them round at once.
Heads came up from cloaks and there by the barren sea
they gazed at the stag, their eyes wide--my noble trophy.
but once they'd looked their fill and warmed their hearts,
they washed their hands and prepared a splendid meal.
Now all day long till the sun went down we sat
and feasted on sides of meat and seasoned wine.
Then when the sun had set and night came on
we lay down and slept at the water's shelving edge

Men after my own heart!