Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thanks for all the help.

...I'm about half way to my hoped-for goal of covering the gas and electric bills.

Total Pageviews
1,000,863 yesterday, up to
1,003,368 today!

Holy hannah! Welcome zillions of Pewsitters!!!

A sincere, no-joke thank you to all who have helped so far.

Things have been a little weird lately, haven't they?

I hope to continue covering the weirdness in an unrestrained fashion over the next month or so, but it would be a lot easier if the Italian national gas and electricity monopolies didn't cut me off.

I quit my day job in May and... well... it's been getting weirder and weirder out there, y'know?

Let's just say that those writers with more... forthright dispositions are finding it difficult to get freelance gigs in what we must now call the "mainstream Catholic media," if you know what I mean.

I do hope to continue reporting/mocking events as we proceed into what will likely be one of the most interesting periods of Catholic history.

But to do so, I could really still use a little help from kind readers.



... He'll be here all week...

Take my mayor... please... 

I'm starting to feel toward Frank how I ended up feeling about Berlusconi... it's a bloody train wreck, but hilarious.

Yes yes... we're all very upset... blah, blah, blah...Evil pope destroys Church, yadda yadda...

But the sheer Italianness of it all is starting to be pretty entertaining.

The difference, of course, is that Silvio always did stuff with sly grin, like he realized it was all a joke and he was letting you in on it. Frank, on the other hand, is deadly serious, particularly about himself and his own wonderfulness, which makes the whole thing even better.

Yesterday's Papal comedy sketch was pretty good. Did y'all see him diss the mayor of Rome?

Pope calls Rome Mayor Marino a "pretend Catholic."

The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino -- a man the Italian media love to hate -- further heightened tensions between the pope and the mayor in the run-up to the start of the Holy Year of Mercy in December, with the Vatican fearful the Italian capital is ill-prepared for the millions of extra pilgrims.

There y'go. One for the "pope of mercy" files.

Of course, once again as usual with Pope Frank, the move wasn't exactly "speaking truth to power." Marino is just about the most hated man in the country right now. Rome is falling apart (more than usual) and the people who live there, as they wait on stifling hot subway trains that stop for half an hour in the tunnels between stations, spend their time thinking of all the things the Roman Mob used to do to unpopular Emperors. So, you know, pretty safe target.

And funny thing... just for no reason at all and out of the blue and stuff, the next day, the Rome cops came to the streets around the Vatican and ticketed every Vatican employee car they could find.

In case you've never been to the Eternal Dumpster, this is Rome on a completely normal day,

... and none of it ever distracts the Roman police from their important flirting-with-women investigations.

Today's update on the papal vaudeville act:

A Rome radio station decides to prank the Vatican (a popular form of entertainment for Roman radio personalities). Someone from the Radio 24 satirical programme, La Zanzara (The Mosquito) impersonating the Italian premier Matteo Renzi, calls Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and one of Frank's lower level lieutenants, asking him how the pope felt about Marino joining the papal entourage in Philadelphia.

Paglia replied, not without embarrassment, that Marino’s “exploitation” of the World Meeting of Families on 26 September “infuriated Number One [Pope Francis]”.

Asked by the Renzi impersonator whether Marino had “gate-crashed” the event, the prelate quickly agreed in the affirmative. “Marino was very insistent on seeing Pope Francis [in Philadelphia] and this annoyed the pope tremendously”, said Paglia, adding: “The mayor is a good man, a good person, but nobody on our behalf invited him.”

120% increase in Rome fender-benders as Romans listening to the radio in the car go limp with helpless laughter.


I realise Americans tend to take the whole Vatican thing with absolute deadly seriousness, following the papal lead. But Italians are somewhat more ... errr... irreverent.

This man commands a cwack dicastewy!
He wanks as high as any in Wome!

"Centuwian why do they titter so?"

"Just some Roman joke, sir."

"Are they... wagging me?"

"Oh NO sir!"


Well well... we topped a million

Total Pageviews

The result of writing snippy stuff about the pope, I guess...

(Actually, I didn't install the visit counter until I'd been blogging at this site for five years, so, I expect we actually topped a million at least a couple of years ago... but anyway...)

I feel as though I ought to open a bottle of champagne.

Except that four months ago, for various reasons to be revealed shortly, I quit my regular gig, and now can't cover the gas or electric bills. Freelance gigs haven't quite flooded in as I had hoped.

I really could use a little help. Any donations to the tip jar on the sidebar would be greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"There was a blackmail come from who knows where, through SWIFT, exercised on Benedict XVI."

This is starting to not be funny anymore.

Ratzinger non poté “né vendere né comprare”
Ratzinger he could "neither sell nor buy"
Maurizio Blondet

Roughly translated by Google:

"Few know what SWIFT (the acronym stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is: in theory, is a global "clearing house", uniting 10,500 banks in 215 countries. In fact, is the most occult and sole center of American-globalist financial power, a bastion of blackmail on which the hegemony of the dollar, the most powerful means of political and economic espionage (to the detriment especially for us Europeans) and the means by which the most feared global finance breaks the legs of states that do not obey. …


"'When a bank or territory is excluded from the system, as it did in the case of the Vatican in the days before the resignation of Benedict XVI in February 2013, all transactions are blocked. Without waiting for the election of Pope Bergoglio, the Swift system has been unlocked the announcement of the resignation of Benedict XVI.

"'There was a blackmail come from who knows where, through SWIFT, exercised on Benedict XVI. The underlying reasons for this story have not been clarified, but it is clear that SWIFT has intervened directly in the management of affairs of the Church.'

"This explains and justifies the unprecedented resignation of Ratzinger, that many of us have been able to exchange for an act of cowardice; the Church was treated as a state 'terrorist', but worse — because note that the dozen banks falling into the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria 'are not excluded from SWIFT' and continue to be able to make international transactions — and the Vatican finances could no longer pay the nunciature, to convey transport missions — in fact, the same ATM of Vatican City had been blocked.

The Church of Benedict could not 'neither sell nor buy'; its own economic life was counted in hours."


Monday, September 28, 2015

Well... I am definitely feeling something present...

May no member of Christ’s Body and the American people feel excluded from the Pope’s embrace. Wherever the name of Jesus is spoken, may the Pope’s voice also be heard to affirm that: “He is the Savior”! From your great coastal cities to the plains of the Midwest, from the deep South to the far reaches of the West, wherever your people gather in the Eucharistic assembly, may the Pope be not simply a name but a felt presence, sustaining the fervent plea of the Bride: “Come, Lord!”

It could just be that this man and his supporters are doing what modern people do with words. Modern people don't think about what words mean. They follow the doctrine of Mao who said that we, the "West" who were at that time his opponents, were still labouring with the mental handicap that words mean things. No, no! Words, he said, are not a way of conveying meaning. They are little sticks of dynamite that you implant in people's brains to incite them to this or that desired action. To such people words are goads for driving a donkey. As a good Peronist populist demagogue, the evidence certainly would support the theory that Bergoglio has this attitude towards the things he says.

But aside from the few of us humans left who do remember what words are, there are two other classifications of rational beings who also know it. Whatever a Maoist, a Peronist or Jorge Bergoglio thinks their words are for, there are still powers who know what reality is. Whatever Bergoglio meant by this, the true meaning was not lost in Heaven or in Hell.


“Those who covered this up are guilty. Even some bishops who covered this up,” he said. “It is a terrible thing.”

I realise we have more or less established that this man does not know what a logical contradiction is. That he feels nothing is amiss in saying one thing one day and its opposite the next. Or in saying one thing one day and doing its opposite the next.

But seriously...

Those who covered this up are guilty. Even some bishops who covered this up,” he said. “It is a terrible thing.”

Is it just that he doesn't know that the world is writing down and comparing every single thing he says and does? Do he and his friends really think we aren't out here keeping track?

Or are they simply so drunk on power that they just do not care?

"Danneels advised the young man not to “make a lot of noise” about the abuse he endured from his uncle bishop because Vangheluwe was scheduled to retire in a year anyway. “It would be better that you wait..."


Whom do you worship?

Whom do you worship?

Whom do you welcome?

Why are you there?

The backdrop of this whole visit is not what's happening in American politics or a presidential campaign. The backdrop is a world steeped in violence and bloodshed and rancor and hatred, and here we have coming to your city, to our diocese, a real prince of peace. If there's any princely title that should be associated with Francis, it's a prince of peace, it's a bringer of peace,” Rosica said.

“When peacemakers come, they upset those who are not at peace. So, if people are going to be upset in any side of the spectrum here, let them look inside themselves and see what those issues are first, because in the presence of Francis, as you know and as I know, you're in the presence of extraordinary goodness, of kindness, of intelligence and of humanity. So, humanity is coming to teach us how to be more human,” he added.
Whom do you bring to the faithful?

To whom do you belong?

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Guys? Hey guys!

All my friends on FB watching the pope's visit to the US,

this is you:

(Just try to watch that thing without doing the same thing with your eyes, I dare you.)

I felt like snapping my fingers in front of their faces... hello... can you hear me?!

Guys, it's OK. It's OK. If he was bad last week in Rome, he's exactly the same bad today in the US. It's OK.

Go watch cat videos.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Well, I didn't mean to...

Monastero di San Claudio, Serravalle

According to the internet, I walked more than 16 kilometers yesterday.

Last week I went for a short stomp around the neighbourhood, and in a field close to the river I found a large quantity of wild hops growing in a spot where the farmers had cleared a lot of the brush. Yes, that's the same stuff that you use to make beer. The flower heads were the biggest I'd ever seen on the wild varieties, so I dropped everything and collected as much as my backpack would hold. Then I walked back to town and showed Br. Augustine, one of the brew-monks and he was so excited by this find that he suggested we go - all the brew staff - later in the year when the foliage had died off a bit but before the frost, and dig up the rhizomes to plant in pots so we could have some all the time. He said the when they do their next brew, he'll siphon off a few gallons and add the hops and see how it turns out.

Being terribly pleased with myself at this very positive reception of my explorations, I told Br. Augustine that I would go and mark the spot where I'd found it, tying a ribbon or something around the strands of the vines. Hops are a very vine-y kind of plant, and grow like clematis or bindweed all over other plants and trees, and it can be difficult to figure out where the plant originates in the ground.

So, yesterday, being somewhat fed up with the internet and it being a rather cool and cloudy sort of day, I packed up the backpack with a trowel a few plastic shopping bags and a length of non-biodegradable orange cloth (a duster) I set off back to the spot. I had seen that there are also forests of sloes ready to be picked and had been looking up sloe gin and sloe wine recipes, so I thought I would go and see what was ready. I parked the bike in my usual field behind a hedge and walked the rest of the way to the hops-place. I was only wearing trainers since I had intended just to go there and back.

but it was so beautiful out...  the perfect day, cool but not cold, with patches of sun and fast-moving big fluffy clouds, that once I had found and marked the spot where the vines were starting, and had determined that the ground was quite soft and that it would be a cinch to get the rhizomes out, I looked around and thought, "Huh... wonder what's over there..."

Famous last words.

There was the field all full of a gorgeous wildflower I'd never seen before, so, you know, I just had to go and see if I could dig up a few samples. Then I was close to the river and it's beauty, all set about with willow and bull rushes, was mesmerizing. I followed it downstream and found a dozen places where it was obvious the fishermen would come to catch the trout, and I stood many times just watching the perfectly clear water flow over the sandy bed like liquid silk, and spotted the mysterious little fish, gently waving their tails in the stream.

Then I thought, 'Well, I've never been down the valley on this side of the river... I wonder what's over there,' and somehow just kept going. I found a ruined stone house and collected a new tile, nice and flat for painting on, dug up a few more wildflowers and found a bunch of wild raspberries growing on the riverbank and got some lively looking roots from them. We'll see if we can get some raspberries in the garden next year.

Before long, I found myself at the bridge, and being tired of listening to the highway, crossed and turned along the Ferrovia toward Serravalle, the little village where you change buses to go to Rome. It's only 15 minutes by bus of course, and I had heard there is a swimming hole somewhere along the river near there that I wanted to find. The Ferrovia is the old train line ("ferro" = "iron" - via... get it?) but the last train was 1968, and the entire line has been dismantled. Now all that is left is the wide track and the little station houses, apparently in the middle of nowhere, all falling into ruin, and a few rather forlorn looking old fashioned stone mile markers along the way.

These days it's a very popular hiking and mountain biking trail, and if you follow it you will see the whole valley (though I'm told some of the tunnels are no longer very safe.) I kept saying, 'You know, if you keep going, you'll end up in Spoleto... You are remembering that you'll have to walk back, right?' Somehow, though, this voice of reason made no impact, and my feet just kept going. By this time, I had decided I wanted to go as far as Serravalle, stop in the little bar where the bus goes, and say hello to the swans in the little pond there. I like swans. They're the only creature in the world with crankier dispositions than me.

Along the way I found out that hops are a common wild plant, and collected a bunch more. I found a crab apple tree and filled a shopping bag with the windfalls, about four pounds. They're in the freezer to put together with the rosehips when they're ready to make some crab apple and rosehip jelly to go with the Christmas turkey.

The blackberries had clearly suffered during the Big Heat. 12 weeks of 35-38 degree weather had killed most of the crop that were facing the sun and now the only place you find berries for eating is in the shady spots. Well, one field had plenty of this, and I must have eaten half a gallon of them.

The walnut trees were dropping their little protein bombs, and when I sat down at the base of a large one for a rest, I just picked them up out of the grass and cracked them between stones while listening to the leaves rustling in the breeze. I kept thinking that surviving in the wild here wouldn't really be too difficult... at the right time of year.

This late in the season there are not many people along the Ferrovia. I only encountered a middle aged English couple and one woman dressed for vanity-jogging who looked strangely out of place in those lonely and mostly wild surroundings. Other than that it felt like I could be the only person in the valley.

The Ferrovia runs parallel to the highway, but apart from the occasional truck taking sausages down to Spoleto, the only sound was my footfalls and the constant refrain of the river.

I had left the house just before noon, and it must have been (left my phone at home) about 4 pm when I found the little cemetery of Serravalle, like a walled garden, and stopped to say a little prayer for the sacred dead. It had clouded over, with the weather that had been brewing over the tops of the mountains in the morning finally boiling over and flowing into the valley. I felt a few drops of rain then, but it was far too late to worry about getting a bit damp. Even without the side-trips through the fields, the march back along the Ferrovia was going to be at least an hour and a half.

The cemetery was nearly on top of the exit from the Ferrovia path where the little side road takes the bus to the bar, so I knew I had almost made it. As I came off the trail and onto the road, right in front of me was a sign, pointing almost straight up the mountain on the other side, towards a large church, perched up high on a cliff face. The sign said, "Chiesa San Claudio. XIII sec." and had a little stick figure of a man with a backpack and walking stick. The sign for the official trails is a little red and white flag, and there were other signs giving the estimated distance to "San Lazaro"; 7.5 km.

(San Claudio as seen from the Ferrovia is at 1:38)

I had seen the church with its tall bell tower far above the road in glimpses along the trail, and had thought there must be a road to get up there. Well, it turns out that the "road" was a rocky, overgrown track that would have been impossible with anything more than a donkey. San Claudio had once had a hermit occupant, who had died in 1986. Since then there had been sporadic efforts to get funding to save it, or at least to prevent the bell tower from collapsing. I stood at the bottom of the trail looking up with a keen sense of longing... It was at least as steep as 30 degrees in places, but somehow, from the bottom of the trail the church didn't seem that far.

I couldn't resist. I started climbing and the little voice that had been talking about how far it was to get back, now became quite insistent. The climbing was steep and difficult and it was hard to imagine that anyone would have been willing to take this route regularly, even in the 13th century when people were tougher, and the way less overgrown. About 50 yards up the slope, common sense finally got the better of me, and even though it was heavily overcast I could tell that the daylight was not going to last more than a couple more hours. When the trail took a turn and the church could be seen, I discovered that it was a great deal higher up than it had seemed from the road. I hadn't brought my climbing stuff either; no sticks, no boots, no cell phone, no nothin'. Not even a bottle of water.

When I felt the rain starting a little harder and heard the roll of thunder, I finally thought better. The trail was deeply gouged in places where the heavy rains we'd had at the end of August had caused little rock and mud slides. I suddenly realised rather keenly that a single misstep could be disastrous in my soft little shoes. I had already gone up high enough that I felt my right knee (the oldest part of my body, apparently) protesting loudly as we climbed back down the path, dislodging little stones that went rolling merrily down ahead.

I got to the bottom and apologised to my ancient joints, and promised myself I'd come back with the proper equipment... and a buddy.

The bar at Serravalle was only about another 50 yards and as I sat eating the only thing he had to eat - a not-very-fresh cornetto integrale - and drinking my water, I had time to wonder what had possessed me.

The walk back was an easy stroll by comparison, straight along the Ferrovia and I didn't stop again. The rain had become steady, though light, and I pulled out my umbrella, the one piece of equipment I had been sensible enough to bring. It wasn't cold, and there were plenty of places along the trail where the trees completely sheltered the path. The bike was, of course, where I left it, and I was pushing up the hill as the 6 o'clock Angelus bell was ringing.

I checked on Google Maps when I got home, and discovered it was 8.25 km from Norcia to Serravalle. No wonder my feet were sore.

It's a funny thing, that urge to start walking.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I am not an antipope!

Dude, it's not about the shoes...

Hey y'all,

remember that time when Pope Pius XII used to constantly say such insane and incomprehensible and kinda heretical-sounding things all the time - off the cuff-like so no one could really call him on it - and the rumours went around all the time that he wasn't really the pope and he ditched all the traditional symbols of his office like living in the Apostolic Palace and refused to wear the pope-stuff and then he appointed a public pederast to run his household and refused to bless people because they might get offended by Christianity and then his hand-picked subordinates started publicly demanding that the Church either change or ignore the words of Christ in the Gospels because nobody liked Him any more and then Pius just sat there saying nothing and didn't correct them or fire them or issue clarifications and then instead stood up on the loggia and got on TV and told everybody what great theologians they were and then he fired the guy who objected to it and then started chumming around with Hitler and Stalin and told the Jews and the people in the Gulags that that torture and starvation and extra-judicial arrests and getting beaten and murdered by the secret police were really good for them because Jesus said "Blessed are the poor" even though He really didn't and then when Pius misquoted Scripture all the time even in official documents and implicitly denied the Divinity of Christ by repeatedly denying the miracles in the Gospels and then when his cardinals and bishops started saying that if he kept on this way there would be a giant catastrophic schism in the Church and he just kept on doing it and never even responded...?

Oh, and remember that time when his predecessor Pius XI resigned in the middle of a giant clerical homosexual-abuse scandal but didn't give up the papal name or papal whites and went on calling himself Pius XI and lived in the Vatican and sometimes issued letters and stuff under his papal name and then it was revealed that a group of ultra-progressive cardinals at the Conclave had decided they needed Pacelli because they knew he would give them what they wanted and went around campaigning to get him the votes even though that would have invalidated the election?

Remember that?

Oh, and remember when the uproar and outrage caused by his behaviour resulted in him having to make a public statement that he wasn't really either an anti-pope or the Antichrist?


me neither.

Maybe I have given an impression of being a little bit to the left,” the pope admitted. “But if they want me to recite the Creed, I can!”

Pope Francis said a cardinal “who is a friend” was telling him about an older Catholic lady, “a good woman, but a bit rigid,” who had questions about the description of the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation and if that was the same thing as an “anti-pope.”

“‘Why are you asking,’ the cardinal said. ‘Well, I am sure Pope Francis is the anti-pope.’

“‘Why do you say that?’

“‘Well, because he renounced the red shoes, which are so historic,'” the pope said the woman responded.

People have all sorts of reasons to think, “he’s communist or he’s not communist,” the pope said.

Actually, yeah. Yeah, I think I would like you to recite the Creed. Often. That would be a good thing for a pope to do now and then.

I think, in fact, that from now on if you just recited the Creed every time you saw a microphone in your face, that might be good.

But just give me a few minutes to step back a little. Like maybe into the next block.


Sunday, September 20, 2015


Because nothing says "mercy" and "joy" like a seven-story high neon picture of a communist mass-murderer.

Yes folks, it's the Pope Francis in Cuba show! Brought to you by the Obama administration and Pope no-one-was-ever-merciful-in-the-Catholic-Church-until-I-came-along Francis.

Apparently, some of his biggest fans have been waiting for a long time to meet him.

Around 70% of Cuba's 11 million people practice syncretism, the blending of traditional Christianity with African religions that arrived on the island with the slaves imported during colonial times.

Only about 10% describe themselves as Catholic, once the dominant faith.

The Santeria tradition has survived both the hostility of the Catholic clergy and the state atheism the communist government decreed for more than three decades after the Cuban Revolution.

Today, many followers say they plan to turn out to greet the pope during his four-day visit.

"As pope, Francis has brought the honey that was missing in our lives," said Juan Manuel Perez Andino, a "babalawo," or Santeria priest.

He said he has seen a subtle shift in the Church under the Argentine pontiff, even if the Vatican and the Cuban clergy still officially frown upon Santeria.

"Now the Church lets us go there with the 'iyawo' (new initiate) to perform the ceremonies we need to," he said.
Mmmm... not really that subtle, actually.


Me, watching the Asteroid ... Coming. Straight. At. Us.

Watching... watching... watching...


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Countryside Jobs Service...


Countryside Jobs Service Distance Learning...

Hhhmmm again...

It happens now and then that I wake up in the morning and there is a little quiet nagging voice that says, "Go count the puffins."

On those days it is best that I go for a walk in the fields.


Longing for home

A friend of mine just posted this blog to FB and said that he thought he was just about going to curl up into a little green puddle of jealousy.

Even for me, "jealous" hardly covers my feelings:

"But, in all seriousness, my family and I are so blessed to be here. Some people dream of playing professional sports, some doctors, some teachers. For the last dozen years my dream job was to be a caretaker of a monastery. I remember the first guy I met with that job. For years I spun that pea around in my little head trying to figure out how to land that gig. And here I am."

A few years ago I visited a friend at Christmas time who lives in a caretaker's apartment built into the old servants' quarters of a 17th century National Trust stately home in Scotland. I don't remember ever wanting a gig that much. Then it got worse. I was taken on a little tour of the estate grounds, and got to see the large walled "kitchen garden" that was about 1/2 an acre but completely unused. It was just bare raised beds and an empty glass house. I was told that the Trust was looking for someone to hire to start gardening here again.

Then, if you can imagine it, it got even worse when my friend introduced me to the "estate naturalist" - who proceeded to show us where there were barn owls nesting - and I thought I was going to have an envy-aneurysm and just drop dead of acute longing right there on the spot.

When I lived in England I gave some very serious thought to going to a local agricultural college and taking their two-year countryside and wilderness conservation programme. All hands-on, outdoorsy work, building stone walls, laying hedges, learning botany and zoology... I still kind of yearn for it.

Since my visit to Scotland, I've moved to Norcia, which is pretty darn nice, I have to admit. But in truth, it's not my natural habitat. I'm fine with that, and there are of course loads of compensations but Italy will forever be a foreign exile for me. Britain, cold, rainy, overcast, drizzly Britain - with black pudding and fried mushrooms for breakfast and the smell of coal fires wafting through the crisp November air - is where I'm from, down to the level of my DNA. I won't ever stop wishing I could go back, go home, even if I never actually do it.


Bug-free living

Reason 10,096 for living in Norcia: I've already taken the mosquito curtains down.

We're past the Big Heat of the hottest summer on record (TBTG!!). I've had a couple in the sitting room and I've been bitten a few times when out on a stomp because I forgot to use the Muskol someone brought me from Canuckistan, but on the whole the mosquito thing that was such a misery and plague in S. Marinella is just not really a big issue here.

I had the curtains up this summer, but mostly kept the windows and shutters closed through the day to combat the heat. (It worked too, and when it was 38 outside, it was at leat 10 to 15 degrees cooler inside.) But now that the temperature has dropped and the nights are a little longer and a little cooler - enough that I'm pulling my cardies out of the box - the annoyance of fighting with the curtains has outweighed the usefulness of keeping the bugs out.

In this neighbourhood, with a dairy farm across the next field, the bigger issue than mozzies is flies. Got me onea them electric tennis racket things, which I'm getting pretty good with.

The contrast is with Santa Marinella, where if you don't have your windows screened and have nets over the bed, you will be eaten alive in summer. And by "summer" I mean April to the end of October. And even then, at the height of the season you have to sleep with a bottle of bug-off and a tube of antihistamine cream under your pillow. I used to routinely do a perimeter security check around the bed every night before climbing in to make sure there wasn't any little opening. You have to tuck the ends of the nets under the mattress. Even so, I would be bitten while sleeping at least three times a week. Wake up at two am, turn on the light and there the little bastard would be, stuck inside the net.

You got used to it, I suppose, (and of course it wasn't as bad as the arctic where the mosquitoes come literally in clouds) but the bugs were really miserable on the coast. I never went anywhere without a bottle of bug spray in my handbag.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Hey guys: can you please pray/have masses said for a friend of mine? I know it was years ago, but I was just re-reading the teaching on suicides and it brought it to mind. My friend took his own life a few years ago and I was shocked. There never was a jollier fellow, happily married and well respected. But he was heavily involved in a rather rough sport in which he sustained many head injuries over the years. I had an email from his wife who said that he had been very badly affected by this. What he and his family did not know was how severely. He suffered from bouts of depression so severe that he would be hospitalized. After he died, they were told that the head trauma had created a cumulative effect such that the only way to ensure his safety was inpatient treatment, though with brain damage they didn't know if there ever had been anything they could have done for him.

Chuck was one of those guys in high school who was constantly joking around and his good nature and prodigious musical talents always made him the centre of attention. I was a wallflower in high school and was terribly intimidated by him. But we had the same free period one semester and he always spent it in the cafeteria playing the piano they kept in the back. I would come and sit near by and listen while I read or worked on drawings. He always took requests and didn't mind me singing along. Those were the times I think the real Chuck peeped out, and it turned out that without an audience for his clowning, he was almost as shy as I was but also a kind and generous guy.

Years later we connected again in the SCA where he had rocketed to fame and fortune and become the head of a large household (don't laugh, non-nerds, this is a pretty big deal in this subculture, and quite real. He was a genuine leader of at least 40 people, all of whom very much looked up to him IRL as well as SCA context...we live in terrible times and people need a tribe, however goofy it might look on the outside.) In that period, I was pretty much a nobody and he was (literally) a king among men, and even so, he would take the time to invite me to things, make sure I was included in things and always had time to chat and share a beer.

When I heard he'd died and how I was surprised how affected I was, even though I'm sure I hadn't seen him in 15 years.

Anyway, from what his wife told me I expect that there was little chance that he was responsible for his act, and I told her I would pray for him and for her. Her name is Heather, his is Charles.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fun nature stuff for Sunday

I am fearfully and wonderfully made...

Molecular machinery at work in your cells right now.

We don't have hummers in Italy, they're strictly a New World beastie.

Yeah... think you're top predator? Call those teeth?

Two of my favourite things: time lapse and mushrooms.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

This! Ten thousand times, this!

You don't have to live like they tell you.


Italian political fun-fact

Italian political fun-fact: two years ago, under a government that had been forcibly imposed on Italy by the European Union, Italy slashed its defence budget by 40%. Right now, the government admits that this country is able to field no more than 4000 troops.

As a friend of mine in Rome said, the keep is undefended and the gates are open. The Italians probably figured that if they needed military help, they could call their good buddies the Americans. The only difficulty, of course, is that the Obama regime isn't interested in stopping the Islamic invasion they helped to trigger.

This year, the numbers in the final budget are lower than the preliminary budget, indicating the depth of cuts made in the five months between the publication of the two documents as the Italian government seeks to free up funds.

Meanwhile, in other news...

Catholics considering taking seriously the ... ummm... suggestion from Pope Francis to take a Syrian "refugee" into their homes and parishes might want to think about it some more...

In Fiuggi, one hour south of Rome, a Muslim “migrant” youth gang-raped and tried to kill the head of the facility. They tore up and destroyed the migrant “Welcome” facility and beat up other care workers — the people who had cared for them over the past six months.

and...(Google-translated) "migrant reception centres" are starting to turn into "powder kegs" of violence:

No injuries, but the fear was so great. For the time being against the protagonists of the episode of violence they have not been taken. What happened, however, it shows that the reception facilities are powder kegs ready to explode at any moment.


They don't care about the joke

Romans joke with ISIS Twitter feed: "you can have it."

Frankly, these people are idiots. And they're going to be surprised when the ISIS operatives already in their country don't give a damn about their sense of ironic humour. They don't get the joke, they're not in on the joke, they don't care about the joke.

When you watch this video, don't look at the men chanting. There's nothing to learn there. Look instead at the reactions of the non-Muslim passengers trying desperately to pretend that it isn't happening... if they just ignore it enough it will go away... that it doesn't apply to them... that if they keep their heads down and don't make eye contact whatever is going to happen will happen to someone else...dear God, please just let me get back to my bubble in one piece...

What are the savages chanting?
“May Allah make orphans out of their children. May Allah make it difficult on their women. Allah give victory to Islam everywhere. Allah give victory to our brethren in Palestine. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar… there is no god but Allah and the martyr is beloved by Allah.”

The problem I've been thinking about is nicely illustrated by this reaction of the spoiled Romans from the Breitbart piece to what they obviously see as silly threats from primitive savages from another planet. We just don't seem to believe that it could actually really happen. We've been trained to think that the world that spawned ISIS is radically separated from us. That it is, in fact, a different world - maybe one from a campy action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger - and they can't cross over into our real world.

We hear them chanting about how Allah will make widows and orphans and the soldiers of Allah will make those widows and orphans into slaves, we see them issuing threats against the "Crusaders" and wonder what universe they're living in. Crusaders? Seriously? Are these people living in the middle ages? We think we live in the real, modern world of science and iPhones and air conditioned offices, and simply can't picture ISIS rounding up women and nine year old girls from our neat suburban neighbourhoods in Berlin or London or Birmingham or Rome (well, maybe Rome a little more) and setting up sex slave markets in the parking lot of the local supermarket.

But that is exactly what has happened in the places they've already conquered. They have told us straight up that they're coming and intend to do here what they did there. The answer is, yes, they are still living in the Middle Ages. Stop and think about what that means for a moment. Think about what life was like for Christians in Muslim dominated lands all those centuries.

We have to start understanding that the bubble we think we live in is imaginary. The Swedes and Norwegians are slowly starting to realise this, far, far too late.

Go, right now, and look at Ann Barnhardt's post on what happens to the idiot liberal dhimmis preaching luv and tolerance for the estimated 2-3 million "Syrian refugees" suddenly and "inexplicably" flooding into Europe as I write this. Don't hold back from looking at the photos. I won't say they are for the strong of stomach. I will say that if you don't look at them, you will not be able to develop a strong enough stomach for the fight that is coming your way.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Mood: apocalyptic

The Real, in the flesh:

Europe, meanwhile...

Get ready for the ride of your life, boys and girls...


So be good, for goodness sake!

Every day I feel more and more like that guy in the apocalypse movie. You know, the kind of movie where everyone is always standing around in groups arguing about stupid stuff while a giant flaming asteroid hurtles out of a clear blue sky muttering to itself, "Gonna kill everything and everyone ... Yessiree-bob, gonna do the thing..."

There's always one guy who walks away from that group of yelling people because he's seen something weird out of the corner of his eye. The camera follows him while he stares upward, crowd of stupid arguers in the background.

Cut to the giant flaming rock, now yelling, "Gonna take em out! Gonna flame all yer microbes! Gonna Peel All Yer Countries! GONNA EAT ALL YER COOKIES!!!

"UHHH... guys?..."




I feel like that guy.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Not anymore!


Catholic no-fault divorce

And, just in time for the apocalypse, Pope Francis announced yesterday that he will be issuing a Motu Proprio (why not just sidestep all that annoying "collegiality" blather, eh? No?) changing the rules for  the annulment process. Can't keep the poor little darlings waiting, can we? And all that nonsense about investigating the facts of the case, waiting to find out whether there is any, you know, truth in the claims. That just creates suffering, don'tcha know.

As for those questioning the premise of good Edward Pentin's book suggesting that the Synod is a fix, and that the whole process has been controlled from the outset to achieve a pre-determined agenda...

have you spent more than six and a half minutes observing how politics works? But hey, whatever helps you sleep at night brah...

The other day the Washington Post published a thing saying there is a "conservative revolt" brewing in higher circles of the Church's leadership.

Good luck with that, lads.


The fix is in

Everything's fine. Nothing to see here. Move along...

 Gagliarducci reports:
Some well-informed people say that the 2015 Synod will be completely different from any other. First of all, a midterm report will not be released
Avoiding the release of a midterm report would mean eliminating any possibility of discussion. The plan is for the Synod to carry out discussions mostly in “small groups” (circuli minores) without a general discussion. In the end, the reports of the small groups would be put in the Pope’s hands, and the Pope would then give a final address. No final report or post-synodal apostolic exhortation is foreseen at the moment, at least according to recent rumors.
In this way the adapters hope to convince the Pope to employ vague language so they can eventually exploit his words.

A little while ago, a friend of mine said that she felt confident that the "good" bishops attending the Synod would win the day in October. After asking her what evidence she has seen to give her that idea, and receiving only vague assurances about the working of the Holy Ghost, I responded that it wouldn't matter whether they did or not, since they had no power. It seems they are to have even less than none now.

The same people are in charge, and they were very unhappy with the outcome their machinations produced last year. Accustomed to operating out of the limelight, I guess. They didn't expect the uproar or the vast public exposure - and censure - their tactics would generate. Well, looks like they've solved that problem. I wouldn't be surprised to see the press conferences cancelled as well. While these things can be controlled, it is just too easy to slip up when there is a big crowd of journalists in the room with you. All they would need would be one member of the staff of the Vatican Press Office to offer a guest pass to the wrong sort of fellow, and all manner of difficulties would be unleashed.

Last year, I urged the bishops who were concerned with the direction things were taking to hold a separate press conference, since the official ones were so tightly controlled. That advice was ignored. I believe there has been a battle going on since October 2014 inside the rib cage of every bishop who retains a shred of the Holy Catholic Faith, between their desire to be good company men and go along and play nice, and their holy desire to defend Christ's Church and His flock.

We will see which side wins; whether they are men or the men-without-chests I have always believed them.

Either way, they clearly have no power to alter the outcome of the Synod. Whether the men coming to Rome in a month discover their long-lost vertebrae, the Synod has obviously been fixed from at least the time of the February 2014 Consistory.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Lay eremitical life

St. Ita, Hermitess of Killeedy

This blog gave me a ferocious case of Carthusian-envy.

And this one: Vida Eremitica Vida Eremitica.

And this one, I Nuovi Eremiti.

"There is however a new current in the hermit spirituality of single or married lay people, who are deep affinity with hermitism, and feel a great need to be alone with God, and dedicate themselves to this solitude weekly or part of the day. Usually unmarried and widowers [who] work part-time in a secular job, and the next completely withdraw to pray, read, write [and] be alone with God only...
(auto-translated from Portuguese)

I'm becoming fascinated by the potential of the lay eremitical lifestyle, and given the situation in the Church, I'm finding that there are a lot of people who are attracted to this as well. We live in such times that it simply seems unwise to become involved in any formally, canonically recognised religious community. We have all taken well in the horrifying lesson of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Stick your head up above the parapet and the current regime will make sure you lose it.

But one does not need canonical recognition to live an ordered regular life of prayer and contemplation, pursuing union with God. It certainly helps if there are other people around to help though, and I know there are groups forming to offer mutual support, mostly informally, and dependent upon the internet. I'm in touch with a few of them myself.

I read an interesting article about research done by an Italian writer, Isacco Turina, a sociologist at the University of Bologna, who found out that there are actually hundreds of these unofficial, lay hermits and semi-hermits in Italy, nearly all of whom came to the life on their own, most of whom are women and in their late 40s and early 50s. In fact, this is not remotely surprising to me, and I expect that an examination of these women's backgrounds would find that most of them arrived at the lay eremitical life, voluntary solitude and a focus on prayer and sacramental life, after being disappointed in their vocational aspirations. The Asteroid did nearly wipe out the kind of religious life that many people had sought. I can't imagine I was the only one to look around in the 80s and be put off by the empty, arid wasteland that the Church and the religious life had become.


Sunday, September 06, 2015

I finally figured out what this popular Italian priest reminds me of...


Getting my inner hippie off the grid

It rains quite a bit here, compared to the rest of Italy. The nice old lady who lives next door has quite an extensive kitchen garden, and also has a whole series of huge blue rain barrels around the back of her house, attached to all the downspouts.

How to build a rain-collection system

I gotta do this, this year. The landlord said he'd turn on the garden tap, which right now is shut off, but I would get the bill for the extra water. So far, I've been doing pretty well with keeping the garden alive by saving the bathwater. But as the garden gets bigger - and I really want to do a vegetable bed and maybe a few potato and squash barrels next year - it's going to end up being a pretty significant added expense. I've seen that a lot of people have often quite elaborate rain-collection systems. One house on the other side of town has a ginormous blue water tank with an obviously elaborate filtration system. I wondered if they run all their household water on rain.

Nonetheless, one starts small and works up. It looks like for this plan the biggest expense will be the power drill. I've been wanting one for a long time, and it looks like the most multi-useful power tool I could choose for my zero-budget for tools. I know the Agridea has quite a selection. Anyone got any suggestions what kind I should get?


Saturday, September 05, 2015


Woke up to the thunder and rain this morning. Lay in bed listening to it and feeling inexpressible joy. This was a rather rough summer, what with one thing and another, and today, with the mist settling over the valley, it looks like a painting by John Constable, and feels like a sign that troubles are suspended for the moment and we've got through the rough patch.

The fruit is heavy on the trees, the mists have risen and are hanging like wraiths over the hills, the loud tourists have mostly gone home and the sheep are wandering the Marcite in peace.

The rain has brought my garden back to life, and we're having what I have called Italy's Second Spring, the September Spring, when the rain washes away all of late summer's dust and heat and pains, and the wildflowers burst back into a farewell bloom before they settle down for their winter sleep.

I had a funny thought as I was swimming to the surface this morning, "What if everyone were a gardener? What would the world look like then?"

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,---
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Today's musical selection, therefore, is the Pastoral Symphony.


Friday, September 04, 2015

How to have three kittens in the house without losing your mind

Tip for having three indoor kittens in the house without losing your mind: create a "kitten-proof" room. It's like kennel training a puppy, only with a bit more space. At our house, it's my "laboratorio," my work room where I draw, paint and write.

Keep one room where they can't climb on or destroy things you don't want climbed on or destroyed. Keep their litter box and food and water dishes there, on opposite sides of the room. Include a comfortable corner for napping and lots of toys. Make sure they're comfortable and happy and used to being in there by keeping the door open all day and making that room the feeding room. In their little kitten-brains, this means it's not a punishment or time-out room, but just "their" room. Cats are pretty territorial, and they will quickly learn that this is their place.

In the evening, when you've had enough rampaging for the day and they're getting on your nerves, you can put them in their room, give them some dry food in a bowl to eat at night and a little pat and kiss each, turn out the light and close the door, taking their "day dishes" with you. (Make sure that anything that might get turned into a hockey puck - anything small enough for them to move - is put away on a high shelf or in a box or drawer.) They can rampage all they like in their room because you've made it safe and a place they associate with food and comfort where they like to be.

In the morning, you can get up and make the coffee and get their food ready on the day dishes that you took away the night before, all in peace, without having to fight your way through them or trip over them. Then, when you're ready, it's breakfast time for the kitties and time for the daily rampages to begin.

This method has really worked for me and the Kitty Crew, and they seem quite content to be "tucked in" at night. Sometimes they rampage a little more after lights-out, but they very soon settle down, usually all in a big pile on my desk chair. Because I've never let them stay out in the common areas at night, they don't expect it and don't sit in front of the door meowing at all. I sometimes hear them start playing early in the mornings, but I don't hear them meowing to get let out until seven or so.

Guests who've come to stay have asked if this is going to go on, and I think probably not, but as long as they're still kittens we'll keep it up. Grownup cats need less of this, but it's a good idea to get their habits settled early. We'e been doing this since they arrived in May. Four months may not seem like much to me, but for them it's their whole lives. I read up on kitten psychology and everything said it's a good idea, mostly for your own sanity, to teach them to sleep when you sleep, and to teach them by consistent repetition, that your bed is not their bed. They're not allowed into my room as a result (though they keep on trying... nothing entices a kitten more than a new space and Henry is one fast and devious little bruiser!). They also know that there are certain rooms they're not allowed into, which is why I don't feed them in the kitchen - too many ways for them to get hurt or break something in there.

As they've grown, I think they have learned to feel safe and happy with this method, and I certainly appreciate sleeping at night without them deciding to make me into a human trampoline.

And yes, we do go outside, but only when I can supervise them. I'm terrified of that road, which is the main one leading out of town into other small towns through the mountains. People drive insanely fast on it, and it's especially busy in the summer, of course. I've already seen two cats dead on the road right outside the house, one a tiny kitten which I had to remove, and the other was one of the feral cats who live in the country shrubbery who used to come round regularly, and whom I used to feed now and then. I can't tell you the knot in my gut I felt when I stood by the window getting my breath of fresh air very early one morning and saw a cat I knew lying in a small pool of blood on the road. There were lots of kitty-kisses that day.

We have gone outside most days for an hour or so, and they really love it, and have so far stayed away from the road, but I'm dubious about just letting them out by themselves. They love to charge around like maniacs, and don't think at all about possible dangers. I know I can't keep them inside all the time; cats gotta cat, but that road... I not sure what to do, but am mulling over the possibilities. Maybe some fencing. Not sure.