Thursday, June 27, 2013

Purple weights

Not me.

OK, so that's another 30 minutes of treadmill and 30 minutes of bike-machine, plus a bunch of weight lifting today. I got home, a little wobbly, and had a huge attack of "LIE DOWN AND GO TO SLEEP RIGHT THE HECK NOW!!" But it seems to be passing. I wonder if it's some kind of blood sugar thing. Or maybe the four cups of tea has just perked me up unnaturally.

So today, there I was, sitting in front of the same mirror as this guy sitting on another weight-lifting seat-chair thingy, and we were both doing the same things with our arms at the same time, and it was hilarious because there I was struggling with these little girly purple - yes, purple, - weightlets and I was all scrinchy-faced and huffy, and the guy was lifting 15 k in each hand. In real weight, that's like thirty freaking pounds! In each hand! He was, I hasten to add, also making the scrinchy-faces and huffy noises, but seemed to have a deal more justification.

Every time I go to the gym, the same thing happens, I get there and I'm all, Oooo, I'm at the gym! and I'm going to be the best looking old person in town! See, I figure it's a big accomplishment to have left the house while wearing clothes that aren't my pjs, and be going to an actual, real gym! And then I get on the treadmill and I'm doing the fast-walking and thinking, look how fast I'm walking! Gonna be Angelina any day now!

And then I notice that the treadmill and bike-machine setting is on 2 (and it goes to 25) and the "weights" are like the kind of weights you'd imagine Paris Hilton picking because they match her purple chihuahua, and I look down and that podgy jiggly gooey thing is still right the heck there in front of me...

Oddly, I actually really like it. They're very nice to you, and it's weirdly fun to concentrate on doing this purely physical thing that you know is good for you and is actually pretty hard to do. And, given what my brain has to pay attention to during working hours - the end of the world and whatnot - having to concentrate on the simplest thing, the immediate here and now ("Thirty more?! Seriously? You saw the scrinchy-faces for the first 15 right?") and beat each challenge each time, feels really great.\

And the place is quite the nicest one I've been to.

First, it's not in Rome, which means I can get there without having to get on a train for an hour and struggle with Rome (for those who've never been, getting around Rome is always a struggle; remember all those dreams you've had where you're desperately running towards or away from something and your legs won't move and it's like you're running through molasses, and you're completely surrounded by chaos and there are inexplicably thousands of shrieking lunatics all around you and you've got no pants on? Rome's like that...) which means I'll actually go to it. I signed up last year for a gym club/Pilates studio in Rome and it was pretty great, but was such a fight to get there I just gave up.

This place is brand new and in Santa Mar., which means I will actually turn up. And it's staffed basically by one person, the owner/ trainer and the Pilates guy who's just there for class time. She and Francesco the Friendly Pilates Guy do this thing of kind of diagnosing you to see what stuff you need to do, how fast and hard you have to do it, kind of where you are to start with, and they coach you through individually. Even in the Pilates class everyone does slightly different stuff at slightly different rates and with different intensity, according to what they need. So you don't have the feeling of being way wimpier than everyone else. You just toodle along at your own rate with a personalised programme.

And, being Italians, everyone there is very nice and friendly. And they're all quite curious about what a Canadese is doing there. I've given my "I've had cancer treatments and am recovering" spiel so many times in Italian now that I'm getting quite good at it. That and counting to twenty.

Anyway, at least I've been getting a Rosary in every day now. The treadmill is kind of boring, so it's good for the boringest prayer in the Catholic world. And you can offer up all the frustration and embarrassment and the non-Angelinaness of yourself at the end. It's just GOT to be worth something in Purgatory, right?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The mummy lives!

Well, here's the report on the experiment so far: that's more or less a month of Pilates and gym workouts, three or four times a week for an hour+ per time, and I'm happy to report that I'm feeling a lot better. I'm starting to get less stiff in general and more stretchy; my back doesn't hurt any more when I wake up. Today I wasn't tired at the end of the Pilates session and it's nearly eleven now and I'm not stiff or achey or tired. Stuff that wore me out and was really difficult or close to impossible is now too easy. So much so that I think I'm going to have to step it up a bit.

I was on the treadmill yesterday for 35 minutes, just walking but really fast, and on the recumbent "bike" for 20 minutes (9.5 km) plus did a bunch of weights and crunches and whatnot. It wore me out plenty, I won't lie, and when I got home, I was out like a light for 2 hours. But naptime ended naturally and was only two hours, not my usual disastrous four. And I was able to think clearly enough after to get some work done. And today I was fine. Perky, even after Pilates. Back for PE class tomorrow, so we'll see if it's any better.

One thing that's really obvious is a general improvement in strength and cardio endurance. I've been riding my bike around town a lot, at least 20 minutes a day most days, and simply, there are hills that I sail up now that I had to get off and push before. Biking is just plain easier and more fun, less work. I've been amazed that I can handle 35 minutes on the treadmill at 5.8 - 5.4 km/h without any trouble.

Something I noticed right away was that all this jumping around, while fun and good for me, just makes me sleeeeepy. Like I've been drugged. And it was coming in these weird attacks all of a sudden; I'd be home from the gym and putting groceries away or getting the tea on, and all of a sudden I'd have to just about crawl off to the nearest horizontal surface, as if someone had hit me with a dart. It was like that for the first couple of weeks after starting just the Pilates three times a week, and then got better. Then I started the extra PE class that is a lot harder and it started again. So I expect I'll adjust again, and maybe will see this effect each time I jump things up a notch. We'll see. And meantime, there ain't nothin wrong with naps.

Is it possible to come back to life, and get to a point where you're generally healthier and stronger than you were before All That? I don't know yet, but it's starting to look pretty hopeful. I haven't stepped on the scale again, and won't for a bit yet. I'm with you all, I don't think it matters very much. I'm quite interested in boosting metabolism, though, which takes a considerable amount of work.

I'm also getting pretty concerned about bone density which is something really affected a lot by both chemo and (h-word), so I'm looking now for a few videos of high impact aerobics. As far as I can tell, there isn't much that can be done for postmenopausal women, but what there is seems to be just a hell of a lot of exercise. Which is fine by me. The other thing is the drug I'm on, and will be on for years and years... basically for the rest of my life. Its main function is to help stave off osteo, but the exercise and green veg rule can't do any harm, I figure. I haven't been tested yet for bone density, but we've got to wait now until the end of the summer (medical things in Italy don't really happen much in summer). Which will give me enough time to see if the high impact thing can work.

I've also, finally, totally cut out sugar and grains. I was cheating regularly, with an ice cream here or there, a bit of bread with dinner in a restaurant and I was having a lot of honey. I've found a place that sells stevia and the only thing I use it for is my yogurt/cream/fruit/egg milkshake in the mornings. No more honey at all, and the big jar I bought over a month ago is still in the cupboard. I'm still guzzling fruit like it's going out of style, but I think it's OK as long as the exercise level stays the same or increases.

And every day, as I'm carrying my bike and a bunch of grocery bags up the stairs to my flat, I remember that two years ago, at the end of third chemo, I couldn't make it at all, and had to be carried myself. I couldn't walk around my apartment and had to have a chair in the bathroom to sit on while I brushed my teeth.

So, win.
"Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sound of Thunder Game - bumped up

We've been having such great responses to the Sound of Thunder Game, I thought we should bump it up. So far my favourites have been Sinéad with "To sleep with the fishes Margaret Sanger. To advise Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper not to get on that plane." And "Childermass" with "To warn: I'd put together a DVD tour of mainline and Evangelical Protestantism with all their bastard children (Catholic Modernists included) and make Martin Luther watch it 20 times in a row."

(btw: Childermass, the only reason your offering wasn't deleted was it made me laugh out loud, for realsies. Please see the commbox rules posted to the sidebar to the left regarding the use of assumed names, monickers and pseudonyms. We're very strict around here about using real or plausible sounding names.)

I call it the "Sound of Thunder" game.

Everyone will know the general gist: you meet someone with a time machine who says you can go back in time and kill one person in order to change, and hopefully improve, the course of history.

So, tell who you would pick and the rest of us get to guess why and how the course of history would be improved/changed.

Less violent variant, for those with delicate sensibilities, is to go back in time and give a single piece of information to a single person. Who would you pick, and what would you tell him?

I'll go first.

My first pick to shoot, would be William of Ockham.

Second pick would be Henry V of England while he was on campaign in France. And I would tell him, "Buddy, boil your water for ten minutes before you drink it."

OK, now you.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Devilled Coratella

Just invented an English version of coratella di agnello. Basically it's my old Edwardian deviled kidneys recipe combined with lamb coratella. Awesome!

There's no way to pretty-up coratella. When presented with a plate of lamb's innards, heart, kidneys, lungs and liver, you're either gonna rub your hands in delighted anticipation or run for it. The Italians seem to be of two minds about it, but like all pure peasant food what sounds gross ends up being really great. I grew up on organ meats and have long resigned myself to being thought peculiar.

I must say it can be fun to hold up a lamb coratella in thumb and forefinger by the esophagus and chase your more squeamish roommates/kids/spouse around the apartment with it while cackling maniacally or yelling "And your little dog too!". I haven't had the opportunity to try this with lambs innards yet, but I've done it with a live blue crab purchased in Toronto's China Town, its many legs flailing grandly, and I can attest to its value as a stress-reliever.

I love the Italian way of doing coratella and will almost always get it if it's on the menu in a Rome restaurant, but have no idea how to do it myself. So, tonight I just did it the way the English used to do kidneys for breakfast. Lots of mustard and curry powder and lovely spicy gravy.

The English used to have it on toast in the mornings in the winter, and when I discovered the recipe I pestered Gerry the Butcher for as many pork and lamb kidneys as he could give me. As a lover of traditional English cookery, Gerry understood and he always saved them for me. It was another one of those things he said no one wanted any more (people eat nothing but chicken breast and ground beef) and we would shake our heads together and lament the disintegration of traditional British culture.

1 coratella
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
dry mustard powder
curry powder
chicken stock or dry powder
dry ground ginger
cup or so of wine, red or white
ketchup or tomato paste

non-teflon pan. Mine is stainless and is the best frying pan I've ever had. Cast iron also good.

Cut up the meat into bitty bits, about forkfull size (getting rid of the yucky/anatomically interesting bits); dredge in a tbsp rice flour + a few shakes of ground ginger and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine
2 tbsps dry mustard
1 tbsp chicken powder
1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp ketchup
cup red wine

Slice an onion and some mushrooms and a clove or two of garlic and saute in the pan with some olive oil (remember, keep the heat down!) until the mushrooms start releasing their juice. Turn the heat up and add a little more olive oil and add the meat. Cook in the pan with the mushrooms and onions until the rice flour has started to stick to the pan and the meat is starting to sear. Keep stirring, scraping the pan a lot so the nice stuff on the bottom of the pan doesn't burn. This can be a little tricky because you want the meat to sear but want to avoid letting the rice flour make a paste on the pan which will burn. And you have to do it at a fairly high heat or the meat won't sear. Just keep scraping the bottom of the pan. No teflon! Teflon bad!

After just a couple of minutes of this, when the meat has started to sear nicely, all in one go add the sauce and stir the whole thing in the pan until there is no crunchy stuff on the bottom of the pan and it's all incorporated into and thickening the sauce. The back of a fork works better for this than a wooden spoon. Essentially you are deglazing the pan only with all the meat and stuff in there already. Add a little more wine or water if it's too thick or sticking.

Once the sauce is thickened (and there's nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan) and simmering, turn the heat way down and pop the lid on to finish cooking the meat. About ten mins. tops.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let's play a game!

I call it the "Sound of Thunder" game.

Everyone will know the general gist: you meet someone with a time machine who says you can go back in time and kill one person in order to change, and hopefully improve, the course of history.

So, tell who you would pick and the rest of us get to guess why and how the course of history would be improved/changed.

Less violent variant, for those with delicate sensibilities, is to go back in time and give a single piece of information to a single person. Who would you pick, and what would you tell him?

I'll go first.

My first pick to shoot, would be William of Ockham.

Second pick would be Henry V of England while he was on campaign in France. And I would tell him, "Buddy, boil your water for ten minutes before you drink it."

OK, now you.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Philosophy geeks

"I've got an appointment with my ontologist for a metaphysical".



Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

It's what I have. It started shortly after I came home from First Chemo and got so bad that I was unable to walk and had to be taken to emerge in Civitavecchia one day because I couldn't stop crying from the pain. It gives me a feeling in my fingers and feet like you get when you whack your funny bone. If I touched anything hard, like turning a key in a lock, opening a yogurt tub (those razor-sharp plastic tub edges!) doing up buttons or typing, would send firey little shocks of pain, like electricity, up my fingers. It made my coordination poor and I would often drop things and trip on things and I found I would make a lot more typos, and my typing speed slowed way down. I fell down some marble stairs once because I couldn't feel my feet. Sometimes the sudden unheralded lances of pain would just shoot up my legs and arms and I would fall. As it got worse, it felt like my hands and fingers were swelling up and burning, like the fingertips were going to explode. My skin got ultra-sensitive, so much that I couldn't stand to have the shower on me on full, and had to keep it down to a trickle.

It's nerve damage as the chemo drugs eat the cell structures that allow the nerves to grow. About 30% of chemo patients get it, and no one really knows why it happens and there is very little that can be done to treat it. With most people, it gets better by itself, but very, very slowly. And with some people, again for no reason anyone understands, it just never clears up completely.

I was on huge gobs of opioid painkillers for over a year. I slowly weaned myself off the Contramal through the winter, and the neuropathy hasn't been much of a problem, though my right foot still felt funny. It was going away, I thought.

Until a couple of weeks ago. It started coming back with the shooting pains and tingly feet and aching arms and fingertips. The other day, I realised that touching hard things was getting difficult and I found it hard to hold the pencil I was drawing with. I've started turning the shower down again. Today, though, my feet and fingers are on fire and I'm sitting here typing this very slowly with the flats of my fingers instead of the tips, to try to make it hurt less.

The only thing I can think of is that it's the exercise. I went to the gym this morning to start the extra work-outs and everything was fine. I had no problem doing 1/2 an hour on the treadmill and held up pretty well to the other stuff. I was there an hour. I was pretty tired after, and it was quite hot out, so I got in the shower, and it was awful. I had to turn the shower way down. The rest of the day, my fingers and toes have been burning and now the pressure is building up in my fingertips.

What the hell?! It's been two bloody years since chemo!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hope and change

Feeling slightly better about Western Civilisation? Seeing faint glimmers of hope from afar off?

Here, let me help you with that.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meet the next generation

Anti-choicers are nothing more than a bunch of bitter, angry old white guys...

oh wait.

Alissa Golob, Sharon-Rose Milan, Stephanie Gray and Lia Mills.

And my old buddy, Jojo Ruba

There! There's an old-ish white guy. He might be never know.

Here, you can go learn how to make the case, and become a cranky old white guy like us.



Well, that's annoying: stepped on the scales last night and found that I'd gone up 1.4 kilos since starting exercise classes. This is especially vexing since I was starting to think that I was looking slightly better. Francesco the Helpful Pilates Guy said it's because I've started putting on more muscle mass but haven't started burning fat yet. He and the gym owner/trainer have decided to take me on as a project, starting tomorrow morning. I'm an experiment, to see if an old lady whose had her metabolism more or less surgically removed can be brought back to life. I spose it couldn't hurt. Or at least won't do me any harm.

I've collected an array of fun exercise videos and it's a funny thing that I can actually get motivated to do it just by watching a couple of them. It just looks like fun, and I can hear my brain saying, "Hey, let's try that, I bet it will feel good." And oddly, it does. My secret is to put the exercise video on one window and my 80s club and synthpop mix playlists on another window, turn the sound off on the exercise video and just remember how much fun it was to dance in clubs in my 20s.

What the hell. No one's watching except the cat. And she's very open-minded.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Myron Barnstone on "talent"

"I don't believe in talent. I recognise that there's genius out there; I respect it; I stand in awe of it. Most art has been produced by real people, everyday kinds of people, for whom art has become so important that they've developed the skills to say something that others have thought is very important also."
Myron Barnstone.

If you recall, we have officially banned the phrase "I can't draw a straight line" from the commboxes. It is meaningless drivel and is, as Myron Barnstone points out above, actually a kind of insult, both to the object of the speaker's putative admiration and to the speaker himself. It's actually a kind of dodge, that really means, "You must be some kind of freak to be able to do something that is so clearly impossible," and "I'm too lazy to be bothered to learn."

As Myron Barnstone says above, for a Florentine boy of, say, 1430, apprenticed to one of the painters of the time,
"for 8 or 9 years he would be in constant training. And he would learn all of the skills, all of the craft, all of the techniques that everyone was being taught. And he would become the painter of Florence...Vasari would love to rewrite history and suggest that Raphael showed genius at a very very early age, as did Michelangelo and what extent any of that's true we don't know. What we do know is when they started to get formal instruction, rigorous, demanding, disciplined, rote instruction, they responded favorably. And they developed rapidly. But all of the artists of that period came from the general population, and it was a working class background for the most part."
They were young people looking for a way to make a living.
"There wasn't any mystique and the words talent and genius was little heard. Today we only hear the terms 'talent' and 'genius' by someone who's offering training. I tend not to use the terms. Talent is the word that you find in the mouth of the lazy, the dismissive. All of the hard work that somebody else has invested after they've achieved something, their achievement is dismissed as being a product of talent. And that sort of implies that it didn't require anything on their part."

"Talent," if there is such a thing, largely lies in application, the willingness to put the effort into learning the tasks and pushing through the obstacles and difficulties. This, I have said before, requires a kind of love. "Talent" therefore, is a kind of love, a love of the chosen art form, strong enough to make it a priority. Strong enough to make one willing to sacrifice other pleasures to pursue it.

I don't know about other types of arts, but about drawing - and we can probably assume the same applies to painting - I have learned through experience that it is a skill. Difficult to learn and requiring time and discipline, and instruction, but a skill like driving or cooking. When I was younger, I assumed what everyone does, that "artists" have a "talent" they were just born with, like their eye colour. Or at most, they were born into a social atmosphere where art was encouraged - Yoyo Ma started his 'cello lessons when he was five, taught by his father. Cecilia Bartoli's first singing teacher was her mother - And if you weren't lucky enough to have been granted these advantages by the heavens you were sunk. Either way, you had to have this mysterious, innate thing, like the Harry Potter wizard gene, or you were simply doomed to a life of frustrated mediocrity.

Some of that, I have discovered, is true. There are certainly advantages that some people are born with and others miss. Some people are born into families where art and literature and good music are the norm and they are encouraged and guided to accomplish what they aim for. And there are good and bad places and times to be born. I can't imagine getting anywhere with artistic work without a reasonably leisured and orderly society to live in, one in which the struggle for bare survival is no longer the only concern. In times of stress or social upheaval or want or scarcity, not a lot of art, or work of any kind, gets done. Hunter-gatherers of the ice age did little art, as do North Koreans or Somalis of our time. (But the fact that there is music and art from every human culture and every human epoch - no matter how brutal - has to indicate that "talent" is born into us as a species, not as individuals. It is human to want to create beautiful and meaningful things. Divine, perhaps. And surely it is therefore satanic to want to tear down.)

There is obviously also such a thing as genius. It seems indisputable that a Leonardo or a Mozart, or for that matter a Newton or Kepler, were uniquely gifted men. They had all the necessary social support to do what they did. But I think we Modernians have a lazy habit of assuming that one has to be as freakishly gifted as that in order to qualify for this "talented" label. But we have to remember that such genius stands out because of its rarity, perhaps more even than its accomplishments.

But take the case of probably the most famous of these freakish geniuses: Leonardo. He was born the illegitimate son of a notary. He could not, therefore attend university and get the classical education that was the foundation at that time for all intellectual work. In his studies of nature he was self-taught, and lamented all his life that he never was able to formally study mathematics. He was apprenticed to Verrocchio at 15. At the time, this arrangement made for him by his father, was no more glamorous than learning to be a plumber. Painting was a trade, with specific tools and (jealously guarded) techniques that one simply learned. A working class boy was given into this work in exactly the same way he might be to any trade and for the same reason: to earn an honest living. Painting was, and remains to the honest and non-puffed-up, work. A job.

It is certainly possible to waste the training on someone who has no depth of perception, no strength of personality or character. No ideas. But I don't think those things, philosophical depth or perception or character, are what we call "talent" either.

We can thank the self-absorbed and morally rotten group of people the 19th century came to call "The Romantics" for the silly notion that painting was some kind of divine calling. It was with the advent of this group of shysters, peddling the same kind of proto-New Age pseudo mysticism that we later got from the hippies, that we have our ideas about "talent". And it was from them, ultimately, that we have the collapse of the Western art tradition. Once it all became about natural, inborn "talent," "creativity" and "expression" and no longer about hard work and diligent application to real techniques, it was no longer important that a young person learn to draw, or learn anything about the mathematics of composition, proportion or perspective. All that just seemed like too much work when you could just dip a basket ball in paint and dribble your way to fame and fortune.

If "talent" is anything, it is love. It is the interest and drive necessary to keep you going for years of study and to keep you willing to sacrifice other things to get the skills to be able to proceed. I wish I had understood this when I was a child, or that someone had explained it to me. My grandma tried. She said to me once, in response to my complaints about the tediousness of some of the drawing exercises she tried to get me to do, "You haven't earned creativity yet."


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Re-posts for Father's Day: The Daddy State

...while there is still a Western Civilization left to save.

Socialism. Where did it come from? We see it eating like an acid into the foundations of our entire civilisation, corroding initiative, personal responsibility, individual and corporate courage, family life... it is everywhere. But how did we end up with it in nearly every western country? We could look at the history of the Great Change in western countries (Britain, Canada, Australia, N. Zealand,) from governments based on individual liberties, Common Law, objective reality...all that manly stuff, to what we have now: the nanny state.

But I think we have it wrong. I think we shouldn't be calling it the Nanny State. I think it should be called the Daddy State.

I was discussing this with a friend the other night and he said something that he knew I already agreed with, that it is the fault of the female vote. When did all this Fabianism get itself hooked into the political structure? When did we start thinking that government should hold your hand and do things for you? Even when you've grown up, left home and got your own apartment, the Daddy State should be coming over and fixing things for you and buying you groceries.

Socialism is a chick thing. As a private characteristic of the feminine mind it is right and good for women to want to be looked after. It's wired into us from our hunter-gatherer days. We need men to do the heavy lifting. It's a good thing for women to have the instinct to want to be looked after by a big strong man who can ward off cave bears and hunt the mammoths.

But feminism has used that natural need, the thing that makes us like and want men and that makes marriage desirable, and turned it against both men and children and ultimately against women. Feminism, you will note, has not actually accomplished anything but misery and destruction. A counterfeit freedom, exchanged for all the things we used to think made our lives real and meaningful.

I mentioned that one of the triumphs of feminism is to teach women that they should not get married to an individual man. Marriage, so the legend goes, is slavery, particularly after the kids come. Feminism reveals its Marxist origins when it says that women should instead marry the State. Men leave, we are told, and leave us holding the child-rearing bag alone. Much better to be married to the state. The state will never abandon you.

Indeed, women who divorce are often encouraged by social workers to either take up welfare as a replacement marriage, or send their ex-men taken through the various government-sponsored wringers like Ontario's Family Responsibility Office. Institutions like the FRO are designed for a two-fold purpose. They enslave the woman to the state, make sure she depends on the FRO and the welfare office for all the defence and support we once expected a husband to provide, and to punish, impoverish and disempower men.

And when did such structures start being put into place? About the same time women got the vote and started taking over the driver's seat in politics. Socialism is woman's politics. Indeed, we call it the nanny state because it tends to infantilise entire societies. But really, the new state that the woman's vote has created should more properly be called the Daddy State.

It comes from and is powered by the natural instinct of women to be looked after. Feminism is doubly insidious because it plays on that need and turns it into terror. I know from my own experience that women have been trained to be terrified of men, of wanting a man, of marriage and most especially of motherhood. It is an ideology of fear and hatred that teaches women their lives will never be secure until they give themselves and their children to the state.

Socialism, the Daddy State, comes from feminist panic attacks. Feminism whispers that men leave, they abandon women and their children, so it is best to replace the entire edifice of family life with the state.

The Daddy State was created by the womyn's vote.


~ * ~

Melanie Philips talks about the welfare underclass and "youth crime".

I've been reading about the problem in Britain with "youth crime". How it is such a big shock to all the experts and professional heart-bleeders.

It really remains a puzzle to me why anyone us puzzled by any of this.

I know perfectly well what happened and why. I was there the day the world ended.

I'm not sure if the history of the Divorce Cataclysm really adequately takes into account the speed with which the change came. It came at us like a tidal wave while we all just stood on the beach watching helplessly. I have always liked movies about the end of the world. Remember that MFTV thing, Deep Impact, where an asteroid hits the earth? I always think of that scene where the reporter-girl is standing on the beach with her father watching a thousand foot high wall of water rushing at them at a hundred miles an hour. It is no wonder to me who lived through it that nothing was done about it, or even written about it, until it was too late.

Melanie Philips writes about a couple of sociologists Norman Dennis and A.H. Halsey, who produced a book "Families Without Fatherhood (Civil Society)" in 1992.



Is that really the first time anyone in this country noticed that the world had ended?

I know what a lot of Catholics say about the legalization of contraception (eugenics movement anyone?) but I really think the civilizational apocalypse started when we decided it was not necessary for married people to remain married. Trudeau, of course, decided that things in Canada would move along more smoothly if he got all the bits and pieces of the apocalypse into one year and so we had the Divorce Act - which, unsurprisingly, came in the Great Year of 1968 - immediately followed by the Omnibus Bill legalising abortion, in case anyone was left in any doubt as to what Divorce was meant to lead to.

Didja catch that?

1968. And it took decades for anyone to notice and start writing about what the fall out was. Was it because everyone was just having such a great time sleeping around that we were too busy to see what was going on?

I was two and three when the Acts were passed. By the time I was in school a few years later the wave was only beginning to build offshore, but it picked up speed and strength pretty quickly.

In the early part of the Divorce Wave, which started about the same time I was starting school most of the kids I knew were born to married parents. When I was in early elementary school, the first generation of hippies hadn't broken up with their first "partners" (as we call them now) and even in the hippie free school ("Sundance"... I kid you not) I was pretty much the only kid in school who had "visits" with daddy. This lasted until we, the first generation, made it to the fifth grade. In those days the partner turn-over rate was a lot slower. "Relationships" lasted years, sometimes as many as four or five and marriage was still fairly common. It would be another ten years at least before these vestigial conventions were abandoned and the turn-over was reduced to the few months or weeks we're enjoying now.

By the time I was in junior highschool ("middle school"; grades 8-10) I knew almost no one whose parents were still together and the partner turn-over meant that most of the mothers and all of the fathers were on "partner" number three or four.

Of course, abortion tidied things up quite a bit, but there was still plenty of flotsam bobbing around in the filthy waters. We, the early generation, were offered courses on the weekends at the Y with titles like "The Divorced Kids Group" (yes, that was the actual title, from memory) where the kids could come and shaaaaare how they felt about their universe coming abruptly to a halt and the lights going out.

This was short lived, however, since the people running it quickly learned that the kids had a disconcerting tendency to say things that really ran counter to the Great Plan. After that early blip, there was nothing until I was in my 20s and I started noticing articles appearing in the Emancipated Womens' Magazines about the kids who just, for some reason,




arsed. ...

about anything.

Who were in a state of near catatonic apathy and hopelessness, had no plans, had no hopes, no aspirations and were filled with cynicism and loathing for everything their parents cared about. It was about this time that the suicide statistics started to be really alarming for kids born after 1965.

Melanie writes about an entire generation, now branching into three or four generations, who simply made no plans for the future, who knew that everything their elders said to them was a lie, that no other human being could be trusted, unless it was to trust them to be self-serving and callous. That in any case, no one would help them in whatever aspirations they may briefly entertain.

Underlying this was a deep well of rage and hatred for what had been done to them.

So, actually, no. Not all that surprised by the "youth crime" problem.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Half a million!

Well, I just noticed that we have topped half a million page views (since Blogger put an automatic counter thing on, which was, I think, after about five years of blogging, but oh well...)

503,954 pageviews.

and exactly 4700 posts. This makes 4701 since September 2005.

Maybe I'll do a retrospective, if I've got time.

I know we get about 500 regular Picnickers a day, which is fine by me. Every now and then we get a spike when someone famouser links to us, like Kathy. Her last link, (to the post about Gay Sex!!) caused us to spike to about 1500 that day. I was so horrified at the thought of all those strangers tramping through my living room that I wanted to shut down for a few days go make them go away. Fortunately, they all took a short look around and went chattering off somewhere else, so we're back to our regularly scheduled tea and biscuits hour.

Really! Who do these grubby people think I'm writing for? Them? Huh!

Nope. It's you lot. My regulars.

I started writing blogs about nine years ago, experimenting with styles and topics, titles, templates and tone until settling on this. I switched for a brief while to a different hosting site, which really didn't work out. Did very Catholic religious blogging for a while, but ran out of holy steam, and finally couldn't stand my own pretentiousness. I swung round to being very political for a while, but became equally nauseated by my own cynicism. But things seem to have settled down and we all seem to be pretty content in our little club. I have come to think of the 'blog as a parlour where my nice internet friends can come round and have a chin-wag and a cup of virtual Darjeeling.

It's a funny thing but in all this time, I think blogging has helped me, yes I'll say it, grow as a person. And without doubt it has made me a better writer. And this is to no small degree because I have had a lot of interesting comment and conversation, advice, feedback and even fights, with readers. Some of whom I have even met in person.

Y'all have read me, criticised me, agreed and disagreed, offered suggestions and information. You've sent me lovely presents, books and things, and donated to help out in my various difficulties. You've followed all my philosophical ramblings and tried the recipes and I know that at least one has taken up art classes. I kept writing all through cancer and out the other side and you lot just kept right up along side me. It might not seem sensible, since the likelihood is that we will never meet, and I know writers and people like that are always saying this and it sounds soooo fake, but my readers actually mean a lot to me (and I mean that not in a horrible narcissistic ego-y way).

You've put up with my rambling, my periodic bursts of ill-temper, my fleeting enthusiasms, and even my steadfast love for William Shatner. This blog, in various forms, has exsited since 2004 and I've come to feel kind of responsible in a way, to keep writing and posting. This is because I know you're going to come back every day to check it out, whether I'm posting or not, and I'd feel bad if I didn't offer something in the way at least of entertainment in return for this loyalty. Every time I've had a little blog-cation and shut things down for a week or two, usually to throw off the extra people who will accumulate, you've always come back.

So, thanks. Here's some flowers for y'all...

Bonus recipe for spicy squash and carrot soup to follow.

(And we'll have to talk some more about the Youtube cooking show idea.)


Exercise Questions

OK, all you health nut types among the Picnickers, some questions about exercise:

1) a colleague of mine, who also spends a lot of time working hunched over his computer, sitting on his duff, suggested doing little short bursts of exercise interspersed throughout the working day, so we don't turn into blobs of goo. Blobs of goo with stiff, inflexible muscles and permanently shortened spines. Any idea if there is merit in the suggestion? A break to do ten crunches and ten push ups? If you don't really break a sweat, is it still doing anything for you?

2) If you've been pretty sedentary for a while and start exercising, of course, even the little bits you're going to start out with are going to make you at least a bit stiff and sore at the start. What is a sign that you're doing too much or over straining muscles?

3) and how long should you wait before doing it again? Should you wait until all the stiffness has gone, or only a bit? Like, do a full workup the next day and just ignore all the pain, or wait a day or what? Can you do your little bits and bursts while you're on your down day or do you have to just be a blob for a day.

I've noticed that I'm doing a lot better pretty fast with the teeny weeny exercise regimen. I was dismayed but totally unsurprised when I finally stood on the scale and discovered that I'd gone up 10 kilos since about the same time last year, shortly after the surgery. I knew full well that I had only myself to blame, so didn't do any of the dumbass stuff like railing at God/the universe. While I was lying about on the sofa all winter, not going to Rome to the studio, being kind of miserable and not really seeing anyone, and drinking quite a lot of prosecco, (...ahem... like every day...) it really wasn't too hard to figure out what the outcome was going to be.

The chemo and surgery really did take quite a lot out of me, and I lost a bunch of weight just by being unhealthy and not eating. The two years (!!) it took me to recover were spent nearly entirely on my back, in the wheelchair and later unable to do anything very physical for a long time. Then by last autumn when I should have been starting to get active again, the sedentary habit had sunk into my brain, and the days got short, I had no classes to go to and an internet connection at home and ... well... that's the story. All that weight that I lost during recovery, right the heck back on, plus a little two or three pound bonus. Sigh.

So, when Andrea got back to Italy and I had an excuse to leave the house every day with classes going again, I started by first walking a lot, then riding my bike around Rome, for about 1/2 an hour to 45 mins a day. It felt so good, I kept doing it and shortly felt better enough to sign up for Pilates classes a few weeks ago, here in S. Mar where there's a nice shiny new gym. I explained to the very kindly instructor that I was trying to get back in shape after all that stuff, and he's been very helpful.

After All That, and many years of being more or less inactive, I'm all out of alignment, all cramped up and inflexible, all flabby and un-toned and the guy really seems to know how to tailor the programme to suit what you need. We do our muscle exercises, and our long stretches, then he comes along and kind of diagnoses you. He picks up your feet and squeezes you and stretches you and picks you up by your ankles and sort of shakes you back into shape. This is three times a week and I'm already starting to feel the good effects. Along with doing the exercises at home and doing my little situps and crunches and stretches and pushups and some stuff with the resistance band, I'm better. Yay! Still fat, but less flabby and way less stiff.

I was also getting slackadaisical about the diet, letting sugars and carbs creep back in, at least when I went out to eat with friends. But the biggest change is that I'm not indulging in 1) any sugar at. all. (stopped taking honey in anything) and not buying wine to have at home. With Gardone coming up, we'll have to see how that will pan out when I'm surrounded by all my cool Traddie Gardone friends and we're all whooping it up and talking Traddie shop into the wee hours every night for two weeks. Gardone was where it all started going south last year, so we'll see.

But on the whole, I feel a lot better just for doing these wee bits of exercise. I can feel years and years of stiffness and flabbyness starting to seep away, very slowly. And slow is better, I think. I've read many times that sudden shifts of weight or body tone really only result in your body kind of backlashing against the shock. Which probably played a part in the weight gain after surgery. Slow and steady wins the race, and teaches your body the new normal.

So, can't recommend Pilates strongly enough. It was, after all, designed to help athletes and dancers recover from injuries, so if your "injury" is just being out of shape, it's going to do you wonders.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Everybody need see Buckaroo

Before Firefly, this was the awesomest.

Lectroids from Planet 10 by way of the 8th dimension.



I've got noisy neighbours. Actually, the little old lady who lives upstairs is very quiet, (though deaf as a stone, so when she watches TV we all watch TV together) but she has rather horrible relatives who nearly always get into screaming shouting matches with her when they come over (and don't get me started on the horrible grandchildren... a six year old girl clanking around in high heeled shoes...Italy!@%)*#%!!)

Now, when I was a very small child, my parents did the same thing. They screamed at each other, and it terrified me. I remember having a cupboard-cabinet thing I used to climb into whenever they did it.

Also, I'm an Anglo, which means we don't really express our feelings... at all...ever.

So the sound of someone screaming in anger still terrifies and discombobulates me very badly. I've worked out a method of dealing with the shouting neighbours involving Vivaldi and my very, very good Bose computer speakers. They are very loud.

The loud neighbours have learned that when they hear Vivaldi's Concerto Alla Rustica for strings in G, (presto) that, "Hilary wants us to stop shouting." It works a treat.


Hilary's Italian kitchen... or something like that

So, doing my imaginary cooking show today, narrating lunch to the invisible camera with lots of fun kitchen tips, it was my favourite English fry-up replacement:

two large slices of melanzane/aubergine/eggplant
two tomatoes (the lovely little Italian kind shaped like teardrops that are in the shops right now, and sooo sweet!)
buncha mushrooms
six slices of bacon or a packet of pancetta affumicato
two eggs
1 oz. butter

Chop the bacon into bits and cut the mushrooms into big thick pieces and the tomatoes in half lengthwise, saute the lot together over a medium heat in just a little of the butter for five minutes and push to the edge of the pan. Turn the flame down, and melt the rest of the butter, and lay down the two nice thick slices of melanzane (remember, butter burns at quite a low temperature, so keep the heat down).

Turn the m. after a few minutes and pile the mushrooms and bacon on top of the m. and make a little well in the middle. Crack an egg each into the well, so the yolk stays on top and the lovely eggy stuff oozes all through the bacon and onto the pan. Drop a few teaspoons of water into the pan and pop the lid on quickly. This will steam cook the egg very quickly. A teeny bit of balsamic vinegar in the steam water will add interest to the flavour.

Now your tomatoes should be nice and cooked but not squishy and you just ladle the whole thing onto a plate and eat. Nomma nomma!

I've been watching a lot of Jamie Oliver's cooking shows on Youtube lately and have fallen back into the habit of narrating all my cooking as though I'm doing my own YouTube cooking show. I grew up watching Graham Kerr and doing my own imaginary cooking show at home. My mum would often oblige by holding the imaginary camera and being the studio audience all at once. It was so much fun. And she always sat down and tried all my stuff. I suppose it was just a way of supervising me in the kitchen, but it always felt very supportive. Grandma also taught me cooking but she thought making an imaginary cooking show was silly (though she was also a Graham Kerr fan... who wasn't?).

I keep thinking that now with Youtube and cheap-o digital video cameras and whatnot, I could actually make this little dream hobby come true. Wouldn't it be fun to actually get together for (virtual) tea and triangle sandwiches? I'd have to do more housework, I guess. But maybe the camera wouldn't pick up much of the dust.

And we could take little trips together to the weekly farmer's market on Thursdays. I could show y'all around Santa Marinella, and maybe we could take little trips to the big daily market in Civitavecchia once in a while and y'all could meet the nice fishmonger and the garden centre lady.

We would need to come up with a good name for it. I'm really a terrible name-thinker-upper, so suggestions?


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Peach panna cotta a la Inghilterra

In my endless search for the perfect combination of fresh fruit and cream, I've invented a new dessert. Peach panna cotta a la Inghilterra. Kind of a combination of Creme Anglais and classic Italian panna cotta. With fruit.

250 mls of whole milk
250 mls of panna
2 peaches, peeled
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 bustine stevia (about 3 tsps natural sugar substitute)
two egg yolks
1/4 tsp sale
4 leaves gelatine

Place the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften. Heat milk and cream together over a low heat. Puree the peaches, stevia, salt and vanilla and a little of the milk in a blender on high for two minutes. Whisk together the peach puree with the milk and cream. When the mixture is close to the scalding temperature, quickly whisk in the egg yolks. Remove from heat and add the softened gelatine and whisk until it's dissolved (will be almost instantly).

Pour the mixture into bowls and allow to cool to room temp, then into the fridge for about 3 hours or over night.

Serve with a puree of fruit or just by itself.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

If guns kill people, spoons make them fat.

I was watching a thing the other day in which British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver worked in Los Angeles to try to convince the school boards to give students better food (ie; less pizza, chips and chicken nuggets) in their cafeteria lunches. He worked with a group of students to whom he taught basic culinary skills and nutrition, and it all seemed to go quite well. The kids, and some of their parents, responded well and after some difficulties, general improvement became the order of the day.

At one point, he asked the kids if any of their family members were suffering from a chronic diet-related illness like diabetes or obesity or heart trouble. One of the kids, just 16 years old and herself significantly overweight (though I'd say not obese) said that both her parents and her 13 year old sister had type 2 diabetes and she was terribly afraid that she would develop the disease. Jamie was very helpful, telling her that these things can be greatly helped by improved diet (and exercise, but the show didn't record him talking about that part) and that it could be avoided all together if she put her mind to changing things. She was in tears several times and it was all very affecting and heartwarming, etc.

On another part of the same show, Jamie was working with the owner of a fast food joint to bring up the level of nutrition in his place without increasing cost. The man was very resistant, however, so Jamie arranged a meeting with the girl and the man, in which she told him about her family's health troubles that, she said, had come from a steady diet of fast food. The man was mostly unmoved, and the idea was that he was very hard-of-heart, but at one point he said, "Well, there's an element of choice about this, isn't there."

Ah. There, as they say, is the rub.

I don't remember once in the programme a moment when Jamie, or anyone else, suggested that the people suffering from diet-related illness have a choice in what they eat. That, essentially, they not only had only themselves to blame, they could drastically improve their situation by making different choices. No one holds a gun to their heads, or a spoon to their lips, and demands that they eat nothing but crap. I've been to American supermarkets, and while it is true that they are filled to bursting with the most guddawful prepackaged rubbish, every, single one of them has a produce section.

The health (and social) problems the kids and adults experienced and talked about so tearfully on the show were treated as though it was something that simply fell on their heads from the sky. They talked about "it happening to me," as though it was a kind of evil spell cast on them by fast food purveyors and the carelessness of the school boards' dieticians. The show was premised on the idea that if schools just provided better food for kids, they'd be healthier.

But wait, since when did schools start being the source of all food in a kid's life? Or the source of all information about what was and was not good for them to eat? When I was in school, it was more or less taken for granted that the kid knew the basic necessities of how to walk, talk, dress himself and eat before he got there. The school was there to teach him math and reading skills. The attitude seemed to be that it was normal for the school to be a primary source of food for these kids. Which I thought was really weird. And if we assume that this is the kind of role that is appropriate for schools, why wasn't anyone at the school calling the parents of the fat kids in and talking to them about what they were eating? It seemed that the whole message was that these poor kids, and their poor parents, were being forced to eat badly and be unhealthy. Not once did anyone seem to suggest that any of them take the slightest responsibility for what had happened to them.

It was indeed heartbreaking to see the kids in this show, most of whom were about 15 or 16, and nearly all fat. I know they don't go their entire lives without hearing that junk food makes you fat, or being told, at least by someone, that a steady diet of fast food-joint burgers and fries (or in the case of Britain, frozen chicken tikka masala meals) will cause significant long-term damage to their health. I've seen the ads on tv, I've seen the magazines, the dietary charts in every doctor's office, every school nurse's room and plastered all over the walls of classrooms. The information is there and it is simply absurd to suggest that until the day Jamie Oliver showed up in their school, no one in their collective lives had ever suggested to them that they needed to eat properly to stay healthy. It's kinda intuitive.

But we don't live in a world that tells people to be responsible, and to face the consequences of their decisions. Funny, isn't it, that the kids have probably heard nearly all their lives, (and in Britain, absolutely certainly have) that they need to make "responsible choices" about sex. (Which means, "Got an urge? Go ahead, knock yourselves out but use a condom, and if it breaks, get an abortion... Here, let us help with that.") British school children are bombarded with precisely this "safe sex" advice from early primary grades to graduation and beyond.

But the thing about all that is that the message isn't actually about making responsible choices. It's about avoiding the consequences of indulging your whims and appetites. We have an entire culture that is totally addicted to appetite. Is there anyone left who is surprised that the kids are fat? And that they are having illicit sexual relations as casually as you and I go shopping for socks? Everything in our world tells us that we can do whatever we want all the time - and heaven help anyone who suggests a little self-control! - and there will be no consequences whatsoever. Pregnant? For heaven sake! get an abortion as fast as you can!

Is it possible that the "safe sex" message has percolated down to infect everything else? "Safe sex" really means totally unrestrained indulgence, which kids are told will have no long-term consequences as long as they're "responsible". Kids aren't stupid (no, really!) they've heard the underlying message loud and clear: "Indulge every single one of your appetites, every single time they bother you. Nothing bad will happen, and if it does, the school/state will step in and help you avoid the consequences". And this message has been sold to them by every one of their authority figures. Kids respond to authority. So, completely surrounded by a culture of total indulgence, how are we surprised that the kids are fat, flabby and out of shape? And getting diabetes at 13? And getting pregnant? And getting STDs?

Frankly, I like frozen chicken tikka masala meals, and ate plenty of them in Britain. I also like fast food, beer, pizza (esp. Roman pizza), pasta, bread, cake, chocolate, prosecco, gelato and pie. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd eat nothing else. I also, though this is changing lately, like sitting around on the sofa more than I like exercising; it's certainly easier. But I know if I choose these things, I'm going to be very, very sorry afterwards.

When I was done with surgery last year, I weighed about 73 kilos, and (once the swelling had gone down) looked pretty good, actually. It was quite heartening and helped a lot with my mental state... for a while. What didn't was the news that between the removal of ... well, between the type of surgery I'd had, and the drugs I was now going to have to be on, as well as my age, my metabolism had slowed to next to nothing, and the average weight gain was between 25 and 40 pounds. Lovely. And it was shortly after this that a sense of hopelessness came over me, and I sank into a depression that lasted until the spring.

But I did the reading and though the news was not the best I'd ever heard, it wasn't the worst. It wasn't inevitable. There were things I could do. And really, it's not rocket science. Reduce carbs (including sugars) and get regular exercise, 20-30-40 minutes a day. And it doesn't have to be really strenuous exercise either; just walking up the steep hills in town, or biking every day, plus a few sit-ups and push-ups and whatnot to improve muscle tone, and I'd be right as rain.

But I didn't do them. I didn't eat a lot of junk, but I did spend the last year until April mostly staying at home, not exercising and drinking a lot of wine (mmmmboy! nothing like inactivity and a lot of prosecco to make post-operative depression better! I tell ya). And guess what? I gained more than 20 pounds. Am I complaining now to the heavens that I've been hard done by? Am I trying to blame the prosecco manufacturers? Am I even surprised?

Ah, no. It was me and the choices I made and these are the consequences of them. I knew perfectly well what I was doing and what would happen. (And yes, I'm doing something about it now.)

This is also the basis of the argument between the gun control people and the law abiding gun owners. It's true that guns don't kill people. People kill people, often using guns. It is statistically verifiable that in many places with strict gun control laws there are serious problems with gun crime. I'm not suggesting that this is a cause-and-effect thing. I don't think gun control laws cause increases in gun crime. But I do think that in cultures where people are told all the time that they can and should indulge their every whim, violent crime rates go up. And in these societies-of-indulgence, it is equally impressed upon the populace that while they are indulging their appetites and whims, the government will take care of all their problems, including that of violent crime.

We live in such a culture and it seems clear that as long as we continue to maintain the Fantasy that we can indulge all our whims and appetites without consequences, violent crime will continue to plague us. It isn't confiscation of the guns of law abiding people that will decrease gun crime. It's returning to a culture that tells people, from childhood up, that there are consequences to the choices they make, and that these consequences can't be avoided.

There is a reason gun control is a favourite hobby-horse of the left, the left that wants no one to take personal responsibility for their actions and choices. It's the left that thinks the solution to every problem is to have someone in authority take care of it, to have the Mummy State come and clean up their mess. It's the same left that has spent the last 40 or 50 years pushing the notion that kids should have as much sex as they want, every time they want, and that the state should pay for the abortions, or keep the single mothers in high style in their council houses. The same left that decided to make divorce easier. To spread artificial contraceptives to every school child. To put a Planned Parenthood abortion mill in every black neighbourhood in the US.

Indulge, indulge, the consequences aren't your fault

But the Real here is that it's not guns that create violent crime, and it's not spoons that makes us fat.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Walter meets Buckaroo Banzai; talks about God

Why I loved this show.

Oh, Walter, how I miss you.

Here's the song Buckaroo was playing at the beginning of that scene.

I've been on this huge 80s synthpop kick lately. Whatever happened to Gary Numan, anyway? I heard he quit showbiz and got a respectable job.


Monday, June 03, 2013

Found a new painter

Rosemary Adcock

whose somewhat abstracted, cartoony religious paintings took a little looking-at to get to like, but the first thing one notices is the joy.

And the series of Russian peasants, in a much more realist style, will take your breath away.


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Miss Potter

Beatrix Potter has always been one of the guiding lights of my life. Of course, having been raised by my very confused hippie but-underneath-still-traditional mother and my darling and proper English grandmother, I was given the Potter books as a child, and for the rest of my life I've carried around in my soul the little magical world of Peter and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle as a kind of icon of heaven. Just seeing the pictures is enough to lift me right out of the horrors and falsities of our degraded world.

I know that "eye has not seen nor ear heard" etc. but we have to try to imagine, don't we? My mind's idea of heaven comes to me often as I'm sleeping. It's an amalgam of Narnia in the Golden Age of the Four Sovereigns, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's kitchen and my grandparents' house in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia. Sometimes I wish I could climb into that little world, which I have always sought right at my feet in tiny, beautiful and magical things.

Although I thought the film a little flawed by the casting (I find Rene Zellweger's accent too exaggerated and her mannerisms too flippant and ironic for the honesty and delicacy of the subject), Miss Potter instantly became one of my all-time favourites.

There's something about her work that makes me suspect that she approached it the same way I try to approach mine. I think she was trying to show people the Real World, the one underneath the veil of the world we usually have to live in. The world of the Old Narnians, living in hiding as the outside world grows increasingly far from it.