Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snow for Christmas

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in Rome for festivities with the Rome Traddigentsia:

Christmas Eve dinner in a fancy-schmancy fish place, (because of course, Christmas Eve is a "fast day" naturally the only possible choice was lobster...)

eating, drinking, worshipping, Christmas carols and never-ending fun; High Mass all hung about with 17th century polyphony;

then back to the flat to help with the cooking and all day long

the cool kids trooping through the house;

food and food and more food: prime rib on the day

and ham on Boxing Day, followed by apparently bottomless wine and

prosecco vats, followed in their turn by a dizzying array of exotic after-dinner drinks;

home-made paper crowns, presents, toasted nuts, clementines...

It was perfect.

But a little tiring, and I'm glad to be home again in the cold clean air.

Got the fire going as my friend Maria ventured down the hill for Compline. It was raining hard when she got in soaked and cold. I handed her a hot water bottle and a cup of tea, and then broke out the lemon liqueur. We read a little Italian while the cat inched ever-closer to the fire, then when I went to get a second glass of hoochies, glanced out the window and ...


Tomorrow we're going to be walking down the hill for Mass and Office. But that's OK.

(All pics h/t to Fr. Athanasius)


Friday, December 19, 2014

My imaginary Youtube cooking show

Every morning I fall for it. The siren song of the internet. I rationalise it by likening it to reading the morning paper over my coffee or tea. But I don't recall the morning paper ever taking two or three hours.

So, turned off the internet, and did a whole new episode of my imaginary Youtube cooking show!

Today's recipe was yummy Spicy Thai Vegetable Stew (microwave edition) and curry chicken livers!

I gave my imaginary viewing audience a full run-down of the important nutrient content of the veg, and told them all about how buying frozen vegetables is almost as good for you as fresh, and lasts way longer, and can be a lot cheaper, and you end up throwing away way less.

I also told them that if you're looking for the health benefits of garlic, you really have to use fresh, not powdered.

Mmmmm... chicken livers!

Them's good eatin'.

I also had a glass of monk-beer. But, though I drank it on an empty stomach, the buzz only lasted five minutes, since I am not a lightweight.

(Come on, admit it. You know you do this when no one else is around.)


Thursday, December 18, 2014

“They say Aslan is on the move; perhaps he has already landed”

People are asking me, why now? Why this sudden descent into the absurdities of the 70s for the Church? Why are the ageing "progressives" suddenly so violently resurgent...

Well, maybe because:

"Outside the SSPX since July 7, 2007, in the 191 dioceses in North America, there are 485 parishes that offer the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis. 335 parish locations offer a weekly Traditional Latin Mass. 75 parish locations provide access daily.

"In France 159 traditional Mass centers now exist outside of Paris. There are another 10 inside Paris proper, with an additional 73 in the suburbs, for a grand total of 242 Traditional Masses in France. And, again, this does not include the SSPX—which has a massive presence in France.

"According to The Latin Mass Society’s recent release, there are in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland: 170 Traditional Latin Mass centers currently in operation."

Out of the billion-odd Catholics in the world, and the hundreds of thousands of parishes, these may not seem like very impressive numbers. But recall that ten years ago, the availability of the Traditional rites of the Church could be counted in Canada on one hand. They were in the single digits nearly everywhere.

These numbers are also, particularly in the case of Old Europe, the only Catholic numbers that are growing. And how! While all other Catholic statistical indicators are plummeting. All.

The old Modernists, hippies and communists know they don't have much more time. The "conservative" Novusordoist compromise has failed spectacularly, and the Faith and Praxis they tried so hard to stamp out turns out, like the Old Narnians under Miraz, not to be so dead and legendary as previously thought...

To switch books for a moment, the Witch's spell may not look like it's breaking, but Aslan is on the move. Things may become difficult and uncomfortable for us for a while, as the breaking point comes closer. Damage may be done in the last throes of her power, but the real spring is on its way and she knows she can do nothing to stop it.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wild remedies

Got a cold?

So, bought a nice "Encyclopedia of medicinal herbs" the other day, and was reading it while developing my lovely new cold, and in there, it says that rose hips have about 50 times more vitamin C per 100g than oranges, + all manner of other important and useful stuff.

While I was sniffling, I remembered that I still have some in the freezer and decided that today is as good as any for an experiment. The internet tells me that an orange has about 45 mg of C, compared to an equal quantity of hips having about 500 mg.

Decoction of Rose Hips, Take:

2-3 pounds of rosehips,

put them in the blender with a little water, just long enough to break them up. Add a bit more water and simmer over a low heat for about ten minutes. Let it stand over night. Strain through cheese cloth. The last step is quite a doozy, since it's really goopy stuff, and quite difficult to squeeze. Hang the ball of rose-goo in the cheese cloth above a bowl and manfully squeeze the heck out of it, scraping off the gishy red stuff that comes oozing out with a rubber spatula. Save it all in a seal-able tub. Keep refrigerated, but if you've got a lot, freeze it. It won't keep as long as commercial fruit juices and will start to ferment (though rose hip wine might be a good next step.)

3 pounds gave me just about exactly one large yogurt tub's worth of thick bright red goo. It's so high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that the decoction is going to be very tart, much too tart to take by itself. So, when you take it to cure what ails you, pour some into a tea cup and add a warm (not hot) mixture of water and honey. Heating destroys vitamin C, so don't heat up the decoction and add honey, but do the honey a bit at a time directly into the tea cup. A decoction is better for you than making syrup, since syrup needs to boil a long time and has huge amounts of sugar.

Rose hips are, of course, of the rose family, which includes nearly all the berries and a lot of the fruit we like, so they are quite tasty. Probably the reason we don't eat them more is the seeds are a pain. They're covered in these very fine hairs which are a bit like fine cactus prickles and are not at all nice to eat, hence all the straining through cloth. But once you've got the goo out, it's wonderful. It's going to be the nicest tasting cold medicine you'll ever take.

The herbalist websites say that a little bit three times a day will help you get over your cold faster, and if you take a little with your breakfast every morning as a regular thing, you're going to more or less avoid colds forever.

If you go out for rose hips, they're best right after the first early frost. The freezing makes them into soft fruit, and you can pick them off the branch (carefully) and just suck out the nice red stuff, and the seeds stay inside in a little ball.

Amount Per 1 cup (127 g)
Calories 206
% Daily Value*
- Total Fat 0.4 g, 0%
- Sodium 5 mg 0%
- Potassium 545 mg, 15%
- Total Carbohydrate 49 g,16%
- Dietary fiber 31 g, 124%
- Sugar 3.3 g
- Protein 2 g, 4%
- Vitamin A, 110%
- Vitamin C, 901% (!!)
- Calcium 21%
- Iron, 7%
- Vitamin B-6, 5%
- Magnesium 22%



Took a few hours last night and opened the book boxes. Since one of the book cases is in the kitchen at the moment, holding up my dishes, I only have half the shelf space, so had to sort all the books into A and B lists. It was an interesting exercise. I just used the simple criterion: what books do I want to read immediately or soon, and of the ones I've already read, which ones would I think most useful to have around for reference and re-reads?

The result was heavy on the nature books. I hadn't noticed what a large collection I had gathered so far of wildflowers, local medicinal plants and herbs, bird books and countryside guides.

The second biggest non-fiction category was political philosophy. I'm determined to finally get around to my Christopher Dawson collection, and I look forward to revisiting Hannah Arendt.

"Since no one is capable of forming his own opinion without the benefit of a multitude of opinions held by others, the rule of public opinion endangers even the opinion of those few who may have the strength not to share it."
Hannah Arendt, "On Revolution."


Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's wrong to tell lies

It's really just the proportions...

Why do people think it's OK to casually lie to children, as though they don't count as persons who deserve to hear the truth? I've said many times that I "don't like children" but this is only a shorthand way of saying that I don't like them the way so many other people seem to, as though they are toys or pets. I am deeply suspicious of the sentimentalist attitude towards children one so often sees in women. They coo and gurgle over babies because they are babies, not because they have any kind of fellow-feeling about them as people.

The "Oh isn't she cute" response that appears to be nearly universal among women is something I feel extremely wary of. I don't think it is children they like, because they so rarely treat children as though they are real people you could get to know. I think what they like is their own feelings, something I've described as the "cutness thrill". It's the same thrill one gets from looking at kitten vidoes on the internet, and when you get it from babies or small children, you are really indulging in a kind of emotional drug rush.

Humans, and particularly women, are simply neurologically wired to have that emotional rush when they see something with the right, infant-like proportions, a fact that Walt Disney understood and magnified into an entire multi-zillion dollar industry. It is exploited again and again by the various industries selling us their worthless trinkets, a brazen manipulation of bio-chemistry that we ought to be ashamed of indulging. In Japan it appears to have been elevated into an entire culture, which I find almost nauseating.

Personally, I don't get the cuteness thrill from human infants. Not enough fur. To me, a baby or a child is just another human. In some cases, I have an attachment of some kind to a child, he or she is in my family or part of my tribe in some way, and therefore becomes a person whom I would kill or die for. But I'm never going to make those stupid girly noises over him, and I'm never going to treat any infant I know in the way I treat my cat.

I think the pope lied to that little boy about animals going to heaven because he was not interacting with him as one would with a fellow human being. He was doing what many adults do and thinking of him as a toy or a pet one had to soothe emotionally, and to whom he owed no duty of truthfulness. I don't think it is at all uncommon, and I think it is something that our culture strongly encourages. We see children now as a kind of luxury commodity, appealing to a privileged (or maybe peculiar) few. They are, in effect, accessories.

I was raised by and around people who reacted to children this way, and was treated as a toy or a doll, something to dress up and play with when the mood struck, by nearly everyone. I was taught to talk and behave as a miniature adult, parroting phrases about art and history and politics with plenty of three-syllable words, as though I were a performing animal because it astonished and thrilled my mother's friends. "Oh! isn't that so CUTE! she can quote Suetonius!"

God help me if I ever treat a fellow human being that way. God forgive my mother for never, ever learning to think of me as a fellow human being and treating me like a dress-up doll, and then discarding me when I suddenly came to life and started demanding to be treated like a fellow human being.

And God forgive the pope for treating that little boy like he didn't deserve the truth.

Update: It seems now that someone has done a little digging that Pope Francis may not have said this to the kid as it was reported in the Italian press. But the point remains that people say this kind of thing to kids mainly because they don't think of children as genuinely persons deserving of the truth.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Firewood guy came!

Huh. So that's what 6700 kilos of wood looks like. Good to know.

And another one for my "people aren't so bad" files. The guy came and drove his dumptruck up my drive and just dumped it in a humungous pile, took my money and drove off. It was about four feet high in the middle, and spread out to about 15 feet in diameter. I just sighed and picked up two bits and started stacking.

After only a few minutes of this, one of the young chaps who lives in the other flat in the house came down and just about wordlessly started stacking too. After about 1/2 and hour, we stopped for a breather and I introduced myself to Radek, who has come here with his family from Poland.

They've got at least two dogs and a baby as well as assorted relations. I've been calling them the Gashlycrumb Noisies. But they're not so bad, really.

Also, props to my Guardian Angel. Norcia is in the middle of the Sibelline Mountain National Park, one of the most popular outdoors places in Europe. One of my big goals in coming to live up here was to get in touch with the local trekking, rafting, hiking, climbing, camping and outdoorsy people and start doing outdoorsy stuff again.

I had a good tip and contacted Francesco the Expert Guide, who said things are slow in the off season so he'd be delighted to go for slow and easy walks for a while to get me started. But he cautioned that it rains nearly every day (well, actually every day, in fact) and is cold, so to get the right rain-proof sort of gear.

I found a good pair of new hiking boots for a pretty reasonable 110 E and figured I was off to the trekking races. But having been away from the country life for a really, really long time, I have no rain jacket. So, close on my victory over the boots, I started looking in all the local shops. When I saw what they were asking for Gore-Tex hiking jackets, my eyes sort of did that cartoon splodey thing: Four hundred Euros?!! There were a few I could afford but were so ugly I was worried they would scare off all the wildlife. I had gone all over and checked every shop, and the story was the same everywhere.

I've really been looking forward to it, but it was looking like I would have to either cancel this Saturday's first trip, or just get soaked. I thought, no harm in asking, so sent up a little prayer to Samuel about it. Trekking or no, this is the sort of climate where life without a raincoat is more or less just a misery.

I went out for a walk today before the afternoon rain stared, and was thinking about it, fearing I'd have to postpone until I could get to the shops in Spoleto. I missed the shop hours today, getting down to town about the time everyone was closing up, so I just kept going, through town and out the opposite gate in the city walls. Just on the other side of the wall, though, in the big parking lot, I saw that the Thursday morning outdoor market was just packing up. There was a nice older couple selling second-hand clothes and there it was, the nicest rain coat you ever saw. Lots of big pockets with velcro and really roomy for lots of sweaters and scarves to go underneath. Perfetto.

"How much?"

"Five Euros."

Thanks Samuel, you're a pal.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Welcome to Nuchurch

...and have a nice day.

After many years, on the rare (and always penitential) occasions when I am stuck going to the NO, while I'm watching the priest make faces at us, I'm always like, "Dude, why are you talking to me?"

It appears that reaction is not mine alone...

As far as the priest having his back to me goes… At first i found it a bit frustrating. I couldn’t see what he was doing for goodness sake! And then it began to dawn on me that I had become very accustomed to going to Mass to be ‘entertained’. Then it struck me that I automatically judge a priest on his ability to entertain me. How awful! I honestly believed the Mass to be a dialogue between the priest and the congregation. Where does this put God?!
As the priest elevated the consecrated host (with his back to me) I realised that the Mass is addressing God. In fact it would be more accurate to say that the liturgy is our response to God’s call. The Tridentine Mass made it suddenly clear to me where the Holy Trinity is during Mass. I do think it is extremely important for the congregation to see what is happening on the altar and to hear the Eucharistic prayers as is done in the Norvus Ordo style Mass, but with that simple turn I learned more about the Mass in 1 second than I have in 35 years. I wish the priest would come around the front of the altar with his back to us when he elevates the host in the Norvus Ordo Mass. Just that brief moment says so much.

I was once privileged to introduce a good friend to the Traditional Mass. We went to Trinita on a regular Sunday, in August, if I'm not mistaken, so there was no choir. Just Low Mass, with very few people in the pews. My friend didn't say anything about it and I didn't ask, just letting her mull it over.

The following weekend, we went to a little chapel near my flat for the local NO. It wasn't particularly egregiously novusordo-y. No guitars or hand holding or clapping. But potted plants all over, not one second of silence that was not covered by loud caterwauling of modern "hymns" and the priest doing the usual novusordoist stand-up routine; the kind of thing seen in nearly all parishes in the world.

Afterwards, we went for tea near the beach, and quite spontaneously my friend said, "It's SO DIFFerent! I had no idea! It's a completely different thing! It's as if the priest is trying to entertain us! I'd never noticed before, but it's like God isn't even there and we're all just talking to each other about Him!"

Pret'much, yeah.

And don't ever think there is no agenda at work with the new liturgy and all its noxious little add-ons. I'll never forget the lesson I learned attending Mass for the last time at Holy Rosary cathedral in Vancouver.

It was at Holy Rosary, centrally located in the downtown core, that I had first returned to the Faith in my 20s. At that time, through some odd quirk, the practice of receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue at the marble altar rail had survived the main brunt of the blast of the Asteroid. Having only gone to Mass at the cathedral, I had never seen the strange (and frankly nearly blasphemous) practice that is nearly universal of everyone lining up and sticking out their grubby unconsecrated paws, like they're getting a bagel at Tim Hortons.

Kneeling and receiving on the tongue was simply normal to me, and I remember my shock and near-nausea when I finally saw what people did nearly everywhere else. And at the cathedral there were also no lay "extraordinary ministers". So, this weird little pocket of survival was probably one of the factors in finally pushing me to reject the whole Novusordoist paradigm, in the end (though that took another decade of reading and observation).

Well, in 2006 I'd returned to Vancouver to visit my mother after many years absence, and went to Holy Rosary for Mass and thought how nice it was going to be to go receive at the good old altar rail. But it was not to be. The wreckers had not failed to notice the anomaly, and had taken steps.

Instead of the old practice of everyone going to kneel at the rail, we had new "options" explained to us. We could get in the Timmy's line or we could, if we chose, go to the altar rail and kneel down. Only, of course, the Timmy's line was being manned by the priest and deacon, and if you were stubborn enough to go kneel, you had to receive from one of the lady-Eucharist distributors, all dolled up like priests in polyester bathrobe-albs.

Take yer pick.

Bastards never miss a trick, do they?


Monday, December 01, 2014

Why not sin?

How if they have called him, unbelieving, and he has come?

I was just doing a thing on a new EU "ethics" document and seeing some more coverage of the Ferguson thing in which a mob attacked a group of school children who had come to a Mall to sing Christmas carols,

and it made me think...

There's a lot of stuff that the western world's remaining shreds of ambient Judeo-Christianity will reliably tell you not to do. Don't randomly kill people as you're walking down the street. Don't cheat little old ladies out of their pensions. Don't trip blind people.

But things are coming to such a pass that even stuff like this, that we more or less depend on everyone knowing to maintain a civilisation that is worthy of the name, kind of has to be spelled out. Yes, including the not-muderously-attacking-random-strangers thing. (Remember last year the news reports of the "knock-out game"?)

For a long time, the Fashionably Stupid People, frequently younger people, have liked to say, "Well, there's more than one kind of morality," and "You can't impose your moral values on me," and "Morality is a malleable concept," and other related irrational and self-refuting rubbish. And we know this was, let's face it, mostly puerile attempts to justify having (their preferred variety of) sex outside of natural marriage, or approving of abortion or divorce as a "right" or whatnot.

Well, we are seeing now, aren't we, all over the place, but especially in Middle Eastern countries that there really is such a thing as a "different morality" from the one we have all taken for granted all our lives. For various reasons, Islamic "morality" doesn't include a concept of a universal moral law. They don't believe that all persons, by virtue of being human, have the same rights. And they don't believe that it is always, inherently, wrong to steal from or attack or lie or kill or rape or enslave other people. There is no such thing in Islamic "morality" as "inherent" right or wrong. This has to do with the monster they worship being above its own laws. The demon "Allah" can change its mind about right and wrong, (thus giving the lie to the insane notion that it is the same as the God of Abraham) therefore there is no universal objective moral law in Islam. In Islam, we have finally seen what moral relativism really turns into: the triumph of the will over all. Might makes right.

We've had a pretty hard time accepting that this is really what we're seeing, because the Judeo-Christian ethic has been so ubiquitous that we have simply assumed that this is how all humans work. The notion that other people, large groups of people, really could have radically different ideas about right and wrong from those we have based our culture on seemed so outlandish that we have wasted precious years, more than a decade now, arguing about how it's not really Islam that says these things, even though the people doing the acts tell us every day, all day that it does.

But I've realised where this denial has come from. If the perpetual adolescents were to admit that it is Islam itself that sanctions and even mandates these acts, they would have to admit that there is such a thing as an immutable, universal moral law from which these acts are a systematic deviation, and that is behind our judgement that the acts in question are wrong, are evil and must be stopped. It would, in short, yank the entire argument out from under their precious Sexual Revolution, and force them to admit its close relationship with the same moral relativism - the same triumph of will - that is currently murdering, raping and enslaving its way across the Islamic world, right now.

They would no longer be the good guys struggling for "rights". They would just be a bunch of kids addicted to a pornographic anti-culture and trying to use the force of law to make everyone else addicted to it too.