Friday, December 28, 2012

The Week Illustrated

Proud to say, I got the tree up and decorated on time, with ample time for adjustment and readjustment.

This year I tossed away the old artificial pine garland covered with artificial snow which I had used for the past 6, 7 years to line the mantel at Christmas. Then I had a problem: the mantel was bared and needed some covering. Buying another artificial anything seemed absurd since I just threw out the old one. So I came up with this idea, with material from right here this land of ours: 

What would you call the shade of blue that is the cedar berry? There's not another blue quite like it. I put the twigs in the mason jars. I make sure they have enough water to drink.

I have twelve of these to line the entire mantel, with the Nativity scene in the center. I don't have a photo of the center. What you see here is the right half of the shelf. The clock is a Christmas present from a friend in Texas. It arrived on Christmas Eve. 

Our cow Daisy gave birth to this little one, five days before Christmas, an early Christmas present:

I hand-painted some Christmas cards. The motif is an angel-like snow man, or a snow angel, as my friend Jan calls it. I sent these to just about five people. I didn't send cards to everybody this year. One reason is I couldn't find the cards I bought last year, which I liked; I looked in the stores this year, didn't see any I liked; I set out to hand-paint my own, and found out that it would take me the entire Christmas season to paint enough for everyone in my address book! 

I baked some mini loaves, put a bow on and gave them away to friends:

And I in turn received delicious treats from friends, not the least from my dear friend Jan. I should have taken picture when it was first opened but I didn't because I was a block head. The contents disappeared fast and furious. You're looking at the last one standing. I know both I and KDM are exercising our utmost social grace not to be the one to eat it.  

It snowed on Christmas Day: 

The next morning, our new calf looked like this: 

The clothes line looked like this: 

Pup the dog looked like this:

After excitedly taking a million snow pictures, I came in the house and drank some of this:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brainy Leah Reviews Les Miserables

How the young and smart Leah Libresco can think as clearly as she does is a little scary. In her review of the new Les Miserables movie, she writes:

Some of the movie reviewers have called Javert the villain of the piece and implied that he’s motivated by vengeance or cruelty, but Javert is scrupulously fair.  He is like a peculiar ascetic; denying any mercy or forgiveness to himself leaves him free to be indifferent to others.  But to yield even once would damn all his previous actions.  If he admits that mercy is to be longed for, then his idolatrous God of Law is dead, and he must look back over all the works of his strength and joy and righteousness in shame.
Javert doesn’t want enough.  He would prefer a mean sort of fairness to grace, because it lies in his power to achieve one and not the other.  By only accepting standards he can achieve, he betrays those who would have benefited from even his fumbling attempts at kindness.  He refuses to become visibly imperfect in the service of a higher perfection

Law, grace, mercy, redemption, scrupulosity, asceticism, fairness, forgiveness...hmmm. I want to see this movie.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shut My Mouth

A blog post I read by The Anchoress last year had been off and on my mind lately and I had been meaning to find it in her archive and read it again. I put it off because I did not remember the title or date of the post and wondered how I could ever find it. Today's event in Newtown, CT, pushed me to go digging. After about 30 minutes of trying a dozen categories, dates and key words, I found it, which in turn took me to this source blog. Read the story of the Petit family , you will see that extreme evil is not unique.

What I remembered so distinctly were these words:
The lowest evil is like the highest love: it is mystery. 
In the face of evil of such magnitude as what took place today in Newtown, CT, any analysis, diagnosis, conclusion runs the risk of rashness, blitheness, or self-deception. I've heard it explained that the word mystery has its root meaning "shut the mouth." 

Not surprisingly, gun-control crowd is rising to the occasion, again. I don't pretend to know the history of American gun politics. But for those who think guns are the only weapon wielded in these crimes, I have a couple of headlines of recently history to share, from my native country, China. There were more similar incidents but these are the only ones I could find in English-language news archives. The weapons used in both cases: knives.

While I concede that the gun is a more efficient thus deadlier weapon than, say, the knife, I find that many of the gun-control activists (at least those on Facebook) for the most part hysterical in their reaction. It is disturbing to see their hatred for their political opponents extending to perfectly law-abiding gun owners. Many of these otherwise sophisticated thinkers seem intellectually incapable of recognizing that evil is a constant in human history and the culture of death is poisoning the advanced societies at large. Furthermore, the zeitgeist, of the last hundred years or so, is that evil, or sin, is a silly construct by the superstitious followers of a dark age religion. Ironically, when it comes to attacking their political enemies, such as the NRA, many of the same enlightened people morph into positive believers of evil. 

But the depth and breadth of this subject is not for me. I am in general cynical and wary of politics and fruitless bickering. 

I will shut my mouth, where there is only ashes. 

I would rather put away bitterness and pray. When all is said and done, there are only the saints. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the subject is light

And here, more of "the-subject-is-light", to trade with my pal Jan:


Some happenings of the week:

Painted this (I take inspiration from what I see around me)

Went to see a parade (I've always loved clowns)

Lost electricity Monday night (two extra kerosene lamps are on my next shopping list)

Painted this (a cluster of chrysanthemums)

Saw these this morning, right from my front yard (nothing compared to the two dozens we saw the other day. I was too overwhelmed to grab the camera). I agree, I need a bigger lens.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Something for Cheer

Tired. Stressed out. Lethargic.

All but how one should feel in the first week of Advent.

But I'm trying to shake it. So here, something for cheer: