Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Want to understand the Middle East?

Graph representing historical alliances, wars and grudges in  Middle East.

Good luck. A friend recently told me that it is nearly impossible for most westerners to comprehend what's going on "over there." And after reading these two pieces (by Ben Shapiro and David Warren), I believe him. God help us. Going to pray for Our Lady's intercession with my olive-wood rosary from Bethlehem, and then make some chocolate chip cookies. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

"We're going to have to cut that grass again!"

…a sentence probably never before uttered by my husband on November 15. Yay! We've made it to the halfway point in November with NO SNOW! I'm loving it. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate driving on icy roads? The only downside of this is that it's giving me a false sense of security as to how far away Christmas is. Suddenly there will be three weeks to go, and I'll have nothing prepared.

Compare to October 23, 2012:

Ice and Snow, Bless the Lord!
Global Warming, Bless the Lord!

Friday, November 6, 2015

It's funny because it's true.

But the part that isn't funny is what the meme doesn't say: it doesn't say that if you don't exercise and don't eat right, you will gain weight, retain water, lack energy, not sleep well, gain weight, be chronically constipated, gain weight, get bloated and gassy, look awful, and Feel. Like. Crap. 99% of the time. Welcome to my world, from December 2014 until November 2015.

This is a long-running saga (as any of my girlfriends from high school can tell you). Like all too many girls and women who've lived through the modern and post-modern eras, I've spent a lifetime obsessing over those false standards of beauty and body image. Well who am I kidding? This sort of thing probably began with the invention of the corset (which probably happened 14 hours after Adam and Eve got booted from the Garden after the Fall, and only because it probably took Eve 13 hours to gather and weave together the twigs).

I am quite happy to say that since Nov. 2, I've turned over a new leaf with my eating and exercise habits, and am already feeling 90% better. (The other 10% has to do with annoying and ongoing medical issues, but c'est la vie--Doctrine of the Cross, and all that). It certainly is worth it to take decent care of your health--not that that's a revelation or anything. But Happy Friday anyway.

A dusting of snow

Is winter here? I hope not. The forecast for Saturday is +10 degrees C (50 degrees F). And yet you can see the snow yonder in the veggie garden. It's in the lawn too, but for some reason it doesn't show up on camera. (This is the view from my kitchen window). 

At any rate, I am extremely thankful for every single additional hour that we don't have to start cars in -30 C weather, or drive on icy roads.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fretting over the demise of western civilization?

Or perhaps I should say, "Fainting in the sultry glebe"? Yeah, me too. As if you couldn't tell (we have an entire category devoted to that). Well, shame on you. And me. Though it is just a teeny bit surreal when some of us on the planet are listening to Chopin, and others are throwing their feces around ...and yet secular leftist humanists shrilly insist that all cultures are equal. They are not. But why cry or rant over it? Pray instead. And embrace beauty. And do not be afraid to proclaim that no one and nothing has brought more beauty to the world than Christ and Christendom. 

And mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for so often failing to remember all of the above.

Now go to the Divine Office site and listen to this hymn (sung by the Choir of Christ's College), and then pray the Office for the hour where you are.

The Lord My Pasture Shall Prepare

The Lord my pasture shall prepare
And feed me with a shepherd’s care;
His presence shall my wants supply
And guard me with a watchful eye;
My noonday walks He shall attend
And all my midnight hours defend.

When in the sultry glebe I faint
Or on the thirsty mountain pant,
To fertile vales and dewy meads
My weary, wandering steps He leads,
Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow,
Amid the verdant landscape flow.

Though in a bare and rugged way,
Through devious lonely wilds, I stray,
Thy bounty shall my pains beguile;
The barren wilderness shall smile,
With sudden greens and herbage crowned,
And streams shall murmur all around.

Though in the paths of death I tread,
With gloomy horrors overspread,
My steadfast heart shall fear no ill,
For Thou, O Lord, art with me still;
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid
And guide me through the dreadful shade.

“The Lord my pasture shall prepare” by Choir of Christ’s College; 

Words: Joseph Addison, 1712.


I don't think that word means what you think it means. More fun at Walmart. I mean, the whole point of origami is the sheer cleverness of the design and the folding (see below). I guess I have a weird sense of humour but this struck me as funny. Just like the brown straw basket that is Not a Toy. I suppose they should put a warning label on these too: "These are not really made of folded paper." 

But these are.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I am so loving this

What's so great about that, you may ask? I'll tell you. This is a picture of my backyard. It  was taken yesterday, November 2, and there is NO SNOW. In fact it was raining gently all day. NO SNOW. Could global warming finally be upon us, after they've been promising it for 30 years? If so, Hallelujah!  Let the rain and green grass continue till March as far as I'm concerned! NO SNOW.

Friday, October 23, 2015

This is not a toy

Thank you, Captain Obvious! Where would we be, what would we do, without directions and warning labels? Because nothing says "fun" like a straw basket. A dark brown straw basket. 

Again, to recap:



Not a toy. 

Why Johnny can’t read.

And why he can’t write a complete sentence.

And why he doesn’t know who Jane Austen is. Or Chaucer. Or Tolstoy.

Remember high school English, anyone over 50? You did two things, basically: they were known as “Lit and Comp” As in studying “Literature” (good books, plays, poems and stuff) and then writing things. That was Composition. (That included grammar, style, sentence structure, literary devices, rhetoric, all that jazz.)

No more. Now they study Equity, Ethics, Diversity, Inclusivity and a host of other diseases.

Yes, I homeschool, but when my kids reach the high school years, they usually opt to do (credited) online courses. This is so that they can get transcripts to get into post-secondary and so forth. Yes, I know there are other ways to do high school at home; that's a discussion for another day. 

The online classes vary widely: they come from a variety of different sources (individual school boards all over the province provide courses; there is no longer any such thing as the one-size-fits-all “Government Correspondence School”). There have been some good courses and many excellent teachers. Other times, not so much. 

Oh, the funny stories I could tell. Like the teacher who revealed (via a Power Point lecture) that he couldn’t read/pronounce “tuberculosis,” (but his version, “Turb-you-locus” kept us in stitches for months).

I can relate the anecdote below now that the child in question has finished high school and left home. In fact, I can’t even remember which school board in the province developed this English course. I just recall that it made my head explode on a fairly regular basis.

The first section “Equity and Ethics” of my daughter’s grade 10 English course dealt with "learning styles" (fair enough, since it helps students identify theirs) but then followed the questions below (keep in mind: this is the VERY FIRST ASSIGNMENT of the year, in a course meant for 15-year-olds.)

(I have taken the liberty of providing my own answers, in red. They are not the answers my daughter gave to the questions when she did the assignments.)

1. A student is blind, but wants to take visual art as a course in Grade 10. The student cannot see, yet a major portion of the Grade 10 course is all about the colour wheel and it is mandatory that every student in the class does a project involving the visual effects of colour on design trends. Ethically, how should that student be assessed on their [sic] learning for this part of the course?

1) Response:
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
Yes, should they so opt, blind students have the right to study visual art, just as a quadriplegic likely has the right to be on the track team. If they can’t “see” colour (what is “seeing” anyway?), there are ways to “feel” and “intuit” colour. You just need a teacher who is sufficiently imaginative, artsy or new-agey to assist with that.
A blind artist could not possibly produce anything worse than some of the modern art that is already out there. To demonstrate “yellow” for instance, one could submerge a photo of Jackson Pollock in a jar of pee.

Oh, and the [sic] in the last sentence? “Their” is a plural pronoun, and the antecedent (“the student”) is singular. But then it’s not as though we’re studying Grammar and Usage or anything. This is just high school English.

2. A deaf student is registered in the Distance Learning B10 course, in which there are a number of listening and speaking activities. It is required that all students demonstrate their skills with listening and speaking, but it is decided that this student does not have to do these portions of the course. Another student who is extremely shy to speak aloud is failing the course because she did not do any of those activities. What is the ethical thing the teacher should do here?

The teacher should take a leave of absence, possibly to university, and take courses such as Ethics and Equity, Psychology, and Curriculum Implementation: Brainstorming Solutions in an Inclusive World, instead of asking her 15-year old students to solve her classroom problems for her.

3. Johnny is a student who has extreme difficulty with keeping his hands still while in English class. Often, during reading time, he is disruptive and interrupts the quiet atmosphere the teacher has created in the classroom so all can concentrate. The teacher spends a lot of time trying to keep Johnny quiet, and his parents have refused the request to send Johnny to another room with a teaching assistant during reading time. Ethically, what should be done to provide an opportunity for Johnny to learn, as well as time for the rest of the class to read?

1) It had to be “Johnny”, didn’t it?
2) Johnny should be held down forcibly and given his dose of Ritalin.
3) Johnny’s parents are evil and stupid. It’s not a solution, but we do want to reinforce this point in the child’s mind.
4) Sentence two is self-contradictory: if Johnny is being constantly disruptive, then is it accurate to claim that the teacher has created a “quiet atmosphere” in the classroom? But then, they don’t teach Logic in Teachers’ College anymore.
5) Johnny’s parents (who are probably being maligned, since no parents in such a situation would refuse the one-on-one services of a TA, knowing that their child was a disruption) should withdraw him from school and home-educate him.

Wow. Is it just me, or is it absolutely INSANE to expect 15-year-old kids to be able to solve these kinds of dilemmas? What are we paying teachers and school counsellors and psychologists for (to say nothing of the gargantuan bureaucracies that develop curricula and administer programs)?

But as Gary Larson’s cartoon caveman would say, “It get better.”

The next section in my daughter’s "English" course was called:

We Want to Know How Superstitious, Anti-Choice, Reactionary, Conservative, Anti-LabourUnion and Bigoted Your Parents Are
Factors that Influence our Learning

Students are asked to answer the following:

1. What are your views on work?
2. What do you believe about death and an afterlife?
3. Summarize what you believe about criminals and the justice system.
4. Do you think terminally ill people should be allowed to end their own lives, or not? Please explain your answer.
5. Should Canada allow illegal immigrants into the country, and assist them financially once they “in”? Support your views with at least one solid reason.

For the love of Learning, this is NOT the study of law, sociology, class warfare, or contentious social issues! Can anyone explain to me what any of this has to do with the study of English?? This is ENGLISH (Lit! Comp!) not Political Correctness 101.

Equity and Ethics indeed.
When do they get around to studying “Sentence Construction”? I’m not going to hold my breath. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Lovely graphic found at this blog.

When I wrote this post, I went looking for a picture that depicted "deep roots" or some such google-friendly phrase. I found this one and promptly fell in love with it. I'm not sure whether it's got an Art Deco or a Retro (heaven help me, 70s?) vibe. Admittedly, it's not green, but then neither am I. It is autumnal--but then again, roots are supposed to last year round; they are not just a spring-summer thing. The year is waning and sometimes it seems that civilization is too. 

The following came from Morning Prayer a few Saturdays ago.  (The Liturgy of the Hours is my lifeline. If you don't pray the LOTH, please give it a try. It has, at times, kept me alive and functioning.) Sometimes, I merely listen to/pray along with the LOTH podcast (which sort of feels like cheating, but hey, it's still an attempt at prayer, which has got to be better than nothing). Other times, I meditate for much longer on a particular Psalm, a line, or even just one word. Like "Planted." 

Planted in the house of the Lord,
 they will flourish in the courts of our God,
 still bearing fruit when they are old,
 still full of sap, still green,
 to proclaim that the Lord is just.
 In him, my rock, there is no wrong. 

Planted: the key is planted. You cannot be sitting in a flower pot in the courts of our God. You can't be cut off at the stem and sitting in a vase of water. You can't merely be visible from the windows, but growing in the soil outside the house of the Lord (even if you're beautiful and you seem to be thriving--trust me, you're not: at some point, the soil will erode or become barren, or the wind will knock you down, or lightning will strike, or you'll be drowned by a flood, or die of drought and scorching heat). You must be planted IN the house of the Lord.

No better way to survive; no better way to flourish and prosper.

And now you know that it's ok to be sappy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Now we have 'airheads'"

Lib-lefty politician: Vote for me and you will get lots of free stuff!
Electorate: Yay! 

I feel so vindicated (and affirmed) when I discover I've been thinking the same thoughts as a smart person. Of course, it's a tragic thing to feel affirmed when cultural and civilizational collaspe is in the offing. I really hadn't planned to post about the election, because it's too depressing. (Like Mrs. Beazly, I'm planning not to watch the news for the next decade or so.)

However, if you need our new Prime Minister (T-who-cannot-be-named) summed up, look no further: David Warren's "The Triumph of Drivel." The money quotes are just too numerous, so you should read the whole thing.

Much as I despised his Liberal predecessors, they also knew what a budget was, and could discern differences between large and small numbers. [...]

In addition to snowboarding, his experience includes nightclub bouncer, and teaching high school in Vancouver. To many (me for instance), his father was a devil in human flesh, his mother demonstrably insane, yet the lad was not really exposed to politics until it came into his head, or into the heads of Liberal Party organizers, that thanks to his family connexion, he could probably get elected to Parliament, in Montreal. This happened in 2007; he now has approximately eight years of bewilderment under his belt. [...]

His sincerity shines when it comes to a small range of policy enthusiasms, such as the legalization of marijuana and brothels, and he is visibly convinced that peace is much nicer than war. [...]

So how did this happen? Mr. Warren explains:
As I’ve mentioned before, the overwhelming majority of the general, voting population have been morally and intellectually debilitated — “idiotized” is my preferred term — by post-modern media and education, and by spiritual neglect within 

Amen, brother. 

Hands-down, Theo Caldwell wins the prize for the most engaging epithet: "ridiculous ballerina," but when he's not being funny, he too is struggling to wrap his head around how the majority of Canadians can be so utterly clueless as to elect someone even more shallow and incompetent than Barack Obama (audio for this vid not great, unfortunately).

At this point, I really am unsure whether to go gently into that horrific night, or to rage rage against the dying of the light. The latter is so exhausting. Perhaps there is a third way. If I wish to retain my sanity and my hope, I must continue to believe it. 

Laura Rosen Cohen's advice (snippet below) is remarkably similar to that of Bl. Mother Teresa: "Deal with what is at your feet." 
Thus, my post-election advice:
In my view, the important thing in times like these is to focus on the micro. Let the Liberals expend their hot air (and your money of course) on the Big Picture Save the Planet stuff and let them really knock themselves out. Focus on the small stuff because the small stuff is really the big stuff. 
Keep raising your children well. Speak up for what you believe in. Take on the battles that you can, (not what you can't). Live well, tell jokes. Tell your family and your friends you love them. Sing. Dance. Paint. Pray. Give thanks. Give hugs.
It's always darkest before the dawn
Amen, sister. 

Time to shower and get ready to take the kids to music lessons. Jesus is our saviour, but Chopin, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven certainly help.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Vegetable Oddities, continued.

Every year we plant Nantes carrots. They are sweet and crisp, they keep well, and the cylindrical shape means your carrot doesn't trail away to a scrawny little nothing at the root end. Like most of these assorted carrot varieties:

But Nature has her way of playing tricks, and you never quite know what will grow for you in any given year. Sometimes, you actually get a perfect carrot: 

I am about to slice it up on my mandolin, wearing --of course-- my cut-resistant glove (they are very fantastic: I would never recommend using  a mandolin slicer without one). Usually, you get typical carrots:  

Typical Nantes carrot
(it was about 7-8 inches long)

Then there are your atypical carrots. Your vegetable oddities, as it were: 

Typical carrot beside a behemoth "Grinning Cyclops"
 (no, that's not a variety; it's a mutation).

The size difference doesn't mean much without some kind of scale for reference, you say? I agree. So I brought in a familiar object to photograph beside the Cyclops. Yes, Virginia, that's a BASEBALL BAT.

(I wonder if anyone has ever been bludgeoned to death by a carrot.)

Or scared to death by one? 

Monday, October 19, 2015


If you couldn't read at all, what message would this convey? Perhaps "NO Hiking;" but,  "Falling Head-first to Your Death Permitted." 

Taken at this lovely spot in Banff last summer (Bow Falls, I believe).