Monday, January 30, 2012

And speaking of Lego...

Feminists of the world, GET A LIFE! Or go to Afghanistan and see what you can do about that not-letting-girls-go-to school situation. Oh, I guess it's easier to stay home and pick on Lego.

Fembots up in arms over pink Lego (aka "gender specific marketing"). Hello? This type of marketing always has and always will exist. Pink Lego? My little girls LOVE IT. They also own and love sets with police vans, airplanes, and all that boy stuff. There is girl stuff and there is boy stuff and there's no shame in celebrating it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ten kitchens, 90,000 square feet, and seven children

No, Mrs. P., that's not a summary of all the house plan permutations you've gone through over the last ten years and the persons to be made comfortable therein. This is all about The Queen of Versailles.

Director and photographer Lauren Greenfield:
“I’m not as interested in rich people as I am in our values. I’m interested in consumerism in our culture and how powerful it is.... I’m also interested in social class. And in America, money defines social class.”
 Perhaps this won't encourage any kind of virtue in a dumb old housewife dissatisfied with her 0.43 kitchens and 1100 square feet, but it does sound interesting. And maybe it is a good reminder that to much of the world, even 1100 square feet seems like a palace. Especially if it includes running water... and electricity....

Happy Birthday

To the greatest composer the world has ever known.

I saw Amadeus when I was twelve. It truly changed my life, because I had not had much exposure to classical music before that.  Mrs. P. took me to see it...and to my first ballet...and to my first opera. 
Thank you, Mrs. P., for all the beauty you have brought into my life. This one's for you.

Where no Lego man has gone before

Master Beazly the younger was just wondering yesterday what to do with his Lego when he gets too old to play with it.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just for The Record

And I mean that, literally. Here's a piece (pdf version) I published in The Record, "Australia's oldest weekly newspaper" (est. 1874). It presents "Catholic news and opinion from Perth, Australia, and the world." (I guess I qualify for that last one).

And so, for the droves of Record readers who come here as a result of the article, welcome to DOH!

UPDATE: it seems that despite the magic of computer wizardry, most of DOH's fans are having difficulty opening the pdf link. So here's the plain old text of the piece.

God is present in every moment of our time

December wasn’t long enough; it never is. How I wish I’d have done less rushing around, doing the necessary evils (shopping, office parties, meetings, recitals), and spent more time with loved ones: more time with aging parents, with the aunt in the senior’s home, with the friend who has cancer, with our daughter who has now travelled the 500 km back to university, not to be seen again for months—more ‘quality’ time with my husband and younger children, whom I see every day, but sometimes don’t “see” at all. More time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Having just rung out the old year and ushered in the new, “Time” may be on our minds these days. What did I accomplish last year? Did I meet all my goals? Did I meet any of them? What do I hope to achieve in the New Year? We make resolutions, surely one of which is better time management.

For some, especially those who are suffering, elderly, or lonely, time may drag interminably—it doesn’t need to be managed so much as endured. For others, time goes by all too quickly. Those of us who are living through the double-whammy of being middle-aged and far too busy with family life and community activism can sometimes get confused—as I remarked to my sister a month or so ago: “I can hardly believe 2010 is coming to a close.” There’s nothing like momentarily losing an entire year to make one sit up and take notice that perhaps things have gotten away from you.

We are (quite naturally, in a fast-paced world) obsessive about time: we wear watches, carry datebooks, calendars and schedules (if not the archaic paper variety, then in digital form: iPads and iPods and iPhones and iThings too numerous to name). I’ve even programmed my new laptop to tell me (out loud, in a semi-human voice) what time it is, on the hour, every hour, so that I don’t waste too much time on the computer. Since I have relatives, friends, and even editors (groups not mutually exclusive) living in various time zones all over the planet, my laptop also displays clocks telling me the time in the UK, Prague, Australia, New Zealand.

We follow friends and celebrities on Twitter and Facebook for minute-by-minute updates on their every thought (and bodily function). Constantly online, we don’t bother reading news that’s more than six hours old. We even like to remind God what time it is: bold reformers in the Church constantly tell the Holy Father that he should change Church teaching to ‘get with the times.’

I am grateful for the season of Advent, now past (and all too quickly, alas), which tells us, in the bustle and frenzy of Christmas preparations, that Christ is Lord of all eternity, and sooner or later, we will be joining Him there. That God exists outside of time, and therefore, at least on a certain level, so must we.

Time is on our side, because God created it; it is there to serve us, and in turn we must use it to serve Him. We shouldn’t seek to conquer it, slow it down, speed it up, pass it, waste it, much less kill it. In every moment, God is eternally present to us. Whether our lives consist of empty loneliness or harried activity, we must, mind and soul, be eternally present to him, because we know neither the day nor the hour when he will call us physically to Himself.

We don’t need New Year’s resolutions or the strength to carry them out, because inevitably they ask more of us than we seem to have (hence, the abandonment of such resolutions by the third week of January). What we need is to remember that God is in charge, and everything will unfold according to His plan. Mainly we need to repent of our stubbornness in cooperating with Him, and have a firm purpose of amendment to do a better job of knowing, loving and serving Him—not in the next decade, or year, or upcoming week, but during the next sixty minutes of our life. He’ll take care of the rest. 

 Happy New Year. 

Copyright 2012, The Record, Perth, Western Australia

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Definition of the Day

Idealistic youth: the time of life when you want to stick it to The Man on behalf of all the disenfranchised.

Maturity: the time of life when you realize that your youthful ambition has ironically been fulfilled, cuz it turns out that The Man is your husband, paying punitive taxes on his single income in order to support not only his family, but also untold numbers of the disenfranchised.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And speaking of Mitt Romney

As we were this weekend, when a young friend (of the eldest Miss P) came to visit...

I happened to mention Mod Hair Ken, and even though the young lady had had some Barbie experience in her past, she was (of course) not old enough to remember Mod Hair Ken. So here are a few images to scare you, and to remind Mattel to never, ever think about giving Ken rooted hair again.

This is how he looks in the package:

And for the first week or so, he's kinda groovy

But behold, once he's been played with for any length of time, and left once too often at the bottom of the toybox, the hair goes terribly, horribly WRONG.

Why yes, I do look like Neil Diamond!


Just... no.

Truly the stuff of nightmares: It's the Black Sheep Dog on Rogaine! 

Same continent, different worlds

Sheesh. I just tried to order some stuff (for the kids!) from (based in the U.S.) because (based in Canada) has oh, let's say ZERO items of the product I was interested in.

Then at the checkout, I get this message on 99% of my items.

We're sorry. This item can't be shipped to your selected destination.

"Can't"? Cuz as we all know, the logistics of carrying something across the Canada/U.S. border is so difficult and/or bewildering, due to the shark-infested waters, burning-oil-filled moats, dense forests, huge mountain ranges, marauding Eskimo drug-lords, and so forth.

I mean, how difficult could this be? They can put a man on the moon, but they "can't" ship a toy across the border of two countries that both speak English and have relatively competent postal services?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh the joy

Of having not one, but two daughters studying grade 9 piano. That means, of course, twice the Chopin. In your very own house. Live.

Miss P. #3 is working on this valse. I had never before heard it (despite owning at least a dozen or more CDs of Chopin music) and it is very lovely. It was published posthumously.

Miss P. #4 is working on this one. Much better known, the famous "Minute Waltz" (originally titled, according to this video Valse au petit chien).

I like this interpretation by Erez. Most people play this waltz way WAY too quickly and it just sounds horrid and ridiculous, which, of course, Chopin can never, ever be. It is not meant to be played in under  60 seconds. It's minute as in a cute, funny little dog (hence the name) and not MI-NUT as in, 'let-me-impress-you-with-my-Cliffs-of-Insanity-turbo-speed-dog-in-a-blender-pianny-playin' --the videos of which are ubiquitous online an need not be linked to here.

Why I love

Not only do they have a lot of purdy pictures,

but they understand me.

This year, the driving force behind what we want in our kitchens is our need for calming spaces and improved functionality to reduce stress in our busy lives.
Amen, and again I say unto you, Amen.

I liked this link: 12 Ways to Enjoy Your Kitchen More This Year

 I agree with #7 "Get rid of your cabinets". Done...but maybe I should have waited till we decided on some new ones. Other ideas are not so practical, i.e. "Introduce artwork" (exactly how do you get greasy caked-on dust off a sculpture or a painting?) My kitchen artwork is all done in wax crayon and stuck on the fridge with magnets. Alas, for many of us, these are the most practical 12 ways to enjoys our kitchens more this year:

1)  Spend less time in it.
2)  Move to a different house
3)  Move to a different house
4)  Move to a different house
5)  Move to a different house
6)  Move to a different house
7)  Move to a different house
8)  Move to a different house
9)  Move to a different house 
10) Move to a different house  
11) Move to a different house  
12) Move to a different house 

Ye gods of global warming, hear our prayer!

It's -34 C here this morning. Factor in wind chill, and it feels like -44, which, for obscure mathematical reasons that are far beyond me, is pretty much the same number in Fahrenheit. 

From the Environment Canada website: 

Bitterly cold Arctic air combined with westerly winds of 15 to 30 km/h will produce wind chill values in the -40 to -49 range throughout most of Southern Saskatchewan today through Thursday. At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 10 minutes.

Brrr. Dreaming of summer...


Napoleon Dynamite has resurfaced in animated form.

It made me laugh more than a few times, but I have to say, the charm of the ND movie lies partly in the fact that we all went to school with a guy who could plausibly come to class with his pocket full of Tater Tots. The over-the-top cartoon zaniness of the two episodes I've seen kind of takes that away.

Still, I'm willing to give it a chance. Just the sound of Jon Heder's voice cracks me up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I love being domesticated

Truly love it. Many years ago, on her way through town (a different town, not the Unnamed one I live in now) an old high school chum dropped in to see me and my new husband. Upon discovering that I had just baked a pie, she kind of snorted, "You're pretty domesticated," which seemed to be intended to make me feel ashamed (as though I had somehow abandoned the feminist principles I'd imbibed at university.)

I did feel ashamed, but mainly because I did not know then how to make a good pie. (The filling was runny and did not contain nearly enough sugar. Fail). I should add that she did not taste the pie; she was simply commenting disparagingly on the very fact of my having stooped to bake one. Feminists in the 80s did not make pie. I don't know what they did make, besides a lot of angry noises, and, later, when they took the reins of power in western society, a lot of bad laws and government bureaucracies. But I digress.

When you are domesticated, you can produce things like this:

Fresh and hot, which is really nice on a day when the temperature outside is -30 degrees Celsius (yes, that's even cold in Fahrenheit: -20). And you can get excited about owning things like these, my favourite bread-baking pans. Clay and cast iron, respectively. Now there's a throwback if ever there was one. 

Everybody wants to save the world; nobody wants to help Mother with the dishes.

Mrs. B. chimes in...

I don't care how much you hate the patriarchy - every human being should know how to cook. And mend their clothes, and clean, and fix things....

Mrs. P., those loaves look so good they could be food art. Are you sure they weren't delicately chiseled out of styrofoam, perfectly browned with a blowtorch and then coated with hairspray? If you can verify that they weren't, I think I have to get me some of theseyer clay and cast iron loaf pans.

You bring the bread, I'll bring the place for us to break it.

When Pinkertons come to town, only the very best will do.

 I'll even bring dessert, courtesy of Miss Beazly:
Monsieur le Snowman...

...his happy-go-lucky friend...


None of us will stand on these slippery slopes. (UPDATED)

A sample of the treatment offered to a little girl who isn't "perfect"... like the rest of us are.

What's next? Will they nix your heart surgery because you're depressed? Will they decide not to waste expensive medication on you if you're blind?

Update: A heartening development.

via Mark Shea

Monday, January 16, 2012

Self-abuse, Catholic style

I dare you. And if you can, you have a stronger constitution than I do, because I couldn't-- not after  listening to a full 25 seconds of (shudder) Ray Repp's "To Be Alive" over at Deborah G's site.

It's a site that contains audio files of original recordings of Folk Mass Music from the 60s and 70s. (In fact I think we still sing some of these in my parish, so if you feel inclined, light a votive candle and say a prayer for our deliverance, preferably via St. Cecilia).

As one wag over at Fr. Z's site commented, "I think I'll go wash the blood out of my ears now."

h/t Fr. Z, via Deborah Gyapong 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tragic because it's true

Or so it seems. American Spectator's David Catron compares the Republican Party to Thelma and Louise:

The GOP should be well positioned to send the President into retirement. Instead, the party's nomination process has become a bloody battle in which the candidates are viciously attacking one another rather than Obama, denouncing core conservative principles rather than the failures of big-government, and seems to be on the verge of producing a "winner" who has no prayer of defeating the incumbent.
As a Canadian, I can't vote; I can only watch the train wreck. And pray. Cuz if the U.S. of A. goes over the cliff, so do we.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Which would you rather eat?

Modified milk ingredients, cream, sugar, glucose, stabilizer (mono and diglycerides, guar gum, cellulose gum, polysorbate 80, locust bean gum, carrageenan, calcium sulfate), artificial flavour (contains sulfites), colour (contains tartrazine).

Or this:
Whole milk, sugar, cream, vanilla extract

The second recipe, you say? Me too. And now I get to, on a fairly regular basis, thanks to my girls, who got me this great toy for Christmas.

As usual, I'm too computer illiterate/lazy busy to take a photo of my machine and post it here. Maybe someday. This is an Amazon image. But the machine works like a charm and the ice cream tastes great. The best part? You can't overeat, because it only makes two litres (about 2 quarts) so there's just enough for one dessert serving for my family (8 or 9 of us, depending on who's home from university at the time).

Oh, and this hardly matters (cough) but it also makes margaritas.

I also got this date book (and a calendar) for Christmas, from Mrs. Beazly.

What the heck is 'guar gum' anyway? And 'tartrazine' sounds like something that you'd use to strip varnish.

All this talk about ice cream makes me want to listen to the Buffalo Bills...

Friday, January 13, 2012

For whoever likes a good ghost story

Rent/borrow The Eclipse. It's in the vein of The Woman in Black. (Which, I see, has apparently just been remade. But I'm talking about the 1989 version.)

I don't like gory movies, and I don't like movies with a demonic theme because unlike say, the Mountaintop Motel Massacre-er, Satan is real and at work in the world every day. But I do like a good ghost story. My only tip is don't watch the trailer first. Whoever put it together thought they needed to put all the scary moments into it, thus spoiling their effect in the film.

Just don't watch it alooooooone....

We're #3! We're #3!

You have to imagine me chanting that while waving a big foam hand around. Thank you for putting us on your list, Daria!

It's probably a good thing

That this cake topper wasn't available 25 years ago, or I'd have had it on my cake.

Perhaps I exaggerate; would Mr. P have stuck it out for a quarter-century otherwise?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your childhood...

...brought to you by Hartland Plastics of Wisconsin.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Christie Blatchford's latest report from the Shafia murder trial.

If killing your defiant child(ren) is supposed to restore honor to a family, why do the cowards who commit these demonic acts never own up to the valiant thing they have done?

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Last Night of Christmas

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Dear readers, I hope you had a merry and blessed season. If 2011 was a good year for you, join me in thanking God for the gift of 365 days of His grace and blessings. If it was not happy year for you, may 2012 be a better one.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

"What does Decent Films Guy say about it?" the question we ask when looking for a good flick. Steven Greydanus is our go-to guy for movie reviews, and he continues his "Still Christmas" theme with this installment about movies for this holiday.

I have finally unearthed my VHS tape of "It's a Wonderful Life". I think it will make a nice closer for the Christmas season.

Friday, January 6, 2012

And kiss the feet of God

The story of the Magi has inspired some of my favorite carols. Here's one more: "The Three Kings" by Laurence Housman  is set to glorious music by Healey Willan. This flawless rendition is from "The Mystery of Christmas" by the Elora Festival Singers.

As I begin a new year, I like to think of the kings starting out on that long journey. The shepherds came out of the dark and the cold to see the Christ Child, but the kings were comfortable where they were, and sought Him still. Will we?

"Who knocks tonight so late?"
the weary porter said.
Three kings stood at the gate,
each with a crown on head.

The serving man bowed down,
the Inn was full, he knew.
Said he, "In all this town
is no fit place for you."

A light in the manger lit;
there lay the Mother meek.
This place is fit.
Here is the rest we seek.

Come, come. They loosed their latchet strings,
so stood they all unshod
"Come in, come in, ye kings,
and kiss the feet of God."


Thursday, January 5, 2012

More proof that Christmas is not yet over.

It's like a musical turducken.

Mrs. P., do you think Mr. Steyn might let us take Martha Stewart's place on his next Christmas show?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good news for Mrs. Jones

I think she just made a million dollars. Mrs. Blurn, your kitchen is small, but lovely. And CLEAN. Mrs. Jones wins the prize for the smallest kitchen. Cuz you can open your fridge, and she can't. Not without hitting the base cabinets on the opposite side. True story. These are very nice pics. You would never know a mother of six lives here and had time to clean her kitchen. 

(Mrs. Blurn's comments in italics. Mine in not-italics.) 

Note Joanna Bogle book on my trolley, waiting to be used for the liturgically appropriate Christmas cooking that didn't eventuate this year.
You have room for a trolley. Oh, and I love the magnetic knife rack. That's on my wish list. 

White subway tile: score.

Bench space speaks for itself
(I'm guessing that's Ozian for countertop) 

Stainless steel integrated drain board: score. They are standard in Oz; you have to special order them here, which is jist as stupid. I mean, how many of those crappy Rubber dish drain things do you have to buy (then watch as they crack and mould) and then throw away? There must be some kind of Rubbermaid conspiracy here that makes integrated steel drainboards so rare. 

Look at that poor Kitchenaid mixer tucked away in shame.

No reason for shame: for one thing, it's RED (score). For another, dig that counter-to-cabinet clearance! In her last apartment, Mrs. Jones did not even have room to accommodate her mixer on her countertop (there must have been like ten inches of clearance).

Lovely window size; white trim: score. WINDOW: score (Mrs. J. doesn't have one)

(Is that ceramic tile on the floor? I have three layers of linoleum (70s, 80s and 90s) and some bare patches of plywood where we ripped out cabinets) 
Saddest part: I'm thinking, "Well, the 90s stuff is fairly new." Yah, right, only pushing 22!)

Verdict: the only thing bad about your kitchen is that it is NOT IN CANADA.
Thank you, Mrs. Blurn, for the virtual tour of your kitchen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some boys of my acquaintance will appreciate this

And so will their mom. I'm not smart enough to embed the video (boo hoo!) but it's funny and reminds me of the Masters Beazly's Lego animations.

(Oops! Language warning on one of the rioters' signs. Share at your own discretion.) - Occupy Wall Street Riot Brigade Lego Set

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The world can stop at a partridge in a pear tree if it wants to, but I'm in for the whole 12 days.

The stores are displaying their Valentine's Day merchandise and your neighbors' snow-bound trees are slumped by the curb like evicted Ghosts of Christmas Past, but the season isn't over yet. Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving. Here's how Steven Greydanus, and some of his readers, keep the holiday.
We got a great idea from A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families (buy it here): make your living room window into a giant Advent wreath. You can see the candles in this photo of our tree. You "light" them one by one with yellow tissue paper, and when Christmas day arrives, you can change the purple and pink tissue candles to white.
I've never gotten 12 presents for any one Christmas, but I  think it would be cool to open just one gift a day until they ran out, instead of opening them all on Christmas Day.  Of course, this idea is as popular with the Beazlies Minor as, say, packing away the Wii for the summer. So I'm pretty sure it will always get vetoed in the lower house.

   Another tradition I  like is the "pass on to your little sister the nativity set which has been in your family for sixty years" tradition.  You have to have a little sister and be unselfish to carry on that tradition, so I'm afraid the ox stops here on both counts. One must use these opportunities to practice being a grateful and humble receiver.

Enjoy the last week of Christmas!

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!