Friday, June 30, 2006

Raccoon

Another raccoon turned up this evening - Dean actually had to chase it away from the open patio door! We showed it to James, and said, "What's that?" "Cat." Pretty good guess. We tried to teach him the word "raccoon". He's usually pretty good about trying out new words, but not tonight. "Can you say 'raccoon'?" "Yes." I think it's because he has a bit of a speech impediment and can't pronounce 'r', so he probably knew it would come out as "wackoon" and didn't want to give us a chance of laughing at him.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great new blog

The big guns in ECUSA are finally firing back. 815 Second Avenue is from the "Episcopal Information Minister", who looks faintly familiar by his photo. Now those conservatives are going to get theirs!
Our Glorious Leader cannot respond because now he reads Sufi poet Rumi and meditates. He is a very smart man, he is a very smart man. Believe me, he is smarter than the insane little dwarf Ducan and his international criminal gang of bastards. I respond for him.

There is no departure of Fort Worth. Never! We control Fort Worth. I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place.

We have deposed 2 bishops, 14 priests and their deacons - We have driven them back.

Pittsburgh? They do not even have control over themselves! Do not believe them! They are like a snake and we are going to cut it in pieces.

I would like to clarify a simple fact here: How can you lay siege to a whole province? Who is really under siege now? 815 cannot be besieged. Newark cannot be besieged. New Hampshire cannot be besieged.

I say to you their talk is not true. This is part of their sick mind. They are sick, sick, sick stupids.

Tears, idle tears

It's time for another visit with the famous lady novelist, The Swan of Newark, and her never-ending travails as she suffers nobly the indignities and injustice of that most hide-bound and repressive institution, the Episcopal Church. This entry, from June 22, 2006 is particularly long, so I'll have to edit it a bit for length. Like all proper lady novelists, this one is writing a three-volume novel.

Okay. It’s really Thursday, June 22, 2006. I’ve hardly slept. I walked around the city until about 1:30 AM. I have no idea how far or where I went.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The streets of the city – any city – are where I’ve most often found comfort. These city streets – even for the Midwest – did not fail.
Bearing my basket of provisions for the deserving poor, I set about on my silent errand. How far away was this Midwestern slum from the bright lights and glittering society of Newark!
The events of yesterday still hurt. A lot. Okay. More than a lot. Truth be told, I’m devastated. Shaken to my core. I found myself sobbing just now in the shower.
My nervous complaint left me prostrate with woe. Sharing that weakness common to our sex, I sought relief for my aching heart in tears.
...Honestly. I’ve been tempted to do the same thing. Just walk away from it all. Who needs this? Why do I keep putting myself in a position of being abused? What kind of perverse love is this that I have for this church?
I dunno. A love that dare not speak its name, perhaps?
...I don’t know where to even begin to describe to you what happened. Even so, I am quite suddenly aware that, while I originally thought I would start this little blog for the folks in my congregation to stay informed of the activities of the national church, I am writing to a much larger, albeit unintended audience. All of a sudden, I feel the need to guard my words...I love them. They love me. It is a wondrous thing to behold. But, after General Convention 2006, I feel that our relationship is in grave danger – not because of the church, but The Church.
Because enemies are EVERYWHERE, saboteurs and wreckers, seeking to undermine the Cultural Revolution's new-born revolutionary things!
It was raining when I awoke – late – at the obscene hour (for me) of 8 AM. Indeed, I awoke to the sound of thunder rumbling loudly outside my hotel window. Strange, I didn’t remember hearing that on the local weather forecast.
The clouds, foreboding and dark, hovered in the sky over General Convention 06 like black falcons seeking their prey.
I lingered through the morning, simply enjoying the luxury of time to linger, and to consider the hard work as well as the wonder of the past week. We had come to Columbus with a careful plan and had amazed ourselves by how much we were actually able to accomplish – including the wildly surprising and unexpected gift of the first woman Primate in the Anglican Communion.
Innocent of guile, the village maiden indulged in reveries as harmless and artless as the wildflowers that she gathered to weave into garlands for her hair.
...I didn’t know the clock was ticking and this glorious time was really only a moment.
But ah! the cruel awakening!
There was an anxious buzz in the convention hall. It seemed odd to have all those purple shirts among us, but a special joint session had been called. There was wild speculation about what the Presiding Bishop was going to tell us. I don’t think any of us could have predicted how bad it was going to be.
How could we? What could we possibly know of such things as power politics, horsetrading and behind-the-scenes machinations? We were defenseless lambs, frolicking in our innocent, openhearted way among the devious serpents who threatened us from all sides.
...We went about our work – and, God knows, there was certainly a lot of it. We had not yet gotten to the resolutions which would call us to repentance and reparations for slavery, changes in our canons, new educational programs and liturgies – all of that still awaited our attention.
You know, easy stuff like that.
I’m sure everyone will have their own take on this, but here is the fact: While we worked and while the House of Bishops debated Resolution B-033, a terrible thunder and lightening storm raged outside. At times, the rain poured down so hard that people at the microphones had to raise their voices in order to be heard. Loud claps of thunder shook the roof.
Did I mention that it was dark? And STORMY? Yea, the very angels were weeping at the hardness of men's hearts.
I’m pretty clear about what was going on, but I’ll leave that to your own interpretation.
I wouldn't want to unduly influence you or anything.
Things are pretty much a blur from this point on.
Loosen your stays, it's going to be a bumpy night.
...What I can still hear are her (Katherine Jefferts-Schori's) last words. They echo in my head. I can see them resting like a heavy, dark cloud over our heads.
That's when we realized that her mother's maiden name was Btflsplk.

“ . . . . but at this time, this is the best we can do.”

Then she turned slowly, sadly, and walked silently out of the room.

Never, never will I forget that terrible moment! My whole being palpitated with a nameless dread.

Everyone sat in stunned silence. Bonnie Anderson took a deep breath and encouraged us all to do the same. But, there was no air in that room. It had all been sucked out. I sat in stunned disbelief.
My posy of wildflowers lay crushed and scattered at my feet. The bright, innocent hopes of that morning lay lifeless under the cruel stones hurled by our tormentors.
The best we can do is injustice?
Ohhhh deep in my hearrrrt, I do belieeeeeve, that we shall overcome...
The best we can do is mediocrity?
(A little late to be thinking about that, I guess.)
Funny. Moderator Bob Duncan, the bishop of Pittsburgh, read a statement of disassociation from The Episcopal Church and he, along with eleven other bishops walked out. Funny. She may not be invited to Lambeth anyway. Her gender “presents a challenge to the wider church and (may) lead to further strains on communion.”...Funny – except it’s not. It’s tragic and appalling and absolutely heartbreaking.
Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother...THEY'RE HEEEEEEERE!
We are falling, headfirst, into the creation of a “magisterium.”
And you know what THAT means. TROUBLE. With a capitol T and that rhymes with P and that stands for...pope.
We have become subject to “foreign rule.”
Patrick Henry, thou shouldst be living at this hour!
...Life goes on. It always does. It always will. My life has been changed and transformed by this time in Columbus, and I’ll never again be the same.
I walk among the oblivious throng, carrying my secret grief, patiently bearing a sorrow that they, fortunate creatures! can neither see nor understand.
I’m trying to get over this – put it behind me. I’ve blown my nose, wiped my tears, picked up my socks and I’m trying to get on with it. I’m afraid I’m not able to “exercise restraint.”
My ringlets shaking with emotion, I lay on my fainting couch, smelling salts near to hand, and buried my maidenly distress in my needlepoint.
It’s so hard. There’s this very tender place in my heart from where it was punched and kicked and beaten up yesterday afternoon.
Because the world is so cruel and unfeeling to sensitive, delicate hearts like mine.
...I wish I could say I feel hopeful and confident about the future of the church. I don’t. I’m not even sure I can name or identify the entire range of my emotions. I don’t have the energy for anger. I just know that I feel very, very sad.
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

End of school

Today is the last day of school for James; Thomas's last day was Monday, and Emma was done last week. Their holidays are beginning, and mine won't start until September! A glimpse of what the summer has in store for us - James and Thomas started fighting yesterday afternoon, with the usual tit-for-tat hitting. James escalated by throwing things at Thomas; finally he threw a Bible, a volume of Chesterton, and The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James, at which point I decided that enough was enough! He was sent upstairs to take a shower and hopefully get himself into a better mood.

It's so damp and humid out right now, with rain expected all this week, I finally turned on the AC today. It's not that hot by the thermometer, but the stickiness in the house is unbearable. You could grow fungus on a cactus.

The potatoes are flowering - I quite like potato flowers, we have purple and white ones, and they're pretty enough to cut. The plants are getting tall and starting to fall over; I must get some mulch to hill them up, as much to keep them upright as to promote tuber growth. The currants are ripening; this being the first year we've had any, I'm not quite sure when they're actually ripe, but it is nice to see them taking on colour.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today's gospel

Interesting gospel at mass this morning; Mark 4:35-41 tells the story of the disciples taking Jesus across the sea in a boat, and as he was sleeping a storm came up and the boat was close to foundering. Father Loukos talked about how desperate they must have been to wake Jesus when he was sleeping, but I'm afraid I had a totally different thought as he was speaking. I was thinking, "Why the heck did they ask *Jesus* what to do?" I mean, THEY were the fishermen, not he - they're the ones who'd know how to handle a boat. It sounds to me like they were just beside themselves with panic, and didn't know what to do. They didn't really expect him to be able to save the ship when they themselves had failed. And the funny thing is, they didn't even ASK him to do anything. It's not like when Peter was walking on the water: 'When he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"' Peter asked for help and Jesus gave it. But here, they weren't asking for help - they were just shouting in fear. And there was even a bit of a reproach there: "Don't you even care?" It's as if they didn't really expect help (well, I don't blame them for that, miracles aren't really something you EXPECT) they just wanted to include Jesus in their fear and panic. And Jesus can't be engulfed that way: "And the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." Whatever happened to them out there in that storm, Jesus was not going to submerged by it.

The Mahabharata - the Rajsuya

Today was Mahabharata day, of course. The whole episode was devoted to Yuddhistira's Rajsuya - I'm not quite sure what this is, but it seems to be a formal annointing of a king, in the presence of and with the consent of all the other kings of the country. Hence, it's sort of making Yuddhistira the Supreme Ruler - they called him 'Emperor', although the other kings still retained their authority.

Everything was going fine, until Shishupal turned up, and began to shout insults at Krishna and everyone else there. Krishna had long ago promised to forgive him 100 crimes. When his brother Balram tries to intervene, Krishna stops him, and Balram expostulates, "He's insulting you, and you just stand there, smiling!" Krishna answers, "I'm not smiling; I'm counting." Then he tells Shishupal he's up to 97 crimes; he's got 3 left. Shishupal doesn't care, and proceeds to hurl 4 more insults at Krishna. At the 101st crime, Krishna stops him, and throws a magic discus at him, which cuts off his head. I was thinking again, how close this comes to Christianity, but swings just wide. Jesus said we have to forgive 7 times 70 wrongs; in other words, all of them. I remember Father Smith saying that Peter's suggestion of forgiving 7 times would have been considered pretty generous back then. Krishna allows 100, which also would have probably sounded quite liberal, especially for crimes against a god. But it's understood that there's a cutoff point; grace goes this far, and no further. Once you've used up all your chances, it's time for punishment, and no going back. Jesus takes it to quite a different level. As Chesterton said, these are the "good dreams" God sent to men before Christ. They're signposts along the way, hinting at where we're going, but not the full destination.

Garden update

Those two roses I bought last week were starting to look a little homesick for the earth, so I decided to plant them today. This entailed doing a bit of tree-trimming on my own, as I've placed the roses at the base of the old play structure, and that is quite overgrown by the tree from over the fence. I've arrange to have it substantially cut back, but the tree guys haven't called, and I just can't wait any longer. With a hand saw and bit of twisting and wrenching, I got the lowest branches off and then put the roses in the ground. They seem to have taken the transplant very well; 'Golden Celebration' didn't even lose the two already-open roses it was carrying.

Last night, I was cleaning up in the kitchen when Thomas came tiptoeing over (he still toe-walks a fair bit) and said something like "Mumble mumble mumble raccoon..." He was peering out the kitchen window, so I looked as well, but didn't see anything.
"Where's the raccoon?" I asked. He led me back to the TV room, and there, at the window, was a young raccoon, eating some AllBran cereal that James had dumped out the window earlier in the day. I hadn't gotten around to sweeping it up, and was hoping the birds might eat it; I hadn't expected a raccoon. Thomas walked over to the window, held out his hands and said to the raccoon, "Where did YOU come from?" By the morning, all the cereal was gone.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Down to Cardinal

A beautiful day, sunny but not hot, and I drove down to the town of Cardinal on the St. Lawrence River for another one of Jim Cooper's auctions. This time I took along a small sideboard he'd agreed to include in the auction to sell; it's been in the garage since we moved here, and it was in storage while we were in Boston, so that's 9 years since anyone has used it! I don't think we'll miss it. This auction had a lot of nice old lamps, some with parchment shades, and I got 4 for $1 each. One of them was an interesting old plaster TV lamp from the '50s, I'm guessing - it's an open arch, with a ballerina standing in the center, with a sheet of parchment behind her, and a red lightbulb which lights her in silhouette. A few little chips on the black paint, but I think I can fix that, and otherwise it's in beautiful condition. As well as the lamps, I found an interesting WearEver pot - a canner, I think, though it has a steamer basket inside. It has a nice gizmo for tipping the pot while holding the handle, and clamps hold the lid on while the water can drain from a perforated section on the rim. Also some books, including "Endurance", an account of Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole. I found "South with Scott" at Value Village on Thursday, so I'm back to reading about disasters again. Fitting, after a week watching the Episcopal Church set fire to itself.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Passion of the Lady Novelist from Newark

ECUSA's public nervous breakdown brought me one good laugh; this blog is one of the funniest things I've ever read. The author claims to be a priest, but we all know that that's impossible, so I've decided that what she actually is, is a lady novelist. Like a Victorian heroine, she is perpetually dissolving into tears and reaching for her smelling salts - even at the moment of greatest triumph for her and her homosexual friends, she's wringing her hands over the pain and victimization of her poor, perpetually oppressed tribe.

Her Friday, June 16 entry is a masterpiece of melodrama and snivelling self-pity, as she walks through the Valley of the Shadow of Death carrying the sorrows of the world on her back.
I should be in bed right now. I promised myself I would go to bed early and get some sleep. I’ve been averaging about 3-4 hours per night. I know I’ve got to pace myself through these next few days. Every time I lay down and try to rest my body, my mind becomes a whir of thoughts and my heart becomes flooded with emotion.
It was a dark and stormy night.
So, I got up. And, I started to write.
My dearest Isabella will, I know, forgive her unfortunate Elizabeth for this disjointed and untimely missive. But my heart, o'erburdened with a nameless woe, must needs relieve itself in words, else crack.
The solid money is on the fact that tomorrow (Saturday the 17th) or Sunday (the 18th) – by Monday (the 19th) the absolute latest – there will be blood on the floor of convention. I’m not a betting woman (Oh, I have other vices, to be sure. This is not one of them), but I’d put money down on this one. Big money. And, I’d win.
Isn't cockfighting illegal...?
Thus far, four days into the legislative session, we’ve been so polite. So veddy Episcopalian. So erudite and cultured and above-it-all. Very meet, right and oh, so proper.

But, the signs are all there. The explosion is about to happen. It’s like walking around and feeling the earth tremble before the earthquake strikes or the volcano erupts.
Tremble, as an explosive story of volcanic passion shakes the screen!
Emotions are running very high on all sides. At the Integrity Eucharist tonight, Gene Robinson gave a humdinger of a sermon. He could barely finish it, so chocked as he was on his tears.
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, I perceive.
We were all sobbing with him – that entire church knew and understood his story, his pain – the love he has of God and Jesus and his absolute trust in the chaos of the Holy Spirit to do a new thing – all of which was his answer to the question he is most frequently asked: How can you do this? How can you do this with such grace and calm assurance?
Oh, truly, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man!
I came home after the Eucharist. I couldn’t go to the festivities afterward. I started off ready to attend, but I found myself walking the 9 blocks home to my hotel.
No, common diversions are not for such a sensitive soul as I.
I went directly to my room, got into my gym shorts and Boston Red Socks tee-shirt, put my Pink Flamingo flip flops on my feet and my Boston Red Socks hat on my head and headed down to the bar where I got a glass of chardonnay and a chicken quesadilla appetizer.
That's more like it!
There I was, minding my own business. My emotions were neatly folded up and tucked into my heart. I’m fine. I’m eating my quesadilla and drinking my wine and reading my book.

Look, Ma, I’m fine. See? I’m fine. Really, I’m just fine.
The calm before the storm.
And then, from out of nowhere, she came to my table.
Some enchanted evening...you may meet a strangerrrrrr.....
She’s an attorney. Very sharp. African American. Progressive on social issues, but with a tendency toward the conservative because of her relationships with the African immigrants in her congregation. Most importantly, she is deeply, deeply compassionate. You can see it in face, but her eyes are a dead give away.
Those eyes, like limpid pools of infinite depth, looked into mine and struck deep into my soul.
“Hey, yourself,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m just fine.”

“Really?” she asked, in that way that you INSTANTLY know she’s seen right through your crap and you’ve got no where to run, no where to hide.
My struggling soul lay naked and helpless beneath the all-encompassing gaze of this powerful stranger.
“Nah,” I heard myself say, hating that I was being honest with this woman I knew only every three years and only in a social and/or work setting, feeling the embarrassment of being so vulnerable, so transparent, the emotions welling up in hot volcanic larva, emanating from the pit of my stomach and moving in searing hot waves to my chest, erupting in an unexpected lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
'Yield, you fool!' cried my heart, as my mind, overthrown with anguish, strained to conquer this sweet weakness.
She pulled up a chair and sat down. She held my hand. She looked into my eyes. I knew that she knew. And, I cried. In great, painful, heaving sobs. Right there at the bar.
I've never been able to order a banana daquiri since.
Suddenly, I couldn’t stop myself. I knew that I could trust her with my tears. I could reveal my pain to her and she would honor it. Everything started to spill out – and over.
There, there, dear. That's the last of the quesadilla - you'll feel better now.
My voice was hoarse and croaking. “It’s just that, when this thing blows up – and it will blow up soon (she nodded her head in agreement) – either tomorrow or Sunday – (more nods of acknowledgement) and I know. I know. I know,” I began to sob even more deeply, “We’re going to split. They are going to leave. That it will be my fault. All our faults. That every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in the church will be feeling the heavy burden of grief for the split in our church. We also know it really isn’t our fault. But, we know we’ll be blamed anyway. And, it hurts. Oh, God, it hurts so bad to be hated so much.”
It's so LONELY to be God's chosen people!
She held me in her strong arms and said, in a mother’s soothing voice, “Let it go. Let it go.”
I was rocked in the peace of Mother Gaia.
And, I did. For the first time in five days, I allowed myself the luxury of crying. Of letting it all go. The grief. The pain. The shame. The blame. The tangled knowledge that it isn’t my – our – fault. And yet, feeling the burden, the sharp sting of the accusation any way.
Because we're so innocent and sensitive and complicated - just like Jesus!
“Let it go,” she crooned, “I’ve got you. You won’t fall,” she said, as I felt myself tilt off balance in my chair, “ I’ve got you.” And she did. And I didn’t. And it was okay. And, it was absolutely awful. And, I cried and cried and cried.
You are a chiiiiiild...of the universe...no less than the trees and the stars...you have a riiiiight to be here.
Finally, when I could speak again, I saw that she was crying. “I can only imagine what you are feeling – what this must be like for you. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say that will help. But I can promise to pray for you.”

“Oh, yes,” I heard myself say, “Please. Please do pray. For me. For us.”

And, she did. Right there in the bar. Right in front of God and everyone there.
I know it sounds shocking, but we really did it. We PRAYED. Right in public! We weren't embarrassed or scared the people would think we were a coupld of Baptists or anything!
I can’t remember what she said. I only know that I took her words into my ears, and they flowed like warm mother’s milk down the side of my head, and flowed into and around my aching heart and brought deep, deep comfort to my wounded soul.
And did I mention that we both started ovulating right then?
I found some healing tonight. Unexpected healing. Healing I didn’t even know I needed. On one level, it’s not going to change a thing. It’s still going to get ugly. There will be blood on the floor of convention. Of this, I have no doubt.
Well, when women and fluids get together, what can you do?
There will be a split in this church that I so dearly love. I – and every other lesbian, gay man, bisexual and transgender person in the Episcopal Church – knows that we will be blamed.

And, we’ll also know that it’s not really our fault.

My enemies will hate me. Lord have mercy, how they will hate me!
Does this crown of thorns make me look fat?
But now, having been held as I cried, I think I can love them anyway.
It is finished.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

God bless the Episcopalians

for making it so EASY to be a Catholic!The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has just finished. I didn't bother writing anything while it was going on, as better bloggers than I were right there on site. Anyway, there was so much just to READ, it was hard to take the time to contribute anything.

It was a tremendous "walls of Jericho" moment to see the Anglican Church I thought existed crumbling before the loud, brassy trumpets of relativism and sexual license. The "termites" - feminists, socialists and homosexuals - have worked for decades insinuating themselves into every crack and crevice of the church, and this is how a Long March is supposed to end - with the entire rotted structure falling down in one spectacular, unstoppable rush.

The first supporting beam collapsed when they elected this Schnorrer person to be their Presiding Bishop on Sunday. She immediately set to work informing the world that homosexuality is not a sin, nor is pretty much anything else that results in three or more bare legs in a bed.

Then came the farce of pretending to respond to the Windsor Report, with resolutions becoming more and more tepid with each amendment. Finally the whole thing slumped lifeless to the ground, with the new owners of the (former) church defiantly declaring that they weren't going to apologize for turning the pathetic Gene Robinson into a pseudo-bishop.

A desperate last-ditch attempt by the hapless Griswold to save face did nothing but give the triumphant homosexuals a new opportunity to weep and wail about their pain and oppression. "Oh, look and see, if there be any sorrow like unto OUR sorrow?"

Clematis woes, and the Storm

We had a colossal thunderstorm yesterday. The timing was good for me, though; I'd just finished planting a poor, forsaken clematis which I'd picked up on the clearance table at Canadian Tire. I finally gave up on that climbing rose (White Dawn, I think) I planted last year in front of the porch post out front; it would grow tall, but hardly had any roses, and it was continually under siege from tiny caterpillars. I'd find them out there every morning, and they chewed through new leaves without mercy - it was disgusting having to pick them off and squish them every day, and it never did any good. The rose also had lots of painful little thorns, and the canes were so delicate, they'd break whenever I tried to train it up the trellis. I finally figured it was more trouble than it was worth, so I took it out.

I decided that the spot seemed especially suited to clematis, because it is in full to partial sun at least until the early afternoon, but there's a big 'Striptease' hosta growing right in front - cool roots, hot top. Now, I've never had much luck with clematis; I planted one out back when we first moved here, next to the shed, and had fond visions of a rustic little hut half-hidden under purple blooms. But then I put the rhubarb right in front, that got so big, it just smothered the clematis. Cool roots are one thing, but this is so huge, the clematis can't make it to sunlight! I never could figure out the pruning, but it didn't matter, because it always broke off somewhere and by spring there would be no sign of it.

Until this year, though. I went out to look at the rhubarb a week ago or so, and to my astonishment saw a sturdy single clematis vine rising up behind it, and twining itself around the trellis on the shed! I'm just going to leave it now; not even going to TOUCH it, because it's the kiss of death whenever I try to do anything with that clematis. If it gets a flower, fine - it seems to know what it's doing, so I'm just going to let it go with no kibbitzing.

This new one is called 'Red Cardinal', and has a lot of very small stems twining around; it was about 18" long when I got it, and I had to carefully disentangle it from some others. It came with some flower buds, and one looks set to open today. The transplant went very well - I got a bucket of compost/leaf mold from the bin at the back, which should make it and the hosta very happy, I watered it, then sat down to watch the sky getting darker and darker.

Anyone could tell that a storm was coming, but the guys next door were playing horseshoes in the back, and were determined to stay out as long as possible. I sat under the front porch; the wind increased, the sky grew very dark...clink...clink went the horseshoes. Then... DOWNPOUR!!! Those poor fellows would have been soaked to the skin by the time they ran back to the house; it was like a firehose shooting down. A little bird flew under the porch with me and perched on a bracket holding a hanging basket. I could barely see across the street through the haze of rain. After 10 minutes, hail. I'm not surprised they were warning about tornadoes in the vicinity. I looked out the back window, and saw that the kids had left the garden hose on! Sheesh...I had to run out, turn it off and run back in again. Time to change my clothes, I was soaked to my underwear.

After it was ended, a beautiful double rainbow. The extra soaking must have pleased the clematis, because not a single leaf was wilted after the transplant. Things cooled down, and the wind picked up as we went into evening. The next morning, I found an empty bird's next lying on the thyme in front of the birdbath.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

James and bed-bed

Poor James was so frustrated the other night - he was desperately trying to tell us something, but he didn't have the words for it. All he could do was say "bed-bed", and we couldn't figure out any meaning for this but the bare surface meaning, which clearly was not what he wanted. We wrote BED BED on pieces of paper for him. HE even took a pen and wrote BED BED, which shows just how determined he was. Usually he just orders us to do the hard work of writing or drawing anything he wants. Finally, just as it was bedtime, I was at the computer and he came up to me to try again. I thought "'Bed-bed'; that means '2 beds'. What could be special about 2 beds?" Finally, a glimmer of a thought came to me..."Bunkbeds??" "YES!!!" I immediately googled 'bunkbeds' and left him happily looking at pictures and printing out the most attractive ones.

This is his usual way for expressing multiple nouns, although he has learned numbers in school. "Bread bread" means 2 pieces of bread. One time, he wanted to go to the beach; specifically, he wanted Thomas and me to go to the beach with him. When we go, we walk. So in his very logical way, he asked for "Shoe-shoe-shoe-shoe-shoe-shoe". Six shoes=six feet=3 people. You see? There's quite a lot of reasoning behind all this, you just have to learn the code to understand it.

'Running Scared'

I saw this movie, by director Wayne Kramer back in February when it opened. I didn't expect much - I only wanted to see it because it has John Noble in it, and his work is rarely seen outside Australia. (Besides, he's the one I modelled Dr. Debane on.) I was completely astounded by the movie - it's the most violent, swearingest movie I've ever seen (I actually learned new uses for the F-word from it), but it grabbed me in the first 5 minutes and never let go.

The story is a cleverly-disguised Grimm's fairytale, set in a dark, brooding New Jersey world of criminal gangs, dirty cops, hookers, pimps, and every kind of modern dysfunction. The story appears to be about Joey Gazelle, a low-level criminal in a NJ mob family, who is supposed to dispose of a gun used in a crime, but instead loses it to the little boy next door, Oleg, who uses it to shoot his abusive stepfather and then flees into the night. Joey has to get it back because if the mob finds out he bungled the weapon disposal, they'll kill him and his family. Also, the police are on the search for the gun and the boy, because the weapon was used to kill a dirty cop. Mix into this brew a Russian mob which is ALSO hunting the gun, and you have a story that ricochets from point to point, and Joey tries to stay one step ahead of all these adversaries. I thought it was interesting that the sought-after gun is shiny silver; like quicksilver, nobody can hold onto it for more than a few minutes. It passes from hand to hand, and Joey is always just too late to get it back.

The story of Joey is only superficially the main plot, though. The REAL story is about Oleg, and this is where the fairytale aspects come in. Just as in a fairytale the story is about evil threatening a child or an innocent. Oleg is being chased throughout the dark city, like a little boy running through the woods, pursued by a bear or a wolf. He keeps jumping from one perilous situation to another, and like a fairytale hero, he has to rely on his own cleverness to save himself. The pimps, hoods, dirty cops and murderous child molestors are the modern version of ogres, witches, demons and evil stepmothers.

Despite all the swearing and violence, this is essentially a very moral movie. Good and evil are clearly delineated. There's no sympathy for the bad characters - we don't get any "shaded" portrayals of pedophiles or pimps, or suggestions that we should maybe look at things from THEIR point of view. No, bad is bad and is given no quarter. In the end good survives and triumphs. How does a fairytale end? "And they lived happily ever after..."

On the dvd which was released last week, there is a nice "making of documentary" with extensive commentary by Wayne Kramer. One thing he said really amused me (this is transcribed from the dvd):
I'm not one of those directors who will necessarily put 4 cameras on a sequence. I tend to design what the Steadicam move will be or the dolly move. And I like to adhere to the classical sense of film, the craft of filmmaking, where directors were very much - they knew what the film was going in, whether it be Hitchcock or de Palma. A strong sense of how each shot connects to the others. And it's not about 'I'm gonna shoot as much as I can on the day and see what sticks.'
Gee, I wonder who he was thinking of there? Could it perhaps be Peter Jackson? Kramer sounds like a very level-headed guy, and rather like Fritz Lang in his very clear planning out of the movie, even down to the camera shots. I always thought that Jackson was rather an undisciplined director - his style seems to be to set up lots of cameras, then make his actors do everything 20 times to see what they might come up with. Hours and hours of footage had to be viewed then edited; probably the reason why he was always running out of time when making the last two LOTR movies (King Kong too, I believe).

Kramer sounds much less prodigal with his actors and crew, and his movie is very focussed and taut. Pity New Line couldn't have spent a few bucks promoting this little film, instead of throwing millions at Jackson to produce his overstuffed "epics". 'Running Scared' was only 2 weeks in the theatres here in Ottawa, and hardly anyone saw it. Now that it's out on dvd, though, I think it's on its way to achieving cult status.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Liberals and transgression

David Warren's Ottawa Citizen article of Wednesday, June 14, questions the modern liberal infatuation with criminality. I think the most telling passage in the whole article is this one:

I am not suggesting that the average liberal is a criminal. He hasn't the guts for that. But in the phantasia of his consciousness, he is attracted almost sexually to the idea of transgression - to soiling the respectable.

This is something that has been on my mind for some time; the almost erotic lure of despoiling that is beginning to be a hallmark of liberalism. G.K. Chesterton spotted it too, and he was not shy about identifying its origin in the demon world. In 'The Everlasting Man' he writes about this urge to perversion and transgression, and in particular its quasi-sexual motivation:
[C]ertain anti-human antagonisms seem to recur in this tradition of black magic. There may be suspected as running through it everywhere, for instance, a mystical hatred of the idea of childhood. People would understand better the popular fury against the witches, if they remembered that the malice most commonly attributed to them was preventing the birth of children. The Hebrew prophets were perpetually protesting against the Hebrew race relapsing into an idolatry that involved such a war upon children...

I feel that this demonic war upon children is visiting us again. There seems to be a lust among liberals to obliterate even the possibility of innocence - hence, the relentless attempt to sexualize younger and younger children, through entertainment, commercialism, and especially that liberal-forged weapon, education. The push is for more sex at ever-younger ages, and any attempt to defer this mental (if not physical) deflowering raises almost hysterical fury on the part of liberals.

I even think that this is why infiltrating the Catholic Church was such a goal of homosexuals, for whom transgression has been accepted as the essence of their identity; what could be more delicious than violating innocence right in the plain sight of God, and in the heart of his family?

I am presently reading about the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA, where such liberal transgression is being pushed almost to the level of a sacrament. Many ask why people who are so discontented with the rules of a church stay; why don't they leave and start their own church? First of all, I think that such a creative act is beyond them; it takes guts and originality to really build something new. For better or for worse, the Protestant founders of their denominations had that; they knew something positive that they wanted and they weren't afraid of the hard work of building it. These parasitic liberals are not in that mold; they're the cuckoos who sneak into someone else's already-built nest and then take it over.

But most of all, what these people seek is the thrill of transgression; the dark pleasure of pollution and destruction. For people in thrall to such perversion, other people's rules and norms are essential. A vandal cannot be tempted by the prospect of designing and building his own structure; the whole point of his existence is to soil and deface what belongs to someone else.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Raspberries

I think I've figured out those recalcitrant raspberries in the furthest corner of the Old Garden. I planted them 3 years ago, with the long row of late-bearing raspberries, and they've been a constant disappointment. This spring I finally dug up half of them to make room for some blueberries, and told the rest that they were there on sufferance this year.

Those raspberries I left were a bit of a tangle once the snow left this spring; I'd run out of recycling bags in the late fall, and cut down only half of them. The ones I didn't dig up were also the same ones I didn't cut back last year. Lo and behold, they are now COVERED with flowers and forming berries!

I think I've figured out what happened. The late-bearing raspberries are cut down to the ground every year, and they come back each summer with new canes that bear fruit. But these other raspberries must bear fruit on OLD wood. I was cutting them to the ground every fall, just like the others, and so was eliminating all the fruiting canes; just a few would struggle up, probably from stumps left behind, to produce a few pathetic berries. I think I've discovered the secret now; once they finish fruiting, I'll cut the older canes, and leave the new ones to produce next year.

Late addition to the garden

Loblaws is starting to discount their plants, especially the vegetable plants, so I picked up one more tomato (as if I need more). This was a curious specimen, described as "yellow pear-shaped", and I just couldn't resist it. I'll find space to squeeze in this last one.

Roses are also going on sale, so I picked up 2, both David Austin varieties: Abraham Darby and Golden Celebration. I have a real weakness for these old-fashioned roses, with their heady scents and big fluffy heads with hundreds of petals. I know that Ottawa is just a bit too cold for them (I never try hybrid roses for just that reason) but I have had success with one: an Eglantyne bought last year (or maybe the year before - I'm forgetting). It's right in front of the deck, and it must be sufficiently protected from the wind, because it's doing very well, even though I can't keep the other plants around from crowding it. I'm going to try putting these down at the bottom of the garden, by the hammock.

The old play structure down there is gradually turning into a little flower focus, but I can't really do what I want to do until the tree guys come and take down the big branch (actually the trunk) of the tree from over the fence that's hanging right over it. It's not without its charm - it makes a nice shady canopy right over the hammock - but it cuts off light to the bottom of the garden, and I want it gone. Hopefully, when it's less shady down there, there will be fewer mosquitoes, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A few new things today

I finally got my certificate from the Library of Congress for the copyright on my screenplay, "Dr. Debane". I think I might be the only one in my family to hold a copyright (so far); now I just have to finish the revisions and perhaps I can see if anyone is interested in buying it.

I also went back to Weight Watchers today; been thinking about it for a long time, but I'm glad I finally went. It's never really that hard to do the work; it's just the mental struggle to go back and admit that I can't do this by myself that's difficult. I'm starting over with a new membership, because it's been so many years and I've forgotten all the habits that worked so well the first time around. Starting off fresh is the right way to go about it, I think.

Garden is set to go

The last things have been planted in the vegetable garden: today I put in 10 red and green pepper plants, and replaced a "Cupid" tomato that James had broken. I think this is it. Here is the total:

OLD GARDEN

Raspberries (everbearing and fall-bearing)
Blueberries
Currants
Rhubarb
Potatoes (white and blue)
Carrots (purple and orange)
Parsley
Lemon balm
Coriander & dill which seeded themselves from last year

NEW GARDEN

8 tomatoes
2 zucchini
3 cucumbers
1 canteloupe
4 hot peppers
10 red and green peppers
kale
swiss chard

There is also a rhubarb up by the shed, and another canteloupe growing among the irises. I planted this one because last year a canteloupe seeded itself there from the compost I'd spread on, and it did so well, I figured this is a particularly attractive spot for them. Last year's started too late in the season to ripen, but it did produce a number of canteloupes.

I've had bad luck with flower seeds this year; not one morning glory has come up, and only half the nasturtiums. I got so fed up waiting for the latter I actually bought a small flat of already-growing ones and planted them in one of the big pots by the garage.

It's a dull, grey day today; not cold, but damp and depressing. I'm not fooled by the Weather Network declaring that we're having "good" weather just because it's not raining. I'm almost in the mood for a fire in the fireplace to cheer the place up.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sad story out of Chicago

The Chicago Tribune has this sad story about a 3-year old autistic girl murdered by her mother. Not the expected tale of a poverty-stricken mother who's fallen through the cracks and unable to cope; the mother is a respected doctor and advocate for autistic children. The girl's father is an engineer, and they have another daughter and extended family around them. The father had gone with the little girl, Katie, to North Carolina, to take advantage of the superior facilities and early intervention techniques available down there. They had just returned home in May, after 20 months away.

First alarm bell goes off there - the mother was perhaps able to advocate for autistic children in the abstract, but actually living with one was harder than anticipated. She seemed dissatisfied with the progress Katie had made, which makes me think that she might be a perfectionist, and unable to tolerate the imperfections in her daughter, which were clearly not going to go away, no matter how much help the family got. Some people do have unrealistic expectations of what intervention can do; behaviour modification DOES work, it's helped our children enormously, but it will never make them NORMAL. They will always be autistic, but with proper training, they are able to do more and more for themselves.

Time will tell in this case. I have an awful feeling that we might find that in that 20-month separation Mom started to forget that she has an imperfect family, and maybe even found some diversion with her husband away for so long. The return of father and daughter would have been a shocking disappointment, and it wouldn't be the first time that a woman thought that life would be wonderful "if only..."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hell's full of such

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Festive mass setting in honour of...Frank T. Griswold

Midwest Conservative Journal has this story about a new festive mass setting which has been composed by Craig Phillips (All Saints, Beverly Hills) in honour of the departingPresiding Bishop of ECUSA, Frank T. Griswold. Chris's fisking of the article left me in tears, especially this part:

The composition also includes two choices for a Fraction Anthem, Phillips explains -- one more festive in nature,

Dumdumdumdumdumdumdum "FRRAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNK T Griswold, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain!!"

and the other, more contemplative.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Griswold, everywhere you go..."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Terror cell raided in Toronto

Much good comment on this from blogs Canadian and American. The Relapsed Catholic has a good one, trying to knock some sense into the mushbrains who insist that everyone's contribution to our great Canadian multicultural mosaic is to be equally valued. Little Green Footballs has regular updates and much information and commentary.

Dean and I were noting the names of the accused:

Fahim, Zakaria, Asad, Shareef, Qayuun, Mohammed, Yasim, Jamaal, Amin, Ahmad, Saad and...Steve. Steve, of course, has an alias: Abdul, naturally. We were speculating on Steve's origin; his full name is Steven Vikash Chand, which sounds Indian - Hindu or possibly Christian. I tend to forget that Islam does find converts among Hindus; like Christianity and Sikhism too, it appeals to those who find the caste system stifling, and promises equality and brotherhood to people who find themselves excluded. My guess is that we'll find that Steve is the son of well-assimilated immigrant parents.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Auction in Kemptville

Another auction today, this time in Kemptville. The nice weather we'd been promised has melted clean away, and it rained all day long - not hard, but incessantly. Jim Cooper was the auctioneer, and I always like going to his auctions. I spent $65, and came home with a van completely stuffed with...odds and ends. I got a vcr, since one of ours is showing its age, and then I was prevailed upon to take the old TV with it. The vcr was $24, and the TV $2, so I could hardly complain. For the rest, it was a lot of oddments - lamps, shades, lamp parts and wire for my electrical toolbox. I like rewiring old lamps, so I can use even ugly lamps for spare parts. Some kitchen things - I'm very fond of aluminum and stuff from the '50s, so I did pick up a set of aluminum canisters and some pots. Another egg poacher - I must have 3 now, and have never used one yet. Maybe I'll try it out tomorrow.

It was very enjoyable to be out in the country again, listening to the voices and accents of old Ontario. Old people reminiscing on how the town has grown (and Kemptville is just a small town); "This was a dirt road, and when we moved here, there were horses right across the street where the IGA is now." It's nice to hear people who've stayed in one place talking about the lineage of houses, and listing off the names of the families who lived in a row on any particular street. Nobody could do that where I live now.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Another week crawls to a close

It was a grumpy week for James. He started it by hitting and breaking a window when I refused to take him to the video store. Got a tiny little cut on his palm - serve him right, the little bastard - but was otherwise unharmed. Can't say the same for the window, which was sporting a stunning spider-web patter of breakage. Since the window is double-paned, he broke only the inner pane, so we still have a window, but it will have to be replaced before the winter. I had to take a hammer and break out the rest of the glass, without breaking the second pane - not easy! Even with a hammer, it's harder than you think to break glass, especially if you're trying to be careful. Well, the shock of the window breaking knocked him out of his sulk, though he was still muttering "Video store" when he was going to bed. I think he just couldn't believe that he'd thrown such a colossal tantrum and had still come up empty!

I got a phonecall from his teacher a few days later, saying that he was very irritable and short-tempered at school. Of course, I started apologizing at once, and she said, "Oh, don't worry, he doesn't hurt us! His idea of "hitting" is pretty gentle compared to some of the kids in the class. No, we're just concerned about him." I laughed and said, "Oh, I never worry about HIM! I always think that James is just indestructible; like duct tape and cockroaches, when the world comes to an end, he'll still be standing when all the rest of us have given up."

It wasn't all bad news, though. The very hot temperatures in the middle of the week suddenly produced some white roses on a bush that I hadn't even realized had buds yet. A lot of plants surged forward - the Baptisia australis even started blooming, and the tall irises have lots of big buds and should open next week. I got hanging fuschia baskets for the front porch, so that looks set now, and this year I'm trying some two-tone geraniums. For some reason, the morning glory hasn't sprouted yet; hopefully in another week I'll see some.

Another naughty neologism

I didn't invent this, but I felt it had to be preserved for posterity:

I'm not a Jew, but I am a Zionist, and I (think) I have an original term for what the Arabists and Islamists must feel after being continously thrashed by Israel and the other "Zionist Pigs":

Jewmiliation

I hope, as a Gentile, that I have not stepped on any toes or crossed any unknown(to me) lines.

Of course, this gave rise to some hilarious ripostes, the best of which was by BenZacharia:

Quick, What does a muslim suffer in a Jewish sauna? Jewmiliation!

Last night as I was going to bed, (alas, too late to add to the thread) I came up with my own rejoinder:

That's right, because he's the only one there who's not Jewmungous!


James and word skills

My 11-year old autistic son, James, continues to amaze us with his language skills. He speaks at about the level of a 2-year old, if that, and usually his conversation is no more than demands for food and entertainment. But he has learned to read and write to some extent in school. He is now doing his own searches on Google. He types the thing he's searching for all by himself; the problem is, he doesn't understand the use of the space key.

He called me to help him the other day, and I saw that he'd typed "grinchcatinthehat" - naturally, it didn't turn up any hits. He wanted "The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat". It's interesting that to him, the word is just the letters; he doesn't see the space as part of the word. As Dean said, "Well, of course! DO YOU TALK LIKE THIS? No, you-talk-like-this! " Quite logical.

I have an idea, though. James experiences everything visually. Maybe I could get him to see the space bar as a "rectangle", and then he might notice a rectangle after every word in a sentence.

It's interesting that both James and Thomas (14, also autistic, but not quite as severely) learned to read through the "whole-word" system, which has been so criticized for replacing the old phonics system. For these kids, though, it works, because they see each word as a picture, not as a collection of *sounds* that can be strung together. That's a leap in abstraction too far; you see what you see - seeing and sounding are two different things. I wonder if a language like Chinese would be easier for an autistic person to learn than an abstract phonics-based language like ours? They'd probably be better at memorizing the look of the characters, rather than trying to decode every word the way we do.

The " ist" suffix

Andrew Sullivan has coined a neologism: Christianist. Typically, this is a term that no one but himself uses, and I don't see much chance of it catching on, unlike the term he copied, "Islamist". And even that word is losing ground, as the illogic of it becomes clear to everyone except professional hair-splitters.

"Christianist" is Sullivan's attempt to place in a box the Christians he doesn't like because they won't agree with him that homosexuality is wholesome. The fact that this covers about 80% of present Christendom (and 100% of our Christian ancestors) doesn't seem to bother him. Like "patriotic" traitors on the Left, he insists that he is acting out of loyalty - it's just loyalty to a fantasy Christianity, just as leftists worship a fantasy America that exists only in their own mind.

First of all "-ist" is a stupid suffix to use for this purpose. It purports to distinguish a deviation from the norm - this is how "Islamist" came about. Unfortunately, one cannot fool the ear, and an English speaker is well aware that "-ist" in itself has no negative connotation. The innocent words spring to mind: socialist, communist, capitalist, pianist, liturgist, etc. etc. Whatever one may think of the things themselves, the fact is that these words are simple descriptions of what the things are; as a matter of fact, they are what the people in question call themselves. For this reason, "Christianist" will no more catch on than "Islamist" has done, except among those who are laboriously making a point. These words are an attempt by outsiders to pare away some segment of the whole that is causing them trouble. This only works if people within the group will adopt the usage, and so far there has been no success in this direction.

Now, some might say, "But Andrew Sullivan is not an outsider!" I simply dispute this. He IS an outsider in every meaningful sense of the word. He left the Catholic Church several years ago, over its refusal to surrender in the fight against homosexuality and other sexual deviations. He is also an outsider from the great history of Christian thought. At best, he's a heretic, though he pretends to some membership in a sort of nebulous "greater Christian thought" that coincidentally is completely in agreement with his preferences. He is a disgruntled voluptuary with a perpetual itch to scratch; the fact that he can't bring himself to boldly cast off Christianity may be of some help to his soul, but that's for God to sort out. He's like those people Chesterton described, who have walked out of the church, but are still lurking about in its shadow, unable to walk right away and get up into the sunshine. They're hovering around the door, unable either to leave and forget about it, or go inside and help.

The question is, why the urge to coin these new terms, when all they are is a fancy way of saying "bad". An Islamist is a "bad Muslim", just as a "Christianist" is a "bad Christian" - one who perverts the tenets of his religion. But it is not for an outsider to distinguish what is good and bad in someone else's religion. Or rather, he can do so, but only in terms of what the effect is on himself, *as an outsider*. It's one thing to say, "Christianity is a blight on humanity - it brings nothing but war and suffering," as so many do say. But to say, "Christianity is a great religion - just listen to me, a non-Christian, and I will tell you how you ought to practice it," is ridiculous. And yet this is what President Bush has done non-stop with Islam ever since 9/11.

I'm not sure who first used the term "Islamist" - I seem to recall Daniel Pipes using it shortly after 9/11 - but it sprang from queasy political correctness in the West, coupled with a basic decency that believes the best of everyone. Faced with the monstrous evil that had been produced by Mohammedan fanatics, the West had to come up with the necessary words to discuss the problem. "Islam" was the obvious culprit, yet we in the West instinctively flinched from using it. Surely, the thought went, it can't be Islam itself that's to blame? How can something so big (all those millions of adherents) and so permanent (1400 years of history) be irredeemable? How can something be so big and so wrong? As Chesterton said, the mere physical FACT of Islam was enough to overawe the evidence of our senses and our reason. Somehow, Islam had to be salvaged - if it weren't, endless difficulty would block our way forward.

Thus was invented the word "Islamism". A perversion of Islam, not "real" Islam. President Bush was tireless in lecturing both Mohammedans and non-Mohammedans on what "real" Islam taught and meant. Of course, it was all about peace and reconciliation and gentleness - how could it not be? That's what Christianity is all about, and Islam has been around almost as long; surely they must be pretty much the same thing, or else Islam couldn't have lasted the way it has. Five years later, even Bush has had some of this sappy sentimentalism knocked out of him, but he still keeps trying to find his way back to it.

The problem with trying to divide the sheep from the goats in Islam like this, is that the people who know the most about the religion, i.e., the ones who actually believe it, did not oblige by adopting the terminology themselves. I have never heard the term "Islamist" used by anyone but a non-Muslim. Muslims will sometimes protest that their religion is being abused by people who do bad things, and will sometimes say that terrorists are not Muslims, but there is no ability to assimilate the idea of an "Islamist" - a Muslim who has taken certain things that really exist in the religion and has created an unbalanced, deformed version of the original. What Westerners are trying to do is to transplant the Christian idea of a heresy into another religion. It doesn't work. Islam is too inflexible to adapt to such a concept. The urge is to either make excuses for the terrorist - change the subject, and try to throw the blame upon the Other. Or to pretend that the terrorist is no part of Islam, thus keeping the religion pure.

Thursday, June 01, 2006



Time to give dear old Mosjoukine a rest - this is going to be my new avatar.