Monday, February 25, 2008

Bathroom Renovation - Day 3, 4

Nothing much to photograph - right now the main task is moving the plumbing around, and that entails nothing much more exciting than cutting holes in the floor. The drywall has been put back up in James's room, and the plastic vapour barrier installed over the bathroom, so the cold air is no longer a problem. New insulation has gone into the walls, and the new hot/cold lines into the big shower has been installed, though they're not yet connected to the existing water lines.

The guys delivered the base of the new shower, and it's currently hidden in James's closet with a sheet over it, and a bookcase pulled in front. I don't want him to see it, because he'll be too interested and might try to pull it out, and it's heavy enough to crush a leg!

The big mirror arrived, so now I have all the lights and mirrors that are going to be installed. I still have to find some towel bars, but those might wait until all the fixtures are in, so I can see just how much room I have, and where things can best be installed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We're ALL trying to forget that it's snowing out

I dropped Dean off at a mall parking lot today, and as I drove to the end to turn around, I discovered that the back quarter of the lot had been taken over by literal sitting ducks! There must have been well over a hundred of them, and they'd left the ice-covered river across the highway and moved over to the mall. They were sitting everywhere, and the security lady was trying unsuccessfully to shoo them away, because they were blocking traffic as well as occupying many parking spots. When I got up close to them to photograph them, they refused to move, but broke into low, grumpy quacks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I should have said

Jacki Brucchi at Stand Firm kindly linked to the post below, and particularly to the comments section. I tend to be a little terse (for me, at any rate) in the comments, because I feel that if I have a LOT to say, I should spin it into a separate post, and sometimes I don't have time, so I only cover the basics.

The comment was
And homosexuals don't realize that it's only Christianity that even bothers to consider them as human beings worth saving. But in their rage against God, their determination to show Him, and the rest of the "haves" who won't let them rewrite reality, they're going to spend their last strength clawing and choking their "enemy", even though he's the lifeguard who's trying to hold them up and keep them from drowning.

It's like that speech from 'A Man For All Seasons', about what happens when you cut down all the laws to attack the Devil. "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?" When the last church is down, and the Devil turns 'round, where will people hide, and how will they stand in the howling wilderness that will be left?
I should have realized (once I started hunting down quotations) that this would have been better as a separate post.

So, to clarify, what I was getting at was this: Christianity alone has a place for homosexuals in its cosmos, because it has a place for EVERYONE. That's what a cosmology is - it includes everything because it has an explanation for everything.

Homosexuals may not like what that entails, and there has been lots of discussion over why the requirements are unreasonable and onerous and unfair. That's a separate matter. But no other system even comes close to Christianity's complicated and thoroughly reasoned way of incorporating sinners of all kinds into God's plan.

It's not just that Muslims kill homosexuals and Christians don't - Islam doesn't even have a remote possibility of figuring out a way of working these people into its system. Christianity can work from the revelation of the one good God who created everything, saw the self-made brokenness of every human soul, and found a way to save every human being through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Islam has no response except "Kill them," because that's what Mohammed ordered, and nothing more can be said. It's Christianity that says, "But sin never has the last word. If a man repents, if he believes, then..." and all the possibilities start from that point.

I'm not an expert in every culture and every era, but I can't think of any, other than the Christian West, where these particular sinners have been allowed onto a level playing field with all other sinners, and given the same chance to repent and be saved as everyone else. Even when the civil laws have reflected the popular prejudice against perversity, the Church had its deep reservoirs of tradition and reason to maintain that these, too, can come in if they accept the terms God offered. Christianity is the only refuge and shelter for us misfits.

I see the same attitude of making room for the unwanted when it comes to the handicapped. Secular governments are far too prone to regard human beings in terms of their cost-effectiveness, and I am always acutely aware of the fact that some regard my children as a burden on society. This attitude ranges from impatience and irritation, in a country like Canada, all the way up to ruthless extermination of "useless mouths" in a dictatorship, but they all partake to some extent of the tendency to see human beings as mere things. Homosexuals aren't at the moment vulnerable in that way, though they could be, if the money-changers suddenly decided that increased health care costs were making them equally "inconvenient" to society. Only the Church has a complete view of humanity that sees all human beings, even the most "defective" as valuable and indispensible. It is not in Christian lands that children and the handicapped are rigged up with bombs, or driven through minefields to clear the way for more valuable cattle and plows.

And so it is horrifying to see how deluded homosexual activists are as they carry on their crazed campaign to break the Christian churches that refuse to change their doctrines to accommodate them. It is only in the Christian West that homosexuals have any hope of living decent lives, and it is this culture that they are busily gnawing at and trying to destroy. They are hacking away at an ancient old wooden barrier that they think is blocking a splendid view of the valley below, when it's only that old wooden barrier that holds them back from the abyss. The unhappiness of the defiant sinner is turned outward, and against the Church, which must be punished for refusing to agree that anything but the old way of finding God will work. This method will never succeed in bringing happiness, but as long as there is a Church to fight against, the sinner can pretend that all his miseries come from out there, and not from inside. Once the last wall has fallen, though, he will discover, as Sir Thomas More said in the play, a powerful gale blowing with no barrier to stop it, and against which no man can stand.

Bathroom Reno: Day Two

This was a short day, a continuation of the demolition work of yesterday. It was interesting, though, to see what it looked like when they took down part of the wall of the closet in James's room. We're taking about 10" from the closet (which is right behind the pipes in the tub enclosure), and lengthening the enclosure to make room for the larger shower. This is what we saw when we went into James's room:
It was so enjoyable to be able to look THROUGH what used to be a solid wall, and see into the next room! I don't know why, but I kept going back just to experience it again. It reminded me of an essay by C.S. Lewis, where he describes the thrill of being able to catch a glimpse of backstage while watching a play. This is something we're not MEANT to see - that gap between the drywall, the bare wood beams, the plywood underside of the roof. Suddenly having it exposed, and better yet, being able to see a real room AND the "behind the scenes" reality at the same time, gives one a wonderful moment of jarring surfaces.

In the bathroom, a bit more wall was taken down, and the copper pipes that so disquieted antique have been removed:
The water pipes are going to be moved some 10" back, so they're behind the new, extended wall. And this time around, we're going to have shut-off valves installed in all the taps. I hadn't realized it, but we had NO shut-offs in our bathrooms, except for the toilets. So if a pipe had broken in a sink or shower, the only way to stop the water would have been to run to the basement and turn off the main water supply. Maybe that was correct for standards of the day, but it sure seems to be taking a risk.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Any old stick will do

The kangaroo court showtrials of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn have shed a lot of light on Canada's authoritarian Human Rights Commissions. It's thanks to these high-profile cases that now we are hearing more and more about the state attempts to throttle a traditional foe of fascist tyrannies: Christians. The most recent is a complaint by a homosexual activist against Catholic Insight, for articulating Catholic and Christian views on homosexuality. I've no doubt that the intrepid Binky will keep us all well-informed by following this fraudulent "trial" as well. I only note that the enemies of Western tradition seem almost unconsciously to be dividing up the world between them - the Muslims are going after the Jews, and the homosexuals are going after the Christians. It's almost like the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939; I suspect that one of the two sides is going to be surprised to find its "ally" turning on it when the moment is ripe.

But I noticed an interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen last week, about a new front in this war.
A group representing a segment of residential school survivors says it is preparing to take the federal government to international criminal court and disinter bodies of native children.

As part of a growing campaign to seek redress for crimes it claims were committed during a dark chapter in Canadian history, the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared Residential School Children plans to disinter the bodies during a March media event at an unmarked gravesite in B.C. where members believe native children who died in a residential school are buried, said Kevin Annett, the group's spokesman.

The group is also planning to file an application against the federal government and the Roman Catholic Church at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It accuses the federal government of being complicit in crimes against humanity, said Mr. Annett, a former United Church minister who has been campaigning on the issue for more than a decade.
It's interesting that this group is only targetting the Catholic Church on this expedition. The residential schools were run by Anglican, United Church and Catholic churches, under government direction. Maybe it's because they've already milked the Anglicans dry, and now they're stalking a new meatball.

I've already said that I consider most of these hysterical "abuse" accusations to be bogus. They include some criminal acts, like sexual attack, which should definitely be punished. And they also include woozy whining about "cultural assimilation", which is a totally different thing. But lump it all together under the all-purpose umbrella of "abuse", with its suggestion of vaguely ugly predations, and people assume we're talking about wholesale child rape and torture.

This particular group has quite a taste for the flamboyant. They talk wildly about "buried children", as if Canadian Christians earlier in the last century were frenziedly murdering children and stuffing their bodies into mass graves, à la Iraq. These schools were around in the 1800s - as one level-headed writer who hasn't forgotten her history points out, child mortality from disease used to be something that could happen to anyone.
The Cann family moved to southeastern Saskatchewan from Ontario to homestead in 1891. Among the 11 children listed are William Henry (born 1880, died 1898), Iva Louise (born 1890, died 1898), and Dora Alice (born 1894, died 1898).

What happened in 1898? As was the custom in previous years, the Canns had sought the relative comfort of "winter camp" in the wooded range of hills north of their farm to wait out the long months of cold and isolation with other prairie pioneers of the area. Instead, they found diptheria.
Someone contact the descendants of the Cann family - there's got to be a human rights windfall for them in there somewhere.

I don't know for a fact that THIS particular suit will get anywhere. But I do think that some such "international court" will be used as an instrument against the Catholic Church, to the point of eventually outlawing it, as if it were a Mafia organization. Its assets will be seized, and it will be suppressed and broken up - the public part of it will, that is. It's going to happen, and soon. Those warning us to prepare for an underground church are going to be proved right, and before very long.

Bathroom reno - Day One

Well, it has finally begun. Two guys came yesterday, and gutted the big bathroom, right down to the joists and the subfloor. They even took the ceiling off, removing old insulation in the process, so now we have a clear view into the attic and the the underside of the roof.

I tried to take pictures, but it's very hard to photograph a bathroom - the space is just too small, and you can't back far enough to capture much of anything. Here's what I managed:
Not much to look at - the first picture is where the shower and tub used to be, looking up into the attic. The second one is just a piece of the top of the wall, with the attic above.
James was quite amazed when he came home from school and saw the transformation. He keeps expecting a "white tub" to magically appear, but I'm afraid he's going to have a couple weeks' wait. Thomas just looked with enormous round eyes.

Since the ceiling was gone, of course the cold air from the attic was able to flow down into the house, so we had to keep the door closed and locked after the guys had gone. By 6:00 PM, though, I was starting to notice that it was getting uncomfortably cold, so I turned up the furnace. After half an hour, the temperature had gone DOWN another degree. Close examination of a vent showed that our furnace had conked out - the fan was on, but it was only blowing cold air. Grrrrr.

I called Direct Energy just as a snow squall started outside, fully expecting that we'd all be huddling for warmth until the next day, but fortunately a technician was able to come out within an hour! They do treat heat failures as real emergencies out here in the winter, I have to acknowledge that. Now we've just got localized cold near the area of the bathroom, and the rest of the house is doing pretty well.

Today the pounding and wrenching continues - they are taking down part of the wall in Thomas's room, to make room for the larger shower that will be replacing the bathtub. We're also discovering just how weirdly this house was put together. We have only about 10" of insulation in the attic, and that after TWO applications! The walls are rather thin, too, and there are very unusual plumbing fixtures everywhere. We think this was "privately" built, maybe by someone who had a friend on the building inspection board! Still, it hangs together, and when we finish our improvements it will be much nicer.

Yin is very taken aback by the strangers in the house, and all the noise and vibrations going on. I put her in Emma's room to keep her safe, and she hurriedly folded herself up very small on the pillow, I guess to make herself a less obvious target for whatever violence was going on down the hall.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How much longer?

I don't know about anyone else, but I feel just like the little man with the shovel in this picture - CRUSHED by the weight of snow we've received this year! This is the snowiest winter in Ottawa since 1971. Every day we wake up and it's another 5" outside. That isn't much if it happens once or twice, but over and over again, and it wears you down.

The kids are getting sick of it, too. Staying indoors, they amuse themselves printing pictures off the computer. In fact, they've wasted so much ink, I've resolved not to buy any more until next month! James and I have reached a deal; "Bathroom, and THEN ink". Of course, he probably thinks that the bathroom will be fixed in one day, not 3 weeks. Thomas keeps up a gentle pressure, tapping the now-moribund printer on the "color" word. He's quite reasonable; the other day, he said to me, "Get some money, get some ink!" Ahhh, if only it were that simple.

He started poking around inside the printer himself, and pulled out the toner drums. Then he tried putting them back, but got them in the wrong order, so the yellow one was stuck. I finally had to get some pliers to try to pry it out, and I managed to rip off the whole end of it, scattering yellow powder everywhere! (Hmmm, there was a lot of yellow powder in there, considering that the dial had been reading "empty" - the cheats. They just want us to buy more toner!)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Your stupid minds! Stupid!! STUPID!!!"

Well, there you have it: Archbishop Rowan "Eros" Williams's "apology" for Shariagate. He doesn't acknowledge any error in his ideas - it's just that, in his divine innocence, he didn't realize that they'd be overheard and misunderstood by the ignorant and the illiterate (and no, that's not referring to Muslims). He's really the victim here - how was he to know that all this ruckus would arise just because he didn't dumb down the message in the first place?

The Bishop of Durham agrees.
He was addressing some of the most serious and far-reaching questions which face us both in Britain and throughout western culture, and was doing so with the sensitivity and intellectual rigour which the occasion, and his audience, rightly demanded. We should be grateful that we have an Archbishop capable of such work, not demand that his every word be instantly comprehensible by the casual uninformed onlooker. If I ask someone to fix my car, or my computer, I don’t expect to understand everything they say about the technicalities; rather, I’m glad someone out there knows what’s going on and can do what’s necessary.
Leave it to the EXPERTS, kiddies. Williams must have assumed that his speech would only be noticed by his kind of audience, and even if, by some incredible chance, it got out to the general public, it would be so erudite and sophisticated, the ignorant swine would just grunt and roll over again, unable to understand what he'd said. Plus they'd know that it was their place to keep their eyes lowered in any case, and wouldn't trouble him with their opinions. I think what really was so "astonishing" to these gentlemen was that they could be interfered with and balked by what they've obviously long considered the sweating masses, who should be grateful that their toil supports such intellectual titans. As Mr. Burns said, suddenly Joe Meatball and Sally Housecoat were talking back, and worse still, their voices were loud, insistent, important, and unable to ignore. Rowan Williams, having to explain himself to some bank clerk or kindergarten teacher! Outrageous!

This sharia business all sounded so reasonable when he was discussing it over tea with his Muslim friends who also wear wool on their faces! You know those guys - the "many Muslim scholars" (Which ones, exactly? "MANY. Muslim. Scholars") who have told him that no, no, no, all that killing and chopping and beating stuff is just a kind of Boys' Own adventure fiction. Nobody REALLY believes in it - it's just the Muslim equivalent of Biggles vs. The Hun, meant to keep the lads' spirits up.

Williams's job seems to be safe for now - some politician who owns the church said so. And the spinners appear to have convinced themselves, if nobody else, that this was all a big nothing.

I can see why revisionists are desperate to keep Williams afloat, considering how much they've got invested in him. There's a part near the end of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', when the conspiracy is unravelling, where George Smiley confronts Toby Esterhase, one of the high-up dupes in the Circus. "Have you ever bought a counterfeit painting?" he asks him. As one's fears and suspicions continue to grow of having been hoodwinked, the natural reaction for some is to insist ever more forcefully that the painting IS genuine. So the Rowan apologists are clamouring ever louder that he IS brilliant, he IS a great man, he is he is he IS! But the magic is gone now. Everyone knows that a) we're not that dumb, and b) he's not that smart, and that haze of mystery will never return. He's got his job, but everyone knows he's an old fool and a fraud, and the English never forgive an incompetent phoney.

It was his vanity that led him to play the lofty Holy Arbitrator among squabbling creeds. It was his vanity that made him refuse to humble himself before those he thought his inferiors. And it will be his vanity that tortures him as he is reduced to a joke and a punchline for the rest of his tenure. God is great.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Remember the Sorting Hat scene in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', where Harry is finally is sorted into Gryffindor? Everyone wanted 'the famous Harry Potter' in THEIR house, but he finally takes his seat amid jubilant chants of "We got Potter! We got Potter!" by triumphant Gryffindors. Of course, none of them knew Harry, just his reputation, but they all wanted the cachet and the reflected glory of counting a celebrity as one of their own.

Something similar has been happening in The Episcopal Church. Despite countless disappointments and sly betrayals, conservatives still kept clinging to the hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, would somehow eventually come down on their side. The collapse of the fantasy of a Canterbury-led charge to restore the Episcopal Church should have been complete at the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans in September. Indeed, after that, the movement to separate from the corrupt American church began to gather speed, despite the admonitions of the Enabler of Canterbury.

But some, like Lot's wife, still kept looking back wistfully. Like grown-up children of an abusing, alcoholic parent, they were no longer able to take refuge in the innocent confusion of childhood - they could see, recognize and understand the foulness of their parent and how it had damaged them. But reason and logic can't always overcome sentiment, and even after understanding, they still kept hoping that now, AT LAST, at this late moment, as they're walking out the door, mother would snap out of her drunken haze and realize their worth, and there could be a perfect reconciliation.

On the other side, there's been scarcely-concealed glee at hooking the biggest fish in the Anglican pond. A spirit of triumph has reigned at TEC headquarters since September, and the Madwoman of Second Avenue has responded to the perceived strengthening of her position by redoubling her legal attacks upon her enemies. The liberals felt themselves secure, with their Lambeth invitations under their belts, and only a small mopping-up operation left to "regularize" the status of their champion cock-snooker, the Bishop of New Hampshire. "We got Rowan! We got Rowan!" has been all the cry.

That's why it was a moment of comeuppance to see all those liberal smirks vanish when, on Thursday, their prize pig ran amok through the victory garden. Suddenly, having Rowan Williams on their side is no fun at all; not only is he an embarrassment himself, he's committed the unspeakable crime of causing Anglican stock prices to fall. Liberals are nothing if not fashionable, and now they find themselves all decked out in thrift store discards.

The attempts to salvage the sinking flagship-turned-garbage-scow are not yielding many results. (There was another one, at Fr. Jake's blog, but I barely had a chance to read any of it, though it seemed to be growing positively incandescent. By the time I went back, it had disappeared. Bits of it are reproduced here.) The latest spin, as far as I can tell, is that people who oppose Rowan's sharia musings are really just taking this as an opportunity to stage a cloaked anti-Semitic riot. How we got from a crackpot endorsement of Muslim sharia law to reproaches of anti-semitism is anyone's guess. Reminds me of a time when Jim Bakker was caught milking PTL funds to buy a luxurious condominium, and when the press wouldn't stop asking questions, he thought he'd divert the conversation into safer channels by huffing, "There's been too much talk about condominiums, and not enough talk about...JEEEEESUS."

Well, people don't show any signs of being intimidated by this desperate attempt to guilt-trip them. People who've left the Anglican Church are reinforced in their decision, and congratulating themselves on a narrow escape. Those who've counselled staying, and the absolute centrality of the ABC and Canterbury are silent. And those who struggled so hard to "get Rowan" only win the prize to see it crumble to dust in their hands.
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Away, slight man

I've heard of "suicide by cop" - when a person deliberately courts suicide by confronting police in a fashion that can only end in his own death. There must be some equivalent descriptive term for what Rowan Williams is doing. Maybe "suicide by cream pie" - he's made such a public fool of himself by his latest jape, endorsing sharia law for British Muslims, that he's in a fair way to collapse under the ridicule. I think that the demands of the job have proved too much for the dimestore Erasmus, and he's trying to get himself kicked out, not having the guts to pull the trigger himself and just resign.

For once, the soothing murmurs of his defenders have not swayed the public. People are no longer awed by the assertions of his brilliance, and the hushed references to HIS BOOKS. We've seen over and over again that the man blabs anything that comes into his head, and it's not a question of a few unfair "gotcha!" questions in an aggressive interview. The guy's never outgrown his undergraduate days, and is living one endless late-night bull session with his pals. He's managed to achieve the exact opposite of what a Christian is supposed to be: with his trendy leftist yens, he's OF the world, but since everything is couched in a never-ending schoolboy hypothetical argument, he's not IN it.

So it's not surprising that he's depending on his associates among "Muslim scholars" who either enjoy the same game of castles in the air, or are smart enough to jerk him along by appealing to his taste for fantasy. Real people know that sharia, like Islam itself, is intensely practical and down-to-earth. That's why a group like The Canadian Council of Muslim Women opposed this sharia project when it was proposed for Ontario - because they know that they will experience it on their own bodies, not in libraries and reading rooms and cozy studies. Williams is fantasizing about scholarly debates between bearded sages, oblivious to the reality, which will be inflicted on the mutilated, violated bodies of legally enslaved women.

Now, today, the Fool of Canterbury is shocked and dismayed by the furor his harmless little remarks have raised. He doesn't seem to feel at all ashamed to discover that he has no connection with, or understanding of, his own countrymen. Even a foreigner like myself is aware of the discontent and disgust of the English for the arrogant Muslim barbarians who are daily provoking and challenging the native population. Yet Williams finds the views of his own people astonishing and unfamiliar, as if THEY were the exotic foreigners. He certainly feels no such discomfort in the company of the erudite "Muslim scholars" who compliment him on his education and interest in Islam.

One way or another, he has to go.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Back to the house

We're 1.5 weeks and counting from the start of bathroom renovations! It looks like they WILL be taking the ceiling off after all - that was always my idea, but the bathroom guy said that it was possible to attach another ceiling onto the first one, as opening the ceiling into the attic would be messy, what with insulation falling around, etc. But the contractor noticed that the ceiling presently ripples, bowing down a bit between the joists - moisture damage, probably, maybe over the years, or maybe there was a roof leak at some time in the past. Anyway, you can't really attach a flat piece of drywall onto a rippled surface, so it'll be better to entirely replace the ceiling.

I've been shopping for new light fixtures and mirrors, and I think I've found the mirror I want for the big bathroom:
It's 30" square - very handsome, I think. But I'll have to paint the wall BEFORE the mirror is installed.

I've decided to do a bit of painting elsewhere in the house, warming up to the painting I'll have to do in the bathrooms. I started with some primer, and what do I discover but I've bought OIL-based primer! Aaaauuugghhh! I only realized it after I'd done some painting and tried to wash off the brush. Well, there's one brush down the drain. But to hell with it - I'm not wasting a whole can of paint, so I'll just have to finish the job with this stuff. It's not hard to paint with, it just doesn't wash off easily. And it says that it's suitable for going on top of or underneath any other paint, so I don't think I'll have to stick with oil paint throughout. I've just done half the upstairs hall and some spots in the TV room.

There's not much else to do, as it's snowing AGAIN outside. This has got to be the snowiest winter I've ever experienced since moving to Ottawa 25 years ago or so. And the snow removal is the most incompetent this year, too. (I think it's the first winter since we elected our hotshot businessman mayor, too.) They no longer salt in advance of storms - in fact, the policy now seems to be to wait until the snow has FINISHED, and THEN begin plowing! Ottawa has always been very efficient at removing snow, but not this year. They say they blew the whole budget on a heavy snowfall in December, but they also underbudgetted, because LAST year we had quite a dry winter, and they gambled that it would happen again.