Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saturnine Saturday? or Dark Night of the Soul?

It’s “Saturnine Saturday” at my blog.  This week, Saturday was actually pretty good, but I’ve had plenty of Saturdays that weren’t, and I’ll bet you have, too.

Too many Saturnine Saturdays in a row, and you wonder if the run of lousy luck or the persistent sense of emptiness is ever going to end.   “Dark night of the soul, yeah, maybe I’m going through one of those.” You do your best to make it through until daybreak.

The sun finally comes up, but if you aren’t a different person when it does, if you haven’t changed to the point that your eyes open up to an altered world, then what you’ve been through is a rough patch--maybe one heck of a rough patch—but not a dark night of the soul. 

The dark night of the soul is a very, very good thing.

Centuries ago, someone wrote a book about it while he was locked up in a latrine by some evil monks for a long while. It wasn’t your typical retreat setting, but he learned a lot about love, not just love for God, but for everyone, in that little room.  The book begins with a poem, and here is the first stanza.
San Juan de la Cruz
La noche oscura
(Canciones del alma)
En una noche oscura
con ansias en amores inflamada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
salí sin ser notada
estando ya mi case sosegada.
I have been reading the translation by Mirabai Starr, but since her work is copyrighted, I’ll do the best I can with Google Translate and internet dictionaries
Saint John of the Cross
The Dark Night
(Songs of the Soul)

On a dark night,
With yearning, in the flames of love,
(Oh, blissful opportunity!)
I slipped away unnoticed,
Since my house, now, is quiet.    
To put this into my own words, with the limited understanding I have so far about what 
John of the Cross is saying:
Someone beautiful, so beautiful, is hiding. So many obstacles stand between us. He hides, yet he waits.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Is Irene Athena a Kitchen Goddess. or what?

LOL!  I kind of didn't know what I was doing with the refrigerator jam, as you can tell from the over-size jars and the crude masking tape labels, but everything was sterile, and it sure smelled good!
Blackberry/Vanilla Jam    Blackberry Cake  Peach/Cinnamon Jam    July 2016
I still have two paper bags full of peaches and also blackberries fixin' to rot if I don't get to them in time. Pectin and sugar freezer peach and also blackberry jam tomorrow I think, and Peach Butter, and maybe a peach cobbler or a peach pie.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Athena, Master Gardener!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ladies only: Dyed my hair pink for my husband's birthday!

[UNCHARACTERISTICALLY LONG POST.  Ladies Only. There are more concise posts to choose from in the list to the far right. There's nothing of interest in this Family Friday post for men unless you do hair, or like to listen in on how ladies talk to one another.  See you on Saturnine Saturday maybe, or Thank God It's Sunday, or Maybe Mathematical/Mystical Monday, or the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Tree That's Completely P.C. which I am postponing til Christmas in August.]

...and he hasn't noticed yet! (*1)  I saw Helen Mirren and Cindi Lauper with that look in First for Women magazine earlier this summer, and I figured if they could pull it off, maybe I could, too. So, while Mr. Athena was out for his run, I sprayed this spray-paint pink stuff from an aerosol can that I got for $5 at Walgreens.(*2)

So right after he got back from running, Mr. Athena and I watched an entire episode of NCIS and he still hadn't said anything about the hair by the end of it. He usually figures out soon into the show "who dunnit" but this episode (you know, the one where Ziva and Tony are in Paris together?) I was able to explain to him what "why did you lie to McGee?" "well, why did you lie to Nora?" meant. Tee hee. So... I'm writing this entry in a hurry.   I'm down in the basement to feed the cat and take care of my online obligations before I go upstairs.

On the weekend schedule for Mr. A's birthday weekend:

A. Tomorrow early we are going to watch a friend who does a home care radio show every Saturday morning. He is going to be doing the show live from a solar panel installation. Mr. A told him he wished solar panels weren't against the neighborhood covenants, and then learned from the friend that there's a law making it illegal for Home Owners Associations to forbid installation of solar panels. I don't know how I feel about that law from a libertarian point of view, although it works out for us since we'd like to do solar panels unless they look ugly. On the other hand, the HOA's are like another layer of government, so maybe it is a l"ibertarianally" kosher for laws that keep HOA's in check.
B. I am going to try to do something with the super-abundance of blackberries, raspberries and peaches that Mr. Athena  grew and I harvested this week. He likes berry bread a lot, so I'll make that, with stevia though, because what's the point of his running routine if I put sugar in everything? (*4)
C. OK so here's the thing about  peaches and immigrants.  I had to pick them all off when they were sort of smallish before the squirrels got to them all. I got three paper bags full of good ones, and started figuring out how I was going to use them all for us. Well, I went to the place where I tutor immigrants and refugees, and one of the Mexicans had brought in a full paper-bag full of peaches to share with the other immigrants and refugees and the tutors. It had not even occurred to me to share my peaches with anyone outside the family.  He asked why I wasn't taking any, and I explained why not, and we commiserated about squirrels together. In English! Yay!
D. So I could can the peaches but all the recipes I know about, you need sugar. Maybe I should look for some recipes with stevia. You really don't want to experiment with Canning Recipes.  But I did find (in First for Women magazine) a recipe for freezer jam, blackberry and also peach, using honey stevia and for the thickener, chia seeds. I'm going to make up a bunch of that for Mr. Athena. I think he'll like that.
E. Birthday Card.

(*1) Or maybe he's following the age-old advice, if you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
(*2) The brand I bought had warning label about how cancerous it is, and if you inhale it you could die.
Il faut suffrir d'etre belle, I guess. (**2)
(*3)Pink Hair Girl Photo: Public Domain

(**2) I fuss so about sodium nitrite in meat and pesticides on fruit, but that has to do with the food I am buying for my loved ones.  IreneAthena is a woman of contradictions.  I don't think I'm going to put that poison stuff on my hair again. It'll easily wash out, maybe before traditional service on Sunday morning?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wanted: Angel to End the War on Terror

I've linked to an article that  matters to those who cast their votes on the basis of a candidate's appearance.  Posted a few minutes into her speech, it's about the  outfit Hillary wore, white pantsuit with silver ear rings and a delicate necklace. How to compare Trump at his acceptance speech to Hillary at hers?  The lighting at the RNC was just right, so that Trump's hair positively glowed, halo-like, seeming to emanate ethereally, rather than actually grow, from his head.  Hillary, too, all in white, looked rather angelic. May the best  Blond Elder Cherub win.


Here is the issue that matters most to me: who is going to end the War on Terror? It's been going on since October 7, 2001. Ever since then, the US has been "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."  Time to try plan B. More bombs "over there" have made, and will continue to make, more lone wolf terrorists over here, Homeland Security measures notwithstanding.

I can't see the War on Terror ending any other way than people deciding that it's gone on long enough and trying a different approach.  Spend money on things that really make for peace and international security, namely the prevention of the radicalization of more youth who have  nothing to lose The US and our allies have spent so much money destroying Muslim countries, and giving war materiel and military training to the Shi'ite and, alternately, his enemy the Sunni. Maybe it's time  for a serious rebuilding project like the Marshall Plan.  Maybe teenagers considering joining ISIS would change their minds  if they saw these projects being undertaken, in their ghettos in Europe, in their miserable refugee camps in the Middle East, and in the communities where they're living in the US.

It could happen. 

Catholics and Protestants were massacring each other for centuries. At some point in history, the Catholics and Protestants buried the hatchet. There were hold-outs in Northern Ireland for awhile, but now, the only bloodshed in what's left of the battle between the Prots and the Papists is spilled rhetorically on message boards.

Were They Trying to Ridicule Me?

Pshaw! I say. If so, did they honestly think they could, with their ridicule, put a dent in the psychic armor of someone who could write an essay like "Pro-Tip: Remember Where You Parked Your Car" about herself?

Today is a "Day Off Thursday" that is not actually a Day Off,  because I've already had a week off from writing while I was traveling.

The object  of the ridicule was as follows (or the issue might have been as follows, since many are they who are ridiculed by Those Who Call Themselves the Ilk):  I had remarked in a comment that many whites would not want to live in a state where only whites could live, because they would not want to have to drive out-of-state to get an authentic ethnic meal, for example.   For example is a key phrase here; I wrote a post here on my blog about the many benefits of getting along with people unlike oneself .

For a few days after this, Those Who Call Themselves the Ilk made frequent sarcastic comments about encouraging immigration to the US so we could enjoy authentic ethnic cooking. One of them boasted that he could figure out the recipe for tacos on his own. 

Knock yourself out, white boy! To the right is a picture of a dhosa  I enjoyed in Canada this week at a restaurant run by immigrants from Sri Lanka.

I picture with disgust Those Who Call Themselves the Ilk dousing this dhosa with abundant lashings of melted Velveeta Cheeze. I will, however, defend with my life their right to do so, as long as they do so in the privacy of their own remote, racially pure compounds. See? No hard feelings on my part.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christmas in July

It may be as long as a week before I post again.  Meanwhile, I'd like to be getting the Twelve Days of Christmas ready to put in this blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's the First Time in a While..

...that a Republican presidential candidate has rejected  interventionist US foreign policy in the Middle East. Trump's victory at the Republican National Convention is really good news if you aren't a neo-conservative! And I'm not a neo-conservative!

Here's another thing that hasn't happened for awhile, since 1825 to be precise. If Trump wins the presidential race, his Slovenian-American wife Melania will be the first foreign-born First Lady since John Quincy Adams' wife Louisa.  Melania is what Trump would call "a quality woman," so holding her close by his side while he deports so many others immigrants would be ironic, but not hypocritical. 
ReeeeeRRR! That was catty.
This week's Trump-Watch Tuesday has something to offend everybody(*1), and that's the way it's gotta be when one is trying to see both sides.

 (*1) with the exception of Gary Johnson supporters, God love ya!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Robert E.Lee in a Yankee Stained Glass Window

I was in a church very, very far north of the Mason-Dixie line this morning.  The deacon drew the congregation's attention to a stained glass window  with depictions of modern-day Christians of note. Albert Schweitzer, Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton were there, and to my surprise, so were Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.  The deacon had tried to find out why Lincoln and Lee had both been honored. After making inquiries of the older folks who were around when that window was commissioned, she learned that the church has for a very long time been committed to the idea that people devoted to following Jesus can differ on very significant points. The inclusion of Lincoln and Lee together in that window was one way of expressing that conviction.

Here are a couple of quotes from Robert E. Lee, from the website of A Son of the South
Robert E. Lee had advocated for a peaceful end to slavery before the Civil War started:
"The doctrines and miracles of our Savior have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day."  Excerpts from Robert E. Lee's Letter to President Pierce prior to the War

Loving one's enemy is difficult during war. The painful absurdity of being in a war against other Christians seems to have affected him deeply.
Upon hearing that Stonewall Jackson had been injured in battle, Lee Prayed for him and requested that word be sent to Jackson to let him know that he was praying for him . . . "When you return I trust you will find him better. When a suitable occasion offers, give him my love, and tell him that I wrestled in Prayer for him last night, as I never prayed, I believe, for myself." And he had to turn abruptly away to conceal his emotion. from Part 6, Chapter 8 of "A LIFE OF GEN. ROBERT E. LEE.  BY JOHN ESTEN COOKE
Has someone told you you've committed the unpardonable sin, or that you've slid into heresy,  because you don't believe the same things they do about  issues X, Y, Z?  God is God, as God is, whether or not you believe, and no matter what you believe, or what they believe, about God.

If it is "the still small voice of God" that speaks to the individual who is humbly listening for it, it is unlikely that anyone is going to have "all the answers."  You'll get the answers you need to live your life, not somebody else's.

Did you hear about this? 
Today, hundreds of people met to pray "a circle of love" around the The National Republican Convention, which  is to be held  in Cleveland this week.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

#black/#allLivesMatter Surprise! Saturday

You gotta watch this short video! 

The situation got tense when #AllLivesMatter counter-protesters showed up at a #BlackLivesMatter protest last Sunday in Dallas. Blacks raised fists in the air as they marched, and the #AllLivesMatter group held Texas flags aloft. The police in the middle talked with both groups encouraging them to keep  a safe distance apart.  Instead, two "ambassadors" emerged.
"There's a lot of tension going on right now," said Joseph Offutt. "We're here saying 'Hey, can we talk to somebody and see if we can get on the same page?'"
On the opposite corner, Black Lives Matter protester Ty Hardaway felt the same way. "How many times have we seen people marching... The difference with this one is, we're going to bring about change in this way: We're going to build a dialogue."
Ambassadors from the two groups came together to talk, and  brought discussion back to the wider group.

The blacks crossed over to the #AllLivesMatter side of the street, and there was embracing and prayer.

This is the sort of thing I was talking about in the  Diversity post I put up last Thursday.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Husband invites me to concert

Family Friday. The rest of the world will melt away for a few hours tonight.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Diverse Thoughts on Why Diversity is Often Good

Diversity has gotten a bad name.  It has come to be associated with the chore of hiring enough minorities and women just to fill a quota, or the frustration of needing to walk on eggshells to avoid being in violation of the code of Political Correctness.

Not everyone can handle diversity.  In one of the studies that support the benefits of diversity in the workplace, specifically in problem-solving teams, the very fact that communication across cultural lines is difficult is cited as the reason for the benefit. Those on diverse teams know they have to build a strong case for ideas that might seem strange to those from a different culture. When everyone on a team is making that effort, there is more thought given to the ideas that are presented. Also, the more diverse teams had a greater number of these well-thought-out ideas because there was less duplication in the collective experience and wisdom of the group.

Not everyone can handle diversity, but there are benefits for everyone when people who can handle it make the effort. The most compelling reason for diversity may be the pooling of resources to address the threat of a common enemy.  Disease, including pandemics, and the reduction of resources that will come along with climate change (man-made or not), are two.

Hatred-based cultural conflict is another common enemy that is currently uniting diverse people.  RamzyBaroud, who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, published an article in about a development among Palestinian intellectuals. They have been speaking out in defense of victims of racism all over the world. Their voices were among the loudest in bringing attention to racial violence against  Black Americans, and Black Americans are embracing Palestinians as fellow-sufferers and allies against racism as well.  
If they see no common goal to be served by diversity, people tend to be more comfortable within their own groups. When inter-racial friendships in schools were studied, it was found that in small schools, where the number of possible friends was limited, inter-racial friendships were more common than they were in larger schools, where people tended to associate with those in their own ethnic group.

There are some people, though, who are naturally inclined to form associations across cultural lines.  These people are more likely to have an "ambassadorial"  mindset,and are open to experiencing the things members of a culture have to offer in friendship amongst themselves and to outsiders: their food, their music, their dance and paintings and poetry. When trans-cultural friendships are fostered and forged, conflicts between the “non-ambassadorial” elements of their respective societies have a better chance of being resolved peacefully.

That’s not a new idea. After all, that’s why there are embassies, but these only exist at the international level. BUT, if there were cross-cultural embassies at the state level, at the city level, at the neighborhood level….good things would happen, but only if those ambassadors recognize that they can’t force the goodwill they feel toward one another on everyone else in their respective ethnic groups.  “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”  If, rather than being slaves to Political Correctness, these local ambassadors were united by the common goal of finding  reasonable, workable solutions  to conflict,  with successes based on how well they understood and could peacefully communicate the frustrations and fears of the groups they represented…maybe they could woik it out, people.

UPDATE:  IRL example of this!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” -Rumi

Silence is the very best answer when thunder demands a response.
I'm not ignoring you.
I'm just waiting until you want to listen.(*1)

(*1) More soothing than an abrupt turn on one's heel: "Let's talk about this later. Soon, I promise."

Monday, July 11, 2016

What's So Great about the number 108?

What's so Great about the number 108?

Here is one fact --among many 108 facts I could talk about, and might yet--  that I find very beautiful,
and I'm trying to tell it in the most poetic way I can.

Think of the sizes of and distances between our three most familiar celestial bodies: Earth, Earth's moon, and Earth's sun.

Now, imagine a Giant who can cross the moon in one step.
That Giant could walk from the Earth to the Moon in 108 steps.

Now, imagine a bigger Giant who can cross the Earth in one step.
That bigger Giant could walk from one end of the sun to the other in 108 steps.

Now imagine the biggest  Giant who can cross the Sun in one step.
That biggest Giant could walk from the Earth to the Sun in 108 steps.

NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive 
Earth Equatorial radius (km)           6378.137
Moon Equatorial radius (km)          1738.1    
“       “       diameter (km)        3476.2
 Mean values at opposition from Earth
        Distance from Earth (equator, km)   378,000
 Sun Volumetric mean radius (km)   695,700 à diameter sun 1,391,400 km
Earth volumetric mean radius (km)  6371
109.2  = Sun/Earth radius ratio (same as diameter ratio)***
 Distance earth to sun
149.6 x 10^6 km
Comparison: Ratio of earth’s mean distance to moon TO moon’s diameter
     378000. km / 3476. km =  108.6
Comparison Ratio of Earth’s mean distance to sun TO sun volumetric mean  diameter
   149.6 x 10^6 km / 1,391,400 km
   149.6 x 10^6 km /  1.391 X 10^6   =  107.5
Proportion of ratios to number 108
The 107.5, 108.6 and 109.2 ratios above are proportionally very close to  the ratio under discussion "108"
107.5/108 = 0.995;  108.6/108 = 1.006; 109.2/108 = 1.011