Sunday, August 31, 2008

No comment

"McCain said in an interview with NBC that it was possible he would make his acceptance speech not from the convention podium but via satellite from the Gulf Coast region."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I think it's supposed to be funnier!

Half the fun of this one is following the chain of blogs that led me to it:

First ronniecat's friend Xtreme English discovers this funny blog called Whoopee.

Then ronniecat passes it on to us.

Now Antonia, the Whoopee blogger, discovers Yearbook Yourself.

Trouble is that the picture you create is supposed to be goofier and much less like reality than this! Isn't it? Not only is one of them rather like my senior pic, but it's the one they use for the same year - 1972.

In fact, i wore glasses regularly then too, but took them off for the real photo back in '72.


Lots of rain. Lots of mushrooms.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wood Storks

Taken today, about an hour ago. Actually, Wood Storks and a few Great Egrets hangin' out. Photos are awfully dark, but various tries resulted in these as the best ones. While tropical storm Fay is gone, we're still getting this almost-daily storm cloud buildup.

This is a favorite tree for all kinds of marsh birds, all year round. Picture 2 -- look left to see the gang, on the anvil-shaped clump of branches -- gives you an idea why. It's the perfect vantage point, allowing them to chill but view all the marsh comings and goings.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blessed company

Cypress knees
Brookgreen Gardens, June 2008

I've tinkered with this post for nearly 2 weeks and I quit. I'm posting it, even though I can't quite get satisfied with it. I think the issue is the reason - no satisfactory solution exists.

My first reaction to the Lambeth Conference articles was a verbose think-piece (longer than this, believe me!) on how the Anglican Communion should and could maintain unity, though even as I wrote it I was practically apologizing for chirping "Can't we all just get along?" This fight over the legitimacy of same-sex relationships and the role of gays makes Christians look like bleeding idiots and guess what? We are.

I changed my mind about the unity thing. Followup stories like this are the reason.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' willingness to set aside his own belief on the issue, in order to work against schism, seems selfless, and I think he means it to be. But how much personal compromising, and I mean by all sides, would it take to prevent a split in the Anglican Communion, and what the bleep kind of price is this to pay for unity?

The gay issue hits the Big Three Jackpot of being: (1) hotly felt; (2) uncompromisable; and (3) elevated to article-of-faith status. Christianity has been dividing and subdividing and sub-subdividing almost the whole 2000 years over things people consider so important that they insist they rise to the level of "articles of faith."

I might sort of understand that: yeah, isn't sin exactly the issue at the heart of Christianity? The faith is built on the belief that we need redemption, so how can it be unimportant to define whether something is a sin?

I can sort-of-understand it and still think it's boneheaded stupidity to define whether one is of the "true" faith based on such things. It doesn't rank these issues as trivial to say that not every important thing is of crucial primary importance.

In my opinion only one article of faith is needed : Christ's atonement. That's it. That's all. We'd be more like what I think we're supposed to be, the "blessed company of all faithful people."

That wouldn't solve everything. Even atonement has a bunch of interpretations, plus it still leaves out people who don't hold that belief, but here's the thing -- it would move us whole lot closer, though not all the way, to the ideal of excluding only people who want to be excluded. The more specifics we build into the rule book, the more people we exclude without their consent.

Maybe it's my bad mood ("Really? We couldn't tell...") but I'm fed up and I say: end it. Split. I'm starting to think it’s the necessary evolution of Christianity. Maybe we need for the church to become a mosaic of a gazillion small groups -- and I mean way more splintered than it is even now -- for any underlying core belief to at last become dominant and maybe unite us again in the distant -- very distant --future. To fight it is to drag out a process that apparently has to play out before Christianity can leave schism behind and get back to healing the world.

Isn't every problem it faces one of healing? We talk about healing the body and about healing the mind. We say we need to "heal" personal and social rifts, as though that's a metaphor, but it's not. I think it's literal, because if there is an Absolute Truth that defines what is right or wrong in every issue, why are we unable to see and unite behind that truth and close the case, unless our insight is broken? The controversies would vanish if we could get our lines to God repaired. Till they are, I'm for this or anything nonviolent that ends the stalemate.

I admit I don't care deeply about my denominational identity. My brother, too, left the Episcopal church 20 years ago for one that reflects his more conservative beliefs and that helps us be at ease with one another. If we were fighting for denominational "territory" bad feeling would run higher.

It's different for people who are strongly bonded with the church they've attended with their friends and family for a lifetime. The idea of schism is deeply painful. Am I advocating a nice healthy thing where everybody affiliates with a fellowship in which views they find abhorrent intrude less, enabling them to cool off? Or am I a defeatist? Am I shooting too low? I admit I'm not sure.

As long as humanity is riding this ball of confusion, unresolvable issues will divide us, and maybe we need to treat the journey like a trip through a maze, in which we have to take paths that seem to veer away from the center in order to actually get to the center. Maybe we need to face the pain of formalizing our differences before we can make them secondary and view each other as fellows in the blessed company. This post is loaded with "maybes", but there's a saying: "The only way out is through." I think it might apply here.

I wanted to include a recommendation for this profile over at nellieblogs. Not because I think it supports this largely grouchy and negative post of my own -- on the contrary, it was actually one of the few mood-elevators I've run into this week+. If my post is a downer, follow the link for an antidote. Reading it reminded me of what's good and healthy and blessed about the company.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book mending

Odd, for this time of year -- instead of the typical now-it's-here, now-it's-gone afternoon thunderstorm, we had a relatively cool, quiet day of steady rain. Good day to spend mending a few of the world's tatters by repairing books.

This is more a How I spent My Day post than an advice essay, but here's what I did, for what it's worth.

1. I repair a book only when I'm willing to destroy its value. Honest - if you even think it may have value, repair will most likely destroy that value. When in doubt, don't. Repair it only if you want to use it! I don't repair them if I plan to sell them. The ones I mended were only for me and others who asked.

2. The right paper and glue are a must. I go to the craft store and hit the scrapbooking section. This paper is designed to take glue without getting soggy, and it's acid-free, and you can get colors that approximate the various shades of vintage paper. You can also get acid-free glue, and it even comes in a bottle with a nice pinpoint tip. The wax paper is also a must.

3. If one little bit of the original connection is still hanging on, it's worthwhile to me to loosen it. I want to make a whole new hinge.

4. My method is to make a hinge by shingling a new piece under the free edge and then over the other, still-intact side.

5. This part is important and hard to describe: the new hinge needs to be tucked into the binding in a natural S-curve. Otherwise when I open the book after the glue dries, the paper "bridge" that spans the break will just split apart again. You can see this better on the 1912 bird book, its repair job illustrated below.

6. I place wax paper between the repair and the intact side, then close it to let the glue dry.

The last picture shows a wonderful bird book I repaired long ago. I add it because the color contrast of the paper shows the shingled hinge structure better.
Addendum: A comment already! 8~) and I need to add something:
The book I show the steps for, above, and this one also demonstrate that it doesn't matter much which direction the repair goes. If the better free end is on the inside cover (the demo book in the above photos) I use that and glue the hinge onto the free endpage. But if the free endpage edge gives me a better one, as it did in the bird book, I hinge under THAT one and glue it to the inside cover.

It's Chester A. Reed's Birds of Eastern North America. Doubleday, Page, 1912. Color on every page, and a bittersweet reminder of when the ivory-billed woodpecker was merely "rare."

Yep, I wanted to keep and handle this one, which is why I repaired it. It's a wonder I ever sell anything.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Zap! (update)

About 8PM last evening an intense thunderstorm was on us, and lightning zapped a tree just across from the house. It was one stunning explosion.

Photo no. 1 just gives you an idea of how far it was from the house.

Today I was interested in getting a close-up of how nature operates. You can see in the third photo, the way the bolt split the bark in a spiral down the trunk.

Your Intrepid Photographer had to beat her way into the underbrush to see its down-to-the-ground progression (photo 4)

There's about 4 feet of undamaged bark, then the splitting picks up again, so it must have charged through the tree. It remains to be seen whether the tree will make it!

Downyflake, the anxiety-ridden cat, is traumatized for life, though.


The drama continues! In last night's much milder rainstorm, the top above the strike snapped off.