January 17, 2011

Various & Sundry

Gems from Donald Hall; you can tell the guy's a poet:
While they bloom we hover above them, taking deep and startling breaths, for their odor is all the perfumes of Arabia, ambergris of all whales of all Pacifics, wave unpon wave of velvety sensuous sweetness.

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I tried feeling grumpy about it, but the pleasure of watching pleasure - all these skinny daughters - won me grudgingly over.

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The longest day is the best day, when June twenty-second's pale light lasts into evening. In New Hampshire we are north enough to believe rumors from Scandinavia and Shakespeare about the madness of midsummer night's eve. Even contemporary England turns wild. I lived for a while in an East Anglian village where the morris men performed the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance on midsummer night's eve. They... wend down Stony Lane past beetling medieval cottages that stonemasons working on the church inhabited for five generations.

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All Winter I sense Jane's silent presence in the dining room where she stands many-sweatered in the gloom, peering out into the back garden where bench and swan and sundial stick up through the snow. She daydreams Summer, daydreams seeds and plants she will order and tend; her mind blooms with bright petals in gray February.


Also read a bit of Chesterton's "Heretics" and a dab of Bush's "Decision Points". In parts GWB paints himself as St. George, and in parts it reads like a infomercial for his legacy, but he does make some good points. The key point in the book is made, I think, when he says he didn't come to the office to play "small ball" like Clinton did with school uniforms and such. He wanted to do big things. And that sort of ambition isn't particularly conservative and is often a sign of hubris. Government is limited in what it can do and "small ball" is a tacit recognition of that. That said, his commitment to fight AIDS in Africa seems a noble undertaking and worth the possibility of government doing it badly.

Listened to a bit of Catholic radio today and heard someone saying that Iraq will soon have only a small remnant of Christians. I've heard elsewhere that being blamed on Bush. Still, if the Christian's best friend in Iraq was Saddam Hussein, one has to question the long term viability of that model. The bigger issue is that Iraq is in the Middle East and most of the Middle East (except for Israel) is not a safe place for any Christian. It is sad that people can't live in their own country due to persecution of their religion, but that's a product of Muslim intolerance. It's sad, especially since in the Middle East they are more tribal, more family-oriented, often less mobile (due to poverty).

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Amanpour is nearly unwatchable on ABC's "This Week" when she sets up these trite, twee "national conversations". Personally I think we should have a national conversation on whether to have national conversations. My mood improved when I saw that Meet the Press actually had a real show (it certainly helped that David Brooks and Peggy Noonan were guests).

The sun came out today, hallelujah, and I got my fair share of it. Read on the couch under the big picture window with my sunglasses on and then took the dog for a half-hour walk at the park. I like the feel of boots in snow, the feeling of invulnerability to wetness or cold. One wants prophylactics in footwear but not in sex. Fun to go off trail through the baseball fields with their blinding sheen of white and remember how full of people and games they were in summer.

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In Sunday's homily, our pastor said that when we're asked to do anything new we feel both excitement and anxiety. We both want and don't want to do it. Thus when King Arthur asked his knights who wanted to go on a very dangerous mission, all raised their hands. The king decided that a feather dropped from a height would float atop the head of the selected knight. As the feather wafted to and fro, the knights would lightly blow the feather away from them!

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