Pride and Peacocks

By Lorenz Frølich (1820-1908) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For various reasons, I was looking at Peacocks (and an occasional Peahen) on Wikimedia. I found so much beautiful art work on the not-so-humble peacock.

One of those reasons is that I’ve been doing a study of the 7 Deadly Sins.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like a downer, but I decided humor would make it fun and memorable.  Hence, we begin with Pride, and Peacocks.

What is interesting is all the sub-sins that come out of Pride. They don’t always flow the way you expect. Arrogance is only a part of it.  Did you know that Despair also comes out of Pride?  Despair often manifests itself in self-loathing. Thinking you are worse than everybody else on earth is also a form of pride. It is pride turned inside-out.  A demonstration is easy.

By jyshahJyshah at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

⇑Here is Pride as we know it.

⇓This is pride turned inside-out. How ungainly! But seeing what is on the inside (and what is behind the facade you are seeing) is educational.

By User:Arpingstone [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

⇑This is William Etty’s study of a peacock (that’s a “rough sketch”) from “The Judgement of Paris”.   Isn’t this awesome? Wish it had a larger resolution!  I’d love to get in there and really look at the brush strokes.

⇑Now this is a work of art. That is a guard for a samurai sword, from the late Edo Period. (Late 19th Century), made or at least designed by Nagata Naohiro.


Archibald Thorburn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

⇑I love how Thorburn teased out such precision and a metallic sheen from watercolor.

By Элизабет Сонрель [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

⇑No, I don’t know why the name is in Russian. Wikimedia says (click picture to see) it was drawn by Elisabeth Sonrel , and called “Le Paon; Majeste” (“The Majestic Peacock”)  See, even Art Nouveau wasn’t entirely a boy’s club.

The trick to pride is knowing that the goal is a happy medium.  That is, credit where credit is due, and failure should be an opportunity to learn.  Despite the associations, I’m almost hesitant to use Peacocks for Pride. They are such beautiful birds!  They are also fairly ill tempered beasts, and act in a perpetual state of Bridezilla. If my wedding venue is any indicator, that is.  :)  Okay one more. You talked me into it.

By Darkros at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Yes, I know this is a male bird, but he still makes me think of a Bridezilla. :)  Enjoy!

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Sunday Shrine 10/19

By Medol (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I admit, it is not St. Catherine of Siena’s feast day. I don’t care. I found her tomb, and it is gorgeous.  Thank you, Medol, for putting these in sharealike space!

By Kertraon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Kertraon! Nice light!

Woah. Her casket is built into an altar.  Thats amazing!

By Jastrow (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:  “Sarcophagus of Saint Catherine of Siena, given to Isaia da Pisa (worked in years 1447-1464), beneath the High Altar of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.”

And… Here’s the church.

By Jensens (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And… the gorgeous interior.


 Thanks to Tango for putting this image into CC space!  Lots of space!

Here’s a different look, in a different light. Wow, you barely noticed the marble in the previous.   Below, there is a “side chapel”.

WP is being annoying again.  But St Catherine of Siena was quite the influential thinker, and is a Doctor of the Church.

By Wknight94 talk (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Coming soon: Book Reviews! (A rough schedule)

Edward_Collier's_painting_'Newspapers,_Letters_and_Writing_Implements_on_a_Wooden_Board'This whole book review post is going to become a habit. I’m a writer, I know writers… so it just kind of makes sense.




A  Garden of Visible Prayer, by Margaret Rose Realy is coming up, probably late next week. This one is in progress as we speak. Because it is a how to book, I’m going through some of the process before actually publishing my review. Then, when I get the actual space put together, you can see the results! So, yes, a non-fiction book, for once.  While it is written with a Catholic sensibility in mind, it is flexible enough for any Christian, or spiritually directed space!

And…. now for something completely different.

Okay, this is embarrassing. A friend gave me a book for free *ahead* of these other two books I got in the mail. I lost track of it.  Being a horrible penitent friend, I’ll post this review after I’ve completed the one I’ve already started. Sorry, Declan, you’ve befriended another flake Creative Type™. But at least it’s not a snow job! The very next fiction book I’m reviewing is It Was Only on Stun!

In other circles, I am known for my dislike of “Amazon Women on the Moon.” I consider it  McCrumbs hate quitting of fandom. We’ll see how it goes.  I’m betting it’s better.  There’ll be ICON injokes I’ll actually get, because I get reports of said joys from what is likely the main source of discontent for the esteemed Declan Finn.  I’m just lucky that way.  :)

There is a short story that takes place in this spacetime that I quite enjoyed… I’m taking that as a positive indicator.

Lastly, but not leastly, I’m going to be looking at the esteemed  Karina Fabian’s “Greater Treasures”, a novella set in her “Dragon Eye” universe. That would be Vern, the dragon private eye, and his nun side kick, Sister Grace.  So, it’s like Father Dowling with dragons– but probably more fun.  And do check out her website.  It’s beautiful!  St. George need not apply.  :-D

I’m not exactly sure when all of this is going to fall into place. I’m working on a long term project that’s really sucking up time. If I drop everything and things into some form of rational order– I’ll get nothing done!

No, this picture refers to nothing in particular. I just like it.


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Not a Sunday Shrine, but cool anyway

By Milton Alejandro (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay. I admit. I used to build stuff kind of like this when I was a kid, including implementing a phone system for the My Little Pony castle– including telephone poles, cords for handsets, and a primitive switchboard run by the town gossip.

Can you say, Nerd? Knew you could!  (To the child who built this– I only mean it in the best possible way!)

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Sunday Shrine 10/12

This suits my mood today. Very simple and elegant.

Here’s the church…..

St. Joseph’s Church, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA.Joe Mabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

If this turns out not to be enough shrine for you, I give you this link.

And, here’s the shrine.   I LOVE this.  I had a hard time finding out any information about it, sorry!

Outdoor shrine behind St. Joseph’s Church, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA.Joe Mabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

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Surprise food post: Coffee Gelatin Dessert

416px-1920_Jell-O_CookbookI thought I was done with food here forever. But no, I had to post another food post.

See, I get angry sometimes. This time it was because I could not have dinner with my husband, even if it’s Friday night.  Still on a liquid diet, because well, gastroenteritis just isn’t fun.  Dang, this whole thing has even taught me how to spell the word.

Sometimes, when I get angry– I cook.  (But never bake. No. You wouldn’t like it when I bake angry.)

So to bring back cosmic rightness, I decided to do something very very wrong with gelatin.  I made… coffee gelatin. And I think it works pretty well.  There is definite alcoholic potential here, although I’m not up to partaking yet. I hope to experiment when I have the chance.  So, I offer you, the one, the only NA ‘jello shot’ option in the universe. If you can find that agar stuff, you can probably make this veggie friendly. But I’ll take the hit of protein, thank you very much.  (Also, it’s possible agar would not work with solidifying the coconut milk. But I have to ask Dave about that.)

mea culpa

mea culpa


(I won’t tell you how to eat it, but it could be anything from breakfast to dessert!)

I used an 8x8x3 inch pan. The recipe makes four cups of liquid total. That will cover about four ice cube trays.  But I’m here to warn you– if you go the ice cube tray route, you will want to have ample room in the freezer, ample time, and a steady hand. Because this is a bi-layer treat!


4 packets of kosher gelatin, divided. (You can also use ONE 1oz packet, divided in half, or 4 tablespoons of gelatin divided into 2 tbs batches)

1.5-2 heaping tablespoons of “Dandy Blend”  or instant espresso *  (We will discuss coffee options. Trust me.)

2 heaping tablespoons of powdered coconut milk (I assume powdered milk would work here. Admittedly, powdered milk is less tasty)

Eight to ten (or more– I used stevia and eight was plenty) packets of your favorite sweetener, from stevia, to sugar, to the sky is the limit!

5-8 drops of Lori Pecan or Black Walnut flavoring (optional)

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (you can use more)

Kahlua (optional)

Bailies (optional)


Have two pyrex measuring cups with at a least two cup capacity. Divide up your gelatin evenly between them. Do the same for the sweetener packets.   Add powdered coconut milk to one, and powdered coffee to the other. Though I used one extra sweetener for the coconut side, as flavors, even sugar, tend to get lost there. Add 1/2 cup of water to each of them, stir and let them bloom.  Be generous with time here. 10 minutes is about my average.

Set your water to boil. Measure out 1.5 cups of it and dump it into the coffee side. Let it stir and start to cool.

Take the coconut milk container after it has set a bit, and bring out a whisk, and beat the crap out of it.  The problem is that the coconut powder is more hydroscopic than the gelatin. So you have to beat it to make sure everybody gets a fair hearing with the liquid.  Keep beating until all the darker yellowish stuff integrates and it gets fluffy, thick, and homogeneous. YOu aren’t’ going to add hot water to this right away, because the coffee side has to be somewhat set before you pour it on. But this coconut powder/gelatin mix is going to need all the time it can get to hydrate properly.

After the coffee side has cooled a bit, but isn’t gelling yet, you take your flavorings, whether Kahlua, or Lori’s and add them in now. Stir. Then pour in your pan(s).

Take this time to start up the hot boiling water for your other side. IT also has to cool by the time you pour it in the pan and that can take a while.

Anyway, take your pan, and let it set on the counter until it’s not hot anymore. It can be a bit warm to the touch, but not steaming.

Put the coffee side into the freezer and go find something to do for half an hour.  Let chill until set, but not frozen. Freezing too hard does some odd things to the texture of your gelatin, and you may not like it.  It makes tapioca perls look appetising, and resembles eating rubberized broken glass. It would make a kick ass thing for Halloween, and maybe I’ll cover some of that later.

At any rate, after you are off the exerciser, go back and check your jello. Might not quite be set yet, but look thickish. If it sloshes, put it back.  You want to come back now, because now’s the time to pull the coconut stuff, add the vanilla, give it a whirl, and put it in the fridge. Yeah, I know, I tease.

Go away for another 15 minutes.  Now, you can take your gelatin, and put it in the fridge instead of the freezer, because you want it as firm as possible when you pour on the cream. Check the temp of everything. Nope, you need 15 more minutes.

Okay! IT should be cool enough by now!  Except… now you take out the cream side, and you grab your whisk, and you beat the crap out of it again.  This way you can get a frothy top on your capp.  You might use an electric whisk. That might make a truly interesting frothy top.  But I only used a hand whisk, and I liked the crema I got on top. Not stiff peaks like a meringue, but just a bit of froth on the top, like a cafe Americano.

Now you take out your gelled coffee, and pour your cream on top.  Do it gently. There is a technique, because your coffee gell is still pretty fragile. Wouldn’t want something to happen to it, do you?

Okay, you drizzle the stuff down the side of the pan, letting that stiff edge take the bulk of the action. I find a corner works best.  Then it flows out from that point, fanning out over the whole wobbly coffee surface. Now you see why it would be a pain to do this with an ice cube tray. For each and every little section, you’d have to pour it from that side like that in a slow and gentle fashion. I can’t imagine doing this drunk.

At any rate, You scrape out every bit from that pitcher, then immediately put your beautiful creation in the fridge.  It is almost done.  But before you leave the kitchen, put all your used stuff into hot water.  Seriously, this stuff binds when it dries, and it’s much tougher to clean out later.

Extra, extra optional:  you can peek in in an hour and sprinkle a few chocolate covered espresso beans over the top of it.  Just a thought.

Let it set for 4 hours to overnight (overnight being best) and wake up to a beautiful cube of morning coffee! It even stands up to greet you!

The down side, is that it’s not aromatic until you eat it.

* Coffee options, as promised.  You want two cups of intensely flavored liquid total. That makes it hard to do a fresh brew and have this work out. One way to do it would be to have one half cup of a strong coffee (say, espresso) in the freezer until it’s cool, while the rest sits where it can stay near boiling until ready to use. I’d recommend something more on the floral/aromatic side, like Gevalia. That works better with the jello taste aesthetic. Intelligentsia also has good coffee in this mold, too, or so I’m told.   The capuchins (I’m not making this up) make the best instant espressos on the market, but I have to go find what that brand is– last I looked there were several.  You can tell, they are the monks who look like emperor penguins.

Further note: “Dandy Blend” if you haven’t seen it before, is a non-coffee coffee flavored powdered beverage. It has toasted dandelion and other stuff in it, and it’s naturally gluten free. It also tastes half way decent.  But, it’s still not coffee. I’ll grant that Techio is probably tastier in certain respects. But I’m still not certain I’d be able to get strong enough to flavor the gelatin effectively.  If you think you can, give it a shot and let me know!

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History Haunts the Present

By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Respond with Love– HOW?


So I’ve been thinking about responding with Love.  It was a conversation going on in my writer’s group for a while.  Things are mighty conflictual these days, despite all the claims for tolerance and stuff.

Saying it isn’t the same thing as having it.

I think game theory holds some answers.  I know it sounds like an unsatisfactorily mechanical response but it is merely a mathematical model for what suits the cooperation instinct in man.

The trouble is, we can’t dictate responses of either the media or our loved ones when we practice love. That’s a part of why it is called a cross.  Because you don’t know what you are going to get. All you can do is direct how you will accept the consequences. And know that often, when you act out of love, those you face will not recognise love, because they do not know love, but a kind of charade for the transaction of wants.

We cannot even gage how they will respond, even to perfect love. Jesus tells us, “Do not lament if they hate you, for they hated Me first.” Just as the man who serves two masters, those who do not hold unity in their hearts are pulled eternally between the poles of adoration and loathing– toward any potential source of light. There are some good quotes for this in Lumen Fidei about this, FYI. Pope Francis is not surprised.


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Considering that guy on the Cross was supposed to be our representative of how man reacts to perfect Love…

So often, those who loathe the church have to change a few words here or there to make us absolute villains. They cannot simply hate what is. Hate is more sustaining for a deceitful action than love, hence we see this played out for hundreds of years. The same old lies are breathed on and given new life, after other lies are revealed for their paltry reflection of reality. This pattern is observable since Christ. But we must remember they have two settings, hate and love.

Look at poor pope Francis, as inviting as it is, everyone within squeeing distance sees him as approving. IF there is insufficient evidence for their lauds, they manufacture some. That’s not actually what Pope Francis is doing, but so many will interpret to get what they want. They cannot be neutral. That’s how the news cycle works, after all. No one pays any attention unless it tugs on the short hairs– one way or the other.

The irony of all this is that there are things that he is doing, and has done, that is worthy of laud, but it is twisted or changed, instead of seeing the thing itself. It is like they cannot love him for who he is, but who they have made him.

How long will this cheating ‘love’ work for them? Well… I can’t answer that precisely. Suffice to say, in the world, things must change if there is no perfection. The bigger the disconnect, the flimsier the mirage. Desperation can cause it to linger, but things will change, and it probably won’t take long. The betrayal of love is hate, thus the cycle begins again.

Two hearts cannot meet unless they set what aside what separates them. The Law of Christ puts as little between the lover and the beloved as possible. The trouble is, our modern culture has manufactured specific roadblocks to separate the brethren from the love of their kin. They want to replace love with state sponsored acceptance– a kind of mindless adulation that focuses on appearances and the glory of stereotypes. In there, there is no room for familial love, for friendship, or for mere tolerance. They will change the meaning of the word if it is necessary to destroy it.

So how, in the face of this can you respond with love? The falsehood, the anger, the disagreements you can’t even counter because the truth isn’t even represented.  That is when you take a step back, walk to a quiet place that is alone (rooms with doors, or abandoned mountain retreats are recommended, what is available to you may vary) and you pray. Meditate on what Jesus has done, and what He endured for it. More courage  and fortitude come from the same fountain.

Even if you are not a theist, quiet meditation is still key. The most freeing part of it is when you know what you can expect, and know that they cannot control your reaction.  Do not shy away from what you feel. But you don’t need to express it– loudly and directly as an immediate reaction.  Accept your feelings, accept that this person acts the way that they do. The only real judge of who you are is how you act in the face of it.

But this is not just an act in reaction to a moment. It is a practice that one must have already, so that you can hold that quiet reflection in your heart– even in the heat of the moment.

Until then, it is good to remember that, at the end of endurance, even Jesus recommends that you shake the dust off your feet and walk away.

By Jocelyn Kinghorn from Christchurch, New Zealand (Man in the Blue Hat) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Flash from the Past: We need Airport now!

By Frank J. Steiner(Life time: 1929) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, that is a classy way to send a message.  Make an attractive parade float, and march it through town.

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Back By Popular Demand: Artichokes.

Yes, it’s almost like phoning it in. But… I plead gastroenteritis.  But also, seriously, these are gorgeous. How could I resist?

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (ArtichokeUploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Arthur Streeton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jérôme from Rouen, FRANCE (Coeur d’artichautUploaded by ComputerHotline) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

EDIT: Ugh. The formatting on this one is awful. But WP is not cooperating today, and I don’t have the patience. Sorry!

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