Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The wisdom of Wendell Berry 1

On Knowing Which Way to Go

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
As published in "Relevant" Magazine

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Cottage Pie a la Pove

I recently made some stoup.

I call it stoup 'cause I am not sure if it is stew or soup.

It was my way of using leftovers  - Farro, Quiona,   Lentils, Black Beans, Corn, Green Peppers, Diced Onions, a few bits of Beef etc,  all cooked in vegetable stock.  (I hate wasting food)

After a few days this stoup got to be old hat, so I dressed it up and transformed it into "Cottage Pie a la Pove".   All I needed to do was to put the stoup into a casserole dish, cover it with mashed red potatoes, ( made from scratch), and bake it at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Darn!   It was good!.  (Maybe on account of the copious amount of butter I added to the mashed spuds).

I believe that Cottage Pie originated as a "Monday Leftover Dish" made by frugal housewives in poorer families  in the U.K. and Ireland.

Any cooked beef leftover from Sunday dinner would be minced, and placed in a baking pan  - together with other leftovers from Sunday -  gravy, peas, carrots or green beans (diced), -  then covered with mashed leftover potatoes.  The secret was to bake it until the spuds were crispy brown on top.

Our Mum made it many times.  She was an economical and excellent cook, feeding eleven hungry people  (nine children, + Dad, +Mum)  on a very limited budget.

(My Cottage Pie was a wee bit faux 'cause I did not mince the leftover beef).

N.B  If the leftover meat was Lamb, then it was "Shepherd's Pie" not "Cottage Pie".

Beef = Cottage Pie.      Lamb=Shepherd's Pie.   (Got it?).

And please join with me in going grammatically ballistic the next time you see one of the following on a menu.

Shepards Pie  NO

Shepard's Pie  NO

Shepherds Pie  NO

It's "Shepherd's Pie" dammit =  and then only if it is made with Lamb or Mutton.

Monday, 25 July 2016

"The Defenestration of Prague" - surely you remember this from High School/College History Courses.

I am reading  terrific book by Professor A.C. Grayling of the New College of the Humanities in London U.K.

The book is "The Age Of Genius * The Seventeenth Century & The Birth of The Modern Mind" (Bloomsbury, London, 2016).

It should be required reading for every politician, priest, pundit and pastor!

It could be read alongside: 
"The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World"

Both books challenge we of Western European ancestry  to revisit and readjust our sense of who we are, and who we have became  in the light of the 17th and 18th Centuries,


A.C. Grayling's book is especially  masterful. It posits that modern (as opposed to magical)  thinking emerged in Western Europe, even in the midst of the dreadful and religious  "Thirty Years War".  

Even as my christian and religious mind is rightly and deeply challenged by Grayling, I can also be amused by one of the precusors to the Thirty Years War, i.e. the "The Defenestration of Prague" 1618.

The Emperor Ferdinand II had ordered that all Protestant Churches in Bohemia had to return to Catholic control,  That was not to the liking of Protestants.  

In 1618 when two of the Emperor's Regents came to Prague to enforce the ruling they were seized  by the "defensors" of Prague and thrown out of a window in  Prague Castle - thus the "The Defenestration of Prague". 

They landed on a rubbish pile more or less uninjured, suffering (as Grayling says,"injuries more to their dignity than to their limbs",)

In a delicious aside  Grayling notes that subsequent Catholic propaganda asserted that angels, or the Virgin Mary had caught their  fall mid-flight and guided their fall to the rubbish dump. Surely the Angels or the Virgin could have lowered these hapless Regents to a sweeter spot!).

I like the book for many reasons  -  it has to do with far more that the Thirty Years War, It is stretching mm mind.

But I long to be at some boring party or other at which I can ask another guest "What do you know about "The Defenestration of Prague"

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Goofing off from Church today and Bertha Honore Palmer.

Last Sunday (17th July 2016)  I took my accustomed pew at for the 8:00 a.m. Eucharist at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key.  My regular pew-mate Gray Davis was absent, so I felt very alone.

The guest preacher is a good man, but half his sermon was lost on me, due to his habit of dropping his voice at the end of sentences.

Then we heard a presentation about our budget deficit ($85,000) and the need to raise more money. I have been making and hearing such presentations for more than thirty years (what goes around comes around!).

I like and respect the man who made the presentation, but my mind and heart were elsewhere so I quietly slipped out of Church at "half-time".

All those words  (sermon and presentation) were more than I could stomach. I longed for some silence for prayer, meditation and contemplation.

That longing for silence in worship is not unique to me.  Episcopal Church liturgies are "busy, busy, busy" (and the same is true of most denominations).

It's not the fault of St. Boniface Church, it's just that on 17th July my heart and mind were closed to all those words.

(I plead for silence to become an important part of all  Church services).


With that in mind I decided to skip Church today.

But I needed a new adventure to take my mind off myself.   I decided to drive the entire length of Honore Ave in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  Penne came with me.

Honore Ave (pronounced "on-a-ray") is named for the fabulous Bertha Honore Palmer (see below).

In recent years it has been extended north-west into Manatee County (at Lockwood Ridge Road), and south into Sarasota County (at Laurel Road, Venice), a distance of about 22/23 miles.

(I watched the growth of  this southern extension of  Honore , almost parallel to I-75,  in my many visits to my now deceased neighbour Edythe Thomas in a Nursing Home off Jacaranda Blvd.)

It's a mixed bag.   At the north west end it travels through some underdeveloped agricultural and wet lands.

At the south end after passing through Palmer Ranch (a  huge series of "communities") we find the same.

In between there are various developments  -  large areas of new housing.with a number of things in common.

1.  Each are at  some distance from shops, corner stores, gas stations, churches, banks,  and post offices etc.  In other words, there is no "there" there.

2,  Each is unaccessible via public transportation.

3. Each seems to be a self contained locality, with next to no connection with the community as a whole.

THUS the social glue is broken.


At the end of our southern drive (at Jacaranda Blvd.) Penne and I stopped at a McDonald's. Penne was so excited to explore new territory, and mark it with her pee, I wanted to get a cup of Coffee,

Inside the store I was faced with the newest Mc.D's feature: a booth at which I could order and pay for my coffee using a touch screen and a credit card.

I, with many others, disdained the impersonal booth in favour of ordering at the counter.  It was a good choice.  I placed my wee order with a young man whose name is Watkins.

From start to end he could not keep from smiling.

That's community.  In think that Bertha would have approved.