24DEC2022 – OCF Update – Christmas Eve

I’ll be heading out for a Christmas Eve dinner a little before 3 pm.  I intend to eat too much and spend as much time doing whatever the grandchildren want to do as circumstance allows.  Their parents are hosting the party so they’ll have to do all the work and I’ll get to hang out with the kids.

I haven’t written a political post lately other than the odd comment on the headlines.  It’s just too grim to do on the holiday.  The only rational option is to ignore the horror for a few days to allow some joy in our lives before we have to face the wreckage that is waiting for us up ahead.

And that’s reasonable.  Human beings require joy in their lives every once in a while just to survive.  And Christmas is the prime example of how we attempt to make a recurring ritual of joy in our lives.  So Biden and Pelosi and Schumer and the rest of the vampires will still be there when the holiday ends and we will still be up to our ears in dysfunction and depravity.  But we will have had a few days to feel a little happiness in our lives and remind ourselves that there is good in the world.

So I hope everyone has a good day.  And even if it’s just a day off, enjoy it and forget about the problems of the world for as long as you’re allowed.  I’ll post as time allows and as the spirit moves me.

Merry Christmas.

Wampanoag Lasagna

It is reputed that at the Pilgrims’ first Christmas dinner the main course was lasagna.  Apparently, some of the Wampanoag Indians learned how to make this dish from Christopher Columbus or one of his friends back in the late 1400’s when they were on a Caribbean vacation and upon returning home it became traditional in the New England area.  Admittedly some scholars reject this time line.  These dissidents claim it came into vogue in the 1900’s with a later wave of Italian influence.

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in it’s obvious that lasagna is a very interesting choice for a Christmas menu.  Now Camera Girl had asked my opinion about the Christmas menu.  I had recommended a roast beast after the Italian wedding soup and she added a ham and then as an afterthought I asked about lasagna as a course.  Surprisingly there was resistance to this reasonable recommendation.  Something about not everyone liking lasagna.  I can’t remember if I pounded my fist on the table and shouted some strangled syllables that might have been, “Heresy!”  Later I calmed down and just swallowed my disappointment.

But Camera Girl is a mysterious creature and without my knowledge or permission she bought the ingredients for lasagna and today she is doing the assembly for later cooking.  There are fragments of sausage and meatball, sauce and various cheeses that go into the layers between the pasta layers.  Of course, I forgave her for her treacherous silence and subterfuge.  Just as Adam forgave Eve for that whole apple thing, I was the better person and put the whole treacherous story behind me and gave my blessing to this lasagna conspiracy.

But this does create an awkward situation for my meal.  I really like roast beef and I like ham.  But lasagna is enormously delicious and infrequently available.  How do I do justice to this dinner without ending up in the hospital emergency room?  Ah, heavy is the head that wears the crown.  Well, I’ll figure it out.  And of course, left over lasagna is a very pleasant situation and I’m sure Camera Girl will distribute it to the households that have children to feed.  Maybe the real concern is that some of it remains for me on December 26th and 27th.

Here is a photo of the intermediate stage of the lasagna assembly process.

And one of the end product.

And here’s one of the Italian cheesecake she’s also got going.

Well, I have to say, Christmas 2022 is shaping up to be pretty remarkable.  It seems that the crazier the world becomes the more special become the personal moments that we share with our friends and family.  In fact, that’s probably why they’re that way.  It’s a defense mechanism to keep our sanity and concentrate on the things within our control and keep the awfulness at arm’s length.  Well even if that’s so it doesn’t detract from the greatness of these special things we do.  Tomorrow we’ll be away at Christmas Eve most of the day so I’ll say Merry Christmas to everyone here.  May you enjoy your time and make the most of it.

Merry Christmas

21DEC2022 – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice.  The first day of winter, the day when the sun spends the least amount of time above the horizon.  The longest night of the year.  Well, while some neo-pseudo-druids will be cavorting around the Stonehenge site I’ll spend today reveling in the joys of the season.  I’ll watch some more of my favorite seasonal movies, eat some more Christmas cookies and try to work off the calories with some exercise.  Camera Girl is devilishly busy with her preparations for the Christmas feast and I am more or less nothing but a hindrance to her at this point.  I ask if I can help and just get scowls of contempt for what she considers hollow offers.  Maybe I can carry some heavy pots of soup or sides of meat downstairs.  But other than those few things I’m essentially of no use to her.  Well, what can I say?  God has divided us, quite wisely, into men and women and along those same lines he has provided or withheld various talents to the members of the human race.  And like the fabulous ant and grasshopper of Aesop some of us toil and are productive and others of us feast and sing.  I am cursed to be among this latter group.  And Camera Girl is solidly in the former category.  Such is life.

It’s bright daylight today.  I intend to walk around in the woods and snap a photo or two of whatever strikes my eye.  If tonight is as clear I must take a walkaround in the starlight and enjoy a sight of the winter constellations on this longest night.  In fact, the moon is on the next to last night before New Moon so viewing the sky will be almost optimal.  Orion will be about 45 degrees above the horizon at about 11 pm and that’s when I’ll take a wander outside.  The forecast is for mostly clear skies and 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sounds pretty good for late December in New England.

The world diverges into two contrasting pictures.  When I hear what is going on in the wide world it is a ghastly disaster.  Evil men run just about everything there is to control.  Joe Biden is a symbol for a world collapsing into decay.  But when I look at my personal world, I see good things all around me.  Good people are working hard to improve the lives of their families and displaying wonderful qualities of self-sacrifice and industriousness.  I see youngsters working hard at their studies and displaying intelligence and good will.  So, it’s a paradox.  How can so much good exist in a world that has embraced nihilism and irrational goals?  And I must say I haven’t an answer.  But I will celebrate the good and hope for the future no matter how bleak the big picture seems to be.

So, I’ll go out today and take the optimistic approach.  From here on in the hours of daylight will be increasing and the New Year comes with the ever-renewed hope that the world will come to its senses.  That’s good enough for today.

In Hera’s Kitchen

Today is the highest of solemnities in Camera Girl’s kitchen calendar.  I, even I, am banned from encroaching on the rituals being performed.  And I’m no fool.  Interfering with the magic going on risks the spoiling of those spells and the blighting of the baked goods being produced; a horror not to be imagined.

Today Camera Girl and her daughters and now her granddaughter will gather like a coven of witches and take their magic ingredients and hover around the stove and drink coffee (or hot chocolate in the case of Princess Sack of Potatoes) and knead dough and add vanilla extract and hand shape the grandma cookies and the chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies and whichever new variants they decide on.

And wondrous aromas will waft through the house and when they’re through there will be a pile of cookies to get us through to New Year’s Day.  Splendiferous confections that turn a coffee break into a feast.  And make watching an old movie into a special event.

But even ignoring the practical results of this activity, this is a primary ritual of our domestic calendar.  The hand written recipes are coming on fifty years.  The paper is beginning to crumble and the writing is fading from exposure to ingredients and wear and tear.  I’ve warned Camera Girl that they need to be copied and digitized, printed out and distributed to her daughters to preserve them from loss.  But if it’s going to be done, I’ll have to take on the project.

I look at some of the recipes and the notes on them and see the names of friends and relatives from long ago.  Only one or two living women are represented.  Most are from our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.  A few go even farther back.

And that’s a comforting legacy.  In these times when fools are trying to deconstruct the meaning of man and woman and sever the traditions that have given meaning to our lives, there still exist people and rituals that ground our lives and make them human and pleasant.  Baking cookies may seem to some people to be a trivial and possibly harmful activity in a world of obese people.  But it’s exactly opposite.  Christmas cookies are a special and specific part of the year.  Once they’re done, we don’t make more.  We move onto the winter months when we subsist on meager fare, far removed from the bounty of summer and fall.  Christmas is a celebration and an ending of the year and needs to be treated as such.

So, I will withdraw from the kitchen and keep myself busy with other things while the women commune with their flour and butter.  From time to time, I’ll find an excuse to walk by the kitchen and see how things are going.  And maybe my granddaughter will come visit with me for a game of Candy Land.  But for the most part I’ll leave them to their industry and their talk.  And before I go to bed there will be the hoard of golden and white and brown cookies in various cookie jars and containers.  And of course, there will be a big mug of coffee and one or two (or even three) cookies waiting for me to enjoy during a holiday movie.  God bless you Camera Girl and long may you bake.

With Visions of Sugar Plums Dancing Over Their Heads

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

 

The last week before Christmas.  Now Camera Girl must marshal all her powers to coordinate the schedule of buying and cooking the feast.  Today she came home with a ham, chopped meat, escarole and some of the other ingredients of the various courses.  The roast beast won’t arrive until the end of the week.  And the pies and cakes won’t be baked or bought for a few days more.  I was explicit that there must be a good quality vanilla ice cream in copious quantity to complement the pies.  And very good coffee to wash it down.

The mashed potatoes, corn, crescent rolls and the stuffed mushrooms are all last-minute items that won’t be started until Christmas Eve but they’ll add their dimension to the meal.  And finally, I demanded chestnuts and that rope of dried figs that no one ever eats.  Camera Girl, being the frugal woman that she is, complained bitterly that chestnuts now cost $8 a pound.  But I was adamant.  I never liked them as a kid but my father-in-law always had some out at Christmas and after trying them a few times I actually developed a taste for them.  As for the dried figs, they’re so hard that they’re almost inedible but somehow it wouldn’t be Christmas without them lying around on the table so I demanded them too.

And this year I’ll show my little granddaughter the trick with the mandarin orange skin and a lighted match.  The oils in the skin are flammable and she’ll be amazed to see it ignite around the match when I squeeze the skin near it.  And this year I think I’ll try to get the kids to join in a penny ante poker game with me.  Camera Girl has an old bucket of pennies.  There must be a thousand of them and we can play for hours without any serious money changing hands.

I’ve got my favorite Christmas DVDs at the ready and several albums of Christmas music on tap.  And no one should be sick this year because everyone has already been stricken with the Chinese Bioweapon recently.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had a sugar plum but I’m pretty sure there’ll be all kinds of chocolates and mints on the table.

Sure, everything is about twice as expensive as normal and that old dimwit Biden keeps gassing off every few days about Ukraine or gay marriage or trans-something-or-other but I’m satisfied that this will be a good Christmas despite him and the rest of the grifters who run the crime family that fleeces us.

It’s still Christmas, friends, family and food and that’s a pretty good combination.  I can no longer feel any community with the degenerates that surround us and plot bigger and uglier ways to degrade the good things in the world.  But I feel kinship with the normal people that work hard and raise their kids and try to make the world go round.  With them I can hope for a Merry Christmas and we’ll worry about the New Year later.  Where’s that sweet potato pie?

5DEC2022 – OCF Update – More Focus Stacks

Today I was part of the long chain of knowledge that begins with the “the master of those who know” and extends all the way to my four year old granddaughter.  In the spirit of Aristotle we recreated the dialectic on the various animal classes.  I tried to explain the reason why a grasshopper was different from a mouse.  We talked about the higher animals and the lower animals and I even got around to explaining why dinosaurs are related to lizards and birds.  After about a half hour she’d had enough and we went back to a match game for dinosaurs.  And after that back to Candy Land.  Well I’d still give Princess Sack of Potatoes the intellectual edge over Plato but I think I need to get some high quality color phtots of different animals to make the discussion more compelling for her.

Once Camera Girl led her granddaughter into the kitchen to bake some pumpkin bread I decided this was a good day for some macrophotography fun.

So I took some focus stacks.  I had a tiny old Roman coin and a long dead beetle lying around so they were my subjects.

15DEC2022 beetle stack
15DEC2022 coin face 2 stack
15DEC2022 coin tail stack

The focus intervals don’t seem to have been sufficient to give a perfect stack.  But i’m using a Sony Remote Commander and it doesn’t have any calibration for the focus change.  I have a little program I can use while tethered to my laptop but the A7 IV requires a USB 3 cable and I only have USB 1 or 2.  So I’ll have to go out and get one.  But still a nice exercise.

All in all a day well spent.

Dunwich Complainer – Avalanche 2022 (In Rumble-Rama)

Yesterday as I lolled around in my lazy recuperative stupor, I was suddenly aware of a booming sound and the sensation of shaking.  At first, I assumed I was still goofy from the COVID and had imagined it but then I saw that the dogs had picked up on something too.  I thought, “Maybe a truck came down the driveway and banged into the house.  So, I got up and went to look outside.

And what I saw was a boulder sitting on the lower driveway.  I could see where it broke off from the wall.  What I had heard was it falling, bouncing and rolling to a stop.

I was still kind of lethargic yesterday so I left it as, “to be continued.”  Today I felt more myself.  So, I investigated.  It’s roughly 4’X2’X1.5’ and I estimate it weighs about 1,500 lbs.

Looking at the exposed surfaces it looks like over time the rock has been fracturing and finally the weight was too much for the remaining stone to support.  It’s these lousy New England winters.  Freezing and thawing incessantly wreaks havoc with structural integrity.  It’s why I’m the broken-down husk of a man that I am.

So, this boulder is a metaphor for how the world wears down even the best of us and then sends us crashing to earth abandoned and out of sorts like a modern day Humpty Dumpty.  Very sad.  Very abstract, so deep.

But now I have to move the darn thing and then figure out how to prevent the dirt that was being held in place by it from eroding away.  Camera Girl will see me like a modern-day Sisyphus toiling to roll this huge stone up the hill.  What’s next?  The extinction level asteroid strike?  Yeah, why not?

photog Bound

The men of my family have an endearing trait.  Whenever we’re sick, even to an almost imperceptible degree we carry on like an antique hero in his death agony and expect our wives to baby us to an unhealthy degree.  Now this week as it happened, Camera Girl is seriously under the weather.  She’s been slowly recovering since Saturday.  Today she’s at 60% and improving.  But today I woke up with muscle aches, possibly a slight fever and a headache.

Ahhh, the perfect malady.  Just bad enough to be recognizably sick but not bad enough to distract me from my act.  So, all day today I’ve been an invalid caterwauling about my aches and pains and the bravery I was demonstrating.  Like the great titan Prometheus, I was shackled to a crag in the Caucasus Mountains (or maybe my recliner in the living room).  I could feel Camera Girl going through the slow burn.  It’s a delicate balance.  If I lay it on too thick, she’s liable to poison me or smother me in my sleep.  But with just the right touch, the day is passed for both of us in a tolerable haze of delirium.

I spent the day watching YouTube videos about artificial elements in the island of stability and mockeries of string theory.  With enough aspirin and turkey soup I almost felt human by dinner time.

But later my fever returned and I descended into madness.  To go along with this mania, I put on a pretty bad prison movie from 1947 called “Brute Force.”  Burt Lancaster is a prisoner who stages a jail break to save his wife from a cancer diagnosis.  The pipsqueak, Hume Cronyn is completely absurd as the sadistic captain of the guards.  But as ridiculous as the movie was it was perfect for my delirium.

When Camera Girl addressed me I started changing my “thems” to “dems” and “these” to “deese.”  Pretty soon I told her that no “twist” was gonna tell me how to run a jail break.  I reminded her that no prison could hold me for long and I added for good measure that no one would take me alive.

Eventually I passed out from a combination of malaise and bad acting.  When I woke up a mortally wounded Lancaster tossed Cronyn from the guard tower to the mob below who tore him apart.  Ahhh, those were the days.  No transgender prisoners, no pronouns, just good old prison justice for stool pigeons and screws, see?

Now I’m wrapped up like a mummy trying to keep from getting the shakes.  I think I’m done with bad movies for the day.  I’ll put on some country music and try to sleep my way through the worst of this.  Funny thing is Camera Girl now seems genuinely concerned with my health.  There’s a word in Italian that means pity; peccato.  Of course, in the dialect that Camera Girl’s people spoke back in the old country it was pronounced like “pea-cod.”  Well, my pathetic weakness and whining have finally broken through and I’m garnering the attention and peccato I so richly deserve.  I win again!

My hope is that I’ll be almost human tomorrow.  But one never knows, do one?

Happy Thanksgiving 2022 to Everybody

What a splendiferous day.  Camera Girl, working on her early food preliminaries, busy as a bee and supremely skilled.  Me, lazier than a lion in the noonday sun, puttering around, anticipating the feeding frenzy to come.  I research anything that comes into my head.  I find solutions to problems that I’ve put off solving for years.  I’m profoundly contented.

I finally made a walkaround outside a little while ago.  That good, late afternoon sun, every photographer’s friend as it transmutes everything it touches into gold, gives me some subjects for my camera.  A frost-burned rosebud, a dying stalk of millet, some seared oak leaves on a branch.  Quite unspectacular subjects but with an obvious relevance to the season.  The walk was invigorating.  The fresh air did me good.

Tomorrow will be a full day of family.  I won’t spend much, if any, time on-line.  Which is all to the good.  The site daily content is all pre-loaded.  Hopefully the world will have the good grace not to explode until after I’ve enjoyed my holiday.  So, everyone will be so good as to amuse themselves tomorrow while I give thanks for all the wonderful people and things with which God has seen fit to populate his universe.

If something important or amusing strikes me and I decide to throw it onto the site tomorrow I hope most of you will be too busy or too groggy with food to notice.  There will be plenty of time on Friday or Saturday to catch up with my pearls of wisdom(?).

I’ll have to say the results of the elections have made me unexpectedly upbeat for the future.  I feel like the future is up to me to create and that greatly energizes me.  No more waiting for saviors or depending on luck.  I feel like the world is for those who seize the moment and wrest the future they want out of the indifferent present that we see around us.  The American dream was shown to be just that.  The fellowship with our American “brothers” on the Left has been revealed to be a lie.  But this revelation is liberating.  An open enemy is so much less dangerous than a false friend.  None of the Bushes or McConnells or Bidens or Obamas can surprise us anymore.  We know just how evil they are and we can anticipate most of their attacks at this point.  So, there’s no reason to think of them at all on a day of thanksgiving.  I’ll think about all the good people that I’ve heard about or met in the last year and I’ll be thankful for blessings that I know I’ve enjoyed.

I hope everyone out there eats and drinks way too much of some delicious things.  I hope that you have a chance to talk to some folks that mean something to you.  I hope everyone has time to think about this life and the good things that we should be thankful for.  And I hope you have a chance to enjoy yourself and relax.  I intend to stay up late tomorrow after everybody goes home and watch some old movies and get up late and then eat a lot of leftovers.

God bless you all.

21NOV2022 – OCF Update – We Go On

 

Good morning.  The sun is shining the cold has set in and everything is in motion for the Thanksgiving holiday.  And everyone has his part to play.  Even I, the laziest man in Christendom, have chores and errands and must play my part.  Wonderful.

We fulfill these parts even as the edifice of western civilization degrades and crumbles all around us.  And I say, okay!  No more whining, no more railing against the corruption and greed that fuels the destruction.

Play into the storm.  Look for the advantage.  Protect you and yours.  Intelligence and reason are real.  Even if the world pretends they don’t exist, they do. Teach your children that the hot stove burns and poison kills and a loaded gun isn’t pointed at a friend.

There are plenty of things to do.  Ferret out the things that have value and hold onto them.  Find the good people and show them your value.  Don’t waste your time on nonsense.

Do something to make things better every day.  It doesn’t matter if it’s insignificant.  Make each day count in some way.  Even if it’s something you have to do anyway.  In your mind find a positive aspect and accomplish it.

Don’t lose touch with your people.  Reach out to them even if they’re far away.  In our all-encompassing communication infrastructure, there’s never an excuse for losing touch with the people that mean something to you.  Take a moment and say something meaningful to one of them as often as you can.

There’s no need or room for despair.  What’s needed is work.  Find something meaningful to do and DO IT!

The Republicans are useless and evil.  the Democrats are in charge of everything and satanic.  How is that different from 99.9% of recorded history.  Maybe we had Camelot in this country for a couple of hundred years and now it’s over.  Suck it up.  Move on.

Keep your eyes open for something better that comes along.  Don’t give up on politics but don’t expect the good guys to come over the hill and restore us to the 1950s or even the 1980s.  That’s highly unlikely.  Settle for someone doing something that makes things a little less horrible.

Believe in yourself and believe in common sense and believe in the good that you can do for your family and friends.  There is good and evil and there is right and wrong.  Use the brains that God gave you to figure out the difference and make the hard decisions.

And keep your eyes open in case there comes a point where you need to jump out of the way of anything really, really bad.  That’s the one that worries me.  But worrying doesn’t accomplish anything so keep that in the back of your mind and do all of the rest of it today and tomorrow and the day after that.

And that day after that is Thanksgiving!  So, get on with it and there’ll be turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie waiting for you on Thursday.  That’s good enough to keep me going.