Friday, May 15, 2015

Thumpada Thumpada

Somewhere around 4 am:  Thumpada thumpada thumpada cat feet pounding through the house.  Thumpada thumpada thumpada down the hallway, into bedroom, and Perry hits the bed and races across me, followed by Scooter, both sailing at wide open speed.  Over me, off the bed, back around, down the hallway and thumpada thumpada thumpada down the stairs.  Thumpada thumpada thumpada back up the stairs, down the hall, and pounding across me again.  Repeated a couple more times, then a launch from my bed to the dresser and there goes the vase full of lilacs and water.  All over antique dresser.  Sigh.


It's a good thing I love you wretches.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the OMG!!!

It's been a busy week or so here at the Caer.  Spring has sprung and I have been trying to keep ahead of it, mulching and mowing and trimming and mowing and weeding and mowing.  Then mowing again.  But I love this season.  And yes I even love that it's heading for at least 85 degrees today.  Love it love it love it.

My lilac bushes each only produced a couple blooms last year.  This year I warned them that paltry showings would result in replacement with something more productive.  Must have scared them:  both are loaded with lovely fragrant blooms.


The bee balm, both red and purple, is growing rapidly and should be full of bouncy red heads in a couple weeks:


The red honeysuckle and yellow yarrow are full of buds just ready to pop and will be attracting butterflies and hummingbirds any day now:



The bleeding hearts have been blooming for a couple weeks and are nearly done.  The clematis behind it started a couple days ago.





And the peonies are almost here.  Last year the blasted cankerworms ate even the blooms, but spraying knocked the buggers back pretty good.  I've still got them munching in a couple areas, but it's way better this year than last.  Come on pretty babies, almost there!


A few of the irises are even willing to throw up a few buds this year - it sometimes takes a couple years for those to come back from being replanted.  They weren't happy with me digging out the beds last year.

Been doing so much yard work that I wore my britches out.


The flower beds are where some of the bad came in.  When I pulled a dead plant out of one of the beds I discovered that the mulch was full of termites, just loaded with them.  That would be the flower bed attached to my wooden porch.  Which is then attached to a wood frame house.  Knee bone, leg bone, hip bone, oh crud I know that song about connections.  Quick trip to Home Depot and afternoon spent inserting commercial termite stakes into bed.  They did nothing.  Bed still full of termites.  Call to exterminator.  Well is too close to house to use the gel spot treatment.  $550 for the second option.  Between cat bills and surprises like that I never am going to get enough saved to actually put flooring down.

Oh, did I mention that the same day I found the termites I plugged in the pressure washer and it died with a BANG!?  Yeah, I really need to do the decking this year, as you can see from the pic below.  Washed on right, unwashed on left.  New pressure washer in back of SUV.  To be assembled this evening.


So it was time to get away.  Last Sunday was spent on the Western Maryland Rail Trail, and a glorious day it was.


It was so beautiful that I just kept going and going.   30 miles was perhaps a bit much for the first ride of the season - I lost contact with my left foot the last couple miles and I think my butt is broken - but it was worth every mile.

Then I found back roads to get me down to Sharpsburg, MD, thinking I'd have a Nutter's ice cream cone.  But the line was out the door and down the street.  Never mind.


So I plunked myself down over at Captain Bender's and had meself some beer and dinner.


That's a Blue Moon IPA.  Didn't know they made such a thing.  Blue Moon is a bit light for me, but the IPA is definitely acceptable.

Monday back to working on the place, and the pest control guy came to set up the termite killing/prevention system.

Here's were the OMG!! comes in.

Jason, who has been my regular for at least a year and is a fairly young fellow, knocks on the door.  I open it and he's leaning on the door jam.

Him:  "I'm having a problem.  Not with the installation.  With me."
Me:  "Why don't you come in out of the heat and I'll get you some ice water."

He comes in, moving slowly, looking a bit vague.

Him:  "I've started having this heart problem and it's really acting up.  I feel really bad."
Me, stopping on bottom step: "Your heart?  Bad as in need to go to the emergency room bad?"
Him, leaning on the base of the railing: "Um, yeah.  If you don't mind..."

So I shoved him into the SUV and galloped for town, stopping when I saw the ambulance was in its bay at the fire station and yelling for an EMT.  They loaded him up and took off and I came back, said some prayers, called his office to let them know what was going on and locked up his truck.

Yeah, that was exciting.  But the good news is that he was released a few hours later.  The bad news for him is that he has to see a cardiologist.  He will get nagged next time he comes to do a treatment.

And here's where I mention that when I got home it was hot enough inside that I closed up the house and turned on the AC for the first time.  Anybody want to guess what the next phone call was for?

It's been a bit of a mixed bag...



Note:  Pics of beebalm, yarrow, and red honeysuckle stolen from web because mine aren't blooming yet.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Imma Gonna Riot

I live a bit west of Baltimore - about 75 miles.  There's a mountain ridge between the Socialist State of MD and I.  That's deliberate, both because I prefer to live in mountains and because the US hasn't learned anything and cities like D.C. (also close) and Baltimore are very vulnerable to major terrorist attack.  Also because I got tired of the bubble of liberal stupid that those areas are encased in and I had to leave or lose what little mind I had left.

But I still visit.  Baltimore has enough to offer to make day trips worth while.  Like the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, scheduled for this coming Saturday.  Said race is always followed by my spending money in the city.  A lot of people spending money in the city.

No Race on Saturday, though, because the city has been afflicted with Stupid.



So dangerous that the Baltimore Orioles played to an empty stadium - the game was closed to the public.  They won (they'll undo that by the end of the season), but a whole lot of income was lost.  The vendors there don't live on wins, they live on filled seats.

I did gain a new hero, at least.


You go, momma!  And why weren't there a whole bunch of other parents out there doing the same thing?

After the idiocy of St. Swisher, I gotta tell you that I am disinclined to believe that there was wrong-doing on the part of the police officers involved.  If there was, then appropriate measures should be taken.  But you know what?  It helps you to avoid injury by police if you aren't prone to committing crimes. Really.  Give it a try.

Nearly 100 police officers injured because initially they were ordered not to put on riot gear.  Millions of dollars in damage.  The mayor of Baltimore, Rawlings-Blake?  "Let them loot, it's just property."  Dear Ms. Rawlings-Blake:  Let's move them all to your front yard and turn them loose on YOUR property and see how you feel.  Like your car?  Aw, too bad.  It's in flames.  But, after all, it's just property.

Yeah, yeah.  I get it.  The US is a racist country.  So racist that a black president has been elected twice.  So racist that we've had a black Secretary of State, a black National Security Adviser.  So racist that states have or have had black governors and major cities have or have had black mayors.  Rawlings-Blake being one of those black mayors.  So racist that we have dumped trillions of tax dollars into the black community in the last 50 years only to see conditions worsen as we fed an entitlement mentality that destroyed black families in a way that would make slavers proud and Martin Luther King weep.

OK, I'll give you that last one.  The Great Society was and still is racist.  Dear whites who support it: you may have missed the memo but treating a whole group of people as if they are incapable of doing anything without government help is VERY racist.  Dear blacks who support it: here's a link to the definition of "useful idiot."

Bet most people don't know, though, that while rioters concentrated downtown were demanding justice for their latest criminal martyr, some of their fellow travelers were also busy in the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk.    Richard Fletcher, 61, is recovering from the beating he received from a group of teens and adults.  You can read the story here.


Let's see, black criminals get riots, groveling, positive or flamingly stupid media coverage (See Cuomo and Salon. But IDIOT ALERT) and the promise of more money being thrown down the bottomless hole of the race-baiting industry.  White non-criminals get medical bills and largely ignored by the major media.

Obviously, I've been doing things wrong.  SOMEBODY (that would be you, dear taxpayer) needs to start buying me STUFF.  Or maybe I should just go over to the local Walmart, break some things up, set a couple fires, and walk out with a new TV.  After all, I was born into a poor family - I deserve it.  So imma gonna riot.  Seems to work for a bunch of people these days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CCC 2259 - 2265

CCC meaning the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  And 2259 through 2265 read as follows:

I. RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE
 
The witness of sacred history
 
2259 In the account of Abel's murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand."

2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God's gift of human life and man's murderous violence:

For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning. . . . Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.
The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains necessary for all time. 

2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere. 

2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill," and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.

Legitimate defense
 
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. 

My life is a gift from God, and therefore I have a responsibility to protect it.  Other's lives are also a gift from God, and so  I also have a responsibility to protect them if I am able.

Therefore I carry a 9 mm Glock.  And I hope I never have to use it except in target practice.


Father Edward Fride, the pastor of Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor, MI, sees it the same way I do.  He has sent out a pro-gun letter to his parishioners titled "We're not in Mayberry Anymore, Toto".  He has also sponsored concealed carry classes at the church.  His reasoning is just what his letter said - we ain't in Mayberry anymore, and recent local events have demonstrated that unless people realize that and take action a tragedy is going to occur.  Two active shooters got very close to the local Catholic high school before they were taken down by LE.  He doesn't feel that anybody needs to be lambs going to slaughter when the bad guys attack.

Unfortunately, his bishop, Earl Boyea, does not agree.

Guns and gun lessons do not belong in a Catholic church, Lansing Catholic Bishop Earl Boyea stressed in a statement after they learned about Fride's letter from the Free Press.
Boyea "has never given permission for anyone to carry a concealed weapon in a church or school in the Diocese of Lansing."

"... Concealed Pistol License classes are inappropriate activities to be held on Church property" ...
 ...the Lansing diocese's ban on weapons on church makes them "gun-free zones" and extends to those who want to practice "open carry" of weapons in full view. He added that public or professional security "provide for public safety on church property."

Unfortunately, the bishop's comparison to Jesus and His response to aggression does not take into account that Jesus had a specific mission that explicitly forbade Him from fighting back.  We do, indeed, share in Jesus' salvic mission.  But we have other duties as well that are specific to our time on earth.  And one of those duties is to protect the gift of life that is given from God.

Not to mention that the bishop's reference to professionals makes me sigh.  Unless you are living with someone attached to your hip 24/7, no matter how capable they are, they can't be everywhere at every time.

Father Fride needs to submit.  He has sworn obedience to his bishop, who has the authority to forbid him from using parish facilities for whatever said bishop chooses.  As far as I know, however, nothing precludes him from sponsoring shooting activities off of parish property on his days off.

I just wish bishops were this quick in their oversight of parish facilities being used for things that are truly against Catholic teaching.

Read the full story here.

Hat tip Murphy's Law



Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Not That I Don't Love You Anymore...

It's just that I seem to have become somewhat computer-averse.  I suspect that's a boomerang effect of so many years of being tied to one for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  I don't have to be tied to one now.

I'm down at Church a lot these days - we have Perpetual Adoration and in addition to my own scheduled time it's just plain the best place to find peace and lack of distractions for prayer and study.  I'm on my third pass through Genesis right now, each time with a different study guide and each time I've learned something new.   I'm constantly amazed at the distances covered by the nomadic people of the Middle East thousands of years before modern transportation - before, even, the common use of camels.  Abraham can be ball-parked at about 2000 B.C. from textual information that has been matched with archaeological finds.  He took a hike I can't even conceive of:


I think my favorite story is that of Jacob, because I find it entertaining that, having run a con to get what he wanted from his father, he himself was thoroughly conned by Laban.  Then he turned the tables and conned his way out of Laban's con.  Took a few years - twenty, in fact.  Makes me laugh.

I read a lot.  When I want to. Or watch old episodes of "Twilight Zone".  What a fabulous show that was.  Remind me again why I bought a fancy flat screen TV when almost everything I watch on it was made before the era of color and sorta isn't exactly high def?

It's Spring - YAY!  That means scrambling to get things done as green comes exploding out of the ground.  Sometimes I think that if I just sat for a few minutes I could see things grow as I watched.


Took a break (Because I'm retired now and I can.  Heh.)  and braved D.C. for one of it's ephemeral and spectacular events - the blooming cherry trees at the Tidal Basin.  I hadn't been down there for years, mostly because I didn't want to go there on the weekend, when it would be insanely crowded, or take a day off from work.  The peak bloom only lasts a few days and we hit the jackpot with our timing last Monday.  As you can see in the second pic, even the trunks bloom.






And then there's Scooter.  He has to help me with everything.  Which means everything takes much more time than it should.



And he is such an escape artist.  If I'm not very careful I'll turn around and find him helping me in the yard, too.  Slick, that one is.



But he's so darn cute.



Having the extra time I decided to try my hand at making laundry soap.  We spend so much for packaging and advertising.  And I don't WANT my clothes to smell like this or that.  I just want them clean.

A bar of fels naptha soap, some borax and washing soda...


Just add hot water - easy peasy.


I've got about 5 gallons of the stuff for a few pennies a load, and it takes the dirt I grind into my pants when I work outside right out.  I abandoned fabric softener a couple years ago in favor of tossing a cup of white vinegar in with the wash, and I line dry whenever possible.  My mother would think I'm insane but there ya go.   She's the one who used to starch and iron pillow cases - I thought THAT was insane.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Final Act In The Tragedy - December 23, 1883


The details of the night of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln have been discussed, detailed, and dissected. The last minute inclusion of Clara Harris and Major Henry Rathbone as companions for the Lincolns is a well-known part of the general history of the night, as is Major Rathbone’s attempt to stop John Wilkes Booth’s escape.

What is rarely mentioned is that the engaged couple were step-siblings who had grown up together. And that Major Rathbone, having slid into madness over the years after the assassination, murdered his wife Clara Harris Rathbone on December 23, 1883.

The Albany, New York, that both Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone were born into was already an old city, the area having been claimed by Henry Hudson for the Netherlands in 1609. Named Beverwijck and growing up around Dutch Fort Orange, the village had been renamed Albany in 1664 when the British took control. Lying on the navigable Hudson River and serving as the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal, the city's water transportation was also supplemented by several early railroad systems and a turnpike. By the 1830s, when Harris and Rathbone were born, Albany was a bustling city of more than 24,000. Ira Harris was a practicing lawyer in this prosperous corner of New York when his daughter Clara, one of four children, was born to him and his wife Louisa on September 4, 1834.

Three years later, on July 1, 1837, Henry Riggs Rathbone was welcomed into the world by successful merchant and businessman Jared L. Rathbone and his wife Pauline.

Both children would have lived comfortable lives. Their fathers were successful and active in political life: Jared Rathbone became mayor of Albany in 1839; Ira Harris served in the New York State Assembly in 1845 and 1846, as a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1846, and as a state senator in 1847. But both children also suffered the loss of a parent: both Clara’s mother, Louisa Harris, and Henry’s father, Jared Rathbone, died in 1845, leaving two families with holes in their lives that needed filled. At some point, Ira Harris and Pauline Rathbone decided to fill that hole by combining their families: they were married on August 1, 1848, and 13 year old Clara and 11 year old Henry became step-siblings.

Ira’s successful career continued supporting the blended family: he lectured on equity jurisprudence at Albany Law School and served as a justice on the state supreme court from 1847 to 1859. The children grew up. So did friendship between Clara and Henry.

Albany, circa 1853
Although at least some members of the Harris family were growing closer, the country was not. Cracks in national unity had been steadily widening as the United States expanded its territory and the simmering debate over slavery boiled into state’s rights battles. Slave catchers crossed state lines to retrieve human property and Kansas bled while one Senator caned another on the U.S. Senate floor. Mr. Lincoln may have declared in 1858 that a house divided against itself could not stand but by the time the Rail Splitter took office on March 4, 1861, America was not just divided but sundered apart: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had already seceded. Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee soon followed.

Lincoln’s competition for the Republican nomination for president in 1860 included New York Senator William H. Seward. Able and anti-slavery, Seward had served as state senator and the 12th governor of the state before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849. Lincoln appointed him Secretary of State in 1861, leaving a New York Senate seat open. Ira Harris was elected to that seat, and so the Harris family entered Washington, D.C., society. Apparently they fit well: Ira was a frequent visitor to the White House, forming a friendship with Lincoln; Lincoln’s polite surrendering of his seat to Pauline Harris on the night of his inaugural had led to a friendship between Pauline and Mary Todd Lincoln. Clara, too, was included in this circle and was part of White House social functions.

War interrupted many plans, including, presumably, those of the step-siblings. Henry Rathbone, a 24 year old graduate of New York’s Union College in 1861, worked in a law partnership in Albany, but when war came he joined the flood of patriotic enlistments to the Union Army. He served as a captain in the 12th Infantry Regiment, saw the horrors of the battles like Antietam and Fredericksburg, and gained the rank of major by April of 1865. By then, he and Clara Harris were also more than friends – they were engaged to be married.

Perhaps it seemed a stroke of luck that Major Rathbone’s duties would not keep him from escorting his fiancĂ©e on the evening of April 14, 1865. The decision for the Lincolns to attend “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater was a last minute one, and several people, including the Lincoln’s son, Robert, had already begged off accompanying the presidential couple for various reasons. But Clara and Henry accepted and the Lincolns, running late, picked them up at the Harris residence. The picture of the evening is engraved in America’s historical mind’s eye: the bearded, weary President seated in a rocker beside his First Lady; a light comedy, welcome after years of brutal civil war; a sharp crack thought at first to be a part of the play. Clara seated in a chair next to Mrs. Lincoln; Henry on a sofa just behind her. A moment, and then the realization in the presidential box that something was very wrong. Rathbone erupted from his seat and grappled with Booth, who slashed Rathbone’s arm open from elbow to shoulder with the knife he had also carried into the box. Seriously wounded and with a head injury as well, Henry tried to stop Booth, but the assassin pulled away and made his escape, although it was only a temporary one. Henry’s efforts caused Booth to snag a foot as he leaped over the balcony and were responsible for Booth’s broken ankle. Henry collapsed from his wounds. Clara was covered in Henry’s blood but she could not leave the hysterical wife of the president. According to a letter that Clara later wrote a friend, Mrs. Lincoln, seeing the blood, cried out “Oh! My husband’s blood! My dear husband’s blood!” but it was not her husband’s blood – Lincoln’s wound did not bleed externally. Rathbone was sent home for care, and Clara kept vigil with Mary Todd Lincoln at the Peterson boarding house through the long night until the president died at 7:22 the next morning.

Booth's dagger
After that awful Spring, Clara retreated to the Harris summer house outside Albany. Unable to either clean and use or destroy her blood soaked gown, she put it away. Legend has it that ghostly episodes eventually caused Henry to brick the closet up, dress and all.

Clara and Henry finally married on July 11, 1867, but the night of the assassination forever marred their union. Henry was haunted by the thought that he might have done more that night, that he might have somehow prevented Lincoln’s assassination. There is some thought that his head injury also contributed to his moodiness and depression. He supported his family, which eventually grew to include three children, but he suffered from depression, physical ailments, and delusions. Today, he might be diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder and treated; in that era he and his family made rounds of doctors and spas, carrying the night of April 14, 1865, with them as his mental state deteriorated. He resigned from the Army as a full Colonel in 1870.

There is virtually no record of their family life. Later, there would be statements that Henry was jealous of the amount of attention that his wife gave their children. There are no reports of abuse, although it would not be surprising given his emotional instability. Clara had waited a long time for this marriage: in an era when women normally married in their early twenties, she was nearly thirty-three years old. Perhaps her love for Henry was greater than any turmoil his mental state caused. By mid-nineteenth century, divorce laws were more protective of a woman, but it still wasn’t a path easily taken. And there were the children to consider: perhaps she felt that even an erratic father in the home was better than none. For whatever reason, Clara remained with Henry.

A composite image of Henry and Clara
In 1882, Henry re-entered public service through an appointment as U. S. consul to Hanover, Germany. His mental state did not improve; instead he became even more erratic. He grew more depressed and suffered hallucinations. Finally, in the early morning hours of December 23, 1883, Henry violently attacked his wife, shooting and stabbing her repeatedly. Then he stabbed himself six times in what appeared to be an attempt at suicide. A maid and the sister of the lady of the house, awakened by the tumult, found the horrific scene and called authorities.

Clara was buried in the Engeohde Cemetery in Hanover. Henry survived, but he was unquestionably insane. Their children were taken back to America by Clara’s brother, William. Henry was confined to the Provincial Insane Asylum, where he remained until his death on August 14, 1911. He was paranoid and filled with delusions to the end of his days, believing that he was being dosed with vapors and dust sprayed from the walls. When he died, he was buried with his wife. In 1952, the cemetery, in accordance with policy for graves that had no recent burials and no recent correspondence from family, opened their graves and disposed of whatever remained of Henry and Clara so that the graves could be reused.

Their son, Henry Jr., thirteen at the time of his mother’s murder, went on to serve as an Illinois Representative to Congress. Ironically, he shared Lincoln’s birthday: February 12. So perhaps it is appropriate that it was he who, in 1910, finally tore down the bricked up closet in which his mother’s bloody dress had hung for 45 years and burned that reminder of the night of April 14, 1865. He hoped, it was said, that the curse that the blood spattered thing had placed on his family was finally ended with its destruction. One can hope that with the passing of his father a year later the curse and tragedy of April 14, 1865, had indeed ended.

Friday, March 13, 2015

In For A Surprise

Mom says I'm getting tutored today.  Don't know why - I'm really good at everything I do already.