Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

One More, One Less

A seminarian named Matty Molnar died yesterday in a car crash. I'm sorry I didn't read his blog before, because his last post was a pretty good set of last words.

It's always particularly sad to lose someone online, because you don't have the usual comfort of going to the funeral or the grave. It's even more discouraging to lose bright young seminarians who are on fire for the Church, because we need them more than ever. But a real community, a real parish is a place where people live and die. We are sad because we are separated from them here; but in reality, we are still in communion with them, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and angels, through our oneness in Christ. I have no doubt that this gentleman Matty Molnar will be doing us even more good from where he is now.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Recipes Tried and True

Recipes Tried and True was a cookbook "Compiled by the Ladies' Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church, Marion, Ohio, 1894", and now on the Web somewhere in Canada. Makes you think, don't it?

This is an amazing cookbook, somewhere halfway between Mrs. Beeton and today, and looking it. Yes, there's recipes using both sour and sweet milk, and differentiating between teacups and coffeecups as measurements. You use butter the size of a walnut or a hen's egg. But there's also icebox recipes, including one for making, gelatine molds with fruit in them. Did you ever wonder what "Milk Toast" or "Fig Pudding" was? Here you go.

Some things are familiar stuff, others odd beyond recognition, and some look like they're familiar stuff under different names. "Queen Pudding" sounds like lemon meringue pie. "Spanish Fritters" look like French toast without crusts to me. But who'd've thought of eating "French Bread Pancakes", which apparently are what you get if you leave bread in your French toast batter overnight? But what got me was the "coffee cake". Coffeecake was what it was. I would never have guessed that the ladies of Marion were so gung ho for coffeecake in 1894, would you?

You can definitely tell the region, social status and ethnic groups from the names. Yet there's no sauerkraut and wurst for the Presbyterian ladies, though there is a recipe for "Schmier Kase". Maybe nobody needed to know your sausage recipe. There's cornmeal mush, though, which is just one of those Midwestern things, I guess. Check out all the different preserves -- even an egg one! And don't miss the distinction between "Summer Mince Meat" and "Mince Meat". (Hint: only one of them includes 4 pounds of beef, though one beef tongue is even better.)

Finally, there's this poem that must have been common wisdom about cakes:

With weights and measures just and true,
Oven of even heat,
Well-buttered tins and quiet nerves,
Success will be complete."

But don't take my word for it. Go take a look at Central Ohio cooking from back in the day. You might even decide to bake a raisin pie.

The Hacker's Diet

I'm trying to lose weight with the help of the famous Hacker's Diet. I'm not sure how well the calorie-counting is working, but that's mostly because I have been having trouble remembering to eat more than a thousand calories a day, so I have to get used to not starving myself inadvertently.

I have also discovered the amazing power of pickles, as they are delicious, filling, nutritious, and only about five calories each. I suspect am going to have to invest in Vlasic to deal with my nightly snack needs. (I only want to snack at night when I'm not inadvertently starving myself...figures.)

The exercise portion is going much better. The secret seems to be doing the situps while I'm still in bed, because that's the part I least want to get out of bed and do. (And I have that nice soft memory foam to do them on.) Then I get up and turn on the computer to one of the anime stations on, and voila! Energy!

A Horse of a Different Color Gene

I happened to run across this interesting page about the "cremello" and equine genetics -- ie, why it's not proper to call these horses albino even though they look it. I always wondered about this thing with white and black points in horses. They also have a handy color chart of what happens with "dilution" by the cream color gene. (Silver and dun apparently act similarly, but are different colors in their own right.)

All this is in aid of a group supporting pink-skinned, blue-eyed cream-colored horses. I'm not sure I'd be into breeding such horses, but certainly the horses themselves are worthy of support. It shouldn't surprise anyone, either, given all the other coloring-based organizations, like the ones supporting palominos and paints, or this one I've never run across looking for champagne horses.

That "champagne" site includes some fascinating info on newly discovered color genes which mimick the one they're looking for. This site charts the "Pearl" gene found in at least one lineage of Andalusians, as well as other "new" (ie, previously unrecognized) genetic horse color weirdnesses. So far, it looks as if the vast majority of these weird genes are not necessarily new, and may all go back to Spain's Andalusians and through them from Arabian horses. This would not be any great surprise to people who know horse history.

Here's a whole site dedicated to equine coat colors, including the common color changes between foal and adult. Fascinating stuff.

But all this is making me feel very worried about the science behind the imaginary horse breeding program I carried out in third grade. I tried to be careful about realistic color consequences, but I have the uneasy feeling that all the Arabs and Akhal-Tekes I was using would have skewed my results considerably.

(And that, btw, is yet another example of "stuff kids are interested in which adults don't or can't openly support". Any girl who's really interested in horses ends up learning a vast amount about breeding, but somehow I doubt the Barbie Horse Farm software has anything about breeding or genetics at all.)

Apparently there's now an Akhal-Teke breeder not far away from one of my grandmas. (Siiiiiigh!) The owners were having trouble maintaining the typical metallic "shine" of their coats in the non-Swedish sun of Florida. But the comment box knows and tells all....

Over on the other owner's blog, there's a sad post about a noted breeder currently imprisoned in Turkmenistan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy Triumph of the Cross Day!

Of the 6,525 BellSouth employees living in the path of Hurricane Katrina, every single one has been found alive and well.

"With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt...proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people...Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world...They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them...proclaim it on distant coasts, and say: He who gathers them together, he guards them as a shepherd his flock...I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows...Thus says the LORD: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the LORD, they shall return...There is hope for your future, says the LORD...Set up road markers, put up guideposts; Turn your attention to the highway, the road by which you went. Turn these your cities...For I will refresh the weary soul; every soul that languishes I will replenish." (Jeremiah 31, various verses.)

Holy Cross Day, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and the feast of the Triumph of the Cross are all names for the same celebration -- the rediscovery of the True Cross by St. Helena. All different sorts of Christians still celebrate this feast, thanking Jesus for His great sacrifice through our wonder at the poor inanimate piece of God's creation that became so intimate a part of God's plan for salvation. Much as we Catholics venerate an image of the Cross on Good Friday with genuflections and caresses, so do the Orthodox on this day lie prostrate on the floor while the Cross is raised before the congregation and the following song is sung:

Come, O faithful, let us bow before the life-giving Cross
on which Christ, the King of glory, freely stretched out His hands.
By this He raised us up to our former happiness,
which we had lost because of the ancient Enemy
and the bitter pleasure that exiled us from God.
Come, O faithful, let us bow before the Wood
which lets us crush the head of the invisible enemy.
Come, all you families of the nations,
let us venerate the Cross of the Lord with our hymns:
Rejoice, O perfect redemption of the fall of Adam;
Rejoice, O venerable Cross.
Filled with fear and awe, we embrace you; we glorify God, and we say:
O Lord, You were nailed on the Cross;
in Your goodness and love, have mercy on us.

Come, O people, let us contemplate the marvelous wonder;
let us bow before the power of the Cross.
For the tree of Paradise gave rise to the reign of death,
and now a Tree has made our life blossom forth,
when the sinless Saviour was nailed upon it.
And now, all the nations that are nourished
by this incorruptible food sing praises:
You destroyed death by Your Cross and set us free.
O Lord, glory to You!

The word of Your prophets Isaiah and David is now fulfilled,
for they spoke of You, O Lord, and said:
All the nations shall come to You and bow before You.
Behold the people who are now filled with Your grace
in Your sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem.
O God of goodness who suffered on the Cross for us
and gives us life through Your holy resurrection,
protect us with Your care, O Lord, and save us.

Rising from the depths of the earth on this day,
the Tree of Life strengthens our faith
in the resurrection of Christ who nailed on it.
His raised hands announce His ascension into heaven,
which permitted Him to dwell in our nature in this fallen world.
We also cry out in thanksgiving:
O Lord who was raised on the Cross and raises us with You,
grant heavenly joy to those who praise Your name.

The four corners of the earth are sanctified today, O Christ our God,
by the four ends of Your exalted Cross.
With it, exalt your faithful Christians
who destroy the power of the enemy through your Cross.
You are great, O Lord, and wondrous in Your works; glory to You!

The words of the prophets have told of the most holy wood
by which Adam was delivered from the ancient curse and from death.
On this day of its exaltation, creation raises its voice
to beg God for the abundance of his mercy.
O Lord, your compassion is beyond measure;
spare us, O God, and save our souls!


Behold the words of the prophet Moses are fulfilled, O Lord;
for he said: You shall see your life suspended before your eyes.
Today the Cross is exalted, and the world is freed from error.
Today the Resurrection of Christ is renewed;
the ends of the earth exalt with joy.
At the sound of the cymbals of David,
they offer a hymn of praise and say:
In your goodness and love for all,
You have brought about our salvation in the middle of the earth, O our God.
Through your Cross and Resurrection You save us.
O Lord all-powerful, glory to You!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Saddest Day of the Year

I avoided watching cable again today. I didn't want to watch Katrina coverage, and I didn't want to watch 9/11 coverage.

I don't need to remember. I need to find some way to forget.

So today I did chores and read a Daisy Dalrymple and watched The Band Wagon, and tried to pretend that things were normal again when really, they never were. They hadn't been for years before that day. We forgot, that's all.

So then I watched Walter Huston in Abraham Lincoln, and now I'm watching 49th Parallel. There's a surprising amount of comfort in watching movies that know a war's a war.

But the homily today still needed to be about forgiveness, and the sky today was still that same September blue. And it still hurts.