As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
Psalm 42:1 – King James Bible, 1611
It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of Robertson Davies but yesterday on CBC Radio’s Studio Sparks, Eric Frieson prefaced a performance of Palestrina’s great motet Sicut Cervus with a quote from Davies’ novel Fifth Business:
If he hoped to make an atheist of me, this was where he went wrong; I knew a metaphor when I heard one, and I like metaphor better than reason. I have known many atheists since Sam, and they all fall down on metaphor.
I consider myself lucky that during my period of strong faith I attended a parish church (St Thomas Anglican – Toronto) where music – both sung and in the spoken language of the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer – was an integral part of worship. Not that the parish community did not listen to reason: reason played a part in the Senior’s Home we built to celebrate our centenary, in the day care centre we operated in the church hall, in the neighborhood and University outreach programmes. It even played a part in the Parish support of Caesar Chavez and the California grape boycott – but frankly being Anglo-Catholics who really bothered with grapes unless they were fermented? And it may have played a part in a few of the sermons that were preached. But mass, evensong, matins – all the feast, fast and ferial celebrations of the church year – those were pure metaphor.
I fell away from the church many years ago and perhaps it is approaching old age but these days I think I miss the reason but I know I miss the metaphor.
As a sidebar, God’ Secretaries, The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicholson is an intriguing look at the period, the politics and what influenced this brilliant piece of English literature.
It appears that Venice’s macho Gondolieri – much fabled in Gilbert and Sullivan as the gay gondolieri but that’s another story – are up in arms. These men’s men of the canals – I’ve included a few pictures taken on a vacation back in 2000 to show just how macho these boys are and ’cause hell beefcake is beefcake – are horrified that a woman is attempting to break into their manly domain. Alexandra Hai – a foreigner and a “gasp” woman – has won the “limited” right to navigate through the waterways of la Serenissima.
An article in today’s NYTimes quotes one veteran gondolier as saying “Let’s leave one tradition intact.” And Venice is a city that loves its traditions. However you will notice that none of these gentlemen are wearing the traditional straw boater with the long flowing streamers – guess it just isn’t manly and besides it would get in the way of those traditional Armani sunglasses!
Last week one of the commenters on Big Ass Belle referred to the idiom: going to hell in a hand cart and bingo one of those memory drawers popped open.
When we were living in Warsaw Laurent and I decided we needed a vacation break between Christmas and New Year’s. For some reason, don’t ask me why, I decided that Dresden would be a great place to see. I was right. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable vacations we’ve ever had and the source of the first travel article I had published.
The next morning the sun was bright and a deep cold had set in – a day for museums. One of the legacies of Augustus the Strong’s mania for collecting is the Green Vault housed in the Albertinium Museum. I now know how Ali Baba must have felt entering the cave: diamonds, gold, silver, enamels, jewelry, miniatures, serving plates, trinkets-including a wonderful fat gentleman in silver being transported by the devil “to hell in a hand cart.” And only a curator with a sense of humor would arrange it so you stumbled out of this Baroque riot into the Tim Burton-like sculptures of Thomas Reichstein and Andreas Feininger’s black-and-white photos of a long past America.
Excerpt from Messin’ Near Meisen – Warsaw Business Journal, February 5-11, 2001.
For some reason amongst all those treasures that fat little gentleman charmed me most with its mix of humour and silversmith’s art.
And here he is, ain’t he a beauty? And Lynette unless I’m mistaken that’s a terrier at the Devil’s heels.
I realize I have become a trifle obsessive about the garden – perhaps it’s because I know at the end of July I will turn it over to other people to care for.
A colleague asked me why, if the house was sold, would I waste my time working in the garden?
Good question. Possible answers:
- Pride – damned if I’ll turn over the garden in a sorry state to its new owners.
- I enjoy it.
- Plants are living things that, like all living things, need care and nurturing.
- It keeps me off the wild streets of Aylmer!
Lynette (Big Ass Belle) was asking what the pretty variegated ground cover was on a previous post. I knew it as Bishop’s Scourge but it is commonly known as Bishop’s Wort or Gout wort. Lovely but invasive – I’ve needed a machete to cut it back the odd time. But it is still a spectacular ground cover for the ferns, hostas and day lilies.
There are several types of Bleeding Hearts – I believe the low, spreading one is a Japanese variety. The two by the shed have become a good size in the past four years.
When the house was built back in 1885 the kitchen garden was where part of the family room and deck are now. Most of the back was vegetable and fruit gardens (there’s an aerial photo from the ’40s in the City Archives showing the garden and fields down to the river bank.) Every year the remnants of the strawberry and raspberry patches spring up. I just leave them – they bring extra colour and life to the garden.
I’ve gone through the kitchen and realized that between the house and Laurent’s apartment in Beijing we have enough kitchen “stuff” to open an intimate bistro. Do we really need all those pots, pans, casseroles, the two woks, the bamboo steamer? I certainly haven’t used them much in the past three years – but then I haven’t been entertaining all that often. And when was the last time I used that ginormous wire whisk? As a kitchen utensil? ….. Never mind!
And the dishes!!!! We have Tante Fernande’s china (York Rose – a rather lovely set that she collected in DUZ detergent during the 40s and 50s, a cup, a plate etc per box), my Crown Staffordshire (Hunting Scene, “a favorite of horse lovers….”) that cannot go in the dishwasher, the old Robertson Stoneworks every day set, the Chinese blue and white set, the…. well you get the picture. And Laurent just bought another set in Beijing to go with those celadon rice bowls we just had to buy in Hong Kong at Christmas.
The one item I am loathed to chuck out is my Cuisinart Food Processor. I bought it when I first moved to Ottawa over 31 years ago – it came with a James Beard Food Processor cook book that included a recipe for Gazpacho. Gazpacho? Thirty years ago nobody in Ottawa served gazpacho – except at 210-1833 Riverside Drive where it became a find-a-boyfriend-for-the-winter-dinner-menu staple. I even got all the attachment – and of course ended up using only the chopping blade. The motor still runs fine, the blade is still as sharp as a newly-stropped razor but the plastic bowl is cracking and finding a replacement is next to impossible. Question is: do I want to cart it all the way to Italy? Something to think about.
As a sidebar: In this week’s NYTimes Style section the Minimalist maintain that a good no-frills kitchen can be equipped for $300.00 USD. And he’s right – so maybe I’ll just throw everything out and start all over again!