Two Laments

Years ago I used to assign Saturday as either Ranting Day or Poetry Day, depending on my mood. Yesterday I was busy with other things, so this week Sunday will have to serve as Poetry Day.

The first of the two poems below was written by Dymphna. It is possibly her greatest poem. She wrote it in the mid-1990s, a few months after her mother died.

Some context is in order: Dymphna’s mother married a man from a wealthy Irish family when she was young. For reasons I won’t go into here, he abandoned his wife and their two children when the latter were still infants. Dymphna’s mother became destitute, and there was no welfare in Florida at that time, so she had to go off to work. For several years the children were placed with various foster families, where conditions ranged from awful to severely abusive.

The priest at Dymphna’s mother’s church eventually helped her place her son and daughter at separate orphanages, one for boys and one for girls, where they were to remain until they were ten or eleven — i.e. old enough to be latchkey kids.

Her poem describes the moment she and her brother were separated from their mother and from each other to be taken to the orphanages. At the time she wrote these verses, her brother had been estranged from his mother and sister for many years, and no one knew where he was. She assumed he was dead, probably of heart disease, since all her mother’s brothers had died that way when they were relatively young. But he wasn’t dead: her cousin was able to locate him, and Dymphna and her brother began an intermittent correspondence that continued until his death last year.

This, then, was her lament:

Lament for My Brother

It was so long ago
Those who stopped my tears
Then, who could not countenance
My guttural sorrow,
Are no doubt dead
Or disarmed by age and distance.

It was so long ago.
Yet my tears are the solvent
Melting the time between here
And then. I am five again.
The little brother being forced
From my arms is four.
We are crying, in the moment before
We learn it is not allowed.

It was so long ago.
Yet the wrench of grief
Tightens my throat now
Brings me to my knees here.
The void where my little brother
Was is hollowed out still;
I cannot fill it.

It was so long ago.
Yet the loss is as current
As the moment here before us.
The gods to whom all moments are one
Who do not understand
My linear “long ago”
Cannot hear my plea
To protect him.

It was so long ago.
He’s no doubt dead by now.
The men in my family die young
Whether they stay or flee.
The women in my family don’t teach
Them how to use their hearts.
The men succumb when
Flight is no longer possible
And they are overtaken
By feeling.

It was so long ago.

The second poem was written in the early 17th century by the great metaphysical poet John Donne. Fifty years ago I had to study the metaphysical poets intensively for A-level English Literature. I don’t know how they do it nowadays, but in those days a student was expected to quote at length from the assigned poetry at the exam, working entirely from memory. Thus, in preparation for the exam I memorized reams of Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Vaughn, Crashaw, etc.

I memorized three of the five stanzas of the following poem, and they’re still here in my head, intact after half a century. However, we were also required to present them in the original 17th-century spelling, and unfortunately that aspect of the task has largely evaporated (although I do remember that “festival” was spelled “festivall”).

In this poem Donne is mourning the death of his wife, for whom he grieved deeply. The conceit is that he is writing it at midnight on St. Lucy’s Day, the shortest day of the year. Dymphna’s case is the opposite: she, too, died at about midnight, but her death was almost exactly at Midsummer’s.

A technical note: the “Goat” to which the lesser (i.e. weaker) sun has run is the constellation Capricorn, in which the winter solstice falls.

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Thank You, Gates of Vienna Readers

When I put up the post about Dymphna’s death early last week, I obviously wasn’t begging for money. It wasn’t fundraiser time or anything. I was just notifying readers that there weren’t going to be any posts for a while, and explained why.

When I saw the response over the next couple of days, I was astonished. Almost 400 people commented before I closed the comments on that post, many of them people who never commented before, or did so only rarely. Without my knowledge — and without any urging by me — a regular reader and commenter set up a GoFundMe initiative to cover funeral expenses. Now that he has handed over access to the fund, I can see the list of donors, and I thank you for your generosity.

For those who would like to contribute, the page is here. Between the GoFundMe and individual PayPal donations, a not insignificant portion of the funeral expenses has been covered. If the total amount ever matches my outlays, I’ll tell our readers: “Hey, you can stop now!” Any excess over that amount will be donated to a reputable local charity that assists victims of sexual assault, including children. It’s the same one the family asked people to donate to in lieu of sending flowers.

I always told Dymphna that she had lots of fans, and I think this proves I was right.

Everyone who donated (if I have an email address for them) will get a thank you note, and I’ll eventually reply to all the emailed messages of condolence. But it will take me a while; there were a LOT of them.

In the meantime, I’ll tell all of you here: THANK YOU!

The Ground Has Been Closed

I buried my wife late yesterday afternoon in the graveyard of our little rural church in Central Virginia. The Episcopalian service was everything that one could have hoped for, and I know that Dymphna was pleased with the liturgy, the music, and the fellowship in the parish hall after the Committal.

A year or two ago, after a discussion about this eventuality, Dymphna gave her assent to the publication of the photo below. It was the only photo of her that she would allow to be posted. It was taken a number of years ago, in happier times.

Discussions about her eventual demise became more and more frequent in recent years, as her condition gradually worsened. She would tell me what she did and didn’t want for her funeral and so on, and I promised to honor her wishes. The most recent such conversation occurred last Thursday, when we were talking about Protestant hymns. Since she was raised a Catholic, she didn’t really know any Protestant hymns until she became an Episcopalian. I asked her which ones she liked. She named a few, and then said, “I really love ‘There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy’. I want that at my funeral.”

I honored her wish.

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Dymphna and I first met forty years ago last month. We had a small celebration for the occasion. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to our fortieth wedding anniversary.

On our first date we went out to dinner to the Double T Diner in the southern suburbs of Baltimore. I was attracted to her for all the normal reasons, of course; but what really made us fall in love with each other was our intellectual compatibility. Her fields were theology, philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and poetry. Mine were mathematics, art, science, linguistics, literature, history, and poetry. So we had some overlap, but the territory where we had the greatest meeting of minds was in poetry. Both of us loved to read poetry, and both of us wrote it. Sitting there in that diner over dinner, I found out that she knew about Wallace Stevens — amazing! I had never met a woman who had read Wallace Stevens, never mind understood him. In the next few weeks she introduced me to poets I hadn’t read, and I did the same for her.

We were both head-over-heels. In due course she moved down here and we got married. Now that she is gone, I’m allowed to tell you that she was ten years older than I. We agreed that we were fortunate the difference was only ten years. Still, it was anxiety-inducing to contemplate the age gap. I remember thinking about it back in those early days, when I was so happy. I did the actuarial estimate in my head and said to myself, “Well, I think I can expect to get forty years.”

That’s what I got. And I’m so grateful for every one of them.

In the summer of 1979 I suddenly acquired three teenage stepchildren. That was a learning experience like no other, but I won’t go into any details here. Suffice it to say that the two surviving stepchildren were down here in the house all week, along with the future Baron. I can’t tell you how gratified it made me to have them all here.

The extent to which I will miss her is hard to describe. Any time I had some insight or question about current events, politics, history, religion, sociology, or any other general intellectual topic, I knew I could always count on her being interested and engaged in a discussion about it. The future Baron can tell you how interesting (and sometimes heated) our dinner-table conversations were.

That is what I will miss the most. During the past five days, when something important occurred, I found myself thinking, “I must tell her about this.” And then it hit me — the person to whom I could tell all the stories is no longer here.

It’s going to be a hard time for a while.

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Although her condition had been slowly deteriorating for fifteen years, Dymphna’s death was sudden. On Friday she was outside working on the flowerbeds. On Saturday the fever and cough came back. Early Sunday evening I had to take her to the emergency room, and she died just after midnight, before she was even admitted to the hospital. I was with her during her last moments.

Dymphna wrote the following poem in the mid-1990s, a few months after her mother died under similar circumstances. The month and time of day are slightly different, but in other respects the poem is exactly descriptive of last Monday’s events. Two of her sons read it out to the congregation during the eulogy portion of yesterday’s funeral:

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Sad News, and a Blogging Hiatus

Dymphna died suddenly last night, or more accurately, early this morning. I took her to the emergency room early in the evening; she had a high fever and a terrible cough. But it didn’t seem like anything that could ever be fatal.

I will be pretty much out of action until at least after the funeral, so this blog is officially on hiatus for a while. I’ll be back, though, when I’m ready to handle things again.

Tipsters are advised not to send any more news feed tips until you see another post appear here besides this one.

I’ve been up all night, so that’s all for now.

More Mailbox Woes, and Other News

I got my bimonthly eye injection this afternoon (to treat my macular degeneration), which put me out of action for most of the evening — that’s why you didn’t see any further posts after the one about Steen that I put up this morning.

I’ll take this opportunity to catch up on a couple of fundraising matters I’ve been dilatory about. The first concerns thank-you emails that bounced. We had some sort of mail server problem for a few days after the spring fundraiser last month, and an unusual number of thank-you notes were returned. I re-sent them all, and some of those got through, but three came back again with permanent failures, from donors in North Carolina, Florida, and Alberta. So if you’re a donor who lives in one of those three places, and didn’t get a note from us, that’s probably why.

Finally, here’s something I should have done almost a month ago, but kept procrastinating about: listing the final roster of places for the people who donated. In a way this is better, because I get to include any places for donations that came in later in April, after fundraising week was over.

Donations for our spring fundraiser came in from:

Stateside: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the U.S. Military (APO)

Far Abroad: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria

Many thanks to everyone who chipped in!

I Once Was Blind…

A cautionary tale about centralized medicine:

Thousands of elderly people in Britain are left to go blind because of rationing of eye surgery in the National Health Service (NHS), a report revealed on Saturday (April 6).

The Times newspaper said a survey by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO) found tens of thousands of elderly people are left struggling to see because of an NHS cost-cutting drive that relies on them dying before they can qualify for cataract surgery.

The survey has found that the NHS has ignored instructions to end cataract treatment rationing in defiance of official guidance two years ago.

The RCO said its survey has found 62 percent of eye units retain policies that require people’s vision to have deteriorated below a certain point before surgery is funded.

With more than 400,000 cataract operations carried out each year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded that there was no justification for policies that denied patients cataract removal surgery until they could barely see.

The RCO said that refusal to fund surgery was insulting and called into question the entire system through which the NHS approves treatments.

Ms Helen Lee of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said: “Cataracts can have a dramatic impact on someone’s ability to lead a full and independent life, potentially stopping them from driving and increasing their chance of serious injury by falling. The NICE guidelines make it clear cataract surgery is highly cost-effective and should not be rationed. It is nonsensical for clinical commissioning groups to deny patients this crucial treatment.”

Ms Julie Wood, CEO of NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents local funding bodies, defended the restrictions.

She told the Times: “NICE guidance is not mandatory and clinical commissioners must have the freedom to make clinically led decisions that are in the best interests of both individual patients and their wider local populations. The NHS does not have unlimited resources.”

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Having just experienced cataract surgery myself, I was curious as to how common it was and what the waiting period entailed. While one is on the operating table, there is time for conversation. So I asked the surgeon how many of these procedures he’d done. He thought for a moment and said, “probably several thousand by now. I have two days of surgery in this suite, and one at another site. I like to keep busy so a good day is between six and twelve patients. And of course, I see my patients the next day in a follow-up visit.” The whole thing, including prep and post, takes a bit more than an hour, and I was given every single phone contact the doctor has; they don’t want complications. And, yes, it is relatively painless. [Keep in mind that I’m comparing it to chronic fibromyalgia so a bit of stinging when the B puts in the multitude of eye drops for two weeks – the sting recedes – is the most tedious part.] Now, ten hours post-op, I am using both eyes to tell you about it.

In my early years of motherhood, I had some experience of “socialized” medical care while my then-husband was in the military. The docs were grumpy – they had to serve six years back then because of the draft. I liked the corpsmen, though. Very nice fellows and responsive to the needs of a young family. The docs? Not so much. When one pediatrician found out I was breastfeeding he gestured toward my infant and harumphed, “So when he grows up to be neurotic, will you blame it on his toilet training?”

Many Indian tribes report the same dissatisfaction with their government medical care, as do our veterans. One of the first things tribes do with their casino-funded bank accounts is to procure private medical care for everyone. The veterans don’t have that luxury.

Maybe Britain could start a lottery for health care. Brits love to bet. Besides, it worked for the Irish for many years.

I found a free Kindle Margaret Thatcher autobiography on Amazon. Haven’t gotten to her views on medical care but she was a true Methodist believer in local planning so I have my suspicions where this is going.

By tne way, the British method of politics seems eminently sane, as least compared to ours…and compared to what Thailand does, per H. Numan’s delightful essays.

Not Just Another April Fools’ Week

This post was first published on April 1. It was a “sticky” feature for a week; scroll down for more recent items.

Spring Fundraiser 2019, Day Seven

Update from the Baron: Burnout

The theme of this week’s bleg has been the history of Gates of Vienna. My final update, which is somewhat tangential to the main theme, is burnout. Which is a significant concern for those of us who work full-time in this field.

Tip jarBut first the nuts and bolts of what we’ve been doing this week: This is a quarterly week-long begging exercise in which Dymphna and I blather on while asking our readers to drop money in our tip cup (or use this PayPal link). This is how we keep this website alive — we don’t have jobs, no foundation sponsors us, and there are no paid ads on the site. We don’t even get any Russian money, sad to say!

And now a few brief thoughts on burnout.

This is a tough line of work. If you pay close attention to the Great Jihad and related issues, you encounter nasty things that you’d really rather not see or hear about. Add to that the drumbeat of dhimmitude — the constant stream of news reports on the cultural and political submission of the West to Islam — and it gets pretty dispiriting.

To make matters even worse, there’s the vicious opprobrium that awaits anyone whose “Islamophobic” opinions and activities are exposed to public view. We’re fortunate to live out here in the back of beyond where most people are “deplorables” of one sort or another, and hardly anybody even pays attention to this sort of thing. But people who live in big cities, especially on the East or Left Coasts, can really pay a price if their opinions become public knowledge. Their lives can be made a living hell.

All of this is a recipe for burnout. I’ve seen a fair number of Counterjihadists burn out during the past fifteen years. Some of them were actually burned out of the game by flamethrowers directed at them during the Breivik crisis. But most just reached the limit of what they could take — “I really don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

This seems to be especially true of translators. In order to translate articles or videos, they have to pay close attention to the material, and read or listen to it over and over again. If, like most people, they had previously been averting their gaze from all that ugliness, the rush of evil information they take in day after day can really weigh them down. After a while their production starts to tail off, and they gradually retire from translation.

I admire the doughty folks who have stuck to the translation task year after year. They all deserve our gratitude for their persistence.

Vlad and I have been working together for ten years, and we help keep each other from going insane in the face of all the stuff we encounter. When we have to deal with something particularly vile, we get on the phone and discuss all the various aspects of it, which prevents the monstrousness from overwhelming us entirely. I remember how bad it got back during the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State was beheading its way through Syria and North Africa. We had to watch those nightmare-inducing videos all the time. I finally had to quit watching them — “I’ve seen enough, no more for me.” I don’t know how Vlad does it.

Anyway, I haven’t burned out, not yet. I plan to carry on with this work for as long as I possibly can.

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Saturday’s gifts flowed in from:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, Israel, and the UK

Canada: Ontario

The spring fundraiser will be officially over this time tomorrow. I’ll post the wrap-up — including the final list of all the locations — a day or two later.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update:

With historical endeavors, it’s probably a wise thing to start with beginnings, though in this case we just jumped right into the middle. What were we thinking? Maybe it wasn’t thinking but more like enthusiasm — e.g. “Oh, let’s talk about that”. Whatever ‘that’ was… my mind begins to resemble a trackless waste with a few desiccated cacti.

Oh, before I forget again: at the beginning of each fundraiser post I’m supposed to make the plug for donations, please.

Dinero. Shekels. Dollars. [See the Baron for the etymological connections] In other words, money enough to keep us going to the next milestone, which is but a few months away, not counting timeslips. Or times’ lips — whichever touches us first.

Our donors have been a varied bunch. Their living circumstances run the gamut from pensione to mansion, with stops in between. Back when I could function I loved looking up all the places our donors lived. Coon Rapids?? Really? Why haven’t the PC town fathers ditched that one? Traverse City, from whence (I now know) come our cherries in summer. Looking up all those places meant it took me weeks to respond to donors and that would not end well: the B got nervous about the time lag. It still remains the case: give me a new donor to thank and I’m driven to know more about their locality. Betcha don’t know whence come many of the roses (plants) you buy at the nursery, hmm? I know now, or at least my knowledge was current a few years back. And it seems like nearly every American town has a Wikipedia page, no matter how small the hamlet. That’s a good thing.

For most of us, our equilibrium depends upon having a firm sense of place. Or as the nervous airplane passenger said, “the more the firma, the less terror”. [That’s a pun on “terra firma” and no, it can’t be removed.]

Gates of Vienna is now established as a place; a destination for those who read our random News Feed, just for one example. Some correspondents tell us this is where they go with their morning coffee.

For the B and me GoV has become where we live and move and have our being. It’s akin to housing a child who never leaves home, a permanent resident hunkering down in our divers computers, demanding attention. Electric outages and connectivity interruptions are far more freighted than they used to be before the advent of Gates of Vienna.

Many of you already know our beginnings, but I have the freedom of repeating myself at this stage. It’s one of the few privileges of age.

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Eye Contact

I went in to the retinologist’s office this afternoon to get a bimonthly injection in my left eye, as a treatment for wet macular degeneration. That’s why posting has been light today: my vision has just now recovered to the point where I can look at the screen and type things.

Here in the family these treatments are referred to as “eye pokes”. I’ll say to Dymphna or the future Baron, for example: “Next week I have to go in and get my eye poked.”

As nasty medical procedures go, these treatments are not so bad. It helps that the retinologist’s office is an unusually friendly and efficient environment. The doctor has an excellent staff, several of whom have been there for the whole six years I’ve been going in.

They say that you can get used to anything, and now I can vouch for it. These eye injections have become a routine. A nasty, unpleasant routine, but a routine nevertheless. I know the drill by now: First they sit you down and have you take the eye test for both eyes. Then they give you a pressure test, to check for glaucoma. Then you get two different kinds of eye drops to dilate your pupils.

After that you wait for a while in a dimly-lit anteroom while your pupils dilate. There’s a large-screen TV there where they play DVDs from National Geographic — with the sound turned down, thank goodness. Some of those are very soothing and entertaining to watch.

Next they come to get you for a retinal scan. The equipment and software for that procedure are incredibly advanced now — 3D modeling, different layers, etc.

When that’s done they begin the process of numbing the eye that will get the injection. Four or five different kinds of drops are used for that. Then you sit in a chair in the treatment room and wait for the doctor to come. And then… Well, I don’t feel like describing the next part in detail. The good thing is that it doesn’t last very long. In fact, the entire process, from the moment I walk into the office until I check out, is usually 45 minutes to an hour. Much quicker than a primary care appointment.

If I don’t get a “dancing bubble”, my eye recovers more quickly. That’s a tiny bubble of air that more often than not tends to come in on the tip of the needle, and jiggles around in your visual field when you move your eye. Very unpleasant. But today I didn’t get one, which is why I can sit here and type so soon afterwards.

All in all, not a bad day, considering. On the way home in the car I listened to The Art of the Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080) by Johann Sebastian Bach, played on the pipe organ by Herbert Tachezi.

Keeping an Eye on Things

I went to the retinologist’s office this afternoon for my bimonthly eye injection to control my condition (wet macular degeneration) and prevent further flare-ups. As a result, I’m kind of running on three cylinders this evening.

I’ll take this opportunity to do something I should have done weeks ago, which is to give a final wrap-up on our winter fundraiser.

The first item of business is that we had just one thank-you note bounce. It was sent to a donor in Alberta. So if you’re out there buried under the snowdrifts on the freezing plains, and never got an acknowledgement of your generosity, that’s the reason.

Here’s the final tally of locations for donors (right up through yesterday):

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria

Getting an Eyeful…

…Of medicine for macular degeneration — that’s what I’ve been doing today. I had my bi-monthly appointment with the retinologist this afternoon, and received another injection in my left eye.

Today’s injection, unlike the previous two, brought with it the Dancing Air Bubble, which always makes recuperation take a little longer. It’s kind of like “follow the dancing ball”, only you can’t follow it — when your eye moves, the ball goes with it.

That’s why posting has been light today. There will, however, be a news feed before bedtime.

Apropos of nothing: while I was out today, I saw a bumper sticker (pink background, black foreground) with two stylized cats and this text: “The Pussy Whisperer”.

Eyeballing It

I went to the retinologist today to have my eyes scanned and get an injection in my left eye to prevent further damage from wet macular degeneration. The doctor said the scan looked good, with no indication of any further vascular eruptions, so I can go seven weeks this time before I get the next one.

It’s somewhat difficult to work at the screen right now, so posting will be light this evening. To tide you over until I get back up to speed, here’s a recording of a lovely young lady named Elisabet Wimark playing the “Little Fugue” in G minor (BWV 578) by Johann Sebastian Bach on the organ in Sollentuna Church in the suburbs of Stockholm (recorded and edited by Anders Söderlund).

This is possibly the most exquisite piece ever composed by Bach. It’s short, and densely packed with the fully-developed counterpoint at which the composer was so adept. This isn’t the best rendition of the Little Fugue that I’ve ever heard, but it’s fully competent, especially for an organist so young:

I chose this performance for a couple of reasons:

1.   You can see the organist’s hands and feet clearly and thus get a feeling for how the piece she is playing is structured; and
2.   Sweden is facing an important historical moment in the parliamentary election coming up next Sunday.
 

This is to remind our readers that there is another Swedish culture — a civilization, if you will — besides the lunatic asylum that we see in the news reports featuring metastasized feminism, rampaging political correctness, and an absolute surrender to aggressive immigrant invaders.

That other Sweden exists. It trained and mentored this young woman (in a church, of all places). It appreciates her work and comes to listen to her performances. She’s far from alone; just do a YouTube search on J.S. Bach’s organ works and you’ll find dozens of Swedish organists right there alongside the Germans, the Dutch, the French, and the Hungarians.

That other Swedish civilization may well be in its death throes. Its citizens may be largely unaware of what is about to happen to their country, which makes their plight even more poignant. So we should do all we can to celebrate and promote the existence of that other Sweden.

For the next few days — before, during, and after the election — I’ll ask readers to refrain from nasty, spiteful comments about Sweden and Swedes, as if they could all be lumped together as simulacra of Mona Sahlin and Fredrik Reinfeldt. They aren’t all like that, obviously. And we do them an injustice when we talk about them that way.

If we are witnessing the death of a civilization, we should pause to remember Sweden-That-Was, because that is what is in the process of being destroyed.

And don’t forget: Sweden isn’t fundamentally different from the rest of the West. It’s just a little further down the primrose path that leads to the Multicultural Utopia. We’re all on that same shining path, not far behind all those Swedes skipping gaily towards a doom they can’t even recognize.

Video Overload

Due to a death in the family and a (separate) family health crisis, Dymphna and I have experienced somewhat of a shortage of time for blogging during the past week or so.

I’ve mostly kept up with the editing of subtitles and the file formatting that I do to help Vlad with video production, but I haven’t posted all those videos yet. I have a backlog of more than a dozen waiting in the queue. In addition, Vlad has done several videos without my input, so there is a lot of material out there that you may not yet have seen.

I’ll gradually be catching up on those videos, but in the meantime, visit Vlad’s YouTube channel and the Vlad Tepes blog if you want up-to-the-minute material.

Good News and Bad News

I went away overnight to meet up with the future Baron and go see our relative who was in a very bad car accident last January. That’s the good news part of this, but let’s get to the bad news first.

While I was at dinner with our son and that relative, another close relative — this one older, Dymphna’s son and the fB’s half-brother — had a massive heart attack. So I had to turn around and hurry home. He had surgery, and two stents were put in. He is lucky to be alive — they think his heart was not beating for 7-10 minutes. Fortunately he got CPR before the ambulance arrived. He is also lucky that his brain didn’t get anoxia or whatever you call it — it managed to get enough oxygen, and there’s no brain damage. So we are guardedly optimistic.

Also (and I haven’t mentioned this before) yet another close relative — this one considerably older, Dymphna’s brother — died a few days before all this happened. So it’s been a rough week.

With all this going on, I will be in and out, depending on what happens. I intend to maintain the news feed, at least, and will do other odds and ends when they come up, as time allows.

The good news: The young man who had multiple broken bones and severe brain trauma last winter has made a miraculous recovery over the past four months. He is almost completely back to normal functioning, although he will remain in rehab for a while longer. He has a slight limp on one side, and the arm on the same side doesn’t quite extend all the way, but that is a result of neurological damage to the brain, and not damage to the limbs themselves. His speech faculties are fully restored; he sounds just like he always did. He says the damage messed up his memory to some extent, but I can’t detect it.

It was great to see him so completely recovered — it was like the sun coming out from behind dark clouds for me.

That would have been a wonderful dinner the three of us had last night, if it weren’t for the grim news about our mutual relatives.

Eyeless in Gaza (NOT)

This afternoon I visited the retinologist for my monthly examination and injection to treat the flare-up of wet macular degeneration in my left eye. This is the fourth such treatment since the symptoms recurred three months ago.

The doctor says the eye is doing very well, so I don’t have to go in again for another six weeks. If I continue to do well, the treatments will get further and further apart, and hopefully cease altogether for a while, like they did from July 2014 until this past April.

As eye-pokes (that’s what I call them) go, this one wasn’t too bad. No annoying dancing air bubbles this time, which makes the aftermath much easier to get through. I can’t say I’m back to normal functioning yet, but at least I can read the screen fairly well.

Every time I get an eye injection, I console myself by visiting a nearby retail outlet that has some of the best deals around on wine. They have an astonishing selection of French wines at very low prices. For example, their Mouton Cadet (a lowbrow Bordeaux) is $9.99, whereas you normally pay at least $12-$15 at other stores.

I spent a while cruising around with my shopping cart, squinting at the labels. I got a 2014 Corbières and a 2015 Bordeaux for under $10 apiece.

I love that place! It kind of eases the heartbreak off of having to get a needle in the eye.

Looking at all that wine reminded me of a project that Vlad and I undertook some years ago (his idea, my execution).

Click the image to the right to see the full-size bottle of Château Kafir White Infidel.

The wine in the original bottle that I based the image on is gag-provoking stuff (by my standards). I wouldn’t want to drink it. But the digital version looks quite tasty to me, especially with the piggy on the label to remind me to have some pulled pork barbecue to go with it.

That’s about it for this evening. There will be a news feed, but probably nothing else before tomorrow.