A Return to Normalcy

This post was a “sticky” feature, first posted last Monday, and was on top throughout fundraising week. Scroll down for more recent items, including the killing of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, a Swedish municipal bus used as a mosque, an essay on Björn Höcke and the AfD, Onan driving a Swedish bus, two reports on the sword murder in Stuttgart, the latest on Matteo Salvini, and last night’s news feed.

Summer Fundraiser 2019, Day Six

Saturday’s update

OK, folks we’ve arrived at the weekend. The Summer fundraiser is almost over, and normal programming will soon resume.

Tip jarThe theme of this week’s bleg is the return to normalcy, that is, to routine. During any given fundraising week, donations from Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Australia are routine. But three of yesterday’s locations definitely are not part of the routine: Israel, New Zealand, and Newfoundland. We get a few donors here and there from the first two — just a few — but as far as I know, we only get one from up there by the Grand Banks.

So here’s to the outliers! Thank you for making the donation statistics that much more variegated and entertaining.

For those of you who are just joining us: this is how I keep this blog alive. When Dymphna was still with us, she would share posting chores with me, regaling potential donors on alternate mornings with her wit and whimsy to persuade them to hit the tip cup on the sidebar (or this link) and contribute to the upkeep of the site — and to keep its proprietors from going hungry for another quarter.

Now there’s just one proprietor, but I still need your help to stay out of the bread line.

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Gates of Vienna has its own weekly rhythm, its own pattern of routine. Or, rather, it used to.

In the early years of this website I was working in Richmond. I would drive down there during the week and come home on weekends. During those few days I spent at home I had the luxury of writing posts and participating in the blog to an extent that I couldn’t match during the week.

Back in those days, I designated Saturday as either Ranting Day or Poetry Day, depending on my mood. If it was time to rant, I could include a graphic of the Ranting Man, as seen here on the left. I love the Ranting Man, and I reserve him for special occasions, not wanting to squander him gratuitously (as I have just now done).

But this Saturday is Poetry Day. And, in honor of the first fundraiser without Dymphna, I’ll feature one of her poems.

Dymphna was an accomplished poet. She only had a few published, in local newspapers and college magazines, but she left behind a rich legacy of unpublished work.

The poem below tells a true story. She wrote it almost a quarter-century ago, shortly after the events it describes. We had somehow acquired a rooster, as a favor to a friend. His harem of hens had been attritted to nothing, and we agreed to give the sorrowful fellow a home. For a while.

He turned out to be an annoyingly violent #$&#!?%! as a guest. Those spurs on his legs were vicious — one time he cut a long slash in my pants leg. So we only kept him for a while; we passed him on to an elderly country woman who had lengthy experience with roosters, and knew how to keep them in line.

I’ll let Dymphna tell the rest of the story:

Rooster Lessons

by Dymphna

He was quintessential pride:
Quick, iridescent and verbose.
His auburn head cocked to look
At me, his comb trembling,
The rumble of his song,
The macho tilt of his tail feathers—
I was enchanted.

Never trust a rooster
Who’s been deposed.
He has problems with attachment,
And the angry edginess
Gives way to bilious melancholy,
As befits a man bereft
Of his women and position.
There is no cure.

How much his chicken brain
Retained of his former life
Is hard to say.
To be unchosen is lonely enough;
To be deposed is a worse fate:
The shame of losing face, place,
With no one to crow for…
An autarch cannot live so.

Our rooster didn’t even try.
He crowed despairingly at odd hours.
He left the cat alone,
But the rest of us were targets
For his rage and loneliness.
Going outside, however stealthily,
Brought him running sideways,
Wings spread, spurs ready.
He gouged a neighbor’s dog.

Held hostage by a rooster.
We eyed each other:
Him on the porch,
Me behind the storm door.
He in rage,
Me in speculation.
How to douse this feathered fire?

Ah, modern medicine:
I waited for him to wander off
And mixed a batch of wheat germ —
His favorite grain —
With a healthy dose of Klonopin
And quickly spread it on the porch floor

Dumb bird ate it all,
Brown and pink fragments
Disappearing down his greedy beak.
Becalmed, he let himself be led
To start another life,
Penned in with guinea fowl.
I hope he finds some solace there.

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Friday’s gifts came in from:

Stateside: Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Hampshire

Far Abroad: Israel, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland

Australia: New South Wales

Friday’s update

The action in the tip cup (or at this link) really livened up yesterday after Western Rifle Shooters posted a link to this week’s bleg.

Tip jarA WRSA link often causes a sudden, distinct surge of donations. I can sometimes deduce what’s happening even before I see the post over there — I can tell by the fact that most of the new gifts come in from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, North Dakota, and other locations out there on the Wild Frontier.

So thank you, WRSA. And a special thank-you to WRSA readers who came over here.

The issue of the right to keep and bear arms is looming large in American culture and politics right now, due to the recent mass shootings. Such events always induce a mad rush towards gun control, even among Republicans. When that happens, devotees of the Second Amendment hurry out to buy more guns and ammo before the next anti-gun law is passed.

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The theme of this week’s fundraiser is the return to normalcy. I’ve talked about personal normalcy — that is, my finding a new routine in the midst of grieving — and I’ve talked about the lunacy that passes as the new “normal” in 21st-century politics.

This morning I’ll cover normalcy as it applies to Gates of Vienna. Long-time readers have already heard about the routine workflow at this website, so they can skip this overview if they wish. But newcomers may be interested.

Besides the news feed, there are three principal functions that I strive to perform here: (1) Posting original articles and essays on Counterjihad matters and other topics of interest; (2) Posting translated articles and essays that might otherwise not be available in English; and (3) Creating translated and subtitled videos.

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The Lack of Repose

As of very early this morning, it has been one month since my wife died.

These have been by far the hardest thirty days of my life, much worse than the time after the death of my father (which was very hard). I don’t know what the experience of divorce is like, since I’ve only been married once. Maybe it’s as bad as this. And I don’t know what it’s like to lose a spouse about whom one had been ambivalent — I had never been ambivalent about Dymphna. All I know is the depth of how much I miss her.

My goal is to keep this site running in more or less its accustomed form. To some extent the American side of the news will be lacking — Dymphna and I divided our functions more than a decade ago: I specialized in European affairs, and she specialized in the USA. I’ll be looking at American issues in attempt to make up for the lack of my better half, but I won’t be able to watch the number of videos she watched. For the last few years of her life she absorbed her information mostly through videos, since she could watch those on her little tablet while sitting up in bed.

[To see a chilling video that Dymphna would almost certainly have posted if she were around, check out this excerpt from Tucker Carlson’s program (hat tip JLH), which features an interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).]

The main problem for me right now is that I don’t really want to do anything. I feel an obligation to keep Gates of Vienna going, obviously, and I know that going to work every day — which is effectively what this is — will eventually enable me to pass through the worst of my grief. The landscape around me looks bleak and uninviting, but I expect that to change gradually as I maintain my routine over the next few months.

Writing about my misery from time to time will probably also be helpful. Putting these things down in words makes me think about them carefully, and thus gain a better understanding of what’s happening.

In a different context Wallace Stevens wrote (in “The Lack of Repose”):

And not yet to have written a book in which
One is already a grandfather and to have put there
A few sounds of meaning, a momentary end
To the complication, is good, is a good.

There’ll be no book from all of this, just a series of occasional jottings.

They say you can get used to anything. Over the past six years I’ve gotten used to the occasional injections that I have to receive in my left eye to prevent a recurrence of wet macular degeneration. It’s a horrible experience, but I got used to it.

I had one of those injections this afternoon, the first one since Dymphna died. That’s why I’m not doing much this evening.

But I don’t know if I can get used to the absence of my wife. I’ll just have to wait and see.

A Set of Wheels

Well, I got a new set of wheels. New to me, that is — this car is almost old enough to vote (the one that died yesterday was already old enough to vote, but not quite old enough to drink).

It’s not as much of a luxury boat as the old one was. I can’t steer it with one finger — it requires at least two. But ’tis enough, ’twill serve.

It had been eleven years since we last bought a car. The prices have evidently increased faster than the general rate of inflation. But at least I’m mobile again, and life here at Schloss Bodissey can return to normal. Or whatever passes for normal these days…

Every Time That Wheel Turn Round…

…Bound to cover just a little more ground.

As you all know, my life has been rather stressful for the past few weeks. This afternoon it got even more aggravating: the transmission on my car gave out.

I was on the way home from town, and was going up the last little hill on the county road when the engine started roaring and the RPM needle jumped up to between 3,000 and 4,000. Somehow it managed to find the gear and get back into it, and I was able to drive all the way to the driveway. I stopped to get the mail, and when I put the car in gear afterwards it just baaaarely made it. I drove the last half mile in first gear, but I made it home.

I went out a little later and warmed it up again to check the transmission fluid, just to make sure it hadn’t all suddenly leaked out. Nope. It still had transmission fluid.

Just for the heck of it I put it into gear to see if it would move at all. Drive, 2, 1, reverse — nothing. No engagement at all. It’s going to stay there until a tow truck comes to get it.

The car is almost twenty years old and has well over 200,000 miles on it. I did a rough actuarial calculation, and decided it’s not worth putting a new transmission in it. Time to get a new (old) car.

I called around and lined up a possible replacement that I might be able to afford. A friend is coming by tomorrow afternoon to take me down to look at it. Depending on how things go, I might be caught up in car-related hassles (as well as all the death-related hassles) for the next couple of days. Or it may get resolved fairly quickly; who can tell? So posting may be light, or not-so-light.

The car was Dymphna’s. She found it on Craig’s List more than eleven years ago. She said she wanted a big boat that she could steer with one finger, and that’s what she got. It made her very happy.

I liked it better than my car, even though it didn’t get good gas mileage, so when Dymphna became unable to drive, I gave my car away and we made do with just the one. It lasted eight years longer, which is not bad at all. All those trips to the doctor were much less grueling for her because of that car.

I keep telling myself how fortunate I was that the old boat didn’t give out on the incline of the driveway leading out of the grocery store. Or on the big dual highway. Or on the winding, hilly back roads. It actually got me all the way home.

It was Dymphna’s car. It’s as if it knew it was done — it had lasted through its owner’s funeral, and then a couple of weeks longer.

“I’ll get you home this one last time, and then I’m going to take a nice, long rest.”

Update: I told the future Baron about what happened to the car, and he said: “It’s Mom’s version of ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’.”

He’s right, you know.

The Goal Has Been Reached

Taken together, the PayPal donations, snail-mail gifts, and donations to the GoFundMe page have now reached and exceeded the costs of Dymphna’s funeral expenses. You needn’t donate to the GoFundMe any longer; everything has been taken care of. As I mentioned earlier, any additional amounts that are specifically earmarked for the funeral will be donated to a reputable local charity that helps victims of sexual assault, including children.

Any words I might choose to express my gratitude are inadequate. The response over the past ten days has been staggering. I now have an idea of how many people truly appreciated Dymphna’s work.

My current situation: I’m trying to forestall the depression and isolation that so frequently afflict a man after the sudden death of his wife. My tendency at the moment is to wander aimlessly around this empty house, bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball in a shoebox. I’m fighting that by the time-honored method of going back to work.

Sitting down in this chair and starting to post again is the rough equivalent of the widower showing up at the office on the Monday morning following the funeral. Work is what he needs to keep himself on an even keel. He has a glazed look in his eyes, and his productivity is not up to his usual standards, but his boss (if he has a good one) is patient and understanding.

I don’t have any boss except for you, our readers, and I know you’re being patient. I suppose Vlad comes close to being my boss, although we’re actually more like unpaid business partners. In any case, he’s being patient with me, too.

I see that another subtitle file (translated from the French) has just come in. It needs editing and formatting, so I’d best stop my meandering and buckle down to work.

Thank you all once again. I’m sending out responses to everyone, both by email and snail-mail, but it will take a while, because there are so many of them.

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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Falling Into Winter

Note: This post was a “sticky” feature that was published last Monday and stayed on top all week. Scroll down for more recent material, including Jews in the AfD, clips from the Brexit demo in London, Jihad for Justice in Alabama, right-wing extremist hair braids in Germany, Dr. Turley on the Danish “Gitmo”, and many others.

Winter Fundraiser 2018, Day Seven

The Baron’s Sunday Update: A Winter’s Tale

Well, here we are at the final day of our quarterly bleg. After I finish writing this update I can catch up on my sleep, and then write some more thank-you notes tomorrow.

Tip jarAfter my worried remarks the other night, y’all really stepped up to the plate: the donations came pouring in on Friday, making it one of the busiest fundraising days we’ve had for a while. Many thanks to all of you for your generosity! The week isn’t quite back to normal, but it’s getting close. And it’s now clear that we’ll be able to make it through to the spring thaw.

It didn’t hurt that WRSA posted a link to our bleg — we really appreciate that. It’s easy to tell when donors are being referred by WRSA, because the gifts come in from Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and other deplorable states that we don’t otherwise see much traffic from.

All of this makes me ponder our peculiar business model. Most websites monetize by selling advertising, but we do it by soliciting modest gifts from our many readers. It’s a weird form of crowdfunding, but somehow it works — every quarter we receive just enough to keep on going.

It helps me maintain my enduring sense of gratitude…

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This morning’s weather-related story is going to be longer and less lighthearted than my usual tales. I’ve never actually written this material up before, and I expect it to be hard to type out.

So… for those who want to skip this part and go straight to yesterday’s donor locations, here they are in advance:

Stateside: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: New Zealand, and the UK

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The photo at the top of this update was taken in February of 2003. It shows a snow overhang outside our bedroom window here at Schloss Bodissey. The tree in the foreground is none other than the Fig Tree of Doom, which caused Dymphna so much grief two and a half years after the picture was taken.

This morning’s reminiscence was prompted not by that particular snowfall, but by my earlier account of the first fall and winter I spent here (scroll down for that story; it begins with the photo of the turtle).

That was a cold and snowy winter, and after Christmas I just hunkered down to wait it out. Since I couldn’t go outside to paint landscapes, I busied myself with what I could create indoors — mostly geometric designs and scenes from my imagination.

But late in January I got an opportunity: a major snowfall was predicted. That was before the Weather Channel, but the radio and the newspaper were in agreement that we would see about eight inches (21 cm) of dry snow.

So I stocked up for the occasion. I made sure I had plenty of coffee, beer, and other necessities so that I could sit it out. In those days the house was heated by a woodstove, and I had an ample supply of firewood, so it didn’t matter all that much if the electricity went out. And I didn’t have any reason to go out, so I would be able to spend a delightful few days looking out the kitchen window at all that lovely snow — and painting a picture of it.

When I woke up that morning, the snow was right on schedule — three or four inches of it on the ground. I set up my easel in the middle of the kitchen floor (this place has a large farm kitchen, and in those days I possessed virtually no furniture) and started a composition based on what I could see out the window, and the area immediately inside it.

Snow in the city gets ugly pretty quickly, what with all the salt and sand from the roads, soot, and vehicle exhaust. But out here in the middle of nowhere it stays pristine for a long time if the temperature remains low. Tracks from birds, deer, dogs, squirrels, and raccoons. And maybe my own when I walk out into the middle of a flat space to stick a yardstick in the accumulation. But nothing to make it look nasty — I knew I would be able to take my time and make that painting look just right.

When I moved out here from the city I deliberately didn’t get a phone, because I didn’t want anyone bothering me. I also used general delivery for an address that first year, to assure my isolation. The postmistress was puzzled, but she let me do it, and forwarded my mail out here to the RFD box.

I expected to have a wonderful few days, working on my painting and enjoying a snowfall in a way that I hadn’t had a chance to since I was a kid.

Ah, but the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley…

When I had last been to see my parents, just after New Year’s, my father had been suffering from some sort of stomach bug. A low-grade fever and some pain in his lower tract: most likely the flu, my mother said.

Late that snowy morning, as the blizzard was tapering off to flurries with about seven inches already on the ground, I heard a rumbling on the driveway, and then a banging on the front door. It was my neighbor Jimmy Mawyer, who had driven down the driveway through the woods in his four-wheel-drive pickup.

When I opened the door Jimmy said, “Your mother called the post office. Your father has cancer. He’s in the hospital, and she says wants you to come home as soon as possible.”

So it wasn’t the flu after all.

Jimmy and I discussed the logistics of how I could get out of there. I had an old rear-wheel drive station wagon (a 1971 AMC Hornet, for the car buffs among you). I could have filled up the deck with cinderblocks or something, but still, it was going to be rough getting out of there.

I had parked facing out, so Jimmy backed up his truck to just in front of the car while I packed a bag with my necessities. He hooked a chain onto the frame behind the front bumper, and when I was ready, he had me let out the clutch while he pulled me down the driveway. I kept gunning it to try and keep from fishtailing, and we somehow made it to the road without whacking me into any trees. He stopped on a straight stretch, unhitched the chain, and wished me the best of luck. Then I set out for Maryland.

The most direct route out of here goes up and down some major hills before crossing a creek. When conditions were slick — and especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle — I used to take what I called “the flat route”, a roundabout way that stuck to the ridgelines and avoided steep gradients and sharp curves. It added about ten miles to the trip, but it made it possible to get out. The road hadn’t been plowed yet; all I had were the tracks of the four-wheelers to help me out.

My memory of that trip is of a blurry nightmare. I remember that I came across a fellow motorist who had slid into the ditch about a mile from my driveway. It was on a slight downhill grade, so I eased off the gas and touched the brake very lightly as the car coasted to a stop. I got out and helped him push his car out of the ditch, and then got back in the station wagon and started down that hill oh so carefully, and then up the other side.

When I arrived at the main road, it had been plowed, so conditions were better. But there was still a packed sheet of glaze on the pavement, so it was nerve-wracking. You go thirty miles an hour and do your very best to keep from ever touching the brake.

The most frightening moment was when I was still on the two-lane state road, before I got to the major highway. As I rounded a bend I saw a big dog walking across the road in front of me. It took all of my willpower to leave the brake alone, accelerate to bring my center of gravity forward as I swerved, and remember the mantra: “Turn in the direction of the skid.”

Somehow I got past that dog without wrecking or ending up sideways in a ditch. After that it was easier — I got to the main highway, and although it was in bad shape, it was better than anything I’d been on before. As I went further north the snow got deeper, and the plows had left larger snowbanks on either side. The snowfall had ceased soon after I left the house, and I remember the sky clearing at sunset as I crossed the Potomac.

A trip that should have taken three hours took almost eight. I arrived at my parents’ house after dark, parked on the street, and trudged through the drifts to embrace my distraught mother.

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I stayed at my mother’s for several days and went to see my father in the hospital a few times before returning to Virginia to keep the pipes from freezing (they did freeze once during that period, but fortunately it wasn’t serious). I kept driving back and forth to Maryland every few days as my father’s condition worsened.

He had a galloping form of abdominal cancer, and it was just over three weeks from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died. He seemed resigned to his fate — his own father had died of cancer, and it was what he had always feared. He was a few years younger than I am now, and otherwise in good health. But it was his time.

He was in terrible pain for the last couple of weeks. In those days they didn’t give cancer patients opiates, so all he got was Demerol, which barely even touched the pain of what was eating away at his bowel.

I had been a few days at my mother’s house for the death vigil when the call came in at three o’clock in the morning — doesn’t it always happen at that time? — that my father had died. The following night it snowed again, this time a foot (31 cm) of the stuff. But it warmed up afterwards, and we were able to shovel the cars out and arrange the memorial service a few days later.

That winter was a rough patch for me. I was in my late twenties, so it wasn’t as bad as it would have been in, say, my teens. But, still… I hadn’t expected to lose my daddy so soon, and it was hard.

The following spring, when the weather was warm and beautiful, we carried his ashes up to Yankeeland and interred them in the family plot. As a side effect of that trip, I met Dymphna, and you all know how that turned out. But we’ll leave that for another story in another fundraiser.

There was so much snow that winter that I had no trouble finishing the painting. It turned out fairly well. When I look at now — I never attempted to sell it — a bittersweet aura hangs over it, the memory of a time that had promised to be one thing, but turned into something else.

Many years ago a good friend of mine wrote a song that included this lyric:

Jesus said it came to pass.
He didn’t say it came to stay.

I guess I’ll leave it at that.

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That’s it for our winter fundraiser. We’ll be back in the early spring to do it all over again, except the weather will probably be nicer. A big thank-you goes out to everyone who participated.

Dymphna’s Saturday Update: Nor’easter or Plain Ol’ Blizzard?

Okay, y’all, we’re rounding the curve and headed for the end of this Quarterly Fundraiser.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet donated, please do so. Think of it as your contribution to the pushback against Ugly and Loathsome Events. We can’t prevent them yet, but we can squish ’em some. But not without your generous help. (You can use this new link.)

As long as our donors continue their largesse, we continue to avoid ads on our pages. All the majors and many of the minors are chock-a-block with scripts and moving ads now. They make my eyes jump, and Ad Block has become of limited help. On my laptop I’ve taken to using a piece of card stock to cover the ones that are distractions.

Save us from this awful fate!

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To paraphrase the Middle English round: Winter is icumen in.

All the birds have fled, but the shortest day of the year isn’t quite here yet. You can sure enough feel its cold breath on your neck, though.

Every year people predict that this here particular winter will be the worst. There are indeed some “worst” ones, but like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Some years we get buried repeatedly; other years we never even need our road plowed.

When I lived in North Carolina we called those rare winter storms with a foot of snow and lots of wind a “blizzard”. But when I moved to New England the term “nor’easter” was the usual designation for the white-outs into which only a fool or someone with a life-or-death situation would venture out into with his rear-wheel-drive car. Chains helped a little.

I was a snow newbie back then, so the New England designation intrigued me. In the days before the internet, the reference sections in libraries were a good place to learn. I intuited that the frenzies of snow must have something to do with the Canadian cold weather systems endemic to the area (they made for wonderful New England summers to my southern-parched soul) but it wasn’t until I read about — and remembered again — the Gulf Stream, which hugs the eastern coast and makes its way around the world, that nor’easters finally made sense. They are born of the clash between extremes of weather systems created by those two factors: the cold jet stream pushing down from Canada meets the warm waters of the Gulf Stream hugging the eastern seaboard. It makes you wonder what god the Greeks would have assigned to such titanic clashes.

Having lived through some fearsome winters, the nor’easters seemed to me to be winter hurricanes, but of course, they weren’t, not really. Hurricanes smashed houses, ripped up thousands of trees, and disappeared small towns and barrier islands. They caused the Spanish to abandon the colonization of Western Florida. Hurricanes carry their victims out to sea; nor’easters and blizzards bury them in snow. The frozen stuff is wicked, but hurricanes are evil. The Florida panhandle will be years recovering from Michael’s devastation this year. They’ll probably retire his name. And Sandy wrecked the coast along New York, not to mention the long-term damage from Katrina in 2005. New Orleans is below sea level to begin with, so that whole area is still affected more than a decade later.

The Wikipedia entry provides the simple explanation for us non-meteorologists:

Nor’easters develop in response to the sharp contrast in the warm Gulf Stream ocean current coming up from the tropical Atlantic and the cold air masses coming down from Canada. When the very cold and dry air rushes southward and meets up with the warm Gulf stream current, which is often near 70 °F (21 °C) even in mid-winter, intense low pressure develops.

In the upper atmosphere, the strong winds of the jet stream remove and replace rising air from the Atlantic more rapidly than the Atlantic air is replaced at lower levels; this and the Coriolis force help develop a strong storm. The storm tracks northeast along the East Coast, normally from North Carolina to Long Island, then moves toward the area east of Cape Cod. Counterclockwise winds around the low-pressure system blow the moist air over land. The relatively warm, moist air meets cold air coming southward from Canada. The low increases the surrounding pressure difference, which causes the very different air masses to collide at a faster speed. When the difference in temperature of the air masses is larger, so is the storm’s instability, turbulence, and thus severity.

The nor’easters taking the East Coast track usually indicates the presence of a high-pressure area in the vicinity of Nova Scotia. Sometimes a nor’easter will move slightly inland and bring rain to the cities on the coastal plain (New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.) and snow in New England (Boston northward). It can move slightly offshore, bringing a wet snow south of Boston to Richmond, Virginia, or even parts of the Carolinas. Such a storm will rapidly intensify, tracking northward and following the topography of the East Coast, sometimes continuing to grow stronger during its entire existence. A nor’easter usually reaches its peak intensity while off the Canadian coast. The storm then reaches Arctic areas, and can reach intensities equal to that of a weak hurricane. It then meanders throughout the North Atlantic and can last for several weeks.

North America is a huge continent. There is no “safe space” from weather extremes. Generally, in Virginia we get weather from the west, though hurricanes are an exception; they can come up from the Gulf inland (not usually so bad, though Camille was a mortal exception) or more commonly the Atlantic versions that barrel up the coast. Not having lived through the spring and summer tornadoes of the Midwest, I’ve no great desire to experience the real thing. We have an occasional one in the summer here, but they are more likely to be short-lived, narrow micro-bursts rather than the Kansas-sized monsters that ride over the plains. Don’t you wonder how native Indians survived them? It’s not as though they had tornado cellars.

Europe is more fortunate in its climate. Snow and rain, yes, but few disasters. I always thought that might be the case, and the wiki entry above agrees:

In Europe, similar weather systems with such severity are hardly possible; the moisture content of the clouds is usually not high enough to cause flooding or heavy snow, though NE winds can be strong.

So… is Europe a meteorological safe space?? Will our snowflakes move there?

I’d say my interest in weather phenomena was a function of getting older, but the myriad ways the winds blow has always fascinated me. However, it’s much more interesting to read about events rather than live through them. Definitely a spectator sport.

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Lots of donations blew in yesterday. The B keeps careful track of their origins:

Stateside: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia

Far Abroad: Hungary, New Zealand, and the UK

Canada: Newfoundland, and Ontario

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and Victoria

He’ll be back for the final update tomorrow.

The Baron’s Friday Update: All the Leaves Are Brown

We’ve hit a rough patch in the fundraiser.

This has happened from time to time in the past, and we’ve always weathered them before — things eventually pick up.

It’s like the snow we had on Wednesday (or the snow that’s predicted for Sunday): for a while it’s a real blizzard, and then without warning it all fades out, with just a flake or two drifting by.

The ebb and flow of donations is a stochastic process. It’s not easy to determine what causes the sudden shifts.

Maybe we should call it “Schrödinger’s Tip Jar”…?

Continue reading

Twelve Inches and Counting

UPDATE: from the weather forecast at 11:00 p.m.

Heavy snow has ended, however, periods of light snow or
freezing drizzle will continue overnight, mixed with sleet at
times. Additional snow accumulations of an inch or two, along
with a light glaze of ice.

Hope our electricity continues…

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Snow on the driveway, December 9, 2018

No, this isn’t an anatomy lesson.

That foot of snow is the level of our current snowstorm – deceptively gentle, almost no wind at all. But it’s a heavy snow and it may snap our connection to civilization, which means we won’t be able to moderate comments. Those lines coming down the mountain are probably sagging by now.

This is one we won’t be digging out of quickly but will have to wait a few days for the warmer air to bring the depth down to plowable levels (our snow man’s plow is dependable up to about six inches).

Tragedies so far: a missing snow cap and a discarded snow broom. How was I to know that raggedy ol’ thing was what the B needed because it didn’t scratch the car?

Grateful, Too, for Sunlight on the Garden

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The future Baron is home for the holiday, and we’re going to dig into a feast a little later on in the day. But for moment I’m catching up on some work up here in the Eyrie — there are no real holidays in the Counterjihad.

Having to deal with nasty stuff all day long — and this is increasingly true of most news that comes out of Western Europe — should have made me crabbed and embittered by now. But that hasn’t happened yet: I’m sitting here in a warm, well-lit house, looking out the window at a yard covered with fallen oak leaves. There’s a dogwood by the trunk of the big oak with just a few red leaves still hanging on, lit by watery autumnal sunlight. It all induces an inexplicable sense of calm gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for putting me here at this time and place to do this unpleasant but necessary work.

Thank you also for the many generous donors whose modest gifts keep Gates of Vienna going. (As a matter of fact, we’re a couple of weeks overdue for our Autumn Fundraiser. It should have happened by now, but circumstances — including my visit to D.C. — intervened to delay it. It will be a LATE Autumn fundraiser by the time it gets going.)

Thank you also for sending us all the tipsters, contributors, and translators who allow us to pack this blog with a cornucopia of useful information. And especially for the translators — they’re all volunteers, and they do a difficult job with cheerful aplomb and astonishing productivity.

And thank you for our readers, who pass our stuff around the Web and leave interesting additional information in our comments section.

During my last trip to D.C. I was once again surprised by the reaction of people I was meeting for the first time. I’d introduce myself and say I was in charge of the Gates of Vienna website, and they’d look surprised, and say, “Wow, so you’re the one who does all that — good to meet you.” That’s a gratifying response.

Thank you, Lord, for giving our work the breadth and reach that it has achieved.

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I’ve posted the following poem before on Thanksgiving, but that was a number of years ago, so here it is again. It was written in the late 1930s; hence its atmosphere of grim foreboding. It seems appropriate for our own time, even though the prodromal period before the 1939 cataclysm was considerably shorter than our own: our clock has been ticking for more than ten years, and we’re still counting down.

This is about gratitude in dire circumstances:

Continue reading

Sturm Und Drang

The long drought is over!*

We’re having thunder and lightning and wind and heavy rain right now, and you all know what that means: our Internet connectivity could be flushed away without warning at any moment. So if we disappear from view for a while, you’ll know why.

It could also be full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing — you just never know.

*   Residents of the Piedmont and coastal areas in these parts understand the irony in that statement. We haven’t gone more than 36 hours without rain in the past two months. The rivers are swollen and the ground is sodden. We’ve had at least fifteen inches (40 cm) of rain since the beginning of September, which is probably four times the average for the whole month.

I can’t imagine what those folks in coastal South Carolina are going through right now.
 

Gremlin Attack

Late last night, when I was just starting to put together the news feed, our Internet connection was suddenly attacked by gremlins. Or it may have been djinns, or even kobolds — I get all those species of imps confused.

Anyway, our Internet connection mysteriously disappeared. There was no wind, no lightning, no rain, no ice storm — nothing that you would expect to affect the connection. Maybe a skunk sprayed the phone company’s server box. Who knows?

We waited awhile to see if it would come back, and then gave up and went to bed.

That’s why there was no news feed last night. Rather than try to compile it this morning, I decided to collect any material left over from yesterday and put it into one big news feed, which will be posted tonight.

If the gremlins don’t come back.

Stormy Weather

UPDATE: The mighty darkness and storm rolled through, shutting off the lights momentarily. Disconnected our wifi. Left over three inches of rain in a half hour or so. And then moved due east, even as it faded…

Ah, August rains. My flowers thank you, but ask for a morning drench instead. Me, I’m happy for what we got.

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It has gotten quite dark, even Lear-like, outside. The storms are coming down from the direction of our electric company in the next county.

…will we lose our connection? It remains to be seen…

If all goes quiet, it means (the) Gates are closed for the moment. We’re home, but disconnected.

Taking a Breather

Most of you already know that we just wrapped up our summer fundraiser. As promised, here is the final tally of places from which donations came:

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

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

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

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

The amount was a little thinner than usual, but we’ll definitely have enough to squeeze by for another three months. And the number of gifts was considerably higher than it normally is, with a lot of first-time donors in addition to the usual suspects. There were just lots of modest donations, and those add up. The turnout pleased me, because it means we have a robust, distributed funding base.

Anyway, now I can relax for a few hours, and maybe catch up on my sleep…

Dymphna and I are very grateful to you all for your generosity, both the recidivists and the first-timers.

We’re Not Dead, Just Doing the Backstroke…

Our internet connection failed sometime Saturday night. It was the culmination of a week-long community event, with lashings of rain turning this plateau into a swamp.

All that water eventually moved down toward the river, leaving behind drowned server boxes (or whatever they’re called, those boxes dotting the landscape here and there, some of which can be seen from the road). Whatever genius designed this beta model of internet via phone lines planted those boxes smack dab on the ground, thus ensuring heavy rain would drown them. At least that’s what we suspect.

So we can keep our phone service during heavy rains… but the internet goes down in the deluge.

“How much water?” you ask. About five inches in the course of two days or so. But before that, it had been raining steadily for a week so; by Friday the runoff was impeded by the previous soaking. That box just drowned for a while.

[Due to some other glitch, we were without phone service for five days last week…yes, we’re a captive audience out here, ain’t no competition to improve this system. Satellite internet is too unreliable and expensive. The electric cooperative is working on a version that would come through their wires, but what with lines failing due to snow accumulation or trees falling on them, they go out of service right much during the winter, so probably not.]

We did try to have someone log on here and leave a notice, but our proxy firewall prevented their access. And also prevented the bad guys from using us for target practice while we were outside in our wellies, measuring the rainfall.

Anyway, we’re baaack! The sun is shining as though that grey wet week never happened.

Thanks for your patience, dear readers.