Friday, April 29, 2016

Container Gardening

From Victoria:
You don’t need a lavish landscape to relish the pleasures of a garden. Whether a fragrant pot of herbs on a balcony or a winsome window box of flowering delights, potted plantings can brighten almost any corner of an outdoor haven. When pondering an alluring focal point for container gardening, think beyond blooms. A simple yet striking trio of tiny conifers takes center stage in this window box, while flowering annuals play supporting roles, enveloping the base of the shrubs in a living carpet of pink and white finery. Vining branches of ivy spill over the box adding a delicate flourish to the verdant vignette.Like a painting, a well-composed container garden blends multiple elements into an artful whole. Paint living portraits with an idyllic palette of plants. (Read more.)
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French Royal Dogs

From Geri Walton:
Part of the reason for elaborate pet furniture was these pieces were generally viewed by the rich as household furniture, which was also the reason why such pieces were often commissioned. Moreover, those who loved their pets and could afford it, wanted their pet furniture to resemble their larger furniture counterparts. This meant a kennel might look like a miniature canopy bed or a tabouret stool.

One elaborate commissioned piece was the niche de chien (dog kennel). It was created by Marie Antoinette’s talented chair maker, Claud I Sené. In this case, it was “constructed from gilded beech and pine…covered with luxurious velvet…[and] lined in a striped blue and beige silk.” Copper nailhead trim also added to the elaborate look as did the Neoclassical motifs, which were popular at the time and resulted in the carvings of “acanthus leaves and Greek keys.” (Read more.)
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Book of Kells

From the BBC:
But it wasn't just forces of nature with which the monks had to contend. The monastery, like many early Christian communities, came under the threat of Viking raids. In 806, following a raid that left 68 of the community dead, the Columban monks took refuge in a newly-founded monastery at Kells in County Meath in Ireland to keep them safe. The most likely theory is that the monks took the manuscript with them.

Amazingly since they were written, the majority of the pages have been passed down through the generations with just 60 pages missing. But medieval sources do record that an illuminated manuscript was stolen from the stone church of Kells in 1006 which is likely to have been the Book of Kells. According to the Annals of Ulster it was found “two months and twenty days” later “under a sod.” After fighting in the Cromwellian period, the church at Kells lay in ruins, and in 1653 the book was sent to Dublin by the governor of Kells for safekeeping.  A few years later it reached Trinity College where it remains today. (Read more.)
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Foreign Policy Speech

Please click HERE for the full text of the speech Donald Trump gave on April 27 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. I thought it was an excellent speech, whether you agree with everything he said or not. I happen to agree with him. To quote an excerpt:
Unfortunately, after the Cold War, our foreign policy veered badly off course. We failed to develop a new vision for a new time. In fact, as time went on, our foreign policy began to make less and less sense. Logic was replaced with foolishness and arrogance, and this led to one foreign policy disaster after another. We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy. We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism; thousands of American lives, and many trillions of dollars, were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill the void, much to their unjust enrichment. Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster. No vision, no purpose, no direction, no strategy.

Today, I want to identify five main weaknesses in our foreign policy.

First, Our Resources Are Overextended

President Obama has weakened our military by weakening our economy. He’s crippled us with wasteful spending, massive debt, low growth, a huge trade deficit and open borders. Our manufacturing trade deficit with the world is now approaching $1 trillion a year. We’re rebuilding other countries while weakening our own. Ending the theft of American jobs will give us the resources we need to rebuild our military and regain our financial independence and strength. I am the only person running for the Presidency who understands this problem and knows how to fix it.

Secondly, our allies are not paying their fair share.

Our allies must contribute toward the financial, political and human costs of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so. They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only 4 of 28 other member countries, besides America, are spending the minimum required 2% of GDP on defense. We have spent trillions of dollars over time – on planes, missiles, ships, equipment – building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense – and, if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. The whole world will be safer if our allies do their part to support our common defense and security. A Trump Administration will lead a free world that is properly armed and funded.

Thirdly, our friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us.

We’ve had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies. He negotiated a disastrous deal with Iran, and then we watched them ignore its terms, even before the ink was dry. Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and, under a Trump Administration, will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. All of this without even mentioning the humiliation of the United States with Iran’s treatment of our ten captured sailors. In negotiation, you must be willing to walk. The Iran deal, like so many of our worst agreements, is the result of not being willing to leave the table. When the other side knows you’re not going to walk, it becomes absolutely impossible to win. At the same time, your friends need to know that you will stick by the agreements that you have with them. President Obama gutted our missile defense program, then abandoned our missile defense plans with Poland and the Czech Republic. He supported the ouster of a friendly regime in Egypt that had a longstanding peace treaty with Israel – and then helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in its place. Israel, our great friend and the one true Democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an Administration that lacks moral clarity. Just a few days ago, Vice President Biden again criticized Israel – a force for justice and peace – for acting as an impediment to peace in the region. President Obama has not been a friend to Israel. He has treated Iran with tender love and care and made it a great power in the Middle East – all at the expense of Israel, our other allies in the region and, critically, the United States. We’ve picked fights with our oldest friends, and now they’re starting to look elsewhere for help. (Read more.)
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"It's the Culture"

From First Things:
Why Western culture ceased to credit the Bible’s narrative is perhaps a question only God and his saints can now answer. But it is suggestive that the first step was a replacement metanarrative: the Enlightenment’s tale of self-sustaining (and so covertly divine) Western scientific, political, and economic progress. This preserved the teleological thrust of biblical narrative and promised similar hope and security, but it did not include that offensive item, the election of the Jews.

“Remember not the former things,” said the Lord through Isaiah, “for, behold, I am doing a new thing.” For a time, Western modernity could believe that faith in progress seemed to obey the mandate—and there are some especially sheltered popularizing scientists who still think that way. But for most of us, history itself has undone faith in autonomous historical progress.

We can roughly specify the period of the modern narrative’s collapse. Its epicenter was 1900, the year Nietzsche, the great prophet of modernity’s decadence, died in appropriate fashion, and Picasso came to Paris, where it was revealed to him that one could repudiate the modern bourgeois world and its illusions by new ways of putting paint on canvas. Perhaps we may locate the period’s dawn in 1863, when Édouard Manet exhibited Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, “The Luncheon on the Grass.” In this apparent genre painting, two men are having a picnic. There is a third figure with them, a woman, who happens to be naked. She pays no attention to them, and they—entirely improbably in view of her charms—reciprocate. She is in fact dropped in from another painting altogether, perhaps a Venus Observed, to disrupt any attempt by viewers to construe a coherent story about the picnic. The subsequent history of art is in decisive part the story of various strategies to achieve a similar disruption of modernity’s faith. And in 1918, Walter Gropius, future founder of the Bauhaus, formally proclaimed the end of modernity: “A world has been destroyed; we must seek a radical solution.”
So what happens when both the biblical narrative and its Enlightenment replacement are no longer trusted? Of course, another new narrative might be invented. But now the inventors would know, at least subliminally, that it was a fiction.

Thus in crisis-modernity (also known as postmodernity or high modernity in different areas of culture), the very notion of a comprehensive story that warrants the truth of our partial claims is suspect—or, indeed, forbidden. Among the illuminati, “metanarrative” is a bad word. Yet the West’s history with the Bible has left it with no other way of understanding itself. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cover of the New Book

Finally. The book is about finished. The galley is on the way. Here is the cover. I'll let everyone know when it is ready. Thank you for your patience. I promise it will be worth the wait. Share

Lady Vaux

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
While Anne Vaux's association with the Jesuit Superior Henry Garnet made her a suspect in the events of November 1605, she was not the only female Vaux of Great Harrowden Hall, who became a suspect in the conspiracy. Her sister-in-law Elizabeth, the self-styled Dowager Lady Vaux, was of equal mettle and perhaps, even greater complicity. In today's language, she would be described as an 'amazing piece of work.' Courage, defiance, loyalty to those who shared her views and religious zeal were among her attributes. She was also surprisingly rich, considering the frequency with which both her father Sir John Roper, Baron Teynham; her father-in-law Lord Henry Vaux; and her husband  George were imprisoned and fined for their recusancy. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Palace of the King of Rome

From Shannon Selin:
In addition to bridges and other practical improvements to Paris’s infrastructure, Napoleon Bonaparte built a number of monuments intended to be a lasting testament to the glory of the imperial regime. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was finished in 1808; the Vendôme column was completed in 1810; the foundations of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile were started in 1806. When Napoleon was in exile on St. Helena, he said:
It was the constant subject of my thoughts to render Paris the real capital of Europe. I sometimes wished it, for instance, to become a city with a population of two, three, or four millions, in short, something fabulous, colossal, unexampled until our days, and with public establishments suitable to its population…. Had Heaven but granted me twenty years, and a little more leisure, ancient Paris would have been sought for in vain; not a trace of it would have been left and I should have changed the face of France. (1)
Napoleon’s marriage in 1810 to Marie Louise, a Habsburg princess, strengthened his desire to rival the grandeur of other European courts. When Marie Louise became pregnant, Napoleon commissioned the architects Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine to design a palace for his unborn child. Percier and Fontaine had worked on Malmaison, the Louvre, the Tuileries Palace, Fontainebleau, the Château de Saint-Cloud, and many other projects for Napoleon. According to Percier and Fontaine:
Napoleon examined, in the presence of several great figures of his court, our plans relative to the new palace. Each one gave his advice and all, except Marshal Duroc, had repeated in almost the same terms what the master had said. ‘And you, Madame,’ said the Emperor, turning towards Empress Marie Louise, his new wife, ‘what do you think?’ ‘I do not know anything,’ the Empress responded modestly, excusing herself. ‘Do not be afraid,’ replied the Emperor. ‘Speak, they know even less than you and I have not committed to do or to believe anything they say. Your opinion is necessary to me; it concerns the palace where our son will live.’ The Empress examined the plans and made some judicious observations, which everyone hastened to applaud. The Empress was pregnant, and four months later she gave birth to the King of Rome. (2)
In January 1811, 20 million francs were allocated for the palace’s construction. When Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II or the Duke of Reichstadt, was born on March 20, 1811, work had already begun. (Read more.)
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