What the Boss Likes – Longwood Gardens (and a quick recipe)

and a bee on a lily

Across the first weekend in September, we went to Longwood Gardens, one of the estates that used to be owned by the DuPont family (the chemical people). This is one of the more famous gardens in the US and is quite beautiful. They just spent $90 million to refurbish the main fountain gardens and were having a series of fountain shows to celebrate. These shows were at night and included colored lights on the fountains, orchestral music and so many fireworks the smoke made the nearly full moon orange. That last salvo made me think of how the Battle of London must have been like.

We chose the night that was going to have the orchestral music we like, Night on Bald Mountain and other dramatic and slightly spooky pieces. I was going to write “No more shows like this for the summer” but they extended the shows! but I do hope they have similar ones next year. The gardens are supposedly fabulous at Christmas time with trees, poinsettias, and fountain shows, though I do suspect it depends on how cold it is to allow those to happen.

The gardens encompass 400 acres (lots of photos below), and some of it is just a grown over field and natural ponds, which amused both of us since we grew up on farms. We had plenty of those to walk through when we were young but they are probably pretty neat to someone who grew up in the city or suburbs. There were some bit that we couldn’t see because they had the fireworks set up in those areas and considering how the show was, it was a *LOT* of explosives.

They are definitely worth seeing if you are within a few hours of south-east/central PA, or come from father away and stay longer and see the cute town of Kennett Square, center of where a lot of mushrooms are grown in PA. We stayed in a very nice bed and breakfast, Inn at Whitewing Farm, a beautiful piece of property off the beaten path but only about 10 minutes from the gardens. We stayed in one of the rooms beside the pond. It did rain like hell for the Saturday we were there, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, and they had to reschedule the fountain show. The Inn was able to accommodate us for an extra night and we thank them mightily for doing so! When we got up early to leave Monday morning, we scared the heck out of some deer helping themselves to the birdfeeders. Just up the road from the inn is Galer Estate Winery, which had some very nice wines, drier than the usual PA sweet ones. There was also this tiny French bakery right at the intersection of E. Doe Run Road and Folly Hill Road; alas they were sold out before we got to them.

Now, before I post the photos, the quick recipe. I discovered that the chimichurri sauce we make for steak is a wonderful base for a curry of all things; that’s handy since we always have some left over.  The chimichurri has cilantro, parsley, lime, garlic and hot pepper in it, it just took a little more to make it a curry. I took a half-cup of the sauce, just added a couple of shakes of powdered cinnamon and ginger (I do love Penzey’s for my spices since they do good things), a cup of milk mixed with a ¼ cup of coconut milk powder (I get mine here: importfood.com), threw in a few of frozen raw chicken legs and cooked it until the chicken was falling off the bones.   Damn but it was good, and reminded me of a good saag paneer curry but with cilantro taking the place of the spinach…. and chicken taking place of the paneer.

It’s our chimicurry!

Photos of Longwood Gardens

 

Advertisements

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – where the American president is a bigot, the mid-South needs help, and an anti-choice twit demonstrates how very deceitful they can be

What a fun time here in the US. So, we have the liar and wannabee despot Trump pardoning a liar and a bigot, Arapaio, who used the power of his office to harass people who weren’t white. Why anyone thought or currently thinks this ignorant orange ass wasn’t a white supremacist and bigot, I have no idea. When the GOP might do anything about is anyone’s guess and certainly makes them *all* seem to be supporters of the white supremacists. These actions of Trump support the idea that a good part of his supporters are indeed deplorable.

We also have the devastation by Hurricane Harvey. I am of the opinion that anyone who asks for help from the federal government and FEMA be investigated for any time they may have been for secession or have spread lies about FEMA having “concentration camps” and then summarily be denied any assistance, or be required to repay the assistance after the fact, which may be the more humane thing to do. If they said they didn’t want aid from other before, then they don’t get it on our backs.

Lastly, we have the opinion piece in the Washington Post by a rather unpleasant anti-choice activist Jeanne Mancini in response to the news stories that Iceland has few people with Down’s Syndrome being born thanks to pre-natal testing and having the choice to carry the fetus to term or not. Ms. Mancini repeats the lies that all people with Down’s Syndrome are happy individuals, who are no problem to their parents and on and on. She plays on the societal pressure to never admit that having a disable child is a very hard thing to do. It is the terrible lie that some god will never give you more than you can handle, when the fact is many people have more than they can handle and suffer greatly because of it.

This unpleasant woman intentionally deceives people by not mentioning that people with Down’s Syndrome have many medical issues and that the syndrome covers a range of expression, from those who are high functioning to those who must be restricted to homes and tended 24/7. She also ignores the fact that many parents of such afflicted children are desperate with worry on what happens to their children if they happen to outlive the parents who have spent so much time and love on caring for them. They don’t want to worry about those children be placed in homes which have a mixed track record for care.

She also evidently has no children of her own and has never adopted any of these children that she wants to force others to have. This is per her biography on the March for Life website, a mention of her husband but no family: “Jeanne resides in northern Virginia with her husband, David.” . Her compensation is around $118,000 in salary and other compensation.

She also supports politicians that do their best to reduce the help that people with such children can get. She is the worst kind of Christian, the hypocrite who piously claims that her god will help others and does little herself.

As my new bumper sticker says, my species disappoints me. Happily, there are indeed responsible and honest people out there. Support them all you can. My preferred help organizations are Foundation Beyond Belief, where non-theists can donate and not have their donations claimed by theist groups, and Oxfam which I just like.

From the Kitchen, from the Bar and from the garden: a meandering post about various things

I haven’t had a food and drink post for awhile. A handful of weeks ago we decided to see if we could grill whole Cornish hens on our small barreled shaped grill. We didn’t want to butterfly them which would be simpler, but to have a little whole chicken for each of us.

Many years ago, I was a member of a medieval recreation group called the Society of Creative Anachronism. I was friends with some folks who were part of a somewhat parallel group called the Tuchux, a group that recreated fantasy barbarians, and got their name from the rather atrocious Gor books by John Norman (very bad fantasy of a fellow who ends up on a alien planet where his fantasies of submissive women come true). They are quite a bit more egalitarian than the Gor nonsense and were some coolest people I ever met in my sojourn in the SCA (it’s been about a decade since I’ve had any contact with the SCA). At one of their Yule Feasts that I was kindly invited to, we each got a small loaf of fresh bread and a roasted Cornish hen and it was the best feast I think ever had. I wanted to recreate that.

We managed to do so by putting a pile of charcoal on both side of the grill aka indirect grilling and putting the chooks between them for about 45 minutes and then moving them over the dying coals to crisp up the skin for about 15 minutes at the end. I do recommend getting the biggest charcoal chimney as you can get because then you never have to worry about having lighter fluid or having that nasty taste on their food. We use brown craft paper to light ours since some inks smoke like crazy.

As for a recipe, all it was consisted of thawed chooks, with butter stuffed under the skin and smeared over the skin. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: Antics of Christians in the news, in a blog, and in a newsletter(NSFW because of what they said)

(note to my readers: if you followed this blog because of your interest in my recipes, brewing or drink reviews, you may want to back out now.  Anything that is titled “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation” is my unvarnished views of politics and/or religion. You’ve been warned 🙂 ).

Here are a few random things about religion. The first is about an opinion piece published in the New York Times by someone who really is afraid of anyone not like him. The second is a brief bit about what a pastor thinks about justice and the bible, and the third is just a few bits of crank mail from my FFRF newspaper and a link to a good blog post about the new bible “club” in the White House. The newspaper also has some very nice essays written by young atheists of color for a scholarship contest.

The NYT ran an opinion piece by Rob Dreher, a conservative Christian, “Trump Can’t Save American Christianity”.   Of course, Mr. Dreher is certain that his version of Christianity is the only true one.  He’s also one of the fellows who thinks that Christians really need to segregate themselves from anyone who disagrees with them.   Of course, that’s rather inconvenient and even he doesn’t follow his own recommendations.  Writing for the NYT isn’t exactly conducive to doing what he says.

He’s also jumped from Methodism, to Roman Catholicism, and now is with the Eastern Orthodox church.   Funny how the magical and divine “truth” can change, isn’t it?

In the article, Dreher wonders if Trump can do anything to alienate conservative Christians.  At this point, it certainly doesn’t seem to be anything, considering the circus that has been going on for more than 6 months.  Ah, but Dreher is sure that Trump isnt’ the problem, it’s is an “increasingly faithless people” aka those who don’t agree with Mr. Dreher.  He claims that the lack of people who agree with him will lead to a “calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate”.   Of course, all we have is this chicken little nonsense about how bad it will be, nothing to show what this would be or anything to support the claim.

One of the claims that Mr. Dreher makes is that Americans are not following “authentic Christianity” and are following something a Notre Dame researcher calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, something that Mr. Dreher insists is a “pseudoreligion” and it isn’t his version of Christianity.   The problem here is what is “authentic Christianity”?  We see that Mr. Dreher has gone from one sect to another, which would seem to indicate that Mr. Dreher has no idea what it is either.  If he gets disappointed with one, he decides another might have the right answers, and that certainly isn’t an unusual thing for Christians.

Now, Mr. Dreher is sure that all of the nonsense that conservative Christians have done with the Republican Party aren’t enough, and that the GOP isn’t doing what he wants.  The slide into the secular abyss is because his religion failed somehow.  Ah, but how you may ask?  He’s sure that Trump is a symptom of this problem, which at least he may seem to realize that Trump is no kind of Christian, literalist or liberal, a thing that many Christians can’t quite seem to grasp.  What he returns to is that Christians (again only those who agree with him) need to separate themselves from the world.   They cannot listen to anyone who has a different opinion, they cannot consider that they are wrong.

Conservative Christianity has been its own enemy when it comes to losing believers.  The constant adherence to outright lies is rather stupid in this age where information is easily available.  People have realized that the myths of the religion are nonsense and that morality does not come from one sect of one religion.  As always, this particular form of Christianity depends on fear and ignorance to exist, and Mr. Dreher certainly uses those tactics in his article.  “You must run away! You must not listen to anyone else except me!”   Everyone else must be cast as an enemy to fear.

As much as Dreher may see Trump as a symptom, Dreher is using the same pathetic attempts at controlling people.  He seems to need external validation and keeps poking his head out of his imaginary fortress to get it.     Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Christian “Science” and the art of the con

Well, this week, the Christian Scientists here in Harrisburg mailed out fliers about how they were going to have a healing talk down at their church, by Josh Niles (a supposed veteran which make me wonder why the local VA hospital isn’t empty).   There are few things I find more disgusting than theists making baseless claims on how they can heal people when hospitals are full, especially veterans’ hospitals and children’s hospitals.  The deceit that is involved is amazing for a religion that supposedly cares about the truth.

I shot them an email and asked for evidence of this healing, and why they can’t heal anyone who actually has been hurt.   They unsurprisingly directed me to the party line, and offered no reason why they haven’t healed amputees, people with documented cancers, etc.  The claim was “Christ Jesus had a remarkable healing record and Christian Science has an excellent record too.” Directly me at this “excellent record.” I pointed out that they had no evidence, and I received this in reply “You may recall that there was a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda and only one was healed by Jesus. That man was receptive to what Jesus said to him and was obedient and was healed.   The rest were “waiting for the moving of the waters”, a material approach of hope for healing and then only for some that made it to the pool.” The problem with this is that JC only talked to one fellow at the pool, who was just like the others. Why not speak to the others and heal them? And why doesn’t JC say “hey man, illness is an illusion, and only prayer in this certain way will heal you”, like the CS leader Mary Baker Eddy?

Well, how about we look at that “excellent record”?   As a background, Christian Science, aka the Church of Christ, Scientist and The First Church of Christ, Scientist,  is a sect of Christianity invented by various people and Mary Baker Eddy is the most famous of them.  She claimed that sickness is an “illusion”, is the result of thinking “wrongly” (aka blame the victim) and can be cured by prayer alone.   They also think that only their claimed spiritual world is real and that reality, this place that we inhabit is illusion.  I do have a lovely ladle of molten steel they might take a dip in if they are sure of this.  We also have the claim that CS is getting back to the “real” Christianity, a claim that many many sects make.

Incidentally, a word to advice to Christians (and other theists) who are reading this, ready to insist that CS isn’t “really” Christianity: think about how your sect compares with this one and how all of you have no evidence for your claims.  However, I will admit that Christian Science is only slightly less silly and bizarre than Scientology in my estimation ( just read about malicious animal magnetism, which is hard to distinguish from spiritual warfare, imprecatory prayer and thetans).

What is amusing about this is that the religion doesn’t say you can’t use modern medicine, but they claim that their prayers are better than it.  So, it isnt’ surprising that these are the stereotypical Christians who praise their god when it was the hard work of medical professionals who actually helped them.   Of course, they’ve managed to also murder children and kill themselves with this ignorance.  One might counter my claim of murder with claims that these people don’t know what they are doing, however, if their religion allows going to medical professionals, then they know that they have an alternative and one that works.  Either that, or they are truly delusional (delusion: a belief that is: certainty (held with absolute conviction), incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary),impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre, or patently untrue)  and should be considered as mentally ill as the next person who has delusions.  You’ll note that the common definition of a delusion has religion or culture as an out for such beliefs, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, other than to protect the sensibilities of those particular beliefs.

So, we have a religion that claims that they can heal, much like how evangelical Christian preachers who claim they can heal, practioners of other religion and practioners of various types of spiritual or energy healing.  We also have record of MBE making claim that she was not healed in order to attempt to seek damages from the city. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – on this Fourth of July

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a good post for the Fourth of July, our national holiday here in the US.

“On this date in 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” was adopted, after a vote approving it on July 2. Its secular purpose was to “dissolve the political bands,” and it inaugurated the anti-biblical idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson was a Deist who was highly critical of Christianity, and whose revolutionary document made references to a “Nature’s God.”

Jefferson was indeed highly critical of Christianity and created “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” aka the “Jefferson Bible” by keeping only what he found to be the worthwhile bits of the gospels.  Hew as not a Trinitarian and he found Paul to be a “corruptor”. His “Nature’s God” is not the one in the bible, nor are the values in the Declaration biblical values. His letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly (if you remember your 9th grade science, he’s the fellow who discovered a bunch of gasses) is revealing about what he does believe.

The Declaration says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  

The laws of the bible, which, per the bible, are still in effect since the heavens and earth haven’t passed away yet, do not support these truths at all.  They indicate that there are special humans that are indeed “chosen” above others.   It also has a lot of laws in it that, if followed, would be considered crimes today, e.g. murdering anyone who isn’t following the Sabbath (whenever that is).

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

And what does the bible say?  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. ” – Romans 13  This is where the concept of the “divine right of kings” comes from for Christians.   The bible claims that governments come from its god; the Declaration directly denies this.

Of course Jefferson was no saint.  He believed that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were less than he was, and tried to promulgate this nonsense, for the declaration also says this “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” 

And then we have, what Ray Comfort, wannabe theocrat, vermin in chief,  and supporter of the failed Ark Park, has to say about the holiday: “Get a fun hat, or a full costume, and simply extend a tract with a warm smile saying, “Happy Fourth of July.” The holidays make giving out tracts easier than ever. It’s a very disarming and inviting time of the year to receive a gift from a stranger.” 

Really? The image is from the video that Ray presented as such a good idea.  You’ll note that it takes deceit to get people to take his tracts since they don’t mention a bit about his religion when you look at them.  They go out of their way to hide their religion behind an Uncle Same costume and an image of a million dollar bill, that has this pathetic threat and demand of obedience on the back of it.

As always, it’s all about them needing external validation for their beliefs and bothering others, making false claims for their own benefit.  They want only their version o Christianity to be the religion in the US.  I’m quite happy to stand against such theocratic nonsense and enjoy my democracy today.  Ray can shill for his religion because of those rights that Jefferson et al put into the US law.  It’s a shame he chooses to abuse such a thoughtful gift from two plus centuries ago.

If you want a bit of amusement, click this link to hear Christian emails sent to the FFRF read aloud (definitely not safe for work considering the foul language used by some of these Christians).   This a couple of years old, though they are still going on strong in the paper.  If you’d like to see the most recent, I’ll make a scan.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – when the SCOTUS ignores facts to funnel public monies to churches

Unsurprisingly, the conservatives on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ignored the fact that church in the recent Trinity Lutheran case admitted that their playground that they were requesting state funding for was part of their ministry.  It was not a case of “but think of the children” in wanting a safer playground, but “we are using the playground to proselytize to children, and we don’t want to use our own money to make it safe.”

It’s a shame that so many Christians find that they must lie about so many things. So much for claiming that their holy book is something that they follow, when it says that their god hates lies and liars.

“The most important fact in the Supreme Court’s recent decision, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, didn’t even make it into the majority opinion. The silence of the seven judges who held that Missouri must give taxpayer funds to a church on this point was deafening, especially to anyone looking beyond the superficial media reporting and its inevitable shot of a playground. This crucial fact, passed over in the majority, was highlighted by the dissent upfront.

The omitted fact is simple: The playground at issue was, by the church’s own admission, part of a ministry directed at children and intended to propagate the faith. Here’s how the church explained it:

  1. The Church uses “teaching” to carry out its mission to “make disciples.”
  2. The Church does this partly through “the Trinity Church Child Learning Center,” which has the playground that is the subject of the case.
  3. The Learning Center serves as “a ministry of the Church and incorporates daily religion and developmentally appropriate activities into . . . [its] program.”

This case is not about playgrounds or skinned knees or keeping children safe. It’s about the government funding a religious ministry that targets children…”

For the entire article, please click here.