Wednesday, March 23, 2011

 
One of the earliest signs of Spring is the Witch Hazel's spidery blossoms.  We found this bush in flower when coming down from the garden after gathering spinach out of the cold frame.  We did a huge planting in the fall and are looking forward to seeing a big change in the look of the property this spring.  There will be another major planting some time in May most probably, after which approximately 90 percent of the landscaping plan will be complete.

Snowdrops are up!  These are just outside the front door.  Our first crocus are up.  Down the hill by Fritz's Center, there are the green shoots of daffodils and iris.  And, the sap is flowing.  This morning I brought 19-1/2 gallons of it in from the trees, and for the third time this spring, Fritz got a fire going under the evaporator to boil down the sap. 

Last night he finished off the results of the second boiling on top of the Aga and then ran the syrup through the fine screen of a couple of old coffee filters.  Mason jars and sealing rings that he'd cleaned previously, and sterilized sealing lids were ready to go. 

We filled the jars, then I wiped the rim clean of any syrup and dropped a lid in place, following it up by screwing down the metal ring closure.  As the jars cooled, we listened for the distinctive pop as the flat lids were pulled down into a concave form indicating that the seal was tight and the contents safely preserved.

So, here are eight more quarts of syrup.  Our total this spring so far is three gallons, but we have enough sap for the third batch that began this morning to make two more .  If the weather cooperates (nights below freezing, days up into the 40s and 50s) so that the sap keeps flowing, we could make six or even more gallons total for the year.

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I had expected this moment to be coming but didn't think it would arrive so soon.  The following item is taken from the invaluable Joe.My.God, the blog of Joe Jervis in New York City.  I have seen a slow movement, accelerating in the last couple of decades, of American Catholics away from the "shut up and obey" philosophy of the Church.  As one subjected to 12 years of a very strict Catholic education, I "know where the bodies are buried" according to the old saying, and consider this decline a healthy thing.  I believe there is eventually going to be a split either within the Catholic Church in America, or possibly even between the American Catholic Church and Rome.  In any event, the results of this poll show a significant shift by American Catholics away from blind allegiance to healthy, independent thought:  

POLL: Majority Of Lay Catholics Support LGBT Rights And Same-Sex Marriage

In what may come as a shocker to the Vatican and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a just-released poll shows that a slim majority of America's lay Catholics now support same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.
Overall, the survey found 53 percent of Catholics supported the idea of same-sex marriage, while the general public is evenly divided on the issue. Fifty-six percent of Catholics did not believe sexual relations between two adults of the same gender constituted a sin, compared to 46 percent of the general population. Sixty percent of Catholics favored adoption rights for same-sex couples, 49 percent think gays should be allowed to be ordained as clergy, and 73 percent believe they should have legal protections in the workplace – all higher percentages than found in the general population. There was a powerful generation gap found in the survey, with Catholics under 35 much more liberal than those 65 and older. The influx of Hispanic Catholics into the U.S. church in recent years did not skew the results, as the young newcomers were divided between liberal and conservative views of homosexuality.  American Catholics also tended to be more liberal than evangelical and mainline Protestants, the researchers said.
The conclusions fit with a strong pattern of liberalism among Catholics that stands in opposition to the church hierarchy, said Michele Dillon, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire asked by researchers to comment. There has been a gulf on social issues between church teachings and the American laity since the mid-1970s on subjects such as abortion, divorce without an annulment, premarital sex and artificial contraception. “Catholics make up their own minds about these moral issues irrespective – or almost in spite of – what the bishops and official church teachings say,” Dillon said.
Catholics tend not to like or even may resent having politics in church, Dillon said. The survey found about one-quarter of church-going Catholics reported hearing about homosexuality in church – a much lower proportion than in Protestant churches. Two-thirds of the messages about homosexuality in church were negative.
Dillon said the poll is unlikely to sway the church hierarchy.
 But we could have all predicted that one, couldn't we?

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Smørrebrød (approximately, SHMORbrul with the second r way back in the throat) literally means butterbread in Danish but is actually the name for the famous open-faced sandwiches that feature prominently in Danish dining and entertaining.  Fritz was going through a carton of books a couple of weeks ago and came across a multi-fold Plumrose advertising piece that lists and illustrates the different varieties of smørrebrød. 

When we're visiting out Danish friends in Helsing, an hour north of Copenhagen, Fritz likes to get creative and make all sorts of combinations, while Else looks on with a critical eye and says, "Fritz, according to me, these are not approved smørrebrød!"  Then they break up and hug because she knows he's done it just to kid her.  The numbered illustrations below key to the descriptions above. 

I like this fold-up piece for its 1950s style technicolor photography and layout.   I think the inside of the brochure, which is a good deal wider than the photo above shows, might be fun framed on a kitchen wall.

 

Comments:
I so want to spend the weekend at your place doing all the wonderful things you guys do.
 
I found the Catholic poll hard to believe; where did they find these sort of Catholics?
 
Yay for emerging spring! You know, I remember Plumrose hams. I used to think that was the shape of ham, and if I saw a real one, thought it was from some nasty deformed pig. Oh, thank goodness we grow up! Besides, everyone knows REAL hams are spiral sliced!
 
Oh man, I am totally living vicariously through these spring posts. Please keep them coming.

Hopefully that poll will help to get people in the media to be more skeptical of conservatives who claim to have the Catholic vote in the bag...yes, people who identify as Catholic may vote for a Republican for any number of reasons, but this goes to show it isn't out of some overwhelming affinity for the conservative social agenda.

Alex
 
You will not see sandwiches like these in a normal Danish home - take this from a homegrown Dane WAS (With A Smile).
 
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