Sunday, December 18, 2005


Icy drizzle outside. In these darkest weeks of the year, even the slightest color jumps out against the grey-white scene. That's how I noticed a lone coralberry along the fencerow. It's loaded with dark maroon berries, the tallest and most heavily fruited example I've ever seen. All the rain may have helped; this was a wet year aside from September. There used to be a lot more coralberry, which my mother called Indian shoestring, along the road banks, but never this size or quality. I've never understood the 'coral' designation; before they freeze, the berries (technically drupes) are a fuchsia-pink, later maroon. I think of coral as an orange-influenced color, like salmon only rosier.

I brought in some of the branches for cheer in the kitchen, and will try to start plants from the seeds later on. Could be a long wait for this shiftless (and greenhouse-less and cold-frameless) gardener:

best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 months warm then 5 months cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. link


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Army Field Manual revised to permit torture

This news has brought me very low.

Rumsfeld and Cambone have had the Army Field Manual for interrogation revised to permit torture, and the new sections of the manual will be classified. Classified!

So even if the McCain amendment survives the conference process on the defense spending bill, it will be meaningless.

The amendment's purpose was to confirm existing U.S. law against torture, in any case. As far as I'm concerned, Rumsfeld and Cambone will be violating that law the moment they approve the new manual, or release it for use in the field.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holding them in the light

Anas Al-Tikriti is guardedly optimistic. He is the Canadian Muslim who went to Iraq to mediate on behalf of the Christian Peacemaker Team members. He takes the captors' recent silence as a non-ominous sign, at least. By 'silence', he meant the complete cutting of communications that might be a prelude to release. But I was reminded of the kind of silence that Friends appreciate, and of Catharine Fox's wrenching appeal for her father on Democracy Now yesterday:

Above all else, my father is a listener, even when no one is speaking. He values the honesty of silence, and when he speaks, there is a respect and kindness in his voice and a strength that stands in quiet testimony to the life he has chosen to lead.