Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pangur Ban (White Cat)

Pangur Ban also known as "The Monk and his Cat", is one of my all time favorite poems. I first saw it at the Book Of Kells Exhibit while visiting Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. http://www.tcd.ie/Library/ It is a 9th century poem written by an Irish monk in St. Gallen, Switzerland or possibly in Austria, that is up for debate. No one knows his name but every poet knows his cat!

I have always been able to imagine the Monk who wrote it sitting by candle light writing with a feather quill while a little cat playing at his feet. In the exhibit it is written on a huge panel in a spiral which makes for fun reading.

Ban=white Pangur=kitty

I and Pangur Ban, my cat,

‘Tis a like task we are at;

Hunting mice is his delight,

Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men

‘Tis to sit with book and pen;

Pangur bears me no ill will;

He, too, plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see

At our task how glad are we,

When at home we sit and find

Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray

Into the hero Pangur’s way;

Oftentimes my keen thought set

Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye

Full and fierce and sharp and sly;

‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I

All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den.

O how glad is Pangur then!

O what gladness do I prove

When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,

Pangur Ban, my cat and I;

In our arts we find our bliss,

I have mine, and he has his.

Practice every day has made

Pangur perfect in his trade ;

I get wisdom day and night,

Turning Darkness into light.’

In the course of researching I also found this version or possibly a different poem all together..


Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we areAlone together,

Scholar and cat.

Each has his own work to do daily;

For you it is hunting, for me study.

Your shining eye watches the wall;

my feeble eye is fixed on a book.

You rejoice when your claws entrap a mouse;

I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.

Pleased with his own art

Neither hinders the other;

Thus we live everwithout tedium and envy.

Pangur, white Pangur,

How happy we areAlone together,

Scholar and cat.

anonymous Irish text, tr. W.H. Auden

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Happens When The Food Runs Out?....Taking Stock of What You Have

OK. I’m sure you’ve heard alarmist shouting about the end of the world before and that is not my intent here. Just rambling on……..the little mind boat is just floating down the canal….hop on.

Last weekend I was in Dallas for the AFI Film Festival and saw “Houston We Have A Problem”, produced by Nicole Torre. First, I will say it was an excellent documentary about the oil industry and the new wildcatters of renewable energy and that left me asking a lot of questions which I am sure was the point.


I took a lot away from it but right now I want to focus on one thing that it brought up. I am not quoting and am adding my own processing to what I heard.

If the Middle East and Venezuela (who are buddies so this is not too far fetched) got together and decided to cut off the oil supply to the U.S. what would happen would be that we would shortly run out of gas. Which equals we would run out of diesel and then there would be a 5-10 day window before we ran out of food. OH BOY…. I get it. No diesel… no truck delivering to Costco, Safeway, Walmart etc.

That brings up the question……What Happens When The Food Runs Out? Are any of us prepared for that? Well.. OK besides the Mormon church? (Which I don't happen to be a member of so I'm on my own...)

Mentally checking our resources…..

We have… flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, herbs, chickens, goats & donkeys. Oh and an apple, pear & cherry trees (as long as nothing happens until next year as the fruit trees are not bearing yet.)

The chickens will provide eggs and meat (I have a rooster among my hens).

The donkeys “horse power for planting…with some training and flowers for bribes…the goats could provide milk, meat & cheese but there would some collaboration work to be done there as my male is wethered (fixed)……I know how to make soap including the lye itself from scratch and funny enough I know how to make glass from scratch. (I suppose that would come in handy somehow later..) and we have enough firepower to protect the above. Now to the flora….

I started growing stuff this year for fun and because I am obsessive about one thing at a time and now it’s flowers and tomatoes. How would that really help me? I think even the flowers I am growing other than the Johnny Jump Ups are not edible flowers. (Really there are a lot of edible flowers like Pansies & stuff.. They look great in a salad.) and we don’t want to live on tomatoes. What can I do that requires only a little change on my part to make sure we have food if it really comes to it?

I think I’d start by planting potatoes in tires. I have tires. This can be done in a suburban back yard. Here is a great article (scroll down to it) on growing potatoes in tires and well, they’re potatoes. I can live on potatoes and tomatoes and the other stuff listed above.

The other thing I would add to my plant inventory would be sunflowers. BIG sunflowers. The ones that have lots of seeds. They are pretty, easy to grow, grow FAST and provide food. Nuts! Nuts are a great source of food with oil. With nuts you can also lure squirrels....and make ...pie? Not sure on that one but I'm sure I could find out.

And I just figured out the use for all these pretty flowers. They attract deer! Then you don't have to worry about that squirrel pie recipe.

(isn't this deer just looking guilty of eating flowers?)

So this is my personal inventory of what our family could do on short notice with a very small amount of change.

The real solution of course would be to make more and more changes in our energy usage to not exactly quote Nicole Torre because I am not sure of the exactness, just the point well taken….“Conservation is the biggest drilling field we have”.