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O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
Thursday, January 22, A.D. 2015
Cat Saves Baby

I would like to wish all the Marchers for Life safe passage today on this forty-second anniversary of Roe versus Wade. May their witness change hearts and encourage the faithful!

Fitting for today, and as a follow-up to my recent assertion that Orthodoxy even sanctifies the typically heathen domesticated cat, I give you “Cat saves abandoned baby boy in Russia”:

A cat from the town of Obninsk, Russia, became a celebrity. The photo of the cat appeared in many Russia and foreign publications after the feline saved the baby boy, whom his mother abandoned in a box on the stairwell. The cat was warming the baby and meowing loudly for several hours trying to attract people’s attention to the abandoned baby.

Currently, the police of the Kaluga region are trying to find the boy’s parents. The website of the regional Department of the Interior Ministry published photos of children’s clothes, which were neatly stacked in the box next to the child.

According to officials, the boy is only 1.5-3 months old. The baby was taken to the hospital, where doctors examined him and found that the boy was fine. “This is a wonderful child, he is a very calm boy, he eats and sleeps well and hardly ever cries,” a doctor said.

According to local media, the cat named Mashka became very attached to the child. The cat was being very nervous when the baby was being taken away. She was chasing the ambulance vehicle for a while afterwards.

The cat was warming the boy very well.

The cat lives in an apartment building in Obninsk. A tenant of the building, Nadezhda Makhovikova, heard the loud meowing and went to see what was happening.

“I thought Mashka was fighting with a male cat. I went to the sound of the meowing and found a box with a baby in it. It was cold on the stairwell, but the child was warm. The boy was even hot on a side - the cat was warming him very well. The boy was dressed well too. He was in a very good winter suit and warm flannel shirts. Those who left him there even put a hat on the boy’s head, but they did not leave a note,” Nadezhda said.

“He was a very nice, clean and beautiful boy. His mother put a bag in the box, in which I found a feeding bottle, several diapers and a soother. Something might have happened in her life, if she decided to do such a thing. I called the police and the doctors. While I was waiting for them to arrive, Mashka was near all the time, and she was trying to lick the baby,” the lady said.

According to most recent reports, the baby boy is absolutely healthy. Many people in Russia and abroad have expressed a wish to adopt the baby. According to police officers, if the child’s parents do not appear to take the boy, he will be accommodated in a foster family.

So, now even Russian feral cats exhibit more humanity than a good percentage of the American population. Let us wish many blessings for the little boy and his friend forever, Mashka.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, January 22, Anno Domini 2015
Thursday, January 15, A.D. 2015
Fox in a Jar

Merry Christmas!

I found a short but interesting animal video online, wherein a fox who got his head stuck in a jar requests help from some Russian soldiers who had stopped their car by the side of the road.

I find this behavior delightfully surprising.

My favorite comment from the thread:

What does the fox say?
Well, apparently not “Thank you”. ^^

Oh, Russkies and their wild critters . . .

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, January 15, Anno Domini 2015
Monday, January 5, A.D. 2015
Aurora Borealis

As a festive offering, here is some lovely footage of the Aurora Borealis in Sweden’s Abisko National Park from Lights over Lapland:

The other videos are likewise spectacular.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, January 5, Anno Domini 2015
Monday, December 22, A.D. 2014
Happy Birthday, Colo!

I hope that you are having a fruitful Advent season, and I wish my fellow old calendar travellers a blessed feast of the Theotokos’ Conception today.

It is also Colo’s fifty-eighth birthday! Read about the celebration on the Columbus Zoo site. Colo was the first gorilla born in captivity, and she is moreover the oldest gorilla in the world. I was able to see her back in September when I visited the Columbus Zoo with family. Many years, Colo!

Posted by Joseph on Monday, December 22, Anno Domini 2014
Thursday, November 27, A.D. 2014

I hope that you have a blessed day on this favorite American holiday. As a first course, I present this video from The Nantucket Project—“Gratitude” with Louie Schwartzberg:

The commentary is worth hearing, but the footage of this world’s mighty spectacle will delight you.

In yesterday’s Trinity Forum newsletter, Cherie Harder quotes a fitting passage from C.S. Lewis:

The most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me… I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed… This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection – utterly “get out” in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object the more intense this delight would be… The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

As Lewis notes, the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first point is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Even Scottish Calvinists can come up with beautiful insights now and then.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, November 27, Anno Domini 2014
Tuesday, October 14, A.D. 2014
Wolves in Yellowstone

I wish everyone on the old calendar a blessed feast of the Protection of the Theotokos.

My father sent me the following video about the trophic cascade that resulted from the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The program is short but fascinating:

Marvellous, eh?

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, October 14, Anno Domini 2014
Tuesday, August 19, A.D. 2014
Gardens Cultivate the Soul

I would first like to wish my fellow Orthodox a blessed feast of the Transfiguration!

Yesterday, I received the Touchstone newsletter, and one article immediately caught my eye: “Food for Thought: Rachel Lu on Growing Vegetables as a Primer in Moral Philosophy.” The newsletter offered this delicious morsel:

Gardening, as I discovered, is a wonderful primer in moral philosophy. It is a clear, tangible, and literally delicious way of experiencing the progression of created beings through their natural lifecycle. A well-tended garden offers resounding, joyful affirmation of the sturdy Aristotelian principle that optimal conditions enable living things to flourish. No one is a moral relativist when fertilizing his tomatoes.

I highly recommend it. I acknowledge that I am probably more enthusiastic about gardening and moral philosophy than the average person, but the article is still worth your time. It is full of insight, as in the following penultimate paragraph:

As a rule, most zealous food moralists tend to be politically liberal unbelievers, and this is not surprising. I myself, as a mother and a Catholic Aristotelian, cherish my garden as a medium through which my children and I can enjoy life and beauty together, even before they are capable of putting our shared experience into words. For unbelievers, however, gardens may provide something much more essential: reassurance that objective goodness and thriving are possible. Those same solid Aristotelian principles that were dramatically expelled out the front door can now be re-admitted through the back gate, in the innocent guise of peppers and summer squash. For such people, gardens really may be a lifeline to a moral universe that they had dismissed as the stuff of legend and fairy tale.

Kαλῶς εἶπας!

Lu’s article is rather appropriate for this day; we celebrate the manifestation of the savior’s glory on Mount Tabor by having the fruits of the harvest blessed.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, August 19, Anno Domini 2014
Tuesday, July 22, A.D. 2014
Some Photographs Should Be Banned

We have all heard that something is “too cute,” but I have always found that expression a bit queer. Then, I saw the following image on a friend’s Twitter account:


Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, July 22, Anno Domini 2014
Friday, July 18, A.D. 2014
Colored Honey Made by Candy-Eating French Bees

It seems that the folks who work in Mars’ marketing department could capitalize on this somehow: “Colored Honey Made by Candy-Eating French Bees.”

According to National Geographic Daily News,

Beekeepers in northeastern France found themselves in a sticky situation after bees from their hives began producing honey in shades of blue and green . . .

The colored honey could not be sold because it did not meet France’s standards of honey production: It was not obtained from the nectar of plants and it deviates from the standard coloring of honey (nearly colorless to dark brown).

That’s bad news for a region that produces a thousand tons of honey a year and has already had to cope with a high bee mortality rate and low honey production after a harsh winter. An investigation by beekeepers in the town of Ribeauville (map) uncovered the cause of the problem: Instead of collecting nectar from flowers, local bees were feeding on remnants of colored M&M candy shells, which were being processed by a biogas plant roughly 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away.

The waste-processing plant discovered the problem at the same time the beekeepers did and quickly cleaned any outdoor or uncovered containers that M&M waste was stored in. The candy remains will now be stored in a covered hall.

I would happily buy blue honey made by French bees. For some reason, I think of Matisse. He would have enjoyed miel bleu.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, July 18, Anno Domini 2014
Tuesday, July 15, A.D. 2014
Wild Europe

A few months ago, I received a link to the following editorial by Rajat Ghai in the Indian Business Standard: “Lessons from Wild Europe.” The objective of Ghai’s article is to encourage Indian conservation efforts, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the reintroduction of extirpated species in various parts of Europe. Ghai begins his article with a detail that warms my heart:

On May 17, 2014, seventeen big, bellowing cattle-like beasts were released into the forests of the Tarcu mountains in the southern part of eastern Europe’s famous Carpathian range in Romania after being ritually blessed by an Orthodox Christian priest in the village of Armenis. The release was carried out by volunteers of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and an NGO called ‘Rewilding Europe.’

The event is significant in the conservation history of the European continent as it marks the return of Europe’s largest herbivore, the European Wood Bison or the Wisent (Bison bonasus), in the Tarcu mountains 200 years after they disappeared from there due to rampant poaching.

Good news in several ways!

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, July 15, Anno Domini 2014
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