July 28, 2014

Ontario Wine Country

I spent much of Friday and Saturday in Ontario sampling the products of the many wineries there. I had never been to Ontario before, and I didn’t have much of a strategy other than getting a sense of what the region had to offer. Because my son is a winemaker in the Finger Lakes, a region that produces particularly notable whites, I was naturally interested in what white wines I might find in Canada. I was also interested in tasting ice wines. much of the world’s production of which comes from Ontario.

August Deimel, the winemaker at Keuka Spring Vineyards, suggested three of the wineries I visited. I began my tasting at one of these, Stratus Vineyards, in Niagara-on-the-Lake. A tasting of four wines at Stratus cost $10, but I was assured that the experience would be worth it. The tasting room was in a somewhat austere LEED certified building that was more attractive inside than out. I went for the whites and the ice wine. (I didn’t make any notes, so this post may seem sketchy to the serious wine lover.) The standout here was the ice wine, which was a blend of several grape varieties. Not having visited other wineries, I was reluctant to buy anything at Stratus, but I thought I might come back for the ice wine. The woman who served me was very helpful and knowledgeable—this was uniformly the case at all the wineries I visited—and she suggested that, since I was particularly interested in Rieslings, I should visit the nearby Between the Lines Winery. (She also discouraged me from visiting another winery I had selected purely on location—too corporate, she advised.)

Between the Lines has an unprepossessing and rather claustrophobic tasting room. I was served by a woman recently arrived from Stuttgart, Germany, but she had no trouble representing the winery’s products. I tasted the Riesling, but fell in love with the 2013 Gewuerztraminer. (According to Wikipedia, Gewuerztraminer is the French spelling of the more familiar Gewürztraminer.) The Gewuerztraminer was my first purchase of the day. Between the Lines also had a couple of ice wines. I tasted the 2013 Vidal, which was fine but much less interesting than what I had found at Stratus.

There wasn’t much time left on Friday for winery hopping, so I selected as the final destination of the day Château des Charmes, another Niagara-on-the-Lake winery, which was on the way back to Niagara Falls. I made the selection with the help of “Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide,” an invaluable booklet obtained from one of the Ontario information stations scattered about. I also got an Ontario map there, but the seven-panel fold-out map in the guide was more than adequate for the wine tourist. I was more charmed by the buildings and grounds at Château des Charmes than the wines, but it was getting to the end of the day. The Vidal ice wine was tasty, but not as much so as the Stratus offering.

On Saturday, I abandoned the picture-perfect Niagra-on-the-Lake region for points west. The first stop was the Henry of Pelham Estate Winery, another destination recommended by my son. Perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention, but I discovered the tasting room only after visiting two other buildings on the property. And the property is extensive—there are vines as far as the eye can see. The winery offers both conventional tours and tours via Segway, but these have to be arranged in advance. (I want to try out a Segway someday.) I tasted a 2012 Riesling here, but I found a Riesling to buy in a 2008 Reserve Riesling. (Who knew a 2008 Riesling would be a great wine in 2014!) The Riesling ice wine was fine, but the Stratus blend remained my favorite.

Next on the list was another family recommendation, Malivoire Wine Company. Before I even entered the winery, I found a cheesemonger on the property selling mostly locally produced cheeses. I came away with chunks of a maple syrup cheddar and caramelized onion cheddar. (How could one pass up a cheese with maple syrup in Canada?) The main attraction here was really the winery itself, described in the “Travel Guide” as the “first-in-Ontario gravity-flow winery” in “an elaborately recycled Quonset hut built in 1998.” The place had a cave-like quality quite unlike, say, Stratus or Château des Charmes. From the tasting room, one could look up and see several levels of tanks. I thought the gravity-flow production was primarily an energy-saving device, but it was explained to me that the big advantage of the system was that, by eliminating pumps, less oxygen is introduced into the juice/wine. August will have to explain to me why this is a good thing. I tasted several wines in the Quonset hut, including a Grenache—I had only before tasted rosé made from this grape—and a red ice wine whose composition I don’t remember.

I had time to visit one last winery, and the server at Malivoire suggested the nearby Kew Vineyards. Winemaking is relatively new there, and there is no “Travel Guide” listing. Riesling grapes were first planted on the property in 1975, however. Visitors enter a mid-nineteenth-century house that has been renovated for wine selling, while retaining the charm of the original. Kew, which is very much a family operation, offers a very different tasting room experience. There is no conventional tasting room, at least not one with the usual bar. I was invited to sit inside or outside and have wine brought to me. I choose to go outside on a patio with a lovely view of rows and rows of grape vines. Kew was different in other ways as well. No ice wine was available, but I tasted two sparkling wines—think brut Champagne—and a white blend whose composition I don’t recall. For an extra fee, I could have had a cheese plate to accompany the wine, but it was too close to lunch time, and I wanted something more substantial for the midday meal. Drinking bubbly with cheese on the Kew patio and looking out on the vineyard would surely make for a pleasant afternoon.

As it turned out, there wasn’t time after lunch to return to Stratus for ice wine, but I wished that that had been possible. It was time to return to the U.S. and the time-consuming border station. The two wines I bought on the trip can be seen below. (Click on the image for a larger view.) I’ll have to plan another trip to Ontario.

Wines purchased in Ontario

July 19, 2014


I get information concerning where visitors to my blog are located. Not surprisingly, more visitors are from the United States than from anywhere else. Because many of my posts involve Anglicanism, I might have expected that lots of visitors would be from Canada and the U.K. Not so.

Looking at visitors since my blog premiered in 2002, the top sources of traffic other than the U.S. have been China, Ukraine, Russia, U.K., France, Germany, Poland, Canada, and Sweden. It was 4½ years before I wrote a church-related post, so Anglicans may not have contributed significantly to the numbers in the early years. Visitors from China, Ukraine, and Russia were responsible for 30% as many page views as were U.S. visitors. Go figure. Corresponding numbers for the U.K. and Canada were 4.6% and 1.9%, respectively.

Considering visitors in only the last month, the top traffic sources have been the U.S., France, Ukraine, Taiwan, Russia, China, Turkey, Germany, U.K., and Poland. France contributed 29.7% as many page views as did U.S. visitors. Who knows what the French were interested in! I am disappointed that few members of the Church of England seem to be reading Lionel Deimel’s Web Log. The U.K. accounted for only 3.8% as many page views as did the U.S. My U.K. audience seems to be decreasing. Sigh! I don’t know anything about Canadian visitors, but they viewed fewer pages than did the Poles.

Of course, all these numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. No doubt, many find my blog without finding anything they were looking for. I have serious doubts that I have many fans in Ukraine.

July 18, 2014


Since September 11, 2001, any instance of violence we don’t like is called terrorism. This practice is manipulative, but it has become the 21st century’s propaganda weapon of choice. This unfortunate trend seems to have been started by the United States, but the technique has been adopted by friends and foes alike.

In Syria, for example, we viewed the insurgents, even when we didn’t like all of them, as revolutionaries or freedom-fighters. The Syrian government, however, repeated called the fighters terrorists. The U.S. government saw this charge as ridiculous, but it was merely reaping the rhetorical harvest of the propaganda seeds it had sown.

I write this now because some people in and out of government are calling the downing of a commercial airliner over Ukraine an act of terrorism. To begin with, the circumstances of the disaster are not yet clear, so the conclusion—any conclusion—is premature. More significantly, however, it is unlikely that anyone had a motive to bring down the plane. The most likely explanation is that Russians or pro-Russian rebels downed the aircraft with a Russian missile, having mistaken it for a Ukrainian military transport. That is, the incident is linkly collateral damage resulting from ongoing warfare.

“Terrorism” has become an epithet used without careful thinking and without integrity. It’s time to become more careful in our use of the term

July 14, 2014

Nuance Power PDF Advanced Bug Fixed

The bug I discovered after I installed Nuance Power PDF Advanced on my computer appears to have been fixed.  I reported in an earlier post that PDF files created by the new software often, though not always, put a watermark on pages indicated that the file was produced by a trial version of the program, even though the program was registered and activated.

I have been documenting my interaction with the technical support people at Nuance in my original post. Readers of that post who have not been reading my updates but who are interested in my experience may want to return to that post and read about my experience.

I am inclined to believe that Power PDF Advanced is an excellent program for creating and manipulating PDF files, but I have not systematically examined all its features. Certainly, the software embodies some design decisions different from those I would have made. In any case, Nuance offers a free trial, as well as a money-back guarantee.

July 13, 2014

The South Carolina Amnesia

A severe outbreak of amnesia has struck the southeastern portion of South Carolina. Epidemiologists have observed that the disorder seems to have affected only former Episcopalians who followed deposed bishop Mark Lawrence out of The Episcopal Church. Continuing Episcopalians are apparently unaffected, and it is unclear whether all erstwhile Episcopalians are vulnerable to the spreading epidemic. The rate of affliction among diocesan and parish leaders, however, is virtually 100 percent.

Evidence of the epidemic is found exclusively in the town of St. George, South Carolina. In particular, the outbreak is observable in the Dorchester County Courthouse, specifically, in the courtroom in which Judge Diane S. Goodstein is presiding over the trial brought against South Carolina Episcopalians by the aforementioned deposed bishop and the congregations that departed The Episcopal Church with him.

Observers have noted that witnesses called by the plaintiffs—clergy and lay leaders of congregations claiming to have left The Episcopal Church and taken real and personal parish property with them—have apparently forgotten that their parishes were once part of the general church and not simply a part of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Various witnesses, for example, have claimed that “Episcopal” in parish names and on identifying signs did not refer to The Episcopal Church, but only to the fact that their parishes were under the supervision of a bishop. Moreover, these witnesses have forgotten that, in the very recent past and for some time previous, they had exhibited extreme and righteous hostility toward The Episcopal Church because they believed that the church had departed from biblical truth, of which they were in exclusive possession.

The South Carolina amnesia presents with concomitant paranoia. Victims of the affliction have testified that they engaged in various legal maneuvers to “protect” their parishes from the depredations of The Episcopal Church, yet they offer no justification for their fear other than what they view as the undeserved persecution of the former Bishop of South Carolina.

Although there is some disagreement regarding the etiology of the South Carolina epidemic, the consensus epidemiological opinion is that the observed aberrant behavior is the result of the realization that acknowledging that the dispute between Episcopalians and former Episcopalians is theological in nature will result in the civil courts recusing themselves from jurisdiction and deferring to the leadership of The Episcopal Church to resolve the property issues. Thus, the afflicted victims have been driven to the delusional notion that what is at issue is purely a matter of secular property law.

There is some question as to whether Judge Goodstein is also a victim of the epidemic, as she has seemingly forgotten that there might be a more obvious reason for the behavior of the witnesses and that that reason might involve considerations of theology. Perhaps she has only forgotten that judges are supposed to be impartial.

Epidemiologists are hopeful that the South Carolina epidemic will be contained when the defense is allowed to present its case in Judge Goodstein’s courtroom. Not all the observers of the epidemic are so sanguine as to the ultimate outcome, however.

July 7, 2014

Quinn Out as Canon, In as Interim Cathedral Dean

I was surprised to see this listing in the new directory from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Apparently, as of July 1, 2014, the Rev. Canon Scott Quinn is no longer Canon to the Ordinary, and the Rev. Tim Hushion, Jr., is no longer Priest-in-Charge at Trinity Cathedral. Quinn, in addition to his long-time position as Rector at Church of the Nativity in Crafton, Pennsylvania, is now Interim Dean of Pittsburgh’s Trinity Cathedral.

To date, there appears to have been no notification by the diocese of this personnel change, not even to Pittsburgh clergy. Yesterday, the cathedral posted a welcome note on its Facebook page, but, as of today, there is no mention of Quinn on the cathedral’s Web site, and Hushion is still listed as Priest-in-Charge.

The health of Trinity Cathedral has been of grave concern to the people of the diocese, particularly in light of the cathedral’s near loss to the schismatic Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Why is this change seemingly being made under the radar? Personnel changes, particularly one so important, deserve to put publicized. Alas, communication from the diocese continues to be desultory.

The Quinn appointment is particularly interesting from a number of points of view. There has been much dissatisfaction with the fact that the Pittsburgh diocese, which is facing financial difficulties, has been supporting three canons. There has also been dissatisfaction among progressives that all three canons are conservative. Quinn’s performance as Canon to the Ordinary has not always been considered stellar. The move to the cathedral looks like an acknowledgement of the fact. Quinn has spent virtually his entire career in Crafton, something of a suburban backwater. He is hardly an obvious pick for a struggling urban parish.

Bob Duncan had installed the Rev. Cathy Brall at Trinity, probably because he thought she could be coerced into following his lead. He gave her the title of Provost, however, rather than the more conventional title of Dean, a move widely considered a slight. Even after Duncan’s departure, the succession of bishops in Pittsburgh failed to undo the slight. And, particularly after the cathedral dumped its untenable two-diocese experiment, it was assumed that Trinity could not support a dean with a track record suggesting that he or she could make Trinity a going concern. Does the fact that Trinity now has an interim dean mean that it will be looking for a permanent dean, or is the change just about finding a place for Quinn?

Brall, of course, was removed from the cathedral to become Canon Missioner for the diocese. Will she also take on some of the duties of which Scott Quinn has now been relieved?

Stay tuned.

July 4, 2014

Pittsburgh Bishop OKs Priests Officiating at Same-Sex Marriages

Rings on rainbow background
After some delay—see “Bishop Answers Questions, Explains Same-Sex Marriage Delay”—Dorsey McConnell, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, wrote a letter yesterday, July 3, 2014, explaining that priests in the diocese may now officiate at same-sex weddings. His earlier permission to use the Provisional Rite for the Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant authorized by the 2012 General Convention via Resolution A049 has been modified in light of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania resulting from a recent court decision. (The bishop’s revised guidelines are here.)

What held up Bishop McConnell’s pronouncement about same-sex marriage was his concerns—or his chancellor’s concerns—about the legality and canonicality of allowing Pittsburgh priests to marry same-sex couples in church. I didn’t quite understand what the problem or problems were when Andy Roman, the diocesan chancellor, explained the delay at the June meeting of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. Everything became clear, however, in the letter from the chancellor that the bishop released along with his letter and guidelines.

The chancellor offered the bishop answers to three questions (quoting from the aforementioned letter):
  1. What is the source of the civil law authority granted to priests of the Diocese to solemnize a marriage for civil law purposes, and does that source require the marriage to be solemnized using the rite of Holy Matrimony contained in the Book of Common Prayer?
  2. Would the use of the Provisional Rite, “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” without modification, in conjunction with execution of the civil law marriage certificate by the priest, serve to solemnize the marriage of a same-sex couple for civil law purposes in Pennsylvania?
  3. If you as Bishop Diocesan authorize priests of the Diocese to use their civil law authority to solemnize same-sex marriages for civil law purposes using the Provisional Rite, are you upholding the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church?
Notice that answers to these questions turn both on canon law and civil law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The answers, then, cannot be universal for Episcopal Church dioceses. Nonetheless, I do think Andy Roman’s analysis is of general interest.

As it happens, Pennsylvania law provides two descriptions of who can perform a marriage and does not specify the exact form of the ceremony. A “general rule” allows “a minister, priest or rabbi of a regularly established church or congregation” to do the job. (What about imams? Who knows.) A separate provision provides that
Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.
Perhaps this second provision exists to make it easier from a religious institution to refuse to perform a marriage. If it were the only source of authority for performing a civil same-sex marriage, it would be problematic for Episcopalians, as both the prayer book and Canon I.18 “define Holy Matrimony as between ‘a man and a woman.’” Given the general rule, however, we can forget about this latter provision. An Episcopal priest can perform a same-sex marriage, but it cannot be Holy Matrimony as The Episcopal Church now defines it.

The chancellor’s answer to the second question is lengthy—Andy Roman is very thorough—but he concludes that the use of the provisional rite, without modification, and a marriage license are  pretty much all a priest needs to satisfy both canon and civil law with respect to a (civil) same-sex marriage.

The third question is really whether Bishop McConnell will get into trouble with the church for allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in Pittsburgh churches. This seems a reasonable concern. Resolution A049 clearly anticipated the use of the provisional rite in states where same-sex marriage is legal, and the chancellor concludes, without too much trouble, that the bishop will be on solid ground if he approves same-sex weddings in Episcopal churches.

So, based on the advice of his chancellor, Bishop McConnell will allow diocesan priests to use the provisional rite. The couple, however, must have earlier been married in a civil ceremony or must have a valid marriage license. The provisional rite must be used without modification, except as provided in it own rubrics.

A ceremony following the guidelines provided by Bishop McConnell, then, will certainly effect the marriage of two women or two men. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States government will consider them married. (Louisiana and some other states, not so much.) Technically, the church will not consider the couple married in the traditional sense. In practice, I doubt this will make much difference. The couple is blessed in the provisional rite, and that’s about the only benefit of substance a heterosexual couple gets out of a church wedding anyway.

The same-sex couple will not be pronounced—what should they be pronounced, anyway?—husband and wife or married or whatever. But the Pronouncement from the provisional rite should seem just fine:
Inasmuch as N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity in the presence of God and the Church, I now pronounce that they are bound to one another in a holy covenant,
as long as they both shall live. Amen.