Saturday, September 01, 2007

Against all this

The whimpering advent of Eliot's Hollow Men:

"Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;"

Against all this, as ever, are clear words spoken in sunlight that feed the heart of one man from another. Against all this, as ever, are those prophetic voices which cut through chains and drag us, blinking, into daylight. Against all this, as ever, are the midwives of souls, the begetters in Christ, the infinite litany of intimacy which is the true and natural order of all things.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The obedient treading of stars

When the sun rises slowly some mornings, I wonder if he has a hangover?
Hiding miserably behind dark clouds whilst groping for coffee and orange juice.
Sorry folks, no Psalm 19:5 today, just a pale, wan disc, peering bleary-eyed through hazy skies.

The Hebrews could understand the world mechanically.
They had machines, after all. But they did not choose this.
Instead; a world where mountains skip, rivers flee and trees clap.
He speaks, Creation responds!
How much now lost in our hunger for control?
How corrupted the very nature of nature by our persistence in sin?
What restored in His earthly sojourn? What remains incomplete?
From this groaning of all creation, what fruit?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Where is yes?

This past Sunday was the story of the two demoniacs. Their wills so bound they could not exercise them. My priest talked about how we must use our wills each day.

Reflecting on it I see my grand commitments and my million inner vows all tethering me to the false triumph of intention. Pretence of accomplishment, rooted in vain fantasy.

Instead, right now, in this moment, I want to know how to to say yes to God. I want to exercise my will instead of my imagination. That I not be a prey to the passions.
Have mercy upon me O Lord and help me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Words, so damn many words
cheapened like watered scotch
that was cheap already

Numbers, bloody stupid numbers on paper
Some damn fool somewhere
got it into his head that
a few marks on a piece of paper
were enough to count for the firm handshake and plain dealing of men

Pictures, don't get me started
Used to be, people thought maybe what we could see came from someplace so fine it was invisible
This world a shadow or a copy of that one
Then we got to taking pictures of everything
Nowadays almost no one believes in the invisible places anymore
Hell (and I mean that literally) we don't even think we need this world anymore,
let alone a place for it to come from

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Father's Day

Wrote this almost two years ago on Father's Day........

I am a fool

While my son plays
(on the kitchen floor of my apartment)
I sit here trying to speak fire

While my son plays
(with pokemon cards we got today)
I try to coax flame from the embers of my soul

While my son plays
(fiddling with the tv screen after his cartoon is over)
I bombard my heart with demands for water of life

While Daddy plays
(sitting at his computer)
I am a firedragon

While Daddy plays
(sitting at his computer)
I breathe fire

While Daddy plays
(sitting at his computer)
I am a fish in the ocean

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


This is disturbing. I'm thinking "Can't look away horrified fascination", like a train wreck.

vic --


Visually addictive

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Grant me your salvation on my bed

I never understood this phrase in prayers before falling asleep. Why say such a thing?
Recently I had an experience that gave me a meaningful personal sense of this prayer.
I was lying in bed, trying to sleep and I had so many worries, cares, fears and temptations scurrying through my head that I could not rest. My heart was wearied and troubled by many, many things.

In the middle of this mess the phrase came to me. "Grant me your salvation upon my bed."

Bed, that place where we fall asleep and wake up. Where we entertain our dreams and wrestle with our fears, uninterrupted by the distractions of life. Alone with our thoughts.

Bed, where we wrestle with our fears and thoughts. Where we rest from the difficulties and sorrows of life. A place of fear, hope, possibility and so much more. Where we make love, where we know and are known, body and soul.

How natural to ask God to be with us in this place.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Ashamed - I pillage the garden,
grabbing at straws and leaves of circumstance
Anything will do.

Stitching them into
A wretched rag
Which draws focus, saps strength
and begets new shame

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Anthropos Thanatos or Anthropos Athanatos

Unshaped by life
For I have refused to live
Controlled by death
For I refuse to die

Giving shape to life
For you have lived
Unconstrained by death
For you have embraced death

Friday, April 27, 2007


Thanks Stacy I'm nerdier than you are!!!

I am nerdier than 55% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thoughts on Syncretism

A post by Stacy over on Orthodork Cafe got me thinking about this question. I replied to the question about when something becomes syncretism by suggesting that our culture is too self-absorbed to develop real syncretism. I now take that back. Not the self-absorption bit, the syncretism bit.
"If syncretism is the development of new religions based on combinations of existing ones I wonder if we have the cultural depth required for it. It strikes me that the postmodern capacity for (and level of) self-indulgent consumerism is more likely to produce individualistic dabbling in many religious practices rather than a serious commitment to something more than oneself (albeit an amalgam of several other religions).
Perhaps this is because the desperation we feel is not a desperation rooted in physical survival issues. Ours is the desperation of ennui in the face of overabundance of physical goods combined with a spiritual and social vacuum unparalleled in human history."

In the above-quoted text I think I actually describe an "in" for syncretic thought.
It is the abundance and desperation together that make the unique combination for a new syncretism. It must be a religion based on materialism or material self-expression. While every religion has its own set of symbols and rituals, ours is a generation that sees the continual generation of new symbols and rituals as its religious vocation and practice. It is a new kind of disorder and it is the result of having all of human history and culture to draw on with no real belief in anything. So history is seen as a repository of material on which we can draw to "make our own meaning" by changing, mixing and matching symbols, rituals and ideas from various religions, eras and places. I have more thoughts on this theme but they are as yet 'ungelled' and so I welcome conversation to help with the process.

what is left?

We deconstruct everything
like milkdrop photography run amok

Freeze any frame, capture any moment
pare down life, find the empty core
We have emptied ourselves
This very paring and pixelation
has brought us down to nothing

who knew that our inward gaze
which started out so fondly
would become the basilisk's glare?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Southland of the heart

Yesterday. I felt
Today I ache
like a bad tooth has been pulled
Empty space where there was something
something poisonous, but something I knew
knew in candid, clinical terms
keeping out the grief and loss
while leaving the wound open

How do I live now without my anaesthetic pain?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The burning of this moment

I am living this second and all I can do is reflect on its passing

History already
What is in our gaze that deadens all we see?
converting it into past and never seeing it NOW and HERE

I suppose it is only faith that gives us the present
by seeing with the eye we only see what was
by logic and calculation we see what might be or what might have been

By seeing with the heart we see what is
or at least we trust that there is an is
This act of trust is all that remains to us

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For Holy Week

As Adam sought to hide his wretchedness with leaves;
So I have sought to cover my own sins by blaming others.
As in your compassion you gave to our first parents garments of skin;
So grant me, gracious Lord, the garment of repentance.
As the brothers of Joseph ruined the garment meant to rule over them, soiling it with the blood of their sins;
So I have ruined the gift of my baptism, seeking to hide my sins from my Father by presenting Him with a lie.
O most gracious Lord, who used the wickedness of Joseph's brothers for their own salvation;
Leave me not to myself, but transform the wicked passions of my flesh, that I might serve you with my whole heart.
The Roman soldiers gambled for Your garment that only one might possess it.
Grant me to receive the seamless covering of Your love which none may possess alone.
As the veil of the temple was rent at Your fulfilling of the law,
So let my fleshly thoughts be burst like an old wineskin filled with the new wine of Your love.
As You left in the grave the winding sheet, grant me to leave my love for death behind me;
That this garment of mortality might bring me to yearn for true immortality which is found only in You.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

In time for Pascha!

Our parish just got the altar and solea floor redone and the new icon screen went up this past week. Very beautiful!

We also have two beautiful new fresco/mural icons of the Crucifixion and Resurrection to the left and right of the icon screen

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Moon

Out my window
I see the moon,
Stretching toward full

Out my window
I see the grass,
Growing toward green

Out my window
I see the snow,
Fading in the sun

In my heart
I see Lent,
Beginning to flower

I never thought
Pascha might come too soon...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Remembrance of injury...John XIII

In reference to Judas' betrayal of Christ St. John Chrysostom says:
"These things are written that we bear not malice toward those who injure us; but rebuke them and weep for them; for the fit subjects of weeping are not they who suffer, but they who do the wrong."

St. John starts with Christ's betrayal by Judas and concludes with the example of Joseph as someone who, before Grace and even before the Law, did not cling to remembrance of injury to himself.

"What excuse shall we have, if after the Law, and after grace, and after the addition of so much heavenly wisdom, we do not even strive to rival him who lived before grace and before the Law? Who shall deliver us from punishment? For there is nothing, there is nothing more grievous than the remembrance of injuries."

I was struck by this phrase:"for the fit subjects of weeping are not they who suffer, but they who do the wrong."

It reminds me of the story of a monk who fell into sin and three of his brother monks wept. (I don't recall where I read it.)

The first wept because he himself was in the same sin and feared discovery or judgement.

The second wept because the sin was grievous to God.

The third wept because the sin was grievous to God and because of the damage it did to the sinner.

When I examine my own life I see so much of the bad fruit that comes from resentment against those for whom I ought to weep that I fear lest I do not even make a beginning of repentance. I have confessed over and over the symptoms of my malady but not yet gotten to the rotten core of the matter.
God help me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Trader Vic's Spell Cheque Report

Bye far the mass majority of ideas impacting on issues that peak peoples interest are related too stuff that people care a bout. My colleges and I halve studied it and rote a big report. The results are very concerning too us. Weir hoping Yule cheque are web sight fore moor analysis on this reel important tropic. Its to sad when no buddy takes time too reed any moor.

Accept fore those who don't except are theory, most people are apart of are teem. The wrest of them form a small click that is a part from the mass majority of us allot of the times. They do there own thing but cant except that every won ells has there own weigh to. Its to bad we cant just work together but their not excepting of others idea's. Oh well, they're you go.

Buy the weigh, are report tocks allot a bout how spell cheque wont right yore reports fore yew. Wee wreck amend yew reed it.

How to ruin everything...

In "The Princess and the Goblin", George MacDonald says this of Curdie's relationship with his mother:
"Not that she and Curdie ever thought of how much they worked for each other: That would have spoiled everything."
puts things into perspective doesn't it?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My title

I quite like this. I've often thought of "undamaged" and "bucket" as the perfect words to describe me....
Thanks to V&E, Little Rose and Simply Vic

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Noble Excellency Victor the Undamaged of Ofsted in the Bucket
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Speed Listening!!!

Have people ever accused you of not being a good listener?
Do they say you tend to cut them off before they finish speaking or seem to stop listening shortly after they begin?
Do you tend to feel slightly bad about this but don't know what to do about it?

Well, here is the solution to your problem. The solution is that you don't have a problem, they do!
After all, they are the ones complaining, aren't they?

The key here is to move beyond the calcified perceptions and perspectives of this pack of whiners.
You can help them to rise above all this pettiness when you realize that these poor misguided wretches need your help.

You can help them by explaining to them that what they perceive as a lack of interest or poor listening skills on your part is actually just the opposite. You were so interested in what they were saying that you were listening faster than they were speaking!

You heard what they had to say even before they finished saying it!!!!
Yes folks this is it. The Holy Grail of interpersonal communications has arrived!

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Jacob's Ladder

I love connections but I am often too dense to see them. My parish Priest drew the connection between what Christ says here and Jacob's Ladder in the Old Testament:

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

In effect Jesus is telling Nathaniel that He is more than king of Israel but the means by which Israel came to be. St. John Chrysostom says that Christ is correcting Nathaniel's insufficient picture of who He is.

How often He needs to do this with me. I am willing to give Him a crown and "make Him a king" but it is all in my own fantasy where I am the ultimate authority. I believe C.S. Lewis once said something like: "I used to live in a very small world all my own, occasionally wondering whether there was room in my world for God. I now find myself in a much larger world wondering whether God can believe in me."
God help me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

From morning prayers....

"Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In what I do and say guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, do not let me forget that all things are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without making others bitter or embarrassing them."

I am especially struck by the last bit as I consider my life:
"Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without making others bitter or embarrassing them."
Lord teach me and make me open to Your teaching today.

Monday, March 12, 2007

V&E - New blog - old photos

My friends V and E have a blog. It is over here. They were crowned last spring here in Ottawa. Before the wedding the boys took V out for a "special crowning" at the Barley Mow in Ottawa. I've published these photos before but, as I warned him many moons ago, this gift will keep on giving.

My friends Andrew and Marta will be crowned this spring.....what will happen to Andrew?

Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm better at drama

I have a miserable cold. It is miserable and I am miserable at dealing with it. Did I mention it was all-round miserable?
When something bad happens to me I'm able to find a way to make the best of it or offer it to God if it's a "big thing" like losing a job or breaking up etc. I'm not so good at dealing with things like this miserable cold (did I mention how miserable it was making me?) The everyday, mundane events are more of a stretch for me than the 'blockbuster' dramatic stuff.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Today's reading .... Not my will

One of the many good things about Lent is that the fast is not of my choosing. To be sure I choose to what extent I keep it and in conjunction with my spiritual Father I try to apply the season to my personal life. But there is this underlying sense that it is not My fast but Our fast, the Fast given us by Christ through the Church. That is a good thing.

Walk Tall

Bigotry and hatred are enemies to us all
But Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness can help a man walk tall

John Mellencamp - Walk Tall

I just love that song

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Power over sin

Knowledge is not power
repentance is power

I can know all the triggers inside me that predispose me to sin
yet the knowledge only makes me a miserable bystander
as I watch the passions storm through me, sevenfold worse than before

God help me to repent
forgive me

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cruciform Logic

In George MacDonald's wonderful story "The Princess and Curdie", the young man Curdie is trying to determine whether he had a real or a dream encounter with a great Princess. He doubts the reality of the encounter because he saw her change from one form to another.

His wise mother has this to say in reply to his doubts:
"'Of course,' answered his mother, 'it is not for me to say whether you were dreaming or not if you were doubtful of it yourself; but it doesn't make me think I am dreaming when in the summer I hold in my hand the bunch of sweet peas that make my heart glad with their colour and scent, and remember the dry, withered-looking little thing I dibbled into the hole in the same spot in the spring. I only think how wonderful and lovely it all is. It is just as full of reason as it is of wonder.'"

I don't think it an unfair stretch to say that this is the logic of the Cross. The Apostles wondered how the Crucified One could be the Risen One. Today we wonder how dying to ourselves can bring us to True Life.

It disconcerts us when the inner logic of things is laid bare in such moments of transformation or "double vision". I will never forget travelling with a group of fellow parishioners on pilgrimage. En route we stopped to pick up a Hermit. It was mid November and it had begun to snow heavily with high winds by the time we arrived at his hermitage. He is a small frail, old man and my first thought was that the skirling wind might carry him off like a leaf. Yet even as I looked at him I felt things shift and saw him to be immovably centred, anchored in the Cross. I will try to remember him this Lent for he, like the Risen One he serves is "just as full of reason as he is of wonder."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Nature's Semandron

Withered fingertips pressed against sky

Ache for the quickening thrum of spring

A gesture unmet

A koan only answered in time

Yet shall this tree clap

Thursday, March 01, 2007


More recycling...
I've not posted this before but I wrote it years ago...

Moments, leaved together fade to end autumn
September's slash of cold rain
Baked in cool dry furnace of
October brilliance.

sharpened to sweet by Chill.
fired to red, orange, Yellow.

Time's kiln releases
sweet ferment of
Life into memory.

Leavening leave-taking
drenches mind's palate
with warmth of slow lightning.

Arc refracts
through lens
of winter's seeming flood.

Earth-bread and Sun-wine
sweet, aching ferment of
life rushing torrentially
into the one cup.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Saw this movie last night and found it very disturbing. It had little actual death in it but yet was full of death. Very well crafted and well told set of stories but truly horrific in many ways...

St. John Chrysostom says.....

"For a man cannot possibly live a pure life without believing in the Resurrection..."
Homily 45 on St. John's Gospel chapter 6 vv. 28-30

How deeply am I wedded to death, with so little thought for the Resurrection?
Colourless wretch that I am, this pale shadow of assent might pass for fervour,
But for He Who is the Resurrection.

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

His taste of death....

O Sweetest of fruits from the bitterest of trees!
Adam, reaching for the sweetness of forbidden knowledge
Grasped only the bitterness of death
Yet You, O my Saviour, in grasping the bitterness of death
have brought forth the fountain of immortality!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Living toward the Chalice

Presanctified yesterday. What an amazing service! My whole day yesterday seemed fraught with danger and hope toward it. Would I find myself lashing out sinfully at some imagined slight or would I navigate through this narrow passage toward the light of communion? By God's grace I made it to the Chalice. Yet as I reflect I suspect it is also because of my ignorance that I received communion. How much bitter pettiness and hidden sin did I bring to the Cup? Grant me to see my own transgressions Oh Lord....

O Lord and Master of my life
take from me the spirit of sloth
despair,lust of power
and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
and love to Your servant.

Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother or my sister

From the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Canon of St. Andrew

This was my first Lenten service at my home parish as I was away visiting my kids last weekend. Very beautiful.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lurching into Lent

Headlong, pell mell, here we go!
Don't know if I can be ready for this but I hope I can at least profit from it, unready though I be. I'm planning to try and post something "Lenten" every day till Pascha.
Might be long, might be short, might just be "Lord have mercy!" Something every day, though, I hope.
For today
Lord have mercy
You know Oh Lord, what a magpie I am
You know how quickly I will trade away
the penetrating warmth of your quiet presence
for the bright shiny plastic bauble
skittering along in the world's wind outside the nest of prayer
Help me, Oh my Lord

Monday, February 12, 2007

On growing old

This is a recycled post. I liked it when I wrote it almost a year ago and I still do. I think it captures something of the ambiguity of our relationship to our physicality.
Something I like to think about as lent approaches.

The Body Remembers
River of youth's strength remembered cannot quench
Fiery accretion of the body's many small betrayals.

Yet the body carries as much of beauty as decay
Lines of laughter, strength of bearing, clarity of gaze
Born of resistance to meanness & joy in life's grandeur
Now the spirit, unbowed, shines ever more brightly,
In the time-polished mirror of its most ancient friend.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

James, Baptism and obedience

As Lent approaches I have been reading the Epistle of James. It is making me very uncomfortable. I am seeing how little I trust God and how often I judge others. And how deeply these things are connected. God help me.
Below is my grammatical and textual exercise in identifying the place of Baptism in James' Epistle. It is nearly worthless but I leave it in as it was what got me started reading the Epistle again.

Some words from James:

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law of liberty, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The mirror and the perfect law of liberty are presented in parallel and so refer to the same thing. How odd. looking in a mirror matched with looking intently into the perfect law of liberty.
What then is this law of liberty and how does the idea of a mirror help us to understand it? The original Greek doe not say "sees himself" in the mirror but rather "sees the face of his birth" in the mirror. I don't know anything about patterns of speech in NT Greek so it might just be the normal way of saying "sees himself"....But it's construction sounds so awkwardly different that I think it means exactly what it says. What is the face of a man's birth? I doubt James is talking about baby photos here. Baptism perhaps? This would make the image in the mirror coincide with "the perfect law of liberty". Our baptism gives us a "new face" as Paul says (As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ Galatians 3:27). This connects with the previous text where James refers to the "implanted Logos Who is able to save you" (1:21).
I don't want to get lost in the technicalities of Greek grammar but rather to understand what the Apostle is trying to teach us about the relationship between baptism and obedience. It is the same relationship that he has drawn for us between faith and works. Faith without works is dead. So too, Baptism without doing the works it shows us is dead. Christians who would like to rest on the laurels of baptism and those who would like to rest on their one-time "conversion" are both given a rough ride by James. James also rejects the notion that we will be saved by works apart from Christ as he refers us to the Person of Christ, "the implanted Logos who is able to save".
Our response to Christ in us is our working out of our own salvation with fear and trembling.
"For we are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ."(Ephesians 2:10)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Deal of a lifetime!

Wow! This makes me want to run out and buy a car just so I can take advantage of this deal. How do they manage to offer such deals and stay in business? This is 100% real by the way. I took this photo myself and the filling station in question is about 5 blocks from my house.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Is time merely the dreary sidereal addition of moments whose final sum is death?
What is time?
From the groaning of stars to the crying out of stones
From the fleeing of Jordan to the winking of the moon
From each flower's opening to sun's eye closing on night
Time is the Yes of all creation
whose final sum is Life

Monday, January 15, 2007

How far to Jericho?

1 cubit to Jericho
This way so little traveled,
All aclutter with passions yet unformed by Mercy's tender fire.
Quagmire of sloth
Unbridged, undrained - breeding ground of temptations and distractions.
Ambushed by demons - I lie bleeding and broken.
Oh! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
My own flesh and blood have passed me by,
Princes and sons of men in whom there is no salvation.
Who then shall be my help?
Here comes one I have long despised - come to finish me?
His stride is firm with resolve, Yet not with arrow's cruel purpose
Wielding the Sun He heals my eyes
Wielding the Moon he calms the passions
With Holy Mercy He sears my wounds
His Broken Flesh touches me and He disappears into my Heart.
I follow and find myself in Jericho.
walls of selfishness - fallen

Friday, January 12, 2007

Orthodox Serbia

This stuff is just too beautiful. For the impatient among you, start at about 1 min 30 seconds in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My house is empty

Kids are gone back to Thunder Bay now. Monday was a long march of airports and waiting and tiredness all round. Left my place at 5am and got back home at 1030 pm. Andrew arrived back home with Marta last night so it was a pleasant, busy evening. Tonight I'm home alone and fully conscious for the first time since they left.
I think there is something I need to do with the loneliness I experience in their absence. It must be offered up but I don't quite know how.

My Lord I do not know how you reached out
and placed Your blessed hands upon the cross
Yet You did so and instructed me to follow.

Show me how
to offer up this suffering
that it be not an occasion for sin
but filled with Your purpose

Let my wounds, however small
be conformed to Yours

Friday, January 05, 2007

dysfunctional humour

What's a dysfunctional family's favorite beverage?
Triangulatte of course....

What's the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
A psychologist is someone in a black room with the lights out and the shade drawn looking for a black cat.
A psychiatrist is someone in a black room with the lights out and the shade drawn looking for a black cat that isn't there.

Two psychologists meet each other on the street and one says to the other....
You're fine, how am I?

Here's a question to ask a roomful of psychologists:
Why do some people stir coffee clockwise and others stir it counterclockwise?
Wait till a number of theories have been offered, right brain, left brain, left right handed, Australia etc...
The answer? To dissolve the sugar.