Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Twin Peaks

Don't you wonder why schools are not closed today? In my misspent youth Roman parishes frequently closed to celebrate saints feast days. Today is the joint birthday of the patron saint of storytellers and patron of salesmen, Mark Twain and Winston Churchill. Schools should be closed in their honor. These two men are near the top of my fictional who would you invite to dinner wish list.

The two men met several times. The first time in London, when Winston was trading his hero status for his reporting of the Boer war into political office. The Churchill Centre describes their meeting:

Churchill and Twain

Winston Churchill and Mark Twain met in 1900, just when Churchill was just coming into prominence as a young statesman. The meeting took place at a dinner in London.

During the dinner, they decided to step outside for a smoke. An observer, Sir William Harcourt, speculated that since both men tended to dominate conversations, the one who got the floor first would keep it. He told others at his table that since Twain was older and more experienced, Churchill's voice would get the first rest it had had in a long time.

When the two return, Harcourt asked the young Churchill if he had enjoyed talking to Twain. Churchill replied with an enthusiastic "Yes." Harcourt then asked Twain if he had a good chat with Churchill. Twain paused, then said, "I had a good smoke."


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Land of Opportunity

America is an incredibly great country. Almost all things are possible even in these troubling times. Opportunities abound to make a dollar, for those willing to work for it.

Take for instance Jesse Dimmick, late of Topeka Kansas. Jesse is a bad guy, and has what law enforcement personnel refer to as a long rap sheet. He's a known entity. Maybe that's profiling, but one thing I learned in New Orleans several years back is you don't ever want to be on a first name basis with the guy holding the Taser.

Jesse kidnapped the Rowley's, a Topeka family in 2009. The family escaped when Jesse fell asleep, they called the police and Jesse was captured and eventually convicted. Currently, he's doing a job for the state, but still he has needs and wants, the holidays are around the corner, so acting as his own jailhouse lawyer he is suing the Rowley's for breach of contract.

According to Dimmick, the Rowley's agreed to hide Jesse from the authorities for an unspecified length of time, in return for payment of an unspecified amount of money. He's asking for $225,000 for breach of the oral contract. ( if you have forgotten your Business Law, the elements of legal contract may be found here) Plaintiff Dimmmick alleges the Rowley's failure to live up to the agreement caused him to be accidently shot in the back by Topeka authorities while being arrested.

Dimmick is also suing the city of Topeka for accidently shooting him. Naturally, this being America, the Rowley's are doubly screwed since they have to hire people to defend against the suit, and counter sue an indigent man to pay their attorney.

Merry Christmas


Monday, November 28, 2011

Do I want to be a pincushion?

I'm trying to keep an open mind.

My shoulder hurts. Last year it was the other side so I know how this goes. If I go to the shoulder Dr. he'll say to me, you're old, you have bursitis, then he'll give me shot which will help for a couple of days, and gradually a year later I'll get better. Been there done that.

Every day I pass an acupuncturist. I've never visited but from my viewpoint I have little to lose, and may unblock my Qi. Any advice?



It's fun having an in house fashionista, I get to quiz her on fashion history. Today's question, "When was the first fashion magazine published?" Answer towards the end.

We think of made to measure clothing as the ultimate luxury but before the fashion industry was invented, made to measure was all there was, it was old hat and not terribly exciting even for the cream of society. What fun in wearing something unique to you.

Fun is wearing what can be imitated. How does a woman know if her gown is stylish if she can't see it on someone else? How do you establish that you set on a trend early if no one else can copy you. Likewise what do you do when you see clones of yourself wherever you turn? The most fashionable women in Paris 1670 had an answer.

In 1670 Duchesse de Berry invited her most stylish friends, the best seamstresses and tailors and most celebrated hairdressers to her home, there she presented a plan. That evening those present invented Couture. The women agreed to put away their one off gowns in favor of the tailors creating fashion for all. The fashion plates of the day ordered the new designers gowns be brought to them as soon as they were ready. Once the ladies of Versailles and the designers began working together to make fashion public the key ideas we take for granted quickly fell into place. The "look" the way an entire ensemble worked together, the fashion season, questions of what's in, what's out began to emerge. Accessories became important. For the first time women spent more than men on clothing. Within several years concepts that have lasted 350 years were put into place.

Within a very few years the couture houses began going retail and down market. To spread the new gospel of fashion for the masses, the fashion press was invented. In 1672 Le Mercure galant (Gallant Mercury) was the first newspaper to report on fashion.

I'm stuck in a most wonderful book, The Essence of Style by Joan DeJean. I'd read it before, lent it out and like a bad cold it returns, placed back on the shelf and taken down anew. I love this book for explaining simply why and how items we perceive as luxuries came into being. Champagne, diamonds, red soled shoes, couture, comfortable furniture are all French inventions. Amazingly all born around the same time, the late 1600's.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We've come to this

While away it was reinforced for me how much our individual world view is tied up with where we live. The US isn't one place, just as Europe isn't. It's thousands of places, each uniquely different because of the people who choose to live there. Take Colorado for instance. I once thought it was only Boulder you should avoid if you hadn't drunk the Kool-Aid. Now I'm not so certain.

My daughter sent this local television news story:

"Animal obits outweigh human obits in Crested Butte"

"It is unclear how many pet obits are published each year in the Crested Butte Newspaper, but Associate Editor Alissa Johnson says they outweigh human obits.

"We call them 'doggy obits' around the paper," Johnson said. "They can be anything from dogs to cats. We've had horses in the paper this week".

Jerry Deverell put an ad in the paper for his horse Dink when he passed away.

"We had a really great relationship," Deverell said. "I picked out a picture and said, 'I've gotta put this in the paper.'"

The ads are unique. They're filled with poems, goodbye notes and sometimes nothing.

"I think the most emotional one for me was where they were unable to write anything, so all we got was the picture and the dates," Johnson said.

Crested Butte is a community where some folks value animal life over human life."

This is a trend that hasn't caught on here.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Public Service Announcement

Move Over.

I'm not going into detail about how I come to be such an authority on this but I learned something while away. I learned about the Move Over Law, and that 70% of the drivers in the US have never heard of it.

Simply, Move Over is legislated good manners. The many variations of the law state that IF an emergency vehicle is stopped at the side of the road THEN a driver MUST either change lanes to be away from the vehicle or slow to 20 MPH below the posted speed limit. The penalty for failure to comply is steep. Thankfully, I have no personal experience with such matters.

If you are travelling the highways and biways this long weekend, be careful, have fun, move over.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble Gobble

In the US, today is Thanksgiving Day, a day set aside to give thanks the native Americans were willing to share and weren't better armed. So much of the iconography of America's Thanksgiving is wrapped in the flag of the Puritan's landing that we tend to forget what the Puritans brought to our shores. Things like religious intolerance, racial bigotry, ugly clothes and witches.

It's unfortunate the Spanish, who arrived and thrived in the America's long before the British, didn't have better PR or travel to the Northeast. Puritans may shutter at the the thought of spice, but it certainly makes the food taste better. Paella trumps roast turkey most any day.

From: Chicago Now

Whatever your plans, whatever your menu enjoy the day, if you are on the road, please take care. I'm thankful for each and every one of you.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Gentleman's Slipper

Advised some time back that Fiona Dreesmann, the founder of My Slippers, a London based purveyor of luxury, bespoke slippers for women and men was publishing, The Gentleman's Slipper, I immediately got in touch.

Fiona was a treat to deal with, as we passed many emails, most of them confirming/correcting errors on my part. Such persistent pursuit of quality has become almost an anachronism, but fortunately no one told Fiona. Released by the printers Monday week, my copy awaited me when we arrived home.

After becoming reacquainted with our zoo, emptying car and suitcases, I lit a fire, donned my ceremonial beach slippers and tore into Fiona's tome.

First, it's beautiful eye candy. Photos from the greatest works of the world's greatest makers of bespoke slippers. Many photos of contemporary slipper collectors and their collections, along with a few sartorial heroes of an earlier era, along with details of the manufacturing processes, and personal stories of noted slipper aficionados.

I adore clever people, especially those with the time and talent to convert their whimsy into totems of personal style. The many examples of expert needlepoint slippers made by and for loved ones adorn these pages. Makes me want to learn needlepoint just to do something beautiful for the ages while I pass through my dotage.

Help for Heroes is a UK charity helping servicemen wounded in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

The Gentleman's Slipper is a treat, just in time for holiday gifting, and helps a worthy cause as well. Copies may be ordered here. Tell Fiona I said hello.

(all photos from The Gentleman's Slipper)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Katy Day 2011

Dateline: Far from home, at according to Calvin Trillin " the single best restaurant in the world"

You may be anticipating Thanksgiving, but in our house we celebrate is Katy Day. Today is my first born's birthday, although she was born on Thanksgiving Day, she is no turkey.

I'm incredibly proud of her, and so very happy to be able to bask in her radiance, however far apart we may be, yet am grateful to have spent the weekend with she and her husband. It was our best weekend in a long time.

We love you dahlink, celebrate well, I wish we were there to celebrate with you.

In catching up news it was too warm and too early to ski, so we are in health and on our way home.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Annie Jr.

The 6th,7th and 8th grade thespians of French Middle School, Topeka, Kansas, presented Annie Jr., an abridged version of the Broadway musical Annie last week. Mrs. T and I had the privilege of attending the final presentation.

Without further ado I present our granddaughter Annie, aka Liz, aka 6th grader Paige in her rendition of Tomorrow.

I am so proud of her, the kids worked like troupers, it was a splendid performance.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Forget the NBA lockout for a moment

From last Sunday's NYT Magazine

In a field with an endless river of new talent emerging and an average career of about 4 years, the NBA players recalcitrance is madness. A prolonged strike will likely cost all marginal 4+ year guys and this years draft their livelihoods. Its the owners ball, and their game, when play resumes, players will be earning less than last year.

( I wrote this before hitting the road. If circumstances have changed while away, my bad)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Annie - opening night

On the road for the next few days, gotta catch the Annie finale tonight, then Friday find a hospital with liberal visiting hours near Denver so I can visit my bride, the Olympic ski hopeful.

I may be slow following up, but I surely will... eventually.


Beaujolais Day III

One of the great marketing coups in the world was continued this morning when at 12:01 Paris time as the 2011 vintage Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine from the new harvest, was released to an undeserving public.

In the days of the Concorde trendy New York restaurants would have it available for luncheon. Now it may take until dinner, and certainly by Saturday it will be in your local grocery store.

If you have trendy or sophisticated friends you may be invited to a Beaujolais Nouveau party this weekend. I beg you to reconsider going, or at least to take proper precautions. I think the British say it best. This is plonk. Before you take that first sip remember that these grapes were on the vine in September. Many of the less fastidious amongst us will quietly admit to having grape juice in the fridge older than this wine. Our more experienced readers will recall that Boone's Farm aged longer and tasted better, since it was aged in transit, typically by truck from far away.

Happy International Philosophy Day!!!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stars and stripes

One of the earliest classes in military basic training is "Rumors and Propaganda". Based on the premise that whoever knows what is going on isn't telling you or anyone you know, so keep your nose to the grindstone and do your job. Still rumors are rife due to the uncertainty which surrounds military life, and the not so so hidden agenda of the armed forces to make conditions appear to outsiders in any way the military wants to.

Lost in all the excitement of the past week was our celebration of the 150th anniversary of Stars and Stripes, the US military daily newspaper. Born on November 9, 1861 by members of several Illinois regiments then bivouacked in Bloomfield, Missouri who finding an empty newspaper office (that most likely would have been a secessionist paper on hiatus while Yankee soldiers were nearby) took matters into their own hands by creating a newspaper about their activities. Stars and Stripes has published in every war since.

Today, Stars and Stripes is a daily publication, published by but editorially separate from the Department of Defense, targeted to military service members, their families, DOD employees and its contractors.

Although published by the DOD, unlike command publications which toe the party line, Stars and Stripes uniquely has its editorial independence and guaranteed Freedom of the Press status established by law. An ombudsman representing readers regularly reports to Congress. Printed in several editions around the globe, and on line it's a pretty good read.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Song of Lunch

I do not read enough poetry. I blame misspent youth, unfocused education, uncritical reading skill. I do love words however, and wordplay. Storytellers hold me in thrall. Who needs television when a story is told in pictures?

Last Sunday, PBS aired the Christopher Reid poem, The Song of Lunch starring Alan Richman and Emma Thompson. If you missed it, kick yourself, then make amends. Find when it will replay. Stay up late, tape it if you must or watch it on line here, but please do not miss it.

Says PBS:

"He," the failed poet and unnamed copy editor at a publishing house, eagerly makes his way through London to meet up with his old flame 15 years after the end of their affair. He arrives to find their kitschy old haunt Zanzotti's now upscale and trendy, having changed with the times. But he is steadfastly unchanged, and he is bitter, adding Zanzotti's to a long list of perceived betrayals and abandonments.

In contrast, the unnamed "she" sweeps into the restaurant, matching its pace and glowing with luxury and tranquility. Married to a successful and respected author, she has not, like him, been ravaged by time; neither is she vulnerable to the temptation of wine, while he is by now well on his way to drunk. Was he hoping their lunch would be prelude to a sexual liaison? Was she hoping for reconciliation or forgiveness? He opens a second bottle, the recriminations fly, and lunch is served.

The story is a "What if", a situation not unknown to the wistful, the lonely, the unhappy or viewers of the "I Hate Men Channel". The narrative is mostly HIS inner dialog. Snape and Emma have a magical chemistry, the story is mesmerizing, the poetry lyrical.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Chuck

"Trust not," warned Carlyle, "the heart of that man for whom old clothes are not venerable,"

For those interested in clothing, today's birthday boy, Prince Charles, the original clothing recycler, is heaven sent. Consider his wardrobe. Poster boy for keeping your size in check, much of his wardrobe is older than his children. It's alleged that most of his tweeds belong to his grandfather, King George VI.

Below are a few photos of his favorites through the ages.

The photos above from Maxminimus and the Anderson Sheppard book, taken certainly within the past several years. A handsome jacket. Ever seen it before?

HRH is not above getting full use from his John Lobb Oxfords. Going on 40 years now, and just about broken in.

Something sporty for Royal Ascot? Charles isn't amongst the wear it once crowd.

Tweed coats?

Hatter James Lock is next door to John Lobb. Not that he gets there often.

Early on he latched on to what was then the unfashionable double breasted suit, and made it his own. His style, was no style yet over time it became HIS style. It works beautifully.

He is rightfully one of the best dressed men on the planet, due primarily to unerring consistent taste nurtured over a long time.

Happy Birthday Sir.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Evelyn Lauder

Thank you for your tireless efforts fighting breast cancer. May your legacy will last forever.


A canary in the mine shaft? an editorial

Forgive me, I've given most of the Occupiers a pass, figuring it will soon be cold in North America and living rough won't have the appeal it did in early October so everyone will go home. Most big city mayors have the same expectation, at least until the golden rule kicks in.

But then I saw this YouTube video taken at UC Berkeley last Wednesday.

The students were protesting higher fees on campus, the same thing that set off riots in the UK this summer. You'll notice there weren't a lot of students and the campus riot police weren't trying very hard, whupping coeds first, but I can't help but wonder if this isn't a harbinger of things to come on campuses for spring 2012.

"Stop beating Students" has a familiar ring to those who grew up in the 60's.

Harry Beale we miss you.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

I hate that I love them so

Growing up I never owned a pair of Weejuns. They were too expensive, I was a Thom McCann acolyte. Didn't stop me from wanting them though.

My first job was as a shoe dog in a now long lost haberdashery. Weejuns went from $8 to $10 then $12 in the 2 years I worked there. I purchased my first pair, in oxblood with my first pay check and company discount, and have had a pair ever since.

ADG shouted from the roof tops when he found the blue 75th anniversary edition Weejuns became available, so I bit.

They came out of the box as much black as blue, with a 10 foot shine found only on a cheap paint job on an old jalopy. The finish needed finishing. ADG's method was a tad harsh for my tastes, so I used the modified - rubbing alcohol, followed by leather softener then blue polish- format. I'm well satisfied with the now Scottish blue results, and the blue's natural affinity for pissing people off.

I remember that Weejuns were once available in widths, if so, no longer. Even adjusting my sizing to accommodate a fatter foot, these are a struggle to install, but they feel really good once on. Quality isn't what it was either, but I hate that I love them so.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Standing watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns
during Hurricane Irene

I've always believed Veterans Day to be a World War I memorial. In my youth the day was known as Armistice Day in recognition of the truce between the good guys and bad signed on this date in 1918 stopping the carnage of World War I. As we learned earlier, World War I did not officially end until October 3, 2010.

Due to the post WW2 efforts of Emporia, Kansas merchant Stephan Riod, with the support of his local congressman, and a sitting President/war hero also from Kansas, by act of Congress the holiday's name was changed in 1954 to Veterans Day, in recognition of the service of all American veterans.

We owe our vets our gratitude.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Wall

Perhaps the most moving experience I've ever had was visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall, which celebrates its 29th anniversary today.

I was searching for one name amongst the 58,000 plus inscribed, the father of the girl I adored while in 8th grade, an Air Force Colonel killed in the air over Pleiku. One of the earlier ones, he was listed on Panel 6E.

I'd visited military cemeteries and battlefields, everything from large National Cemeteries to tiny long forgotten Civil War battlegrounds, in obscure out of the way places, before visiting the Memorial, but having arrived single mindedly it took a while for the power of the wall to set in. Planning to stay just long enough, only knowing three names, I was there several hours and could have spent all day there. If you do not have an opportunity to visit the Memorial, a traveling exhibit has been criss-crossing the country for the past 20 years. A searchable database of the names may be found here.

The Vietnam war feels a million years ago, but I wish everyone who has the power to send young people to war spends a day at the Wall before committing them.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ski Bunny

Ever have a conversation with your better half begin,"Do you remember how well I skied the week before our wedding? Well, I think I should try it again."

"What's 12 years?", I said.

We are planning a road trip. There is a first rate production of Annie scheduled in Topeka, Kansas next week, and I'd like to see it, especially since Annie is my darling granddaughter.

While organizing our adventure, I was presented a convoluted plan that included racing home after the play so that Mrs. T's second born, who lives in Wisconsin, and is moving to Denver, could drive to Mayberry, pick his mother up and whisk her away to Denver to help him get settled.

I suggested that since Topeka was almost half way, why don't we simply continue our drive together to Denver. Without the detour #2 kid saves several hundred miles of driving, and we needn't hurry. I also reminded Mrs. T that my first born, who also lives in Denver, is having a birthday while we are there. That's when the normal voice of reason in our family mentioned skiing.

I envision Thanksgiving dinner in a hospital cafeteria.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

roll on christmas

I know it's too early, but when the times comes you'll be too caught up in the season to ever catch up. That's why I'm here.

I've mentioned before one of my favorite web sites is Ship of Fools, the self described magazine of Christian unrest. I find it irreverent, funny, and politically incorrect.

To get their readers into the spirit of the upcoming holidays, Ship of Fools has created a Facebook game that all may play, Roll on Christmas. You select which of your Facebook friends gets what role in the Christmas pageant, and their visage will appear as a character, in a 2 minute video. In the end the message is serious and all is well.

Begins November 18, and might even get me to Facebook, but I wouldn't count on it.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Dreaming during harvest

Living in the woods does not negate the necessity to deal responsibly with fallen leaves. Managing our harvest is my favorite fall chore. Weather permitting, some part of every other day I spend with my trusty steed, the iron horse, as we mulch the leaves into powder. It beats hell out of raking.

The trick is not to take the job too seriously. Whenever I get too full of myself and my progress, I look up. There are plenty of leaves still to fall. Most of the oaks don't lose their leaves till spring, and this season has seen a bumper crop of acorns which provide plenty of excitement as I lose traction approaching the lake. I scare a day off my life's allotment each time I climb on the mower.

Since driving a tractor around a yard is fairly mindless I have plenty of time for daydreaming. Reading about Simon Dale's hobbit house, I've been fantasizing about building a cottage near the lake. There is something fundamentally right about cozy spaces, be they homes, offices, cabins, writing nooks.

Simon, without prior experience, built his hobbit house in Wales with scrap lumber and 3 months hard labor for 3000GBP. It looks snug as bug.

Timber and stones, moss we've got. No experience, certainly. Time, plenty. Still somehow, I couldn't envision a harder sell.

Enjoy your day, scheduled afternoon rains are certain to wipe out my weekend efforts.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bonfire Night

First, Happy Birthday to MOTR of Abnormally Normal.

Bonfire Night
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By god's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

The celebration of bonfire night, or Guy Falkes Night is practically unknown of the in the US, and few bonfires will be set tonight.

For those unfamiliar with the story, on November 5, 1605 Guy Falkes was amongst a group of catholic conspirators disappointed that England's King James I was not more lenient towards members of his faith. The conspirators planned to assassinate the king, and install his daughter Elizabeth as monarch, by igniting 36 barrels of gunpowder they secreted in the cellars of the House of Lords.

Supposedly, an anonymous letter was sent warning one of the Lords of the plot. His Lordship notified authorities who found Fawkes guarding the stash of explosives. Fawkes was questioned somewhat forcefully and in little time admitted his part in the plot and expressed his regret that the plan (the gunpowder plot) had failed.

The king admired Fawkes resolution but wanted the names of the co-conspirators, and on November 6, 1605 ordered Fawkes's torture, light at first, then stronger if he remained defiant. By November 9 he broke, giving the names of his associates and the full plan.

Fawke's trial began January 27, 1606, execution set for January 31. Fawkes and his accomplices were ordered hanged until near death, drawn, genitals removed and burned before their eyes, bowels and heart removed, decapitated and dismembered. Fawkes climbed the scaffold, asked for forgiveness and jumped, breaking his neck in the fall. Although dead, his sentence was carried out.

The bonfire tradition began the night the plot was discovered, November 5, 1605. Thankful Londoners lit bonfires to rejoice in the news their King had been spared. The anniversary was celebrated annually. In time effigies of Guy were made and added to the fires. Effigies of the Pope and unpopular politicians are tossed in as well.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Odds and Ends

1. Halloween Photos

The photo above first appeared on the New York Social Diary last Tuesday. Should you ever encounter this mask in real life, for sale get in touch quickly. I want it!

Yesterday was the first day it truly felt like fall in Mayberry. It was cold, damp, blustery. One of those days the dogs, and me, needed to be pushed to go outside. I stayed curled up with Ralph's big book dreaming of tweed and wool blankets,all the while dealing with the wet dogs on my lap. Overall a good day, especially for catching up.


One thing leads to another around here and this week was no exception.

We have a small case clock, in the family room. I love listening to its rhythmic patter, especially while reading a book. Sadly, I'm the only one who cares to hear it chime, so the quarter chime and hour gongs remain muted.

In our previous house the clock lived on a landing in the stairway to the upper floors. Allegedly, clocks were once put there so that the face would be visible to anyone in the hallway. Great in theory, poor in practice especially if you have a precocious grandson. You'll never see a 3 year old move so quickly as when a clock he was just climbing is now rolling down the stairway towards him. All ended well, the only damage was to the clock face and little boy's fear of whatever was coming next.

We have never done anything about the clock face, so I have taken it upon myself to build a replacement, the clockmaker has nothing to offer, so for several nights I've been reviewing photos of grandfather and grandmother clocks searching for just the right mix of whimsy and gravitas. If you have a favorite send along a photo.

Photos 2 and 3 from Ralph Lauren


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Female skirted boxers

Christine Brennan of USA Today chimed in on skirt wearing women boxers yesterday.


The Nativity Factor

Would 5000 GB Pounds help to get you through the holidays? Do you have a sense of the absurd, or are you at least somewhat creative? That part is important.

Enter the Nativity Factor competition. Submit a video retelling the Nativity Story as creatively as possible. Michele Williams, late of Destiny's Child will be one of the judges. Competition will be tough.

Good Luck


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ninth Month

Samhain, or in Gaelic Scots: Samhuinn, the end of summer, the Celtic new year, is celebrated today.

Samhain marked the time for shepherds to move their flocks from their summer pasture closer to the protection of home and stable. Fodder for the animals had been stored, the harvests preserved and meat salted, firewood and peat stacked for the long winter months. Field work stopped and all hands were busy indoors. It was this time of forced family togetherness which helped to foster the Celtic storytelling traditions.

In early times, local families would extinguish their hearth fires early on Samhain, a ritual ending of the year. In the evening the local healer would build the Samhain fire, a bonfire upon which gifts symbolizing wishes, prayers, sacrifices were tossed. Each family would return home with a torch lit from the fire to rekindle their hearth with the blessings of the new season.

Samhain was repurposed by the Christian church as All Saints Day, a day to honor the saints newly created in the last year.