Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter Hath Come Again

This has been an odd winter, one that cannot decide if wants to go down as a bitterly cold year, or an abnormally warm one. The snow came early, and Thanksgiving was memorable for near-record cold, and for surprisingly heavy snow fall. This sort of weather continued on and off through the first week or so of January, when there was a sudden, furious shifting of weather patterns, leading to weeks and weeks of too warm, spring-like conditions. Most people rather enjoyed it, but I am a winter-lover myself, and found myself going rather stir-crazy for want of some proper weather. I had just about despaired of it, when conditions shifted furiously back again. For the last couple weeks, we've had a return of the cold, and a series of big storms, each dropping a foot or two of light, powdery, beautiful snow on us, then clearing for a day or two so that we are able to get ourselves properly dug out before the next one came. I have been enjoying the wild weather tremendously. Here I am, on my way to work:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Subtle Shades of Meaning...

You gotta love it when kids try to use phrases that they have heard adults use. Take little Annie, my nine year old sister, who has her own take on a wellworn disclaimer:

"Not to be the terror of bad news..."

Terror. Bearer. Hardly different.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Irresistably Sweet Blog Award

My sister, Katrina, over at has bestowed the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award to me. I have never had a blog award before. I am flattered. Thanks Kat! According to instructions, I am now supposed to do the following:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave this award
2. Share 4 guilty pleasures
3. Pass this award on to 6 other sweet blogs

Guilty Pleasures:

1. Like Katrina, I am hopelessly addicted to collecting books and music. I have books everywhere, and a goodly number of CDs as well, but it is never enough. I haunt new bookstores, used bookstores, second hand shops and library discards for new things to add to my already excessive collection.
2. I am hopelessly devoted to Hogan's Heroes, which I consider an unjustly neglected show. It is genuinely funny, surprisingly clever, consistently entertaining, and had some really great characters. It is one of the few shows whose quality did not deteriorate in its later seasons. Besides, it manages to sneak in a surprising amount of history into its crazy plots.
3. I enjoy watching the caber tossing competitions at Scottish Games. I find it endlessly fascinating, and will go out of my way to watch at least a bit of it whenever the opportunity presents itself. I find it even more fascinating to speculate on how one acquires a caber, where one stores a caber, where, for heaven's sake, one goes to practice tossing the caber.
4. I am very fond of good, single malt Scottish Whisky. I don't. have a favourite maker, I pretty much like them all, from the easy, smooth whiskies, to the hearty ones, with a sharp, smoky edge to them. (Lest I have given a false impression, most of my whisky sampling occur rs at Burn's Night dinners, which I only attend very infrequently.)

I am sorry to say that I cannot come up with 6 other irresistibly sweet blogs. I can come up with two :-)


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Requiescat in Pace

I was greatly saddened to lear that Liverpool children's author, Brian Jacques, died last week, on February 5th. I grew up reading the Redwall books - having received "Mossflower" one year as a gift. Whether it was a Christmas gift, or a birthday gift, I cannot now recall, for it was a very long time ago, but I remember the medieval cover vividly, and that I devoured it. I eagerly leapt upon each new book as it came out, and it was not uncommon for me to stay up way too late reading 'just one more chapter' until I had finished the book completely. I loved the rollicking style of his writing, his cheerful poetry, and unassuming bravery of his peace-loving characters. I enjoyed his use of dialect, especially the Somerset accent of the moles, and suspect that my delight in language may have been influenced as much by the Redwall books, as by Tolkien and the Irish songs the Clancy Brothers used to sing. I suppose that they are very simple stories, good vs. evil adventures, and rather formulamatic, but they are also jolly good fun, and I have never managed to outgrow my pleasure in them.

The LA Times has published an obituary for Brian Jacques, for those who are intersted, but what I would really recommend for those who would like to know more about the man, is to read the interview with him in The Wand in the Word. It was a delightful interview, and Mr. Jacques himself comes off as quite the character.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

St. Brigid of Kildare

Today is the feast day of St. Brigid of Kildare, who, with St. Patrick, is the patron saint of Ireland. I honoured the day in my usual fashion - fashion being a rather significant word here. I decked myself out in a very Irish ensemble, modeled after these lads here. Obviously, I did not present to the world quite so military an appearance, since what I was wearing is properly a kilted skirt, rather than a kilt, and had to be satisfied with a dark green sweater, rather than the fine jackets they are sporting, but the effect, I fancy, is quite nearly as eye-catching.

St. Brigid is one of those saints around whom is woven a tapestry of legends, and one gets a picture of an astonishingly holy woman whose boundless charity and genuine niceness made her very pleasant company indeed. This website is a good place to go for a sample of some of the more common stories told about St. Brigid. I think one of the things I find most endearing about her, though, is her hospitality. Gaelic people tend to have a very high code of hospitality, but she rather outdoes herself in honouring it. Among the many miracles she is said to have performed, there are several in which she turned various liquids into beer to serve to her guests. Indeed, there is a prayer-poem attributed to her, that runs thusly: "I'd like a great lake of beer for the King of kings. I would like to be watching heaven's family drinking it through all eternity." And if that is not enough to endear the hardest of hearts to the Mary of the Gael, I do not know what will!