Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Got A Kiss o' the King's Hand....

Today is the feast day of Christ the King. It is a fairly new feast within the liturgical calender, having been instituted in 1925, but Jesus Christ has been honoured as King by all Christians since the very earliest days of the Church. It is, I think, a particularly beautiful and appropriate feast for our times, when temporal rulers fall so short of the standard. It is good to remember that we serve a King, Who genuinely loves and cares for His people. Here is an old picture I came up with a few years back to mark the day:

The title of the post comes from an old piobaireachd, A Kiss of the King's Hand. I had originally intended to post something particular to the day, but most of the hymns I came across featured organs and enthusiastic congregational singing. Now, mind you, when you hear the organ live, and you are part of the enthusiastic congregation, that is a grand sound indeed. However, youtube videos of the same tend to lack a certain something, so I am posting the piobaireachd instead.

The story behind the tune, is that a piper in the army or Charles II played for the king, who was so pleased with the music, that he commended the piper, and allowed him to kiss his hand. The piper wrote this tune to commemorate the event. Here are the words that go to it - and this is what always pops into my head each Sunday after Holy Communion:

Thuair mi Pòg s’ Pòg s’ Pòg
 ga’n d’thuair mi Pòg o’ Laimh an Righ…
 cha’d chur seid a n Croicion Caorach
a thuair an turram a thuair mi.
I have had a kiss, a kiss, a kiss,
I have had a kiss of the king’s hand:--
 No one who blew in a sheep’s skin,
 Has received such honour as I have

As a side note: I am not sure how widely spread the belief was, but there was a period, at least, in Scotland, when it was believed that the hands of the King were blessed, since they ruled with authority coming from God. Amongst other things, it was believed that the hands of the King were the hands of a healer. Readers of The Lord of the Rings will appreciate the historical connection.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Let's Have A Merry Little Round of Tag, Shall We?

A while back, I mentioned that I had gotten behind on tags. Like.... really, really behind on tags. And I feel bad about it, because it is nice to be tagged. I appreciate being tagged. I especially appreciate being tagged by new followers, which means that I feel particularly bad about waiting so long to get to Miss Melody Muffin's Getting To Know You tag. (Engages in a sheepish shuffling of the feet, whilst considering how to go on from here....)  So... a very belated thank you to Miss Muffin, and without further ado:

1.)  Coffee or tea?
There was a time the answer to this would have been a straight-forward "coffee!" Nowadays, however, I drink both of them in great quantities. (See the profile on my sidebar :-)

2.) You win $1000! What would be something fun you that you would do with it?
Um... Change out all the stainless steel ferrules on my bagpipes for brass instead? Go on a trip to see some of my long-distance friends whom I have not seen in a while? BOTH? That is probably enough for both!

3.) You're given the opportunity for the lead part in a play. Would you take it?
Probably... not. I actually think I could be a decent actress, and would enjoy the the acting part of it. It is the being watched part of it that gars me run for my life at the very idea of being in a play.

4.) Would you rather sing, play an instrument or listen?
Heh heh. I choose all of the above. I love music, and enjoy listening to other people make it as much as I enjoy being musical myself. However, when I sing, it is mostly to myself, or in a crowd. Public soloing means involves showing more of myself than I am comfortable with, and it scares the living daylights out of me.

5.) Are you more of a chit-chat person?  Or sporty?
Frankly, I am the very amused observer lurking in the corner, with a book close to hand. I think, if I had to pick one, I'd have to go with chit-chat, because I cannot really call myself sporty. I did fencing for a bit, and I'd like to learn to box, but running about and all that? Nah.

6.) Did you ever have an unrealistic dream as a child?
Not that I can remember.

7.) Have you fulfilled any of the dreams you had as a child?
No. (Sheesh, that just sounds sad, doesn't it? I have fulfilled dreams from after I was a child. Does that count?)

8.) What's the one place in the world that you've always wanted to visit?
I've actually been able to go to most the places I most wanted to see - Italy, Ireland, Scotland. (See, dreams :-) The one place I still haven't been to yet is Venice, so I'll go with that.

9.) What book character do you always find yourself imitating?
When I was much younger, pretty much every character I liked. Now, it is more likely to be historical characters, or characters out of my own stories.

10.) What's your favorite season?  Why?
Autumn. Because it is beautiful and exciting, and makes me feel like I can take on the world. The leaves of the aspens and birches burst into flame, the air gets brisk (I hate hot weather) and smells so good. There is wind, and clouds, and geese that go crying across the sky in v-formation. Perhaps it is because I read The Lord of the Rings when I was quite young, but Autumn has always been the season for adventure to me.

11.) What are some of your favorite blogs to read?
Confession time: I am a terrible blog follower. I am more of a blog dropper-by. And I drop by a quite a lot of blogs - food blogs; art blogs; writing blogs; history blogs; Tolkien blogs; Catholic blogs; serious blogs; fun blogs... It really depends on my mood. 

12.) How long have you been blogging?
That's a good question. (Looks at profile.) Well, look at that. Since 2010. 

Amanda and Bella both have tagged me with the Liebster Blog Award, so I am just going to combine them. I've done this one a few times before, so, to spice things up a bit, I am not going to list 11 facts about myself this time. Instead, I am going to post picture of 11 unusual things that I generally have in my purse. 

1.) WWI - WWII Standard Issue Pull Chain Soldiers' Rosary. (Click on the link. There is more information about the things than I have been able to find anywhere else.) I believe I have mentioned this item before on this blog. It is one of my favourite things. A Proper Mathom

2.) Pocket-sized, edition of The Hobbit - leather-bound, as you can see, and gilt-edged. I believe that one should always carry a good book in case of emergencies.

3.) This extremely cool, collapsible tin cup, with leather case. It is tremendously handy, and yes, I have used it.

4.) These odd prayer books: One has Catholic Prayers in Irish and Scots Gaelic, and the other has Catholic Prayers in Italian. I intend, you see, to use them for the rosary, or something, and work on acquiring new languages. So far it hasn't happened, but I am ready, should the moment strike me. 

5.) A pair of squished, souvenir pennies - one for Edinburgh Castle and one for the Nevada State Museum. Also, an old Irish 2p coin - a currency rendered obsolete withe the introduction of the Euro.

6.) A digital voice recorder. Because my techie uncle was getting rid of it, and it seemed a good thing to have. You never know when you will need to record an incriminating conversation! 

7.) This incredibly ugly pen, because it also has an LED light in it, and can be used as a flashlight.

8.) This attractive fountain pen to make up for the other one. I do use fountain pens. This one is a modern one, with an ink cartridge in it. I prefer the older ones, which require ink bottles, but the Shaeffer Tuckaway, which is my favourite pen to use, needs to have its ink sac replaced, and is temporarily out of commission. (When it isn't. There is generally a bottle of ink in my purse as well.)

9.) Emergency Rations: In this case, bullion cubes, instant oatmeal, tea and chocolate. I've read too many WWII and escaping POWs books, and as a result, I almost always have some food hidden in the inner pocket, which will be used only in the gravest of emergencies.

10.) This antique Cartolina Postale (that is Italian for post card), written to someone's Cara Sorella. (dear sister in Italian :-)

11.) This odd scrap of paper, containing doodles, the titles of a couple books I am interested in perusing, and an odd quote by Winston Churchill. 

And now, for Bella's questions:

Do you wear penny-loafers?
Not anymore. I used to - a very cute brown pair, with pennies in them. Nowadays, I just stick to a pair of saddle shoes.

Do you draw?
I try to. It is more doodling. My sisters - bless them - say that the doodles have lots of feeling to them. 

Do you own a sword?
Several. Have you not read my blog, girlie?

What are your thoughts on Oz? (The land not the wizard)
Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
Follow the Yellow Brink Road.
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road.....

Nick Fury: Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys.
Steve Rogers: I understood that reference! (looks inordinately proud of himself.)

I actually don't think about The Wizard of Oz at all, can you tell?

Do you play any sports?
Ehm.... Not really. I like watching hockey, though. And soccer. And live baseball.

For you what is most important in a story? (a) a good Plot (b) the right feel (c) good characters?
This was a hard one for me to answer, because each of those elements are very important to me. However, I will forgive a story a good deal, if it can make me care for the characters. On the other hand, I do read Patricia McKillip's books for the feel of them, so it is not a hard and fast rule.

Matt Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch?
Billy Boyd :-)

Was your dollhouse ever haunted?
!?!?!?!?!?! Why would you even ask such a horrible thing?

Romping adventures or a quiet night with a cup of tea?
I want to say both. I feel like I want adventures, but I think, if it came right down to it, my initial reaction to adventure would be much like Bilbo's: "Nasty, uncomfortable things, makes one late for dinner." Either way, I seldom refuse the invitation to partake in a cuppa.

Have you ever written a twisted fairy tale?
I don't know. I have scribbled out some sketches of stories based on fairy tales. Is that what you mean?

What does a crack in the wall mean to you?
It depends on the crack. A wee harmless crack will cause me no alarm. Zig-zaggy lines remind me of Dr. Who and large cracks gar me wonder if there is something living in my wall that will come out at night and scare me. Fortunately, there are hardly any cracks in my pinewood walls, so I cracks and I are on good terms with each other. 

And there you are. I am caught up again! I know I have been a very indifferent blogger of late - I have no excuse. Life has decided to behave more pleasantly than it has in a while (Thanks be to God!) but the Muse is is being coy and vexing, and largely silent. And I have been too tired and lazy to pursue her properly. I shall endevour to do better in the future, but just how faithful I am to this remains to be seen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It Must Be Such A Nice, Quiet Place To Work....

Well.... Aye.... It is a library, so it can be.....

There is this general, preconceived idea about libraries, which is really quite charming. Most folk really do seem them as nice quiet places - civilised places, you know. Seats of knowledge, and repositories of history and story. And I have a confession to make: even though I have worked at a modern, public library long enough that it can safely be said I have made a career out of it, and can tell you from experience, that it is not really so pleasant as all that... Well, golly, I have managed to retain my own idealised version of what I library really is. Say the word "library" to me, and, despite years of experience, the mental image that comes up, is something rather like this:
Los Angeles Public Library Children's Reading Room
Or this:
Or this:
Also from
Notice how truly warm and welcoming these places are. Lots of books. Lots of corners to pursue books in. Civilised bookish people, doing bookish things in the book place. By contrast, most libraries actually look rather like this:
Not bad, mind you, but lacking a certain something. And library patrons are as likely to do this:

And the guy who turned a public library into his own personal fort.

as they are to take advantage of the tables, chairs and desks provided for their comfort. Furthermore, libraries, despite their reputations as veritable bastions of decorum and culture, tend to attract... interesting clientele. The sort of clientele that insists the FBI will be raiding us at any moment; or that there is a terrorist attack going on right here, right now, because their email won't open; or who inform you gravely that they keep their garbage in the refrigerator until garbage day, so that the bears won't get into it; or who scatter booklets about, containing the enlightening information that all world leaders are really lizard aliens, complete with pictures to prove it. In short, there are a lot of lunatics wandering about - harmless, and all that, but quite insane. One becomes accustomed to it. One learns to take peculiar behaviour in one's stride - just another day at the library. 

Every now and again, however, things become particularly interesting. Take this morning, just before we opened for the day. There were a few of us, taking a quick break in the back room, as is our custom. There is a large window in the break room, framed by a pair of lovely poplars, which looks over the employee parking, and beyond that, to a city campground, which, at this time of the year, is but sparsely populated with RVs. As we sat about, drinking our coffee, lo and behold, a venerable old grey Subaru, completely lacking in license plates, came cruising around the corner, to park itself outside our window. A rather older fellow hopped out of the car, and after a moment or two of indecision, lit out for the campground, leaped the fence and disappeared. That was both odd and a little unexpected. Several minutes later, the man came hirpling back, carrying with him a very large, red gasoline canister, with a nozzle. He proceeded to fill up his gas tank with the contents. He took his time about it, and when he was finished, he flitted off for the campground again, apparently returning the canister to its rightful owner, before driving away again. That was definitely a first. Folk have mistaken our parking lot for campground parking before, but never has anyone taken if for a refuelling station. I do hope that he had a friend in the campground, and was getting the loan of a tankful of fuel, and that he was not - heaven help up us - stealing it right from under the noses of unsuspecting strangers. 

Whilst that little episode was in progress, one of the building maintenance men dropped in to inform us that we've had a homeless person sleeping outside the library every night t his past week. Ordinarily, this would be something we would turn a blind eye to, at least, for a little while, especially since he clears out so early that no one but the groundsmen see him. This particular person, however, objects to the outside light that we have on that side of the building, and, rather than doing the intelligent thing, and unscrewing the bulb, simply smashes it to bits before retiring for the night. Sleeping is one thing, vandalism, something else all together, so now the Law is supposed to keep an eye on things. We shall see how that goes.

And before we had quite finished discussing that little matter, a great big, hairy individual, with wild hair and wild beard, appeared out of nowhere and came charging up to the back door like a Viking storming the stronghold. There came a battering upon the door, and I, serving at the moment in the capacity of Senior Staff Member, found myself responsible for shooing him away. 

"The Library is open!" He panted.

"Not yet." I replied. "We'll be open at 10. You can go around to the front, and we will let you in then."

He came a bit closer. "You have wireless, right?" he put both hands up in the air, and made fiddling-on-a-keyboard motions with them. 

"Yes, we do" I replied, holding firm to the door, in case he decided to rush in anyway, and I would find myself obliged to slam it in his face. "You can use it at 10."

I closed the door on him rather firmly, before he could decide, in his agitation, to come in anyway.  

He did leave, which was good, but he did not go very far. My boss, returning from a morning meeting, encountered him a few moments later. Apparently, it was not the wireless he was after, but the washroom, and having failed in his attempts to infiltrate the building by legitimate means, was using the meager shelter of the air intake unit for the heating and cooling system, as his own personal lavatory.... ho hum. Another day at the library. 

And this... this all occurred before we had even opened our doors. I do believe I am ready for my weekend!