Saturday, December 27, 2014

On the Third Day of Christmas....

... We celebrate the feast day of the youngest of the Apostles: St John the Evangelist; our Lord's dearest friend; the writer of the Fourth Gospel; the Eagle of Patmos. If it is difficult to find carols in honour of St. Stephen, it is harder still to find one for St. John the Evangelist.  They exist. There is a whole page of them listed on Hymns and Carols of Christmas. Perhaps ambitious souls have even recorded some of them, at some point....somewhere... but I have found no evidence of it. So you are getting the lyrics to one of the very old carols instead - a macaronic  carol, in Middle English and Latin, which is quite charming:

To almyghty God pray for pees,
    Amice Christi Johannes.

O glorius Johan evangelyste,
Best belovyd with Jhesu Cryst,
In cena Domini upon hys bryst
            Ejus vidisti archana.

Chosen thou art to Cryst Jhesu,
Thy mynd was never cast frome vertu;
Thi doctryne of God thou dydest renu,
            Per ejus vestigia.

Cryst ont he rod, in hys swet passyon,
Toke the hys moder as to hyr sone;
For owr synnes gett grace and pardon,
            Per tua sancta merita.

O most nobble of evangelystes all,
Grace to owr maker for us thou call,
And off swetenesse celestyall
            Prebe nobis pocula.

And aftur the cowrs of mortalite,
In heven with aungels for to be,
Sayyng Ozanna to the Trinyte
            Per seculorum secula.

Whilst I was trawling about, attempting to find something besides Liturgical Propers to commemorate good St. John, I ended up listening to rather a lot of Medieval and Early Renaissance Christmas songs, and came across this lovely version of a very old carol called Lullay My Liking. I've heard it sung beautifully by a choir before - but admire this version much more:

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Feast of St. Stephen

"Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen..."

That's today - the second day of Christmas, commonly known as St. Stephen's day. In Ireland, this is the day that crazy young lads and lasses dress up eccentrically and go wrenning. I have mentioned this tradition here before, and even posted the Clancy Brothers singing The Wren Song. I didn't mean to mention the wren boys this year, but when I was browsing about in pursuit of a St. Stephen's Day carol, I came across this very brief and quite intriguing bit of interview, mentioning that tradition being kept alive.... in Butte, Montana, of all places:

I also did manage to find a carol appropriate for the day, which delights me excessively, because the last time I attempted this feat, I came up dry. Here is Magpie Lane, singing St. Stephen

And with that, I bid ye all good night.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

So... I really and truly meant to put up the O Antiphons each day, but I only managed about half of them. What can I say? Life has a way of interfering with the most well-meaning intentions, and bringing them to naught. There is always next year. Moving on:

It's Christmas Day! Or rather Christmas Evening. It has been a nice day - we even had enough snow to qualify for a white Christmas! - but I am tired from Midnight Mass last night, followed by the 5 am rising this morning. I came home from the folk's house, and played Carols on the pipes (I hope my neighbours appreciate me) and now I am sitting in a living room, lit only by Christmas tree and candlelight, sipping wassail, and nibbling honey bourbon peanuts, whilst listening to music:

Since I was not able to get all the posts done that I wanted earlier this week, I am finishing off with this timely video of Puer Natus in Bethlehem, sung heartily and with fine, manly vigour by.... La Ermita de San Jose. I think that is what they call themselves. That is what shows up on the title at the beginning at any rate. My Spanish is weak - the Hermits of St. Joseph? I don't know, but it is good, and it makes me very happy. 

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

O Root of Jesse, O Key of David

I missed yesterday, being marvelously distracted. So there are two today - O Radix Jesse, which is sung on the nineteenth:

And O Clavis David which is the antiphon for today:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai

I tried to think of something inspirational to say, but the mind is not what she used to be. Just listen to this, and read the translation, and tell me if you are not ready for Christmas. (Yes, this one ends the same way as the last - the O Antiphons are sung before the Magnificat , and these videos include that is well. There were shorter ones to chose from, but I liked the quality of these, and the translation. So there.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Octave Before Christmas

That begins today, and is commemorated by a series of special Antiphons which are sung during the Divine Office. They are called the Great O Antiphons as each on starts with the exclamation "O".

O Sapientia
O Adonai
O Redix Jesse
O Clavis David
O Oriens
O Rex Gentium
O Emmanuel

The practice of sing the Antiphons goes back at least to 5th century, but the origin of the custom is unknown. There is a good - albeit brief article here, if you'd like more information. 

O Sapientia

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Wrote A Poem

~  A u t u m n  ~

Birds fly to exile, yet they go singing
And salmon leap into a dance with death.
The faithful Earth is fruitful in her failing
And apples flame to life at winter's breath.

The meadows smell of baking and of wine.
The ancient year makes brave in red and gold.
Wild storms sing war-songs to the pines
And the heart's own blood is quickened at the cold.

The land is a bonfire of gladness
Though wolves of winter are at the door
And God goes winnowing the fields and fastness - 
Yet kiss His hand and all adore.

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

... And only I - so fraily human
With all my burden of little woes
Fear that Flame of God within me - 
Flinch from blessings, as from blows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Shall Take The Hidden Paths that Run, East of the Moon, West of the Sun

I have been distracted by research. I am wasting hours on pinterest, pinning pictures of ships and fishermen, of water creatures and sea-myths. I am browsing through word lists of Celtiberian and Proto-Celtic, and one very odd one comparing the very few surviving words we know of Galatian, with similiar words in Irish and Turkish. (Yes, I know, but there are a surprising number of words with similar meanings and spellings in those two languages. Now I know, and so do you.) I am looking up articles on commercial fishing communities of coastal California... in the 40s. I have a burning need to know how far north the Spanish settlers managed to get up the US west coast, and how far south the Russians came. I am reading Atlantis-type stories... I would not exactly be lying if I said that I have been writing - some writing has indeed been accomplished in the wake of all of this disparate reading - but it is slight. A distillation, labouriously  extracted, and not yet fit for human consumption.

I have also been doing the occasional doodle. There is this:

which has nothing whatsoever to do with the back-history I am giving my story. It is merely because I re-watched Gladiator  recently, and I love the quote. I was pretty satisfied with it when I was done... and then, I accidentally got a fingerprint on it, so this is a slightly cleaned-up version of the one that is hanging about the old hobbit hole. And, since I was busy fiddling with the picture anyway, I tried some of the fun effects picmonkey allows, and got this too:

Which I found oddly pleasing to look at. It is not at all how the original looks... but I like it, so you are getting 2 version of a doodle this time.

This one, however, sort of has a vague tie-in the what I am working on:

 I call it Our Lady of the Heroes, and will hopefully turn into a full picture, not just a study-sketch, to illustrated a poem entitled Homecoming. It exists, at present, only theoretically, a poem-seed in the soil of my mind. I water it and incredibly delicate green tendrils are beginning to curl up from the ground, but I do not dare to rush the process for  fear of killing my wee plant before it has a chance to live.

I have recently had the chance to watch the Irish music  group The Gloaming in concert, and it was a grand experience. Two fiddlers of impeccable skill and delicacy of touch, a guitarist who drives the music but does not overwhelm it, a pianist whose playing is an addition to the music, and not merely a back-up, and the sean-nós singing of Iarla Ó Lionáird. It was not traditional in the sense that is usually used to describe that particular type of Irish music, but one got the feeling, listing to them playing together, that they were somehow more traditional in their experimentation, than most traditionalists.  They clearly delighted in the music. They loved every note and harmony that they were putting out for us. Sometimes, the music was so spare, it was like being in a medieval hall, listening to a wandering songster. Sometimes, there was a sweet wildness to it - the sort of fairy-music that beguiles the unwary away from their own lives. Sometimes it was just a cèilidh, and incredibly fun. They played in long sets, that made you feel, while you were listening, that the music had been going on since the dawn of time, and that it would continue on forever. And when they finished, you felt as if they had only just started.  It had the same sort of effect on me that the World Pipe Band Competitions have - it inspired me, and made me want to be so much more of a musician than I am.

Here is one of the songs:

I remember reading a poem a very long time ago, featuring, in some manner I cannot recall, a salmon, the the refrain for the poem was the same as the refrain for this song: thugamar féin nn samhradh linn, it is the summer we have brought in. I took great delight in recognising the words here. For the last few days, it keeps popping into my head - very unfortunate in mid-November, especially as I am tired of summer, and would prefer some to sing that they are bringing winter  in.

I realised, after seeing The Gloaming, that in all my world-building, I have neglected music. I go to remedy that.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What an Elegant Bit of Spam.

I shall post soon. I promise. I swear up on my sword, and on my pipes, and on my fountain pen... and on anything else of any worth, upon which one could swear. 

In the meanwhile, I present you with a ridiculously poetic bit of spam, that showed up  in my com-box the other day. I can't remember the last time I received such a lovely computer generated comment:

And so i chose to strike them first
 so painfully in the wood
I loving freedom and untried
 i thus could speak of yarrow

And with that sublimity, ringing in your ears, I leave you all, but to return again soon. Wes þu hal

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dictionary Day

Yep. That's today. You didn't know such a day existed, did you? Neither did I, until today. And, having made the discovery, I figured that now is the perfect time to do my bit to to halt the sad decline of vocabulary in this degenerate age in which we find ourselves. Here, in no particular order, are 10 fine words, which are useful, colourful, or just plain fun, which deserve to have more wide-spread usage than they currently enjoy:

Yes, yes, I know, it has been a very long time since I posted. I could attempt an explanation, but the long and short of it is that I lack discipline, and these days, I when I woo the Muse, I do so in pursuit of Writing Proper Things. Only the wooing is more like a knock-down, drag-out fight, as my writing skills are pretty tenuous at present, and every words I write has to be wrested and won before I can use it. 

However, since it seems rather sad, after so long a silence, merely to present a word-list, beautifully made, though it might be, before disappearing back into the ether, I shall share some of the more memorable occurrences of the recent past:

1.) We had a very windy day a couple days ago. There were times the air was so thick with aspen leave, that it appeared to be raining gold. Aspens smell wonderful in autumn, have you noticed?

2.) The day of wind was followed by a day of rain - not a muchness of rain but a sufficiency, and I saw a very bright rainbow, shining out over the lake, as I was driving to work.

3.) I saw something very remarkable on my walk the last couple mornings. There is a bit of land at the top of a street not very far from here, that is empty of houses, but full of pine trees and grasses, and wild rose bushes. At this time of the year, the rose bushes boast bright orange leaves, and deep red, wine-scented rose-hips, but no blooms to speak of. At least, that is what one would normally expect... except that there is one small pink rose, fully blooming on one of the bushes, and a bit farther on, in another, I glimpsed the bud of another. 

4.) The geese are long calling each other these mornings. The sound of them makes me want very much to go on long rambles in the wind, and then come home and be very hobbit-like and domestic, but not terribly much like going to work. The sound also, inevitably, reminds me of this:

And on that note, I shall go off and wrestle for a few more words for my writing. I should love to assure you all that I will become religiously reliable blogger from henceforth, but you all know me better than that by now, so I shall merely say that I am hoping that is the case, and shall do my best to make it so.... but I would not hold my breath if I were you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

National Chocolate Chip Day

I shall start this post with a Public Service Announcement.  According to this site here, today is - you guessed it - National Chocolate Chip Day. I will be back in a moment. I feel a sudden, wild urge to celebrate this auspicious occasion....

Ah... Much better....

And now, fortified with chocolate chips (which we all know are really tiny kisses of the best variety) I am tackling the issue of accumulated tags. There are three, and I have put some thought into how to obligingly do the tags, without running into tedious lists of 33 things which my readers might not know about me. Mind! I am fully aware how endlessly fascinating I am, but even I am obliged to admit that 33 random facts might be overly taxing to all but the most obsessive reader - which, I am thankful to say - none of you are. This is a compliment. You are all lovely, and attentive, but not alarming. I appreciate that.

So, why have I not been writing on this blog? Well, I have been feeling rather crafty, and not author-ish. Here are eleven pictures to show just how occupied I have been:

1.) I have been making these origami poppies (with apologies for the quality and the ridiculously wide white frames):

2.) This paper rose, from an old piece of piping sheet music, of which I possessed  newer version:

3.) This miniature, hand-stitched Eeyore:

4.) This curious little robot, made from a tooth brush, with a battery and a vibrator. When you twist the wires in the back together, it skitters and twirls all over the place:

5.) This check book cover, made from an old tea box, and duct tape:

6.) These beads:

7.) Which, in turn, were made from the roses and stock in these flowers (once they were past their prime, and with a dash of cocoa powder thrown in to darken them), which were a gift- the first flowers I have ever recieved, and of which I was ridiculously fond:

8.) This rosary, made of the afore mentioned beads.

9.) These books:

10.) This picture, which was originally supposed to be posted on Memorial Day, but obviosly, never made it:

11.) This pie, based of a recipe for Cinnamon Custard Pie, but with chocolate chips in it, because of the day:

It has been many a long year since I have felt this crafty. I am enjoying it rather excessively. Indeed, I am fancying myself something of a craftsman these days. I want to make ALL THE THINGS! 


 (Oops, I have to work... make SOME OF THE THINGS... and finish the rest when I get home :-)

Yes, I am just a trifle insane. Whatever tipped you off?

So now, on to the questions part of this tag. I shall do Kat's questions first.

1.)  If you could choose to be a bug, what kind would you be?
          This althetic little creatures looks nice and harmless:

Bugs Bunny Hd Listening To Music Bug 194506 1920×1080

 2.)  You are given a choice between pizza and chocolate.  What do you choose?
       Chocolate, of course.

3.)  What does Panama make you think of?
       Hats :-) .....and origami cranes

4.)  Have you ever been so obsessed with a TV show you literally can't think of anything else for days?  Weeks, even?  If so, which TV show(s) are you obsessed with at the mo'?
       Yes, but at the moment, I am blessedly free of adictive viewing material.

5.)  Do you prefer pens or pencils when writing?
       Pens. Fountain Pens. This Pen, to be exact:
Sheaffer Tuckaway
6.)  If you could have one superpower talent, what would it be?
      Invisibility.... or the ability to create weather.

7.)  Do you visualize yourself as an archer or a ninja?

8.)  Quick!  Off the top of your head, what's the ONE THING you can't live without?

9.)  You're on the run.  Would you rather have a.) a hairbrush, or b.) a toothbrush?
      Hairbrush, because it is easier to stay incognito if one has a tidy appearance.

10.)  Are you a summer or winter person?  Why?
        Winter. Because I have an extremely low tolerance for heat. And like my winter clothes, and Christmas, and brewing wassail. And I even like driving in the snow.

11.)  Do you unashamedly watch cartoons and cry over them?  (If yes, high five, sista!)
        Yes. Up anyone? That Scene in Tangled? It is a little embarassing though.

And now, Bella's questions, but since she tagged me twice, I am not going to answer all 22 of them. I am doing every other one from each tag, which will make all concerned quite happy, I'm sure:

1.) Do you consider yourself a Nerd or a Geek?
    I am a Nerd and I'm not ashamed to say it.

2.) Have you read The Ascendance Trilogy?
     Not yet.

3.) What is the first thing you think when you see salt?
      Quotes mostly. "If a salt looseth its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted?" or puns, "We're taking this meal with a grain of salt, hardy har har."

4.) Are you a Tolkien Purist?
     YES! Our family does not discuss the film version of The Two Towers when I'm around. 

5.) Range Rover or Land Rover?
     Landie, because they're a bit smaller, and I prefer smaller cars.

6.) What book are you reading RIGHT NOW, and is it good?
     I am not reading anything. I'm having trouble finding something decent to read.

7.) Do you like Raisin cookies?
     Yes, actually. 

8.) Have you ever had Vegan Chocolate?
     It sticks in my mind that I attempted to eat some vegan chocolate chips once, and didn't particularly enjoy the experience.

9.) What does it mean to have cat-like tread?

10.) Would you go shopping with me dressed as your favorite Avenger?
       Do you mean that you are going to dress up as my favourite Avenger, or that I'd have to?

11.) Do you ever wear a robe? 
       Well... no. I mostly wear shawls... that is, when it is nice enough weather to compell the additional layer of clothing. No shawls during the Dog Days.

Right. So. That's done. I am caught up.  I feel good about that - like I have accomplished something. It is novel. Hopefully, the next post will be a bit of writing. I have ambitious story ideas brewing, and have actually started getting some if it down. If the chapter I am working in turns out well, I might post it. I am saying this aloud and in public as a means of getting a move on here.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yer Laugh o' the Day

I'm nae sure whit tae blog abit.... 

Oops. Sorry. That was Scots.... Let me try again.

I'm not sure what to blog about. I have been musing upon the matter. I do have tags queuing up - as in a plethora of tags - but I am not quite ready to be as witty as all that yet. Still, I feel I should give the old space a bit of attention, and so I present the following.... Billy Boyd, directing curiously garbed females on the fine art of acting link hobbits on adventures:

(An... aye. Thes video is responsible fer th' Scots a' th' beginnin'. I couldna help masel'.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No, I Didn't Die.

Yeah, my resolution to be a better blogger has gone the way of all such resolutions, and this space continues to languish with neglect. I am going to blame it primarily on summer. It is mostly summer here . I do not like summer. I do not do summer. My toleration for heat is next to nothing. There is some swelling of foot and ankle, dull headaches, sleeplessness, lassitude... I get cranky. I take it out on people. I become a harpy. My family - who inexplicably love me - don't like me much during this time, but hey, neither do I... and I don't like them either, so we're even.  I read an article recently, about Seasonal Affective Disorder - which is usually a winter-induced condition. According to the article, however, it can, occasionally, be  caused by summer weather. Tempting as it is to say that I suffer from SAD-ness, I am man enough.... woman enough.... adult enough to own that I have a deficiency of self-control, and not excuse myself on the grounds of weather. I'm just saying that it is good to know.

As I said, I am blaming my silence primarily on summer. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Although... there really was a good reason for not posting.... once upon a time.... a long time ago.... back in May. I was on vacation for the first time in a couple years.  Life, you know. Sometimes, even if one needs a vacay, it is just not the time for such things.

I went to Scotland, and it was lovely. I stayed here:


It was verra wee, and comfortable and cosy:

It was in a place called Portobello, a Firth-side suburb of Edinburgh. It was removed enough from the city to be very quiet and nice, and yet, if I walked down the road a wee step, there was a train stop, and I could be in the High Street in a mere 5 or 10 minutes.  There was a lovely little burn, and a forest walk, just outside my front door. I spent a lot of time wandering there:

The Burn

The Walk

The grass in Scotland is often full of little daisies - sometimes a lawn will be quite white with them. I think these are properly known as Marguerites:


It was also very close to the Firth - only about a mile away, and a nice easy stroll. Sometime, I walked by the water, and watched the storms come in:

The Beach at Portobello

And sometimes, I walked along the red side walk of the Promenade, where there was a place to get Nutella flavoured ice cream! Nutella. Ice. Cream.... I miss that stuff:

The Promenade

Incidentally, the Scots seem to have a rather curious attitude towards springtime: once they decided that it is spring, by golly, it is spring, whether it is still cold enough for a coat or not.  People go to the park, and take hikes in the hills. There are food vans about, selling hamburgers and ice cream.  Young ladies in strappy sandals pick their way around puddles. Now, this attitudes is actually quite familiar to me, as I live in the mountains, and have observed men outside in a snowstorm, snow-blowing 2 feet of snow out of their driveways, whilst clad in shorts. What surprised me was the number of people in coats, eating ice cream in the rain. At first, I was merely amused, but felt no particular urge to follow their examples. The shear number of ice cream cones walking about, however, began to prey on my mind, and before I had been there many days, I was actively prowling about for a place to get some, and joined the legions of folk, eating ice cream, in un-ice-cream-like weather:

Ice Cream in Princes Street Gardens

I have been to Scotland before, so I didn't do the touristy things, like going to the castle:


 Nor did I go to Holyrood Palace:


I did, however, go for a hike, one bright, and very windy day, up on Arthur's Seat, and the Salisbury Craigs, that are part of the old parkland belonging to the palace:

Salisbury Craigs

Arthur's Seat. There is a fantastic view of everything
from the top, but the wind was so fierce, I thought I might
get blown away, so there are no pictures of it. 

It takes a couple hours to walk around the whole area  and though it is not really a rigourous hike, there is no denying that it is a good stiff walk. This is the first time in a couple years that I was able to do a good stiff walk, and I enjoyed it exceedingly. I even took a selfie, which is an accomplishment for me, as usually I avoid being on any side of the camera... and I was using a disposable Kodak camera:

Hello there!

I particularly avoid taking selfies, as a general rule. I tend to face a camera as though it were a firing squad - squaring my jaw, and looking it in the eye, and challenging it to do its worst, which it obligingly does. Sisterly advice told me to tuck my chin, and look at the camera from under my eyelashes. Since I was taxed with bringing home pictures of myself in the scenery, and since I would rather crawl into a hole than ask a complete stranger to shoot me with my bright yellow, cardboard camera, I practiced taking my own picture. Sometimes they turned out pretty well:

Mahri - Agent of SHIELD (See my shoulder?)
Taking a Selfie in an old cemetery off the Royal Mile 

Sometimes they did not:

I will look happy in this picture, if it kills me

Sometimes, I look confused:

I know that button is around here somewhere... tuck the chin...
look up through the eyelashes....

So mostly, I stuck to pictures of scenery, such as this loch, with a flock of birds circling above it:

Or this building, which I believe is a ruined abbey:

Or this curious bit of graffiti:

Gollum Discovers Facebook

And one day, I Went On An Adventure. I caught a bus in Edinburgh, and took a long, very scenic trip through the Borders, to a place called Innerleithen. I got off near the Post Office, and walked 2 miles of country road to Traquair House - the oldest continually inhabited house in the country. 

Outside Traquair House

If one is fond of history - as I am - it is an excellent place to visit.  Mary Queen of Scots visited there with her husband, Darnley, and her rosary is kept in the little museum.  The family are Catholic, and traditionally Jacobite, and the entire estate is steeped in that history. I had a blast touring the place.  There were two libraries, full of the widest range of books, from the philosophers, to popular fiction, and everything in between. 

I am demonically pleased to be in your library.

There is a semi-hidden room at the top of the house, where the family's priest would have lived. It was illegal to house a priest, while the Penal Laws were in effect. There is a secret staircase behind the bookshelf in the priest's room.... well, it isn't secret anymore. The bookshelf is opened, and one can escape through the low opening, and down the steep, narrow stairs.

I escape through the secret staircase. Apparently, I have not
grasped the severity of the situation.

Traquair House receives no state funding - or very little at any rate - and they support themselves by means of tours, craft sales, and .... beer making. The beer making is sort of a happy accident, when the old brewery was rediscovered in the 60s. All of the equipment was in perfect working order, so the brewery was restored, and they began brewing their own beer:


There are also the Bear Gates. You cannot get into Traquair House through the original gates - they are locked, and have been locked since Bonnie Prince Charlie went into exile after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden. The Laird of Traquair chained the Bear Gates shut, and vowed they would never be opened again, until a Stewart sat on the throne. And they are locked still:

I was not ready to come home at the end of my trip. I was enjoying myself very much - and, incidentally, eating far too much fish and chips... with malt vinegar, of course. But home I must come, and I think I am finally resigned to being Here and not There.