Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1 January 2014

There's a hogmanay dance on this evening, which I am not at.  The Memsahib doesn't want to go.  She has allowed as how I might go on my own,  but I think the reasonable and prudent man would not take advantage of that permission on new year's eve.   Just as well, actually.  The back and the sciatica have been making nuisances of themselves today.  I doubt the three-beat pas de basque would've done them any good.

A happy new year to all this year's visitors to The Inn.

King Charles III

It's the 293d birthday of Charles Edward Louis John Philip Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie, and by right-of-birth, King Charles III of Great Britain, France, and Ireland.

A short re-telling of his unfortunate life can be found here.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Found While Looking for Something Else

Those who live in Dublin and love the traditional Roman Rite have their very own parish providing Sunday and daily Masses in the old Rite.  I've known that since it was established a few years ago, although I've never been there.  (That happens when you're visiting and have to fit in with other people's schedules.)  But I only found this evening that the Latin Mass Chaplaincy, as it it's known, has its own website.  You can find it here.

What a beautiful church they've been given.  It's worth clicking the link just to see the pictures.  (Especially if you live in California where most of the modern ecclesiastical architecture has been inspired by the shoe box.)


Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29 -- St Thomas Becket, Archbishop and Martyr

Ant. This is a  Saint who strove for the truth even unto death, and feared not the words of sinful men, forasmuch as he was founded on a sure foundation, even upon the rock of his Master's precepts.

V. Thou has crowned him with glory and worship, O Lord.
R. And hast made him to have dominion of the works of thy hands.

O God, who for thy Church's sake didst suffer thy Bishop Saint Thomas gloriously to be slain by the swords of wicked men : grant, we beseech thee; that all they who call upon him for succour may be profited by the obtaining of all that they desire.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

An eyewitness account of his martyrdom can be found here.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Some Piping for the Weekend. . .

Fin Moore, Gary West, and Hamish Moore play a set on Scottish smallpipes at the Flowers of Edinburgh concert last May.  When it begins they're already into "Go to Berwick, Johnny" and then break into "Blue Bonnets".  Don't remember the name of the last one.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas on Royal Deeside

Deeside it may be, but there's no piping in the video above.  It's about 4 minutes worth of lovely countryside covered in ice and snow.

Now there's a fairly good chance that you, being able to look out your front window and see your fill of ice and snow, are  not in the least interested in this.  I am sorry.  Really.  But it was in the mid 80's here today, the 27th of December.  And sitting here in cotton dockers and a polo shirt with the ceiling fan going, I found it a delight.


St John's Day

Today is the feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist.  Yes, the source is the Gospels, but the good old Catholic Encyclopædia will tell you something of St John in more condensed form here.

The Inn has copied this paragraph about St John's wine from the late Msgr Richard Schuler before.  And we do it again now:

St John the Evangelist was honored on December 27. His feast was a general holiday, being kept as the third day of Christmas. Special wine, called St John's Love, was blessed on St John's Day, the formula for the blessing being found in the Rituale Romanum. It was thought that St John had survived the drinking of poisoned wine. Those going on a long journey fortified themselves from harm by drinking St John's wine, and at weddings it was regularly drunk. Often those about to depart this life were given a sip to strengthen them for their departure from this world. In St John's Gospel, Christ is called the Light of the World, and so when lighting the Christmas tree, a child with the name of John is often given the privilege of lighting the tree.

That's from an old number - about 10 years ago - of The Wanderer.  The original link no longer links to the original story and I'm not finding it in the archive (which you'd probably have to subscribe to anyway).  But if you want to have a go  yourself you can start here.

Here's "The Blessing of Wine on the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist" from the old Roman Ritual:

After the principal Mass on the feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist, after the last gospel, the priest, retaining all vestments except the maniple, blesses wine brought by the people.  This is done in  memory and honor of St John, who without detriment drank the poisoned wine proffered by  his enemies:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made both heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R.  And with thy spirit.

     Let us pray.

Bless + and consecrate, + O Lord God, this chalice of wine (or any other beverage - et cujuslibet potus)through the merits of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.  Bestow benediction and protection upon all who drink of this cup.  For as the blessed John partook of the poisoned potion without any hurt, so may all who on this day drink of the blessed wine to the honor of St John, by him be freed from poisoning and similar harmful things.  And as they offer themselves soul and body to thee, O Lord God, give them absolution and pardon.  Through Christ our Lord.  R. Amen.

Bless, + O Lord, this draught that it be a helpful medicine to all who drink it; and grant by thy grace that all who taste thereof  may enjoy bodily and spiritual health in calling upon they holy name.  Through Christ our Lord,  R.  Amen.

May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Ghost come upon this wine and remain constantly.  R.  Amen.

There are actually two blessings for St John's wine in the Ritual.  The second one is perhaps twice as long so we'll leave that one for next year, along with the Latin text which I'm running out of time to proof at the moment. (And, yes, of course I proof these things.  I even edit them.  Hard to believe I know, but what you see here is, indeed, the improved version.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

St Stephen's Day

St Stephen's Day in Ireland as described in the website "Irish Genealogy Toolkit":

The 26th December is known as St Stephen's Day in Ireland. In Northern Ireland it's also known as Boxing Day. In most homes it is a sociable day, when visitors may call in to share some seasonal foods or liquid (usually alcoholic) refreshments. . . . . St Stephens is also the day when a purely Irish phenomenon can be witnessed: the tradition of Hunting the Wren. This is when the Wren Boys take to the streets in colourful costumes and masks, and noisily parade a dead wren on a decorated pole. It's a strange tradition and its origins are often debated. Some say it originated in Pagan times. Others from the Viking invasion. Most opt for a simplified religious reference: the betrayal by a wren of St Stephen who was hiding from the Romans who subsequently killed him for his Christian beliefs. Wren on tree branch This, then, gave the reason for hunting down the wren, and in olden days a bird was, indeed, captured and killed. The Wren Boys would then carry the dead bird on a pole from house to house and beg for money to bury the 'evil bird'. . . .

Read the rest here.

In one parish in England there was a very different custom attached to St Stephen's Day understandably called Stephening.  Chamber's Book of Days ("A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character") relates the following:

In the parish of Drayton Beauchamp, Bucks, there existed long an ancient custom, called Stephening, from the day on which it took place. On St. Stephen's Day, all the inhabitants used to pay a visit to the rectory, and practically assert their right to partake of as much bread and cheese and ale as they chose at the rector's expense. On one of these occasions, according to local tradition, the then rector, being a penurious old bachelor, determined to put a stop, if possible, to this rather expensive and unceremonious visit from his parishioners. Accordingly, when St. Stephen's Day arrived, he ordered his housekeeper not to open the window-shutters, or unlock the doors of the house, and to remain perfectly silent and motionless whenever any person was heard approaching. At the usual time the parishioners began to cluster about the house. They knocked first at one door, then at the other, then tried to open them, and on finding them fastened, they called aloud for admittance. No voice replied. No movement was heard within. 'Surely the rector and his house-keeper must both be dead!' exclaimed several voices at once, and a general awe pervaded the whole group. Eyes were then applied to the key-holes, and to every crevice in the window-shutters, when the rector was seen beckoning his old terrified housekeeper to sit still and silent. A simultaneous shout convinced him that his design was under-stood. Still he consoled himself with the hope that his larder and his cellar were secure, as the house could not be entered. But his hope was speedily dissipated. Ladders were reared against the roof, tiles were hastily thrown off, half-a-dozen sturdy young men entered, rushed down the stairs, and threw open both the outer-doors. In a trice, a hundred or more unwelcome visitors rushed into the house, and began unceremoniously to help themselves to such fare as the larder and cellar afforded; for no special stores having been provided for the occasion, there was not half enough bread and cheese for such a multitude. To the rector and his housekeeper, that festival was converted into the most rigid fast-day they had ever observed.
After this signal triumph, the parishioners of Drayton regularly exercised their 'privilege of Stephening' till the incumbency of the Rev. Basil Wood, who was presented to the living in 1808. Finding that the custom gave rise to much rioting and drunkenness, he discontinued it, and distributed instead an annual sum of money in proportion to the number of claimants. But as the population of the parish greatly increased, and as he did not consider himself bound to continue the practice, he was induced, about the year 1827, to withhold his annual payments; and so the custom became finally abolished. For some years, however, after its discontinuance, the people used to go to the rectory for the accustomed bounty, but were always refused.

In the year 1834, the commissioners appointed to inquire concerning charities, made an investigation into this custom, and several of the inhabitants of Drayton gave evidence on the occasion, but nothing was elicited to shew its origin or duration, nor was any legal proof advanced showing that the rector was bound to comply with such a demand. Many of the present inhabitants of the parish remember the custom, and some of them have heard their parents say, that it had been observed:
'As long as the sun had shone,
And the waters had run.'

 Chambers has a bit more to say about St Stephen's Day here.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Henry Higgins, Look to Your Laurels

Courtesy of the New York Times you can take the Harvard Dialect Test which will tell you, and I quote, "the pattern of your dialect".  You can find it here.

I took the thing.  It said I speak like a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, Grand Rapids, Michigan,  and/or Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I speak least like a Bostonian.

Now,  I have only spent about 4 hours in Boston and that was in  Logan Airport last May changing planes on the way back to California.  And that's it.  So they got that right.  Otherwise. . . .

On the way to Calgary, I once spent about 45 minutes changing planes in Salt Lake City (I never saw so may cowboy hats in my life).

I was driven through Milwaukee once when I was eleven or twelve.

I have never been in Grand Rapids, or indeed the state of Michigan,  in my life.

Harvard,  you say?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Really Useful Information Dept.

How to open a bottle of wine when you've forgotten your corkscrew.

(Not as useful for the discalced, alas.)

A New Dictionary of Medieval Latin

58,000 entires in 4,000 pages. . . .and it only took 100 years to put it together.

You can read about it in the Telegraph here.

(I took the quiz that the article links to.   I only got 90%.  Hmmpf.)

What's the old wheeze:  men speak English, women speak French, the Church speaks Latin, and the angels speak Irish?  I think that's how it goes.  And, no, there is no accounting for the path my stream of consciousness takes.

Some Piping for Christmas. . ..

Irish Army pipers (in the new style dress uniforms) playing "The Little Drummer Boy" at this year's annual Defence Forces Christmas Carol Service at the Arbour Hill chapel.  (The compere announces Morricone's "Gabriel's Oboe" but the piece cuts off before then.)


Friday, December 06, 2013

December 6 -- St Nicholas

Today is the feast of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children, coopers, scholars, boatmen, fisherman, dock workmen, sailors, brewers, travelers, pilgrims. . .and highly unofficially, robbers.  See, he went about at night with bags of money.  True, he was distributing rather than collecting but the robbers didn't want to get side-tracked with details.

As is our custom, herewith the traditional Roman collect for St Nicholas, notable for getting right to the point of the exercize without much in the way of poetic hyperbole:

O God, Who didst adorn Thy blessed bishop, Saint Nicholas, with power to work many and great miracles : grant, we beseech Thee ; that by his prayers and merits we may be delivered from the flames of hell.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

More on St Nicholas can be found here.


St George, Call Your Office

The magazine called  Discover: Science for the Curious is playing the what-if? game this month with an article entitled "The Science Behind Mythical Dragons"

Well, you have to take a look, doncha..  Especially at the bit about the fire-breathing kind.  To wit:

The most dramatic aspect of dragons is arguably the most scientifically plausible. The bombardier beetle (Stenaptinus insignis), for example, produces the toxin benzoquinone and byproduct heat in a kind of internal combustion chamber, and then squirts it at any perceived threat. If the bombardier could evolve so complex a defense, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a dragon with venom glands filled with a gas that could ignite when released with just a bit of friction.

Diethyl ether, an organic solvent, is Gee’s top candidate.

“It’s really easy to make by ‘drying’ ethanol with sulfuric acid,” notes Gee, cautioning that making it is best left to dragons and scientists — don’t try this at home. “It’s so hard to handle without it catching fire spontaneously. A tiny spill and rivers of fire would stream across my lab bench at tremendous speed.”

Gee envisions how a dragon might biologically synthesize diethyl ether.

“Yeasts and other organisms produce ethanol as a waste product, and there are bacteria that excrete sulfuric acid (they’re responsible for corroding concrete). I could imagine a microbial community in which diethyl ether is made as a waste product and exploited by dragons to breathe fire.”

Because it produces copious amounts of vapor, a little diethyl ether yields an impressive amount of flame. As it does not mix with water, ether’s fires are not quick to extinguish and could easily cause the kind of destruction for which Smaug is legendary.

So now you know.

There's more here.  (They might be able to fly, too.)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Advent Lessons & Carols Approacheth

And it has its very own Facebook page here.


Almost Christmas. . . .

. . . .well, first week of Advent, anyway.

But the birch trees have only just decided that it might be autumn and are finally inclining toward a yellowy orangy colour:

I was supposed to be out doing some industrious weeding and serious gardening.  It turned into a bit of puttering and some serious  meditating on what the garden might look like if I were a better gardener.

The birches don't seem to mind though.  I love birches; with a decent breeze they sound like a rolling surf.  I ought to start a society for folks who love birches.  I could call it John's Birch Society.

Or maybe not.