Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Friday, December 27, 2013
Remember Christmas Eve, when I posted all kinds of hope and gratitude? Well, in that post, I made the grave mistake of saying that I thought the tummy bug that had been going around my family had finally abated.
Wrong thing to say.
I must have angered The Beast, because by 3am on Christmas Day, Child Number One went down. By morning, Wee Three was sick for the second time. By lunchtime, both Gramma and Grampa, who had traveled back with us from Stratford, were down-- but not before Gramma had stoically stuffed the turkey and put it into the oven. (Seriously. Raw poultry and gastroenteritis?? That woman is tough.)
In the end, we cancelled Christmas dinner. My sister and her brood were sent home within minutes of arriving on our doorstep, and they took my brother with them.
"Save yourselves," I called as they skidded down my ice rink of a driveway in hasty retreat.
December 25 saw our house turned into a little hospital... Thank God there were enough grown-ups left standing to run out to the 24-hour pharmacy for supplies, and to care for those who needed them.
It was no Christmas, that's for sure.
On that day, I was supposed to post a carol entitled "All Bells in Paradise".
Ha ha. Very funny.
Today is December 27, but we're having a "re-do". I've got enough food in my fridge to feed a small army, so we've recruited as many family members as are able to come and help us make a dinner of hot turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes, two-veg and lashings of gravy. We might even be up for a little steamed pud, although it just won't be the same without my mum and dad here to argue about exactly HOW MUCH brandy to souse it with, and set it on fire. There's also an incredible load of baking to get through-- and it had better be gotten through, because after today, I am purging this house of all things Christmas with a vengeance.
The remainder of the week will be spent quietly, with me printing out calendars and making plans for the next few months. One of the projects I'll be tackling will be the re-modelling of the second floor bathroom. After spending an extended time in there on the floor with various patients, it has come to my attention that the fixtures in there are way past their prime. That gave me something else to think about, as I was swilling the place down with as much bleach as I had on hand.
On the bright side, at least we are not among the hundreds who are still without power and heat in our town... at least the weather forecast is predicting warmer temperatures, and we will be able to get outside to begin the long process of cleaning up our property.
We're on the mend.
Not out of the woods just yet...
But, I have faith.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 2:57 PM
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 5:17 PM
Monday, December 23, 2013
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Although he was born into a notable Jewish family, his parents turned away from their faith, and raised young Felix without religion. He was later baptized as a Reformed Christian. He was recognized as a musical prodigy at an early age, but his parents were careful, and resisted capitalizing upon his remarkable talent.
Mendelssohn had what were considered to be "conservative" musical tastes, and he blended characteristics of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven with those of more contemporary composers. After enjoying a great deal of success in Germany, he travelled throughout Europe, and was then very well received in Great Britain, where he toured on ten occasions. He was greatly admired, and then befriended, by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
As with so many great artists, Mendelssohn had a highly sensitive temperament, and frequently worked himself into states of extreme nervous exhaustion. During his life, he was known as "The Discontented Polish Count", and he referred to this epithet in his own letters. After his death, however, the family made a concerted effort to promote the image that he had always been a happy and equable person. This was apparently not the case at all, a great deal of the time.
His strange and inappropriate behaviour may actually have been a symptom of the health problems that would lead to his premature death. He often flew into fits of rage that would end with his physical collapse. Eduard Devrient wrote his recollections of Mendelssohn in 1869. Apparently on one occasion in the 1830s, Mendelssohn's wishes were not obeyed, and the result was that "his excitement was increased so fearfully... that when the family was assembled... he began to talk incoherently, and in English to the great terror of them all. The stern voice of his father at last checked the wild torrent of words; they took him to bed, and a profound sleep of twelve hours restored him to his normal state."
It would seem that Mendelssohn was perhaps suffering a series of small strokes, and it was this affliction that eventually ended his life at the age of 38, on November 4, 1847.
"Christus" was the title given by Mendelssohn's brother Paul to fragments of an unfinished oratorio, which was published posthumously as Op. 97. The German libretto was taken from Biblical sources by Karl Josias von Bunsen. Mendelssohn began composing the work in 1846, and continued with it during his final year. "Christus" was first performed in 1852.
The libretto of "There Shall be a Star of Morning Gleams" is linked to the star prophecy, which is found in the Book of Numbers, chapter 24, verse 17:
Most likely, this prophecy was originally intended to refer to an event in the immediate future. But by the time of the New Testament, early Christian theologians were connecting it to the Star of Bethlehem, which is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, verses 2-11:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:17 PM
Posted by Candygirlflies at 2:31 PM
Sunday, December 22, 2013
True, we're still squatting in my parents' cosy home, enjoying all the electricity and warmth and eating up the Christmas baking... but we're worried about those we left behind, not the least of whom are our menagerie of cats, hamsters, and a small herd of woinking guinea pigs. We are assured that they have been wrapped in blankets and towels and are snuggled in front of the fire... but we are longing to be with them.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:59 PM
I know. We're never dull, and classy house guests that way.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:23 AM
Friday, December 20, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:50 PM
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:42 PM
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
and performed by Tenebrae
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:12 PM
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
and performed by The Vasari Singers
I could not love thee more
if thou wast Christ the King.
Now tell me, how did Mary know
that in her womb should sleep and grow
The Lord of everything?
An angel stood with her,
who said ʻThat which doth stir
Like summer in thy side
shall save the world from sin.
Then stable, hall and inn shall cherish Christmas-tide.ʼ
And so it was that Day.
And did she love him more
because an angel came
to prophesy his name?
Ah no, not so,
she could not love Him more,
But loved Him just the same.
Lullee, lullee, lullee, lullay.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:58 PM
Well, it's that time of year again.
Wee Three: How long have gramma and grampa been married?
Terrible Two: About five million years.
Sometimes I'm sure it feels that way for them. But for the rest of us, they are the constant in our family's universe.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 7:09 AM
Monday, December 16, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
A few years ago, I discovered the most amazing series from the BBC, entitled "Victorian Farm Christmas". It is a wonderfully entertaining resource, which teaches the history of many of the Christmas traditions that we observe to this day, including the making of a wide variety of decorations, different recipes, and of course, the good old Christmas cracker!
Here is a snippet on how to make your own Christmas crackers, if it's still early enough in the month that you're feeling energized and enthusiastic.
(Those of us who are disorganized and frazzled will simply watch, and then nip out to the stores and buy some, before they're all sold out.)
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:06 PM
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Although the tradition of the Christkindl is still popular in some parts of the world, it continues to face serious competition with Santa Claus. I would imagine that this is because Santa Claus has a much better publicity department, and gets more press.
The name Christkindl began to change over time, especially after it was introduced to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch community in the early 1800s. Christkindl eventually became what many people now know as "Kris Kringle": another name for Santa Claus. The name "Kris Kringle" became wildly popular with the release of the film "Miracle on 34th Street".
If you have the misfortune to be invited to such an event this year, as I have, allow me to pass along this tidbit of wisdom:
An inexpensive itunes gift card makes a far superior choice for exchange, rather than a wonky coffee mug that lists dangerously to the right, emblazoned "Here comes SLANTA Claus!"
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:54 PM
Well, here's a sassy little Star of Bethlehem, from one of my favourite Christmas films of all time!
If you haven't yet seen this gem, starring the magnificent Martin Freeman, then I insist you purchase yourself a copy. It's completely hilarious from beginning to end, is packed with improvised dialogue, and features a brilliantly original version of the "traditional" Christmas story.
No airy-fairy Disney nonsense here... You'll go between being on the edge of your seat, and rolling on the floor laughing as you watch primary teacher Mr. Paul Maddins and his "Educational" Assistant Mr. Poppy pull off the craziest Nativity Pageant EVER.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:45 AM
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Ursuline Order of Roman Catholic nuns was founded in Italy in 1535, and was one known as La Compagnie de Saint-Ursule. In 1639, at the request of the Jesuit priests, three Ursulines arrived in Québec City. One of those women was the 40-year-old widowed Marie de l’Incarnation, born Marie Guyart.
Marie's husband had been a silk merchant, and died when his wife was just nineteen years old, leaving her to care for her infant son, Claude. Marie was also left with a struggling business to run-- which she did until it became successful enough for her to sell, thus enabling her to return to her family home. There, she supported herself and her child with the beautiful embroidery that would later become so important in her religious and teaching career.
Guyart experienced a mystical vision on March 24, 1620, which set in motion a series of events that would completely transform her life. In 1621, she decided to enter the Ursuline monastery in Tours. This cannot have been an easy decision, as it meant leaving her young son to be raised by another family. Claude was so completely distraught by being abandoned by his mother, he attempted to storm the monastery with a band of schoolboys. It was not until many years later, when he was ordained as a Benedictine Monk, that he re-established contact with his mother, and the two were able to correspond about their spiritual and emotional trials
When these women arrived in The New World in August, 1639, Quebec was hardly a town: only six houses stood at the foot of the mountain, on the spot that had been chosen by Samuel de Champlain thirty-one years earlier. They established their convent, and moved into a stone building in the upper town in 1642, on the site where the modern buildings are situated today. Their school for girls gradually flourished, and they soon built a boarding house to accept live-in students.
Because the school exclusively taught female students, the curriculum focused on what were considered "the female arts", with an emphasis on sewing and needlework. The craftsmanship in all of the articles on exhibition in the museum is nothing short of spectacular. Samplers and baby garments were created with as much care and attention to detail as the elaborate altar pieces and religious robes. Of distinction is the collection of liturgical vestments and altar frontals, which include examples of the most remarkable three-dimensional embroidery techniques: the silver, gold and silk threads are padded-up and reinforced by horse hair, which is then completely covered over by the exquisite stitching. The students were taught a complete range of artistic subjects, including drawing, painting, sculpting, and the playing of a wide variety of musical instruments.
The girls of New France were exceptionally fortunate, because the nuns also believed in instructing them in subjects that were traditionally reserved for boys. As well as learning cooking and nutritional health, they were given lessons in chemistry and physics. They were taught ways to prevent and treat illness and injury, and also received courses in botany and biology. They were taught to run an economically sound household, and the complex mathematical skills required to ensure that this would be a certainty. The idea of giving females a complete and well-rounded education was a revolutionary one in the early 1600's. It is astounding to think of the kind of lives the average female faced in Europe at that time by comparison: such teaching was reserved for the highest nobility, and even then, women were rarely (if ever) given the opportunity to actually utilize the knowledge that they had. Advanced schooling made them "marriage-able", and almost never "power-ful". The colony of New France was a whole new playing-field, however. Establishing and maintaining a self-sustaining life was unthinkably hard, and all people-- men, women and children alike-- had to use every wit and ounce of stamina they had in order to survive. In this way, women DID become "power-ful", as clever, skilled and practical females provided a strong foundation upon which to build a new society.
When we visited the convent, chapel and final resting place of Marie de l’Incarnation, we were guided by a member of the "modern" Ursuline Order. She told us that the favourite school-room of their founding Mother was outdoors, under a particular ash tree. She would sit, and the Native children would gather around her, in the atmosphere where they felt most comfortable. The ash tree lived for many, many more years than Marie de l’Incarnation, who passed away on April 30, 1672. Once it fell, however, it was severed into many pieces, which were passed on to other churches and kept as holy relics.
I had a wonderful chat with our guide, and our conversation deepened when we discovered we were both teachers. I told her a little bit about the extremely challenging year I had just experienced with the community class I had taught, and she was full of good counsel and encouragement. She eventually pushed a small prayer pamphlet into my hands, and invited me to sit down in a beautifully carved wooden chair, beside Marie de l’Incarnation's tomb. She left me to it, and I was able to enjoy ten or fifteen minutes of silent solitude, which was remarkably refreshing and surprisingly restful, considering the emotional turbulence that had been plaguing me since school had let out just a few short days before.
As I was departing the chapel, the tiny nun approached me to say goodbye, and asked me if I was feeling better. I said that I was, and promised that I would persevere and make positive changes in my teaching career.
It was then that she pointed back towards the chair that I had been sitting in.
"That cross?" she said, in her deeply accented English. She pointed to a tiny carved detail, which was an insertion of blond wood, in contrast to the rest of the chair which was stained a much deeper colour.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:49 PM
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunter heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."
Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."
O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."
Father Jean de Brébeuf was a Jesuit missionary who was sent from France to the New World. From what we now know as "Old" Quebec City, he traveled West, and eventually settled near where I live, in a place called "Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons", in what is now Midland, Ontario. Father Brébeuf was a truly great man, and he loved and admired the people he was sent to serve. Like any good teacher, he understood that he had as much (if not more) to learn from the Huron people as they did from him.
A prime example of this was in his understanding of the necessity to preserve and record the Wendat language. As a scholar, he excelled in the study and acquisition of languages, and he demonstrated a significant ability to represent sounds in writing. He is also said to have mastered the native oratory style, which used metaphor, circumlocution and repetition, in order to tell a story. He was the first to record the existence of compound words in the Wendat language, and this enormous breakthrough in the study of Native language became the foundation for all further Jesuit linguistic work.
Father Brébeuf wrote what is now referred to as "The Huron Carol" in the Wendat language. The song's original title is "Jesous Ahatonhia", which means "Jesus is Born". The melody is based upon a traditional French folk song, "Un Jeune Pucelle". In 1926, Jesse Edgar Middleton translated the carol into English. The story of the Nativity is told in such a way that it "blends" the two very different cultures: Jesus is born in a lodge of broken bark, rather than a stable, and wrapped in rabbit skin, rather than swaddling clothes. He is surrounded by hunters, rather than shepherds, and the name used to refer to the Creator, Gitchi Manitou, originates from the Algonquian dialect. Brébeuf seemed to understand that the Native people would never simply abandon all of their traditional beliefs, and made a great effort to make his Christian teachings more acceptable for the Huron.
|The Martyr's Shrine|
Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Quebec City with my eldest daughter, who was embarking on a five-week French exchange. While there, we toured many churches and cathedrals, including the beautiful Jesuit chapel.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 11:15 PM
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
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Monday, December 9, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:32 PM
Sunday, December 8, 2013
For as long as I can remember, my dear old dad has never failed to deliver The Classic Line From the Kitchen during the grand finale of our family's Christmas Dinner:
Posted by Candygirlflies at 10:17 PM
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:38 PM
Executives also had qualms about the decision to use actual children to voice several of the characters, rather than hiring adults. Although Peter Robbins (the voice of Charlie Brown), Christopher Shea (Linus) and Tracy Stratford (Lucy) were experienced young actors, others had some difficulty. Kathy Steinburg, the little girl who played Sally, was so young that she couldn't read, and had to be cued one line at a time, throughout the entire production.
Apparently, the inclusion of jazz music composed by the great Vince Guaraldi was also felt to be an inappropriate choice for what CBS considered to be a "children's program".
Clearly, the Powers that Be had completely missed the point of what the "Peanuts" comic strip was actually all about.
As I'm sure you can all imagine, the BIGGEST fight that Charles M. Schulz had with the network was about the inclusion of Linus' monologue. Schulz, who was a deeply spiritual man, wanted to not only include the story of Christ's birth, taken from the Gospel of Luke, but he also insisted upon using the King James Version of the Bible as the script.
Executives tried every argument they could think of to influence him to cut the scene. They were convinced that the American public would completely loose interest in the show and change the channel... And when it became clear that they weren't going to win, they tried using a threat:
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:00 AM
Friday, December 6, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 7:16 AM
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Posted by Candygirlflies at 7:11 AM