Friday, December 31, 2010

Hogmanay 2011

Spectacular Torchlight Procession

Hogmanay: Biggest and friendliest party on the planet

Published Date: 31 December 2010
By Tim Cornwell

Edinburgh's Hogmanay organisers claimed a late surge in ticket sales for the Street Party celebration tonight after winter storms had stalled visitors' plans for the party in the capital.
As Scotland prepared for its biggest night of the year, celebrations kicked off in Edinburgh to the cool sounds of jazz and early fireworks. A huge crowd of people

snaked through the city in the annual Torchlight Procession to Calton Hill on a cold clear night that showed off Edinburgh's beauty to the full.

A New Year's Day "conversation" with crime writers Ian Rankin and Lin Anderson, discussing Edinburgh's place in life and art, became the latest Hogmanay event to sell out yesterday. All tickets have sold for both the Concert in the Gardens headlined by Biffy Clyro and The Keilidh, the open air ceilidh.

Hogmanay organiser, Unique Events' Pete Irvine, hailed the opening of the "biggest and friendliest party on the planet".

He said: "The Street Party was ahead of sales on last year until that bad weather. Then they stalled, so we were concerned, but in the last few days they are selling faster.

"We live in a late-ticket world now. At the beginning and at the moment, they are selling faster than previously."

However, Mr Irvine declined to give any details of how many of some 80,000 Street Party tickets had now sold. "No promoter will tell people, to start a mass panic or mass rush," he said. Tickets were still available yesterday for both the Street Party and the New Year's Day concert headlined by KT Tunstall.

• Hogmanay: good times on a smaller scale

• Staff jet-lagged on leaving festive time zone

• Hogmanay fashion: Ring out the old looks, ring in the new – or add a twist to a classic

Places for the Loony Dook New Year's plunge have gone faster than before.

"There is no real competition for this. Round the world there are fireworks displays but there is nothing like this. We think the anticipation and the buzz is here and the city is full of people. We say we are the home of Hogmanay, which is a bit couthy, but we are the only New Year's celebration."

Edinburgh's Hogmanay has shrunk from five days to closer to three. Organisers will be watching to see if this year's figures live up to those of last year, when visitors from 55 countries bought tickets, and nearly 90 percent of accomodation in the city filled, generating an estimated £24 million worth of business for Edinburgh and £29m for the Scottish economy.

Backers claim the concentrated celebration will create a better atmosphere. While this year's numbers have yet to be tallied, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm among visitors.

"It's one of the things you have to do before you die," said Matthew Cole, a London journalist visiting the city with his girlfriend, Jackie Brown.

"I've been to Edinburgh before and loved the place, so wanted to come back at Hogmanay.

It's lovely to be here, it's very romantic."

"I've always heard that Edinburgh is a great place for Hogmanay, and I've never done it," Ms Brown said. "There's a whole atmosphere here."

The Scottish Government's Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, said: "This is the best place to party on Hogmanay. It's a fantastic opening of a whole series of festivities."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dunblane Cathedral Handbell Ringers

Baloo Lammy (Child born of Mary) - performed by Dunblane Cathedral Handbell Ringers

17th Century Scottish

. A musical setting can be found in Roy Ringwald's Book Of American Carols (2004), who gives attribution for the first verse to John Wedderburn, 1567. He states that the author of verses 2 and 3 is unknown. The full original title was "An Sang of the birth of Christ," from James, John and Robert Wedderburn's Ane Compendium Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567)
. A musical setting can be found in Roy Ringwald's Book Of American Carols (2004), who gives attribution for the first verse to John Wedderburn, 1567. He states that the author of verses 2 and 3 is unknown. The full original title was "An Sang of the birth of Christ," from James, John and Robert Wedderburn's Ane Compendium Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567)

A Rare Scottish Carol known as Baloo Lamby

Baloo, Lammy is a Scottish Carol from the 17th century. This song came from a performance of the Nashville Early Music Ensemble at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, TN on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.
















Version 2

This day to you is born a child
of Mary meek, the Virgin mild.
That blessed bairn, so loving and kind
shall now rejoice both heart and mind.
Baloo Lammy.
A star appeared this blessed morn,
and unto us a child is born.
To heaven He'll lead us from near and far,
So follow, follow that wondrous star.
Baloo Lammy.

Collected in the Shetland Islands

*Bairn is Scots for Child
bairn "child". This is one of the most obviously Scandinavian words in Scots,
with a cognate - barn - used in practically all Nordic languages.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eloise Harriet Stannard

1829 - 1915

The daughter of Alfred Stannard, Eloise was a member of one of the foremost families of artists which characterised the Norwich School. She may have attended her father's art classes, and assisted in his studio. Her earliest work shows the influence of the Dutch Still Life Masters and in particular Van Huysum, but by the mid 1860s she had developed her own style, depicting less formal compositions, painted in natural light. The quality of her painting ensured many patrons, and the Norwich Corporation permitted her to use pieces of their plate in her pictures.

Exhibited : Royal Academy (1856-1893); British Institute (1852-1867)

This is just great!

Christmas Rose, Hellebores

Hellebores, or Helleborus niger, is known as the Christmas Rose since it blooms in December. In some areas, depending on your weather, it’ll start blooming in fall. The leaves are usually evergreen, which also adds to its appeal. Hellebores are very deer and rodent proof.

Hellebores are a stemless herbaceous perennial, native to Europe. It grows up to 18” tall. The flowers are usually white, although some will have a dusty rose color.

How to grow Hellebores Hellebores like moist, shady soil. So be sure to give it lots of water regularly after planting, and into the fall, when the ground may be drier than other times of the year. They like neutral or slightly alkaline soil.

Give them some shelter – plant them near a building in order to protect them from wind and cold.

You can view them best if you are viewing them straight on or from below. So, planting them at the top of a retaining wall, for example, will help you to appreciate their flowers more.

They are hardy from zones 3 to 8 in the U.S.

They can be difficult to divide as the roots snap off very easily, so a lot of care must be taken when dividing.

All parts of Hellebores are poisonous, the roots being especially poisonous. This would account for its deer-proof properties. Certainly, don’t eat any parts of the plant, but also be very careful handling this plant – it can cause skin irritations. Wear gloves!

Borage and Hellebore fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy and cheer the heart
Of those black fumes which make it smart

From Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy

The Christmas Rose flowers from December to April, it's beautiful white petals and deep green foliage standing out amidst the dull, leafless terrain of winter.

It really isn't a rose at all, but the Black Hellebore, a member of the hellebore family and one of the most poisonous plants in existence. The name "Hellebore" comes from the Greek elein (to injure) and bora (food), which roughly translated means injurious food. It is called Black Hellebore because of its dark colored rootstock.

It has been used medicinally in Greece around 1500 B.C., where it was called Melampode in reference to Melampus the physician who first employed it as a medicinal herb. Melampus used it as a purgative in treating mania. Herbalists used it thoughout the centuries for curing madness, as a tranqulizer, and in a concoction washed onto walls to rid households of flies.

In ancient times, the Black Hellbore was considered to have a powerful ability to drive away evil spirits. People would bless their livestock with the Black Hellebore, to protect them from evil spells. Sorcerers were said to use hellebore to make themselves invisible by casting powered hellebore in the air.

According to Parkinson, 'a piece of the root being drawne through a hole made in the eare of a beast troubled with cough or having taken any poisonous thing cureth it, if it be taken out the next day at the same houre.'

Many historians speculate that the Black Hellebore probably became associated with Christmas because it blooms at Christmas time, and Christ as the rose is a common metaphor found in the Holy Bible. As well, Martin Luther King, the founder of the Protestant Christian movement, adopted it as his coat of arms and insignia.

Finally, here is a beautiful legend, adapted and written into story form in the 1500s by Lizzie Deas told of the Christmas Rose:

When the Magi laid their rich offerings of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping.

She, too, had sought the Christ Child. She, too, desired to bring him gifts. But she had nothing to offer, for she was very poor indeed. In vain she had searched the countryside over for one little flower to bring Him, but she could find neither bloom nor leaf, for the winter had been cold.

And as she stood there weeping, an angel passing saw her sorrow, and stooping he brushed aside the snow at her feet. And there sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses, -- waxen white with pink tipped petals.

"Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold," said the angel, "is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses."

Down in Yon Forest

Traditional English

1. Down in yon forest there stands a hall:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

It's covered all over with purple and pall

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

2 In that hall there stands a bed:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

It's covered all over with scarlet so red:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

3 At the bed-side there lies a stone:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

4 Under that bed there runs a flood:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

The one half runs water, the other runs blood:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

5 At the bed's foot there grows a thorn:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Which ever blows blossom since he was born:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

6 Over that bed the moon shines bright:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Denoting our Saviour was born this night:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Singing this carol here is Joan Baez

Down in Yon Forest" (or "Down in Yon Forrest") is a traditional English Christmas carol dating to the Renaissance period.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Silent NIght by my friend Solitaire Miles

by Solitaire Miles

"Silent Night" (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in Austria by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.[1] The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber's original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

Amazing Video of Frozen Lighthouse on Lake Erie

The Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse turned into an artistic testament to nature after high winds and subzero temperatures continually coated the structure with ice Tuesday afternoon.

After waves from Lake Erie propelled by high winds coated the structure, the lighthouse began to take this beautiful shape, reported the Washington Post.

The natural ice sculpture isn't without its hazards however, as the ice obscures the actual purpose of the lighthouse. The Coast Guard has issued a warning of hazardous conditions to mariners, who won't be able to see the lights or distinguish their colors, reports MSNBC.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue

1. There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;

2. For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda.

3. By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma.

4. The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:

5. Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;

6. Alleluia, res miranda,
Pares forma, gaudeamus,

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue

English Traditional, c. 1420

"This is one of thirteen carols found in a Cambridge MS., T.C.C.o. 3, 58, part of which at least is attributed to John Dunstable of Henry VII's Chapel. It is quite uncertain whether he wrote the words as well as the music."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just 10F here tonight

A favorite old Movie for the Holidays

I never get sick of "It's a wonderful life".

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" written by Philip Van Doren Stern.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and the contributions he has made to his community.

Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic and a staple of Christmas television around the world. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes … it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."

It's a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, but the film has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, and placed number one on their list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Rat Hunter

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Sunday in Advent

O Key of David, Jesus Christ,
the gates of heaven open at your command,
come and show us the way to salvation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Message of Peace

Apple Tree Morris-Speed the Plow

Come each jolly fellow that seeks to be mellow
Attend unto me and sit easy
For a pint when its quiet
Me lads let us try it
Dull thinking will drive a man crazy

I have lawns, I have bowers
I have fruit, I have flowers
And the lark is my morning alarmer
So be jolly boys now
Here's good luck to the plow
Long life and success to the farmer

Draw near to my table, my lads, when you're able
Let me hear not one word of complaining
For the tinkling of glasses all music surpasses
And I love to see bottles a-draining
For here I am king
I will dance, drink and sing
Let no man appear as a stranger
And show me the ass that refuses a glass
And I'll treat him to hay in a manger

Let the wealthy and great roll in splendor and state,
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own ham, my own chicken and lamb
I shear my own fleece and I wear it.
By plowing and sowing
By reaping and mowing
King nature affords me a plenty
I've a cellar well stored
And a plentiful board
And a garden affords every dainty

I love slowly decorating my place right up to Christmas eve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cherry Tree Carol

When Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
He courted our Mary,
The Queen of Galilee (2x)

And when he had wedded her
And home had her brought
she proved to be with child
though Joseph knew her not

As they went a walkin
In yonder fair grove
They saw cherries and berries
as red as any blood

Then up spoke young Mary
In words meek and mild
Won't you gather cherries, Joseph
For I am with child.

Then up spoke old Joseph
In words so unkind
Let him gather cherries, Mary
Who got thee with child

Then up spoke Christ Jesus
From within his mother's womb
Bow down thou cherry tree
For my mother to have some

Then the highest branches on the tree
bowed to Mother Mary's knee
And she gathered of the cherries
By one two and three

When Jesus was a young child
Mary dandled on her knee
She asked of her young son
What shall this world be

This world is no other than
the stones in the street
But the sun moon and stars
shall sail under thy feet

Child #54

There are allot of versions of this song. I learned this from Custer LaRue. This is one of the most popular of English religious folk ballads. Its tale derives from the Pseudo-Matthew gospel, and in medieval times was frequently dramatized in folk plays and mystery pageants including, among others, those performed by the Grey Friars in Coventry. Fuller versions of the ballad sometimes contain predictions of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection.

Today I am so Sad.

I just read vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain. They chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump. The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year - at Christmas and Easter - and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

I dreamed of visiting the thorn tree one day but I am too late. There are no words for the sadness I feel, this was an act of hate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chautauqua County land of Lake Snows

I live in Chautauqua County, in the southwestern corner of New York State.It is located along the New York-Pennsylvania border, is the westernmost of New York's counties. Chautauqua Lake is located in the center of the county, and Lake Erie is its northern border.

Part of the Eastern Continental Divide runs through Chautauqua County. The area that drains into the Conewango Creek (including Chautauqua Lake) eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the rest of the county's watershed empties into Lake Erie and out into the North Atlantic Ocean. This divide, known as the Chautauqua Ridge, can be used to mark the border between the Southern Tier and the Niagara Frontier. It is also a significant dividing point in the county's geopolitics, with the "North County" being centered around Dunkirk and the "South County" centered around Jamestown.

The snow we are getting right now is Lake effect snow. When cold air moves across Lake Erie it picks up moisture from the warm lake which has not yet frozen and then dumps it as snow as it flows over the land and up over Chautauqua Ridge often hammer us here in Stedman on the hilltop with lots of snow like its doing this week.

I think we have about three feet now.

I think we have about three feet of snow now and its still coming....

The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The steed and traveler stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structure, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We now have about 18 inches of snow.

Monday, December 6, 2010


All bright and clear, the starry vault
With golden lights and crisp, clean air,
Allures the soul to rise, nor halt
Till she shall float exultant there.

Earth folds her form in ermine cloak,
Whose glist'ning sheen reflects the stars;
Clear rings the skaters' rhythmic stroke
From stream held fast in icy bars.

Uprears the sun at morning's birth,
In glory bathes the wood and plain;
Day's busy hum awakes the earth
To view the scene of Winter's reign.

We love the smile of youthful Spring,
There's gladness in the Summer's glow,
And rich in Autumn's harvesting,--
Yet, greater gifts can Winter show,--

Rare gifts, surpassing pearls and gold;
God's Mother-Maid, Immaculate,
And Christ the King--these, Winter old
Brings down to bless man's poor estate.


Fleur de Lis. December 1922

Thoughts on the Second Week in Advent

Advent Antiphons

From Mary's sweet silence
Come, Word mutely spoken!

Pledge of our real life,
Come, Bread yet unbroken!

Seed of the Golden Wheat,
In us be sown.

Fullness of true Light,
Through us be known.

Secret held tenderly,
Guarded with Love,

Cradled in purity,
Child of the Dove,


Sr. M. Charlita, I.H.M.

Robert, Cyrus. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. New York: Marist Press,

It has been said that mainstream Christianity is a religion based on the life story of Jesus rather than on His teachings and I think in many ways that is true. Few churches seem to understand the message Jesus had for the world of humility and love. If you want to really be a Christian you have to dump the trappings and get down to the message of love and peace that was being taught by Jesus. When I was in my twenties I saw the rise of the "warehouse" Christians and was so dismayed. The 80s was the beginning of the great age of Narcissism both secular and religious. I fellowship with a small church that is caring and very nurturing. It has deep roots in the community and is very inclusive and laid back. I consider myself very lucky I still have my faith and that it is reinforced by the wonderful people who share my belief that Jesus would have us take risks to help others and strive to be selfless. I love following the Christian calendar through the year. Advent and lent of course are the biggies. I lit the second candle on my advent wreath yesterday and the carols we sang are ones of expectation and waiting. The joy I feel never seems to dim as the years roll by.

-Beth Maxwell Boyle

The Rams Horn

The Rams Horn on Facebook