Saturday, January 29, 2011

Late January in Stedman

For ye are all one

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams

The Lark Ascending is a work for violin and orchestra written in 1914 by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The composition was inspired by George Meredith's 122-line poem of the same name about the skylark. It is one of the most popular pieces in the Classical repertoire among British listeners.

The work was written for and dedicated to the English violinist Marie Hall, who gave the first performance with piano accompaniment. Contrary to the popular imagination, Vaughan Williams actually wrote sketches for it while watching troop ships cross the English Channel at the outbreak of the First World War. A small boy observed him making the sketches and, thinking he was jotting down a secret code, informed a police officer who subsequently arrested the composer.

The war halted composition, but the work was reopened in 1920 and revised together with with Marie Hall during their stay at Kingsweston House near Bristol. The premier was in December 1920 in conjunction with the Avonmouth and Shirehampton Choral Society followed by the first London performance under conductor Adrian Boult on 14 June 1921, again with Marie Hall as soloist. The critic from The Times said of the first performance, "It showed supreme disregard for the ways of today or yesterday. It dreamed itself along".

The use of pentatonic scale patterns frees the violin from a strong tonal centre, and shows the impressionistic side of Vaughan Williams' style. This liberty also extends to the metre. The cadenzas for solo violin are written without bar lines, lending them a sense of meditational release.

In the mid-20th Century The Lark Ascending became especially associated with the English violinist Hugh Bean. From 2007 to 2010, the piece was voted number one in the Classic FM annual Hall of Fame poll, over Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and another work of Vaughan Williams', the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

The Lark Ascending
by George Meredith

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner springs,
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her music’s mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill
Disperses; drinking, showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
That trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,
’T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hills, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.

Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost on his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

Agnus Dei, was Jesus married?

Agnus Dei is a Latin term meaning Lamb of God, and was originally used to refer to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering that atones for the sins of humanity in Christian theology, harkening back to ancient Jewish Temple sacrifices. The phrase "Agnus Dei" refers to several uses of this title.

The Biblical significance of the title is rendered in the context of earlier lamb symbolism. The blood of the paschal lamb of the Old Testament protects and saves the Israelites in Exodus 12. This link is made explicit in 1 Corinthians 5:7. For Paul, Christians are saved by Christ as their true paschal lamb.

The Old Testament also testifies to the earlier practice of sin offerings as a possible means of atonement. Lambs could be used in these offerings (e.g. Leviticus 4:32-34 and Leviticus 5:6), and this link is strongly suggested by Gospel of John 1:29 and 1 Peter 1:19. Just as in Judaism sins could be forgiven through the offering and the pouring out of the blood of an "unblemished" lamb (cf. Leviticus 4:32), so Christians believe they can be freed from sin by the blood of Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God. Those who reject the lamb of God atonement theology often say that blood cannot forgive sin and that Jesus taught us to remove our sins by repentance, love and forgiving others.

Lastly, Christians believe that the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus, although many identify the servant as Israel personified arguing that the identity of the servant has already been established by Isaiah in previously stated passages (Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 44:1-2, Isaiah 44:22; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 49:3). According to Isaiah 53, the suffering servant remains silent "like a lamb led to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7) and "gives his life as an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). Christians add that this link is explicit in Acts 8:32 and strengthens the idea of Jesus as a sin offering. Those who reject the Lamb of God Theology say that Isaiah 53 cannot be applied to the suffering servant for the servant in Is. 53 has children and Jesus was celibate. But was he?

There are increasing numbers of people who believe Mary Madeline was Jesus' bride and that in fact the "Holy Grail" is Christ's bloodline. It is all very interesting to think about, I think. I have come to think Jesus was probably married based on what I have researched partly because all rabbis of his generation were required to be married and he was called rabbi regularly and taught in the synagogue. It should also be noted here the early church leaders were not celibate nor were the original 12 disciples. Mary, Jesus' mother and Mary Madeline were the two people who remained at the cross during the crucifixion. Is it not seemingly obvious that the wife of Jesus and his mother would be there and comfort each other as family? Would an un married women be allowed to hang out with a bunch of men and with Jesus? Mary Madeline was more than likely included in the private gatherings of the disciples because she was Jesus' wife. It was Mary Madeline who was the first to see Jesus at the tomb. Would not the wife be the one most likely to go to the grave early? Let's not forget there is a blank space in the record that covers eighteen years in the life of Christ (from age 12 to 30). Those are the the years most people reproduce, are they not? Why does Jesus have to be unmarried for his message to be valid?. The fact is he did not have to be. Nowhere in the Gospels do the writers declare that Jesus did not have a wife.

If you listen closely to the words of Jesus they hold universal truths of love and acceptance and they give you a clear guide of how to live and how to not live. All the dogma and drama in the American Christian scene today is far from what He intended for us as his disciples on this earth. So much of organized Christianity is a religion based on the story of his life rather than on His teachings. That needs to change if the Church is to survive. The underlying thrust of all His message is love. In the Gospel of Mark you have it summed up -"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Samuel Barber: Agnus Dei (Adagio for strings)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scottish Agate Jewelry

Scottish silver jewellery made with agates

Agates are a type of chalcedony formed when silica-bearing solutions penetrate into cooled volcanic lava. After millions of years, the resulting "nuggets" of agate finally get exposed on the surface of the ground and can be collected. In fact, during the 19th century agates could easily be found on Scottish beaches which is why jewellery made with agate stones was often known as "pebble jewellery". Agates can still be found at various locations all over Scotland. They come in all sorts of colours and patterns; the colour is influenced by the type of impurity (for example carnelian agate, which has a reddish hue, contains traces of iron oxides). Victorian silver/agate jewellery is highly collectable and often commands a three-figure price.

Rare Burns letter unearthed

Rare Burns letter unearthed in stately home links giants of Enlightenment

Published Date: 25 January 2011

IT IS a centuries-old document which offers a tantalising insight into the creative process of Scotland's Bard.
An unpublished letter by Robert Burns, which contains an early version of one of his poems, has been discovered in a castle's archives.

The correspondence, which dates back 222 years, had been hailed as a "remarkable literary discovery" by Burns experts, given the way it charts the evolution of his work, and will go on public display later this year.

Unearthed in Floors Castle in Kelso, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, the letter was sent by Burns to James Gregory, the then professor of medicine at Edinburgh University and head of the city's medical school.

Dated 13 May, 1789, it contains a draft version of On Seeing a Wounded Hare which contains an extra verse the poet later deleted. Burns sent the letter from Ellisland, his farm in Lower Nithsdale, north of Dumfries. He counted Gregory as a friend and valued his literary opinion.

In the text, he thanks Gregory for his support and invites his comments and criticism, asking him to "mark the faulty lines with your pencil".

The letter was found in a 19th century autograph book belonging to the 6th Duke of Roxburghe, and was initially spotted by a member of visitor services staff at the castle.

The book contained various literary and historical documents belonging to members of the family dating back to the time of King Charles I, but the current duke was still amazed to discover the Burns letter.

"This discovery is a delightful surprise," he said yesterday. "We do not know how the 6th duke came into possession of the letter but we believe he was a keen collector of letters and autographs, as Dickens' autograph also features in the book.

"Like most Scots, we are huge admirers of Burns and Burns Night will have extra special meaning this year. The letter will go on public display at Floors when the castle opens to the public in the spring."

• Advice often asked for but rarely taken

In the wake of the letter's discovery, staff at Floors took it to a series of Burns experts to establish its authenticity.

The document was eventually verified by Professor David Purdie, editor-in-chief of the Burns Encyclopaedia.

Dr Iain Gordon Brown, principal curator of manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, and Dr Gerard Carruthers, director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, also confirmed the letter was genuine.

Prof Purdie hailed the unearthing of the correspondence, describing it as a "remarkable discovery".

He said: "Unpublished letters of Robert Burns are extremely rare and this example is doubly interesting as it not only displays the evolution of one of his poems, The Wounded Hare, published in the 1793 Edinburgh Edition of his Poems, but, in Burns and Gregory, it brings together major figures of both the literary and scientific components of the Enlightenment.

"This is the only letter that we know of from Burns to Gregory. Burns rated Gregory as a literary critic. They had met in Edinburgh at the dinner table of Lord Monboddo - one of the great law lords of the 18th century - and got on well."

The poem, provisionally tit-led On Seeing a Wounded Hare Limp by Me, Which a Fellow Had Just Shot, was written by Burns after he discovered a doe hare had been shot by a man named Thomson who stayed on a farm near Ellisland. Burns confronted the man and threatened to throw him in to the River Nith for his actions, before deciding his pen was a mightier weapon.

The early version contains a fourth verse which reads: "Perhaps a mother's anguish adds its woe/The playful pair crowd fondly by thy side/ Ah! helpless nurslings, who will now provide/ That life a mother only can bestow!"




[This Poem is founded on fact. A young man of the name of Thomson told
me--quite unconscious of the existence of the Poem--that while Burns
lived at Ellisland--he shot at and hurt a hare, which in the twilight
was feeding on his father's wheat-bread. The poet, on observing the
hare come bleeding past him, "was in great wrath," said Thomson, "and
cursed me, and said little hindered him from throwing me into the
Nith; and he was able enough to do it, though I was both young and
strong." The boor of Nithside did not use the hare worse than the
critical Dr. Gregory, of Edinburgh, used the Poem: when Burns read his
remarks he said, "Gregory is a good man, but he crucifies me!"]

Inhuman man! curse on thy barb'rous art,
And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye;
May never pity soothe thee with a sigh,
Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart.

Go live, poor wanderer of the wood and field!
The bitter little that of life remains:
No more the thickening brakes and verdant plains
To thee shall home, or food, or pastime yield.

Seek, mangled wretch, some place of wonted rest,
No more of rest, but now thy dying bed!
The sheltering rushes whistling o'er thy head,
The cold earth with thy bloody bosom prest.

Oft as by winding Nith, I, musing, wait
The sober eve, or hail the cheerful dawn;
I'll miss thee sporting o'er the dewy lawn,
And curse the ruffian's aim, and mourn thy hapless fate.

Happy 252nd Birthday Robert Burns

Biography of Robert Burns - Poet of Scotland

Scots around the world celebrate January 25 (Rabbie's birthday, born in 1759) with a Burns Night Supper, revolving around the haggis (To A Haggis), the whisky, and the toasts to the lassies. This has been going on since Burns' death over 200 years ago and, along with our singing of Auld Lang Syne each New Year's Eve, indicates the tremendous impact this young roué and some-time farmer has had on his country and culture.

Robert Burns grew up poor, his father a struggling Ayrshire farmer who did his best to educate his bright and lively son even though not many years could be spent at school. Still, Burns was a reader and learnt not only the ins and outs of his own language, but English as well (and some French).

His English poetry is considered "okay" but not especially inspired. Rather, Robert Burns achieved immortality through his almost single-handed efforts to reinvigorate the Scottish vernacular through his wonderful poetry and his rescue of hundreds of the folk songs of Scotland.

Robert Burns' poetry revolves around country and town life, the life he knew. He wrote satires about the "high and mighty", particularly the self-righteous and the tyranny of the kirk (Address to the Unco Guid). He composed beautiful love poems (Jean), some tender, some sassy, about the many women he loved. He wrote with affection, respect and often high humor (Tam o' Shanter) about country folk and their lives. He had a heart for the wee-est of creatures (To a Mouse, To a Louse) - and could compose at the drop of a hat.

Chiefly, his did immeasurable service to Scotland by reviving and rewriting dozens upon dozens of Scottish folk songs - taking the old tunes as he had learnt them, drawing upon memory for a glimpse of what they'd been about, taking perhaps a phrase or stanza, and then rewriting the songs with his own lyrics - an incredible achievement which revitalized Scottish culture and pride (at a time when it was much needed and to this very day).

Alas, no one is talented in every direction (especially famous poets, it seems). Burns failed at farming and, indeed, at every occupation he tried (aside from writing). In desperation, he published a book of his poems in 1786 and achieved an unexpected success. Unfortunately, the proceeds were ultimately used up when invested in farms that failed. Discouraged and dissipated (ah, yes, that good old-fashioned word), Burns died at the age of 37, having gone against his doctor's advice to give up the drink.

Had it not been for his extraordinary genius, he might have lived and died a typical ne'er-do-well. Fondness for the ladies, without benefit of clergy (he did finally marry Jean Armour - after they'd had four children), fondness for drink, and a complete lack of business sense have been the downfall of many a charming young man.

But Rabbie Burns was more than charming, more than handsome. He had a genuine love for people, a real respect for the down-and-outers of the world, and he really did love all those ladies (and they loved him back). He worked extremely hard at his poetry and his songs (for which he never accepted a penny, he considered the songs his gift to the Scottish people). This generosity of spirit marks what is best in the heart of man, and that is why the Scots took Rabbie Burns into their hearts and why we take him into ours.

Here is one of Robert Burn's most famous love poems:

My Luve

O my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lake Erie Ice

Lake Erie is almost completely frozen now. That means little or no more lake effect snow for awhile. Check out this tug breaking ice just few days ago for a ship to pass.
Tug MANITOU Breaking Ice at Night -Jan 17, 2011.

MANITOU is shown in this night video while breaking ice for the EDGAR B. SPEER at Erie, Pennsylvania at 1900 hours on January 17, 2011. The video was shot over the course of three hours.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Gerry Rafferty obituary

Singer and songwriter known for Stuck in the Middle With You and Baker Street

Michael Gray,

Gerry Rafferty in 2003. His songs were romantic yet sardonic, helped by his gift of perfect pitch. Photograph: Rex Features

The Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who has died aged 63 after a long illness, wrote the multimillion-selling hit Baker Street, which more than 30 years after its 1978 release still netted him an annual £80,000. At the end of the 1970s he did his best work, a series of richly resonant albums that gave no hint of their creator's inner troubles.

Rafferty was born in Paisley, near Glasgow, an unwanted third son. His father, Joseph, was an Irish-born miner. His mother, Mary Skeffington, whose name would provide a Rafferty song title, dragged young Gerry round the streets on Saturday nights so that they would not be at home when his father came back drunk. They would wait outside, in all weathers, until he had fallen asleep, to avoid a beating. "If it wasn't for you, I'd leave," Mary told Gerry. Joseph died in 1963, when Gerry was 16.

That year, Gerry left St Mirin's academy and worked in a butcher's shop and at the tax office. At weekends, he and a schoolfriend, Joe Egan, played in a local group, the Mavericks. At a dancehall in 1965, Gerry met his future wife, apprentice hairdresser Carla Ventilla. She was 15, from an Italian Clydebank family. They married in 1970, after courting at the bohemian bungalow of the artist and future playwright John "Patrick" Byrne and his wife, Alice. Byrne, also educated at St Mirin's, had long been Gerry's mentor, and had first interested Gerry in playing the guitar. Billy Connolly was also in Clydebank, and after Gerry's song Benjamin Day failed as a Mavericks single, Gerry and Egan quit the group and Gerry joined Connolly's outfit, the Humblebums, a Clydeside folk act.

The Humblebums' first LP, on the folk-oriented label Transatlantic, predated Gerry's involvement, but he and Connolly were the group for the albums The New Humblebums (1969, with cover art by Byrne, a partnership that later spanned the albums of Gerry's heyday) and Open Up the Door (1970). Despite US releases, singles written by Gerry (Shoeshine Boy and Saturday Round About Sunday) and John Peel sessions for the BBC, there was little reaction and tensions grew between these strong personalities. It was Gerry who urged Connolly to go it alone as a comic. He went solo too. Staying with Transatlantic, his characteristically titled first album – Can I Have My Money Back? – began his real career in 1971, establishing him as a singer-songwriter, bringing folk fans with him and promoting his songs.

Yet in 1972, now with a young daughter, Martha, Gerry rejoined Egan to form Stealers Wheel, a soft-rock group. Their eponymous debut album climbed the US charts and included the million-selling Stuck in the Middle With You, memorably resurrected for a key scene in Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs (1992). But their A&M record contract tied them to huge touring and album commitments, and imposed musicians upon them. Gerry quit.

He was persuaded back, and he and Egan became the sole group members, using backing musicians in the studio and on tours. A now-forgotten single, Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine, preceded the minor hit Star and the 1974 album Ferguslie Park. But Rafferty learned that their royalties had been filched, Egan returned to Scotland, and Stealers Wheel collapsed before the release of the album Right Or Wrong in 1975.

Disentangling Gerry from his contracts took three years, but his second solo career, beginning with City to City, was constructed more cannily. Demos for the album were made in Carla's parents' old house, on a four-track machine. Gerry played every instrument, including lentil-jar percussion. Signed to United Artists, he and Hugh Murphy co-produced the album for £18,000 in 1978. Fuelled by the smash hit single Baker Street, it sold 5m copies and Gerry became a millionaire "overnight".

Refusing to tour America, he played a few British dates and recorded his successful follow-up, Night Owl (1979), which yielded further hits: Days Gone Down, Get It Right Next Time and the title track. These, plus the less popular Snakes and Ladders (1980, recorded in Montserrat), are the gorgeously produced works of Gerry's prime. The voice, redolent of both Lennon's and McCartney's, yet unmistakably his own; the music, a shimmering delta of sound; the songs, romantic yet pushily sardonic – all came to fruition thanks to Gerry's gift of perfect pitch and an obdurate determination to stick to his guns.

These were the years I worked for him. I was his personal manager – employee, not svengali – visiting the record company in LA, accompanying Gerry when he was working, and running the small office we set up for him in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sadly, my job was mostly to say "no" to people.

He did not want to have to out-platinum himself: he had money enough, and disliked being recognised. But behind an aggressive front, and a strong awareness of his own musical excellence, was fear. He turned down working with Eric Clapton, McCartney and others, telling Carla "nobody was good enough". In truth, he dared not sit down with superstars without a drink or five. So he sat at home – now 300 acres of Kent farmland and a Queen Anne house in Hampstead, north London – and convinced himself he could work alone with Murphy. Carla said later: "He was just stalling for time. Maybe some new project would suddenly happen, but I knew he'd crossed the line as far as the record business went."

His last successful foray was when, after contributing a vocal to the soundtrack of the film Local Hero (1983), he produced the Proclaimers' 1987 hit Letter from America. Gerry made two more albums that decade – Sleepwalking (1982) and North and South (1988). On a Wing and a Prayer followed in 1992, Over My Head in 1994 and Another World in 2000. They marked a decline in sales and standard.

He had always drunk too much, and now he spiralled into alcoholism, putting on weight, which made him unhappier. "He became dangerous at airports," said Carla, "and he'd scream across restaurant tables at me." In phases of renunciation, he smashed cases of superb wines into a stream on his land. Carla finally left in 1990: "There was no hope. I would never have left him if there'd been a glimmer of a chance of him recovering." She remained a source of dependable help, in contact until the end.

After their divorce, farm and Hampstead home gone, Gerry eventually moved to California, near to Martha, who worked for him. In 2008 Gerry left America, helped from wheelchair to plane by a woman he met in a video store. They rented a house in Ireland, until taxis and doctors refused to attend him. That August, a five-day binge at a five-star London hotel ended when the management had him admitted to hospital. He vanished in the night.

Splashed across the Sun, this story was otherwise ignored until 2009, when the Daily Mail resurrected it. Rafferty, urged to issue a statement, announced that he was "extremely well", living in Tuscany and preparing a new album. He was relatively well, but in Dorset, not Tuscany. He never made another album. For two decades, alcohol had dominated this creative and intelligent man's life.

He is survived by Martha, his granddaughter, Celia, and brother, Jim.

• Gerald Rafferty, musician, born 16 April 1947; died 4 January 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't Want To Know

And I don't want to know about evil
Only want to know about love
I don't want to know about evil
Only want to know about love.

Sometimes it gets so hard to listen
Hard for me to use my eyes
And all around the cold is glistening
Making sure it keeps me down to size.

And I don't want to know about evil
Only want to know about love
I don't want to know one thing about evil
Only want to know about love.

I'm waiting for the planes to tumble
Waiting for the towns to fall
I'm waiting for the cities to crumble
Waiting till I see you crawl.

Yes it's getting hard to listen
Hard for us to use our eyes
Cause all around that gold is glistening
Making sure it keeps us hypnotized.

And I don't want to know about evil
I only want to know about love
I don't want to know about evil
Only want to know about love.

I don't want to know anything about evil
Only want to know about love
I don't want to know about evil
Only want to know about love.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celtic Women

Hearing Loss in American Teens

NY Times - One in five teenagers in America can't hear rustles or whispers, according to a study published in August in The Journal of the American Medical Association. These teenagers exhibit what's known as slight hearing loss, which means they often can't make out consonants like T's or K's, or the plinking of raindrops. The word "talk" can sound like "aw." The number of teenagers with hearing loss ­ from slight to severe ­ has jumped 33 percent since 1994.

Chautauqua County celebrating bicentennial


Special to the OBSERVER

The land of Chautauqua County occupies a nearly complete square situated on the farthest end of New York state.

The landscape has offered many things to many people: a provider of dense forests for hardy frontiersmen, fertile soil for sprawling vineyards, and quiet shorelines for learning and leisure.

Wilderness has been transformed into farmland, and a patchwork of rural communities have developed into the modern Main Streets of today.

The county will be 200 years old in 2011. It will take a year to tell its complete story.

Michelle Henry, Chautauqua County historian, said a greater awareness of the county's history will be experienced not in one central place, but throughout the towns, hamlets and villages that combine to form the county's identity.

For the past year, it has taken several meetings of municipalities coming to the same table to figure out the best way to celebrate the two-century milestone.


"Each municipality has an appointed historian, and we have always met to discuss ongoing events. At the beginning of 2010, we met and talked about starting to collectively plan the county bicentennial," said Ms. Henry. "I really wanted to find out from the historians themselves what they thought we should do, because in many cases, those are the people in the community who are the driving force behind history and its education and preservation."

She said the invitation to the bicentennial committee has also been extended to historical societies, libraries and local cemetery associations. And the emphasis of local community has remained, as event throughout the year have been added to a growing list.

"We now have a pretty good list of things that are going to happen in 2011, that are going to have a bicentennial theme," Ms. Henry said. She added the most logical, cost-effective plan was to get schedule events that "piggy back with events and organizations that already exist."

She said one can expect to see a bicentennial message as part of the Fourth of July parade in Mayville, a booth at the county fair, as well as other local venues such as the Apple Busti Festival.


The bicentennial kicks off on an important date for the history of the county - Feb. 9.

Though Ms. Henry said it was "just a function of state law that we came into existence," on that date in 1811, the New York governor and four legislators selected the county's first officers, including a judge, justices of the peace, clerk and coroner. The same day, the town supervisors of Chautauqua and Pomfret settlements shed their Niagara County guardianship, and became the fledgling municipalities of the new Chautauqua County.

To celebrate the county's official birth, current county legislators Larry Barmore and Ron Lemon will reenact the first meeting of the board of supervisors, performing the roles of Matthew Prendergast and Philo Orton. Feb. 9 is designated as the official birthday, and the re-enactments will be accompanied by refreshments and cake, at the Chautauqua Suites in Mayville from 6 to 8 p.m.

On the same day, all first class mail processed in the county will bear a commemorative mark on its face. Each post office in the county will use a unique stamp cancel, said Vince Martonis, creator of the designs which reference part of the official county seal and identify the local post office from which it came. After their premiere, the bicentennial stamp cancels will be available as souvenirs - on any collectible page or surface - for 120 days. Martonis said that will ensure those interested can visit all 36 post offices in the county.

On Feb. 16, Westfield is scheduled to be a stop for the National Park Service's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of President-elect Abraham Lincoln's inaugural trip. The original train route left Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 11, 1861 and reached the capital Feb. 23.


The experience of traveling through Chautauqua's years will be heightened by the use of proper documentation - a Passport to History, good for 2011 only. It is anticipated that these logs for countywide travel will be made available at the Feb. 9 birthday celebration, for use throughout the year.

"We want to encourage people to get out and visit all of our local historic sites," said Ms. Henry. "You can get your passport stamped - the more stamps you get, the bigger the prizes you can enter to win."

There will be 16 special events or year-round cultural sites marking your passport, she added. Depending on the number of sites visited, travelers can qualify for giveaways such as a widescreen TV, laptop computer or a weekend getaway at the Cherry Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast.


Ms. Henry said a $12,600 provision from the 2011 county budget will be used for the programming of events. She said the restoration of county support is appreciated, but much more will probably needed to keep the celebration on track through the year.

Assistance has come from the Chautauqua County Historical Society, which she said is a co-sponsor of the bicentennial, and the town of Chautauqua has contributed to events that will be held in Mayville.

Ms. Henry said sponsors and donations can be directed to her office, by contacting 661-7857, or the historical society at 326-2977.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Open Your Mind

“Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.

MAHATMA GANDHI, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Book of Eastern Wisdom”

Anachie Gordon

Harking * Buchan is bonnie
And there lives my love
My heart lies on him
And will not remove
It will not remove
Oh for all that I have done
Oh I never will forget my love anachie

For Anachie Gordon
He's bonnie and he's rough
He'd entice any woman that ever he saw
He'd entice any woman and so he has done me
Oh I never will forget my love Anachie

Down came her father and he's standing by the door
Saying Jeannie you're trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so very much for thee
You must marry lord Sulton and leave Anachie
For Anachie Gorden, he's barely but a man
Although he may be pretty but where are his lands?
Oh the Sulton's lands are broad and his towers they run high
You must marry Lord Sulton and leave Anachie

With Anachie Gordon I'd beg for my bread
And before I'll marry Sulton it's gold to my head
With gold to my head and gowns fringed to the knee
And I'll die if I don't get me love Anachie
And you that are my parents to church you may me bring
But unto lord Sulton I'll never bear a song
To a son or a daughter, I'll never bow my knee
And I'll die if I don't get me love Anachie

Jeannie was married and from church she was brought home
And when she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
She went into her chambers she cried all alone

Come to bed now Jeannie me honey and my sweet
For to style you my mistress it would be so sweet
Be it mistress or Jeannie it's all the same to me
But in your bed lord Sulton I never will lie
And down came her father and he's spoken with reknown
Saying you that are her maidens go loosen off her gowns
But she fell down to the floor so close down by his knee
Saying father look I'm dying for me love Anachie

The day that Jeannie married was the day that Jeannie died
And the day that young Anachie came home on the tide
And down came her maidens all wringing of their hands
Saying oh it's been so long you've spent so long on the sands
Oh so long on the sands, so long on the flood
They have married your Jeannie and now she lies dead

You that are her maidens go take me by the hand
And take me to the chamber that me love she lies in
And he's kissed her cold lips till his heart has turned to stone
And he's died in the chamber that his love she lies in.

* Buchan is the right place Harking is mishearing passed around from allot of folk artists recording this song. Buchan was part of the Pictish kingdom of Ce. There is considerable ancient history in this geographic area, especially slightly northwest of Cruden Bay, where the Catto Long Barrow and numerous tumuli are found.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Falling Snow

See the pretty snowflakes
Falling from the sky,
On the wall and housetops
Soft and thick they lie.

On the window ledges,
On the branches bare,
Now how fast they gather,
Filling all the air.

Look into the garden,
Where the grass was green;
Covered by the snowflakes,
Not a blade is seen.

Now the bare black bushes,
All look soft and white,
Every twig is laden -
What a pretty sight!

Snow beneath whose chilly softness

by Emily Dickinson
Snow beneath whose chilly softness
Some that never lay
Make their first Repose this Winter
I admonish Thee

Blanket Wealthier the Neighbor
We so new bestow
Than thine acclimated Creature
Wilt Thou, Austere Snow?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

William Allingham - The Fairies

The Fairies
William Allingham

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.

William Allingham (19 March 1824 or 1828 - 18 November 1889) was an Irish man of letters and a poet.

He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland and was the son of the manager of a local bank who was of English descent. He obtained a post in the custom-house of his native town and held several similar posts in Ireland and England until 1870, when he had retired from the service, and became sub-editor of Fraser's Magazine, which he edited from 1874 to 1879, in succession to James Froude. He had published a volume of Poems in 1850, followed by Day and Night Songs, a volume containing many charming lyrics, in 1855. Allingham was on terms of close friendship with DG Rossetti, who contributed to the illustration of the Songs. His Letters to Allingham (1854-1870) were edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill in 1897. Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland, his most ambitious, though not his most successful work, a narrative poem illustrative of Irish social questions, appeared in 1864. He also edited The Ballad Book for the Golden Treasury series in 1864.

In 1874 Allingham married Helen Paterson, known under her married name as a water-colour painter. He died at Hampstead in 1889, and his ashes are interred at St. Anne's in his native Ballyshannon.

Though working on an unostentatious scale, Allingham produced much excellent lyrical and descriptive poetry, and the best of his pieces are thoroughly national in spirit and local colouring. His verse is clear, fresh, and graceful.

Other works are Fifty Modern Poems (1865), Songs, Poems, and Ballads (1877), Evil May Day (1883), Blackberries (1884), Irish Songs and Poems (1887), and Varieties in Prose (1893), and, arguably his most famous work, "The Faeries" (see below).

William Allingham: a Diary (1907), edited by Mrs Allingham and D Radford, contains many interesting reminiscences of Tennyson, Carlyle and other famous contemporaries.

The Ulster poet John Hewitt felt Allingham's influence keenly, and his attempts to revive his reputation included editing and writing an introduction to The Poems of William Allingham (Oxford University Press/ Dolmen Press, 1967).

Trinity of Chickadees

Black-capped chickadee

A friend of mine, a friend to all,
We named him for his cheerful call
And the handsome little cap of coal
He wears on neighborhood patrol.
And when I’m in his woods he’ll fly
To some low branch I happen by,
Though if he were just somewhat bolder
I think he’d light upon my shoulder.
He offers me a friendly greeting
Then hops about throughout our meeting;
In his white and gray and sable
That tiny bird is always able
To raise my spirits when I’m low
And force my hurried step to slow.
And on the topic of the day
There’s so much that he comes to say!
Though what that topic really is—
Well, the topic’s only ever his;
For though I’d like to say I heard
Something from this little bird,
I’ve yet to understand a word,
And I really would agree
With those who’d shared his company
And aptly named him chickadee.

A friend of mine, a friend from youth,
But friend as well to fact and truth,
For when I’m passing by his wood
And ask if she is gone for good,
Ask if she’ll come back to me,
I hear him answer, plaintively:
No, never.
No, never.

by Francis Stella

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jonathan Edwards: Sunshine

sunshine go away today
i don't feel much like dancin
some mans gone he's tried to run my life
i don't know what he's askin
well he tells me i'd better get in line
i can't hear what he's sayin
when i grow up i'm gonna make it mine
these ain't dues i've been payin

well how much does it cost
i'll buy it
the time is all we've lost
i'll try it
he can't even run his own life
i'll damned if he'll run mine...(sunshine)

sunshine go away today
i don't feel much like dancin
some man's gone he's tried to run my life
i don't know what he's askin

working starts to make me wonder
where fruits of what i do are goin
he says in love and war all is fair
but he's got cards he ain't showin

well how much does it cost
i'll buy it
the time is all we've lost
i'll try it
he can't even run his own life
i'll damned if he'll run mine...(sunshine)

sunshine come on back another day
i promise you i'll be singin
this whole world she's gonna turn around
brand new bells will be ringin

Quote for this dark time in Arizona

How ironic Arizona is one of the few states that refuses to recognize Martin Luther King Day.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

- Martin Luther King Jr.


Sheep In Fog

by Sylvia Plath

The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells ----
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Celtic Woman - Someday


Someday, when we are wiser,
When the worlds older,
When we have learned....
I pray someday we may yet,
Live to live and to let live.

Someday, life will be fairer,
Need will be rarer,
And greed will not pay.
Godspeed this bright millennium,
On its way, let it come someday.

Someday, our fight will be won and,
We'll stand in the sun in,
That bright afternoon....
'Til then, on days when the sun,
Is gone, we'll hang on,
If we wish upon the moon.

There are some days, dark and bitter,
Seems we haven't got a prayer,
But a prayer for something better,
Is the one thing we all share.

Someday, when we are wiser,
When the whole world is older,
When we have love,
And I pray, someday we may yet,
Live to live and oneday, someday...
Someday, life will be fairer,
Need will be rarer,
And greed will not pay.

Godspeed, this bright millennium,
Let it come,
If we wish upon the moon...

Oneday, someday.....soon.

Take time to enjoy Life!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak

by Galway Kinnell

The man splitting wood in the daybreak
looks strong, as though, if one weakened,
one could turn to him and he would help.
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel
through the air so hard the hard maple
leapt apart, as it’s feared marriages will do
in countries reluctant to permit divorce,
and even willow, which, though stacked
to dry a full year, on being split
actually weeps—totem wood, therefore,
to the married-until-death—sunders
with many little lip-wetting gasp-noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers,
but they help us only by the unperplexed
looking-back of the numerals cut into headstones.
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated,
can’t, even in spring, break through the hard earth.
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do.
We have to hold our children up to lean on them.
Everyone who could help goes or hasn’t arrived.
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak,
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me.

Galway Kinnell, “The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak” from Three Books. Copyright © 2002 by Galway Kinnell.

Coptic Christmas Services

Egyptian Muslims Serve As Human Shields For Coptic Christmas Services

Egypt's Muslim community followed through on their promise to support the country's embattled Christian population as they celebrated their Christmas Eve masses on Thursday night.

Anxiety among the nation's Coptic Christians, who make up approximately 10 percent of the population, was at a fever-pitch in the wake of the New Years day attack on Saints Church in Alexandria.

Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported that prominent Islamic leaders and celebrities had called for a massive show of support by Egypt's Muslims in order to send a message that the majority of the nation would not stand for extremist violence and persecution.
"We either live together, or we die together," was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the "human shield" idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

"This is not about us and them," said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. "We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together."

Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar

This is a short video for the Feast of the Epiphany. The carol is sung by the Norske kammersangere and is Peter Cornelius' Die Könige (The Kings)

Words: Peter Cornelius (1824-74), 1859, Weihnachtslieder, 1871 trans. H. N. Bate

Music: Peter Cornelius, arr. Sir Ivor Atkins

1. Drei Kön'ge wandrn aus Morgenland;
Ein Sternlein fuhrt sie zum Jordanstrand.
In juda fragen und forschen die Drei,
Wo der neuigeborene König sei?
Sie wollen Weihrauch, Myrrhen und Gold
Dem Kinde spenden zum Opfersold.

2. Und hell erglänzt des Sternes Schein;
Zum Stalle gehen die Kön'ge ein;
Das Knäblein schauen sie wonniglich.
Anbetend neigen die Kön'ge sich;
Sie bringen Weihrauch, Myrrhen und Gold
Zum Opfer dar dem Knäblein hold.

3. O Menschenkind! halte treulich Schritt!
Die Kön'ge wandern, o wandre mit!
Der Stern der Liebe, der Gnade Stern
Ehrelle dein Ziel, so du suchst den Herrn,
Und fehlen Weihrauch, Myrrhen und Gold.
Schenke dein Herz dem Knäblein hold!
Schenk' ihm dein Herz!


Three Kings had journey'd from lands afar,
To Jordan led by a guiding star,
In David's city they ask men to tell
Where the new-born King whom they seek doth dwell.
Fine gold and myrrh and incense they bring,
An off'ring to the promised new-born King.

The guiding Star shining on before,
The Kings then led to the lowly door,
They see the Child in a manger bare,
And fall before Him in worship there.
Fine gold and myrrh and incense they bring,
An off'ring to the promised new-born King.

And still the star, shining bright and clear,
To those who seek it doth yet appear;
The star of mercy in peace will bring
The pilgrim who seeketh the Heavenly King.
And failing in incense, myrrh and gold,
Bring thou thy heart to the Saviour's fold,
Give Him thy heart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Epiphany Celebrates the Arrival of the Three Wise Men

January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is the traditional end of the Christmas season in the Western Church and is traditionally the day when people put away their Christmas decorations. In the Western Church, December 25th was established as the date of Christ's birth and January 6th as the date on which the Wise Men visited him. In the Eastern Church (Orthodox) January 6th was established as the date to observe the birth of Christ.

Even before the year 354, the Western Church had separated the celebration of the Nativity of Christ as the feast of Christmas and set its date as December 25; it reserved January 6 as a commemoration of the manifestation of Christ, especially to the Magi, but also at his baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana. Hungarians, in an apparent reference to baptism, refer to the January 6 celebration as Vízkereszt which term recalls the words "víz" as water, "kereszt, kereszt-ség" as baptism. In parts of the Eastern Church, January 6 continued for some time as a composite feast that included the Nativity of Jesus: though Constantinople adopted December 25 to commemorate Jesus' birth in the fourth century, in other parts the Nativity of Jesus continued to be celebrated on January 6, a date later devoted exclusively to commemorating his Baptism.

Carol from Romania

God Most Holy - Carol from Romania - Orthodox Byzantine Vlach Christmas Chant

Orthodox Christmas around the world

Orthodox Christians around the world have begun their celebration of Christmas, two weeks after other Christians held their observance of the holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox churches in Russia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Macedonia and Greece, among others, began their Christmas eve celebrations Thursday.

The churches follow the ancient Julian calendar, which has Christmas falling on January 7.

The Roman Catholic Church and others celebrate Christmas on December 25.

In an appearance Thursday in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI expressed heartfelt greetings and best wishes to those he called the "brothers and sisters" of the Eastern churches that will celebrate Christmas on Friday.

The Roman Catholic Church is observing Epiphany Thursday, the day, according to the Bible, in which the three Magi are said to have followed the star to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

The Epiphany falls on the 12th day following Jesus's birth, marking the end of the Christian observance of Christmas.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wall Street Bull Covered in Crochet By NYC Artist


Wall Street Bull Covered in Crochet By NYC Artist

Gotta keep that bronze butt and balls warm. I am surprised no one has cut the thing up for the copper content yet. It's kind of an aggravating and explicit reminder of excess if you ask me. By all means cover it up with something warm and fuzzy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Rams Horn

The Rams Horn on Facebook