Saturday Snippet

I thought I’d finished writing about Rigi and Co. I thought four books was enough. No. A short-story ambushed me during rehearsal last week. Here’s a tiny tidbit. It does contain two spoilers, so I’ll put it below the fold.

What happened to launch a story-attack was a song. The chorus is singing a choral arrangement of “Ashokan Farewell.” I had always thought this was a folk-song, but it was composed by Jay Unger for Ken Burns’s The Civil War. A few years later words were written for it. Ashokan, New York, was a small town that is now under the Ashokan Reservoir and that is near where the composer has a music camp. In the choral version it is pronounced “Ash OH ken.” It certainly has an American folk-music feel to it, with Southern Harmony/Sacred Harp harmonies in many instrumental versions I’ve heard.

We’ve been battling the notes thus far, and last week was the first time I really had enough brain free to follow the lyrics as well as the notes. Alas. My mind’s eye promptly locked onto a couple dancing to the tune. The couple was Aunt Kay and Uncle Eb. And story ensued.

I couldn’t find an adult choir recording. The lyrics really call for mature voices, not young ones, but that’s purely my opinion. Again, spoiler below the fold.

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Just War Theory and the Baltic Crusades

Huge Disclaimer – I am not a scholar of Just War theory, nor one of medieval philosophy and warfare. This is information I compiled in order to teach a lesson on the Baltic Crusades.

In 1147, March saw a gathering of the nobles of the Holy Roman Empire in Frankfurt. This was both for the Easter feast, and because the Pope had sent a messenger calling the nobles to a second crusade in the holy land. The nobles were attentive, but not overly enthusiastic for the long journey to the Holy Land. Instead, several of them proposed a closer, but equally urgent, cause. The pagans along the Baltic Shore had threatened Christians in the past, and on at least three occasions had shaken off their conversion, lapsed to paganism, and gone to war. Could His Holiness extend the protections and dispensations granted to those defending Jerusalem from the Seljuks to those defending Christians in the north, and spreading Christianity there? In June, Pope Eugene III agreed, and the Baltic Crusades began. Continue reading

Rain Delay in Progress

Actually, translating some material and trying to summarize changes in Just War Theory between AD 1150 and AD 1415, and grading papers, drained my brain yesterday.

What last night/this morning would have looked like if it had been daytime.

And Athena T. Cat is yowling at the former kitten who is perched on the windowsill looking in.

Leo Lionni’s Frederick

There are a few illustrated children’s books I grew up with that left a very deep mark on me. Tomi di Paola’s books, Ashanti to Zulu about the peoples of Africa, dinosaur and paleontology books, Three Trees of the Samurai, Holling C. Holling’s books, and one called Catundra about an overweight cat and how she slims down.

Leo Lionni’s story Frederick was one of these. The book is fifty years old this year, and is a wonderful story about the importance of Odds in societies. The author was Dutch, and did many children’s books, a lot of them about mice, including Frederick. I discovered it as a audio-tape and read-along book Mom and Dad got at the library. Continue reading

Common Knowledge?

What is common knowledge? What touchstones, or objects, can a speaker or lyricist refer to that a large majority of her listeners will understand and possibly relate to? I am starting to wonder, because a few weeks ago the senior minister at the church where I sing picked a Charles Wesley* hymn. OK, the tune was familiar (Richmond) and the lyrics were typical late 1700s Christian terms. But the minister had to explain the meaning of “It varies with the wind” referred to the spring in a clock, and that winding the mechanism more tightly affected how fast or slowly the clock ran. The text specifically is about what we’d call a grandfather clock, because it also mentions the chain that holds the weights. I thought everyone knew how clocks worked. Oops. Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah 2017

Sundown today marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and the start of a new year. It is “the birthday of the world,” the day when all people pass before the Most High and their fate for the next year is determined. It starts a period of rejoicing and sweetness, but also of serious prayer and contemplation leading to Yom Kippur.

My all my Jewish readers have a new year a sweet as honey, and may your name be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Ice Creams!

Braums and Blue Bell introduced several new flavors this summer. Two really stood out, and are fighting for top place in my personal ice-cream ranking system. Braums Circus Animal Cookie ice cream, and Blue Bell’s Ice Cream Cone flavor. Both carry a large dose of nostalgia, and I’ve been fighting the urge to toss the meats and veggies now filling the freezer and instead cram it with as many cartons of these two flavors as I can wedge in there. Yes, they are good. Continue reading