Thursday, April 30, 2009

The First of May

Walpurgis Night from Wikipedia:

From the Mystical Cauldron website:

Celebrated on May 1st, this is a lusty and glorious Sabbat, rich in World history and tradition. It is called by many names, including Walpugisnacht (Germany), Sheila-na-Gig (Ireland), Tithe Day (also Germany), and Festival of Pan (Greece).

In Britain, the royal family still burns a balefire each May Eve to keep the family line going.

In Norway, old brooms are thrown into the balefire and new ones are dedicated to their purpose. .

In Scotland the balefire was lit for the 'need fire', the only non-ritual fire allowed to burn on this day.

The Norse believed you had to sleep at home on Beltane Eve and keep the hearth fire burning strongly until dawn.

In Wales the balefires were kept burning for three days, because 3 was a sacred number to the Celts.

In the Alps of Italy, the festival is Floralia. Flowers and plants are picked on May 1st and a very potent wine is made from them. Each year, all the old wine has to be comsumed before midnight and more flowers and plants gathered for the next year's batch.

In China, it is considered good luck to eat noodles in the Springtime.

Mischievous fairies were believed to abound at Beltane and great care was taken to protect against them. Daisy chains were woven just prior to ritual and places around children's necks for protection.

A hot coal was placed inside the butter churns to keep fairies out ot them.

Livestock was fed fresh dill for protection.

Bells were hung on altars and worn on the ankles of dancers and ritual goers. The ringing of the bells was believed to hurt the fairies' ears and keep them away.

Brooms were ridden hobbyhorse-style over fields and through pastures in symbolic fertility rites.

Ashes from the Beltane fire were scattered over the fields to bless and protect them. The ashes were also placed in a small bag and worn as fertility amulets by infertile women.

Special summer pastures for the livestock were used only after May 1st since fields were the realm of the Pooka from Samhain to Beltane.

Livestock animals were driven through or between waning balefires for purification, protection and healing.

Although May is the month of the sacred marriage of the God & Goddess, it is considered unlucky for humans to marry in May, which is why June is the traditional month for marriages.

The term 'Maying' refers to celebrating all of the traditions of May Day. It was traditional to go on outings and picnics in the woods or meadows to enjoy the beauty of Nature, pick flowers and/or make love. Couples who consumated their relationship in this way were considered to have had a "greenwood marriage". Children conceived while 'A-Maying' are born in February and are referred to as "Merry Begots".

Dancing around the Maypole may be the best known Beltane tradition.

Comment: I was born in February. :)

From the fish eaters website:

Sadly, the word "Walpurgisnacht" is nowadays mostly associated with pagans, who see the day as a mere adjunct to Beltane (May Day) and even dare to use the label "Walpurgisnacht" for their festivities. Where Walpurgisnacht is celebrated, it is usually celebrated wrongly, in a non-Catholic -- sometimes even anti-Catholic -- manner. Odes to May, Spring, fertility, and the earth, the playing of pranks -- these are the things most often thought of when "Walpurgisnacht" comes to mind, and thoughts of the great Saint are all too rare.

...But it doesn't have to be that way. Bonfires-- practically ubiquitous in Catholic celebrations but which pagans also light today in honor of the god (demon) Bel -- recall the divine light that illuminated Wallburga's monastery, and as their hypnotic beauty is enjoyed, one can pray a litany to St. Walburga. The ancient Swedish tradition of collecting branches at dusk to decorate homes? Make those branches oak branches, and decorate them with symbols of Christ and the great Apostles to Germany to recall the Benedectines' victory over paganism, as perfectly seen in the story of St. Boniface and the "sacred oak." As to foods, German fare and beer brewed by Benedictines or their brothers, the Trappists, sound perfect.

Now, because Walpurgisnacht does fall on the same date as Beltane Eve, this will be, for pagans, a night much like Hallowe'en (the Eve of All Saints) insofar as the pagan Samhain coincides calendrically with our Feasts for the dead. Therefore, prayers for pagans and for witches who hold their sabats tonight would be a wonderful thing. May St. Walburga -- who, with St. Boniface, her brothers, and other Benedictines -- brought the good news of Christ to Germany intercede for them now and bring them to Jesus through His Church.

Comment: The veneer that Christians gloss over their appropriation of pagan customs is thin indeed. By the way, Walburga was made a saint only after it was discovered that oil was oozing from her remains. Icky!

from the Irminenschaft website:

Walburga Frouwa [An Freya] Walburga Frouwa is Ing Fro's twin sister, and most popular of all Goddesses among Heathen of eldritch times as well as today. In the Norse sources, Walburga Frouwa is named strictly by her title (Freya) as is her brother Ing Fro (Frey): Lady and Lord, respectively, and its from this association of name that Wicca’s ‘Lord and Lady’ is drawn. The Frouwa is infamous for her abilities at magan-craft and witching, and it's of no surprise to find her as the patroness of witches and the center of praise on Walburganaht (a long-standing witches’ holiday). Walburga Frouwa’s wain is drawn by cats, which are thought to be sacred to her -the popular image of a witch accompanied by a (black) cat originates from the association of the felines to the Goddess.

Comment: There is continuing discussion about the identity of goddesses mentioned in the Northern literature. Because their roles overlap, this is especially true between Frigg (wife of Odin) and Freya. They are, however, distinct entities, Frigg being of the Aesir, Freya of the Vanir, and their natures vary accordingly.

From the Central States Heathens reminder:

Walburg is better known as Walpurgisnacht or May Eve. Walburg is a Goddess of our Folk, combining some of the traits of Her better-known peers. Reflect on Freya, Frigga and Hel as the repository of the glorious dead; then you will have an idea of Walburg's nature. On this day, pour a horn of Mead upon the Earth in memory of our heroes.

Good Walpurgisnacht and Happy May Day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

State of the Garden

Here, roughly, is how the tomatoes are set up. They're planted about 4 feet apart on center, caged in 5 foot high surrounds of what I call "hog wire" and watered by soaker hose. I gambled and planted all Bush Celebrity, hoping for a big crop of big tomatoes. If the variety fails, then I lose it all. There are 16 plants. Three already were clipped off at mulch level by cutworms, but I was expecting that and replanted immediately with backups I purchased at the same time. The plants are now about 3x the size of when I planted and, hopefully, beyond the size of their cutworm vulnerability. Naturally, I'm braced for the next disaster.

Here's the first view (I think) that I've published of the new firepit in the "Annex," that piece of land I stole to add to the garden's eastern end in order to obtain more sun-lit acreage for tomatoes. (That's why I can squeeze in 16 this year.) At this stage, I'm merely collecting stones and playing around with the arrangement. Once I have enough, I'll purchase sand and set them in. There's also a possibility that I'll move the pit. Nothing is definite yet as I only stole this land last winter and need time to think and play and watch how the seasons change it.

Here's the garden layout (minus the Annex where I'm standing). There are more raised beds, more mulched paths, better borders. The A-frame was necessary for peas, because the entire northern fence length is devoted to tomatoes this year. I took this picture this morning after very heavy rains last night.

What's this? It is my bane and my blessing, a morning glory seedling. To my eye, it forms a prominent "M." Does anyone else see it? They begin sprouting as soon as it's warm and wet enough, that would be about now, late April, early May, and I fancy the M is for May, a herald of the 1st. There are thousands and thousands of these little seedlings and as fast as I clear them from the beds, they sprout again, fat, little M's from fat, little seeds forming carpets of M's that will grow into mats and mats of twining vines to lift pink whirls that will daintily unfurl in worship of all those yellow, morning suns to come.

Glove Update

Last year about this time, May Day, in fact, I blogged about gardening. Doh!

Among other things, I wrote this:
Gloves. I'm wearing a blue cloth pair here because I was doing light work, but I usually wear a green and black pair at $22 each + shipping from Smith & Hawken. Gloves are my primary tool in the garden. I weed, dig, scoop, haul and basically DO everything with my gloves. The Smith & Hawken pair I've discovered have all the features I find so essential. There's a soft patch of fabric along the thumb with which I can wipe sweat from my face, reinforced fingertips (very important) and ventilation across the back. They also have a velcro closure to fit snugly around my wrists so soil and insects don't slip down into the gloves (which is awfully annoying). I buy two each season.
I'm back with an update. First, I tried to extend last year's pair into autumn/winter and worked with holey gloves. That messed up my schedule, and I began a new pair way too early in the season this year. Now even before May Day, I need another pair, because the late winter/early spring work already wore out the last. That leads me to the second update; Smith and Hawken has removed my gloves from their online catalog! I was in a mild panic for about five minutes until I found Womanswork. Their motto is "strong women~building a gentle world." Here's the link to my gloves. Notice I can now get them in pink! JOY!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Big Loss

The recent thunderstorms that moved through here came with high winds and deluging rains. One of the casualties of the storms was this tree in the neighbor's yard. It's a big loss, and we'll miss it this summer and for many summers to come.

Recipe: Pork Chops

I get to do the meat dish for RheinWood Hearth's feast on Friday. Because we're also having potatoes, I found this slow cooker recipe for pork chops that sounds perfect to serve with taters. I can't wait to try it, and I'll let you know how it goes.

From Paula: Shortly after my husband and I began dating, I prepared the following dish. It was the first meal I'd cooked for him. He told me later that he knew as soon as he tasted those pork chops that he was going to marry me....

4 to 6 pork chops, bone-in or boneless
salt and pepper
1/4 cup oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cubes or equivalent chicken boullion granules or base
2 cups hot water
8 oz. sour cream (fat free is okay)

Preparation: Season pork chops to taste and dredge in flour. Lightly brown in oil and place in slow cooker; top with onion slices. Dissolve or soften boullion in hot water and pour over chops. Cook on low 7-8 hours. After the pork chops have cooked, stir 2 tablespoons flour into the sour cream; stir into cooking juices. (It is not necessary for this to be totally blended into boullion, but don't just dump it on top either.) Turn slow cooker to high for 15-30 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened. Serve with rice, noodles or potatoes as you choose. The sour cream sauce is delicious! Serves 4 to 6.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Labyrinth: Possible Designs and Materials

My uncle sent these gorgeous photos to me today. The first two are credited to the Labyrinth Company. The third is a typical Baltic pattern. I adore the effect in the fourth. I also like the relative simplicity of that one.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Labyrinth: Another Pre-Site View

Yesterday I posted the view of the front yard as I faced east. This is the view facing west, and I mowed the lawn this morning ahead of tonight's predicted rain.

Pretty in Pink

Dad and I have been enjoying watching this azalea bud and blossom. It fairly glows scarlet.
This bush and I have a long history together and to watch it grow more beautiful each year is a special joy, as though by its success my memories grow richer.

The Projects Never End

Last week it was the pergola, still unfinished because we haven't found the right materials for the overhead slats. This week I installed a brick border at the edge of the pavement to make one walk wide enough for the lawn mower. Hard work--'nuff said. This weekend Artisan Al, my favorite construction worker, stone mason, hole digger, tree trimmer and all-around handy man, cut the bricks to add a little style to my work. Besides, all those geometrical figures make me nuts.

Nice right? There's not much he can't do.

This week I'll make a push to finish digging out the bricks of the old (and delapidated) walkway behind the house and hope that by next weekend I can have it ready for us to pour new, concrete walks. Did I mention that Artisan Al is very handy at lifting bags of concrete, too?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Labyrinth: Choosing a Site

I have the special honor in May of receiving an expert in labyrinths, the creator of Mindful Labyrinths, who happens to also be my uncle. I mentioned my desire to build a labyrinth at Rivergarth and also my previous difficulty, and he offered to help me when he's here. Yeehaw!
He also suggested I begin a record of the labyrinth's development--an excellent idea if I can keep it up!

A pic taken this evening of a potential site for the labyrinth, this open space in the front yard.

I took this pic last summer. The bush loaded in pink panicles is the same as the large, leafless bush in the upper left quadrant of the first pic above.

Our Earliest First for Hummingbirds

Calloo, Callay! O, Frabjous Day!

Previously our first sighting date at Rivergarth was May 5. Traditionally, I hang the feeders on May 1, but after sighting a hummer sipping from a vinca major blossom, I set them out. Only April 24! Yay!

This is a view of the feeder at Dad's window.

Garage Sale Poetry

...those poems that have sat in the garage for years, not good enough to use, but not quite ready for the dustbin if only someone with a little effort would take the time to salvage them, patch a rip, revarnish, mend a broken slat or maybe tease it all apart and make the resulting cloth into something new. I have some of those broken, garage sale poems that I should throw out, but can't quite make myself do it. I get that pack rat gene from my mom, a trait against which I must have constant vigilance--and still the stuffs pile up in the nest. Here's one I really should trash, but it holds the sentimental memory of a certain time of study around 2000, a time of Classic gods and of the Kalevala and other connections I made around then. It's not of much use except to store away, only to bring it out once in a while, blow off the dust, sneeze and remember.

Tell the Lay of Ol' Pan Horny
How he prances spry and randy
By the brook of living waters,
Where the hollow reeds are soughing
By the pines with cones and pollen,
By the pillar lofty rising,
In the moonlight he is dancing.
Not alone the goat God dances,
But with maidens fair and lusty.
All his satyr girls adore him;
On the lawn they love him rutting;
In the trees they love him laughing;
On the rocks they watch him gambol;
Over hills they watch him trotting,
Hills that quake when rage is breaking
Like the raptured issue bursting.
Expectation stirs the ether.
Spritely lasses shake their nubbins,
Hairy tails of piebald patterns,
While above the clouds are moiling.
Then the rain and hail are striking.
Lightning strikes the highest oak tree,
Thunder quails the nymphic lovelies
As they covey then they scatter.
In their Panic rushing blindly
Into arms so strong and tender,
Of the all-embracing Lover,
He who rules the mighty thunder,
Lord of Sea and Sun and Nature,
He who banishes the Fury
With a strident stomp, a mandate,
Where the damsels find their refuge,
Sanctuary, arms encircling,
Like the seasons that are turning.
In the Spring they love him nightly;
Summer warms their blood for dancing;
In the Autumn surge their urges;
Winter finds the goat girls lounging
In the cave of Pan's reclining
With his wine and bread and honey,
With his goat girls by the fireside,
With his maidens sweet and musky,
Passes winter drunk and lusty
Till the southern Sun approaches
From the south whence He was summoned.
Then the goat God herds his ladies,
With their bellies fat with babies,
On to pastures green and springing,
By the swollen, warbling streamside.
Heavily the gravid goat girls
Welcome spring in quiet fashion.
Then the night hears in the meadow
Groans abundant, blood and birthing.
In the starlight Pan is pacing
On the hilltop till the morning.
Then the kids, the little Pan kids
With their itchy horns just budding
And the lively, infant faun girls
With their silky hair just growing
Play on lawns among the daisies,
Tumbling, innocently prancing,
Till their cloven hooves are weary
And their little tummies grumble.
Off to rest on mama's titties,
Ample dugs divine and milky,
While their Father, God and Ruler
Sage and mighty, watches over.
Yet another good year passes
Under Sun and Moon and Heaven
While the Lord is merry-making
Through the sacred seasons burning.
Thus immortal insight springs up
Like the blossoms He has bidden
In the meadow as he passes,
In the goat God's cloven hoofprint,
Like the seed that He is planting
In the flesh of pretty satyrs.
From the pipes that He is playing,
In the drifting songs of goat herds
And the goat girls they are tending,
Is the harmony and timbre,
Of the wisdom for tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I See Eye-to-Eye with Robins

The robin is the one
That interrupts the morn
With hurried, few, express reports
When March is scarcely on.

The robin is the one
That overflows the noon
With her cherubic quantity,
An April but begun.

The robin is the one
That speechless from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctity are best.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Planting Zinnia Seeds

Rivergarth, April 20, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

A lady red upon the hill...

Reading through the Nature section of Emily's Collected Poems, each one seems to capture and then reveal in fresh colors the myriad essences of the springtime experience. Emily had two (among many others I'm sure) enviable traits. We know she was an honest and expressive writer. The second trait we deduce from her practice of the first, that she possessed a sensitive and receptive soul.

Here she is painting the paper with the colors of her spring, infusing the threads with the fragrances she captures and sharing her insight of the very trees beneath which she wanders. Notice, too, Emily's excitement in these revelations as she marks her verses with exclamations (in contrast to the staid woods). It is our excitement, too, both as we wander and as we share the season with her in verse.

A lady red upon the hill
Her annual secret keeps;
A lady white within the field
In placid lily sleeps!

The tidy breezes with their brooms
Sweep vale, and hill, and tree!
Prithee, my pretty housewives!
Who may expected be?

The neighbors do not yet suspect!
The woods exchange a smile--
Orchard, and buttercup, and bird--
In such a little while!

And yet how still the landscape stands,
How nonchalant the wood,
As if the resurrection
Were nothing very odd!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thor's Day

Astrophotography from Deep Sky Colors.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Robert Orson Ryan

Genealogy research sometimes produces revelations. Like today. A little groggy with morning, I opened an email file from a distant Ryan cousin and suddenly my great-great-grandfather was looking right at me from out of the computer screen. It's the first time I've ever seen his face, never dreamed I even would see him and now he's here in my life; Robert Orson Ryan.
According to my information, he was born in February of 1846 in Illinois. He married a woman named Nancy, and they had eight children, one of them my great-grandmother.

To Say Nothing But Thank You

My uncle sent this to me today, no doubt reading my future in his morning tea leaves.

To Say Nothing But Thank You

All day I try to say nothing but thank you,
breathe the syllables in and out with every step I
take through the rooms of my house and outside into
a profusion of shaggy-headed dandelions in the garden
where the tulips' black stamens shake in their crimson cups.

I am saying thank you, yes, to this burgeoning spring
and to the cold wind of its changes. Gratitude comes easy
after a hot shower, when my loosened muscles work,
when eyes and mind begin to clear and even unruly
hair combs into place.

Dialogue with the invisible can go on every minute,
and with surprising gaiety I am saying thank you as I
remember who I am, a woman learning to praise
something as small as dandelion petals floating on the
steaming surface of this bowl of vegetable soup,
my happy, savoring tongue.

~ Jeanne Lohmann

Bio: At nearly eighty-six, she relishes walks through her Olympia, Washington, neighborhood and remains active in the local poetry community.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wiki Error

Yesterday I posted a picture of the monument around the corner from my house. Feeling remiss, I bothered to look up the treaty commemorated on that stone and found this entry at Wiki. I also found this error in the entry, "There is a monument one mile west of the Little Arkansas River, on the Council Grounds, in Kansas, commemorating the Treaty."

The monument, the plaque-adorned boulder I pictured, is not west of our river, it's east and no where near a full mile away from its banks.

I did find fascinating the names which appear on that treaty, all of whom no doubt wandered through my yard during the two months of their council. One of these was Chief Satanta, properly Set-t'ainte, the Kiowa word for White Bear. Set-t'ainte is quoted saying,
I love the land and the buffalo. I will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers in these banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo. And when I see that my heart feels like bursting.

A council along the Little Arkansas River is just such a place and time the chief might have been describing. I would hazard a guess that the great oak out front was alive at the signing of this failed treaty, autumn of 1865, and witnessed the entire proceedings. If I could speak to that oak, imagine what I might learn.

A Nightmare Poem

Over the years I've done my writing on several generations of computers. The problem with that is updating the file types to be read on the new machine with all its updated software. I'm experiencing that again as I struggle to open old files, some created in the 90s, with the Office software that "Ajay" loaded when he fixed my computer a few weeks ago. It's a mild nightmare to say the least.

A few of the files are opening, but only a few, probably some that I updated to new formats recently. Speaking of nightmares, here's a poem I wrote pre-2000 after having a terrible nightmare. It's a far cry from what I usually publish here, and for that reason, just the thing to publish.

.......................Nightmare Visit

Welcome to my nightmare just down this marble step.

In a niche behind this wall are piled clowns and dolls.

A cobweb spans that other alcove like dusty tiffany,

concealing silences that devils dare not break.

Notice the brigands brandishing sunset-lit torches

guarding the exit? Vultures guard the thieves.

Here, an auburn-haired Mnemosyne robed in steel

screams for pearls and blood and leans over an ebony cradle.

Behind this iron door, an endless corridor. Its end,

a fire burning whispers and old grimoires, around which a feast

of dirt and bone is spread on the Mensa Sacra.

Saved from eating the King's first fruit we now rise

on a titanic raven to a topaz moon where stinging nettles

wend in chiaroscuric craters and hyenas harvest

ten thousand pricks a night, saving them for little heroes.

Wandering, we arrive at a windowless wall stretching into winter

where a famished Queen sways in her chair at a wheel,

nervously brushing spiders from her hair and spins glass

from bits of mirror strewn at her naked feet.

Warring cardinals declare morning on the lawn

as our visit falls away like cherry petals in late spring.

Padding past the barren nursery at dawn

on oddly pained soles we imagine a dusty wind

rustles the faded wallroses and sighs advice,

but we've had enough of visions and hurry on.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Jaunt

Where the skies are not cloudy all day. That's wheat, folks.

After doing some repairs around the house and yard, Al and I took a short spin on the motorcycle. A girl has got to see some uncluttered Kansas sky once in a while. We also stopped to take a picture of the peace treaty monument near our house. All these years Al thought it was a Chisholm Trail marker. Can you believe that?!

Oh, That Betty Brown

From the great state of Texas comes this:

Texas lawmaker: Asians should change their names to make them ‘easier for Americans to deal with.’

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day of Remembrance - Jarl Hakon

Jarl Hakon enjoys more than one reference in the literature, thus we know a bit more about his history. Below are a few links for those who'd like to learn more.

Early Kings of Norway

Day of Remembrance for Jarl Hakon from the Assembly of the Elder Troth (all errors in typing belong to them)

Jarl Hakon was a dedicated heathen who fought against the tyrannical King Harald Fairhair of Norway and his sons, and actually regained ground lost to the Christianisation of his country.Hakon experienced the violence of religious imperialism first-hand. His father, Sigurd, Jarl of Kladir, was burned to death inside his hall by Harald's grandsons. Their leader was Harald Greycloak. At the urging of his nymphomaniacal mother, Harald and his brothers destroyed heathen temples, murdered chieftains, and levied exorbitant taxes. It was said that their sacrileges brought the bad weather and crop failures of the time.

Hakon vowed revenge, and got it by causing the deaths of Greycloak and his allies. Finally, Hakon and the Danish king - who was also named Harald - sailed to Norway with 600 ships and defeated Finehair's descendants. Denmark's ruler placed Hakon over western Norway, and the Jarl in turn paid tribute and vowed to assist the king in war.

During his reign, Hakon brought back the ancient rights of chieftains and farmers which Harald Finehair and his outlaw offspring had usurped. He rebuilt temples and honoured the Gods, so that, according to the skald Einar Helgason in his poem "Vellekla", the Northlands became fruitful again:

Earth bestows bounty as before Since the generous chieftain cheersThe folk to fare To worship without fear.

When war broke out between King Harald and the German Emperor Otto II, Hakon responded. He fought stoutly along the Danavirki, on the border between Denmark and Germany. Unfortunately for the Danes and for Hakon, the Germans won. Emperor Otto then put pressure on Harald to convert Norway - and Hakon - to Christianity. The Jarl was forcibly baptised, and made to take home with him a boatload of priests who were to christen his countrymen.

However, Hakon was made of sterner stuff than that. At the mouth of the fjord, he threw the priests overboard to sink or swim. He then attacked Danish lands in Skania, sailed to the east coast of Sweden, and gave a great sacrifice to Odin on the islands called the Gautasker. As Snorri says in Heimskringla, "Then two ravens came flying and croaked loudly, and the earl thought it certain that Odin had accepted the sacrifice, and that he would have success in fighting".

The omen proved true. Harald tried to invade Norway, but was thrown back. His days of paying tribute were over. Svein Forkbeard and the Jomsvikings hoped to ambush him but he discovered their scheme and countered with an overwhelming fleet of 180 ships and the famous battle of Hjorungavag resulted. When the outcome of the slaughter was in doubt, a hailstorm arose and blew into the faces of Hakon's foes, sending them fleeing. Odin had spoken.

Hakon modelled many of the virtues that we as Asafolk uphold. He was robust, bold and honourable. His valiant efforts for Asatru may have kept our ways alive long enough transferred to Iceland, where they took root in the literature that has come down to us. In other words, without Hakon we might not have our religion today. We owe him more than of Remembrance - but it is a start.

The reminder at Central States Heathens had this note: As a ruler of the western part of the realm, Hakon restored the worship of the Old Gods and cast out the alien religion. Our Folk regained religious liberties that were eradicated by Xianity. The flame of our faith burned brighter in an era of gathering gloom. It may be that Hakon's defense of our ancestral ways helped encourage the survival of our traditions in Iceland; the seeds of modern Asatru.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dogs of Sorrento

There were a lot of dogs in Sorrento, both on the street and in yards. One poor old dog that looked like a red lion lived on the street with a bad leg. We saw him in the evening up in the city and in the morning down at the docks. Somehow during the night he had wandered down the cliffs. With all my heart, I wanted to have him euthanized. It made me a little sick to hear people talk about him, oblivious to his condition.

For several reasons this was my first trip to Europe that I didn't experience jet lag. Usually I lose the first two days in misery as I adjust. Not so this time. In fact, I was feeling just fine the first evening we arrived in Sorrento, and I talked Al into taking a stroll into town. The air was cool that night and light to the touch. Very few people were about as we hiked up (always start going up so you can come home going down) the residential street in the dark. It was a narrow street with these wonderful, moss-covered walls on both sides. Occasionally a gate would open, releasing a private car into the lane, forcing us into the 8 inches of leeway as it passed.

We were standing looking down into a garden full of olive trees when we heard a great, deep roar from behind us and above. (On the cliffs of Sorrento, all views are either above or below.) Startled, we looked up to see these two, large dogs in the yard above our heads. They continued to loudly warn us away, at which point we decided to head back down to the hotel.

We slept well that night with the balcony doors left open and were wakened by competing choruses of birds, amplified against the cliff. The doves were by far the loudest and most easily distinguished, dispelling all romantic notions of these birds as gentle coo-ers.
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I downloaded Picasa3. The format is tidy, and it looks promising.

Well, here it is, a photo from the trip, taken on our first day in Sorrento. The mountain at the left is Mt. Vesuvius. The rocky outcrop at the right is more of the Sorrentine peninsula. The water is the Gulf of Naples. That's me looking every bit a tourist in plaid (only Northerners and Americans wear plaid) and my "whisper" dangling from my neck. (Soon to be publishing more pictures to Facebook.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Trip to Sorrento?

I'd love to be poignant today, but I'm just too busy. I have my travel photos transferred to my computer, but my recent technical woes also deleted my photo editing software, leaving me a bit high and dry. I don't have time to remedy that either...yet. Instead of being poignant, I'll do something a bit weird and share this link to another person's blog, a post about her trip to Sorrento. One person's trip to Sorrento is just about the same as another's, isn't it? She also went to Capri, as we did, so enjoy her pictures!

When SPRING slows down a bit or I do, I'll get to work on those photos again.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Proud Again

Yesterday (Sunday) was the one year anniversary of this blog. Today, then, is the first day of a new year. Isn't it appropriate that the first book I'll finish on my new reading list is President Obama's Dreams from My Father. He has already drawn a tear or two as I read on the plane. If I pause between the lines at any time to remember the current status of the author, I get all choked up all over again.

The G20 and NATO summits were at their height with President Obama in attendance while I was in Europe. Despite the economic problems, Europe is bursting with optimism. Europe adores this man and while I try to exercise moderation, I, too, am as giddy as a Beatles-fan when I hear our President speak of tolerance of differing worldviews and respect for all people.

During the Bush years, one could feel the scorn of our European hosts while traveling, but now I'm proud to be American when I travel among our allies, a word into which President Obama has breathed new spirit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Song of the Grandfather Bees

I am gone from my beloved Rivergarth for a week. When I return I expect many changes in my garden. I assume the lilacs will be at the inception of bloom. The redbuds and the crabapples will be bright with flowers. The bees will be busy, I think.

The lilacs, bending many a year,
..With purple load will hang;
The bees will not forget the tune
..Their old forefathers sang.

--Emily, of course. Who else uses such vivid paints?