Celtic

Catching Up

So it’s been a while since I posted anything. So let’s catch up, shall we?

The reasons I haven’t posted are several. I had a killer head cold for about 2 weeks, that I couldn’t shake (same one I mentioned in my Celebrate Good Times (Come On)! post).  My work issued laptop died on me, and I’ve been so busy at work that when I get home and I feel like crap due to the cold, I had no desire to sit in front of any PC. When you consider how much computer time I log at work, it’s rather surprising how much I use one at home.

But not everything was bad. I bought a new SiriusXM radio for my aging truck. It’s an external device that plugs in through the aux port on the existing radio. I also stream, mostly the “Classic” (oh, how I hate that term. Can we go back to AOR please?) stations. I like SiriusXM over the local radio because the DJs don’t think they have to be funny so they can get hired and go to a larger market. SiriusXM’s market is North America. Quite a bit bigger than any terrestrial market. Plus these DJs know what they’re talking about.  I also like SiriusXM over most streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc.) because they play the music the way it was recorded. One thing that always pissed me off with the various streaming services is they tend to cut apart songs the segue into each other. A classic example is Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out/Stay”. Streaming radio turns those into two separate songs. It increases the total number of songs in their library, but it totally screws up the listening experience.

My office replaced my very small Micro$oft Surface Book with a beautiful 17″ HP laptop.  This thing is a beast! An i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and this wonderful huge screen! These tired old eyes can see again!

Wifey® and I have planned, and made the deposit on, something that is on both of our bucket lists. A trip to Scotland, the land of our heritage. We’ve both did the Ancestry DNA tests. I’ve posted about this before.  Turns out both of our DNA points directly to Scotland/Ireland/Land of the Vikings. I’d like to try to find the ancestor that made the trip over the pond to settle in America before we go. But that costs money, and right now we’re trying to save, not spend so we can blow the whole wad while in Scotland.  I’m hoping the duty-free shop in the Edinburgh airport has a good selection of native scotches.  I will have a separate post(s) about the trip as things get closer, and when we are in country.

We had a wonderful dinner the other night with my brother and his wife here at my house.  I smoked three whole chickens. Not that I expected we would eat them all that night, I planned on leftovers so we (as in Wifey® and son-the-younger and myself) could make pot pies from the leftover chicken and other veggies we made that day.

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Yup, there are 3 whole chickens in there!

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We ended up with 10 pot pies of varying sizes

I confirmed something I learned the last time I smoked chicken. From now on I’m only buying leg quarters. There were 4 and a half breast quarters left, but only one leg quarter. Seem we prefer the dark meat!

And I’ve read a couple of good books too. I won’t write any reviews.  If you want book reviews, there are plenty of sites that have them (I recommend Once Upon A Spine).

I’ll leave you with a video. Has nothing to do with this post, but the opening line “Been away, haven’t seen you in a while”, fits with the theme. Plus it’s Dave Mason.  I’ve been a fan of his since his days with Traffic.

So what have you been up to?

Peace,
B

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Tartan Day

Wear yer tartan ye filthy cur!

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Scotland For Ever!

A video from Albannach. The name roughly translates to “Men of Scotland”

And of course, “The Campbell’s Are Coming”

And you can’t leave out “Scotland The Brave”

Peace,
B

 

St. Patricks Day

Uh… NO!

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And why does everybody wear green? If you’ve read your history, you would know that the Catholics wore green, while the Protestants wore orange. So pick you color appropriately.

‘Nuff said.

Peace,
B

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RIP

Just after I posted New Favorite Band yesterday, news came of the passing of Dolores O’Riodan, the lead singer of the Irish band The Cranberries.

I have to admit, while I enjoyed their music, especially the unique qualities of Ms. O’Riodan’s voice I sadly, did not buy any of their albums. But as a fan of all things Celtic, I feel a great loss for not only the music world but the Celtic (especially the Irish) world.

Her untimely passing at the young age of 46m is a tragic loss. Since I all really know of their music are the radio hits (which is a failing on my part), here is “Linger”.  If only she could have lingered with us just a little longer.

Peace,
B

New Favorite Band

So this past Saturday Wifey® and I, along with some friends (invited my brother too now that he lives in the area, but he had some lame excuse about moving trucks delivering furniture to his new house or something. Whatev’ bro) spent the day at the 41st Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. It was chillier than usual, right around 60° F. Not bad, but we prefer it a bit warmer.

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The music lineup was as good as always, Albannach, Off Kilter, and Rathkeltair are some of our favorite Celtic/Rock bands.  But this year we had a newcomer. The Screaming Orphans. An all-girl band from Ireland that did everything from traditional Irish songs (in Gaelic and English), reels to get you dancing and some pop sounding tunes, easily on par with The Bangles or the Go-Gos. (Sorry if you’re not into their music – we enjoy it).

Here are two videos to showcase their talents.

First is the oft-covered “Whisky In The Jar”.  (Off Kilter closed out their first set with this song as well).

And then “500 Miles” another song that’s been covered many times.

They did do some original music as well, but due to all the loud drunks all around us, and the girl’s heavy Irish brogue I couldn’t get the names of the songs. Even though for once I was not on the drunk side during this festival. We estimate this is our 16th or 17th year attending.

Check them out on their webpage The Screaming Orphans. You’ll find links to their FaceBook and Twitter there as well! And everything they played was outstanding. Their vocals blend so well, it was simply amazing. Thank you ladies! We hope to see you at more of the Celtic festivals in our area.

Peace,
B

So This Is Christmas.. Already?

If you’ve read the other posts about how I don’t feel that Christmas can start until I hear John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over), you will understand this post just a bit better.  If you haven’t read them, go find them and come back here.  I’ll wait…

(Hums Jeopardy theme song)

Back now? Good.  So for some reason, my Spotify playlist just played the song.  So I guess Christmas 2018 can now start? We just got the decorations down! At least it gives me an excuse to start the Christmas shopping early. And with the Central Florida Highland Games (Albannach & Rathkeltair providing the music, and another visit to And Sarah Smiled for more Celtic pottery) this weekend, we’ll have the chance to pick up some early presents!

So Happy Holidays, I guess??

Peace,
B

The Tears Of A Clown

(Many thanks to Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine for the inspiration for this post)

And no, this is not a sad post, but the only song I could come up with that has “clown” in the title is “Cathy’s Clown”, and that’s not one of my favorites.

So, let’s go back in time, shall we?  The year was 1981, Wifey® and I were not yet married (although we were dating).  Wifey-to-be® and I took my oldest niece and nephew to a function at their school. But that was many, many beers ago and neither of can remember what the event was. At this event was Hi-Pockets The Clown. Hi-Pockets had his run in various circuses until he tired of the constant moving. So he left the circus and became a firefighter of all things, still continuing his clowning at parties and such.

Then he had a stroke, and his firefighting days were over, but he could continue clowning, just at a slower pace. He would go to the local schools perform a little and try to recruit folks for his clown alley. I was hooked the minute I saw his pitch.

I immediately signed up. As both Wifey-to-be® and myself were working at Metro Zoo (now the Miami Zoo), I had an in to get us into a face painting setup. We charged $2 to paint a face.  We kept $1.50, the zoo got the rest. Not a bad scheme.  We would also warm up the audience for some of the animal shows.  When we would walk from our spot by the gift shop to the amphitheater, the Bengal Tigers would go nuts. They would pace up and down their open enclosure following us.

So one of the first things a clown needs to do is design a face. I sat down with paper and pencil trying to come with something rather unique.  Unfortunately, only one picture of me in makeup survives.

 

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Skeeter the clown. I was about 22 then.

 

I had just finished putting on the face and still had the scarf on keeping my rather long hair out-of-the-way when my dad took this picture. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “Skeeter the clown”.  Hi-Pockets told me this face is registered with Ringling Brothers, but I have no proof. But I hope it is.

One of my most beloved props was an Orangutan puppet named Merlyn.  I bought him from a festival that was being held at the zoo. At the time, it cost me every penny I had, but the laughter and love Merlyn has generated has come back many times over.

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Granddaughter-the-elder with Merlyn

Merlyn has seen quite a bit. Not only at the zoo, but he’s entertained friend’s kids, even went to a strip club with me once. I would guess he’s about 36 years old now.  The first time I brought him out to Granddaughter-the-elder®, she was about 2 years old. She had no idea what it was. She wasn’t exactly scared, just very unsure. But it didn’t take long for her to warm up to Merlyn and ask me to go get him.Merlyn is enjoying his retirement awaiting the next generation to play with.And just to prove that I am not all clown, here is a photo, totally unrelated to this post, here is a picture of Wifey® and me in our kilts. Let’s face it, the Central Florida Highland Games are in about two weeks.  We already have our tickets! If you’re in the area (dear ol’ brother mine) come join us. We’ll be over by the beer tent listening to Albannach.

 

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Black Watch Tartan – The Campbell’s are coming!

 

Here’s the video to go with the title.. not the best I know. If you have a better song leave a comment telling me so.

And just to go with the kilts, here’s Albannach. The band name roughly translated means “Men Of Scotland”.

Peace,
B

P.S. I’ve never understood the clown phobia. I know people that are very afraid of clowns, and I feel for them. ‘Cause clowns are cool!

Allhallow’s Eve

So tomorrow is Hallowe’en. But since it’s on a school day again this year I’m not sure when the trick or treating will be. The ancient Celts would celebrate Samhain (see my post here), on the full moon nearest what we would call October 31st (in the times before the Gregorian calendar when it was a lunar based calendar). For us this year, that will be Saturday, November 4th at 1:23 AM. So that would make Saturday the day for trick or treating.

And of course, that would be one of the nights that the veil between the worlds would be thin, allowing all sorts of creatures, both good and bad, to visit our world from the “underworld”. Scholars point to this fact as the beginning of our Hallowe’en costumes.

“Trick-or-treating is a modern incarnation of old Irish, Manx, and Scottish practices that sometimes occurred over multiple nights leading to Samhain. In Ireland, the poor went door-to-door “mumming” or “souling.” They offered songs and prayers for the dead. As payment, the owners of the homes visited gave them soul cakes, cookies with a cross drawn on top, representing each soul detained in purgatory. Some saw the soulers, who often carried turnip lamps as they went about their rounds, as enacting the role of the dead souls seeking their food offerings. The regions that called this practice “mumming” were also referring to a type of folk theater called “Mummer’s Theater.” These often involved loose, strange plots involving stock characters. Saint George and the Doctor was a common play used at Samhain. In Somerset, children went door-to-door on October 30, called “Punkie Night.” The colloquial name “punkie” referred to their turnip (or beet) lanterns. On this holiday, children begged their neighbors for money to pay for fireworks used on the next night, called Mischief Night. The locals considered it unlucky to refuse— the children carrying the punkies represented the souls of dead children. Some regions came to call this door-to-door collections practice Halloween rhyming. Often children sang a song to the people who answered their doors and soul cakes or soul meat was part of an expected exchange. Mumming in Ireland gave way to going door-to-door, saying, “Help the Halloween party! Any apples or nuts?” In France, the tradition differed slightly. Rather than demanding food, children collected flowers from their neighbors, so that they might decorate graves of family members the following morning.”

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 296-309). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Observing Samhain, or Hallowe’en, on Saturday also makes sense this year as the following Sunday would be All Souls Day (All Saints Sunday in the Christian Churches). A time of remembrance of those that have passed on the year before.

“Eventually both All Saints’ and All Souls’ became distinct holidays unto themselves, with All Saints’ an observance for souls believed already ascended to heaven, and All Souls’ as a day to honor souls possibly still working out some issues in purgatory. In Ireland, these days marked a time for family reunions after cow-milking season finished.”

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 176-178). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

So what are you going to do for Hallowe’en, Allhallows Eve or Hallowmas, whichever name you wish to use? We don’t have many children in our neighborhood, so Wifey® and I usually leave the house and turn off all the lights. But this year may be different, our old dog (who was more than a bit aggressive) has passed on, so it’s safe to open the door to little children again. We’ll have to see.

Leave a comment on your plans!

Peace,
B

New Moon Rites

According to the Lunar Phase app on my Android phone, the new moon will October 19th at 0312 EDT. Since I hope to be in bed asleep at that time (but there is no guarantee of that) I will celebrate around sundown tonight on the 18th.

To interpret the flow of terrestrial magnetism— the dragon current, the serpent path— it is also necessary to watch the night sky. Night, to ancient people, was not an “absence of light” or a negative darkness, but a powerful source of energy and inspiration. At night cosmos reveals herself in her vastness, the earth opens to moisture and germination under moonlight, and the magnetic serpentine current stirs itself in the underground waters— just as the thick, snakey spray of stars, the Milky Way, winds across the night sky. Moon phases are a part of the great cosmic dance in which everything participates: the movement of the celestial bodies, the pulse of tides, the circulation of blood and sap in animals and plants. Observation of the night sky, of the stars, and especially of the moon, was the beginning of mathematics and science.

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 139). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The ancients viewed the time of the new moon as a time that the Goddess went to the underworld to be with her “other half”, usually depicted as a son and/or lover.  It was not a time to be feared, but a time of fasting and introspection to be ready for when the moon Goddess reappeared in the sky. Some saw the moon as a male entity.

The timing of the new moon, usually a two to three-day event, has been echoed in almost every major religion;

In later Neolithic times some cultures saw the moon as male, as the son/ lover of the Goddess. As the vegetation deity died once each year, to fertilize the crops with his blood, so the male Moon God died each month. He disappeared for three days, locked up in her underworld. This myth was continued in the ritual of Christ being closed up three days in the tomb. In Polynesian belief the dying moon journeyed to a faraway paradise where it bathed in waters of immortality, and restored to vigor, returned in three days.

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The next full moon will be November 4th, at 0123 EDT. Again I hope to be sleeping, but for me, that is when I will celebrate Samhain. The ancient Celts, like most of the ancient world, were a lunar based society.  The Celts were not afraid of lunar eclipses. We celebrated them. It wasn’t until about 5000 BCE and the coming of the Druidic age that they turned to a “sun god”.

Avebury, on the Wiltshire Downs in the south of England, was the sacred center of megalithic culture in Britain. Avebury’s stone circle is the largest yet found in England. It dwarfs Stonehenge. (There are seventy-seven other stone circles, or henges, dating from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.) Avebury was built by pre-Celtic people, living in a farming community circa 2600 B.C. For thousands of years before its construction, the entire landscape of the surrounding area, stretching for about 37 miles, had been seen as the outline of the body of the Goddess. Every hill, mound, stone, and long barrow was believed to form part of her maternal body. The three stone circles at the “causewayed camp” at Windmill Hill nearby predated Avebury by more than six hundred years. The Avebury monuments, which include Silbury Hill and West Kennet long barrow, form a “condensed sequence of visual sculpted images within the center of the larger and more ancient presence. They express together journeys of cosmic range and the entire yearly agricultural cycle within the space of three fields.”

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 133). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Does anyone else have any moon rituals they celebrate? Leave a comment if you do!

Peace,
B