Friday, 26 December 2014

Manitoba Bound

See ya later -- off to visit my Mom and sister for a few days!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Blessings to You

"Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the Everlasting Light"

"Wise Ones seek Him still"

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Treaty of Ghent

The War of 1812 ended two hundred years ago today when Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. No territory changed hands. No borders were redrawn. No one really won and no one really lost. The war ended essentially as a draw, a stalemate. Both sides were frankly just glad to be rid of the hassle.

Historically, the war is significant only to Canada. By successfully repelling various American attempts at invasion, colonial Canada retained its English and French identities and forged a firm resolve never to be American. This reinforcement of a unique identity led 50 years later to the successful creation of the independent dominion of Canada.

There was only one small problem. The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Europe. News of the war's end had to reach North America by ship.

A very slow ship.

This means there will be one more blog post about the War of 1812 . . . stay tuned!

[Painting by A. Forestier, Signing of the Treaty of Ghent, shows Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier of Britain shaking hands with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Quincy Adams]

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Holidays at Litchfield

Are you a fan of Orange is the New Black? My Rare One and I certainly are! We hope you enjoy these heartfelt holiday greetings from everyone's favourite inmates.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Xmas Party in Asgard

Watch your back, Rudolf. "Reindeer Games" is in a bad mood.

It seems that even Norse gods are forced to wear fugly sweaters at Xmas.

Avengers Assemble! It's time for caroling! Okay, so some other party guests assemble as well.

And it seems the rumours are true -- playboy Avenger Tony Stark never ignores mistletoe, no matter who's under it.

Peace on Midgard and goodwill to all mortals!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Blessings of the Winter Solstice

Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.

--Joan Chittister, Uncommon Gratitude

As we celebrate the return of the Light, may we nevertheless continue to benefit from the peace and nurturing to be found in the Darkness.

Deep peace of the midwinter stars to you, my Solstice friends.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas FAIL or GENIUS?

And you'd better read it, young lady!

Continuing on with a Biblical theme --

Here's a creative and charming gingerbread house!

And well, nice try.

You don't have to overdo the decorations to be effective, whether inside . . .

. . . or outside!

And above all, never get all Type-A and nitpicky at Christmas!

Now for something sweet . . .

. . . and something sour!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hymns Old and New -- Gabriel's Message

I adore Christmas carols. I would listen to and sing them all year long if I could, except for the certainty of death or dismemberment at the hands of others. How can people get sick of Christmas carols? How?

For this month's "hymn old and new," I'm highlighting one of my favourite carols, Gabriel's Message. Originally an ancient Basque folk song, it was translated into English in the Victorian era by Sabine Baring-Gould, the British composer of Onward, Christian Soldiers. It enjoyed some popularity but faded into obscurity in the 20th century. Then Sting recorded it on an album almost 30 years ago and his revival of the song caused it to build a new fanbase in our times. Thank you, Sting!

This video of Gabriel's Message by Jars of Clay displays the lyrics for easy reading and, best of all, has quite a nice zippy tempo. Enjoy!

I love this carol because it praises the Divine Feminine in Her Christian guise as the Virgin Mary. Christianity reduced the ancient Goddess archetype to a subordinate role and a restricted scope in its patriarchal mythology, but She still has a crucial part to play. And, of course, devotion to Her by ordinary Christians far exceeds each and every narrow boundary placed around Her by the Church.

In the lyrics, I especially like the fabulous imagery of the first verse's phrase: "his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame." Yowza! Contradictory, paradoxical, powerful, pure. Just what you want in a Messenger of the Divine. Sounds like Gabriel rocks.

And if you want to hear this beautiful carol in its original Basque tongue and bouncy dance tempo, check out this recent post by Willym over at Will He or Won't He? It also includes lots more fascinating info and a nice Celtic rendition as well. I'm glad we both love this carol, Will!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Crowns of Light for the Modern Age

Today is the feast day of Sankta Lucia, the superficially Christianized version of the ancient Scandinavian Goddess of the Winter Solstice. She ensures that the Sacred Light returns to the world every year at the very height of darkness.

                                     So ends the longest night
                                     With light that She's bringing.
                                     She is the Queen of Light
                                     Joyfully singing!
                                     Clad in Her garment white,
                                     Wearing Her Crown of Light --
                                     Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

But you know, just like the alternative Christmas trees and updated nativity scenes in my last couple of posts, Sankta Lucia can move with the times too!

That's right, this year She Who Wears the Crown of Light has gone GOTH, bitchez!

And She's also been dabbling with a PUNK Crown of Light!

Frankly, I'm not quite sure WHAT the hell this look is . . . .

But OMG, Victoria's Secret? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That goes too far! You can't run around in the snow in THOSE outfits!

(Nice tat though, Sankta Lucia on the end!)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Updated Nativity Scenes

In 13th century Italy, St. Francis of Assisi started the tradition of nativity scenes so that people would identify more with the true meaning of Christmas.

But hey, that was then and this is now. Everything's gotta move with the times, man --

So make your own nativity scene relevant to our modern society!

Even fanboys and nerds need salvation. You can't just rely on a motley crew of characters from Star Trek, Star Wars and cartoons. Or can you?

THIS stable made it all the way to Oz apparently. No, not Australia!

Of course the feckin' Irish always have to make it all about THEM --

And finally . . . .

Hail Mary, full of grace! Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the Grumpy Cat of thy womb.

Oh yeah, SOMEBODY'S gonna burn in hell for that one alright.

Monday, 8 December 2014

True Confessions (Christmas Tree Version)

Got your tree up yet? I'm not putting up a full-size Christmas tree this year, just a little pre-decorated tabletop thing. But at least I'm not as lazy as THIS bunch --

Or THESE slackers --

I'm sure all you cat lovers will agree -- who wouldn't gladly break one of the Ten Commandments to covet THIS tree?

However, this next photo more accurately represents the cold, hard reality of how cats and Christmas trees really mix. Cats are mighty sinners when it comes to festive trees and other decorations, but do they EVER set one paw inside a confessional? Of course not. They don't give a good goddamn.

And even Christmas trees themselves can have their dirty little secrets --

One year I left my Christmas tree up until June. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME! I was a super busy young professional and had absolutely NO time to take it down. That was a cray-cray year, man.

Leave YOUR true Christmas tree confessions in the comments -- c'mon now, I dares ya.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Perogies and Vodka for EVERYONE!

I'm starting off this month with some happy news that I'd like to share with you. My Rare One and I are now officially dating again, having decided to kiss and make up a little while ago! But we are not going to live together any more. I am keeping my apartment and the independence it provides. We both need that physical and emotional space for a relationship to be possible and to run smoothly.

So now my Slavic Sweetie and I are wearing our best babushka scarves and celebrating our reunion in the golden wheat fields of the Ukrainian steppes or the Manitoba prairies or maybe even right here in Edmonton -- I don't know exactly where this illustration is set but it's some place with a gazillion Ukrainians anyway.

Oh, my malenky saboulya! *smooch * smooch*

[discreetly fade to black as the sound of tsymbaly music rises]

[Art by Felix d'Eon. Note: Link is NSFW]