Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Legend of Ireland's Magic Harp

The Legend of Ireland's Magic Harp.
In the misty hills of Ireland
A long, long time ago,
There lived a lovely Irish lass
Who loved her father so.
One day he went to fetch some wood,
But he did not soon return,
And so his loving daughter's heart
Was filled with great concern.
She searched for him throughout the day,
And when a fog came in
She wept, for she was fearful
They would never meet again.
Then suddenly, a little band
Of faeries happened by.
They all were so saddened.
To hear the lovely maiden cry.
They asked if they might have a lock
Of her long and golden hair,
Then tied the silken strands across
A crooked limb with care.
'Twas a magic harp they'd made,
And when the maiden touched each strand,
The music led her father home
Across the misty land.
And to this day the harp remains
A cherished symbol of
The blessings of the hearth and home
The Irish dearly love.
by Samuel Lover
Art by Vassantha

The Bull Terrier (Bullie)

. The Bullie
Once thought to be a mythical creature it’s now known to exist. Some believed it to be a species of dog or related to the other mythical creature the Chinese barking pig, during recent studies it’s been found they are in fact a species all of their own.
What that species is is still uncertain but further research has gone on to ascertain the following.
Unlike dogs who are only to willing to please, sit when told and be quiet the bullie possesses none of these traits. It has an ability to do the exact opposite of what’s required, this includes “anchors down” when it decides it no longer wishes to walk. This stubborn streak runs right through them but so does a similar cute streak that seems to enable them to get away with it.
Found to be selective, was originally thought that deafness might be inherent but studies have found they hear when they decide they want to listen. When required to perform certain tasks such as bathing then deafness sets in. Treats on the other hand produces hearing that would put most bats to shame, they can hear a crisp packet being opened from 5 rooms away.
Bullie runs.
Zoomies being another name of this particular trick, absolute joy seems to be derived from running full tilt from one room to the other, around any table and having the ability to bounce from piece of furniture to the next. Once you observe this phenomenon you tend to be left wondering how that much energy came from something that was soundly asleep no more than a minute ago.
Probably more related to oxen than dogs, they must have the stomach of an ox or someone designed them with a cast iron one. The food they eat will turn you green and they take great delight and savour every morsel, that’s if it’s possible to savour anything that takes mere seconds to devour. Research has found that the best way of approaching this is to drop the food bowl and run.
The side effect of the above. There has been some research put forward that states the gases emitted from bullies could heat most countries including the artic circle. The downside is no one wants that kind of gas fuelling anything, no source of energy is worth the aroma emitted with it.
You have to consider this extensively, nothing is safe, furniture, doors, skirting boards can end up looking as though a small tornado has passed through. Your shins will look as though you have hit with a paintball gun. It’s been found they have a penchant for the more expensive things in life, Gucci, Jimmy Shoo etc are, shall we say, al la carte to the tastebuds of a bullie. Nothing is safe.
Common nickname due to the ability to get through anything as if it’s not there. With skulls so thick and dense they seem to feel nothing when they hit something full on head first. Any other animal or human would be treated for concussion or even brain injury if they hit things with the same impact. To be safe most owners look to build everything and we mean everything out of bricks or concrete. Sometimes even that does not suffice.
Land shark.
With a set of impressive teeth and a jaw to match they are linked to the great white shark. Known as the land shark there is nothing they will not try to chew, if they can chew it they will regardless of if it’s edible or not. When you look at the destruction they can cause if they chose to do so you have to stand back and marvel at the sheer scale of it.
A hard to class animal that seems to be a unique species on its own. It appears to span the evolution of a few other mammals, some good qualities some not quite so good. One thing that stands out is their ability to love, to be loyal, to be the class clown and terrorist at the same time. They possess another ability to be so cute they just seem to get away with anything.

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Door Obsessed

Lovely doors at The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi, Mississippi. These doors have survived 18 hurricanes since they were built. Thanks for the images and wonderful information, Regina Trantham!

25 Quotes to Soothe your Inner Weirdo. Via Emily Cutshaw

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1. “Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who could love the person you hide.” ~ C.S. Lewis
2. “There is no beauty without some strangeness.” ~ Edgar Allen Poe
3. “What makes you weird or different, that’s your strength.” ~ Meryl Streep
4. “You’ll turn out ordinary if you’re not careful.” ~ Ann Brashares
5. “She dances to the songs in her head, speaks with the rhythm of her heart, and loves from the depths of her soul.” ~ Dean Jackson
6. “Maybe it’s just in America, but it seems that if you’re passionate about something, it freaks people out. You’re considered bizarre or eccentric. To me, it just means you know who you are.” ~ Tim Burton
7. “Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
8. “Be daring. Be different. Be impractical. Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers. The creatures of the commonplace. The slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Cecil Beato.
9. “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” ~ Aristotle
10. “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” ~ Morticia Addams
11. “I hope to arrive to my death late, in love, and a little drunk.” ~ Atticus
12. “To be successful, your focus has to be so intense that others think you’re crazy.” ~ Kim Orlesky
13. “If you don’t fit in, then you’re probably doing the right thing.” ~ Unknown
14. “Just keep moving forward, and don’t give a sh*t what anybody thinks.” ~ Johnny Depp
15. “Stop trying to explain yourself. People only understand things from their level of perception—within the parameters of their agreement with reality.” ~ Steve Maraboli
16. “It is ever so beautiful to be strange. To do things differently than others. To see things in a rare light. To me, that is such a gold to carry.” ~ Christopher Poindexter
17. “But darling, we weren’t given this wild soul just to merely exist. Our mission is to shake up this world, turn it upside down, and show our fellow humans the difference between breathing and being fully alive.” ~ Unknown
18. “There are parts of me that will always remain untameable, messy, and reckless; but I refuse to apologize for it anymore.” ~ Kaitlin Fester
19. “Be brave. Be wild. And stay forever hungry for art, love, knowledge, and adventure.” ~ Erin Van Vuren
20. “I’m with the dirty mouth girls. The ones with bare feet, brilliant minds, messy hair, wild hearts, and feisty spirits. The ones who aren’t afraid to speak up and who live for doing what they’ve been told is impossible.” ~ Brooke Hampton
21. “She accepts your compliments on her face, her hair, and her body graciously—and she is, indeed, beautiful. But she is only moved when you notice the beauty of her spirit.” ~ Allaisia Hanan
22. “If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your sh*t, then you deserve it.” ~ Frank Zappa
23. “I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~ Erin Van Vuren
24. “Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” ~ Vincent van Gogh
25. “She was one of the rare ones, so effortlessly herself, and the world loved her for it.” ~ Atticus

Go Medieval by Attaching a Book to Your Belt

They’re incredibly rare today, but portable girdle books were once very handy.

A girdle book held by the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
A girdle book held by the Beinecke Library at Yale University. BEINECKE LIBRARY/CC BY-SA 2.0
GIRDLE BOOKS HAD TO BE small, and they had to be light. From the bottom edges of their bindings extended an length of leather, usually gathered into a knot at the end. This extension of the cover could be used to carry the book like a purse or could be tucked into a girdle or belt. To read, the owner wouldn’t even have to detach the book; when taken up, the book would be oriented correctly, just as if it had been pulled from a shelf.
Used from the 14th to 17th centuries, these books were texts that their owners needed to keep close at hand: prayer books used by monks and nuns, for example, or law books used by traveling judges. Though they were valuable objects—luxuries, even—these books were meant to be consulted and read.
“These are books that needed to be specially protected because of a lot of use, a lot of wear. Most of them were probably used daily,” says Margit J. Smith, author of The Medieval Girdle Book. “How many books do you have in your collection that you use every day?”
Girdle books were once common enough that they appear more than 800 times in paintings and other art of the period. But today there are just 26 girdle books known in the world. In her book, a catalogue of what she calls “relics of an age long gone by,” Smith has measured, photographed, and investigated the history of each one.
Girdle books were often very plain. This one, from Nuremberg, is the most ornate one known.
Girdle books were often very plain. This one, from Nuremberg, is the most ornate one known. GERMANISCHES NATIONALMUSEUM/CC BY-SA 3.0
Smith, a bookbinder and retired librarian who was the head of cataloguing and preservation at the University of San Diego’s Copley Library, first became interested in girdle books 15 years ago, and she took a class in Montefiascone, Italy, to learn how to make one. In her preparations, she found that there was little scholarly work—little information at all, really—on these once relatively common objects.
The class took place in summer, and usually, after their work was over, the group would go for a dip in the nearby lake. On one of these excursions, Smith was asking an instructor, Jim Bloxam, where to find more research about the books; together, they decided to start collecting images of all known medieval girdle books—just 24 at that time. After some years of work, Bloxam, a conservator at Cambridge University, had to drop out of the project, but Smith, who says she’s interested in “odd things”—she likes to read words backwards and has written about the silverfish that threaten book bindings—continued visiting the world’s few remaining girdle books.
Saint James wears a girdle book in 16th-century  panel by Hieronymus Bosch.
Saint James wears a girdle book in 16th-century panel by Hieronymus Bosch. HIERONYMOUS BOSCH/PUBLIC DOMAIN
When libraries placed these objects, hundreds of years old, in front of her, she felt a sense of awe. “Then you start looking into it, and you see all the debris from 500 years ago. There is dust and hair and fingernail parings and spots of wax from candles and erasures,” she says. “Some of the books are so fragile that you have to be very careful, especially when turning pages. But if you start measuring, once you get into that, you remember what you are there to do, and you’ve overcome the initial awe.” The books, while still treasures, became objects to be scrutinized.
The part of the book cover that distinguishes a girdle book often looks like a Wee Willie Winkie hat, flopped on top of the book, or a Gandalf-esque beard, stretching down into a neat triangle. Smith discovered that some girdle books have just one extended leather cover, while other have two nested covers, with the outer one designed for carrying. But it wasn’t always easy to tell which category a girdle book fit into. One of the first things Smith learned as a bookbinder was how to tear a book down, to see how it worked. In modern books, it’s possible to tease back an endpaper and inspect a book’s secrets. In the case of the old, rare books, that wasn’t possible, so Smith had to run her fingers along the binding to feel for ridges and other hints to the book’s inner workings.
“You close your eyes,” she says. “As a bookbinder, I have learned to trust my fingers more than my eyes.”
The Karlsruhe girdle book from Germany.
The Karlsruhe girdle book from Germany. WIMPFEL/CC BY-SA 4.0
In the course of her research, Smith discovered the existence of two additional girdle books. One is in Scotland, the psalter of Neal McBeath, the smallest of all the known girdle books. Just 2.5 inches by 1 7/8 inch, the book fit easily into the palm of her hand. It didn’t have a spine, just the leather wrapping, and it showed little sign of repair. In Vienna, she found another new girdle book, but this one refused to give up its secrets. Years of repair work on it had concealed most clues about its construction. The girdle cover, for instance, may have been a later addition. “There are unusual bumps and protrusions under there,” she says. “It’s sort of mystery. I’d like to be able to take it apart completely and see what went on before, before the binding was put on.”
Some of the books had surprises inside, as well. One belonged to a nun, Katharina Röder von Rodeck, who lived at the Frauenalb Convent near Karlsruhe, Germany. She filled the pages with her personal prayers and devotions, as well as notes about her life—when she took her vows, when German peasants rebelled in 1525. At the beginning of the book, she decorated five pages with the coats of arms of her parents’ families, a gray owl holding a red heart, a skeleton holding an hourglass, and motifs of flowers and vines that continued throughout the book. It gives, writes Smith, “a very cheerful and friendly impression.”

Saturday, 21 April 2018


This is the exact spot where '420' became slang for weed.
Of all the rumored origin stories for 420, including a California police code, Bob Marley’s birthday (he was born in February) or the number of active chemicals in marijuana, it is this Louis Pasteur statue that is the most likely source.
A group of San Rafael High students, in California, met for weeks at this statue at 4:20 p.m. to go on a treasure hunt for some fabled area weed. Their code word? "4:20 Louie."
To read more about the 420 origin story and how it spread into ubiquity: https://trib.al/5sRyTCt

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe

Orecchiette cooked in chickpea and tomato sauce (pictured above)

Pasta is a sacred thing and this method of cooking it in the sauce is certainly not common. My colleague Gitai Fisher, who might as well be Italian, went so far as to say that it’s not just cheating, it’s blasphemy. For the sauce, I’ve added North African touches to Italian puttanesca. Gitai was of the opinion that this, too, was cheating. There’s no pleasing some people.

Prep 20 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4
50ml olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra to serve
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and patted dry 
2 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
¾ tbsp tomato paste
Salt and black pepper
40g parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp baby capers
80g good-quality green olives, pitted and roughly torn
250g cherry tomatoes
2 tsp caster sugar
½ tbsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
250g dried orecchiette
500ml vegetable stock

Put the first six ingredients and two teaspoons of salt in a large saute pan for which you have a lid, then put it on a medium heat and fry gently for eight minutes, stirring often, until the chickpeas are slightly crisp. Transfer a third of the chickpeas to a small bowl, to use as a garnish.
In a second bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, capers and olives, then add two-thirds of this mix to the saute pan with the cherry tomatoes, sugar and caraway seeds, and cook for two minutes more, stirring often.
Add the pasta, stock and 200ml water, and bring up to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium, cover with a lid and leave to cook, undisturbed, for 12-14 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
Stir in the remaining parsley mixture, drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil, and garnish with the fried chickpeas and a good grind of pepper.