Thursday, April 24, 2014

speculating with Crow

Crow, tired of the snow and rain in these parts this past month*, went off to visit his old Uncle Horus. There's no doubt modern society tends to suppress non-conforming ideas, imagination and adventure so I'm looking forward to his return and our ongoing conversations about perplexing, possibly strange, versions of history prior to Egypt's Old Kingdom.

We know Gobekli Tepe was built 12,000 years ago and was deliberately buried 2,000 years later.
Could the Sphinx date from 10,500BC?
Does the Piri Reis map prove there was an ancient seafaring culture?

Might even Atlantis have been real?

There are things we may never know but, while we don't have to believe everything we read, it's always good to keep an open mind. You never know what you might learn and there's always entertainment to be found:

Les Pyramides d'Égypte from Kheops Pyramides on Vimeo.

* Yes, it snowed again this evening. No accumulation, though.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Buddha's tooth

Long ago in eastern Tibet there lived an elderly widow and her son who was a trader. They spent the long winters weaving and making things so that when spring came he'd have goods to trade in India. His mother, a devoted (and maybe a bit naive) Buddhist, asked her son to bring her a relic of the Buddha to place on her altar, preferably, a tooth. The trader was often busy and each time he came back from his travels, he forgot to look for a relic for his mother.

The next time he went off, his mother said: "If you don't bring back Buddha's tooth this time, I'm going to jump off a cliff and kill myself." So he said "Ok, don't worry, this time I will make sure to bring back Buddha's tooth for your altar."

Once again while he was off on his travels he forgot to look for the holy relic his mother had begged him to find until he was only a day away from home. Very nervous, remembering what his mother had said he looked around and found a dog's skeleton. He took a tooth from the skull, cleaned it and wrapped it in a piece of beautiful gold silk brocade.

The next day when he arrived at his village he presented the gift to his mother and said "This is Buddha's tooth. Please cherish it. Take care of it. Put it on your altar."

Soon after, the trader left on yet another trip and he intended to get a genuine relic to replace the dog tooth. However, as usual, he forgot until he was on his way home. When he arrived home, he saw crowds outside his house. When he went in, he saw many people prostrating to his mother's altar. On the altar was a tooth which was radiating light. He asked his mother where this relic came from, as it was undoubtedly a genuine relic. His mother told him it was the one he brought back for her.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

spring signs

Yesterday we saw flowers that looked just like these popping out of the ground all along the paths at our favorite park. While most people are posting pictures of crocus, daffodils, cherry blossoms etc., here in Halifax these mysterious things that look a bit like dandelions are the first wildflowers of spring. They may be catsear but I'm not sure. If you happen to know what they are please let me know. Eventually we'll see all the rest - usually over the course of two weeks just before summer hits.

Lately I've been back to bead weaving bracelets. Why, I don't know - perhaps because doing something that's both complex and mechanical is soothing while the rain falls. Now if I could just figure out a way to take consistently decent pictures of them I could show you more. Then again, maybe this is enough:

Meanwhile, I found myself reading some quotes fit for any season by George Carlin. I have, however, left out the rude ones:

Swimming is not a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. That’s just common sense!

If the Cincinnati Reds were really the first major league baseball team, who did they play?

Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?

If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.

The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.

I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing changed.

Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.”

I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.

One great thing about getting old is that you can get out of all sorts of social obligations just by saying you’re too tired.

Nobody “owns” anything. When you die, it all stays here.

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

medieval matters

The following snippets about the 1500s may or may not be true, but whether they are or not, I'm happy to be here and now rather than there and then:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still generally smelled decent by June. However, they were starting to smell a bit so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. That's where the custom came from.

When taking a bath the man of the house had first privilege of the big tub of hot, clean water. After him the other sons and menfolk bathed, followed by the women and finally the children - last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Did you ever wonder where the term 'raining cats and dogs' came from? It turns out small animals often slept in the straw of thatched roofs. When it rained it sometimes became slippery enough that they fell off.

The fact there was nothing to stop things from falling from the thatched roof into the rooms of the house posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could make a nasty mess on the bed. Then someone came up with the idea of making tall posts with a cloth hung over the top for some protection. Apparently, that's how canopy beds came into existence.

Most people had floors made from compressed dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt and looked down on others, who they said, were 'dirt poor'. The wealthy had slate floors but these would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until opening the door would let it all start slipping outside. A piece of wood placed in the entranceway made a 'thresh hold'.

Sometimes poorer people could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man 'could bring home the bacon'. After cutting off a little to share with guests they would all sit around and 'chew the fat'.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or 'upper crust'.

Lead cups were used for ale or whisky - a chemical combination that would sometimes knock a person out for a long time. As often as not being taken for dead they were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days where the family gathered around to eat and drink while waiting to see if they would wake up. This lead to the custom of holding a 'wake'.

England being old and small, places to bury people often ran short. After a certain time had passed coffins were dug up and the bones were taken to a 'bone house' for storage in order that the grave could be reused. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 of them were found to have scratch marks on the inside indicating they had been burying people alive. In order to prevent future incidents they thought to tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the 'graveyard shift') to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be 'saved by the bell'.

and now for something not so completely different - but still relevant:

♡ :)