Lunedi Lunacy

I keep discovering these performers on YouTube that are new to me but appear to have been around for a while. The gentleman of the MozART Group began displaying their talents on stage and television in 1995. And they seems to have a multitude of talents. They play violin, viola and cello, they sing, they dance, and they play ping-pong! PING-PONG????

Well I’m impressed too! And as fiddle players go they are pretty good tap dancers!

The word for January 27th is:
Postferment /pōstˈfərmənt/ [noun]
Removal to an inferior office or position
Antonym: preferment
Etymology: Uncertain possibly Middle English 14th Century
A search on Google turned up nothing but did keep referring me to wine making. So I took the hint, gave up and had a glass.

The Lunar New Year

Year 4717 – The Year of the Rat

With last night’s new moon much of the world began the observation of the Lunar New Year. For the 15 days from the first new moon of the lunar calendar until the first full moon the Spring Festival is celebrated with family and friends. In Chinese it is Chunjie, Vietnamese Tet, Korean Solnal, Thai Songkran and Tibetan Losar. Throughout Asia greetings are exchanged wishing prosperity and health in the coming year.

The Rat is the first animal in the 12 year cycle of the Lunar Zodiac and back in 2018 I related the story of how the sly rodent became the first to appear before the Celestial Throne.

I’ve used traditional greetings from 8 of the Asian countries celebrating the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Can you identify them?

It would appear that Geng-Zi (Metal-Rat), the 36th year in the 78th cycle since the creation of the Lunar Calendar, is off to a less than auspicious start in some quarters. (A brief explanation of the calculations of the Lunar system is here.) However you might just want to check your own horoscope for the coming year by left-clicking on the icon below.

My own wish is that Fu, Lu and Shou, the three stars, bring us all Happiness, Prosperity, and Longevity.

The word for January 26th is:
Ersatz /ˈerˌzäts,ˈerˌsäts/: [adjective]
An inferior and often artificial substitute or imitation.
From the German ersatzsubstitute. Appeared first in English around 1840 however become part of the language in the 20th century during the two World Wars when things such as ground acorn husks were used to make “coffee”.

I was reminded of the word when someone referred to “processed cheese food” as being just an extension of the wrapper. I thought they were being too uncritical!

The "Aunt Heap"

The centre piece of the commemoration of the birth of Queen Victoria at Kensington Place is Victoria: Woman and Crown. A temporary exhibition created by Nissen Richards Studio it highlights clothing from the Historic Royal Palaces collections and many items on loan from the Royal Trust Collection and the private collection of Her Majesty the Queen.

A left click on the entrance way to Victoria: Woman and Queen will take you to the creators website with more pictures of the actual exhibition design and some of the challenges the design team faced.

As I mentioned in a previous post Alexandrina Victoria was a small woman and as a teenager often bewailed her lack of stature. She once exclaimed “Everyone grows but me!” At one point there were rumours that under the strict regime of “the Kensington System” she wasn’t being fed properly which accounted for her slightness of build. Her mother and Sir John Conroy went to great lengths to put those stories to rest. Her height has been variously given as 4’10”, 4’11” and 5’1″.

Dating from 1840 this hand stitched cotton lawn petticoat is a good indication of how small she was at the time of her marriage to Prince Albert.

After their marriage in February 1840 Prince Albert became Victoria’s chief advisor on most things. He was the orchestrator of her public persona right down to the clothing she wore. She had no wish to upstage her husband who had no right to wear a crown so she chose to wear a bonnet in public. Though she was criticized it gave the “favourable” impression of the Royal pair as being an “ordinary couple”. (Sound familiar?)

Albert had jewellery made to his designs as gifts for Victoria. She wore this circlet of gold and semi-precious stones every year on their wedding anniversary. The four small green oranges nestled amongst the blossoms represent their four eldest children.

Her shoes were made by Richard Grundy and Sons of Soho Square. They were to be her shoemakers from 1824 until 1898. The exhibition included a pair of silver boots that suggest that though she may have been tiny Victoria had normal size feet. Or perhaps it was just the fashion at the time. A recent acquisition of the Historic Royal Palaces they are made of silk, leather and cotton. Dating from 1840 they show that before the years of her widowhood Victoria had a sense of style and flair.

A left click will take you to a video showing the conservation technique used in restoring the boots for display.

During her lifetime there were two pieces of jewellery that were constantly on her person: a locket containing a lock of Albert’s hair and his portrait, and a gold charm bracelet. They are normally housed in the “Albert Room” at Windsor Castle. This was the room in which Prince Albert had died in 1861 and the Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family. (A left click on the links will take you to a closer look at both.)

After the death of Albert, from suspected typhoid, in 1861 and until the day she died in 1901 Victoria wore “widow’s weeds”. Black silk or satin, jet beads, ebony work, and her eternal widow’s cap became her trademark. It also set the standard for “mourning” in households of wealth and position and those with pretence to wealth and position.

Much has been written of Victoria’s nine children and of her relationships with them. For someone who gave her name to a (publicly) sexually stifled period she apparently enjoyed the pleasures of the couch but not the resultant accouchment. Her frequent pregnancies left her with a painful hernia which was to plague her until the day she died. It also accounted for her “dumpy” appearance as she aged. She delivered her eighth and ninth child with the aid of chloroform under objections of clergy and doctors. The former found it “unbiblical” and the later “dangerous”.

She wasn’t particularly fond of children and thought newborns resembled “tadpoles”. During his lifetime Albert involved himself with the upbringing and education of their children. It was a strange mixture of liberalism and privilege. After his death Victoria demanded attention from her children even as they matured and left home as consorts of half the monarchies of Europe.

With the abolition of the British East India Company in 1858 the British Government took over governing the Subcontinent. However in 1877, as a political move, Benjamin Disraeli had Victoria proclaimed Empress of India. She took an interest in the people and culture of that corner of her immense Empire and learned Urdu from Abdul Karmin, an Indian household servant who became her personal clerk or Munshi. Though she kept to her signature black silk dresses they were often adorned with patterns easily recognizable as of Indian origin.

The exhibition ends, not with her death in 1901 but four years earlier when she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. By that point her popularity had reach a high and she appeared more frequently in public. Though all the heads of government in her Dominions were present at the festivities the crowned heads of Europe had been excluded. There was strong anti-German sentiment in England at the time and it was felt the presence of her eldest grandson Wilhelm could be a source of contention. He was her favourite and rather than offend him it was decided that none of the European “royals” – most of whom were family – would be invited.

Ironically she was to die in “Willy’s” arms on January 21, 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

The word for January 23 is:
Homodoxian /ˈhōmōdäksēən/: [countable noun]
Someone who shares the same opinion as you.
Obsolete noun from the Greek: homos – the same + doxa – opinion
No it does mean the same dachshund – no doxie is the same as another. They are all unique! Ask Nicky and Nora.

Mercoledi Musicale

Quand le jazz est là, the jazz programme we listen to most evenings on Radio Canada, follows the lead of so many CBC programmes these days and plays the same material two or three times a month. It still beats the sh stuff played on English radio that time of night so if we get Etta James singing Don’t Cry Baby twice in two weeks I’m not going to complain. However, and you knew there would be a however, three times this month we’ve been “treated” to a bizarre version of Nature Boy by Claudia Acuña, the Chilean jazz vocalist and composer. To begin with she draws it out to Wagnerian lengths – or whatever the equivalent is in jazz terms – and then for the last 2 minutes turns it into a Bossa Nova riff.

As a much needed palate cleanser I turned to YouTube and found that everyone and their nearest and dearest have done a cover since Nat King Cole first recorded it back in 1947. So I thought why not go for the original.

Of the song a reviewer in Los Angeles magazine referred to it as sounding “… like something that, from the minute it was written, existed out of time and place—all thousand and one Arabian Nights compressed into two and a half minutes as mediated by a cracked Mojave Debussy slugging down the last of the absinthe from his canteen.

By all accounts composer eden ahbez was an unusual person and part of the early “hippie” movement in California. When Nat King Cole had him tracked down so he could get the rights to record Nature Boy ahbez was living under the L in the famous HOLLYWOOD sign. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week. Lest it be thought he was only that “cracked Mojave Debussy” he went on to write other songs for Nat King Cole and worked with others as composer/arranger and producer. He once told a questioning policeman: “I look crazy but I’m not. And the funny thing is that other people don’t look crazy but they are.”

The word for January 22 is:
Mendacity /menˈdasədē/ /mɛnˈdæsədi/: [noun]
Mid 17th century from ecclesiastical Latin mendacitas, from mendax, mendac- ‘lying’
I’ve loved this word ever since I heard Burl Ives as Big Daddy declaiming it in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And a word that seems more appropriate for revival every day.

Lunedi Lunacy

How can there be “global warming” if …..

First many thanks to the people who sent messages about the storms here in the Maritimes. We have been getting it rough but are 100% more fortunate than our friends over in Newfoundland. Sure we’ve been getting snow, high winds (90-100km/h) and cold (-31ºC this morning with the wind chill), and things have pretty much ground to a halt but it’s nothing near as bad as what they’ve had on the Rock. I’ve read more than one inane comment with the tag “how can there be global warming if …” but that is the rant for another day.

My friends over at Foil Arms and Hog were thoughtful enough to sit down for a chat with Winter who it appears is on a book tour.

I sent the guys a message and asked them to send me a copy of the book – perhaps I can add it to the fire and take some of the chill that’s got into my bones!

You may recall that yesterday I posted a picture of the skating rink across the street from us. That was what it looked like on Friday – roll over the photo for a peak at pretty much the same view on Sunday afternoon.

The word for January 20th is:
Nemesism /ˈnɛmɪsɪz(ə)m/: [noun]
Frustration and aggression directed inward (to oneself).

Created in 1938 by psychoanalyst Saul Rosenzweig to be used as a counterpoint to narcissism. The root is from the Greek god of vengeance Nemesis.
Strangely in the Urban Dictionary it is defined as “only hiring or working with your enemies or those that can do you harm.”