Wednesday, December 31, 2014

British Year End Honors

Customarily, The Queen announces her 'honors', knighthoods and such, at the end of the year. Many British organizations follow suit with a variety of awards. Here are a few favorites.
Neil Brittlebank and Kevin Beresford have the dubious honour of being two of the dullest men of the year - as awarded by the Dull Men's Club. Mr Beresford, from Worcestershire, produces books and calendars about roundabouts, while Mr Brittlebank, from Yorkshire, collects bricks. Jonny Yaxley, a cheery man, holds the coveted title of Gravedigger of the Year, awarded by the Good Funeral guide. Zenny Smith, from Peterborough, is the proud holder of the title UK Toilet Attendant of the Year, conferred on her by the British Toilet Association. Joel Bird's shed, pictured, in north London, has an garden on the shed's roof which won him the Shed of the Year Award. Mr Bird, usually wearing a leather hat, gardens, cooks and has even had the occasional bath on top of his shed, overlooked by blocks of flats. Only the English....

Happy and Blessed New Year to Y'all

Robert Burns is the man who brought us Auld Lang Syne

Every New Year's Eve millions of people around the world raise their voices in a chorus of the Scottish folk song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ with little understanding of the song itself. 
The words, written by poet Robert Burns in 1788, and music (added later) were both inspired by fragments of traditional songs from earlier times.   A song of reunion not of parting, as some think, it recalls happy days gone by, separation and coming back together of old friends and family.
It translates into standard English as "old long ago" or more colloquially "the good old days". In the modern idiom some might say "back in the day".  It is a tale which looks back at old times with a friend from childhood and seeks to rekindle the past by a handshake and a goodwill drink.  Its place as a world wide anthem for 31 December owes much to Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadian Big Band’s New Years broadcast, on radio and television for 50 years. In the final verse the singer offers his hand of friendship and asks for his old pal's in return. The tradition has been that at this point, and not before, hands are crossed and offered to the people on either side of you in the gathered circle
Listen to Guy bring a tear to your eye
English translation

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Faryl Smith, a voice to be remembered

Twelve year old Faryl Smith’s audition for Britain Has Talent stuns judges and audience with Ave Maria.  Worth a listen.

irish wit

Marriage: When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.George Bernard Shaw

Ireland remains a deeply religious country, with the two main denominations being "us" and "them". In the unlikely event you are asked which group you belong to, the correct answer is:"I'm an atheist, thank God".

God then made man. The Italians for their beauty. The French for their cuisine. The Welsh for their voices. The Germans for their cars. And on and on until He looked at what He had created and said, "This is all very well, but no-one is having fun. I'll have to make an Irishman.

"I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.
Oscar Wilde

Darby O’Gill 

He found a deer shed - what a lucky day!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Snowflake

Snow flakes falling from the sky.
Making time flot by.

Snowflakes are like little
crystal flecks of glitter.

How they shimmer and shine.
Try to hold them in my hand.
Won’t last long. They melt away.

Capture these moments and
special days.
As they pile up and create a
bed of white.   
Covering the ground below,

day and night.

A poem by Kaelan McDonald (age 8)

Time travel

I told you to slow down!

a winter garden

Ah! The indomitable human spirit! Lovely!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remembering Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.

I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't,
than live as if there isn't and to die to find out that there is.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.

The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants.

Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master,
the weight of days is dreadful.

All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.

martina mcbride

jpr: This woman has a life!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Seven Celtic Nations.

While Scotland and Ireland are most commonly associated with the Celtic people, the roots of the culture are spread throughout Europe. A millennium ago a Celtic tribe known as the Gallaeci settled an area north of the Douro River in northwest Spain. The region became modern day Galicia, today considered the seventh of the original Celtic nations, along with Eire (Ireland), Kernow (Cornwall), Mannin (Isle of Mann), Breizh (Brittany), Alba (Scotland) and Cymru (Wales).

The evidence is everywhere, from the Galician language – which contains a significant amount of words of Celtic origin and is spoken by more than three million people – to the pagan festivals and rituals that continue to flourish in the region. The pallozas, or round stone huts (pictured), date back 2,500 years and are believed to be of Celtic origin.

The Art of Hunting Leprachauns

Friday, December 26, 2014

duck dynasty christmas
jpr: Swamp folk be whole lot like hill folk it seems!

Merry Xmas Everyone!

(by Vignir Mar, via flickr)

WREN DAY -- an odd Christmas Tradition

December 26, St. Stephens Day, or for some ‘Boxing Day,’ is one of those strange pre-Christian Irish holidays still celebrated in some parts of Ireland ----- Wren Day.  The tradition requires the capture of a wren (a type of bird) and the fixing it on top of a decorated pole. Crowds of strawboys celebrate the wren (‘druid bird' in ancient Irish’) by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colourful clothing, and accompanied by traditional bands, they parade through the towns and villages. The ‘purpose’ is lost. Some argue that the wren betrayed St Stephen, and in another version the wren betrayed Irish troops by revealing their location to Cromwell’s army.

But clearly the practice is much older and comes from Celtic mythology. Cliona, a woman of the otherworld, seduced young men to follow her to the seashore where she drowned them in the ocean.  Eventually a charm was discovered that could bring about her destruction.  Her only method of escape was to turn herself into a wren.  As a punishment for her crimes she was forced to take the shape of the little bird on every succeeding Christmas Day and fated to die by human hand.  Hence the seemingly barbarous practice of hunting the wren. (artificial ones are used today).  The tradition was once practiced on the Isle of Mann, in Wales, and in parts of Spain.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmass Spirit

Put up a splash of Christmass spirit
Put in a dash of love
Stir up the sounds ‘till you canhear it
Sing out to those you love
Christmas, Christmas, you can fill me Up with Christmas cheer
Christmas, Christmas, you fulfill my Spirit every year
Toss up a mash of extra magic
Toss in a batch of love
Let up the lights with random logic
Look out for sleighs above
Santa, Santa, can I have it
Please I’ve been so good
Santa, Santa, please I beg you
Please oh if you would
Get up a clash of Christmass
Set up and show the shiny decor
Shout out with Christmas love
Listen, listen, you can see it
Spirit everywhere listen, listen, you can do it
Spread it out and share
Put up a splash of Christmas spirit
Put in a dash of love
Stir up the sounds ‘till you can hear it
Sing out to those you love
Christmas, Christmas, you can fill me
Up with Christmas cheer my
Spirit every year.

by akingbehin daniel murphy

christmass dinner

Only a mother's love can produce such an offering.

Merry Christmass

Keep Mass in Christmass!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

midnight services

christmass eve midnight mass

puer natus in bethlehem

jpr: This eve is the best. The choirs are ready.

Behold Jesus Christ
The recreated face of Jesus in 3D based on the Shroud of Turin.

jpr: My understanding is that His skin color was not white!

Merry Christmass ALL!

The True Christians by Henry Vaughan
So stick up ivy and the bays,
And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing.
And mortifies the earth and all
But your wild revels, and loose hall.
Could you wear flowers, and roses strow
Blushing upon your breasts' warm snow,
That very dress your lightness will
Rebuke, and wither at the ill.
The brightness of this day we owe
Not unto music, masque, nor show:
Nor gallant furniture, nor plate;
But to the manger's mean estate.
His life while here, as well as birth,
Was but a check to pomp and mirth;
And all man's greatness you may see
Condemned by His humility.
Then leave your open house and noise,
To welcome Him with holy joys,
And the poor shepherd's watchfulness:
Whom light and hymns from heaven did bless.
What you abound with, cast abroad
To those that want, and ease your load.
Who empties thus, will bring more in;
But riot is both loss and sin.
Dress finely what comes not in sight,
And then you keep your Christmas right.

A 'Coupla' Christmas Thoughts.

“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” -- Winston Churchill
“Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” -- Calvin Coolidge
“Don't let the past steal your present. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.” -- Taylor Caldwell
“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” -- Washington Irving
“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” -- Charles M. Schulz
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” -- Alexander Smith
“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” -- Mary Ellen Chase
“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.” -- George Carlin
“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.” -- Jay Leno
“That's the true spirit of Christmas: people being helped by people other than me.” -- Jerry Seinfeld
“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it, saying, 'Toys not included.'” -- Bernard Manning
“God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God's work to save the world.” -- Adam Hamilton

“Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” -- Pope Francis
Its a tough memory for us but at least we always ate well thanks to the mysterious cardboard box. MERRY CHRISTMAS YO"AL.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

grandma's hand gun
"Grandma lived out on a ridge where one or t'other neighbor could be seen  but never heard. No street lights of any kind it were dark at night as could be. The lady was known to step out of the house with gun in hand to shoo off a black bear what be lingering on the property. She would slip her hand gun into her apron for a nature walk. Gandma was righteous hill folk"  jpr

Oh yeah she let off a few rounds new years eve!

Celtic poem

I'd Love to be a Fairy's Child   By Robert Graves 

British author RobertGraves  fought for Great Britain in the First World War, and became one of the finest poets to emerge from that conflict. "Fairies and Fusiliers" collects poems written during World War I, when Graves served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the Western Front.

christmass punch
jpr: This is close to Mary Ann's punch. No cool-aid but sweet tea. Me thinks she added a tube of frozen grape juice!  Miss her and her holiday table.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Pope's At It Again.

christmass flowers

Flower of Christmas 

The flowers have all gone now
And in its place ice and snow
To warm the heart in winter’s glow?
The open flower of Christmas
Gives love with a generous hand
Radiates the spirit of Christianity
More lovely than a breath of roses
Spreading its spirit across the land

Prettier than all the flowers in May
Is the open flower of Christmas Day?

                                     Beryl McMullen 

Thanks JP

Merry Christmas to The Briggs' Family.

Jeanne and Paul Briggs live in Falling Waters, WVa with their 34 children and more on the way.  They have 5 biological plus 29 adopted children who range in age from late 20's to newborn.  The adoptees come from several different countries, include siblings, some are blind and disfigured, and all home schooled. Their older children have begun to adopt while their parents have applications for more children in process.  That's the Christmas spirit on steroids.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 winter solstice

Winter solstice, falling this year on Sunday, Dec. 21, marks the first day of
winter in the Northern Hemisphere. More precisely, winter officially
 begins at 6:03 p.m. ET — the moment when the Northern Hemisphere is
 pointed at its furthest distance from the sun. This means winter solstice 
boasts  the longest night and the shortest day.
Each day on after the solstice, the days will get longer and warmer until the 
calendar hits summer  solstice, June 21, 2015. Summer solstice marks 
the first day of summer, the  longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. 

The 12 Pubs of Christmas

The Irish, who else, have introduced a new Christmas tradition, the 12 Pubs of Christmas.  Groups of young people dressed in 'Christmas sweaters' agree to have one drink in 12 pups in  a single night in the days just before Christmas.  The route is carefully selected before hand and is often accompanied by rules, like drinking only with the left hand in one pub, speaking only Irish in another.  Unofficial reports suggest few people actual make it through all 12.   

christmas in norway
jpr: The college choir is shown, they had a  h.s. all girls choir in addition as well as a grade school all girls choir singing together. just glorious! Shown on PBS.

River Walk Christmas San Antonio, TX
jpr: They do things right well in Texas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rhys Ifans...could be a hero

Rhys Ifans was born and raised in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, the son of teacher parents, Beti Wyn (Davies) and Eirwyn Evans. He was educated in two Welsh language schools - Ysgol Pentrecelyn, where his mother taught, and Ysgol Maes Garmon

enjoy a little spoken Welsh (gaelic)

At's My Popa.

On December 4, Pope Francis sent 2,000 presents to homeless immigrants in the care of Mother Teresa's nuns in Rome.  Each contained a signed card, postage stamps, a pre-paid international calling card and a Rome metro pass.  His message to the recipients 'be with family and friends at Christmas,'  his message to the rest of us, 'remember and care about those suffering poverty, whether financial or emotional.'  Are we talking a real leader for the church here or what?

keebler elf christmass
Miniature door found at the base of an elm tree in Golden Gate Park

jpr: yes Keeblers do exist Virginia

Iceland and The Problem of Elves.

An Icelandic Elf House
Sixty two percent of Icelanders believe that thousands of elves make their homes in Iceland’s wilderness.  Stories abound of the “huldufolk’  or "hidden folk."  Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a current highway project.  They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.   The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on the case.

The matter is particularly critical at Christmas, as Icelanders await not just one Santa Claus, but 13 trolls known as the "Yule Lads" who come to town during the 13 days before Christmas. Each has his own task, putting rewards or punishments into the shoes of little children.  Interestingly, many of these same traditions exist in rural Western Ireland.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Rachel Nichols - New Member of the JP Gallery

The 34 year old actress from Maine stands 5'10', graduated from Columbia, and is the star of the Sci-Fi classic Continuum.

Irish Poem's Month

An Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!
Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house – a house of my own
Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.
Padraic Colum

irish poems month

A Faery Song                

WE who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:
Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told. 

More of Brendan Behan, one of Ireland's finest voices

Behan's classic work bout his early imprisonment  (I own a copy).

Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis

I am a drinker with writing problems.

In Dublin, I was court-martialled in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves.

All publicity is good, except an obituary notice.

I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.

decorating for christmass from the dollar store

jpr: stuff you don't mind throwing away.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

faith hill christmas special


jpr: Her current  special was the first I've heard or seen her in performance. The lady is stately, reserved, elegant, and modest. Oh yeah her vocals are sound. Her beauty comes from her soul for sure.

appalachia in deep winter

ODE on SOLITUDE by alexander pope
How happy he, who free from care 
The rage of courts, and noise of towns; 
Contented breathes his native air, 
In his own grounds. 

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, 
Whose flocks supply him with attire, 
Whose trees in summer yield him shade, 
In winter fire. 

Blest! who can unconcern'dly find 
Hours, days, and years slide swift away, 
In health of body, peace of mind, 
Quiet by day, 

Sound sleep by night; study and ease  
Together mix'd; sweet recreation, 
And innocence, which most does please,   
With meditation. 

Thus let me live, unheard, unknown; 
Thus unlamented let me die; 
Steal from the world, and not a stone 
Tell where I lie.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Something you probably haven't given much thought to.

Cheerleaders - prior to the 1940's they were almost always MEN.  When WWII broke out and most of the men were gone, Dames started taking over the task.  And ain't we lucky for that!  Badda Bing.  

Juan diego's poncho

The feast of  Our Lady of Guadalupe: 

Most remarkably, a microscopic analysis of Our Lady’s eyes was completed by Peruvian engineer and optical scientist Dr. Jose Aste Tonsmann (who trained at Cornell University and worked at IBM). He magnified the iris of the Virgin’s eyes 2,500 times and, through mathematical and optical calculations, was able to identify the witnesses of the Guadalupan miracle at the moment Juan Diego unfurled his tilma before the bishop and other witnesses [the bishop was Juan de Zumarraga, the Franciscan bishop of Mexico City.

jpr: The Pope believes!