April's new project.

Maybe I will make an complete alphabet of animals inspired first by the silly letter S (in need of nuts), spawning F (master of all they survey) then, as dictated by no logic, M (I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill). 23 more possibles... 

 

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To all the little people...

The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that Saint Patrick, a non Irish evangelist, had banished them. Supposedly he chased them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40 day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill. A raw deal for snakes… the imaginings of a very hungry man.

As an admirer of snakes I have always have a problem with St.Patrick for this very reason.

Still, I advise you to wear green on the 17th, if not you risk a pinch! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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RAT: Now, let's see what we can do about those feckin' cats...

The Pedigree of Cerberus, Hound of Hell

According to Greek mythology Echidna was the nasty bitch who whelped Cerberus. A dastardly damsel who sported the head and torso of a human woman with bewitching dark eyes, the other half serpent. The bitch lured men to her cave and devoured them. Dear, dear.

And his outrageous Pater breathed fire from a hundred heads, dabbed with glowing red eyes and flew on a hundred wings. The dragon Typhon was feared by all, even the other gods on Mount Olympus. He existed exclusively to spread fear and destruction.

Their heinous offspring became a faithful servant to Hades and guardian of the underworld. Patrolling the banks of the River Styx, boundary between the living and the dead, Cerberus made sure that no living soul entered Hades without permission. He watched zealously over the spirits  and would savagely devour any who tried to escape back to the land of the living. 

 

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2018 Happy Year of the Earth Dog!

The dog’s weakness is procrastination. Be sharp and  maximize your potential.

Sniff everything, sit, stay, fetch, heed the voice, keep all your balls in the air; there may be more treats in the pocket than what is apparent at first glance... 



 

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The Unicorn on St. Valentine's Day

Today we talk of love so let’s talk about the the unflinching love the Unicorn has for his Maiden. 

Not  actually a mythological beast, the Unicorn was believed truly to exist. It was listed in Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder’s epic encyclopedia “Natural History”  and was described as an extremely wild woodland creature that could only be captured by a virgin. At different times it was believed to have the body of a wild ass or a goat or even a bull but always possessed its beautiful,  piercing horn.

The Unicorn became emblematic of chaste love, faithful marriage and a symbol of purity and grace.

Leonardo da Vinci echoed the 7th century scholar Isidore of Seville in one of his notebooks when he wrote:

“The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.”

Isidore also noted that the unicorn “pierces anything it attacks. It fights with elephants and kills them by wounding them in the belly.”  He probably spotted one while on Safari.

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The noble rodent...

As you know, there are many famous weather prognosticating groundhogs. In our West Coast neck of the woods we don't have "groundhogs" so our go to rodent is the Marmot. Usual Groundhog day prediction rates are a mere 37% accurate so time will tell whether a marmot has any meterological bones in its body. And those pitiful statistics lead me to believe that we are either interpreting their messages incorrectly or these guys are chucking us a lot of wood. 

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Och aye the noo! Burns Day 2018

Awa' Whigs, awa'! 

Robbie Burns 1789 

 

Awa' Whigs, awa'!   Ye're but a pack o' traitor louns,   Ye'll do nae gude at a'.      Our thrissles flourish'd fresh and fair,   And bonie bloom'd our roses;   But Whigs cam' like a frost in June,   An' wither'd a' our posies.   Awa' Whigs, awa’!      Our ancient crown's fa'en in the dust-   Deil blin' them wi' the stoure o't!   An' write their names in his black beuk,   Wha gae the Whigs the power o't.   Awa' Whigs, awa’!      Our sad decay in church and state   Surpasses my descriving:   The Whigs cam' o'er us for a curse,   An' we hae done wi' thriving.   Awa' Whigs, awa’!       Grim vengeance lang has taen a nap,   But we may see him wauken:   Gude help the day when royal heads   Are hunted like a maukin!   Awa' Whigs, awa’!      Glossary  louns: bums, creeps  thrissles: thistles  Deil: Devil  blin: blind  stoure: puff of dust  gae: gave  wauken: waken  Gude: God  maukin: a hare     R obert Burns published his version of Awa’ Whigs awa’ in 1789 commemorating the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart,  "Bonnie Prince Charlie" or "the Young Pretender”, to regain the British crown for the House of Stuart and causing The Jacobite uprising of 1745 .  The Whigs' supported constitutional monarchism and opposed the Stuart's claim by absolute monarchy.   The Bonnie Prince gained military success and support in Scotland then lead his Scottish Jacobite army into England. When they found no support from English Jacobites and were faced with the force of the Duke of Cumberland's British Whig troops they turned back.    But not to be forgiven, in April 1746 they were massacred at the Battle of Culloden. Charles escaped to France and effectively the Stuart cause ended. The wild Scottish highlanders were brutally integrated into the Kingdom of Great Britain using civil penalties to undermine the clan system and Gaelic culture. The crackdown earned Cumberland the sobriquet “the Butcher".    Understandably Rabbie was galled.

Awa' Whigs, awa'! 

Ye're but a pack o' traitor louns, 

Ye'll do nae gude at a'. 

 

Our thrissles flourish'd fresh and fair, 

And bonie bloom'd our roses; 

But Whigs cam' like a frost in June, 

An' wither'd a' our posies. 

Awa' Whigs, awa’! 

 

Our ancient crown's fa'en in the dust- 

Deil blin' them wi' the stoure o't! 

An' write their names in his black beuk, 

Wha gae the Whigs the power o't. 

Awa' Whigs, awa’! 

 

Our sad decay in church and state 

Surpasses my descriving: 

The Whigs cam' o'er us for a curse, 

An' we hae done wi' thriving. 

Awa' Whigs, awa’!  

 

Grim vengeance lang has taen a nap, 

But we may see him wauken: 

Gude help the day when royal heads 

Are hunted like a maukin! 

Awa' Whigs, awa’! 

 

Glossary

louns: bums, creeps

thrissles: thistles

Deil: Devil

blin: blind

stoure: puff of dust

gae: gave

wauken: waken

Gude: God

maukin: a hare

  Robert Burns published his version of Awa’ Whigs awa’ in 1789 commemorating the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart,  "Bonnie Prince Charlie" or "the Young Pretender”, to regain the British crown for the House of Stuart and causing The Jacobite uprising of 1745 .  The Whigs' supported constitutional monarchism and opposed the Stuart's claim by absolute monarchy. 

The Bonnie Prince gained military success and support in Scotland then lead his Scottish Jacobite army into England. When they found no support from English Jacobites and were faced with the force of the Duke of Cumberland's British Whig troops they turned back.  

But not to be forgiven, in April 1746 they were massacred at the Battle of Culloden. Charles escaped to France and effectively the Stuart cause ended. The wild Scottish highlanders were brutally integrated into the Kingdom of Great Britain using civil penalties to undermine the clan system and Gaelic culture. The crackdown earned Cumberland the sobriquet “the Butcher". 

Understandably Rabbie was galled.

Harpy now?

Harpy! In modern terms a shrill, complaining nag. 

And the definition owes it all to Greek mythology. Harpies were known as the short violent winds Aello and Ocypete; two shrieking, ugly, hungry and insatiable monsters, half bird, half woman with eyes that shed poisonous tears. They were often blamed for the sudden disappearances of people or belongings and known as the "hounds of Zeus” dispatched when someone or something needed removing from the earth.

Meanwhile, Zeus had bestowed the gift of prophecy on King Phineus of Thrace. Unfortunately Phineus got a little out of control there revealing divine truths to mere mortals whereupon he was blinded and abandoned to an island. There a sumptuous buffet was laid out every day. Every day the Harpies descended on the table to steal and foul the food. It was Zeus' will that Phineus never enjoy so much as a piece of bread during this everlasting feast,

Luckily for old Phineus, Jason and the Argonauts chanced upon his cursed island and found the poor king besieged by the Harpies. They rid him of the screeching, nagging monsters and chased them to their caves in Crete. Using his oracular powers Phineus repaid the Argonauts by instructing them on how to pass through the Symplegades or “Clashing Rocks” as they were on their way to Colchis to steal the Golden Fleece.

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The Sphinx, treacherous and merciless... and a little peckish.

The word sphinx comes from the Greek verb σφίγγω: to squeeze or tighten up. 

The Sphinx, part lion, part woman, may have wings, is a unique demon of destruction and bad luck.

Poised with a riddle, those who answered wrong were strangled and eaten by the ravenous monster so beware:

"Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" 

When Laius, King of Thebes, was killed in a road accident the Sphinx spotted a convenient dining opportunity. Sitting above Thebes on a cliff the sphinx asked all travellers her riddle, as none could answer she feasted heartily.

 Oedipus (“Swollen Foot” *) solved the riddle answering: “It is Man who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two feet as an adult, and uses a walking stick in old age.”

In a fit of pique the Sphinx threw herself from her high rock and died… or ate herself, your choice. But she may have had the last laugh  after all for Oedipus, his Mom, the rest of his family ... the whole citizenry of Thebes really, had a nasty run of bad luck. 

(*S. Foot post, Sept.2/17.)

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