BBC Pidgin

Did you know that the BBC has a pidgin-language website? It turns out that this year's Miss Africa pageant was quite exciting.
Miss Africa 2018: Miss Congo hair catch fire plus oda tins wey happun for dis year event

...Di event almost turn sometin else wen di new queen her hair catch fire as she bin dey do her celebration waka but some organizers behind di scene don come out say na wig she bin dey wear.

Di fire start afta fire works wey dem no do well fall for her hair.
I always love it when I realize I can read another language. They are of course close variants of languages I know: I can read English, so with some practice at sounding it out I realized I could read Middle English with very little work. I can read French, so it wasn't too hard to learn to get the sense of Spanish -- but I was really pleased to realize that I could kind of work out some Romanian, which is a Romance language in spite of the relatively large distance. (Portuguese was harder than Spanish, easier than Romanian. Of course idiomatic expressions will catch you in all of these cases.)

So add Pidgin to the list. It's fun.

Chess art

I was supposed to be looking for something else, but these chessmen caught my eye, along with dozens of other insanely beautiful sets featured in the lengthy article.

Shutdown day 3

Don't get in their way

These dogs seem into it.

From a site called "Design You Trust."  Lots of interesting things there.

Hogmanay Rising

The fire festival is close at hand. Someday I hope to go to Scotland for it, but thus far it has not worked out.
In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.

It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.

And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.

There are several traditions and superstitions that should be taken care of before midnight on the 31st December: these include cleaning the house and taking out the ashes from the fire, there is also the requirement to clear all your debts before “the bells” sound midnight, the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.
I wonder if the lack of Christmas is less compatible with America, or the idea of annually clearing all one's debts. The latter, I suppose.

Holiday Travels

I have just returned from the ancestral homeland in east Tennessee, where I visited with both my father's and mother's people. The Newfound Gap was open on the way over, and we stopped to have a snowball fight. However, the park service decided to close it before my return trip, which added a very substantial detour in the pouring rain. I was grateful to finally return home late last night.

Visiting family more-or-less annually over decades, you begin to think you notice patterns in lives that begin in the same place but show marked divergence. I think religious observance must be quite important to holding one's life together, as even the more annoyingly evangelical of my relatives have flourished markedly over the less-religious ones. The most intellectually sophisticated have not flourished, not even relatively speaking; but the ones who go to church do, for whatever reason or set of reasons. Education correlates with success only somewhat. Hard work does not; laziness is often rewarded by luck, or simply by the virtue of being happy with less. Although I should add that those who have pursued higher education and self-disciplined hard work to the greatest degree of success are also religiously observant, so perhaps I don't have a large enough set to tease out the details.

Perhaps you have similar observations, or divergent ones.

White papers with teeth

Why do right-wing intellectuals hate Trump, and by extension capitalism?
In the case of the anti-Trump right-wing intellectual, however, the genealogy of their disgust is slightly different. Rather than being possessed of the silly notion that the world will be just like school, they are possessed of a different, but no less silly, notion: that politics is just their insular conferences played out in public and backed by law, or their white papers given teeth—but that, in the final analysis, there’s no substantive difference between statesmanship and academia.

On the Feast of Stephen

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

The Wren Song: With Liza Minnelli

Poor lass, she's hardly mentioned. But she's there, featured a moment among minor deities of the Celtic pantheon.

There's some bad songs woven in there, for those who know the history.

"As I was goin' to kill, and all..."

Happy St. Steven's Day.

UPDATE: If you're wanting a start on the bad songs, you can begin here.

Scenes of Christmas

Pastries, Croissant and Danish.

Closeup of the Danish pastries.

The hound of the hall sleeping near the fire.

The Feast of Christmas

Old comrade Joseph W. once said this was the carol he most associated with the Hall. It's a fine one.

But I like this song too, though it is perhaps more festive than observant.

And a couple more, one by Bach:

And another by the Baltimore Consort, this last done a few years ago at Trinity Church, London.

The peace of the Hall to all people of good will. Merry Christmas to you all.

Holiday mania tightens its steely grip

If I'd been getting some of this clickbait email a few weeks ago, I might be in even more crafty trouble than I already am.  This morning I am completely lost in ideas for dyeing plain paper in tea baths and producing cunning paper bows with sprigs of this and that from the back yard. (Also, fringe scissors.  But I already have some of those.)  Luckily, I have no more presents to wrap and only two days remain before Christmas.  But oh, my goodness, who could resist trying to make these woven stars?  Especially, who could resist who actually has vast great quantities of long paper strips in stock just at the moment?

Last night neighbors joined us for a holiday dinner of oysters Rockefeller, standing rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, pureed peas with mint and cilantro, and a salad with grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, and Stilton cheese.  Our guests arrived with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, a grapefruit pie, and killer wines.  I was particularly taken with my husband's Yorkshire pudding, which is something like a croissant and dangerously easy to make, judging as a spectator:

I see this as a future breakfast food, a worthy competitor to biscuits.

We're bang on trend this year with "foraged" holiday decor.  (To be truly on-trend, we'd have to work "bespoke" in there.)  I found last week that greenbriar makes a good wreath or garland late in the season after its leaves have turned red, but its stems are still flexible: