Wise men & women

Xmas_barbies_2       From Loretta:
      
      One question frequently asked of writers is, “Where do you get your ideas?”
      My reactions to this question vary.  A panicked expression.  A blank stare.  A wisecrack, like, “I keep them in a candy box.”  Candy_box But mainly I’m puzzled.  What does the question mean, really?  “How do you do it?” or “What is the process of creating something out of nothing?”  Both questions are about impossible to answer.
      In any case, finding myself without any blog ideas last night or this morning, I have followed the time-honored custom of authors everywhere:  Steal.
      Robert Benchley, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Benchley) –he of the Algonquin Round Table was born in Worcester, too, where he didn’t stay long–had this to say:
      “Great literature must spring from an upheaval in the author’s soul.  If that upheaval is not present, then it must come from the works of any other author which happen to be handy and easily adapted.”
      Well, there was the newspaper, sitting handily by my cup of coffee, with an article in the Local section about Three Kings Day, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, known in our circles as Twelfth Night.  Susan/Sarah, Susan/Miranda, and Edith have told you about various traditions in the British Isles.  The newspaper enlightened me about Hispanic traditions.
      Wise_mendoresm The children of Hispanic nations, according to the article, get their holiday gifts on 6 January.  “On the night of Jan. 5, children gather up the freshest grass they can find in their back yards, stash it all in a small shoebox with a wish list and place it underneath their beds.”
      This employs the tooth fairy concept, like the cookies and milk left for Santa Claus.  The hay is left for the camels.  Sometimes a bowl of water is there, too.  Next day, the “hay” is gone and gifts appear.
      At first I thought this must be tough on the kids living among those who get their gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  They have to wait nearly two weeks more.  But reading on, I found that these Three Kings gifts are in addition to the ones Santa leaves.
      But wait!  There’s more!  After this, come the octavitas–the “eights”–eight days after the Three Kings–more parties, caroling, and more presents.Xmas_gift
      One interviewee said that people made fun of Puerto Ricans “because it’s like we never stop celebrating Christmas.”  Well, what’s wrong with extending a holiday celebration, particularly one that helps brighten the dead of winter?
      Which, by the way, it isn’t in Massachusetts.  We are having the warmest winter on record.  I don’t mind the warmth factor but we New Englanders have the idea that you need freezing weather and snow to “kill the germs” and so we are all enjoying the warmth while worried about, oh, plague or something.
      While I’m stealing stuff, here’s some more about 6 January that was news to me.  I was aware that in some of the Eastern Orthodox churches, Christmas was celebrated on 6 January.  This, as I understand, has something to do with Julian vs. Gregorian calendars, a topic I am not equipped to discuss on account of how it gives me migraine.Calendargregorian
      But there were Julian calendar adherents in England as late as the 1820s, at least.  Says the 1827 edition of William Hones’s The Everyday Book, “According to the alteration of the style, OLD Christmas-day falls on Twelfth-day, and in distant parts is even kept in our time as the festival of the nativity.  In 1753, Old Christmas-day was observed in the neighbourhood of Worcester* by the Anti-Gregorians, full as sociably, if not so religiously, as formerly.  In several villages, the parishioners so strongly insisted upon having an Old-style nativity sermon, as they term it, that their ministers could not well avoid preaching to them.”
      *This is not my and Robert Benchley’s Worcester, BTW, but the English one–and one of these days I may do a blog on how it’s misspelled and mispronounced, even by English persons.  “Worcester," I say patiently, "as in Worcestershire sauce?  Yes?”  Then I get the same look I give people who ask where I get my ideas.
      

44 thoughts on “Wise men & women”

  1. What a hoot, Loretta! I agree that there is something to be said for celebrating Christmas continually, though really, in Puerto Rico there isn’t much dark and wintrous gloom to drive away.
    Mary Jo, in a warmer than average winter, and sharing the belief that a few good freezes are HEALTHY.
    PS: It was the Wolf Moon last night–named by the Indians because it was a time when wolves are very hungry and hang around the villages hoping for careless people who can become dinner

    Reply
  2. What a hoot, Loretta! I agree that there is something to be said for celebrating Christmas continually, though really, in Puerto Rico there isn’t much dark and wintrous gloom to drive away.
    Mary Jo, in a warmer than average winter, and sharing the belief that a few good freezes are HEALTHY.
    PS: It was the Wolf Moon last night–named by the Indians because it was a time when wolves are very hungry and hang around the villages hoping for careless people who can become dinner

    Reply
  3. What a hoot, Loretta! I agree that there is something to be said for celebrating Christmas continually, though really, in Puerto Rico there isn’t much dark and wintrous gloom to drive away.
    Mary Jo, in a warmer than average winter, and sharing the belief that a few good freezes are HEALTHY.
    PS: It was the Wolf Moon last night–named by the Indians because it was a time when wolves are very hungry and hang around the villages hoping for careless people who can become dinner

    Reply
  4. What a hoot, Loretta! I agree that there is something to be said for celebrating Christmas continually, though really, in Puerto Rico there isn’t much dark and wintrous gloom to drive away.
    Mary Jo, in a warmer than average winter, and sharing the belief that a few good freezes are HEALTHY.
    PS: It was the Wolf Moon last night–named by the Indians because it was a time when wolves are very hungry and hang around the villages hoping for careless people who can become dinner

    Reply
  5. Hi Loretta,
    My youngest daughter goes to a French immersion school where they always celebrate Fete des Rois (Feast of the Kings)on Jan. 6. This involves a special cake with a silver figure hidden in it. The child in the class who finds the hidden figure in his/her piece of cake is declared King or Queen, gets to wear a paper crown, and gets to choose a Royal Consort from the class (and then that person gets to wear a paper crown, too). Fete des Rois always bums my daughter out because she has never been Queen or been chosen Queen (there’s still a chance this year, though–we’ll see!).
    On the topic of Worcester, I hope your future blog on the topic includes both the Massachusetts pronunciation (“Wuh-stah” as I recall) and the curious existence of the town of Wooster, Ohio (home of the College of Wooster).
    Cheers and thanks for a great post,
    Melinda

    Reply
  6. Hi Loretta,
    My youngest daughter goes to a French immersion school where they always celebrate Fete des Rois (Feast of the Kings)on Jan. 6. This involves a special cake with a silver figure hidden in it. The child in the class who finds the hidden figure in his/her piece of cake is declared King or Queen, gets to wear a paper crown, and gets to choose a Royal Consort from the class (and then that person gets to wear a paper crown, too). Fete des Rois always bums my daughter out because she has never been Queen or been chosen Queen (there’s still a chance this year, though–we’ll see!).
    On the topic of Worcester, I hope your future blog on the topic includes both the Massachusetts pronunciation (“Wuh-stah” as I recall) and the curious existence of the town of Wooster, Ohio (home of the College of Wooster).
    Cheers and thanks for a great post,
    Melinda

    Reply
  7. Hi Loretta,
    My youngest daughter goes to a French immersion school where they always celebrate Fete des Rois (Feast of the Kings)on Jan. 6. This involves a special cake with a silver figure hidden in it. The child in the class who finds the hidden figure in his/her piece of cake is declared King or Queen, gets to wear a paper crown, and gets to choose a Royal Consort from the class (and then that person gets to wear a paper crown, too). Fete des Rois always bums my daughter out because she has never been Queen or been chosen Queen (there’s still a chance this year, though–we’ll see!).
    On the topic of Worcester, I hope your future blog on the topic includes both the Massachusetts pronunciation (“Wuh-stah” as I recall) and the curious existence of the town of Wooster, Ohio (home of the College of Wooster).
    Cheers and thanks for a great post,
    Melinda

    Reply
  8. Hi Loretta,
    My youngest daughter goes to a French immersion school where they always celebrate Fete des Rois (Feast of the Kings)on Jan. 6. This involves a special cake with a silver figure hidden in it. The child in the class who finds the hidden figure in his/her piece of cake is declared King or Queen, gets to wear a paper crown, and gets to choose a Royal Consort from the class (and then that person gets to wear a paper crown, too). Fete des Rois always bums my daughter out because she has never been Queen or been chosen Queen (there’s still a chance this year, though–we’ll see!).
    On the topic of Worcester, I hope your future blog on the topic includes both the Massachusetts pronunciation (“Wuh-stah” as I recall) and the curious existence of the town of Wooster, Ohio (home of the College of Wooster).
    Cheers and thanks for a great post,
    Melinda

    Reply
  9. Hey Loretta! Great post. Love Benchley’s quote.
    Mary Jo — What is a Wolf Moon? My GSD was oddly ‘freaked out’ last night. Very unusual for him. I wonder if that’s why.
    Nina

    Reply
  10. Hey Loretta! Great post. Love Benchley’s quote.
    Mary Jo — What is a Wolf Moon? My GSD was oddly ‘freaked out’ last night. Very unusual for him. I wonder if that’s why.
    Nina

    Reply
  11. Hey Loretta! Great post. Love Benchley’s quote.
    Mary Jo — What is a Wolf Moon? My GSD was oddly ‘freaked out’ last night. Very unusual for him. I wonder if that’s why.
    Nina

    Reply
  12. Hey Loretta! Great post. Love Benchley’s quote.
    Mary Jo — What is a Wolf Moon? My GSD was oddly ‘freaked out’ last night. Very unusual for him. I wonder if that’s why.
    Nina

    Reply
  13. ‘Cester’ place-names in Britain (derived from Latin names with ‘castra’) are usually elided in the pronunciation: our Worcester is ‘Wooster’, Gloucester, ‘Gloster’, Alcester, ‘Allster’, Towcester, ‘Toaster’ and so on. Cirencester used to be pronounced ‘Sisester’, but now only the very old-fashioned and grand use that pronunciation. Most of us call it ‘Ciren’.

    Reply
  14. ‘Cester’ place-names in Britain (derived from Latin names with ‘castra’) are usually elided in the pronunciation: our Worcester is ‘Wooster’, Gloucester, ‘Gloster’, Alcester, ‘Allster’, Towcester, ‘Toaster’ and so on. Cirencester used to be pronounced ‘Sisester’, but now only the very old-fashioned and grand use that pronunciation. Most of us call it ‘Ciren’.

    Reply
  15. ‘Cester’ place-names in Britain (derived from Latin names with ‘castra’) are usually elided in the pronunciation: our Worcester is ‘Wooster’, Gloucester, ‘Gloster’, Alcester, ‘Allster’, Towcester, ‘Toaster’ and so on. Cirencester used to be pronounced ‘Sisester’, but now only the very old-fashioned and grand use that pronunciation. Most of us call it ‘Ciren’.

    Reply
  16. ‘Cester’ place-names in Britain (derived from Latin names with ‘castra’) are usually elided in the pronunciation: our Worcester is ‘Wooster’, Gloucester, ‘Gloster’, Alcester, ‘Allster’, Towcester, ‘Toaster’ and so on. Cirencester used to be pronounced ‘Sisester’, but now only the very old-fashioned and grand use that pronunciation. Most of us call it ‘Ciren’.

    Reply
  17. It was over 40 degrees in Maine today, which was helpful in melting the ice rink in my driveway. But I still wouldn’t mind a trip to Puerto Rico for some more presents!

    Reply
  18. It was over 40 degrees in Maine today, which was helpful in melting the ice rink in my driveway. But I still wouldn’t mind a trip to Puerto Rico for some more presents!

    Reply
  19. It was over 40 degrees in Maine today, which was helpful in melting the ice rink in my driveway. But I still wouldn’t mind a trip to Puerto Rico for some more presents!

    Reply
  20. It was over 40 degrees in Maine today, which was helpful in melting the ice rink in my driveway. But I still wouldn’t mind a trip to Puerto Rico for some more presents!

    Reply
  21. Hello Mary Jo —
    Thank you for the link. Fascinating stuff. I did not know the moon bore so many names.
    Nina, who does her best work under full moon

    Reply
  22. Hello Mary Jo —
    Thank you for the link. Fascinating stuff. I did not know the moon bore so many names.
    Nina, who does her best work under full moon

    Reply
  23. Hello Mary Jo —
    Thank you for the link. Fascinating stuff. I did not know the moon bore so many names.
    Nina, who does her best work under full moon

    Reply
  24. Hello Mary Jo —
    Thank you for the link. Fascinating stuff. I did not know the moon bore so many names.
    Nina, who does her best work under full moon

    Reply
  25. MJP, I agree that winter in Puerto Rico hardly seems dark but for the Puerto Ricans here in NE, I can well understand not wanting to give up a lengthy celebration. Given our usual winters, they seem to have all the more reason to preserve their custom. The wolf moon was beautiful BTW, and thank you for the link–which may give me more ideas to steal.
    Nina, Benchley has some prime stuff. Little old Worcester has given birth to a number of other writers as well as the comedian Denis Leary.
    AgTigress, Cirencester always had me confused. Thank you for the clarification re old and new versions. As to Worcester–I was taken aback when ordering a book from the UK (over the phone in the pre-internet ancient past) when asked to spell Worcester. We do pronounce it Wooster (a short “oo” as in “wood”)–or else, with Massachusetts accent, dropping “r”s, “Woostah.” And we say Gloucester the same way you do (allowing for regional accents), but one does pause at less familiar place names.
    Maggie, I’d like a trip to Puerto Rico, presents or no presents. I went there once, years ago, and loved it.

    Reply
  26. MJP, I agree that winter in Puerto Rico hardly seems dark but for the Puerto Ricans here in NE, I can well understand not wanting to give up a lengthy celebration. Given our usual winters, they seem to have all the more reason to preserve their custom. The wolf moon was beautiful BTW, and thank you for the link–which may give me more ideas to steal.
    Nina, Benchley has some prime stuff. Little old Worcester has given birth to a number of other writers as well as the comedian Denis Leary.
    AgTigress, Cirencester always had me confused. Thank you for the clarification re old and new versions. As to Worcester–I was taken aback when ordering a book from the UK (over the phone in the pre-internet ancient past) when asked to spell Worcester. We do pronounce it Wooster (a short “oo” as in “wood”)–or else, with Massachusetts accent, dropping “r”s, “Woostah.” And we say Gloucester the same way you do (allowing for regional accents), but one does pause at less familiar place names.
    Maggie, I’d like a trip to Puerto Rico, presents or no presents. I went there once, years ago, and loved it.

    Reply
  27. MJP, I agree that winter in Puerto Rico hardly seems dark but for the Puerto Ricans here in NE, I can well understand not wanting to give up a lengthy celebration. Given our usual winters, they seem to have all the more reason to preserve their custom. The wolf moon was beautiful BTW, and thank you for the link–which may give me more ideas to steal.
    Nina, Benchley has some prime stuff. Little old Worcester has given birth to a number of other writers as well as the comedian Denis Leary.
    AgTigress, Cirencester always had me confused. Thank you for the clarification re old and new versions. As to Worcester–I was taken aback when ordering a book from the UK (over the phone in the pre-internet ancient past) when asked to spell Worcester. We do pronounce it Wooster (a short “oo” as in “wood”)–or else, with Massachusetts accent, dropping “r”s, “Woostah.” And we say Gloucester the same way you do (allowing for regional accents), but one does pause at less familiar place names.
    Maggie, I’d like a trip to Puerto Rico, presents or no presents. I went there once, years ago, and loved it.

    Reply
  28. MJP, I agree that winter in Puerto Rico hardly seems dark but for the Puerto Ricans here in NE, I can well understand not wanting to give up a lengthy celebration. Given our usual winters, they seem to have all the more reason to preserve their custom. The wolf moon was beautiful BTW, and thank you for the link–which may give me more ideas to steal.
    Nina, Benchley has some prime stuff. Little old Worcester has given birth to a number of other writers as well as the comedian Denis Leary.
    AgTigress, Cirencester always had me confused. Thank you for the clarification re old and new versions. As to Worcester–I was taken aback when ordering a book from the UK (over the phone in the pre-internet ancient past) when asked to spell Worcester. We do pronounce it Wooster (a short “oo” as in “wood”)–or else, with Massachusetts accent, dropping “r”s, “Woostah.” And we say Gloucester the same way you do (allowing for regional accents), but one does pause at less familiar place names.
    Maggie, I’d like a trip to Puerto Rico, presents or no presents. I went there once, years ago, and loved it.

    Reply
  29. RevMelinda, you have to let us know if your daughter is Queen this year. The younger generation of my family was annoyed, BTW, when my husband *once again* got the baklava quarter. One of them’s been waiting 24 years for his quarter, poor kid. Meanwhile dh has won several times.
    Pat, this is so funny. We also blame lack of snow for poor gardens–“It’s Nature’s winter mulch,” everyone says. Well, it is easier to have it fall from the sky than to have to shovel and spread it.

    Reply
  30. RevMelinda, you have to let us know if your daughter is Queen this year. The younger generation of my family was annoyed, BTW, when my husband *once again* got the baklava quarter. One of them’s been waiting 24 years for his quarter, poor kid. Meanwhile dh has won several times.
    Pat, this is so funny. We also blame lack of snow for poor gardens–“It’s Nature’s winter mulch,” everyone says. Well, it is easier to have it fall from the sky than to have to shovel and spread it.

    Reply
  31. RevMelinda, you have to let us know if your daughter is Queen this year. The younger generation of my family was annoyed, BTW, when my husband *once again* got the baklava quarter. One of them’s been waiting 24 years for his quarter, poor kid. Meanwhile dh has won several times.
    Pat, this is so funny. We also blame lack of snow for poor gardens–“It’s Nature’s winter mulch,” everyone says. Well, it is easier to have it fall from the sky than to have to shovel and spread it.

    Reply
  32. RevMelinda, you have to let us know if your daughter is Queen this year. The younger generation of my family was annoyed, BTW, when my husband *once again* got the baklava quarter. One of them’s been waiting 24 years for his quarter, poor kid. Meanwhile dh has won several times.
    Pat, this is so funny. We also blame lack of snow for poor gardens–“It’s Nature’s winter mulch,” everyone says. Well, it is easier to have it fall from the sky than to have to shovel and spread it.

    Reply
  33. Loretta, my daughter Leila (who’s sitting at my elbow as I write) would like you to know that alas, she did not find the figure inside the cake and so once again was denied the privilege of being Queen. Luck is cruel! However, I think we will compensate by making a cake of our own tomorrow (and I bet Leila will find something special in that one! smile).
    BTW, thank you to you and Pat Rice for choosing the name “Leila” for one of the heroines in your novels. (Do any other wenches have “Leila” as a heroine name?)

    Reply
  34. Loretta, my daughter Leila (who’s sitting at my elbow as I write) would like you to know that alas, she did not find the figure inside the cake and so once again was denied the privilege of being Queen. Luck is cruel! However, I think we will compensate by making a cake of our own tomorrow (and I bet Leila will find something special in that one! smile).
    BTW, thank you to you and Pat Rice for choosing the name “Leila” for one of the heroines in your novels. (Do any other wenches have “Leila” as a heroine name?)

    Reply
  35. Loretta, my daughter Leila (who’s sitting at my elbow as I write) would like you to know that alas, she did not find the figure inside the cake and so once again was denied the privilege of being Queen. Luck is cruel! However, I think we will compensate by making a cake of our own tomorrow (and I bet Leila will find something special in that one! smile).
    BTW, thank you to you and Pat Rice for choosing the name “Leila” for one of the heroines in your novels. (Do any other wenches have “Leila” as a heroine name?)

    Reply
  36. Loretta, my daughter Leila (who’s sitting at my elbow as I write) would like you to know that alas, she did not find the figure inside the cake and so once again was denied the privilege of being Queen. Luck is cruel! However, I think we will compensate by making a cake of our own tomorrow (and I bet Leila will find something special in that one! smile).
    BTW, thank you to you and Pat Rice for choosing the name “Leila” for one of the heroines in your novels. (Do any other wenches have “Leila” as a heroine name?)

    Reply

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