Saturday, January 16, 2010


Sour Grapes (1921)
William Carlos Williams



Picture Source

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner


Eggs are a source of complete animal protein and the best kind of meat stretchers and meat substitutes. Recipe servings are adequate for nutritional needs and are frequently combined with foods such as pasta, rice and bread which is nice because it adds up to a larger serving than those nutritionally adequate serving of meant fish and poultry. It's great for those who enjoy a filling meal and still be able to eat correctly.

Buying Eggs:

    Size: When crucial to a recipe amounts of eggs are given in liquid measure, but as a general rule recipes calling for eggs are commonly referring to Large eggs. Eggs at the market are most commonly available as extra large, large, and medium.

    Grade: Standards set by the US Federal Government classify eggs as AA, A, B, and C . AA and A are best for poaching, frying, and eating in the shell. The yolks are firm, round and high. The thick white stands high around the yolk with a less amount of the thin white. Grade B eggs have the same nutritive value and are more economical as AA and A; they are perfectly acceptable for other uses than poaching, frying, or eating in the shell.

    Color: Brown Eggs or white, pale yellow yolks or deep yellow ones-- all are the same when it comes to cooking performance and nutrition. Shell color is the result of pigmentation from feed or the yolk color.

Storing Eggs

    Refrigerate eggs right after you buy them, store them with the large ends up to keep the yolks in the center. It's best to use them within a week. Leftover egg whites will keep in the fridge in a covered jar for 7 to 10 days. Cover the leftover yolks with water and store in a covered jar. Yolks will last only 2 to 3 days. Frequent uses for leftover yolks are Hollandaise Sauce or Cooked Salad Dressings. Use the whites for Meringue Kisses or Angel Food Cake.

Egg Equivalents

    You will need 4 to 6 eggs to get the equivalent of a 1 cup measure or 8 to 10 whites or 12 to 14 yolks.

Helpful Hints



My batter spattered Betty Crocker's Cookbook.


Eggs are a source of complete animal protein and the best kind of meat stretchers and meat substitutes. Recipe servings are adequate for nutritional needs and are frequently combined with foods such as pasta, rice and bread which is nice because it adds up to a larger serving than those nutritionally adequate serving of meant fish and poultry. It's great for those who enjoy a filling meal and still be able to eat correctly.

Buying Eggs:

    Size: When crucial to a recipe amounts of eggs are given in liquid measure, but as a general rule recipes calling for eggs are commonly referring to Large eggs. Eggs at the market are most commonly available as extra large, large, and medium.

    Grade: Standards set by the US Federal Government classify eggs as AA, A, B, and C . AA and A are best for poaching, frying, and eating in the shell. The yolks are firm, round and high. The thick white stands high around the yolk with a less amount of the thin white. Grade B eggs have the same nutritive value and are more economical as AA and A; they are perfectly acceptable for other uses than poaching, frying, or eating in the shell.

    Color: Brown Eggs or white, pale yellow yolks or deep yellow ones-- all are the same when it comes to cooking performance and nutrition. Shell color is the result of pigmentation from feed or the yolk color.

Storing Eggs

    Refrigerate eggs right after you buy them, store them with the large ends up to keep the yolks in the center. It's best to use them within a week. Leftover egg whites will keep in the fridge in a covered jar for 7 to 10 days. Cover the leftover yolks with water and store in a covered jar. Yolks will last only 2 to 3 days. Frequent uses for leftover yolks are Hollandaise Sauce or Cooked Salad Dressings. Use the whites for Meringue Kisses or Angel Food Cake.

Egg Equivalents

    You will need 4 to 6 eggs to get the equivalent of a 1 cup measure or 8 to 10 whites or 12 to 14 yolks.

Helpful Hints



My batter spattered Betty Crocker's Cookbook.


From Popes to realpolitiks

Any person that takes advantage of circumstances without regard to what is just or honest can be described as an opportunist. The term is derived from the French opportuniste and first appeared in the English language during the 19th century. The root word is Latin opportunus from around 1408 the phrase ob portum veniens meaning "coming toward a port." This is a reference to the wind, from ob which indicates to or toward and portus meaning harbor. Both opportunism and opportunist were eventually borrowed from Italian politics opportunismo. In the Roman Catholic Chrurch during the Vatican Council of 1870 an opportunist was a person who held that "the time was opportune for the promulgation of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility." By 1881 Opportunist was used to denote a political party in France. In particular it was used frequently to refer to French republican statesman Léon Gambetta (1838-82).

In 1902 the word reappeared in the German political realm indicating 'proponents or practitioners of opportunism to portray any socialist or communist who advocates the making of concessions to the bourgeoisie.' Eventually the term crept into the English language to describe anyone who "seeks profit from the prevailing circumstances."

Carpetbaggers and making hay while the sunshines

Biological organisms are called opportunist as well. For example some medical professionals theorize that pulmonary disease is caused by opportunist mycobacteria. The opportunists of the plant world are primary grasses. These emerge soon after a forest fire and stabilize the freshly bared ground until the more prevalent species of larger plants like trees arrive as replacements. The alder is primarily a pioneering arboreal and considered as opportunist species by ecologists because of its capacity for direct colonization of even the rawest soil material. The spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) are known to be opportunists in the animal kingdom because their foraging habits. Even though they are primarily hunters that have a varied diet including mammals, reptiles and birds, they will scavenge wherever and whenever possible.

Sources: Definition of opportunist

Etymology Online


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Burgundy Ragout

This is family recipe from my mother's side. The basis for this recipe was published in the Detroit Free Press on Thursday, October 15, 1970 on page 12 D. It was originally called Ragout Burgundy for Thursday. The menu they suggested to go with this stew was a tossed green salad, garlic bread and lemon cake pudding for dessert. Of course, Mom being the culinary genius that she was adopted it and made her own version. It filled the house with delicious smells and we loved coming home to it after a day traveling 20 miles back and forth to school on a school bus at below freezing temperatures.

1½ lbs Stew Meat, cubed
2 TBS Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 Cups Water, or beef broth
8 oz Can Tomato Sauce
1-2 Teaspoons Salt
½ Teaspoon Powdered Oregano
½ Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Sugar
4 Medium Potatoes, cubed
12 small Carrots, quartered
3 large Onions, quartered
1 package frozen green beans 1 Cup Burgundy, red wine or beer works as well

In a large kettle brown meat in olive oil for 15 to 20 minutes, seasoning with pepper to taste. Add garlic, water, or broth and tomato sauce, salt to taste if you used the broth. Add in the pepper and oregano. Cover and simmer gently for 1½ hours. You will see a nice gravy form. Add more water if needed, sugar, potatoes, carrots, and onions and simmer ½ hour or until veggies are tender. Add burgundy, wine or beer and the green beans. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Thicken gravy if desired. Serves 4 -6 people. Can be served over rice or with biscuits.


Picture source


THERE is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave--under the deep, deep, sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hushed--no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.
Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

Poet, satirist and humorist, his The Last Man is said to have inspired Mary Shelley's novel of the same name. Thomas Hood was an English poet famous for his humorous verse. A great wit with puns which was the true power of his mind. I have had a few students over the years in the field of education that could drive most teachers to distraction with word plays that I saw as welcome additions to (and was frequently criticized for by peers) a lesson here and there. Some teachers thought these kids were more of a nuisance, but for the most part the entertainment was welcomed as long as it was within reason. Knowing many others would benefit it made for more powerful writers, after all the primary goal in teaching is to teach students to think critically.

To have enough of an understanding of words and their meanings to craft a novel idea, well that is quite a talent and Thomas Hood possessed just this gift. For a while he was a sort of "sub editor" of London Magazine during its heyday from 1821 until 1823 . At the time there were a number of members from the great literary circles of the era including Charles Lamb, Thomas De Quincey, and William Hazlitt. In 1827 he published a volume of poems strongly influenced by Keats by the title of Plea of the Midsummer Fairies. Yet he was known primarily as a humorous writer and won his reputation for the most part through his compositions for the Comic Annual between 1830 and 184, in which he deftly caricatured events and contemporary figures.

Hood had also a serious side, and a deep sympathy for the poor. You may be interested in another of his poems written about here called The Song of the Shirt which reveals his feelings about the social evils of the day; sweat shops, unemployment, and the double sexual standard.

When he did write about a more sedate subject like Silence, he was able to produce a remarkable sonnet like this one. Submitted only to be rejected by the London Magazine in February 1823, it was later printed in the Burton's Gentleman's Magazine issue for September of 1839. You might recognize the first verse:

    There is a silence where hath been no sound
    There is a silence where no sound may be
    In the cold grave, under the deep, deep sea.
It's from the movie, The Piano where it is recited in voice-over by Ada.

Deep thoughts are not necessary to good poetry and there is nothing profound here however there is a unique conceit and that is the idea that there are two kinds of silence, that where life has never been, and that which flows back after man has come and gone. Hiking along fragile desert trails in the shadowless heat of summer there are times one can glimpse this after image of silence. It's the one that comes into focus at the point of no longer appearing natural or spontaneous, the showing of a realization of certain knowledge.

One is struck by the maze of upright rocks, ancient sandstone giants keeping mute vigil over vanished civilizations. How powerful a poem is this one that has the ability to please one hundred and fifty years after it was written.


Blair, Bob

minstrels Silence -- Thomas Hood

Public Domain text taken from the Poet's Corner



Winter is long in this climate
and spring--a matter of a few days
only,--a flower or two picked
from mud or from among wet leaves
or at best against treacherous
bitterness of wind, and sky shining
teasingly, then closing in black
and sudden, with fierce jaws.


you reminded me of
the pyramids, our pyramids--
stript of the polished stone
that used to guard them!
you are like Fra Angelico
at Fiesole, painting on plaster!

you are like a band of
young poets that have not learned
the blessedness of warmth
(or have forgotten it).
At any rate--
I am moved to write poetry
for the warmth there is in it
and for the loneliness--
a poem that shall have you
in it March.


the archer king, on horse-back,
in blue and yellow enamel!
with drawn bow--facing lions
standing on their hind legs,
fangs bared! his shafts
bristling in their necks!

Sacred bulls--dragons
in embossed brickwork
marching--in four tiers--
along the sacred way to
Nebuchadnezzar's throne hall!
They shine in the sun,
they that have been marching--
marching under the dust of
ten thousand dirt years.

they are coming into bloom again!
See them!
marching still, bared by
the storms from my calender
--winds that blow back the sand!
winds that enfilade dirt!
winds that by strange craft
have whipt up a black army
that by pick and shovel
bare a procession to
the god, Marduk!

Natives cursing and digging
for pay unearth dragons with
upright tails and sacred bulls
in four tiers--
lining the way to an old altar!
Natives digging at old walls--
digging me warmth--digging me sweet loneliness
high enamelled walls.


My second spring--
passed in a monastery
with plaster walls--in Fiesole
on the hill above 'Florence.
My second spring--painted
a virgin--in a blue aureole
sitting on a three-legged stool,
arms crossed--
she is intently serious,
and still
watching an angel
with colored wings
half kneeling before her--
and smiling--the angel's eyes
holding the eyes of Mary
as a snake's hold a bird's.
On the ground there are flowers,
trees are in leaf.


But! now for the battle!
Now for murder--now for the real thing!
My third springtime is approaching!
lean, serious as a virgin,
seeking, seeking the flowers of March.

flowers nowhere to be found,
they twine among the bare branches
in insatiable eagerness--
they whirl up the snow
seeking under it--
they--the winds--snakelike
roar among yellow reeds
seeking flowers--flowers.

I spring among them
seeking one flower
in which to warm myself!

I deride with all the ridicule
of misery--
my own starved misery.

Counter-cutting winds
strike against me
refreshing their fury!

Come, good, cold fellows!
Have we no flowers?
Defy then with even more
desperation than ever--being
lean and frozen!

But though you are lean and frozen--
think of the blue bulls of Babylon.

Fling yourselves upon
their empty roses--
cut savagely!

think of the painted monastery
at Fiesole.

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

March is a part of Williams' Sour Grapes (1921) collection.The following excerpt is Williams's 1920 Kora in Hell. Kora was one of Williams's favorite creations because it revealed as he said "myself to me." I thought it was of a novel interest because it shows a frank, uncompromising attitude about his work. He and Dolittle were at first classmates at the University of Pennsylvania introduced by Ezra Pound and later friends.
    Hilda Doolittle before she began to write poetry or at least before she began to show it to anyone would say: "You're not satisfied with me, are you Billy? There's something lacking, isn't there?" When I was with her my feet always seemed to be sticking to the ground while she would be walking on the tips of the grass stems.

    Ten years later as assistant editor of the Egoist she refers to my long poem,March, which thanks to her own and her husband's friendly attentions finally appeared there in a purified form:

    14 Aug. 1916
    Dear Bill:--

    I trust you will not hate me for wanting to delete from your poem all the flippancies. The reason I want to do this is that the beautiful lines are so very beautiful--so in the tone and spirit of your Postlude--(which to me stands, a Nike, supreme among your poems). I think there is real beauty--and real beauty is a rare and sacred thing in this generation--in all the pyramid, Ashur-ban-i-pal bits and in the Fiesole and in the wind at the very last.

    I don't know what you think but I consider this business of writing a very sacred thing!--I think you have the "spark"--am sure of it, and when you speak direct are a poet. I feel in the hey-ding-ding touch running through your poem a derivative tendency which, to me, is not you--not your very self. It is as if you were ashamed of your Spirit, ashamed of your inspiration!--as if you mocked at your own song. It's very well to mock at yourself--it is a spiritual sin to mock at your inspiration--

    Oh well, all this might be very disquieting were it not that "sacred" has lately been discovered to apply to a point of arrest where stabilization has gone on past the time. There is nothing sacred about literature, it is damned from one end to the other. There is nothing in literature but change and change is mockery. I'll write whatever I damn please, whenever I damn please and as I damn please and it'll be good if the authentic spirit of change is on it.


Center for

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Five Alarm Chili

Oh this is so good! It'll warm your innards and set your mouth ta jumpin'. You'll soon forget aaaall about that no good terrible bad day you just had cause you'll be busy putting out the far ! Now as you may or may not know, here in the desert come July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car and I have seen some of the birds using pot holders to pull worms out of the ground. And while I can say 113º with out batting an eye, it does get a bit cold here since there's not much for clouds to keep the heat on the ground, and so it's nice to have a nice piping hot bowl of chili to warm up or even cool down with dependin' on the time of year and your point of view. I've had a few comments about this recipe ranging from, A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick. and Good side dish for fish or other mild foods. to Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. oh!! and my all time favorite compliment was from a former college roommate outta Sayville, New York while we were pounding her on the back, My ears are ringing Lo... it sounds like rushing water, I can't see out of one eye..... I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful, I'm not getting oxygen anyway. Well last night was a two blanket night I'll tell ya'll, it was cold enough to freeze the balls offa pool table and this here is what all ya'll need when you head off to the Piggly-Wiggly.

A pound or two, thereabouts of ground beef (or turkey if you're watching your weight and cholesterol, not to worry this is so flavorful, all all ya'll will never know). Swing round to the fresh produce section and grab up a garlic clove, a big yellar onion, 5 or 6 Roma 'maters (toe-mah-toes) some green bell pepper (or red if you like color with your fireworks) a couple of jalapeño peppers or if you're really venturesome try seranos. whaaaa hooo! Accidentally knock that pyramid of oranges over and exclaim, My stars and bars!!! and Why bless your heart! at least onced, if not twiced, peek over the tops of your sunglasses while you help that cute produce boy pick them up. (*winks* Who said just cause you're on a diet you can't look at the menu!) Get some cilantro too and head off to the spice aisle if you're plum outta chili powder and cayenne pepper. Now for the dairy section pick up some real sour cream and a big'ol hunk of sharp cheddary cheese, something like Colby and when your fixin'to go home grab some kidney beans.

Here ya go:

While the 'maters, garlic and jalapeños are busy roasting on a cookie sheet in the oven (reckon it 'round 15 minutes at 450 ºF till golden brown to lightly black). Brown the meat and onion in a pot, drain off the fat, toss in the beans, chili powder, bell pepper and the stuff out of the oven. While that simmers over a medium heat to thicken up a bit throw some cornbread in the warm oven and whip up a spicy topping outta:

Have a coldbeer while you set the table with condiments such as saltine crackers, corn tortilla chips, salsa and lots of sweet tea,or for a more Intercontinental Cuisine serve over rice or pasta; go next door and hire the neighbor to help you enjoy the show!

Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'...

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches...

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley...
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver...

But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: ..
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

- T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

The Christmas season does not come to a close until twelve days after the birthday itself. January 6th is called Epiphany, a Holy Day that commemorates the astronomers arrival with their adoration, costly gifts and to complete the Christmas lesson as one magus remembers that ' cold, long, deep, sharp and wintry coming.' Eliot observes the event with an erudite treatment of modern sterility in a three part revelation. On one surface is a chronicle of the search for faith, a conversion, and a transformation. On another it is staged monologue with a spherical trajectory, opening in winter at Christmas' time and concluding at the Epiphany. But there is a pause during the passage, which occurs in spring where Magi glimpse the crucified Christ.

Guide us with thy perfect light

Magi is the Greek word used in ancient times to identify Babylonian astrologers. The opening stanza tells of the perils of the voyage from the unique perspective of one of the Magnus. He is also a Gentile, and notably one of the first seekers find the holy child are those outside of the covenant. 1 In the full text Eliot's poem his Wise Man remarks, "the camel men cursing and grumbling, and running away, and wanting their liquor and women, and the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, and the cities hostile and towns unfriendly and the villages dirty and charging high prices. A hard time we had of it."

Both obtuse and dazzlingly memorable it transmits an awakening from the disintegration of Edwardian respectability to the birth of modernism. Written just five years after The Waste Land Eliot bases the verse on the Biblical story about the three wise men who show up after the birth of Jesus. 2 In his critical essays Eliot found great value in contemporary poets emerging with a strong rapport with what their forerunners had written. That is to say, he attempted new structures in poetry and produced a singular universe in literature. It was when he was about to be received into the Church of England he was also deeply engrossed in17th century theology and at the time working on a book by the Anglican preacher Lancelot Andrewes. In addition he had recently completed an English translation of St. John Perse's poem Anabase.

Eliot makes liberal use of both of these sources as well as many others in his 1927 composition. The present participles and the paratactic syntax, presenting one thing after another in a simple narrative had already been borrowed from Ezra Pound. He borrows the desert setting from the French poem and sets the magi on the scene with words from a sermon by Andrewes. A distinguished figure of the Anglican Church in Shakespeare's time many compared his homilies to that of the Roman Catholic metaphysical poet John Donne. Both combined powerful knowledge with an effectively persuasive prose that impacted their audiences with direct simplicity. Here is the passage Eliot used from Andrewes sermon. About the journey of the Three Wise Men before the Nativity, it was preached before King James during Christmas in 1622:

    First, the distance of the place they came from. It was not hard by as the shepherds--but a step to Bethlehem over the fields; this was riding many a hundred miles, and cost them many a day's journey . . . This was nothing pleasant, for through deserts, all the way waste and desolate. Nor secondly, easy either; for over the rocks and crags of both Arabias, especially Petraea, their journey lay. Yet if safe--but it was not, but exceeding dangerous, as lying through the midst of the "black tents of Kedar" (Cant 1:5), a nation of thieves and cut-throats; to pass over the hills of robbers, infamous then, and infamous to this day. No passing without great troop or convoy. Last we consider the time of their coming, the season of the year. It was no summer progress. A cold coming they had of it at this time of the year, just the worst time of the year to take a journey, and specially a long journey in. The ways deep, the weather sharp, the days short, the sun farthest off, in solsitio brumali, "the very dead of winter."
Curiously the sermon places judgment on the listeners, perhaps even on King James himself because the main point of Andrewes' sermon is 'we have seen and we have come' and then he adds, "To Christ we cannot travel, but weather and way and all must be fair. If not, no journey. But when we do it, we must be allowed leisure. Ever veniemus, never venimus. Ever 'coming', but never come."

The thrill of hope

The next segment of the poetic journey represents enlightenment and conversion. Its optimistic natural imagery of a lush valley and the trees, the old white horse running from the pasture, the vine-leaves over the door of the tavern--speak of "hope and freedom and fruitfulness" It is a pause in the second to last stage of the trail that conveys a short sense of reprieve while evoking a number of significant Christian events. As they enter the temperate valley the Magi unwittingly bring the shadow of the Cross to the stable below the star. The three trees low on the horizon signify Calvary and Jesus' death on the cross. The galloping white horse, here as in the book of Revelation, embodies Christ's victory over death. A tavern as a place of communion with the True Vine of John over the lintel is a reminder of the blood of the Passover lamb marked by the Hebrews on the doorposts of their homes in Egypt. 3 4 The Magnus notes the men dicing for silver as the soldiers cast lots for Jesus' clothes in the shadow of the cross. 5

One critic contends that the word "satisfactory" shows that "every condition of prophecy was met, leaving the alienated magus . . . stranded, suspended between the realization and the consummation of God's plan." Still another offers a different approach. In his essay Revelation in T. S. Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi.' author R. D. Brown writes, "the obvious meaning (of the word "satisfactory") is 'expiatory,' payment for a debt or sin" Others find 'satisfactory' more ambiguous and "emphasized by rhythm and position, which for (the readers), though not the magus, evokes the Thirty Nine Articles, expiation, and the Atonement."

Sacramental actions like receiving the Eucharist or going to confession are composed of three levels: the basic need for the sacrament; the sacred sign in the sacrament itself and the force of the sacrament in life. For each step there is a much wider range of urgency. In The Sacrament of Penance in T.S. Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi,' A. James Wohlpart makes a comparison of the three part structure of the poem and a regrouping of the steps of the Sacrament of Penance. He uses it to highlight the idea of a continuing spiritual journey. Wohlpart wraps up with: "Instead of beginning with contrition and ending with satisfaction, an order which might connote fulfillment of the sacrament and an end to the process of perfection, Eliot opened with contrition in stanza one, moved on to satisfaction in stanza two, and then concluded with confession in stanza three, suggesting that the soul, in its journey towards Christ and heavenly perfection, akin to the journey of the Magi, can never rest in the certainty of perfection but must be continually engaged in the process of becoming perfect"

Eliot's enigmatic line, "but set down, This set down" quotes again from Lancelot Andrewes Nativity Sermon, "set down this; that to find where He is, we must learn to ask where He is, which we full little set ourselves to do." Andrewes was imploring his congregation to do what the wise men did, to seek-- because if one sits still, like Herod, one will never find Christ.

Whatever happened to the Wise Men?

T.S. Eliot examines that very question in the closing stanza in bleak and barren language. With only a guess as to what might have happened to the Magi it is no sweet Christmas musing and the words are deep with poignancy that give pause. Many years have passed and an aging Magi remembers how it was for him after the departure from Bethlehem. "Birth or Death? he asks, "I had seen birth and death, but had thought they were different." He had knelt before the Christ child leaving him rich gifts. Only to arrive back in Babylonia to discover that this birth had shaken him from his comfortable ways. The knowledge of divinity in the reality of a helpless infant born to peasants; this changed everything. Nothing could ever be quite the same and rather than finding the end of the journey, he realizes that the voyage continues from the joys of birth to the terror of death and despair of the crucifixion to come. The unclear nature of conversion of acceptance and of resignation to a destiny placed the Magnus in a new relationship with God. The world has gone gray, nothing is black and white; even the glory of the birth of Christ has come with a price. One that is almost impossibly hard and painful.

Most scholars suggest that this elegy replicates Eliot's mood in the shift between his old and new beliefs. Adding that perhaps Journey of the Magi is a post conversion story echoed in the phrase 'ill-at-ease in the 'old dispensation' and like Gerontion, the poet cannot break loose from the past. In his T. S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style Ronald Bush sees Eliot's Journey of the Magi as a revision of "the period in Eliot's life that followed his official conversion, when his old ways of thinking and feeling seemed irrevocably alien and his new life as a Christian existed more in intention than fact." Eliot presents the intensity to which his journey impacted his life by adapting his own struggles with conversion to that of his imaginative Magi on the first journey to Christ. He foresees the coming turbulence of his conversion and dreads with a sudden realization that there is now another dimension to life. The writers view of the world becomes an inexact place and as one critic says the imagery of the verse portrays a "type of conversion: a gradual and bitter death to oneself and a growth into Christ" as he wades through it towards Christmas, or faith, and all that awaits him is a hard and bitter agony—the death of the old self. This then is the reality encountered by Eliot's Magnus, the real journey that has only just begun and an epiphany that often the deepest beauty exists in the face of terrible ugliness.

Contemporaries such as Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemmingway mocked Eliot's conversion to Christianity, saying he had "gone over to the ignorant." Perhaps the poem reflects Eliot's personal epiphany. 'The way was deep and the weather sharp' he penned as his first marriage unraveled. The verse moved from being an academic application into having an emotional reality of its own. Eliot permanently converted to the Anglican Christian faith in his late thirties and from this time on his work would reflect his religious beliefs. Within six years Eliot and his wife were separated and he remarried some twenty years later.

For a complete reading of the poem please visit The Wondering Minstrels


The Journey of the Magi

King of Peace - The Journey of the Magi

On "The Journey of the Magi"

Picture Source

T. S. Eliot" Journey of the Magi"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Christian was first used as an English word in 1526 originated from the Latin word christianus. In 1779 it was borrowed from cretin the French word crétin, medieval inhabitants of remote Alpine valleys used the word synonymously as one would use the word human. Because of the lack of iodine in their diets many people in remote areas of Switzerland contracted severe thyroid diseases including goiters and congenital idiocy. Deserving of pity the local Priests referred to these unfortunates as Christians, or as in 'at least they are human'

Beginning as a struggle to shape and define their identity and faith the first Christians were a diverse group of early followers. First called Christian in Antioch 1 the word appears in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:14-16

The origin of the word remains obscure and is composed of the word Christ, meaning annointed one in Greek and the ending designating partisans of or followers of. Jews initially referred to the earliest followers as the sect of the Nazarenes and seemingly thought of Christians as a Jewish group outside of those who didn't accept Jesus as the Messiah.

It is implausible that the followers of Jesus originated the term among the first Christians because most referred to themselves as saints 2 3 4, the Way 5 6, brothers7 8 9, and frequently throughout the Gospels as well as the New Testament as disciples 10 11.

The term was used as a mocking remark by Agrippa in Acts 26:28; as an admonishment in 1 Peter 4:14-16 and apparently in disparagement of the small sect of first followers. The ancient historians of Rome also used the term this way. In Annals 15:6 Tacitus refers to the Christians as people despised for their evil deeds and in Lives of the Caesars Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus calls them a new and evil supersition.

If it was used as a term of ridicule and scorn for the first followers of Jesus in Antioch, most likely Roman officials coined the word to differentiate the Christian group from Judaism. It has also been conjectured by biblical scholars that Christian was used to designate the Christian movement hostile toward Agrippa. Regardless as to where the term began it is agreed upon by most scholars that it was first use was as a pejorative. However, by the end of the first century of the common era the expressed acceptance of the word among Christians is seen as a comforting sign of God's glory.12 13 14


Take our Word For It

The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993


Gee Whiz Facts About Ice

Most kinds of matter contract as they freeze, but when water freezes its molecules move apart taking up more space and become locked together making it less dense than water. That's why ice floats in a glass of water. Salt water is even denser than fresh water, so giant icebergs, which are composed of fresh water float in the ocean.

Some chemicals like salt lower the freezing temperature of water and can make ice melt. This chemical reaction keeps the temperature of water at about 28ºF, lower that the freezing point for water. This is what happens when making ophie's easy homemade ice cream When salt and ice are added around the out side of the ice cream "freezer" or in this example ophie's coffee can, the resulting water provides a uniform chilling effect around the ice cream, but will not freeze it. Without salt, the ice would melt, and the water temperature would rise preventing the ice cream from freezing.

The effects of pressure on ice explains how big masses of glaciers can slide downhill. Storglaciaren in Sweden has been clocked moving at 3 inches a day and Rinks Ibrae, a glacier in Greenland, has been recorded moving about 90 feet a day!

More Gee Whiz Facts

  • The tallest iceberg on record was one in the North Atlantic estimated to be nearly as tall as the
    Washington Monument-- and that was just the part sticking out of the water! (Two-thirds of the average iceberg's
    total mass is under water)
  • Glacier's ice crystals may grow as large as softballs.
  • About one-tenth of the earth is covered by ice.
  • Some Arctic insects contain a kind of antifreeze. The Arctic Beetle can survive temperatures as low as - 76ºF.
  • The Roman emperor Nero is believed to have had runners bring ice and snow from mountain areas so he could enjoy ice wines and fruit.
    Sandra Markle,Oddball Ice,Creative Classroom(Jan/Feb 2001), 67.
  • Sonnet to a Clam

    Dum tacent claimant

    INGLORIOUS friend! most confident I am

    Thy life is one of very little ease;
    Albeit men mock thee with their similes
    And prate of being happy as a clam!"
    What though thy shell protects thy fragile head
    From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea?
    Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee,
    While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed,
    And bear thee off--as foemen take their spoil--
    Far from thy friends and family to roam;
    Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home,
    To meet destruction in a foreign broil!
    Though thou art tender yet thy humble bard
    Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!
    John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)


    Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

    Monday, January 11, 2010


    Have you ever wondered about what it means when Moma's are askin the poutin' children, Who licked the red off your candy? or telling 'em I love you as much as the cat loves the cream jar? Well, I went huntin' for country sayings and I found more of 'em than ticks on a coon hound! Not jes plain ole uns like fit to be tied or crooked as a dog's hind leg. I found SO MANY I was as excited as a hen on a hot griddle! Shoot, sweet thang, I'm hip to haunch and cheek jowl with these sayin's. I'm talkin' bout sayin's like, food that tastes so good that if you put it on top of your head your tongue'd slap your brains out tryin' to get it. Now don't that fry your tater?

    Here's an assortment of collected sayings from mom's 'n dads and aunts 'n uncles, some from the internet and others are collected from articles. They're descriptive and so much more interesting then the language used every day!


    • Ate that chicken til it was slick as a ribbon.
    • A wink is as good as a nod, to a blind horse.
    • Barefooted as a yard dog.
    • Better than a sharp stick in the eye.
    • Birds of a feather flock together.
    • Bleedin' like a stuck pig.
    • Busy as a one armed paper hanger.
    • Butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (term of amazement)
    • Cold as a frog's behind.
    • Cold as a banker's heart.
    • Colder than a mother-in-laws love.
    • Colder than a well digger's destination.
    • Clean as a hound's tooth.
    • Could go bear huntin' with a switch.
    • Crooked as a barrel full of fish hooks.
    • Cute as a toe sack full of puppies.
    • Dark as the inside of a cow.
    • Deader'n a doornail.
    • Didn't have sense enough to pound sand into a rat hole.
    • Don't flog (or beat) a dead horse.
    • Don't get your cows runnin.
    • Don't monkey with that.
    • Eatin' the gospel bird (that's chicken, since the preacher always seemed to show up when there was fried chicken for dinner.
    • 'et up with.
    • Empty as a winter rain barrel.
    • Everything's chicken but the bill.
    • Fast as all get out.
    • Fine as a frog's hair split up the middle and tied at both ends.
    • Flat as a flitter.
    • From now until Gabriel blows his horn
    • Gee willikers.
    • Getting too big for his britches.
    • Going at it like killing snakes. (Doing something with more vigor and enthusiasm than the task requires.)
    • Gooder'n snuff.
    • Green as a gourd.
    • Happier than a dead pig in the sunshine.
    • Happier than a pig in slop.
    • He ain't got the sense he was born with.
    • He hasn't hit a lick with a snake. (He hasn't worked in a while.)
    • He moves like the lice is fallin' off him.
    • He put the "e" in ignorant ig-nernt. Submitted by novasy.
    • He talks like he's got a mouthful of mush.
    • He thinks he's the best thing since sliced bread.
    • He's all hat and no cattle.
    • He's got a tough row to hoe.
    • He was moving so slow, dead flies wouldn't fall off 'im.
    • Hells' bells.
    • Highfalutin'.
    • High muckety-mucks.
    • Hotter than a June bride.
    • Hotter than a $2 pistol.
    • I ain't got no dog in that fight.
    • I didn't just fall off the turnip truck.
    • I didn't take her to raise. (I'm not responsible for her)
    • I don't know her from Adam's house cat.
    • I feel like a banjo. Everybody's picking on me.
    • I feel like the underside of a turnip green. (I feel sick or low and green.)
    • I feel lower than a snake in snowshoes.
    • I suwanne. (I swear.)
    • I spoke to her and she didn't say pea turkey squat.
    • I was as surprised as if a sheep had bit me.
    • I went to the barber and got my ears lowered.
    • I wouldn't give you air if you were in a jug.
    • I wouldn't p*** on him if he was on fire.
    • I'd have to feel better to die.
    • I'll do that directly.
    • I'll get all over you like white on rice.
    • I'll knock you into next week.
    • I'm feelin' lower than a a snake's belly in a mud rut.
    • I'm gonna jerk you through a knot.
    • I'm gonna slap you so hard when you quit rollin' your clothes'll be outta style.
    • I'm so busy, I don't have time to cuss the cat.
    • If she had one more wrinkle , she could screw her hat on.
    • If you don't do that, I'll be all over you like stink on a skunk.
    • If it'd been a snake it would have bit you.
    • If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.
    • Is it any 'count? (is it any good?) Submitted by novasy.
    • It was so good it would have brought tears to a glass eye.
    • It's been so long since the last rain I had to blow dust out of the rain gauge.
    • It's comin' up a bad cloud.
    • It's more than I can say grace over.
    • It's not too pretty for nice, but it's great for good.
    • It's pourin' down bullfrogs.
    • Jumpy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs.
    • Live and learn, die and know it all.
    • Like tryin' to poke a cat out from under the porch with a rope.
    • Livin' high on the hog.
    • Loosing my religion. (At whit's end.)
    • Mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
    • Madder than a wet hen. (Don't be monkeyin' with wet hens)
    • Make hay while the sun shines.
    • My mouth is dry enough to spin cotton.
    • My stars and garters.
    • Older than dirt.
    • One of 'em will lie and the other one'll swear to it.
    • Petered out.
    • Pipe down.
    • Plumb tickled to death.
    • Pulled too green.
    • Put on the dog.
    • Right as rain.
    • Rode hard and put up wet.
    • Runnin' like the house is afire.
    • Running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
    • Scarce as deviled eggs after a church picnic.
    • Scarcer than hen's teeth
    • She's a caution.(She's a trip or she's unusual).
    • She's so poor she ain't got two nickels to rub together.
    • She was cryin' and slingin' snot.
    • Slicker than snot.
    • Slower than cream risin' on last years buttermilk.
    • Slower than molasses trying to run uphill in January.
    • Snake-bit.
    • Snatch the taste right out of her mouth.
    • So dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.
    • So surprised you coulda knocked his eyes off with a stick.
    • Squirmin' like a worm in hot ashes.
    • Staggerin' around like a blind horse in a punkin patch.
    • Stout as a mule.
    • Straight as a string.
    • Sunday-go-t'meetin' clothes.
    • Sure as a cat's got climbing gear. Submitted by Slidewell.
    • Tall enough to go duck huntin' with a rake.
    • Tender as a judge's heart.
    • That dog won't hunt.
    • That kid ain't knee-high to a duck.
    • That truck couldn't pull a fat baby off a tricycle.
    • That's a fine how d'ya do.
    • That's as good as a cold collard sandwich.
    • That's not big enough to cuss the cat in.
    • Thick as flies on a dog's back.
    • Thicker than fiddlers in hell.
    • Tight as Dick's hatband.
    • Useless as teats on a boarhog.
    • Walkin' like he's rakin' up shucks.
    • We didn't have [crowded to swing a cat.
    • Weak as dishwater.
    • Well, shut my mouth.
    • We've howdied, but not met.
    • What ever blows your dress up.
    • You can't beat that with a stick.
    • You can't judge the depth of a well by the handle of the pump.
    • You have a hollow leg.
    • You lie like a dirty cur dog.
    • You're going to wool that baby to death." (to wool = to cuddle or love on excessively) Submitted by novasy.
    • You scared the livin' daylights out of me.

    Colorful Insults

    • He's dumb as a sack full of hammers.
    • He looks like he got beat with an ugly stick.
    • He was so buck toothed he could eat an apple through a picket fence.
    • He's about half a bubble off plumb.
    • He's as ugly as homemade lye soap.
    • He's got the personality of a dishrag.
    • He's so low down he could crawl under a snake's belly.
    • I wonder what she would charge to haunt a house.
    • If you had bird brains you'd fly backwards.
    • She had a face as ugly as a stack of black cats with their tails cut off.
    • She had a face so ugly she wore out two bodies.
    • She's as ugly as a mud fence daubed with tadpoles.
    • She's so ugly she could scare the bulldog off a meat truck.
    • She's so ugly they had to tie a pork chop around her neck to get the dog to play with her.
    • She's three pickles shy of a quart.
    • She's ugly enough to stop an eight day clock.
    • That face might not stop a clock, but it'd sure raise Cain with watches.
    • You look like something the cat dragged in.
    • You're not worth the powder and shot it'd take to blow you to kingdom come.
    • You're so dumb if they put your brain on the head of a pin it would roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway.


    • Cute as a bug's ear.
    • He's handier than a pocket on a shirt.
    • He's as fast as greased lightening'.
    • I wouldn't trade you for a farm in Georgia.
    • She's as purty as a speckled pup under a red wagon.
    • She's as purty as a spotted horse in a daisy pasture.
    • Sure as the vine twines 'round the stump, you are my darlin' sugar lump.

    Things Only a True Southerner Knows

    Hillbottom says Hi! I'm entirely new here, but your inclusion of "I Suwanne" in the Southern slang list jarred me out of my screen stupor! I grew up with this expression, except the Western Virginia version was not graced with the diphthong. It sounded more like "I swan," and it was often accompanied by the raising of the speaker's left hand. It was not until I reached my teenage years that I realized this was a stylized and time-altered pronunciation of "I's sworn," accompanied by mimicking the left hand in the air and the right hand on the Bible. Gotta love the South. I can visit areas on the other side of the Mason-Dixon, but they will never feel like home. Thanks!

    Picture Source